“Come in, come in, Rose my dear,” the charms master smiled brightly as he welcomed the sixth year prefect into his office. The diminutive professor wrapped his arms around the girl’s waist, “How was your summer my dear?”
Rose couldn’t help but smile. Even in the worst of times –which she hoped were in the past now — there was something almost absurdly homey about this office. Professor Flitwick was a professor, an adult she admired, but he was also the head of her house and someone she trusted. “It had it’s ups and downs. But thank you so much for the gift you sent. I think my dad’s going to play with it more than Halcyon will.”
The little professor squeaked with laughter, “Yes, well,” Professor Flitwick cleared his throat, “we both know your father.”
The tiny blonde nodded and laughed softly. “Yes, we do.” She took a seat in one of the overstuffed chairs across from the professor’s desk. “Was there something wrong with my schedule?”
“Oh no, no Rose,” Professor Flitwick squeaked, “I just had a few questions, concerns really. I thought we had talked about you wanting to drop a few classes and concentrate on other things, but I see you’ve decided to only drop arithmancy. Why is that?”
“I wasn’t going to drop anything,” she began after a moment’s reflection. She wasn’t going to lie though, especially not to one of her favorite professors. “But after last year and Eric and everything. I just… I don’t want to take Arithmancy anymore.” Her green eyes were steady as she looked at Flitwick, hoping to see some understanding on his face.
The Charms Master found an extreme interest in the papers that sat on his desk, “About that,” he said softly, “I am sorry that we could not have seen what was happening before you and your friends were hurt.”
Rose nodded. “Me too.” Looking down, she let the waves of golden curls hide her face. “I spent all summer looking for the signs that I missed. I still don’t know if I should have seen it coming or not.” Taking a deep breath, she looked back up, determined not to let this conversation get off track. “But I really don’t think I need to drop any other classes. I’m not that mentally unstable or anything.”
“Oh no, no,” the Professor shook his head, “far from it. Ambrosia,” he said with all the love of a kindly uncle, “I am only looking out for you, for your well being. I have known you since you were a baby. I was bursting with pride as you were sorted into Ravenclaw. Selfishly, I am as proud of you as I would be if you were my own daughter. I just,” his voice cracked a little, “worry about you.”
For a minute it was almost as though the room grew brighter. Though her eyes felt a sudden rush of tears, she blinked quickly and smiled at him. “I’m fine. I really am. I just… I know my limitations.” She pursed her lips to the side, trying to think of a way to explain without sounding like an emotional basket case. “I enjoyed Arithmancy. I just think that sitting in there being reminded of Eric and the bad stuff day after day would be bad for me. But I really think I might need all my other classes someday. It’s not like any of them are too much work for me.”
Professor Flitwick nodded, “Then I shall trust you, Ambrosia. I will advise Professors Vector of your decision.”
Rose beamed. “Thank you, Professor. But I should tell her myself.” Rising from her seat, she gave the head of her house another hug. “I’m going to keep on making you proud. Just you wait.”
“I am sure you will my dear,” the Professor smiled, “you have yet to disappoint me.”
If Professor Flitwick’s office was homey, Professor Vector’s was just… off. Though she had always rather liked the Arithmancy professor, Rose sat somewhat uncomfortably in her chair. The room was littered with piles of books, something the blonde could normally identify with, that seemed to make precarious structures and makeshift tables. She spied a teacup sitting on top of one pile and a stack of student homework on another. Everything in the office, from the desk to the pictures on the walls, stuck out at strange angles. It left Rose feeling off balance and wondering if this was what a life of Arithmancy did to a person. Maybe it wasn’t such a bad thing she was dropping the class.
“Ambrosia Sheridan.” Professor Vector’s voice was short, though far from curt. It seemed simply matter-of-fact. The girl sat in her office, and she said her name as she entered the room. The thin woman crossed around her desk. Dark salt and pepper hair fell down over her shoulders. She sat down across from the young Ravenclaw. “I apologize for keeping you waiting.” It had been probably a total of three minutes, but it was rather unusual for the Arithmancy professor to be delayed at all.
Black right angles framed the crisp blue eyes that regarded the girl across the table. Septima Vector smiled a bit. While Rose had experienced warmer, it wasn’t a cold smile, just a simple gesture. “You’re here to drop Arithmancy, then?”
The tiny Ravenclaw opened her mouth, shut it, then opened it once again, trying to find something coherent to say. “I…” She wasn’t going to dance around the issue so she went for the obvious question.”How did you know?”
“Arithmancy, Ambrosia Sheridan.” Vector chuckled as she thumbed through some of the staggered papers before her. “Every year I study the numbers of all my students exams.” She had fished out a set of papers from the stack and slid it toward the young blonde. Rose’s own handwriting was quite familiar but then there was a series of numbers and equations drawn around the edges in red ink. “Most often it helps the next year’s lesson plan. Sometimes you learn a little more.” At the bottom of the last page, Professor Vector had made one last note. Probability of return: 1%
Rose stared at the paper, quickly blinking back tears. Maybe this was another good reason to be dropping the class; it was somewhat disturbing to see her own future written out so plainly. “I wanted to want to return,” she said finally with a long sigh.
The professor nodded. “Well, I am grateful to hear that. I always regret losing a promising student.” Her fingers folded in front of her. “I would like to know why.”
She couldn’t look up into those blue eyes. “I don’t think I can do it anymore. I mean, I was studying for this class when everything happened last year.” Her fingers laced together tightly in her lap. “We studied together all the time. Why couldn’t I have seen it coming or something?” That last question slipped out in an almost desperate rush.
“Ahh…” Septima nodded. Those eyes fell a moment as she realized what it was that Rose was referring. She may not have been as close to the young Ravenclaw as some of the other professors, but she knew enough. “I wish I could tell you, Ambrosia. Numbers can tell us somethings.” She regarded rose with kindness. “Probabilities and possibilities. Only when we look for them. And they will never tell us why.”
Rose wiped her eyes and managed to look back up at her professor. Though she wasn’t someone the little blonde would have considered hugging or something, she’d always enjoyed Vector’s classes. Now, even in leaving, she was still learning from her. “I’ll miss your class. I just think this is what’s best for me right now,” she said in a surprisingly even tone.
“Of course, Ambrosia,” Professor Vector gave the girl a reassuring smile, “Of course. And my door is always open. As is my class, should you care to return.”
For the second time in their conversation, the Ravenclaw prefect didn’t know what to say. Her green eyes suddenly filled with tears again though her lips curled into a genuine smile. “Thank you, Professor. I.. I’ll…” Taking a deep breath, she stood and took a small step toward the door. “I know that now. And I think maybe someday I’ll be able to come back.”
This was the part of the year Severus Snape hated. Not the beginning of the term mind you, the Professor hated being alone in Spinner’s End. He hated the fact that there was almost a week of returning students and new students all idle with nothing to do but cause trouble. I am not here to babysit, he thought to himself as he walked down the halls the evening of the second day back. His lips curled into a hateful sneer as he spied a group of third year Hufflepuffs sneaking their way down the hall with several paper bags. His wand slid gracefully from the inner part of his sleeve and he pointed it at the students, “Accio paper bags.” The bags flew from the students hands and landed at his feet. “Dungbombs no doubt,” he said drolly as he stared down the students, “I can’t say I’m surprised.” He ran his open hand threw his greasy, black hair, “That will be five points each from Hufflepuff and I will be contacting Professor Sprout.”
He watched as the dejected students walked back down the hall, a sense of hollow satisfaction. As he stood there, he could hear another set of footfalls behind him. His lips curled again as he whirled around.
Rose, the Ravenclaw prefect on duty tonight, found the look on his face somewhat intimidating. Taking a step back, she tried to remind herself that he was a professor and that he wouldn’t be here if he didn’t like teaching at least a little. Too bad he didn’t seem to like kids. “Um… good evening, Professor Snape.”
“Sheridan,” her name seemed to hang on his lips forever, “Doing your rounds I gather?”
Resisting the urge to chew on her hair, the blonde prefect nodded. “Yes, Professor. But I’m um… looking forward to class this week.”
The Professor studied her, “I would assume like the rest of them you would enjoy the idle time, Miss Sheridan, being the social butterfly that you are.”
Reminding herself that this was just the way he was and that not everyone had to like her, Rose did her best not to be hurt. “I think a summer of idle time is enough. It was very relaxing, but I’m ready to get back to work.” Her tone remained polite, even though she was correcting him somewhat.
“I can imagine,” the Professor said as he replaced his wand inside the sleeve of his robe, “I assume you will be taking N.E.W.T. level Potions?”
“Yes, Professor. I am.” It felt so unnatural to be having any sort of conversation with him.
“If I may ask a question?” His eyes narrowed.
“Um… yes?” she nearly squeaked, suddenly very alarmed.
“Why what… Sir?”
“I believe I spoke English,” his eyes bored into her, “Why are you taking N.E.W.T. level Potions?”
“Oh.” She suddenly wished she could sink down into the floor. Or maybe just transfigure herself into something tiny enough to be unnoticed. But instead, Rose took a deep breath and prepared to tell the truth. “I didn’t really like your class, you know,” she began, wincing a little as she said it. “When you made that speech our first year about the beauty in a cauldron, I thought you were a little bit crazy. Sorry. But the room was dark and smelly and I thought I’d never enjoy Potions. But last year when I was able to break down Amortentia, which I thought was such a horrible thing, and use it for something that I thought was… well… good. I guess I just finally realized how useful potions can be.” She made herself stop talking, sure she had just become his least favorite student.
Snape’s eyebrows raised, “Have you?”
Rose nodded, afraid she was about to have house points taken away or something. “Yes, Professor. I have.” Her chin lifted slightly. It was enough to know she was telling him the truth, no matter how much trouble she got into for saying it. “It may not sound like the best reason… but I never know when I’ll need to use them. So I have to learn as much as I can.”
“Yes well,” the Professor cleared his throat, “I want you to know that you as well as the other miscreants that had a hand in last year’s drama will not be treated any differently than any other student. Just so we have that clear.”
“If I wanted special treatment I’d earn it, Sir.” Her tone was almost pert. “You wanted to know why I was taking N.E.W.T. level Potions, so I told you.”
His eyes narrowed on the blonde. He studied her for what seemed like forever. Finally he opened his mouth, “Just so you know,” with that he turned his back on her and strode down the hall.
Completely unsure if she’d just scored points or made her position in the class much worse, Rose stared at the Potion Master’s back as he walked away. “Um… okay.” Suddenly the hallway seemed very big, and very empty. With a shake of her golden crowned head, she reminded herself that she wasn’t done with her patrol. The classes, both good and bad, would begin soon enough.