'Alchemy' too, because I have the privilege of beta-reading for her, and I've seen how she wields the writer's hammer and tongs. *shakes head* She's the most non-linear writer I know, and every time, with every story, I am amazed at how she crafts a well-structured tale that can't fail to leave the reader satisfied.
Ladies and Gentlemen, I raise my glass and give you: Machshefa!"
(Our heartfelt thanks go out to dickgloucester for writing this lovely introduction.)
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!
Prolific Author Series: shefa
Match the quotes to the story titles without choosing the red herring titles:
King of Swords
Tree of Life
Just Like Magic
There, Where I Can Never Find You
Between the Lines
The Essence of Sunset
Take This Longing
Mercy of the Elements
1. Happily, the Department of Mysteries had a wholly different approach to crises and dilemmas, even those of the international variety. Any witch or wizard skilled and persistent enough to uncover a problem of such magnitude and who also managed to find the hidden door to the Department without the aid of the specialised
Portkey used to ferry their infrequent visitors was someone they most assuredly wanted to enlist.
Hermione, delighted to be recruited, considered the matter closed once she'd had a look at their library. Without a second thought, she gave up the keys to the lonely flat she'd been renting in London and moved into chambers provided for trainees and those working on Special Projects.
Here, she thought, was a stellar example of on-the-job training. She was used to this. She'd made her way through Hogwarts with the same mix of regular class work and covert, vital research. It was an unanticipated pleasure to have her observations taken seriously and to no longer be alone in asking questions until the answers made some sense.
It wasn't that she was surrounded by other Unspeakables or trainees, she thought. In point of fact, she'd met hardly anyone apart from her instructors and staff who would wander through her training area now and again, looking for a book or muttering about choppy magical flux and flow. It was an unusually designed space for an unusual department. Laid out in embedded rings, peppered with nooks and crannies for teams to set up dedicated research space in proximity to whichever room or instruments they needed, it provided a delicate balance of solitude and support.
Reassured that the Department was already aware of what had come to be referred to simply as the anomalies, she threw herself into her training, delighting in the pleasures of unobstructed research and intensive lessons about the underpinnings of the wizarding world. And if she thought her introduction to Diagon Alley and Hogwarts had been filled with surprises, it was nothing to the briefings on wizarding history, culture, and magical management that made Hermione wonder if the decision to keep Professor Binns teaching was rather more than simply expedient.
By the time Hermione walked into the cavernous meeting hall, surrounded for the first time by the entire staff of the Department of Mysteries, she had encountered enough shocking revelations and unsettling bombshells buried in the bedrock of the wizarding world that the sight of the black hair and sharp features of Severus Snape bent over a book, oblivious to the noisy milling-about of his co-workers, caused her virtually no surprise at all.
2. The moment he first begins to slip away is lost to the bustle of their lab by day and the heat of his lips on her skin in the night.
He is a master of distraction, and it’s only later, wrapped in the dark with the lingering scent of him pressed against her skin that she remembers.
She fails to appreciate the irony.
Ron promises they’ll find him. Despite the tension or perhaps because of it, he can’t resist teasing. Severus, he says, wouldn’t allow the night to take him when psychopath and snake each failed.
He’d never tolerate the indignity.
She grants him a small smile, indulgent. But the crimson of his robes burns her eyes, and she wants only to be left alone with her memories.
3. Twisted uncomfortably in the tight space, trying to stay focused on Granger’s face, he held himself perfectly still. The effort, the ache of his back and the pounding of his heart kept him focused.
Anything, anything to distract himself from the gnawing unease of listening to a Muggle fortune-teller read his soul.
The divinatory words washed over Snape. Whisper-soft and seductive, the lure of the images she wove tugged hard at a part of him that he had struggled for decades to eradicate. Promises of hope and wholeness beckoned, despite his conviction that they were not meant for him. By the look of her, he was not entirely sure that such things were meant for Granger, either.
Fool. I am a Fool.
The ache in the centre of his body was like a burning cinder. He had tamped it down for so long—he refused to allow it to ignite now. Snape could feel it, though, pushing its way through the vessels of his body, leaving a gleaming trail like fire under his skin. The heat of it burned, taunting him with the promise of purification and release. Just as his body began to shake from the effort of damping the growing warmth, the voice of the fortune-teller wafted towards him like a wisp of smoke.
“You’re not invisible, you know,” she muttered, eyes fixed on the cards in front of her.
Snape took a sharp breath. The urge to flee gripped him like an icy fist.
4. The air in the nearly empty library shook with the sudden sound of his voice, and the bundle of ginger fur in the corner of the room lifted a disgruntled head to investigate.
“Unhand that book, Miss Granger!” growled Snape as he reached across the table for the grimoire clutched securely in Hermione’s grasp.
“Absolutely not!” Hermione’s cheeks flushed, and her eyes flashed with exasperation. “I’ve told you, until you learn to address me properly, we have nothing to discuss.”
Pausing for breath, Hermione Granger, not-so-recently-appointed professor of Transfiguration, had the appearance of one who might, had circumstances been different and her status not been so recently impugned, have stamped her foot for emphasis.
“And besides,” she continued as he made to interrupt, “I happen to need this reference. You can wait your turn.” She smirked, studiously ignoring his murderous glare. “I’ll be sure to let Madam Pince know that you want it when I’m finished.”
So, there they sat in the fading light of the cavernous library at Hogwarts, the object in question—one moderately impressive-looking, leather-bound tome—clutched doggedly between them.
Neither one of them showed the slightest sign of relenting.
5. Hermione smiled as the main course disappeared and pudding arrived. The elves always went out of their way to make an impression, and they were undoubtedly preening in the kitchen at the students' shouts of delight. Soon enough, the tables would be cleared and the pupils would head back to their dormitories for the night.
"Are you ready for your first class, Miss Granger?" the headmistress asked as Hermione scooped up the last of her treacle tart.
It was a rhetorical question. Professor McGonagall had already given her final approval to the lesson plans she'd brought by last week, agreeing with Professor Evans's edits of Hermione's innovative additions. It still rankled, but the headmistress insisted that she stick strictly to the curriculum.
Still, McGonagall had been down to the dungeons to examine the Potions classroom and offer moral support and last-minute advice. Hermione wished the headmistress had remembered to ask her about the Nosce Ipsum potion. This, far more than her lesson plans, excited her.
"As ready as I'll ever be," Hermione said with a tight smile.
She understood her role; she really did. Despite the requirement that apprentices do research, the emphasis had always been on teaching; their faculty role far more valued by the Ministry than any sort of innovation. It was one of the realisations that had quickly begun to chafe. After six long years of school, of compliance and cooperation, Hermione had imagined that, perhaps, now, her initiative would finally be rewarded. She had harboured a fantasy for years that once she'd grown up, she would receive more accolades for her individuality than so far during her formal education.
Alas, it was not to be so.
6. They had been circling each other for months.
It was a dance of advance and retreat, sometimes coming close enough to touch, coy, almost flirtatious but never enough to be sure. And Severus Snape was not one to proceed without the proper reconnaissance. He was a patient man, prepared to hang back for as long as it took.
Hermione, however, was rapidly losing patience. The man was inscrutable. Just when she was sure she was reading him correctly, sure that he would take that last step towards her, he would change direction and leave her baffled again. The frustration was killing her. Enough was enough.
At least we've graduated from meeting in the Potions lab or staffroom to meeting in our private quarters she thought.
Looking around her bedroom, Hermione smiled. The bed was laid with soft cotton sheets and luxurious feather blankets just begging to be warmed by more than the crackling fire. The lights were dim, firelight casting long shadows on the stone walls and warming the room slightly. To one side of the room was a tray piled with fresh fruit, juice and biscuits. A wave of her wand was followed by strains of soft music flooding the room. She was ready. It was his birthday today and Severus would never know what hit him.
Hours later, curled on the couch together, sipping wine and enjoying a comfortable lull in their animated conversation, Hermione saw her opening.
7. “Difficulty finding the tea?” he mutters, dipping a spoon into one bowl, and judiciously sniffing another. “John does move it around quite a bit. He’d rather I not use it, experimentally. I told him I’ve been availing myself of more esoteric ingredients these days, but I don’t think he believes me.”
“What, precisely, do you think you’re doing here, Mr Holmes?” snaps Severus. Holmes straightens up and looks alert. Hermione is surprised that Severus’s classroom voice works at all on the other man. Though on second thought, perhaps it’s not that so much as relief that they’ve finally got to the point.
Holmes is reaching behind him, drawing out an enormous book as if in answer.
“Been going through the recipes in this old thing. There’s one I would especially like to use, but I thought I’d try some of the simpler looking ones first.” He pokes at a bowl of what look like rhinoceros horn shavings mouldering in a puddle of what looks nauseatingly like blood. “Haven’t had much luck, honestly.”
“Where did you obtain a Grimoire, Mr Holmes?” Severus’ voice is sharp. For good reason, thinks Hermione. From what she can see, it’s a volume that would have been at home in the Restricted Section at Hogwarts.
“Found it. Top shelf, right over there,” Holmes says, waving his hand toward the front room, distracted. “What’s the difference? It’s obviously ancient. Author fancied himself a wizard.” He snorts. “I’ve been experimenting.” He narrows his eyes. “Do keep up.”
He and Severus lock gazes for a moment and Hermione half expects Holmes to burst into flames. Just then, Holmes breaks away to huff at the collection of mouldering potions on the table and Hermione breathes again and steps just a bit closer to Severus.
“None of them work. They make a bloody mess, though.
8. "They never last," he murmured, eyeing the shrinking icicle in his hands. "No matter how beautiful—" He pulled himself up short. "No matter how substantial they appear, expose them to just a bit of sunlight or the warm touch of bare skin, and—" He lifted his soaked hands and grunted in annoyance.
She reached for him then, ignoring the involuntary shudder that wracked him as her hand snaked through his hair. He hadn't been jumpy like this in her rooms earlier, but that was before she'd lowered her guard and let one affectionate word too many slip. It was his own fault, she thought. He was the one who'd stopped kissing her—her lips had been sufficiently occupied right up until the moment he pulled back, only to feel him slip into her mind.
It was there, all of it, plain as day for him to see. But when she opened her arms to him again, heartfelt words falling from her tongue like drops of water, he backed away as if scorched.
"I don't think they're meant to last, Severus." She ran her fingers along the line of his jaw. "They're moments in time, dramatic and beautiful, but not made to last forever."
He stiffened, but she continued to stroke his skin, fingertips dancing over his fine cheekbones and the unexpected fullness of his lips.
"As I said," he growled. "Temporary, illusory. In short, a waste of time."
"Maybe. If we were icicles, I suppose."
She felt the harsh intake of breath more than heard it, felt his lips thin and tighten under her fingers as if to thwart sentiments that might escape without his bidding.
"Who's to say that I'm not?" His words sliced the silence and shattered on the ground between them.
9. The last good reason to linger—gone.
She glared at Snape through her drunken haze. By the looks of it, he was determined to close the place.
Mr Morose, suddenly developing enough charm to captivate a gaggle of sleazy witches who clearly only wanted one thing.
Harumph. At least the photographer from The Daily Prophet was long gone. Or had he been from Witch Weekly?
Deep breathing was the thing, she reminded herself. And her mantra.
But first, she thought, wiping the lipstick smear from her glass, one more sip, for fortitude.
Besides, blast-ended skrewts could sing before she would leave without ensuring that he’d gone home.
10. Laughing to herself, Hermione realised that contemplating conversations inside her head, or imaginary ones outside her head, would be enough to concern her if she were hearing such a story from one of her patients. After the Voldemort Wars, there had been more demand than ever for Healers who could help the devastated survivors of war. Hermione, who had seen more than enough trauma firsthand, liked the idea of becoming a Healer of broken lives and was among the first batch of trainees that St Mungo's accepted after Voldemort's defeat.
Six years of schooling and practical experience left Hermione with a healthy appreciation for human resilience but with a deep sadness borne of hearing tale after tale of helplessness, loss and trauma. People endure so much pain, survive so much suffering. Which brought her right back to Snape. She shook her head. Well, Snape was dead. Her dreams notwithstanding, Snape had died before her eyes, bled out from the vicious bite of Voldemort's familiar, Nagini. She shook her head. Somebody else must have retrieved his body before we returned to bury him. It had bothered her for years that they had never recovered his body, and she told herself that one of his compatriots must have discovered him and, she hoped, given him a proper burial. But this fantasy gave her little peace of mind, especially this morning.
I would feel better if I knew for sure that he had a proper burial, not to mention a hero's funeral. She nodded to herself with a deep sigh, and opened the patient file in front of her, pushing thoughts of Snape and funerals and an exhausted, haunted-looking wizard from her mind.