Thanks to apollinav for this wonderful theme suggestion!
PS Sorry for the late posting. Friday was... let's just say odd and leave it at that.
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:
The Mysterious Miss Granger by duniazade
Buttons and Bluebells by laurielover1912
The Flower of Cities by leni_jess
A Choice of Roads by imhilien WIP
In the Garden by wallyflower
Garden of Eden by notsosaintly
The Bowtruckle War by melisande88
It Should Be Me by ks51689
Playing in a Garden by PersephoneVerte
Midnight Oak by shiv5468
The Interpretation of Maladies by azraelgeffen
A Heaven of Hell by mesmerising
The Garden by missMich
1. His black eyes boring into her, Professor Snape said abruptly, “Miss Granger, what on earth are you doing here?”
Satisfied that her hat did not contain any ants (she had only found a couple on her neck that she had flicked away) Hermione jammed it back upon her head.
“Good morning to you too, Professor Snape… I’m working as a gardener at the moment,” she said matter-of-factly. She could still speak calmly and clearly. This was good.
Severus moved a strand of black hair away from his face. “That is clearly evident Miss Granger, I am not blind,” he said sarcastically. There was though, a profound discomfort inside his heart (that was new to him) in realising the disadvantages that came from sarcasm coming easier to him than less-than-acid words.
“But why? Shouldn’t you be having a break with those foolhardy friends of yours instead of… mucking around in the dirt?” he continued in exasperation, waving a pale hand dismissively at the garden around her. His exasperation was genuine enough – a brilliant witch such as her was wasted grubbing in the dirt.
Nettled on behalf of the garden she tended, Hermione looked him squarely in the eye. “It’s a paying job and this is my idea of a break, Professor. Why are you here?”
“Don’t be impertinent,” he snapped automatically. “Ten point-”
Then there was a tight, self-mocking smile upon his face as he realised that he had no right to deduct points from her. He was still wondering why of all places, he and Hermione had run into each other again here. Dumbledore, Severus realised swiftly. Of course… somehow, the Headmaster was behind this, the crafty, wily so-and-so. He should have realised Dumbledore’s favourite pastime was pulling the strings of those around him, why, all of that talk of Hawaii had been a clever ruse on his part to make sure Severus came here. Because Hermione would be here. Dumbledore had known this… and had slyly waved the offer of the DADA position in front of his face – no, the Headmaster had practically stuffed it down his throat - knowing that he would be sufficiently distracted by it so as to not be suspicious as to why Dumbledore had suggested this particular place. If it had been with anyone other than Hermione, Severus would have gone by the swiftest means possible straight to Hawaii and throttled him!
2. What was this place anyway? Her contemplation deepened. It was certainly magnificent. It could be called nothing if not beautiful, and even that did not do it justice. The grass was green and the skies were of a blue so pure and luminescent that it struck awe in her soul.
Clouds flitted across the sky, always white. That bothered her at times, but only because she kept glancing upward as though expecting the brilliant whiteness to fade to gray, playfulness churning into a battle of wills, crashing in torrents of rain.
As it was, rain fell gently around them every couple days, but then only briefly, amidst rays of sunshine and resultant rainbows. It was almost surreal.
That thought caused her to stop and look out over the tops of myriad fruit trees, toward the most grandiose and wondrous tree of all, miraculously stretching its limbs for what seemed like eternity. This was her favorite place to think. She had never gone closer than this. Something always held her back.
Surreal? This was all that she had ever known. How could it be surreal?
3. He was by the patch of dittany again the next day, fumbling with his spells. His work was clumsy, but the veneer of control paid tribute to Hermione's success from the previous night, and he managed to extract a stream of thin, pale liquid. Hermione set down beside him and chose a small patch of the volatile plants, filling her vial with the golden-brown drops of life. When Snape ignored her offering, Hermione left the bottle on the ground, rose with strained dignity, brushed off her robes, and went to inspect the vines draped across the other end of the garden. She never heard a sound from him, not the hissing that should have come from the burning touch of the dittany, nor the footsteps that must have accompanied his laboured amble. But when she finished her stroll, the vial was in the same place as she had left it, and empty. Hermione remembered the alcove she had found and transformed, but there were no sounds from there either, to tell her Snape was displeased with her intrusion. The silence was somewhat disconcerting. Hermione found the fallen log of a long-dead tree, hidden under decades of unwanted and unweeded growth, and calmed herself by stroking the rough bark for several hours.
Eventually, after his Essence of Dittany turned the same brilliant brown to match hers, and then after the vials were no longer needed, Snape joined her, taking the left side of the long log. They slipped into summer, and the pocket of air between them grew warmer. She began to talk of the world beyond their walls, tales of politics and posthumous medals and official ceremonies that were inconsequential, but nevertheless entertaining. He took in all her words and never gave anything back, save for his unwavering attention.
4. 'It's just a field trip, Professor. And it's not banal. I like getting out of the castle into the forest.'
'You would,' he muttered morosely, striding purposefully ahead of her. For once, she followed.
'What was that?'
'Nothing. Walk, don't talk.'
The others had gone further ahead and were now gathered in a little circle while Professor Sprout lectured them on faerie fungi. Snape rolled his eyes. Fungi were of great use in potions, which was the main reason he had been press-ganged into joining this trip, but his colleague's delivery made him numb with boredom. She clearly had no need for him. He hung back and glanced behind him. Granger was a way off from him down a slope, once again intent on her own interests. He paced back down towards her.
'The class is up there. You should be with them,' he declared as he approached.
'Oh, never mind them. I know all that anyway. I studied it when we were camping out in the Forest of Dean last year.'
She walked on deeper into the woods. It was April and there was a covering of bluebells everywhere he looked. Granger walked purposefully through them. He followed with a growl of aggravation. She bent down in front of him. Were the school skirts supposed to stretch so tightly like that? The girl indicated some indentations in the ground. 'These centaur tracks are interesting, don't you think? Look. Two have been here. It looks like they were mating. Can you see how the tracks are close together here, and there are only six hoof prints. Clearly the male was mounting the female at this point and –'
'Really, Miss Granger! Must you?'
She looked up, eyes wide with surprise at his interruption. 'What?'
5. The garden was as still as if it were August.
Except for the black roses. As always, they moved on their own. Snape had never quite worked out whether their swaying and bobbing meant the wind was blowing in the Forbidden Forest at Hogwarts where the only other black roses grew, or whether they simply danced.
Years ago when he bought the cottage down Shrieking Shack Road, he had crept onto Hogwarts grounds and into the Forbidden Forest—now quite a bit tamer than before Voldemort's demise—and stolen several cuttings of the black rose that grew only there. With patience and care he had managed to coax a few to root, and now they made a formidable, tangled hedge between his cottage and the ramshackle place next door. His privacy remained inviolate. And the liqueur he distilled from the black rose petals was the most potently intoxicating drink he'd ever tasted. Two drops in a pint of butterbeer could make him drunker than half a bottle of Jamesons, and six could drop Hagrid like a rock.
Not an experiment he planned to repeat, getting Hagrid drunk. The giant had broken Snape's worktable when he fell, but before that he'd been horribly maudlin, cuddling Snape close in one arm and singing mournful songs about blast-ended skrewts he'd known.
However… a tiny bottle of black rose liqueur per annum ensured he had all the exotic potions ingredients he required from Hagrid's menagerie. The rest, except for a vial he held back for himself, went to pay his modest expenses and purchased holidays in the Orkneys, where he could be sure of foul weather.
While he watched the roses sway and the bluebells and beeches in his garden remain motionless, a sudden violent shudder struck the hedge. One shudder, then two, and then the twisting branches began thrashing as though a hippogriff were hunting there. Snape stared, his mouth dropping open. What could possibly be happening? A noise like a thousand fingernails on blackboards filled the air.
6. Beyond the hedges, the grounds became lush and heavy with ferns, moss and ivy that crept lazily through the ancient marble walls and statues. Suddenly the garden seemed to explode with flowers as the heavy tangle of plant life gave way to a marvellous carpet of blooms. Oak, meadowsweet, and broom filled the air with a heady scent reminiscent of countless childhood summers long relegated to nostalgia.
In the distance a stone gazebo rose like a shaded haven in a sea of blooms. The couple were now forgotten in the face of such enchantment. Hermione left the path and wandered through the blooms, the fact that she was barefoot finally being beyond her caring. As she crushed the flowers beneath her feet their scent intensified and she was almost overcome with the fragrance. She approached the gazebo, noticing that had she continued to follow the path she would have ended up there anyway. This was where she was supposed to go and as she drew closer she realised why.
A fresh table cloth had been laid out on the cool stone and arranged on the cloth she could see plates and platters of food. An ice bucket with a bottle of champagne stood out amongst the collection of pillows and cushions. Evidently, if she wasn’t going to throw herself down on the grass with total strangers, she would certainly be able to eat. But as she rounded the mounted the gazebo stairs she once again ground to a halt.
The food it seemed was not for her but for another. She gasped before she could stop herself and that was the first thing that drew his attention. Severus Snape’s reaction was as startled as her own. He snapped the book he had been reading shut, and quickly slid it out of sight, looking very much as though he had been caught doing something he really ought not be doing.
7. Severus found himself at the opposite side of the hall when Hermione finally stopped. They stood in front of a door which simply read “Hospital Garden.” Turning back to grin at Severus, Hermione opened the door and walked through, Severus following closely behind her. Once inside, he could only stare in awe.
It was clear that this was no ordinary room. Although logically the room must have had walls and a roof, its perimeters seemed to be charmed to appear endless, with lush greenery encompassing the expanse and an enchanted ceiling complete with fluffy clouds blocking the sun’s most oppressive rays. The gravel path they stood on sloped downwards, into the heart of the garden. Mature elm trees loomed over the curved path, leading to a small pond in the garden’s center. Metal benches with intricately designed backrests were placed throughout. A few visitors were in attendance, some sitting on the bank of the pond, others occupying benches or strolling towards the room’s borders. It felt as if a light breeze blew. It was an actual park on the third floor of a magical hospital, hidden in Muggle London. Severus couldn’t help wondering if magic would ever cease to amaze him.
It was then Severus remembered who had brought him there, looking down to see a smug Hermione smirking up at him. Grumbling, he walked over to a shady bench, settling down with his journal in hand. Sitting next to him, Hermione quietly pulled out a sandwich and her own periodical, and began to peruse it as she ate her lunch.
It was there that they spent the remainder of their lunch break, silently reading and enjoying the enchanted fresh air of the charmed hospital garden room. Severus, of course, wondered about the specific mechanics of such a place, but there was no way he would give the know-it-all the satisfaction of lecturing him about its origins.
8. Today, she proposed they go to Kew Gardens. Severus made his token complaints about being dragged out against his will, and how she took too much notice of what the Healers said. He also complained that he needed to weed his garden rather than tramp around in yet another Muggle space because she was incapable of getting down to work and keeping at it and assumed the same of him. She only bothered to respond to the last, knowing that long before the day warmed up he had finished all his weeding and harvesting in the narrow garden beds planted with herbs both Muggle and wizarding. (The latter were cloaked in Notice-Me-Not charms, in case the upstairs neighbours noticed what the occupant of the garden flat was growing.)
Severus let himself be persuaded, grumbling, "Why do you persist in dragging me all over London, Granger? One public park is much like another. Oh, very well. I suppose your parents used to take you there. Sentimental Gryffindor."
"Yes," she said mildly. "The first time I saw it was on my eighth birthday. We didn't walk very fast or very far, but I'm glad I saw Kew Gardens as it was then."
He glanced at her, interest caught. "Then?"
"About a month later there was a terrible storm. You probably noticed it at Hogwarts, too. I think half the trees in England came down."
He made a soft, surprised sound of assent. "Yes, I do remember. The centaurs foretold it, and asked Albus for help to preserve the Forbidden Forest from the worst of it."
9. "Severus," she hissed. "We're in public!"
"So?" His hand was tantalizingly working circles on the inside of her leg. "I've used your computer. Muggles do this sort of thing all the time."
"They most certainly do not," she shrieked. "Well, they do in pornography, but not in real life!"
Her control was faltering, which was silly when she considered the fact that logic told her to stay in command of her facilities. The stupid rubbing and whispers in her ear ruined everything. She groaned and resisted the urge to flex her hips to where his hand was.
"My, my. Looks like you're having a bit of trouble with self-control, Hermione. Not to mention the buttons on your shirt aren't quite working properly. Your heaving chest makes a lovely display. It's such a tease being able to see the swell of your breasts as they strain against the fabric. Your nipples are almost out of your bra, you know. I wonder what you'd do if I just reached down and sucked on one. Of course, that only makes me think of sucking your cun—"
"Severus!" Hermione gasped. "Get me home. Get me home now and fuck me."
Snape grinned. "Why not right here?" he asked silkily. "There's a crop of trees right there. Are you a witch or not?"
10. It had been raining all day long, but the steady fall had stopped about fifteen minutes before she knocked at the back door. She was punctual.
She also looked perfectly dry, from the top of her bushy hair to the toes of her brown loafers. A blue anorak, hood thrown back, opened over a white shirt. She had her camera. No bag.
She had her hand raised for a second knock when he opened the door and came out, keys already in hand. She faltered and took two steps back to let him pass, but her voice was firm. "Hello, Mr. Sommers."
"We're going to the Herbarium," he said, taking the lead and striding towards the northwestern corner of the Gardens.
She followed, taking a few running steps every now and then to keep up with him, but she didn't complain as they passed the Aquatic and Grass Gardens, the Alpine House and the Princess of Wales Conservatory, crossing over the wet lawns as they headed straight for their goal.
He bypassed Hunter House, led her behind the sprawling courtyard of the Herbarium complex, stopped at the heavy iron door of D Wing and entered his access code while she caught up over the last few yards. If she wanted to learn about behind-the-scenes aspects, a thorough visit of the facilities that provided a controlled climate for the collections was definitely the place to start.
As he turned, gesturing her inside, he noticed that her loafers and the hem of her jeans were still perfectly dry.