Title: Authors Anonymous
Author: dem bones
Genres: Romance and hopefully fluff
Summary: Snape and Hermione write for rival publishing companies. Hermione is stuck with writer's block after she is challenged to write a fluffy fiction based on the unforgivables and finds inspiration in the most unlikely places.
A/N: Written for Fanfiction Quidditch League Competition Round 8 with the used prompts: "You can't live your life for other people. You've got to do what's right for you, even if it hurts some people you love."-Nicholas Sparks, The Notebook, A picture of a broken window, The Poet To Death by Sarojini Naidu
Thanks to trollnexus who I realised I forgot to thank after he/she betaed this work and the other work that I posted for Round 7.
A/N 2: This is completed for now but will be possibly expanded on a later date.
Word count give or take several added words: 3,254
"You can't live your life for other people. You've got to do what's right for you, even if it hurts some people you love."-Nicholas Sparks, The Notebook
"Let me get this straight, Ron. You told me I had to write a story centred on the unforgivable curses and it's supposed to be centred on fluff?"
"That's the gist of it," Ron said, plowing through one of Hermione Granger's recent manuscripts. She was a writer working under the Weasley publishing company, one that was only recently erected among the numerous magical publishers in the UK. "Readers want something that makes them emotionally invested. You tend to write sloppy tragic romances and it just so happens your recent transcript, so to speak, made me want to hurl in a toilet. I don't even feel that your characters are three-dimensional, and I hate your protagonist—she reminds of that perfect female character that just turns me off. I simply gave you a challenge to expand your writing, so to speak."
Hermione sighed. It seemed he still was a little sore from their breakup. He had thought she had been demanding perfection in their relationship, but why shouldn't she? When they had been dating he had preferred discussing Quidditch with his friends over at the local pub while she preferred to have a romantic dinner every once in a while.
"Don't you think it's going to be a little difficult?"
'So says the professional.' Hermione thought. Ron was a well-established professional writer while she had just started writing years ago, sending her writing from publishing company to publishing company. Unlike most companies Ron had often assigned most of the writers to write challenging stories when one had writer's block instead of leaving them. "It helps the writing process," he would say.
"I'll be expecting your next draft to be here on time with the deadline. NO EXCEPTIONS," Ron said irritably. Over the years, his red hair tended to stick up from much of the stress with the pressured writer. The struggle to get drafts done before the deadline was often fruitless, and Hermione was no exception; in fact, she seemed to give him more frustration than he could take.
Afraid of making her boss angry with her she carefully walked back to her desk, her shoulders tense.
After work she headed on the way to her second job at the Ministry. Her job there included sorting through Muggle and wizarding affairs that couldn't be resolved through paperwork.
She was just about to head to her office when she heard someone arguing.
"An accident? I don't care if it was a damn accident. You lot aren't going to pay for the damages. You couldn't even distinguish a Cruciatus curse from a killing curse."
Suddenly Hermione felt someone bump into her shoulder. Irritably she waited for the apology but nothing came forth.
She turned about to give the man or woman a piece of her mind and that's when she recognised the shoulder-length black hair, the flowing robes and the stiff gait.
"Hey professor," she called to him softly, suppressing the urge to scold him.
The man, however, seemed to be ignoring her.
Irritability surged through her veins; not only did she have to endure a lecture from her boss, she had to sit down, write a stupid romance flick while using the damned unforgivable curses, and Snape had the gall to ignore her.
Gritting her teeth, Hermione quickly powerwalked towards him in long strides.
"Hey, what's the big idea? You think you have the right to crash into me while you are arguing with someone," she screeched.
Snape and the person (who Hermione recognised as Percy Weasley) whirled around. Much to Hermione's ire, Snape didn't seem the least bit affected by her dramatic display.
"I had no idea that you loved to make a public spectacle of yourself, Ms Granger," Snape said passively.
"Look who's talking. I heard your argument from practically a span of about three feet. I'm sure anyone could hear you from a mile away. Nothing could have possibly been that bad for the whole ministry to hear."
"Hmm, then let me shed some light on the situation. It just so happens that your little boyfriend happened to play a little baseball with his family around the park near my house and shattered my kitchen window. So I trust then that you'll pay for the expenses."
"For your information, we've broken up and it isn't their fault that you so happen to live by the park."
Hermione in a fury stomped towards her office, opened the door and slammed it behind her.
It was in the quiet vicinity of her office that she remembered that she had yet to receive an apology from the detestable man.
"Ugh. Ooh, I'll show him," she grumbled under her breath, though it was half-hearted at best. There was immense satisfaction to be had in putting him in his place.
During her free time she began to work on her draft, frustrated when their earlier meeting was still present in her head. It was the cause of many shrivelled papers in the waste bin.
'Broken windows...who goes to the Ministry to discuss broken windows?'
She laughed at his childish behaviour. 'Who would love a man like that? He's so grumpy, and a senile man like that can only be trouble. He acts like a child; it'd be a wonder if he even gets a girlfriend.'
The thought was so ridiculous Hermione found herself wondering, 'What would happen if I wrote a story based off that?'
Once she began to write, she couldn't stop. It was one of the first times she had made the deadline.
Over the past couple of weeks, Hermione continued her schedule as usual, though she never had received a compliment like she had about that piece of work.
"You did great. That's how you write a story. Even though the plot is ridiculous, you managed to keep me emotionally invested in the protagonists. The way the male protagonist compares their love to the pain of a Cruciatus curse, is very good symbolism," Ron had said. Not much was said afterwards.
On the one day in which she had no work she walked by the bookstore in Diagon Alley to gawk at the bestsellers, and that's when she saw it. The book was titled, 'A Euphemism of Pain' by Hermione Granger.
Stepping inside, Hermione opened the book. Apparently her work had been published into a book without her authorisation.
Skimming through the book, Hermione read through the story. A story about a Muggleborn witch and a wizard having a dispute about a broken window.
He had gotten very angry with her about it and wanted her to pay by having her give him her body in exchange.
Over time the wizard had developed feelings for the witch but couldn't express it in any other way than getting angry at her. One day the witch told him what was on her mind. She had been angry with him for snapping at her.
"Why do you get so angry over such little things. I practically have sex with you every single day. Your moods are like the Cruciatus curse: they leave me frustrated."
"Pity, I'm sorry to say I can't help you with that problem," he had said. The two had broken up towards the end, never seeing each other again.
All in all it was a rather tragic love story with no racy scenes whatsoever. Upon skimming through the book she felt eyes on her.
Hermione whirled around and saw Snape staring at her in a combination of curiosity and confusion.
"It's kind of a stupid tale, isn't it," he said.
"What are you doing down here?"
"I think I have a freewill to go anywhere I want."
"I've never seen you here before."
"I was just taking a peek at the books. Seeing all the pathetic works of art that are sullying the shelves."
"Have you ever fallen in love with someone before? I'd think it would have more substance than a bunch of cliché drabble on love and hate relationships. It's as if you've never been in love with someone before," he said with his arms folded, looking down on her with disdain.
Hermione felt her face heat up.
"I don't write fluff very well. It's a weakness. I mean you try to write some fluffy drabble that mentions the Unforgivables in it."
"Or in your case, the Cruciatus curse. Is there some fetish I need to know about on why the female protagonist seems to compare every single action that the male lead happens to do to that of a Cruciatus curse? I can't help but wonder why you wrote about the Cruciatus curse in particular and wonder if it's a way for you to vent your masochistic tendencies," he said, smirking at her red face.
"If it is?"
"Then I think I'll remain emotionally invested in the series," he said, as he took a book and headed to the front desk to pay for it.
"Who says I'm making a sequel?" She fumed as he left.
Ron walked inside just as she left.
The moment he set eyes on her, he asked, "You are aware of who that was just now?"
"Yes, I am well aware, Ron. It's kind of hard to forget when Severus Snape has taught you for seven years."
"He's an author who works for our rival company, Malfoy Publishing Co. The last thing we need is for you to find yourself up close and personal with that man. He's the kind of man who would go so far as to try and sabotage us."
"Speaking of sabotage, I don't remember ever giving you permission to publish my work, Ron."
"It was a great piece of work; I thought you'd be happy. I'm certainly not going to apologise for exhibiting your work when it's that good."
"You really think it was good," she asked modestly.
Ron nodded his head.
The next time Hermione met Snape she had been walking by the park when she saw someone underneath an old yellow Volkswagen wearing an orange jumpsuit, working in their own garage. One of the windows on the side had looked to be cracked by a decent-sized baseball, and she wondered if it was Snape underneath the car.
She waited until eventually the man moved from underneath the car.
"Ms Granger, you won't mind me asking why are you standing outside my garage door?"
"This is your place?" She asked.
"Yes, it looks that way."
"I didn't know you had a car."
"I didn't know this was supposed to be a game of 20 questions. Do you wish to come in?"
"Certainly," she said before she could stop herself.
He got up and dusted himself off, and Hermione followed him inside, sitting at the kitchen table as he set off to fix them a kettle of tea.
It took a fairly long time before he returned with a couple of mugs and the kettle in his hand. He cautiously poured the tea into the mugs before he set the kettle aside and sat down across from Hermione.
Much of her visit was accompanied with awkward silence, only interrupted with Snape's hands reaching up to stroke his neck where she knew Nagini's bite used to be.
"Does it still hurt?"
"I beg your pardon?"
"The bite on your neck."
"Oh that. What instigated that touch of concern, Ms Granger? I know for certain that any relationship between us is certainly not as amiable as you pretend for it to be, and it would be nice if you were honest with yourself."
Usually she would dismiss his words, but she wondered if perhaps he had a point. She had always expected perfection when she dated Ron, but here she was trying to please Snape and failing miserably by being flat out amiable.
"Then what would you have me do?"
Snape's eyes widened in surprise.
"What would I have you do? This isn't about me," he snapped irritably. He didn't seem very concerned about her problems at all and rather seemed to think of them as a tedious task he didn't want to be bothered with.
"You're the one issuing advice, Hermione retorted.
"Fine. You want my advice? If you desire for anything, pursue it yourself. You'll only achieve happiness by working for it. You'll never achieve it if you expect it out of somebody and you most definitely will not obtain it by conforming to other people. If you have a lot of dreams, pursue every single one of them and work until you've accomplished them all. Do them no matter what everyone else says. Sure, it may make people upset—it might even make your friends abandon you—but at least you're honest with yourself."
Hermione set her hand on top of the professor's in an act of comfort.
"Thanks for the advice, professor."
"You can call me Severus..." Snape grumbled. "But only this once. No confiding to Potter or Weasley about this."
Months passed and Hermione marked down things off her list. Skydiving off a plane, check, having a meal at an expensive restaurant, check, addressing concerns about some wizarding policies that could in fact get her fired, check, writing a sequel and getting a boyfriend. The last two remained unchecked.
It was on one particular day that month she had dropped by the bookstore and saw a book on the shelves.
'Mixed Messages by S. Prince'
Hermione stepped into the bookstore and took the book off the shelves.
"I see you are also checking out my book, Ms Granger."
"So it is you."
"I was inspired by our last conversation," he said passively, though Hermione noted he was looking straight into her eyes.
"Tell me, Granger. Have you actually had a fairytale romance of your own," he asked, whispering in her ear, causing it to twitch. If she didn't know any better she'd say he was trying to seduce her. "Or is everything always like a Cruciatus curse?"
"I wouldn't know but it's something I look forward to knowing before I die," she said, taking his book off the shelf and buying it.
It took Hermione two days to read through the book. All throughout it she found herself feeling conflicting emotions. Snape's protagonist in the book was a man who, not unlike Hermione's protagonist, compared his love interest's mannerisms to that of a Cruciatus curse. It made her irritated with him; why would he go so far as to copy her work? He had criticised her work and might as well have copied it word for word, making her work seem so underwhelming in comparison, but she was confused by the rest of the story.
In a way he was copying her work but his story took on a different angle. The man couldn't seem to forget about the woman. How she had always been so smart, so ambitious, so blunt and completely honest. She had admitted to respecting his behaviour despite how childish it had been, and that was when he confessed to her.
He wanted to date her to see if their feelings would match and she seemed to agree, though Hermione was left with doubt whether or not she had truly wanted to go on this date. It almost seemed as if he had taken initiative against her own will and dragged her on dates just to make her happy.
This, combined with how she had seen Snape act a couple of days ago, made her wonder if he was challenging her to write a better sequel for her work. He probably thought she couldn't even write a fluffy ending to her stupid book.
Intently she worked all throughout the night to write the sequel to her book, eager to prove him wrong.
It was four months later that she completed the sequel. She had dropped by the bookstore and saw the book on the shelves, 'Love's a Piece of Pain,' by Hermione Granger.
Snape was looking through the book, not seeming to spot Hermione coming into the store.
"Now I know you must come here for a reason. Are you here to gloat about how your book was so much better than mine? You know you copied my idea."
Snape turned towards her, looking at her with wonder. He seemed to be confused about something.
"Let me ask you something Ms Granger. Why did you write the first book?"
"I beg your pardon?"
"Why did you write it? You got inspiration from something didn't you? Many authors get writer's block, even the most professional. Oftentimes we authors tend to get inspiration from real life. We alter and mutilate the writing in order to fit our own desires. In your first book the female protagonist and her love interest break up. Do you think all stories end that way?"
Thinking about the first book, she had been using an incident where she and Snape had bumped into one another after he was talking about his broken window. Her male protagonist resembled Snape in every way and unconsciously she had written herself as the female protagonist.
Had she secretly desired Snape in a romantic fashion? Had she unconsciously thought it would end badly if she had asked him out on a date?
Why was Snape even talking about intention at a time like this? Then it hit her...Snape knew...Snape knew from the first book her very intentions. Every single presence of symbolism in her first book with the use of the Cruciatus curse as a symbol of love.
He had intentionally used it, gambling on the fact she would read it. The protagonist in his book was in fact Snape himself. The female protagonist was Hermione. Every instance he had compared had used the Cruciatus as a means to compare his love to Hermione. How he had felt tortured by the Cruciatus every time she was around. It made sense with everything he had done over these last six months.
Every piece of dialogue between them was Snape pointing out some quality about her or asking her about her romantic life. Still, Hermione wasn't one to make assumptions.
"I honestly don't know."
"I know where you got the inspiration for your story, Ms Granger. I believe I understood the message. I'd already written my answer, the rest is up to you."
Hermione grabbed him by the cheeks and kissed him on the lips.
"I think the sequel says everything you need to know."
"I don't have the time to read your books all day, Ms Granger. I have a job."
"Well, then I guess you better get started as soon as possible."
Snape pulled her at his side and wrapped his arm around her.
"Let's go, witch. I believe we need to arrange a date this Saturday."
And check off the last two things on her to do list...she thought with a smile.
If Ron didn't like it, he was just going to have to deal with it.
The Poet To Death by Sarojini Naidu
TARRY a while, O Death, I cannot die
While yet my sweet life burgeons with its spring;
Fair is my youth, and rich the echoing boughs
Where dhadikulas sing.
Tarry a while, O Death, I cannot die
With all my blossoming hopes unharvested,
My joys ungarnered, all my songs unsung,
And all my tears unshed.
Tarry a while, till I am satisfied
Of love and grief, of earth and altering sky;
Till all my human hungers are fulfilled,
O Death, I cannot die!