So to get you in the mood, here are some fabulous fics from earlier SSHG Prompt Fests!
Enjoy! See you in the sshg_promptfest comments starting Tuesday.
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 EDT. 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 Witchhiker's Guide to Beltane by teddyradiator
Angels on a Rampage, or A Rose on Any Other Bum by pigwidgeon37
The Taming of the S.P.E.W. by neelix_2000
Cuttlefish by shiv5468
Fairy GodHermione by cybrokat
Out of Practice by dragoon811
First Friday in April by linlawless
The Ghost and Mrs Weasley by reynardo
A Series of Fortunate Events by crmediagal
Twisted Revenge by celisnebula
For Your Consideration by apollinav
There is Nothing Worse than a Wine Snob by stronghermione1
1. Hermione looked at her cup of tea, then the biscuit barrel, then the next second she was flying down the hallway.
"GET OUT! NOW!"
Ginny startled, but obeyed, and in a trice both women were out of the house, out the front gate and staring up at it from the opposite side of the road.
Ginny peeled Hermione's hand off her arm, where Hermione had grabbed it in her hurry, and turned to her friend.
Hermione's expression was so serious that Ginny held back her laughter, and tried to soothe the anxious woman.
"Haunted? Have you seen the ghost?"
"No, but something made me a cup of tea."
That was enough. Ginny collapsed in hysterical giggles, while Hermione looked down on her with a mixture of annoyance and worry. "Tea? And here I was thinking you'd been attacked by the Dark Lord at the very least!"
"But I drank it!"
2. The climate-controlled room was large enough to hold up to two thousand bottles and housed a country-style table and chairs where the pair would often sit on a summer's day, talking and drinking and just enjoying each other's company. After the library, it was their favourite room in the house.
Hermione continued her tune as she descended the wooden staircase and opened the heavy wooden door to the cellar. She headed straight for the section where the rosés were stored. By the time she reached them, her humming had turned into full, deep throated singing. She sang as she pulled bottles from the racks, looking for one of the rosés she had purchased on their recent trip to the beautiful Loire Valley in France. At a break in the song, when she went back to softly humming the musical refrain, a noise behind her had her spinning and drawing her wand.
She was quite shocked by what she saw. After giving the sight before her a long, considering look, she picked up a random bottle and left the room.
Severus was just finishing setting the table when she returned. He took the bottle from her hand and pulled out her chair for her. She watched him closely for a hint of a clue as to why she saw what she saw, but he acted as though nothing was out of the ordinary as he deftly removed the cork from the bottle and poured a glass for her. He sat and began to dish out the fresh pasta with pesto sauce he had made. He did not wait for her to begin before he wound a forkful of the long spaghetti around his fork and put it in his mouth. He chewed and swallowed with relish before announcing, "God, I'm good!"
His words shocked Hermione from her silence. "Severus! Why is Lucius Malfoy tied up in our cellar?" she asked incredulously.
3. That unfailing loneliness that so often tugged at Severus's resolve these days had been growing more pronounced in recent weeks, for reasons he couldn't make heads or tails of. He was accustomed to a solitary life, after all, not so much out of want as necessity during the near two decades spent in life-threatening scenarios.
My Inferno, he'd quietly refer to it as—the double agent status, the physical and mental strains of his life, the nights spent cooped up alone without a friend or a friendly face to confide his fears and grievances in. The weight of his predicament was heavy, enough to break him and swallow him whole if he hadn't found some inner strength to push on. It may have been survival instinct alone, but it was all he had. Nowadays, distractions—escapism—were his tool of the trade for dealing with himself, and today, at this particular outing, the method masked the loneliness within.
Severus wouldn't have been able to inform anyone how long he'd walked the Hampton Court grounds. Perhaps an hour or so would be a fair estimate, but either way, he ended up settling down on a bench and gazing out at the extravagant palace before him, not with desire but with indifference. He stared at its details and majesty with that same critical sneer he often bestowed for his less than stellar students and was hardly aware of his surroundings when a familiar voice chimed in beside him, disrupting his thoughts.
"You look like you've had an unpleasant experience, Professor."
Severus startled and whipped his head to the side, finding the unnerving, yet comforting, sight of a certain know-it-all Gryffindor. 'Comforting,' Severus? his mind alerted him to the emotions buried beneath, where they were always supposed to remain: guarded and locked away.
4. "I thought you said this would work!"
"Then why does the bastard look so smug?"
"How should I know?"
"Then something must be wrong, he’s supposed to be suffering!"
"All right, all right… I’ll try it again."
5. Heather snorted. "Did Mum put you up to this?"
Severus arched an eyebrow. "Do you think that your mother would need to?"
Heather poked a flobberworm particularly hard. "No. S'pose not."
"Your mother would tell me that I have to be non-judgemental and supportive and open to whatever you want to say to me. I say that I am a Potions' Master, and there are any number of non-fatal but unpleasant potions that could fall into the drinks of ex-boyfriends, if required."
Heather brightened, then let out a long, martyred sigh. "Mum wouldn't let you. She'd do that disappointed face that she does."
"Your mother…" Severus shook his head, decrying the innocence of youth. "Your mother has left a book of charms by your bedside has she not?"
"Homework!" Heather protested. "She set me homework to take my mind off boys."
"If you'd read the book, you would have noticed the very interesting section on time delayed hexes and their uses."
"Oh." Heather blinked a couple of times, processing the information that her mother was rather sneakier and more vindictive that she had supposed.
6. And then came The End. The fall of Voldemort. He was released from two of his bindings, and the summer was ahead of him. He could quite possibly spend eight glorious weeks with no one but himself for company. He could brew any potion, without the worry of interruption at a crucial stage. He could pick up a book and read it cover to cover in one sitting. He could put away the heavy robes he wore to encourage his intimidating demeanor.
He wouldn’t have to make small talk with those intellectually beneath himself or answer questions from irritating students. Hell, he could walk the halls in his bathrobe if he so chose, as there would be no one else where he traversed.
And then, with that simple hello, his dream was shattered.
Like nails on a chalkboard, her voice scraped against his cerebrum. And when she informed him of Longbottom as well, he just about snapped that she might as well round up all of her little friends for a jolly get -together in his chambers, since his summer just went to hell in a hand basket anyway.
Hmm. Perhaps that suggestion wasn’t too off the mark. He could suggest something in a room —far away from his own. Provide plenty of libations and with an advanced Alohomora cast on the door—
"Professor?" came the call with a firm knock on his door.
He didn’t answer.
"Professor?" the girl tried again. "I know you’re in there! The portrait told me."
Blast. He knew he should have replaced the bloody thing. It was much too acquiescing.
Snape told the firmly shut door, "Go away, Granger."
7. You've been banging around all day." She turned towards him, her eyes flicking up for a second as the knife stilled. "Something must be on your mind."
There was a slight tensing of Severus' shoulders, as if bracing for an invisible impact, before he reached inside his lapel pocket and withdrew a fine ebony stirring rod. Placing it gently upon the potions bench, he slid it towards her. "I was contemplating giving you this."
"Ah," Hermione said, her voice distant and mechanical as she processed the remaining crabapples. "The traditional passing out gift for my graduation. How kind. I shall treasure it always."
The inflexible and unyielding rod lay between them, the distance immeasurable.
"I'll leave you to your brew." Severus turned to leave, fists curling.
"Can you really not stay?" Her lilting voice halted his step. "Please, stay up with me tonight. Help me to finish."
Quickly scanning the ingredients laid out in order across the prep table, Severus snorted loudly. Soon-to-be-Mistress Granger did not require his brewing assistance. Nimbly, her fingers parted the sour mash, seeking out the tiny seeds popped free from their tight core, like little buttons scattered across a dirty floor. Quietly, he watched her work. The meditative silence of her dexterous hand was a soothing balm. Severus found his eyes drawn to her thumb, chapped by potion and by flame, her cuticles cut to the quick. He'd caught her gnawing at them in frustration, but said nothing.
All that she was, she'd earned. When Hermione traded perfume for the stink of potion smoke that permeated clothing and sunk into the sink, she earned it. When she gave up hair conditioners and facial scrubs for the damp, endless ripple of cauldron steam, she'd earned that, too. And when she'd taken on her own dungeon-like pallor, Hermione wore it with pride.
Anticipating her need, Severus handed her mustard seeds for her pestle. There was a flash of smile, like a burst of wind on a hot and heavy day. Closing his eyes, Severus swayed towards her, trying to catch the scent of her. Could any man love a woman with soot and dead flowers clinging to her as much as he did? And when she left…
8. 'I suppose,' he sneered, 'that this is where I thank you for your oh-so-observant generosity and thoughtfulness in regards to the season.'
She was gaping like a fish now, her mouth opening and closing. Finally, he'd found a way to shut the woman up!
'I...I...it's Christmas,' she told him blankly. He raised a brow, crossing his arms over his thin, wool-clad chest. 'That's all. I give my friends gifts, you git.'
He snorted – in hindsight, this was the Wrong Thing To Do Indeed, for the bright smile was gone, replaced by a very suspicious glimmer in her eyes. A breath was sucked in, and she rose stiffly from the intentionally-uncomfortable chairs he kept for morons too stupid to cast a Cushioning Charm on.
'Well,' Granger had replied, pretty pink lower lip trembling. 'I'm very sorry to have bothered you, Professor Snape. Have a happy Christmas, sir, nonetheless.' And she snatched her things off the other chair and left his office in blessed, blessed silence... but not before he caught the look of complete devastation written across her face.
Damn Gryffindors and their expressive natures – she looked as if he'd skinned her wretched excuse of a cat, stuffed it, then promptly used it as the Quaffle in the latest Quidditch match.
Severus had then proceeded to ponder her expression and the muffled sobs he'd heard echoing down the empty dungeon corridor, as if some Terrible Tragedy had befallen her on what she clearly (and mistakenly) thought was to be a Joyous Occasion. So the chit had brought him glass phials. He had a whole stockroom full. Simple corks, blown glass, cheap to purchase, easy to replace when Inept Dunderheads Inevitably Dropped Them... His fingers brushed over the glass, and he'd frozen in place.
They were enchanted. Heavily. Granger's magic wove through the phials, around them – a more impressive display of wand-work than he'd seen in quite some time.
9. Lucius snorted. "In love? Really? Well... if nothing else, it does have a certain entertainment value. Are you sure he's serious?"
"Oh, yes. He invited me to have tea with them, and if I wasn't so fond of him, I would say that he was being pathetic. Like a young girl bringing home her first boyfriend, all anxious and fluttery whether her parents are going to approve."
"And did you? Approve, I mean?"
"That," said Narcissa, "is exactly where the dilemma lies. In principle, I approve, but considering it's Severus we're talking about..."
"Oh, absolutely." He twisted, reaching for the bottle. "Supposing that you will probably want to invite her, too, when we're in the mood for... company, she ought to have black hair and eyes as well. Otherwise the whole colour scheme would be shot to hell."
Narcissa accusing her husband of being superficial was definitely a case of pot-kettle-black, and she knew it, but that didn't keep her from uttering the accusation.
Lucius looked wounded. "Are you saying aesthetics aren't important?"
"All I am saying is that, where Severus is concerned and in this particular situation, they are secondary to more important concerns."
"More important?" Lucius glanced heavenwards, probably to implore the deity du jour to give him strength. "Very well, ridiculous though the premise may be, let's go along with it. Surprise me."
"Our Severus," Narcissa announced in grave tones, "has fallen head over heels for Hermione Granger."
If she was surprised by the cherubic smile illuminating her husband's features, she certainly didn't let it show.
10. She gave another soft growl. "Why did we get the short straw and have to freeze our arses off waiting for the bloody train?" she grumbled rhetorically. "Why can't these bloody students arrive during the day?" Her voice was muffled under her voluminous scarf. "Merlin, I'm hungry! Why can't they come sooner—"
"Are you a witch or not?" he replied with asperity, and cast a second charm over them both. "We're here because we're the only faculty under sixty and without the clout or tenure to wriggle our way out of it, and the students don't come earlier in the day because then we would have nothing to whinge about."
"I know, I know! You don't have to remind me!" For a moment, they were silent. "Thanks for the heat," she muttered sullenly. He suspected she wasn't talking about the Warming charm, which perversely improved his opinion of her personality. He decided to make an effort to draw her out. The prospect of baiting her some more, he discovered, made him feel decidedly warmer than the present temperature.
"You're usually in a much more disgustingly cheerful mood," he remarked, and noted the murderous look in her eyes. This was proving to actually be an enjoyable conversation. "What's the matter? Did your holidays not go as planned?"
He had not expected an answer; in fact, he'd banked on her not dignifying the bait with so much as a reluctant nibble. Instead, she sighed, and her breath misted out in front of her face like a grey ghost. "Oh, the holidays were great. Wonderful, in fact."
"So I see. The boundless enthusiasm gave it away."