Master of the Senses

BY : Navarro09
Category: Harry Potter > Het - Male/Female > Snape/Hermione
Dragon prints: 1164
Disclaimer: I do not own Harry Potter or any of the affiliated characters. No money is being made and no copyright infringement is intended.

Hermione sighed inwardly, resisting the urge to stop for even a moment and shake the residual cramp from her hand.  She half-heartedly let a puff of breath out towards the singular brown lock of hair that dangled in front of her face.  She was so very near the end of her exam, the culmination of the past four years of study staring at her from upon the table. 

Following her completion of her seventh year after the final battle, Hermione knew without a doubt that her future lay in the world of education.  The notion of any other career path was really not an option she gave any thought to; for her the choice lay not in whether to follow a higher level of education, but in which topic to pursue. 

Hermione had been the only one of the trio post-war to follow this route.  Harry and Ron had opted out of their final seventh year at Hogwarts, taking advantage instead of the Ministry’s decision to graciously allow them to bypass the application into Auror training, and instead grant them automatic acceptance into the program.  Even Ginny, while she opted to return to Hogwarts as well, was offered a first-string seat on the team of the Holyhead Harpies Quidditch team mid-year.

 While it had surprised none that knew Hermione that she had sought a continuing education post-Hogwarts, it did shock many when they learned that her topic of interest was in fact Potions.  When Hermione looked back on the moment she realized where her passion lay, her heart harboured a secret that her mind was not quite ready to admit.  In fact, she wasn’t sure if even now four years later she was ready to confess that her passion may have stemmed not only from the art and science of potions, but to the man who had played the largest part in her education of the topic many years ago. 

Ironically, Hermione was in pursuit and near completion of her Potions Mastery in order to obtain the ability to return to Hogwarts.  However, this time her return would see her on the opposite side of the head table, alongside those who had taken part in shaping her education during her childhood.

“You have ten minutes remaining.”

The ministry official sat at the front of the room next to the timer, indicating the amount of time she and the others had left.  This was her last exam of her potions apprenticeship, which she entered into after being granted the title of Potioneer Apprentice two years ago.  After this, all she would have to do is a hands-on practicum in order to be awarded the title of Potions Master.  This title granted her many options for a line of work.  After completion she would then be certified to brew and sell potions through the Ministry, work as a brewer and distributor through St. Mungo’s, own and operate her own potions establishment if she so desired, and of course be qualified to teach at any of the wizarding schools.

 It was no secret that Horace Slughorn, who currently held the position of Potions Master at Hogwarts, was seeking to retire from teaching permanently.  He had been one of the Potions Masters who had taken part in her education at the Potions and Apothecary Trade School.  This had been how Hermione had heard about this position in the first place; Slughorn had pulled her aside at the end of one particular semester in which he had been a guest speaker to inform her of his intent to retire.  He assured her that, although she would have no trouble securing the position if her academics were any indication, he would write her a letter of recommendation and forward on his highest praises to Headmistress McGonagall.

Hermione had completed this program with 7 other students, many of whom were from other visiting countries.  Hermione would not have guessed it, but qualified Potion Apprenticeships were hard to come by.  She was fortunate enough to find one right here in Great Britain, although many in her group were not quite so lucky as to find a program in their home country and thus had to travel to attend here.

“Your time is up.  Please complete your final statement, leave your quill at your exam station, and turn your exam in here at the front desk.” 

The room let out an audible sigh of relief, and Hermione grinned.  She felt the familiar rush, the telltale sign that not only had she done well on her exam, she would be surprised if she didn’t score at least 105%.  She walked her exam to the front of the room, glancing at those around her to try and gauge the response; most of the students looked exhausted but relieved.  This final exam was to assess their overall knowledge of potion brewing, indicating their level of expertise on everything from ingredients, to brewing method and practices, and even on things like non-consumable materials such as cauldrons and preparation instruments.

“Please don’t forget to meet with your assigned instructor before you leave to discuss placement of your practicum.”

Hermione placed her exam on the desk at the front of the room, and then checked the corresponding sheet to see where she would need to report to.  She was relieved to find that her room was not far at all, especially since the Ministry could be such a large and confusing place to navigate.  Even though those in the program completed their education at the trade school, the final exam had to be completed at the Ministry in order to be certified. 

Exiting the examination room, Hermione followed the long hallway down to another wing which held a number of small conference rooms.  She found the room matching her assignment on the paper and knocked; she heard a familiar voice call out for her to enter. 

She smiled as she opened the door and was met with the familiar face of one of her trade school instructors, Madame Gethsemane Prickle.  She was one of Hermione’s favorite instructors during her four years, and Hermione was glad to find her sitting across the table as she took a seat.

“My dear Hermione, how did your exam go? Everything went well I trust?”

Madame Prickle was a kindly old woman with a doctorate in both Potions and Herbology, and Hermione idolized not only her vast knowledge of either subject, but also her warmth and patience as a teacher.

“I felt very pleased with my exam.” Hermione gushed, “My only regret would have been to have had a bit more time.  I don’t think I went into quite enough detail on the alternative properties of cauldrons composed of a metal alloy…”

Madame Prickle laughed fondly, “Oh Hermione, I think if you were given enough time you could write a book on any one of the topics you were tested on today.”

Hermione flushed with pride, neither agreeing nor disagreeing with her superior. 

“Let’s get down to business shall we.” Madame Prickle picked up the rectangular glasses dangling on the gold chain in front of her and placed them upon her face.  She glanced at the paper in front of her which Hermione could clearly see held her small, neat handwriting.  “I see that you applied for your internship to be completed at Hogwarts?  With Professor Slughorn to be your Potioneer Instructor of the Doctorate level, is that correct?”

Hermione nodded enthusiastically, “It was my original desire to be placed as close to home as possible.”

“Any particular reason for Hogwarts?”

 “Hogwarts is my intended place of employment following completion of my Mastery.  I thought it would be beneficial as a prospective employee to place myself there.  Also, Professor Slughorn assured me that he would put in his strongest recommendation with Headmistress McGonagall.  I thought it would make sense that I finish my tutelage under the current Potions Master.”

“It would of course make the most sense,” Madame Prickle smile turned a bit sheepish, “if Professor Slughorn would have agreed to remain at Hogwarts this summer.”

It was here that Madame Prickle’s expression became a bit forced and Hermione’s heart dropped, but she continued.

“However, Horace was adamant that he was taking an extended Holiday immediately following the completion of term in order to celebrate his return to retirement.” 

Hermione was taken aback.  How could Professor Slughorn expect her to replace him so soon if he wasn’t going to assist her in completing her Mastery?  It could sometimes take months to find someone willing to take on the ten week practicum period of a potions apprentice. 

However, Hermione did not want to give insult to her old Potions professor, and instead replied uneasily, “I suppose he has earned it.”

“That could be agreeable,” Madame Prickle nodded irritably, “If he had managed to schedule his holiday after he was finished ensuring the educational completion of his replacement.”

Hermione could feel her hope crumbling; she knew how difficult it was to get a placement right out of school.  Unless she traveled outside of the country, it was unlikely she could secure a placement immediately after completion of her exams.

“However…” It was here that Madame Prickle’s demeanor changed, although it was difficult to read.  Her expression and tone conveyed a certain optimistic reluctance. “Being that you are such a highly skilled student, we have managed to secure you a placement with another Potions doctorate at Hogwarts starting on the same timeline that we would have had with Horace.”

Hermione’s heart skipped a beat; she would finish her Mastery in time after all for the upcoming school year.  She could simply not pass up the opportunity, certainly not when another Potions Master could come in and take the very position she desired to secure.  She struggled to contain her excitement.

“Which Potioneer will I be finishing my tutelage under?  I know there are so few and far between, and one that would come to Hogwarts!  Is it Tugwood?  Or perhaps Swoopstikes?  I knew that his primary focus was on entomology, but he would have the ability to travel to Hogwarts for the required time…”

“Erm….that’s the thing.”  Now it was Madame Prickle’s turn to adopt an uneasy tone of voice.  “It’s a bit unorthodox since this instructor has never taken on an apprentice for the mastery program.  In fact, he’s never before agreed to instruct anyone higher than the level of primary education, even though he is certainly qualified…”

Hermione fell silent, knowing what the answer was before it was even spoken. Her heart skipped a beat, but whether it was with excitement or fear she did not know.

“Although we were lucky because he’s already at Hogwarts,” Madame Prickle continued, “And he will certainly be spending the summer term there already.  Coincidentally you’ve already had the chance to be under his tutelage, even though that was quite a few years ago…”

Hermione closed her eyes with a sigh, knowing that at this point there was really no other choice.

“If you so choose, Professor Snape has agreed to allow you to complete your apprenticeship under his expertise and grant you your Mastery.”



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