“Severus,” Molly Weasley asked him. “Are you insane?”

Severus lowered his eyebrows at her. He clenched a mug of hot cocoa in his left hand. He looked at Dumbledore, who was sipping at his mug of cocoa.

The table in the kitchen of 12 Grimmauld Place was crowded. Arthur, Bill, Charlie, Fred and George Weasley flanked one of the long wooden benches. Remus Lupin, Sturgis Podmore, Tonks, Kingsley Shackelbolt, and Mrs. Longbottom sat on the other side. Severus was leaning in a doorway, somewhat separate from the others.

“Yes, Molly,” Severus said, annoyed. “I’ve gone insane. I thought it would do for a nice change.”

Charlie snorted cocoa out his nose and Bill had to pound him on the back.

“She’s never done field work, and she’s not even initiated yet,” snapped Molly.

“She’s the best person for the job,” said Lupin, reaching for a tin of biscuits.

“I’m going to have to agree,” Arthur looked reluctantly at his wife.

Molly turned her eyes on Dumbledore, who set his mug down thoughtfully.

“Molly, it’s just research,” said Dumbledore. “They’re not going to go prowling around looking for Voldemort. And I have to say, Miss Granger is the best person for any research project.”

“Madam Snape, you mean,” said Molly, rolling her eyes at Severus.

“I am not having this conversation,” said Severus looking levelly at her.

“It was done because it had to be,” said Arthur. “Unless you think Percy should break his engagement off to do it. He very nearly did, you know.”

“No, of course not,” said Molly. “I just don’t think its right. She’s still in school.”

Percy had finally reconciled with his family. There had been a tearful session between Molly and him and in the end, he had joined the Order. His wedding to Cassie Jackson was arranged for the end of July. He had retained his job at the Ministry, but had been transferred to the Department of Matrimonial Destiny. He had notified Dumbledore the second Hermiones name appeared in the Book of Brides.

“At least he could keep her there,” said Mrs. Longbottom, frowning deeply. The stuffed vulture on her hat bobbed in time with her nodding. “Someone else might have decided her education was over and pulled her enrollment.”

Molly sighed resignedly.

“It just seems like she’s so young,” said Molly shaking her head.

“Think of it this way,” Arthur said. “When you were her age you were a year away from starting this brood.” He smiled at his sons.

“Heaven forbid,” said Molly throwing a warning look at Severus.

He gave her an annoyed look.

“I don’t make it a habit to molest my students,” Severus said stiffly.

“She won’t be your student for long, mate,” said Fred, or George. “She’s turned into a right piece.”

“George!” said Molly, appalled. Mrs. Longbottom stared at him in shock. Tonks began to giggle uncontrollably, as did the other Weasleys. Dumbledore just rolled his eyes and sipped at his cocoa.

“Oh my God, that was rude,” said Bill laughing, his hand slapped to his forehead.

“It’s true,” said George annoyed. Kingsley shook his head in amazement that George had said what everyone was thinking.

Hermione had grown into a very pretty young lady. She wore her long bushy hair pulled back, but it had gotten very long. She never wore makeup, but she didn’t have to. When she chose to do so, she was stunning.

Severus waved his wand at the cocoa he slopped on the front of his clothing.

“As much as I hate to say it,” Severus said. “Your sibling is right. That was terribly rude.”

“Sorry,” said George, poking Fred, not looking very sorry at all. Fred snickered. Their mother glared at them.

&&

“How did the meeting go?” Hermione asked as Severus walked through the green flames in his fireplace. She closed the book she had been reading and looked at him. She was wearing blue plaid flannel pajamas and white socks. Her hair was pulled back in a ponytail, but its curls still winded their way over her shoulders.

“Molly was not overly enthusiastic over you going to St. Petersburg with me,” said Severus, unwinding a long black scarf from around his neck. He tried desperately not to rake her over with his eyes. He brought a package from under his robes.

“I can imagine,” said Hermione, wincing.

“Though we decided that you are the best person for research assignments,” said Severus. She shrugged at him, resignedly.

“What’s that?” Hermione asked, noddong at the brown paper wrapped package, sitting on the coffee table.

“Potion ingredients,” said Severus gruffly. “For the Sixth years.”

Hermione smirked as her eyes went back to her book.