Chapter 9

Pine, Sea Salt, Smoke, and Legacies

Hermione had been in school for a month and she had seen neither hide nor hair of Headmaster Snape. Not that she expected to, the man was very busy she was sure – what, with running a magical institution and teaching seventh year potions - something which had surprised the hell our of her as historically, Headmasters only taught classes as substitute teacher.

Still, a small part of her felt not only disappointed, but bereft. She'd missed their time together far more than she wanted to admit. In his presence, she felt challenged; she was treat as an adult and not like some pitiable schoolgirl most of her professors seemed to adopt. But most of all, or at least in equal parts, she missed little Toby. She'd never pictured herself as having a 'mama' bone that could be tickled, but with him it had snuck up on her. Almost daily she thought about his grinning face and how excited he was over new experiments. She also wondered about that scar and his story. Would she ever know? And who took care of him? Was he here in the castle or did someone look after him while Snape worked. Magical daycare, perhaps?

She never thought she'd say it but she desperately wished the summer had somehow been able to be…prolonged. She almost regretted her decision to feign amnesia. Almost. Her logical side wouldn't let her regret it completely.

Snape let her stew for a month, making sure to pay her no more and no less attention than he would any other student; it wasn't hard, being headmaster as well as NEWT Potions Professor demanded much of his time. Add in his parental duties and he barely had a few moments to himself, let alone time to seduce a student. Still, he had a plan formulated, one which he planned to implement this afternoon and had Minerva to thank for, though unwittingly. She had come to him two weeks in to term about Miss Granger.

"She's bored, Severus."

"And that is somehow my concern?" he intoned in a bored voice as he continued to peruse the papers on his desk, barely paying her any mind.

The Scot made an offended sound before snatching the piece of parchment from his hands. "Severus Snape, I don't care how busy you are as headmaster, if one of the students is in need, you will attend to it!"

Snape barely withheld a scowl at her hubris, keeping in mind that she was his elder, if not his superior. He pinched the bridge of his nose. "What would you have me do, Minerva?" He relented.

Satisfied that she had his proper attention, the woman continued. "Much of what she is learning she not only used in the real world, but even created a better spell for some of them! I don't know what to do. Filius, Septima, and Aurora all say the same thing. How is she in potions?"

If the elderly witch weren't so concerned he would have teased her mercilessly about not knowing something for once. "She is….much the same way, I'm afraid." He conceded, reluctantly.

Minerva sighed heavily before turning to look idly at the books on the shelf nearest her. Her face seemed suddenly heavy with lines and age. "Those three children did more for the wizarding world in the last six years then most do in two lifetimes. The least we could do is figure out a way to… to somehow repay at least one of them." She said sorrowfully.

She was right, of course, and naturally that person had to be Miss Granger. Severus remained quiet, thumb beneath his chin, forefinger stroking the area above his lip, thinking. Repayment aside, this was an opportunity, he knew, but how best to take advantage of it? How could he bend it to his favor while still serving a student and his staff?

The older witch turned and opened her mouth to prod him, then spotted something on the desk. "Severus, when was the last time you ate?" Minerva's Scottish burr interrupted his thoughts and he automatically looked at the untouched lunch sitting on his desk. It was now past dinnertime and he'd missed two meals. Damn. With slight reluctance, he looked up at the elderly witch's disapproving face. He remembered being on the receiving end of that many times as a schoolboy, and for much the same reason too. He muttered something under his breath.

"None of that now, young man. There's no excuse," she flicked her wand and a French Dip appeared with au jus and chips along with a goblet of Gillywater. "Honestly, why the school governors allowed you to teach AND manage the school is beyond me." She huffed. He wondered what she would say if she knew about Toby. Luckily he had daycare for that.

And then it hit him.

"An assistant then."

Minerva stood there sporting a bemused expression. "Well, sure. An assistant might help lighten the burden, but where….oh! Miss Granger, you mean?"

Snape let his mouth twitch into a small smile. "Yes, Miss Granger. What do you think? She could assist me with brewing, take over some of the first, second and third year classes of various subjects as needed, perhaps do some administrative items for the headmaster's office…and then at the end of her tenure, perhaps she can present a thesis of her own creation and in a subject of her choosing."

The Transfiguration Mistress stood silently, a thoughtful expression on her face as she considered his words. "Mmm, yes. Yes I think you might have something there Severus. We'll have to present it to the others but I think they'll heartily agree."

The staff had indeed readily agreed, not one person objected and so, after consulting Hogwarts records as well as the school governors, Snape now found himself waiting in his office for the arrival of one Miss Hermione Granger.

It was at times like these that Hermione couldn't help but wonder if Severus Snape couldn't perform Occlumency from a distance somehow, for no sooner had she been wondering about seeing him than she received a summons to his office.

She couldn't help it; she checked her appearance in the mirror, adjusted her robes and then applied a taming spell to her hair before she left her rooms. But all the way to his office she rehearsed her face and practiced her shields in case he did decide to use Occlumency on her, though it was unlikely. Using Occlumency on someone without his or her permission was considered a gross breech of privacy and something normally associated with the Dark Lord. Still, she felt more secure having them in place. She ignored the niggling voice in the back of her head that whispered it had something to do with guilt.

She reached the familiar stone gargoyle and spoke the password, waiting for the spiral staircase to appear before ascending it.

Her feet padded on to the opulent red and gold carpet as she entered a familiar yet vastly different room. The Headmaster's office was quite different from what she remembered. Instead of each and every available space being filled with buzzing, whirling gizmos and gadgets, there were now hundreds upon hundreds of books, dried herbs, a few devices that looks suspiciously like Dumbledore's own creation and of course, some jarred ingredients that were far less scary looking than the usual ones the current occupant normally housed. She noted that there was a conspicuous lack of personal items like photographs or knick-knacks most people – even Dumbledore – had in their personal space. But what certainly wasn't lacking was his smell. That smell. The one that she always associated with him: pine, sea salt and smoke, but now that she was in a space where it was far more condensed, she could identify even more smells she unintentionally associated with him: eucalyptus, juniper and some woodsy scents like birch, ash or cedar. It was…intoxicating. In her mind, there was no better smell in the world then those of herbs and plants.

'They should bottle and sell his scent. It'd make the perfumer a fortune.' she thought as she moved around the room, her fingers trailing along the spines of old books and leafs of parchment. It reminded her of his home and she pleasantly lost herself in thoughts of the summer.

Snape watched her from the discreet opening in the bookcase a moment before entering. Seeing her in his space and looking so comfortable sent a thrill through him – it was as though she belonged there. Belonged to him.

"Miss Granger," He spoke in that same taciturn voice that commanded the students' attention as he strode in to class. Hermione whipped around and froze, a slightly guilty expression on her face. God help her but that tone still slightly intimidated her to this day. "Still snooping around where you're not supposed to? Some things never change." She flushed. "Sit, Miss Granger."

The way he was being so brusque made her feel suddenly cold and very foolish for checking herself in the mirror earlier. "Of…of course, sir." she said before seating herself in one of the two chairs in front of his desk.

Snape watched her carefully, waiting a full minute before sitting himself; he wanted her to be uncomfortable, to notice his every move and to squirm.

"Right to the point then," he didn't even offer her tea. A slight faux pas, but he wanted to get his kicks in where he could – she owed him that much for the lie she was forcing them to put up with. "After speaking with the other Professors we've all agreed that you would benefit greatly from an…apprenticeship of sorts during your final year here at Hogwarts."

Hermione's eyes widened just a hair but he caught it. Snape steepled his fingers and watched her over the top of them.

"An apprenticeship, sir?" She prompted when he didn't elaborate right away. Was it just her, or had she suddenly become aware of every movement he made? She didn't like it. She was trying to ignore him, not…notice him.

Snape cocked his head thoughtfully, eyes scrutinizing her face and making her feel as though she were under a magnifying glass. "Your primary duty would be to assist me in the Headmaster's office – mostly research and administrative obligations along with substituting in the occasional class here at there – while your secondary duty would be to assist the school's infirmary in brewing various potions, salves and whatever else Madam Pomfrey needs. During the course of your apprenticeship you'll be expected to submit a thesis proposal – before Christmas Holidays – in a subject of your choosing, at which time you will approach whichever teacher is best suited to the subject and work with him or her on executing your final product. For instance you might choose potions with me," he saw the corner of her mouth tighten just a bit and inwardly smirked. "magical medicine with Madam Pomfrey, or herbal properties with Professor Sprout. Or you can come up with something entirely of your own device and come to me with suggestions on which staff member might best suit you as overseer. It is your choice."

If he hadn't come to know her as well as he had over the summer, he would have mistaken her placid expression as one of indifference. Her year away from school seemed to have taught her more than practical magical experience; it taught her control over her emotions. As it was, his talents as a spy allowed him to see the minute facial changes she made, despite her efforts to mask them. She was bursting with excitement and eagerness. He decided to tease her. "Do contain yourself, Miss Granger. I wish to impart on you the gravity of work you will be undertaking here."

He knew she wasn't stupid and would realize the magnitude of work she'd be undertaking, but he was obliged to say it out loud.

"In addition to your apprenticeship you must also maintain your current classes, study for your NEWTS, and," he paused for elaboration. "keep up with the vocational advisory board on post-graduate careers You will have no social life and you'll be lucky to get five hours of sleep each night, however," He leaned forward a little to make sure she understood his next words. "If I and the staff didn't feel you could do it, we wouldn't have agreed to offer you the position." He finished crisply, folding his hands in his lap and then leaning back in to the chair.

There was a pregnant pause in the room and he knew she was bursting with questions she was waiting for him to signal her to ask. Finally, he ceased tormenting her and raised an eyebrow. "Well?"

Hermione actually released a breath as though holding in her barrage of questions with it. "Sir, will I have the use of a time turner? Is that possible?"

Snape shook his head. "After the…unfortunate events of your fifth year, time-turners are now nearly an extinct device, therefore all known artifacts are held tightly within the Ministry of Magic. Hogwarts only has access to them in very special situations." Although as he said it, he realized this was a special situation and made a mental note to inquire about one. It might make this a bit easier on her.

Hermione nodded as though expecting this. He blinked and felt a brief glimmer of admiration for how composed and professional she was being. "About the thesis proposal, I'd just like to clarify. If I chose to come up with a subject spanning multiple areas, is that acceptable?"

"So long as I approve it and the proposal has substance to it, yes, that would be acceptable."

"May I have permanent access to the restricted section of the Library?"

Snape's eyebrow rose high.

"Ok, access during designated times?"

He nodded.

"What about my head girl duties?"

"You'll be expected to fulfill those duties as well, however it would be possible to spread your patrols over the other prefects' schedules."

She nodded and he could almost see her mentally checking items off her list.

Hermione shifted in her seat, eyes unfocused as she thought, attempting to foresee as many problems or questions as she could.

"What sort research would I be conducting, sir?"

Ah yes, that. He wondered if she would ask that question. He'd given it some thought himself and the possibilities were endless.

"In short, whatever I need." He said vaguely, as though it didn't concern him and neither should it concern her. He picked at one of his nails as though to emphasize this. It was bait.

Hermione took it.

"Whatever you…need, sir?" she wanted to raise an incredulous eyebrow at him, but remembered that he wasn't the man she knew over the summer, but her professor.

Very deliberately, Snape stopped his picking and raised his fathomless black eyes to her warm brown ones. "Yes, Miss Granger, whatever I need." He said the words slowly, precisely, daring her to question him further.

Hermione's mouth went dry and she felt suddenly uncomfortable sitting on that chair beneath such a piercing gaze. She had to lower her own and pretend to pick at a frayed edge of her robe. Why did she feel warm, all of a sudden? It wasn't as though he meant it…that way.

Snape allowed himself a smirk, savoring the pink on her cheeks and the way she pretended to pick at her clothing before continuing. "Being Headmaster at Hogwarts doesn't simply consist of monitoring staff, students and school, Miss Granger," She raised her head and met his eyes, a new but not out of character curious glint in them. "In fact, the position entails a great deal more such as recruitment of future students and staff, collaborating with the ministry and the board of governors on improvements to the curriculum and the school itself, socializing with benefactors – oh yes, tuition, while free for the students, is not actually free – maintaining diplomatic relations with other magical schools and universities as well as leaving a…legacy of sorts."

At this, he saw her curiosity pique. He decided to indulge her. Standing up, he moved to a shelf nearby and gently removed one of the gadgets from its perch before setting it on the desk before her. It appeared to be a miniature dais with a small magnifying glass mounted on it and encased in a glass dome. The whole thing was about two feet tall. Upon closer inspection, the magnifying glass appeared to have two rims, both of which seemed to be moveable and engraved with small markings and runes. Snape lifted the dome off carefully and set it aside.

"For instance, all of those whirring objects and sparkling trinkets Albus Dumbledore had in his office weren't merely for show, they were invented by the man for future student and staff use."

Someone cleared their voice, drawing both Snape's and Hermione's attention. "Indeed, though I quite enjoyed their whirring and sparkling. But believe it or not, my inventions-"

"Albus," Snape spoke in a voice that was a cross between irritation and mollification. "Shall I continue?"

The portrait of Hogwarts' former headmaster paused then chortled and nodded. "Forgive me Severus, proceed."

Hermione barely suppressed a slight giggle while Snape made a 'hmph' noise before turning back to the witch. "As I was saying, they aren't merely for show, they have uses."

Hermione nodded, having figured this out for herself. Her eyes tracked him as he approached another shelf and returned with a very small potted plant. He placed it on the pedestal beneath the magnifying glass, and then adjusted the moveable rim as though adjusting temperature settings on a muggle thermometer.

"Each one has a magical function that can't be performed by a wand, at least not sufficiently. They're very scientific in just how precise they are, something only the most experienced witch or wizard can do with their magic."

A small bubble of delighted laughter rose then diminished in the direction of Dumbledore's portrait. Snape ignored it while Hermione bit her lip hard to keep from smiling. Snape replaced the dome lid and waited. After a moment, the small plant inside began to enlarge at a slow, consistent pace. "This one can imbue any sort of charm or spell into an object using a combination of runes, seen here." He pointed to the first rim on the magnifying glass. "Using the second setting it can also allow you to control how much of the magic is imbued, how long it takes and where specifically on the object it should latch on to It can also confine the magic to a specific area. It is beneficial because it leaves no tangible magical trace, unlike when using a wand."

Hermione watched with rapt attention as the plant continued to enhance, the leaves and stem growing so the buds on the end of the leaves bloomed. It looked like it was actually maturing. Aging, almost. "So, if I understand you correctly, then using this particular contraption is far less magically invasive, right?"

"Correct. As I'm sure you can surmise this is important because some things cannot be polluted by magical energy lest we contaminate, tamper with or ruin its natural magical properties. If the object cannot fit on the pedestal, one only has to write it on a slip of raw parchment, attune your magic to it then adjust the settings of the magnifier and place the glass back over it and wait. For this plant, I sped up it's natural growing process since I need it for brewing later but can't wait for it to grow on it's own, nor can I find it easily in natural settings."

Hermione's attention returned to the plant, which was now three times as large as it had been. A sigh of admiration left her lips as she watched Snape replace both plant and device back on the shelf.

"This was Headmaster Dumbledore's legacy, and it is now my job to make sure that the hundreds of contraptions he left to Hogwarts find a home within the school and a use within the curriculum, wherever possible."

Snape seated himself back down, not missing the way her cheeks had turned pink with excitement nor the way her eyes sparkled with anticipation and possibility. "It will be your job to assist me in making all these ambitions come to fruition." He paused. "Well? What is your answer? I warn you, Miss Granger, consider carefully the load of work that will be on your shoulders. It would not do to embarrass both yourself and this school for taking on too much." More bait. He could almost hear her bristle in response.

Hermione deliberated only briefly.

"I accept, sir."

Excellent. She was as good as his.