Disclaimer: I don't own Buffy or Harry Potter
"Miss Granger. A moment after class please."
This year's defense teacher was a tall brunette witch. She was young; younger even than Snape, who was still under forty, and certainly much friendlier. School hadn't been in session long, maybe a month. The woman seemed like a good teacher, Hermione supposed, but she hadn't seemed to give much special attention to anyone. /Until now, I guess. I wonder what she wants. Maybe it's about Harry.../
The woman simultaneously seemed both at home in Hogwarts and always slightly out off place. She wore her long hair loose and though she never protested wearing a hat, she also never put one on unless someone (Dumbledore) handed her one. She wore tasteful robes; attractive, simple, but thick. Sometimes, though not often, she'd have a slight accent, or use a strange turn of phrase.
All in all, she was a mystery. But perhaps the most important thing of all for Hermione was that Professor Winters had come out of nowhere. She was not in the news, she had written no books, she hadn't even attended Hogwarts in her youth. She was the only professor on staff in the last fifty years from a different school. It was strange to have heard nothing about how her house had shaped her.
Professor Winters, as she was called here, had heard rumors of Miss Granger's ongoing battle for House Elf rights. SPEW, which proved at the very least that the girl needed some help with marketing, was apparently a one-woman war against tradition, a functioning system, the elites, and the house elves themselves. Since the Professor felt herself to be something of an accidental ambassador to foreign cultures, she felt she could perhaps help the girl learn to accept differences before judging them.
The students filed out of class, leaving a vaguely nervous looking Hermione standing in front of the new professor's desk.
"Ah, thank you." The woman brushed her hair behind her ears and sorted her papers.
"What did you want to see me about ma'am?" Hermione asked.
"I was wondering if I heard correctly about your campaign for the house elves to be paid?"
"Yes ma'am! If you'd like to join the cause, we could make much more progress-" the girl started hopefully, but was cut off.
"Unfortunately, I've had a chance to talk to some of the elves here, and I don't believe it would be in their best interests to achieve your goals. A great many of them would fall to depression and lose their will to live. Others would suffer from the loss of prestige and lose their homes. I feel that your heart is in the right place, but I don't think your mind is. No, I was wondering if I could help you in a different way. Do you object to some extra work?"
Hermione looked furious, but her expression settled into a mulish sulk as the professor explained her thoughts. At least the woman didn't seem to be a bigot, like most of the purebloods. She did perk up a little at the thought of extra work though.
"No, I don't mind homework." She replied honestly.
The teacher smiled. "Great! I'm not sure who here has a muggle-born education and who doesn't, but have you heard of anthropology?"
Hermione had, but she was surprised it was being brought up now. "Some, yes."
"Well, I have some texts here that will explain the basic premise of it, and a primer for field techniques. What I'd like you to do is read the books, and then write an anthropological report on the house elves. The trick of this is to remain unbiased, or as unbiased as possible. If you have any questions, feel free to discuss them with me. Does this sound agreeable?"
It did, she supposed. In truth, she was a little stunned both at the sensibility of the professor and at the subtle scolding she had received. "All right, that sounds educational. When is it due?"
"As you find the time," the professor said kindly, "I'll give you extra credit if it's done well - it does apply to the class in a roundabout way - but it isn't an assignment as such. If you never finish it, I won't penalize you."
Hermione left after being given the books; more shocked than she would have been if it was all about Harry.