Title: The Absinthe of Reason

Author: Mundungus42

Rating: R

Disclaimer: I own very few things. Harry Potter is not one of them.

Summary: Response to the WIKTT Gryffindor Stud challenge

Challenge Requirements:

1 Hermione must use at least one corny pick up line on Snape

2 Hermione must win the title of Gryffindor Stud

3 Snape must stay as snarky and sarcastic as possible


1 All of the girls of Hogwarts including the Slytherin girls find out about the challenge and help Hermione

2 Slash is acceptable

3 Lavender and Parvati give Hermione seduction tips

4 The guys use one or more of the corny pickup lines

~*~ *~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

It was nearing midnight and the party atmosphere in the Gryffindor common room had died down considerably. All the younger members of the house had retired to their dormitories for the evening, and most of the older students had found more private places to continue their celebrations of Gryffindor's brilliant win over Slytherin.

Hermione Granger gazed over the towering pile of books on the table in front of her and tentatively removed one of her earplugs. Finally! The Gryffindor flag that Seamus had enchanted to sing an off-colour, anti- Slytherin rendition of "God Save the Queen" hung limply on the wall, apparently sung out.

Only a handful of revelers remained, seated in a tight circle in front of the fire. All of them were seventh year boys and doing something they oughtn't, judging by the furtive looks Seamus was shooting over his shoulder.

Well, if they were doing anything illegal, it was up to her, as Head Girl to stop it. She removed her other earplug and crept up silently behind Seamus. Ron noticed her approach and immediately shoved a paper-wrapped cylinder under his robe. All the others, save Seamus, were studying the carpet with great enthusiasm.

"Don't look at me like that Seamus Finnegan. If you boys weren't doing anything you shouldn't have, you wouldn't look guilty. And I'd think you'd have more sense than to do it in the common room! Well, let's have a look then. What have you got, Ron?"

Neville leaped to his feet. "You can't write him up, Hermione, Fred and George sent it to him. He was just showing us, we weren't going to drink any, honest!"

Hermione turned to Ron, eyebrows raised. "I'm surprised you'd even think about drinking anything Fred and George gave you."

"I don't reckon they'd jinx a celebration present," he said, reluctantly handing her the parcel.

Hermione pulled down the plain brown wrapper and frowned. "Butter rum?"

"It's brilliant," said Seamus, eyes aglow. "Me da once gave me a sip of his. It's like butter-beer only a million times better."

Harry frowned. "If it's like butter beer, why is it such a big deal?"

"I keep forgetting you weren't raised in a Magical family," said Ron. "We're not allowed to have it here because it's about twenty times stronger than butter-beer. It's about fifty percent alcohol."

Harry whistled. "My uncle once served some 100-proof cognac at a dinner party, and three of the guests passed out in the living room. He was out until three in the morning driving the rest of them home. He sticks to sherry for guests now."

"Yeah, well Muggles don't have sobering spells, do they?" Hermione pointed out.

Seamus raised his eyebrows. "What do you know about sobering spells?"

Hermione sat down between him and Neville. "I know enough that I've never lost points for being drunk in class."

Ron snorted. "Unlike some other people I know."

"Just because Dean is off making out with Ginny doesn't mean we'll let you sully his good name with unfair accusations," said Hermione primly, ignoring Ron's indignant squawk. "You know perfectly well that it wasn't Dean's fault. Malfoy was the one who put the rye into his polemic potion instead of rue, and Professor Snape was the one who made Dean test it."

The boys laughed, but Hermione inspected the seal on the bottle with a practised eye. "I can't believe it. The bottle doesn't appear to be tampered with."

She deftly removed the cork with her wand and transfigured it into a small tumbler. She poured a small amount of the butter-rum into the glass and held it up to the light, swirling it gently.

Seamus gawked at her. "You're going to drink with us?"

She shot him a withering glance. "I need to test it first. There are a number of potions that can only be delivered in alcoholic beverages. If Fred and George did anything to it, we can't exactly tell Madam Pomfrey how we happened to be under the effect of one of them."

"Be our guest, Mad-Eye," said Ron, reclining on to a large cushion with a grin on his face.

Seamus, still mildly shaken by the sight of Hermione with glass of strong spirits in her hand, cast a suspicious look at Ron. "You don't seem too surprised by this."

Ron and Harry laughed. "She's been studying uses of alcohol for an independent study with Snape."

Seamus's eyes were in danger of falling out of his head. "You go drinking with Snape?"

Hermione sighed, but didn't look up from the glass of Butter-Rum. It was surrounded by a faint purple glow. "We don't go drinking, Seamus. I just thought that alcohol was worth studying, given that it's been used as a Muggle remedy for centuries. Professor Snape agreed to oversee my studies, though he repeatedly claims that the Headmaster made him. There!"

The purple glow had vanished from the glass. "It's safe. I couldn't find that it's been spelled at all." She turned to Ron, "Your brothers must have really wanted Gryffindor to win this game. This stuff sells for thirty galleons a bottle."

It was Neville's turn to look surprised. "Did you learn that in your independent study?"

"Not exactly, but I figured that current pricing was relevant information to know, especially if I wish to pursue any of my work after Hogwarts. Now," she said, raising her wand, "sweet, flavoured rum like this is good at just about any temperature and with a number of mixers. I would recommend serving this particular variety straight up and warm." She held up the bottle. "Harry, do you want yours, hot, warm, room temperature, chilled, or on the rocks?"

"Er- warm. Thanks Hermione."

She nodded, and tapped her wand on a nearby pillow. It obligingly turned into a tiny but ornate Russian tea glass. She handed the steaming drink to Harry, handle first.

When all of the boys had steaming glasses of Butter-Rum, she fixed herself a glass.

Seamus caught her eye and raised his glass. "To the Quidditch Cup, for the fourth consecutive year, Hufflepuff willing," he pronounced solemnly.

"Hear, hear!" chorused the rest, and they all drank.

The Butter-Rum was even sweeter and smoother than Hermione remembered it. Of course, the last time she'd tasted it, Snape had dissolved a confiscated Limerick Lozenge in it. Since she hadn't recognized the odd flavour, she'd ended up speaking in limericks for several hours.

Ron raised his glass. "To Draco Malfoy, long may he be scrubbing mud out of his hair!"

"Hear, hear!"

This gulp was not as sweet as the first, and carried with it the trace of fire that Hermione had come to know so well. "Do not rely on your clumsy sense of taste to identify the contents of a potion," Snape had admonished her during one of their first meetings. "The feeling in your throat and stomach are twice as likely to be correct, and thus are often your best defence against slow-acting poisons."

Talk about gut feelings. Hermione hid a smile.

Harry held his glass aloft. "To Fred and George, the founders of our feast!"

"Hear, hear!"

Hermione took a much smaller sip this time. She suspected the others did, too.

Neville raised his hand, trembling slightly. "To Hermione Granger, for facing s-Snape and making sure we weren't all turned into hamsters"

The other roared with laughter and drank enthusiastically. Hermione grinned at Neville and raised her own glass.

"To Neville Longbottom, the best Slytherin-bashing beater the Gryffindor team has ever had the privilege of fielding!"

Neville flushed with pleasure. "Well, if Dennis hadn't slammed the other bludger away from me, I never would have had a clean shot at Malfoy-"

His protest was drowned out by another chorus of "Hear, hear!" and they all drained the remainder of their glasses.

Ron grabbed the bottle and poured himself another drink. He passed it to Neville, who did the same. The bottle was still nearly half full when it reached Harry.

Hermione sat back and grinned at her friends. She felt the Butter-Rum warming her belly. She knew that, though her own tolerance was significantly better than it had been at the end of the year, another glass drunk too quickly would put her over her personal limit, which meant she couldn't perform the sobering spell on herself until morning. She had no desire to ask Professor Snape for assistance well after midnight on a Sunday morning.

Seamus returned her grin. "I still can't believe the Head Girl is getting pissed with the lot of us."

Ron sprang to her defence. "Well, it's not like she never broke a rule in her life. She did tell off Trelawney in third year."

"And she smacked Malfoy. Three times," added Neville.

"And there was that time when she and Viktor Krum-" began Harry, with a wicked gleam in his eye.

"Enough!" Hermione interrupted, tossing a pillow at Harry. "I'll have no authority left if you keep this up!"

Seamus was giggling. "So you and Krum did sneak out to London last year. Unbelievable! What about the rumour that you to painted Mrs. Norris green before the Slytherin/Hufflepuff match?"

"I can neither confirm nor deny that," replied Hermione, "and I can neither confirm nor deny the slanderous allegation that I gave Crabbe a bright red exoskeleton and pincer claws after he kicked my cat down the stairs."

"Just as you can neither confirm nor deny that Gryffindor lost fifty points for it," commented Ron, taking another sip.

"Only because Snape figured she was the only one clever enough to do it." Neville's cheeks and lips were decidedly darker than they had been, and his eyelids were lower, giving him a warm and sultry look.

Hermione shook her head. Neville? Sultry? She mentally filed "horniness" in her list of physical reactions to different alcohols under "Butter-Rum." It was in a similar experiment with stout that she discovered that Professor Snape wasn't really all that bad looking. She'd left that particular detail out of her notebook. It's not like she was in danger of forgetting it.

Ron misinterpreted her action. "Oh don't be modest, Hermione. Snape may be an evil git, but he's not stupid."

"Yeah," added Seamus. "And if anyone else had been caught by McGonagall after sneaking to London with her boyfriend, she'd have been expelled."

"Perhaps so," said Hermione, feeling her cheeks grow hot, "but it's not like it was a problem for much longer, was it?"

This was met with a thoughtful, but not uncomfortable silence. Ron was the first to break it.

"Hermione, how far did you get with Victor?"

All the boys' eyes turned to her.

Hermione was torn between affront for such a personal question and amusement of his choice of words. Not "how far did you go," but "how far did you get." She figured this distinction merited an answer of sorts.

"We were together for over two years, Ron," she replied gently. "What do you think?"

This silence was broken by Seamus's laughter.

The others looked at him for explanation.

"Don't you think it's funny," he said, between guffaws, "that the only non- virgin in the lot of us is the one with the best reputation?"

Ron blushed down to the roots of his hair. "What makes you think that Harry and I are virgins? And Neville," he added belatedly.

Seamus rolled his eyes, slowly. Hermione figured the Butter-Rum was slowing him down a bit. "Really, guys. I'm your roommate. The only person I've ever noticed being out all night is Dean. Neville and Ron snore, and Harry always makes funny noises in his sleep."

Ron squeaked.

"Never mind, Ron," said Hermione. "I don't see how that's funny. What is virginity, anyway? What does it matter?"

"Easy for you to say," retorted Harry, "you've actually, well, done things."

"It's not a big deal," she protested, "they've debunked every single myth about virginity affecting one's ability to do magic, approach unicorns, brew potions, everything. It doesn't mean anything, really."

Neville gave an uncharacteristically harsh laugh. "That's not what we're on about, Hermione. We just want to have sex."

She stared at them in shock. Identical looks of discomfort, embarrassment, and resolution graced the boys' faces. She couldn't stop herself.

"With whom?" Her voice was incredulous.

"Millicent Bulstrode," spat Neville, cheeks scarlet.

The boys stared at Neville in unflattering disbelief. Hermione cleared her throat.

"You don't understand," said Neville, eyes far away. "Remember when Crabbe was in the hospital wing after Hermione turned him into a crab and Mil played beater against Ravenclaw? She tore the sleeves off her robes, and her dark hair streamed out behind her. I couldn't take my eyes off her. She is so strong. The first time I saw her bash a bludger towards Ron I nearly wept for the beauty. Sorry, Ron. But she's amazing. When we're in a room together, even if it's the Great Hall, I feel her there. I can't pay attention to anything else- I don't want to pay attention to anything else. All that matters is being close to her."

The others were staring at Neville, in horrified disbelief and awe.

"I think know how you feel," said Seamus, breaking the spell Neville had cast. "Only it's Padma Patil for me. Sorry, Ron, but I came this close to hexing you when you got to take her to the Yule Ball fourth year. Imagine- Parvati's looks in someone clever!"

Hermione stared at him in bewilderment. "Er, Seamus, if it's Padma you fancy, why did you date Parvati all fifth year?"

His face was red. "I didn't have the nerve to ask Padma out, and I figured dating Parvati would be nearly as good and much more convenient."

"Convenient?" Hermione practically screeched. "You dated your dream girl's identical twin for a year because she was more convenient?"

Seamus had the grace to look humiliated. "I was a complete prat, I know."

"And after the way she dumped you, nobody's ever going to believe you're interested in Padma for anything other than her resemblance to Parvati."

Seamus miserably swirled his remaining Butter Rum around in his glass. "Don't you think I know that, Hermione? I sometimes partner with her in advanced Muggle Studies, and it's all I can do to focus on our practicals when all I want to do is bury my face in her neck and inhale. God, she smells incredible!"

He sighed and took a sip of his drink. "How about you, Harry. Now that Alicia Spinnet's finally graduated, who does it for you?"

Harry got a funny closed look on his face. "Nobody."

"Sure, and I'm volunteering to referee the next Thunderer-Warrior match!" said Ron with a snort.

"We can't possibly think you're a bigger prat than me, so what are you worried about?" Seamus grumbled.

Harry looked up shyly through his fringe. "You'll hate me if I tell."

They all protested.

"Really?" He was encouraged by their solemn nods. "It's... a boy."

Hermione giggled.

Harry glared at her. "Thanks a lot, Hermione."

"No, it's not that," she protested. "I think I figured it out last year and it's really weird to hear you say it."

She smiled encouragingly. He took a deep breath. "Draco Malfoy."

Seamus, Ron and Neville emitted a truly impressive variety of rude noises.

"It's not that I don't despise him," said Harry, "I just think he's beautiful. I'd never go after him! He's awful- spoiled, irresponsible, obnoxious- but that doesn't stop me from thinking he's the most gorgeous thing on two legs. I hate that I think he's beautiful."

Hermione patted his hand. "I think it's very brave of you to say so. I think that deep-down, you see what he could be, which I think is admirable."

Ron cleared his throat. "Yeah. I mean, Harry, I think it's very big of you to call him anything but a stuck-up little sod."

Harry looked askance at his friend. "So who is it for you?"

Ron coloured even more deeply than Harry had. "Can't say."

Neville flapped his hand at Ron. "I've admitted admiration for Mil to you all. Now spill!"

Ron mumbled something.

"What??" Harry sounded outraged.

"Malfoy," repeated Ron, face flushing scarlet. "It's not that I don't like girls anymore, but I agree with everything Harry said," said Ron reluctantly. "And he knows just how to push my buttons, and it drives me near mad every time I speak to him."

Harry and Ron met one another's eyes, and Hermione could tell they had just achieved a level of understanding far beyond her ability to fathom. She was rather glad it lay out of her realm of knowledge, actually.

Seamus shook his head. "You're all for St. Mungos, the lot of you. Except for Hermione. Unless you fancy Draco Malfoy too."

She laughed, giving the others permission to do so. "No, no, not Malfoy. My unrequited affections lie in another direction."

"You sly thing," cried Ron, "you never said a word! Who is it?"

To everyone's astonishment, Hermione blushed deeply.

"You never told us anything!" said Harry.

"Think, Harry!" she hissed. "I've never told you who I fancied before, why should I start now?"

"Is it someone in Gryffindor?"

"Is it someone in Slytherin?"

"It's not me, is it?"

Hermione held up her hands. "No, not exactly, and definitely not, Ron."

Neville fixed her in a knowing stare. "No," he said, under his breath.

The other three boys turned to him.

"Well, who is it?" asked Seamus.

Neville shook his head. "Hermione, how could you?"

"I wasn't going to act on it, at least not 'til I've graduated."

"Who is it?" chorused Harry and Ron.

In for a penny... "Professor Snape," said Hermione and Neville in unison.

Harry, Seamus, and Ron all yelled in disgust. Ron buried his face in a pillow. Harry's hands were clasped over his eyes. Neville looked as if he'd sucked on a lemon.

"That's disgusting!"


"Imagine how it would feel to run your fingers through that greasy mop," said Seamus with relish.

"You're braver than me, Hermione," said Neville, "but I think we already knew that."

"How long have you fancied him?" demanded Ron.

"Well it all happened so gradually," Hermione said, cowed by the outraged looks the boys were giving her. "I couldn't say exactly when. Maybe it was the first time I realized that he doesn't hate me. He's the same as he ever was, I think, but I just see him differently now."

"But he treats all Gryffindors like shite, " said Seamus, bluntly.

"Not in our private sessions," said Hermione earnestly. "He still makes fun of Gryffindors, but I don't mind it anymore. He's really very funny."

"Funny?" Seamus practically shrieked. "This is the man who takes points off Gryffindor for sport!"

"But there's more to him than that," she protested. "He's smart. Attentive to detail. And he's really quite handsome."

Another roar of disapproval. Ron smashed his face into the pillow again, and the look on Harry's face lent him an uncanny resemblance to Narcissa Malfoy.

"That's not fair," Hermione insisted. "Everyone except Neville thinks Bulstrode's a troll, and everyone except Ron and Harry think Malfoy's spotty wanker status far outweighs any physical charms. Why can't I be allowed to like Professor Snape?"

They had no good response for this. Seamus took a healthy swig from his Butter-Rum before speaking.

"Well, Hermione, I guess not everyone can be gifted with taste equivalent to mine. You're welcome to think Snape's handsome if you want. At least you can claim it was the booze talking tomorrow morning, anyway." He raised his glass. "Here's to the unattainable."

"Hear, hear" was the reply, but it was much more resigned than enthusiastic. They all drank and were silent.

Suddenly, Neville, who had been lying on his back, struggled into an upright position. "Why do they have to be unattainable?"

Ron groaned, arm draped over his face. "Because we've all of us set our own sights way out of our respective leagues. Bulstrode would belt you if you asked her out, Malfoy would hex us, Padma and Parvati would both jinx Seamus, and Snape would expel Hermione after belting, hexing and jinxing her."

"D'you think so?" asked Neville, meeting each of their eyes in turn. "Are we so scared that we won't even try?"

"It's not being scared exactly, Neville," said Hermione. "It's more having a healthy sense of self-preservation."

Ron and Harry snorted, but Seamus frowned.

"I think Neville's right," he said. "I could have asked Padma out at any time, but I haven't."

"Yeah, well Padma's not in Slytherin," retorted Harry. "You don't have hundreds of years of rivalry going against you."

Hermione and Ron nodded in agreement.

"A feeble excuse," said Seamus, whose tongue seemed to have been loosened by the alcohol.

"Are you calling us cowards?" asked Ron, voice dangerous.

"I suppose I am," said Seamus with good humour. "Perhaps you chose to fall for Slytherins because you knew they were unattainable. I don't know. But what I do know is that you won't get anywhere if you don't try."

"Easy for you to say," said Hermione. "You partner with the object of your affections twice a week for an hour and a half."

"And you see yours alone two nights a week," said Harry, gloomily. "Since we dropped Potions last year, the only time Ron and I see Malfoy is during Care of Magical Creatures, meals, and quidditch matches."

"So what?" said Neville, drawing their attention.

"What do you mean, 'so what?'" demanded Ron. "What do you expect us to do?"

"Make your own luck," said Neville, eyes hard, tongue slightly slurring. "I propose a toast. Or a pact. Or a what-have-you."

They all raised their glasses hesitantly.

"I think we all should all go after our loves," Neville pronounced with drunken eloquence. "And that the first person to succeed, with style, will be the Stud of Gryffindor, whose praises shall be sung by generations of Gryffindors for ages to come."

"So mote it be," said Seamus with magnanimous ceremony, hiccuping.

"So mote it be," echoed Harry, Hermione, Ron, and Neville.

They drained their glasses.

~*~ *~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Enjoy? Encourage me! I am incorrigible, after all.

Huge thanks to Dana, my beta-reader, who kept me from naming this "The Absinthe Minded Professor."