“And to make an end is to make a beginning”Author:
The New Year has always been a time of celebration and new beginnings, but this one in particular is special because it is the first one since Lord Voldermort had been defeated thanks to The-Boy-Who-Lived and his friends. As such, Albus Dumbledore decided to hold a party in honor of the New Year and the hopes of the wizarding world.Ratings:
Harry Potter and Friends (or Enemies) do not belong to me; they belong to the talented Ms. Rowling. The title of this story is from T.S. Eliot’s "Little Gidding." Author’s Note:
This is an old story I had saved on a disk I’ve just recently rediscovered.
Almost all of the professors (an a few apprentices) were in the Great Hall decorating it for the New Year’s Party to be hosted at Hogwarts later that evening.
“I got an owl from Harry and Ron this morning, Minerva,” Hermione told her mentor as she helped Transfigure the furnishings into something suitable for the party. “They should be here about one o’clock.”
Minerva smiled. “It will be nice to see them again. Although I daresay Severus will be less than pleased.”
Pomona Sprout chuckled. “True. You three caused him more trouble in your seven years than any of his other students.”
Neville Longbottom shivered slightly as he deftly twisted the sprigs of holly and mistletoe into the olive branches. “P-Professor Snape, always scared me… actually, he still does,” he said softly.
Albus Dumbledore beamed at Neville, his eyes shining with their customary twinkle. “Severus does tend to intimidate people, but he’s not that bad.”
Mariah Vector chuckled. “He’s a rude, antisocial, sadistic bastard, but he grows on you. This place just wouldn’t be the same without him stalking the halls and terrorizing the students.”
The professors shared a fond laugh while Hermione and Neville exchanged a glance. They were both still getting used to seeing the real people behind their former professors’ teaching personas.
Hermione looked at the headmaster. “Sir? Where is Professor Snape anyway? I thought you said everyone had to help out with the preparations for the New Year’s party.”
The Headmaster chuckled. “Hermione, please call me Albus,” he gently corrected her, “and he is helping. He’s brewing the Het Pint¹.”
Both Hermione and Neville looked surprised.
“He’s the one best suited for the job. After all, brewing ale requires the same patience and skills as Potions,” Filius Flitwick explained, amusement in his voice. “The house-elves could do it instead, but it won’t taste as good.”
Hermione's brow wrinkled at the mention of the house-elves.
"Oh, come now dear, they have a place to stay, food, and anything else they want or need at Hogwarts," Minerva says, a little amused at her reaction. “They’re happy here. Don’t worry about them."
Hermione bit her lower lip, her desire to free the elves warring with her respect for authority. “I know they seem to enjoy it, but still I don’t think its right for them to be enslaved…”
“If you think about it, Hermione, it’s really no different than having live-in servants. They do the chores around the castle, and as payment they get food and a place to stay. Albus would pay them if they wanted to, but most house-elves are insulted by the offer of payment,” Minerva countered.
“But that’s only at Hogwarts… House-elves elsewhere have little or no choice,” Hermione said ignoring the fact they don’t want the choice, “and they are treated like dirt.”
Minerva smiled sadly at her apprentice. “‘Tis true Hermione, but the laws are in favor of the witches and wizards, as you already know.”And the house-elves have been brainwashed into believing it wrong to work for wages, and if they do something that displeases their master, they must punish themselves.
Hermione thought bitterly. Out loud she said, “It’s unfair, the house-elves aren’t even allowed to leave the house or family they are enslaved to, and they aren’t allowed to use a wand.”
Filius chuckled. “They don’t need to use a wand. If I remember correctly, you learned in your second year that a house-elf does not need a wand to do magic, as when your friends Mr. Potter and Mr. Weasley were blocked from getting through the barrier at the platform, and when Dobby cursed that Bludger during that one Quidditch match. A house-elf’s magic is more powerful in its natural form, whereas using a wand may be restrictive.”
Minerva nodded her head in agreement. “And yes, it is unfair that their movements are constrained, but if they truly wanted to be free I’m sure they could easily break the binding spells.”
Hermione nodded thoughtfully and let the topic drop. She had enough to think about and she could probably apply what she learned to S.P.E.W. later.
It was a quarter till one when the Headmaster clapped his hands once. “Good job everyone! The Great Hall is ready for tonight. Thank you all for your help. If you wish, I have arranged with the house-elves for refreshments in the staff room,” he said, smiling at everyone as he ushered them out, pausing only to lock the doors to the Great Hall to prevent anyone from entering before the party started.
Hermione paused at the Entrance Hall. She knew that Ron and Harry should soon be here. “I’ll wait for Harry and Ron,” she told Minerva, before glancing at Neville. “Do you want to wait with me?” she asked him.
Neville shrugged and sat on one of the benches. “Sure.”
Minerva nodded at Hermione. “Alright Hermione. When they arrive, please bring them to the staff room.”
Hermione sat next to Neville. “So how’s your apprenticeship coming along?”
Neville smiled. “Wonderful! Pomona said she would allow me to experiment with the breeding of the Mimbulus mimbletonia. She said it would probably be difficult because the plant is so rare, but she has full confidence that I’ll be able to grow cuttings from the one my uncle gave me in fifth year.”
“She’s probably right; that plant seemed to respond to you quite well. I assume it’s fully mature now?” Hermione asked curiously, recalling how alive the cactus had been around Neville.
Neville explained, “The Mimbulus mimbletonia seems to purr whenever I’m around it and Pomona says it sulks and loses some of its color when I’m away. Also, by stroking it, I can coax it to drop off some of its boils. However, if anyone else strokes it, it doesn’t respond to their touch—unless they are rough with it, of course.”
“Oh?” Hermione asked, surprised that the plant would recognize its caregiver.
Neville nodded. “And it’s not the only one: the flutterby bushes tend to display when you talk to them softly, and if you work with a Venomous Tentacula long enough, you can sometimes train it not to attack you.”
“Interesting… You know, perhaps for part of your research project, you could try to research why some plants seem to have sentience while others don’t, and the correlation to the amount of magic the plant has,” Hermione suggested.
The pair of them were so deeply involved in the conversation that neither noticed when Ron and Harry walked in laughing about what happened at the last Quidditch match. Ron smiled when he saw them and snuck up beside Neville and poked him in the rib. Neville yelped, causing Hermione to jerk her head. Her eyes widened when she saw who it was, before narrowing into a glare. “Ronald Weasley! One would think you’d have matured!” she said loudly, but with no real heat behind the rebuke.
Harry chuckled. “Hello Hermione, hello Neville,” he said pleasantly before dropping his tone to a stage whisper to Ron. “It seems she’s just as bossy as she was when we left school.”
Ron shrugged. “That’s our Hermione.”
Hermione stood up and hugged Ron and then Harry. “I’ve missed you guys! It’s not the same around here without you. Luna and Ginny are looking forward to seeing you at the feast and dance…”
Neville grinned. “Hello Ron, you played well in that match against the Ballycastle Bats.”
Ron beamed at the praise. “Thanks Neville.”
“How do you like Auror training, Harry?” Neville asked.
Harry shrugged. “It’s been interesting, although some of the lessons are pretty tough, especially since we had so few good Defense teachers. Although their Potions class is nothing like Snape’s!”
“Cool,” said Neville, “I bet Potions is easier without Snape towering over you.” He gave a slight shiver remembering how it felt to be berated by the irate Potions Master.
Hermione smirked. “Well I hope you’re studying, but if you need help you can always ask Remus to tutor you in DADA. Minerva said he should be here about five o’clock, along with several of the other Order members. And when we’re done catching up, I’m supposed to take you to the staff room.”
The four friends began exchanging tales, catching up on the gossip they were unwilling to share via owl post. Afterwards they headed to the staff room, where Ron and Harry were greeted warmly by most of the staff. Hermione excused herself, stating that she was going to get ready for the party and that if they wanted to find her, she would be getting ready for the party with Ginny and Luna.
Several hours later, Hermione, Luna and Ginny met up with Harry, Ron and Neville at the entrance of the Great Hall. The double doors were propped open and many students and guests were gaping at the transformation of the Great Hall. It was much more lavish than usual parties, probably because the entire staff had helped decorate, instead of leaving it up to the wand of the eccentric Headmaster and his elf helpers.
On the dais where the Head Table normally sat, there were two long tables for the guests of honor and for the staff, and between the two was a marble podium. The center of the hall was cleared for the dancing that would take place later in the evening, and smaller round tables were spread around the edges of the room. Ivy had been charmed to climb the walls and real fairies were resting on the leaves. The air smelled faintly of juniper thanks to the burning juniper bushes in the conjured fireplace.²
On the far side of the hall there was a buffet table covered in a white sheet, graced by arrangements of olive branches, mistletoe and holly. The buffet table was ladled with a variety of light refreshments such as shortbread, scones, cheese, New Year black buns, fruit, nuts and juice.
Ron glanced at the table and whispered to Hermione, “I thought it was going to be a feast…”
Hermione chuckled at her friend. “The feast will start at seven. Those are just to nibble on throughout the evening. It was scheduled so that it will be served when the most people are present.”
Ron nodded. “So who else is coming?” he asked curiously.
Ginny whacked her brother in the head. “You should know, it was in your invitation!” she huffed. “The invitation was extended to the parents of all the students, most of the Ministry, the participants of the Final Battle, Riddle’s victims’ families and members of the Order.”
“Why so many?” Harry asked in surprise.
“Because it’s the first New Year’s Eve after the downfall of Y-You-Know-Who, and Professor Dumbledore wants to remind the world that it’s a new era, and that we should use this new year as a time to make a fresh start,” Neville explained while Hermione nodded in agreement.
“Colin has agreed to take photographs of the speeches… I wonder if he will take a picture of the Rewa Nye3, if one shows up this evening,” Luna said while she eyed the decorations with curiosity. “After all, they are attracted by the scent of juniper and ivy.”
“It sounds like it is going to be a big event,” Harry groaned, “I just hope there won’t be reporters in attendance.”
Hermione shook her head. “Sorry Harry, Professor Dumbledore allowed each of the major publications to send a pair of reporters.” She smiled sympathetically. “However, Professor Dumbledore said you wouldn’t have to sit at the table with all the other guests of honor… we can find a table in the corner and avoid the press.”
Harry nodded gratefully. “Let’s find a table then.” He led the group to the table furthest from the head table.
They sat there talking while the guests continued to arrive. Fairly early on in the evening the surviving members of the DA; Parvati, Dean, Colin, Lavender, Justin, Lee, Ernie, and Cho came over to chat. They were even approached by a few of the Slytherin’s who wanted to put the past behind them.
Minerva tapped a fork on a crystal goblet several times and the Great Hall fell silent. “I wish to welcome everyone to Hogwarts on this wonderful New Year’s Eve,” she said, surveying the party with a smile on her face. “However, before the feast and general merry-making can take place, the Headmaster wishes to make a speech for this New Year.” She inclined her head towards the Headmaster and took her seat.
The Headmaster stood up, the familiar twinkle in his eye. “Good evening, everyone. The New Year has always been a time of reflection of the old, and of anticipating the future. From earliest times, it has been an opportunity to make a new start, and that is especially true now, when Lord Voldermort has been defeated once and for all.
“An era of terror is over, and now it is up to all of us to create a new dawn. Every single one of us, from the smallest first year to the oldest wizard-” there were a few chuckles at this jab at himself- “can contribute to this new era, but in doing this we must not forget the lessons of the past. We must embrace the differences between the wizarding world and the muggle world; those differences make this world more interesting!”
He paused to let his words sink in and to allow the applause to die down before continuing, “Old rivalries should be forgotten. Let us try to make an effort to make peace with the past and embrace the future. There is no need to dwell on grudges: they just hold us back.”
The Headmaster was looking at the Potions Master at this point in his speech.
“Now we should try to rebuild, to repair the damage from the war and improve upon what was destroyed. Like the phoenix, we should rise from the ashes, stronger than before. I hope that each and every one of you will think hard upon these words.”
He clapped his hands twice and a goblet of Het Pint appeared in front of everyone, the underage students receiving a milder version of it. “A toast to the New Year and to new beginnings.” He raised his goblet in a toast and took a drink. He waited a minute before speaking again. “Before the feast I urge you all to try the Hogmanay—but be careful, hidden in one piece is a silver Sickle for luck and wealth in the New Year, and I wouldn’t want anyone to chip a tooth.” As he sat down a small plate with a square of the oat cake appeared in front of each guest.
There was a hush throughout the hall as everyone waited to see who the lucky person was. “It’s a good thing the amount of silver in a Sickle isn’t deadly to werewolves,” Remus Lupin said as he held the offending Sickle in his hand. There was polite applause.
The Headmaster nodded at the former Defense teacher. “Good luck, Remus… And now, let the feast begin! I should warn you that if you are underage and attempt to drink one of the alcoholic drinks, it will Transfigure itself into juice.”
Food of all kinds appeared on the tables.
Ron smiled. “Finally…” he said as he served himself some chicken. “That ale was pretty good, wasn’t it?”
Neville and Harry nodded. Hermione took another sip of the drink and waited until Ron and Harry did the same before remarking, “Yes it is. Professor Snape brewed it well, didn’t he?”
Shocked, Ron started choking on his drink while Harry accidentally sprayed it out. “The slimy git could have poisoned it!”
Hermione looked at them and said sternly, “He wouldn’t have.”
Luna nodded. “He might be mean, but he is honorable.”
Neither Ron nor Harry said anything although they exchanged a look that clearly said they wouldn’t have put it past their former professor.
Ginny looked up. “Harry, it looks like a couple of reporters have spotted you,” she said, pointing to a couple of people with Quick Quote Quills and cameras, clearly reporters, who were heading towards the table the six friends shared.
“This should help.” Hermione pulled out her wand. “Obscuvis!”
“What does that do?” Harry asked as he watched the reporters pause and then head off in a different direction.
“It’s a partial Transfiguration illusion that makes us less identifiable,” Hermione said with a small shrug.
Soon music started playing and some of the people started dancing. Everybody was having a really great time. An hour into the dance party, Hermione decided to take break from the fragrant air of the Great Hall, and stepped out to the Entrance Hall, where she was surprised to see Professor Snape. She had thought he would have gone back to his rooms as soon as possible after the feast. She thought about returning to the Great Hall before her former Potions teacher saw her, but remembering Dumbledore’s words, she walked over to where he stood, looking out the window at the night sky.
Hermione glanced at the ground briefly before raising her gaze and turning to look at her former professor. “Professor Snape… I know we’ve never got along when I was at school,” she began softly, “and I did several things I regret—such as setting your robes on fire, and knocking you out in the Shrieking Shack.”
The Potions Master kept his arms crossed, and arched an eyebrow.
She continued, “Even though it may have seemed disrespectful, I did respect you and only did what I thought was absolutely necessary. I would like to apologize for doing those things to you and was hoping we could start anew,” she finished.
“And why did you think those actions were necessary, Miss Granger?” he asked softly.
Hermione shivered slightly, recalling from class that when he spoke in that soft tone it almost always meant trouble. “I-um-well, in our first year, I set your cloak on fire because Ron and I thought you were-um-cursing Harry’s broom… And in the second year I-er-stole the Boomslang so I could make a Polyjuice Potion for Harry, Ron and myself so we could sneak into the Slytherin common room and question Malfoy because we thought he was the one opening the Chamber of Secrets.” She stopped, waiting for him to react.
Professor Snape watched her closely, his eyes narrowed, but didn’t say anything or show any hint of emotion. He was astounded at the fact the Golden Trio had actually broken so many school rules for what they thought was the ‘greater good’ and not for the thrill of it.
Taking the professor’s calm silence as a good sign, she went on, “And when we knocked you out in the Shrieking Shack, it was because you were going to kill Sirius Black and his explanation did make sense, and it did turn out to be true, you know.”
“I see, Miss Granger,” he said coolly as he digested what she had said. She did seem sincere, and although she was a pain in the neck, she was fairly intelligent. Unlike her two friends Potter and Weasley, she also did seem to respect him.
“Thank you sir,” she said softly, flashing him a grateful smile, realizing that was the closest acknowledgment of her apology that she was going to get from him. “So, do you want some more of the Het Pint? It’s quite good, I must commend you on it, although I was surprised when I found out that you were making it. I never saw you as the kind of person to be brewing ale.”
The corner of his lips upturned slightly into something that couldn’t be called a smile, but wasn’t harsh enough to be considered a sneer.
It was a start.
¹Het Pint is spiced ale that is served on New Years Eve in Scotland.
²I chose these decorations because they are based upon various New Year mythology and traditions from around the world; they are supposed to bring happiness and wealth into the New Year.
3A Rewa Nye is one of Luna’s fanciful beasts, the phrase Rewa Nye is an anagram for ‘New Year’