To get you in an Unspeakable mood we present:
Unspeakable by pristineungift.
Want to give Hermione a run for her money in the know-it-all field? Simply play the quiz by commenting on this post with your answers at any time over the weekend. All comments with answers will be screened until the answer sheet is posted on Monday morning EST. On Monday, all quizzlings with the correct answers will receive a pretty banner to prove their quiz prowess. Ready? Set? Play!
Match the quotes to the story titles without picking the red herring titles:
Of Loneliness and Nature by writerdragonfly
The Ice-Cream Man Cometh by clairvoyant12
The Fine Art of Fine Print by mundungus42
Wherein Hermione Granger Becomes a Vampire and, in So Doing, Discovers There is Much More To Death (and Life) Than Meets the Eye by sc010f
Tree of Life by shefa
Doppelganger by hinkykneazel
The Snape Identity by pristineungift
No Music More Enchanting by karelia
Free Fall by Aurette
A Conspiracy of Epicurean Proportions by geminiscorp
I Still Don't Like You by sunnythirty3
Absolutely Elsewhere by wallyflower
1. With a twist of his wrist and a silent hex, Severus blasted the door open and they were both moving through the cover of smoke, searching for their target – a madman escaped from their lab in the Department of Mysteries. There was a shatter of glass, and then the smoke was cleared by some wind, likely by Hermione unless their target had gotten his hands on a wand. A red stream of curse fire grazed by Severus' cheek, and he turned, catching sight of a shadowy figure dashing through a doorway.
"Granger, two o'clock!" he called as he followed, giving her the direction of pursuit.
He determinedly did not think about whether or not she was hurt. They had agreed long ago that duty came first – always.
But it did not make it easier.
Sprinting down a narrow hall, he came to a flight of stairs. There were only two doors, presumably leading to bedrooms. "Do make this easier on yourself," Severus said into the sudden silence. "You've nowhere left to go."
He could hear Hermione on the stairs, and was moving to guard her entry point when the door to his right exploded from the hinges, flying down the hall straight for him. He cursed, whipping his wand in a violent arc to shred the door into splinters before it could pin him to the wall at his left. With no time to cast a shield to protect himself from the blowback, Severus crossed his arms over his face, grunting as slivers of wood embedded themselves in his arms. He was raising his wand to cast again, when a deep, snarling voice intoned a spell word he had never before heard.
He had time only to look up and see red lights like blades of blood heading straight for him and hear Hermione's shouted spell of protection before the world went black.
2. "File or bin sensitive memos and documents; if that's not possible, please encode them for your eyes only. Files should be locked at all times when you leave your offices or labs, even momentarily. Rubbish bins should be set to auto-Evanesco."
Dougherty organized his note cards, then glanced at his watch. "Oh, look at the time. Before we adjourn, there's one last item of a somewhat urgent nature. We've received reports of strange happenings in a Muggle community up north. It's also attracted the attention of... erm, shall we say... non-human entities. This calls for subtle surveillance to assess the situation; however, our field agents are spread thin as it is, what with the Veil and those bird sightings at Dover. I need a volunteer from amongst the researchers for this assignment."
This is a sign, Snape thought. This is the break I need.
"I'll do it," he intoned flatly. After all, he didn't want his coworkers thinking he was eager to leave his Brain Room research.
"Excellent, Snape. You are uniquely qualified for this assignment coincidentally," Dougherty said. "Well, that's it. Meeting adjourned." As the Unspeakables left the room, he gathered his note cards into a neat pile on the lectern, set them ablaze with a silent Incendio, then directed the ashes into the dust bin with a swish of his wand. "Snape, walk with me to the Minister's office, and I'll give you the details."
3. "Don't you want to know what's in that packet you're ignoring?" she asked.
He closed his eyes wearily. It was, of course, too much to hope that there would be some mercy in the world—how quickly he'd forgotten. Years under Dumbledore's thumb, decades managing one pushy, insensitive Gryffindor only to be saddled with another.
"I know what's in the packet, Granger," he muttered. "It contains what is probably a nonsensical and entirely useless report submitted by some flunky in one of the roughly three-hundred Departments of Mystery abroad. It is my assignment for the indeterminate future—a future whose outlook is, apparently, deteriorating by the day, and it names the unfortunate partner with whom I am expected to collaborate on this obviously doomed project."
"It's me, Snape. You're supposed to collaborate with me." She was waving her packet in front of him, as if he might miss it otherwise. "We've been assigned to investigate the findings of Master Wu from China. So, if you think I m prepared to let you sit here and sulk while I do all the work, you're sadly mistaken. Even if you are a war hero and I did think you were dead... for years," she added, almost to herself.
"I see that your level of respect for your former Professor hasn't changed a whit, Miss Granger. Such appalling disregard for a man you thought you saw die heroically in the war. Tut, tut." He wasn't sure why he was goading her, but he felt reckless at the sight of the young woman who he remembered with both grinding irritation and bottomless envy. And if that weren't enough, the last time she had seen him, he'd been in a particularly compromising position. That sort of thing did tend to make him tetchy.
4. They were supposed to be taking base measurements of the ether flow, to see if there were any changes that would account for the way the lay lines seemed to bend toward the Orkney Islands.
This wasn't either of their fields. At all. But the persons in charge of this study were almost all well-past their fifteenth decade, with the exception of Artemis Leaf, who was only in her seventies somewhere but was too overworked to be able to do it herself. Therefore, she had decided to find two suckers to do the field work for them.
That Hermione was a sucker was not surprising to anyone. Her partner, however, had been a complete shock. The Unspeakable community was fairly confusing even to those within it. No one knew how many employees worked there, or even what they all did. But her partner was notorious, even in the more esoteric departments, and everyone knew he was there. You couldn't miss him. He was mesmerizing. He had a reputation for being a misanthrope, and more than one person in the department had been at the wrong end of his temper, so he was left to his own research, and usually went about the place like a wraith.
The fact that one of the old goats had had the nerve to ask Severus Snape to do their scutwork was shocking enough. The fact that he'd agreed was mind-blowing.
When Hermione had Apparated to the tiny Wizarding inn in Kirkwall—at four seconds past eleven pm—she'd been flabbergasted to see him standing there waiting for her.
She'd remembered what his area of research was rumored to be and had quickly looked away from his eyes.
5. He hadn't changed one bit. Except he was dead. Or not.
"So what are you, Snape?" Hermione asked.
"That's not the question you should be asking, Granger."
"Indeed. You really haven't changed, except for the language and the un-dead bit – still missing the subtle in favor of the blindingly irrelevant. The question is not 'Why is Snape not dead? Or is he?'" Snape's voice took on a querulous falsetto. "The question, Granger, you should be asking is 'How much does the Department of Mysteries know about my extra-curricular activities, why are they worried about them now, and why did they send Professor Snape to deal with me?' Those are the questions you should be worrying your still-bushy head over."
"You're dead – you can't be anyone's professor." Hermione snapped out the first thing that came to her mind.
"Granger, you've gone thick on me," Snape mourned. "I'm not exactly dead, number one; number two, I am a professor – just not yours anymore, and thank Merlin for that. I'm a Professor of Applied Infernal Arts, adjunct to the Odd Sod's Subsection of the Department of Mysteries – otherwise known as the Ghouls, Ghosts, and Weird Shite Brigade. And you, Hermione Granger, serial remover of Ministry of Magic Incompetents and general pain-in-the-arse, are now my pain-in-the-arse to deal with. Thank you very much."
"What?" Hermione boggled. "Let me get this straight. One – you're sort of dead, two – you are employed by the Department of Mysteries, three – you're a professor still, and four – I'm a 'pain in your arse'?"
"Brilliantly summarized, Granger – as if it had been copied from a textbook." Snape sprang up and began to circle her.
6. Unspeakable 1960.01.09, formerly known as Severus Snape, stepped off the train at Falmouth in Cornwall, found his trunk in the pile of luggage being off-loaded by two muscled young men, and pushed his way out of the station. He stopped to orient himself and reviewed the directions to his rental flat before dragging his heavy belongings and tired body down the last few blocks of what had been a fatiguing 275-mile, six-hour journey from London by Muggle transport.
Severus hated Muggle travel: it was inconvenient, uncomfortable, and crowded with other people. He also had to drag an oversized trunk with squeaky wheels behind him. He understood it in principal, but he still hated the fact that his job demanded that he blend in with the Muggle population as much as possible. Unfortunately for him, this included looking like he was moving into town and staying on for a while, and most importantly, no unnecessary magic.
He thought back to the memo assigning him to this project and sighed. He was to investigate abnormal, unidentified spikes in translocation magic that were wrecking havoc in the electromagnetic fields in and around Falmouth. The anomalies centered on the Falmouth Secondary School, but so far there were no eye-witnesses to the specific incidents that had been reported. Severus was to go undercover as a science teacher; while it wasn't his first choice of occupation, it would allow him to wander about with strange looking equipment without alarming the Muggle school population. He was also to make contact with a local Unspeakable agent, who could provide laboratory space and facilitate his research needs. When the source of the anomalies was located, he was to report to the Ministry for further instruction. He only hoped that this project would be over soon. The last thing he wanted was to deal with more insolent children. He had been rather foolish to believe those days were behind him.
7. "You bastard! How dare you!" Hermione ceased struggling as the ropes perceptibly tightened. "You can't keep me here like this. Please. I understand you don't want anyone knowing you're alive. Just let me go!"
"You understand nothing, girl! You've been Chosen. Your wand is useless now. Now, will you keep still and listen like the adult you purport to be, or do I leave you here for a few hours to contemplate your understanding?" He stalked off to the furthest corner of the room and scowled into the corner.
"Chosen?" She cursed the meekness in her voice as she watched the tension drain from his shoulders.
"Chosen. Tell me, Miss Granger. What do you know of the Department of Mysteries?"
"The Department of Mysteries? That's where the Unspeakables work."
"Have you ever met an Unspeakable?"
"I saw two of them at the Quidditch World Cup. Bode and Croaker, I think Mr Weasley said their names were."
He nodded. "That was their names then. But not who they were."
"They were working under false names? I supposed they were Glamoured or Polyjuiced as well."
"At last, she's finally engaged her brain."
With no further information forthcoming, Hermione concentrated on the fleeting associations playing tag in her brain. Unspeakables who were not whom they seemed. A spy who was no longer dead. A sudden, bright light rending her unconscious as she duelled a paedophile and would-be rapist.
"You're an Unspeakable too. That's how they recruit. They wait until a witch or wizard is in a life or death situation, and then they intervene."
8. Severus supposed that anyone who had ever wondered about the life of an Unspeakable would probably be surprised at the thoroughly mundane, almost Muggle appearance of most of the offices. Colin Morse's office was full of books and clutter, and the yellow walls were barely visible behind the piles of books that he brought and hardly ever got the time to read. Severus was reading the titles behind his superior's head, keeping impatience at bay, when finally Morse mopped his forehead (gradually merging with the rest of his head, under the thinning hair) with a handkerchief and plopped into his chair.
"I need your help, I'm afraid. Or the MLE says that they need our help; frankly, I can't quite see what you or I can do about it," he added distractedly.
A snort. "Perhaps you should start at the beginning."
Morse was a man hardly ever perturbed, perhaps because, by its very nature, the Department of Mysteries was not often concerned with matters of overmastering urgency. Not for him the fast-paced affairs of the Auror Office or the vagaries of the Wizengamot, where tempers ran high and the media was a perpetual, undesired presence. He had been so long in the Ministry that he could remember back when owls, rather than flying memos, were used to send interdepartmental messages, and he had grown old and placid in the department. It was unusual to see him so agitated.
"I've just got a memo from the MLE. They say need one of my people from the Time division to get there as soon as. I confess I'm not sure I was right to interrupt your evening, but I got a second memo within five minutes, to much the same effect."
"Did the memos give a reason? We are not answerable to the MLE and they can't just haul Unspeakables from bed out of whimsy."
"It's hardly bedtime, Severus. There isn't any time to explain. I've already made you a Pass. Here, take it, and go up to level two or the Minister will have my head. Though Merlin knows what good you're going to be."
Severus felt his face twist into the old, familiar sneer at the unintended insult. "I doubt I can be of any assistance to those buffoons at the Auror office."
Morse, for the first time since Severus' entrance, looked up, and laughed suddenly at the annoyance on the other man's face; Severus found himself relaxing, and turned to go. Morse's voice, urging and friendly, followed him: "Get going, there's a good man, and come tell me about it when you're done. I'll be waiting here. Goodness knows there hasn't been any excitement in the department for a long time, and I could use a good story."
9. On their first research trip, Unspeakables were neither given a time, a task, nor an idea of what they were to do. It was the Mistress of the Room who told them all they needed to know.
Sometimes they were told very little about their tasks. Hermione was no different.
It was time that chose the task, not the plans of others.
Unlike most of the new researchers, Hermione had the forethought to stuff Galleons in her pockets. She didn't know if they'd travel with her—she hadn't even been sure her clothes would—but she had to try.
She was lucky.
Though Diagon Alley had changed much in her own time, in this time it looked like it had that first time she had been there.
Her first stop was Madam Malkin's, where she bought new robes and redressed herself. The second was Ollivander's.
Her wand had not been as lucky.
Hermione walked into the familiar and dusty shop, looking around like it was the first time seeing it. In a way, it was.
"Ah. Miss Granger." Ollivander looked decades younger than he had the last time she had seen him—then again, he was.
"Sir," she said, nodding to him. He walked into his backroom, pulling out a long and yellowed box.
"Birch wood, sixteen inches. Very firm. The core is the feather of a barn swallow."
Hermione blinked in surprise. Barn swallow? They weren't magical at all!
"But—" Hermione started. Ollivander hushed her and placed the wand in her hand.
10. It is the fondest wish of certain Unspeakables to be transferred out of the Department of Mysteries. Few on the outside understand this, given that the Department receives a staggeringly large cut of the annual Ministry budget, and there are rumors about swankily appointed offices (not true), exorbitant expense accounts (rarely true), and a pastry chef on the payroll to prepare exquisite biscuits for afternoon tea (absolutely true). It's also true that there are those for whom the pleasure on saying, "I could tell you, but then I'd have to Obliviate you," has not worn off.
But in the few Unspeakables whose work frequently brings them into contact with the most esoteric mysteries of life, time-space, and magic, there can spring a keen desire to bring their work out of the shadows and into the light. However, the veil of secrecy within the Department is difficult to penetrate, even from within; it takes leadership with wisdom to recognize the sorts of breakthrough that will change the way people view the world, and it takes leadership with strength to foster them through their early stages. This is why the current leadership, specifically the Minister of Magic, was more than a bit anxious about his upcoming meeting with Hermione Granger.
At precisely one o'clock, she strode purposefully into his office holding a scroll at arms length, as if it smelt bad. Without preamble, she dropped it in the center of the Minister's desk, precisely on top of glass frame that contained the nameplate that his mother had undoubtedly embroidered years ago. "What is the meaning of this?"