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the unspeakable universe:
this quiet place
She teaches Potions, and sometimes Arithmancy, because Professor Vector is getting older and talking of retirement. She is the head of Gryffindor House, the Deputy Headmistress, the stern woman who sends the letters to the new students and makes sure that the school runs smoothly. She is strict but fair, intellectual and empathetic, and all the things that the head of Gryffindor House should be.
She is also an Unspeakable, one of their most elite agents. She is highly trained: as a researcher and an Auror.
She is a teacher.
She is a lioness, dedicated to the protection of the next generation of wizarding children.
She is twenty-eight years
old, and not a day goes by when she doesn't try to learn something new.
She is reading a Muggle newspaper one morning, simply because it was there, and she always reads anything left lying around.
She's been away from the Muggle world for years, and the politics is incomprehensible. But the photograph on the front page is telling: standing by the Prime Minister is a woman whose face she remembers from a Sorting in her fifth year.
So we've penetrated that
far, she thinks, and wonders if she should be proud.
They are an elite group, the Unspeakables of Hogwarts. She can name some: Snape, Lupin, Pomfrey. She suspects that Professor Vector is one of them, or was at some point in her career.
She sometimes wonders about Neville, but she can't imagine the Department employing him as anything other than a researcher, and the Hogwarts Unspeakables need more than that.
There are a lot of them,
she is certain of that. She wonders what her parents would think, that
she has never had the opportunity to vote for the Minister of Magic, and
that there are members of a secret police thickly scattered through all
levels of wizarding society. She understands the reasons: the Ministry
is open to infiltration by groups far more ominous than the Department,
the Minister is susceptible to Dark influences, the Junto are rising. But
it worries her.
In Snape's bed, she is quiet but never still. Once, she rejoiced in sharing her knowledge with others, whether they wanted it or not. Now, she has learnt the value of silence.
Their breathing and the
slip of his skin on her skin and fabric are the only sounds. Words would
reduce their bond to the level of the mundane, and one thing they share
is an intense desire to be anything but mundane.
"Why wasn't Professor McGonagall in the Department?" she asks Severus one day.
"She had her reasons."
They are leaving his office, which she no longer thinks of as Dumbledore's. They stride through the halls: the Headmaster and his deputy. They are powerful and striking, and she sometimes thinks that Severus is almost beautiful at times like these, when he is happy and secure in his authority. He no longer hides his mutilated right hand, and conversely, no one notices it anymore.
Or perhaps it's just that she never notices it anymore.
This is their school, their territory. The eye of the hurricane, really, for the Junto is rising, and soon they might have to put teaching aside and become soldiers again.
Soon. But for now, this is almost a quiet place.
"Ten points from Hufflepuff, Davies, I saw that gesture. What kind of reasons?"
"Political reasons." More loudly: "Wilson, there is a reason we ban magic in the halls. Twenty points from Ravenclaw."
They reach the Entrance
Hall and begin to make their way to the Quidditch pitch, where their staff
and students await them.
Later that night, he lies in bed and watches her dress.
"Her father was muggle-born," he said suddenly.
"Sorry? Professor McGonagall?"
"Yes." He gives her a twisted smile. "You did want to know, didn't you?"
"The Department had problems when she was young. It was completely reformed in the sixties, Dumbledore's influence, I believe. But during the first half of the twentieth century, it was heavily involved in the surveillance of the muggle-born and raised."
"I believe her family suffered a great deal of persecution. She refused to have anything to do with the Department."
McGonagall had been at school with Tom Riddle, Hermione remembers. She wonders if he, too, had suffered the attentions of the Department. She does not pretend to understand Voldemort, and has no wish to do so, but she has always known that he hated the wizarding world as much as the muggle.
"She probably would have lived if she'd joined. She'd have been better protected." Hermione's throat is tight at the thought.
She'd been poisoned; had lain in a coma for a month while rumours flew around the community. Hermione had spent hours in the dungeons, trying to help Snape identify the poison and create an antidote. He'd still been recovering from Wormtail's torture. Hermione had acted as his hands, watching as he slowly paced the rooms, leaning on a mahogany staff.
McGonagall had died in the early hours of a Thursday morning. Hermione, asleep at a workbench, had been shaken awake by a tearful Madam Pomfrey.
"There's nothing more to
do, Miss Granger," she said softly, and then left the Head Girl and the
new Headmaster together in silence.
She is a teacher, a friend, a lover. Not a mother, not yet, but a witch's lifetime is a long one, and there's no rush. No need to hurry things just yet. She is an academic, an intellectual.
Soon, she will be a soldier again.
This is the calm before
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