"I can't believe Professor Snape survived… I thought for sure he had died right there in the shrieking shack." Hermione mused to herself but let Harry and Ron hear her thoughts as she read the Daily Prophet. She nibbled on her toast, not really hungry, "It says he will be returning to Hogwarts to teach Potions… refusing any awards or titles that the ministry wanted to give."

Harry and Ron didn't seem to be paying much attention as they ran back and forth between the dining room, kitchen and living room of the burrow, getting ready for their first day of their apprenticeship. After the war Harry had been given the honors of being a part of the Order of Merlin, First Class which ensured him a spot to be an auror. Because of this title, he was also easily able to get Ron into the apprenticeship with him as well as Hermione.

"Really?" Ron asked with a mouth full of toast and jam, more astonished than concerned, "I'm sure the students were bloody horrified that he went back to teaching."

She frowned, "He saved Harry's life so many times… not to mention our own! You should care more about him… he was probably the bravest wizard in the war."

Harry slid into a seat hurriedly, next to Hermione and grabbed a piece of toast not bothering to butter it or put jam on it, he stuffed it in his mouth and started to tie shoes, "No offense Hermione, but as much as we do owe our lives to Snape and we are very grateful to him for it, that's not really what we are focused on at the moment…" he was referring their internship at the Ministry.

Hermione smiled at this, "Are you two nervous about today? You guys will do great, I just know it!"

"I still can't believe that after Harry got us a chance to be an Auror, you turned it down! You would make a much greater one than Harry and I combined… after all we went through in our years at Hogwarts…" Ron sighed, turning to Harry, "Girls… they are just bloody confusing."

Smiling, Harry stood up, a little too fast and excited, "Well I think we should be going now," he and Ron turned towards the fireplace to floo to the Ministry and froze when a certain red headed girl walked in to the dining room.

"Harry Potter! Where do you think you are going?"

Harry slowly turned around, looking embarrassed, "Um… nowhere Gin."

She sighed, frustrated, "This is the third time you have tried to leave this morning… you do know that you don't have to be to work for another half hour?"

Without speaking the two boys sunk into chairs with a loud thud simultaneously next to Hermione. Ginny sat opposite of the trio, "I don't think I have ever seen you two so excited and nervous at the same time since a Quidditch game day."

Hermione laughed, "Of course."

Ron sighed and leaned his head on his folded arms on the table, "'Mione? Can you tell Ginny to bug off and let us go?"

Trying to pass the time, Harry picked up the Daily Prophet that Hermione had set down and he started to scan the paper, "Since when did Hogwarts have an apprenticeship program?"

Hermione immediately stopped her conversation with Ginny and snatched the paper out of Harry's hands, "What? Where did you see that?"

Harry pointed to the small ad at the bottom, "Just there."

She held up the paper a few inches from her face trying to soak in all the information listed, "This is perfect! I always wanted to teach at Hogwarts! Perhaps I can enquire for an internship!"

Smiling, Ginny leaned over the table to get a glance at the paper, "That's wonderful! If you can get an apprenticeship there, then I will be able to see you every day! I won't have to leave you to finish school!"

Setting the paper down, Hermione smiled and tilted her head in an amiable happiness towards her Ron's little sister, "Oh Ginny you know you would never lose me even if I started working with Harry and Ron today. You're one of my best friends… no one can replace you!"

"I thought I was your best friend!" Ron turned to Hermione, shocked with a dumbfounded expression on his face although he was merely playing, "You don't love me at all do you?"

Ginny and Hermione laughed, "Oh Ronald."

Harry nervously tapped his foot in a rapid pace that was annoying everyone at the table; he glanced at his watch, and sprang up from his chair, kissed Hermione on the cheek and ran over to Ginny and did the same, "'Mione, Gin. Love you! Be safe!" And with his brief goodbyes, he disappeared in a cloud of green smoke from the Weasley fireplace.

Ron stood up, trying to catch up to his friend, "I can't believe he just left without me!" he turned to the girls at the table, "Did you just see him leave without me? Some mate he is…"

"Wait Ronald," Hermione caught Ron before he stepped into the fireplace, "Good luck, I know you'll do great." She straightened his lapel and smoothed out a crease in his robes.

He smiled nervously and kissed her on the cheek in a hurry before vanishing in the green smoke just as Harry did before.

"Time has sure flown by since everything has calmed down, huh Mione?" Ginny appeared next to her as she stared at the fireplace with a faraway look in her eye. She leaned her head on Hermione's shoulder and linked her arm with her friend's.

SHe nodded thoughtfully, coming out of her reverie, "Have you gotten all of your books for this year?"

Ginny lifted her head and smiled weakly, "Just the hand-me-downs as always… I think there is one book that is new on the seventh year supply list that I will need. Why?"

The brunette just shook her head, "Do you mind if I join you on your trip?"

"Of course! I wouldn't want anyone else!" she smiled sweetly before breaking away and turning back to the kitchen, "The boys always leave a mess wherever they go! I must admit I am somewhat excited to return to school and have the elves clean up for a change!"

"You would be." Hermione laughed before taking a few of the dishes into the kitchen while Ginny stared out the window,

"Hey, 'Mione? Do you mind if I go freshen up since you are already set for the day?"

She nodded, "Certainly… I will join you in just a moment."

Hermione and Ginny stepped out of the Burrow into the front yard after changing into their traveling robes. The girls held hands and disapparated from the cozy house and into the bustling crowds of Diagon Alley. Hermione smiled while walking next to Ginny, observing the renovations since the war. Olivander's had reopened once more and dozens of young boys and girls could be seen flooding into the entrance, waiting to receive their own wand. Hermione recalled how excited she had been to receive her wand and go shopping for all of her books and supplies she needed. It was so magical back then… she sighed, she had gotten so used to the wizarding world and with the devastations from the war, Hermione had forgotten the little things that used to capture and enthrall her when she was younger.

She made a mental note to try to start noticing and paying attention to the small details that made this world so special and different from the muggle world. Hermione almost felt sorry for those who were born into magic, they really didn't understand and couldn't truly appreciate how beautiful and enchanting the wizarding world really was, but both Harry and she had a taste of the muggles and was so grateful for what they were introduced to those eight long years ago.

Ginny led Hermione into one of the many bookstores lining the crowded streets, "It says I need the advanced Potions book, I guess they came out with a new edition perhaps." She glanced down at her supply list.

"Wow, you're taking advanced Potions? Are you sure that's a good idea?" she said honestly, "That never was your strong point in school…" Hermione smiled

Ginny, either not caring or not hearing, Hermione couldn't tell which, made a choking sound out of disgust once she grabbed the book she needed off the shelf and made a straining noise out of the sheer weight that she wasn't expecting, "You have got to be joking! This is so much larger than the other books that Snape uses."

Hermione laughed, "Perhaps he wanted to change things up a bit this year."

Ginny rolled her eyes, "It seems as though he is the one teacher that is out for blood. It's almost like he doesn't want anyone to pass his classes! How did you do it, Hermione?"

"Well you are the one who wanted to become a healer… Potions is the most important subject that you will need to get O's on in your N.E.W.T.S. to be able to get an apprenticeship." She reminded her.

The younger girl groaned miserably, "Oh 'Mione, if you get the job at Hogwarts, will you tutor me? I can't even brew a simple potion without messing it up somehow… and Snape loves making me the example out of the class."

Resting a comforting hand on Ginny's shoulder, Hermione sighed, trying to hold back from laughing again, "Yes, of course… we wouldn't want you spilling your love potion again, now would we?"

She scowled at her friend, "Really? You really had to bring that up, didn't you?"

"I can't believe you fell for Professor Snape…" Hermione teased, knowing full well that if it had happened to her, she would have been just as horrified.

Ginny frowned and broke away from Hermione, she was brooding, "God, Hermione, why do you have to remind me every time?"

She broke out in laughter, "I'm sorry I can't help it… I think you might have scared the most feared teacher in Hogwarts when you claimed your undying love for him."

Ginny hissed, "I know, I know… anyways… I'm hungry. Let's go get some lunch!" She hooked arms with the older witch and dragged her to a small café right outside of Diagon Alley.

They sat down at a small table outside the restaurant and Ginny heaved a sigh and dramatically dropped the Potions book on the table as if it were too heavy for her to carry anymore, "I can't help but feel like I am not going to make it out of my seventh year. Potions will be the end of me!"

Smiling, Hermione sat down quietly and took the book from Ginny and started flipping through the newly printed pages, "I love the smell of a new book!"

Ginny raised her eyebrow at Hermione but said nothing. The older witch grinned widely, "Oh come on Ginny, get a hold of yourself! Everything will be fine! If McGonagall will let me start at Hogwarts, then I will help you! Don't worry!"

Not as convinced as Hermione had hoped, Ginny sighed loudly, "So… what are you wanting to teach?"

Hermione sat up straighter, the topic making her excited, and her eyes twinkled, "Isn't it obvious?" Ginny just looked dumbfounded, a look that Hermione recognized in the girl's older brother, "Transfiguration, of course!"

"Oh I see… so now that McGonagall is Head Mistress, she will be looking for a teacher to take her place soon… I hope the position isn't already taken…" Ginny spoke lazily, resting her chin in her hands, leaning against the table.

Hermione glanced up from the page she was reading out of the advanced potions book, "Well I would hope that she would make an exception for me and let me take it."

"I'm not so sure, 'Mione… I would be careful… perhaps you should go visit her today?" Ginny suggested.

Hermione shook her head, "That's alright, I planned on taking a trip to Hogwarts tomorrow." She kept on reading intently through the recipes for the potions that she had previously made years before she even took the class.

After lunch, Hermione and Ginny decided to head back to the Burrow to help Mrs. Weasley make dinner for the rest of the family who would be home soon. They apparated back and landed in the living room.

"Oh girls, just in time," she quickly glanced up at the pair, "Hermione dear, would you start making some bread for the stew?"

Molly Weasley always made dinner by hand, something that Hermione appreciated much more than Ginny. She was used to it, and Ginny couldn't understand why making dinner manually would make it taste any different. The kitchen was unusually quiet and Hermione could tell that Mrs. Weasley knew something was going on, but she tried to ignore it.

"So how was Diagon Alley today? I remember taking you, Ginny, to get your school supplies… such wonderful memories…"

Ginny laughed, "It was packed with eleven year olds running everywhere."

"Molly, did you hear about Professor Snape going back to Hogwarts?" Hermione questioned, changing the conversation to the subject that was really on her mind.

Mr. Weasley paused in the entry way to the kitchen, "Severus? Is alive?"

Hermione looked at the Weasley patriarch, surprised, "Why sir, I would think that you would have already heard about that… it was in the Daily Prophet. It didn't explain much," Hermione started while going to the dining room table to grab the paper that she had left there that morning, "But just said that he would be returning to Hogwarts to teach Potions once more."

Mr. and Mrs. Weasley walked over to the page that Hermione was pointing to with a picture of Snape sitting at the head table in the Great Hall, not making eye contact, "Did it say how he survived?" Mr. Weasley asked, taking the Daily Prophet from Hermione to read for himself… he obviously was shocked.

"Arthur?" Molly looked at the worried expression of her husband.

Just then, a blast of green smoke came through the dining room and Harry, Ron, George, and Percy flew out of the fireplace one by one.

"Bloody hell, Harry you were brilliant!" George congratulated, obviously hearing or seeing something that those at home had not.

"Oh shove off," Ron's voice came bitterly.

The boys stopped to see Ginny, Hermione, and Mr. and Mrs. Weasley staring at them in the kitchen with wide eyes… not expecting all the boys at once.

"Harry!" Ginny almost skipped to the young war hero and wrapped her arms around him tightly, "How was your first day?"

"Brilliant," He replied quickly, hugging her back, it seemed to be true.

Ron laughed bitterly, "You could have told me there was an enchantment with spiders on the course, Harry. You did go before me!"

Harry rolled his eyes, "If I told you Ron, how would you ever be on your guard when something unexpected happened? And besides, I told you, it was a Boggart, not real a spider! I never had them on my course…"

"Oh Ron, stop arguing! Dinner is almost ready!" Hermione chided, happily.

All the boys smiled, and it seemed that their stomachs were growling heavily as well but Harry still wasn't ready to settle down just yet, it seemed, "Mrs. Weasley? Do we have enough time for a quick game of Quidditch outside?"

Mrs. Weasley turned around from her pot of stew and smiled, "If you do it quickly, supper is almost finished! We don't want it to get cold!"

Ginny sprang out of the kitchen and outside following George and Ron, pulling Harry along with her, "Finally! Let's go Harry!"

Hermione smiled, Ginny hated cooking and was looking for any excuse to get out of it, "Molly, I think they will have enough time to play a good game while we finish up." She turned back to what she was doing and lost herself in the simple art of preparing a meal… it was almost as calming as making a potion.

The next morning, she had risen early and readied herself for her trip that day to Hogwarts. Stepping into the Weasley's fireplace, Hermione grabbed some floo powder and quickly called, "McGonagall's office!"

As Hermione appeared in the large hearth in Dumbledore's old quarters, so many memories came flooding into her mind, and she knew that Hogwarts was where she needed to be. She stepped out, wiping the soot that powdered her robes lightly. It seemed that McGonagall wasn't present but this did not deter Hermione as she glanced up around her and found the painting of the old Headmaster she had been searching for.

"Hello Miss Granger!" Dumbledore's painting quietly smiled, seeming happy to see her.

"Professor." Hermione smiled back.

"How are Mister Potter and Weasley doing these days?" he pushed his half moon spectacles up the bridge of his nose, trying to get a better look at Hermione.

"Wonderful, they just started their internships at the Auror Office."

Dumbledore laced his fingers in his lap and looked thoughtfully at Hermione, "And may I ask why you aren't joining them today? Such talent should not be used for something trivial."

Hermione smiled up at her old Headmaster, "I would rather teach here, Professor. Hogwarts is my home and I would love to keep it that way."

"Ah, I figured you would never end up at the Ministry. You are right, Miss Granger, Hogwarts needs the finest witches and wizards to teach to future generations. I am fully confident that Minerva will agree."

She bowed her head down, wringing her hands together, "Professor?"

The painting smiled down on her, "Yes?"

"Why did you not tell us about Snape watching out for Harry, Ron and I all those years… most of the time we believed him to be the enemy… if we only knew then what we knew now… I would have treated him so much better." She could not make eye contact with the painting before her, she seemed too ashamed.

She was sure that Dumbledore's eyes were twinkling just as she always remembered, "You know, I believe that Severus wanted that to be private. I asked him to watch of Mister Potter and he did… but he included you and Mister Weasley as well for reasons I am not completely sure of."

Hermione looked up at a contemplative Dumbledore, "I just wish we knew… perhaps we could have been there earlier to help him…"

"He is alive and well now, Miss Granger, that is all that matters."

Hermione could hear footsteps up the stairs and she turned, "What a surprise! Miss Granger it is so good to see you!" Professor McGonagall was happily surprised to see her prized pupil in her office once more.

Hermione smiled, "It's wonderful to see you too, Professor."

McGonagall seated herself at her desk and motioned for Hermione to follow suit in the chairs in front, facing the Head Mistress. Hermione obeyed and tucked her robes beneath her. The elder witch moved some papers around her desk before speaking, "And to what do I owe this great pleasure, Miss Granger?"

Hermione sat herself on the edge of the seat, "Well, Professor, I saw your ad in the Daily Prophet about acquiring an apprenticeship here for your Transfiguration class. I believe I am qualified and I received Outstandings in the subject. I would love it if I could once again call the castle my home."

Professor McGonagall stiffened, "Why Miss Granger… how wonderful for you to feel that way. I expected you to start your training as an Auror with Mister Potter and Mister Weasley. I was not expecting you to come back, although I have to say I am extremely happy that you did. Do you have your NEWTs results that I could take a look at?"

Smiling brightly, Hermione whipped out a sheet of parchment that held her grades in her classes and every other years' final test results. She handed it to the Head Mistress who nervously took it from her.

McGonagall adjusted her glasses to read the paper, "It seems you have O's in all your classes, Miss Granger."

Hermione nodded, excited, "Professor, do you think I can fill in for Transfiguration? I feel like that is where I would be best suited."

As Hermione leaned onto McGonagall's desk, waiting for a response, the older woman just sighed, "I'm sorry Miss Granger. Someone has already taken the offer." She took off her glasses and set them down next to Hermione's sheet of test scores.

The younger witch looked confused, "Isn't there something you can do? I was your best student Professor! Who took the job?"

Sighing McGonagall folded her hands beneath her chin, tiredly, "I cannot go back on my word, Miss Granger, I am sorry."

Hermione sank back in her chair, looking defeated. She had put all of her hopes into getting the position, even though she had just found out about it the day before, and now they seemed crushed, "Professor….who is it?" she whispered, disappointed.

McGonagall seemed to be rather fidgety and more nervous than usual but Hermione shook it off, "Miss Cho Chang. My apologies that you weren't here sooner but she came just yesterday morning enquiring after it, and since I assumed you would want to go into another profession, I gladly accepted her into my program."

Hermione slumped over and bowed her head, "I see. It's just that I can't remember the last time Hogwarts was offering an opportunity like this… I think I remember hearing about one last right before the chamber of secrets disaster in my second year."

McGonagall frowned, truly sorry that her brightest pupil would not get the position she so rightfully deserved but she knew better. The one post that Hermione would excel in above all else had been reserved solely for her. She sighed, bluffing to make her favorite student feel better, "There is still a chance that Miss Chang may not want to teach once she becomes involved in the internship. I have had many people back out before finishing."

Hermione wasn't convinced and didn't look up.

"Miss Granger," she started, changing the subject rather quickly to the more important matter, "if you love Hogwarts as much as you say you do, then you not teaching Transfiguration would be but a small, trivial matter. Am I right?"

Hermione looked confused, "Professor?"

McGonagall continued, "If you say that Hogwarts is where you belong, and you just want to teach, then any subject would do, yes?"

She nodded hesitantly but honestly.

"Professor Snape is offering his first apprenticeship. Never before has he ever offered anything of the sort. It is quite a rare find indeed and I should think that if you love this place as much as I do, then apprenticing in Potions, until Miss Chang decides what the future holds for her, would not bother you at all, would it?"

Hermione tilted her head, "You are still offering me to stay?"

McGonagall shook her head in ascent, "Miss Granger I do believe that you would do great things as a Potions Teacher."

She was shocked! Apprentice under Professor Severus Snape? She had never thought about the idea before, "Professor… Why would Snape be offering an apprenticeship? He is not planning on leaving, is he?"

The older witch shook her head, "I think it is time that Severus got the job that he has always wanted… he has certainly earned it as well-"

"Defense against the Dark Arts?" Hermione finished, shocked that her old Potions Master would finally get to teach his favorite subject.