Disclaimer: All characters and places herein are the property of J.K. Rowling.
Summary: Hermione is unwittingly selected to write a romance column for Witch Weekly. As her stories unfold, she realizes that the line between fiction and reality is not always so definite. Slytherin Blaise Zabini provides ample inspriation.
A/N: The is the pre-Half Blood Prince fanon characterization of Blaise Zabini.
Chapter 1 – Writer's Block
His hand went to her shoulder, almost cautiously. Her long, thick hair was in the way, but he brushed it aside, a harsh fever in his fingertips as they made contact with the pale skin of her neck. She gasped slightly at his tentative touch. She wanted to close her eyes, but somehow she could not tear them away from the deep pools of navy blue that stared back at her so ruthlessly. He was closer now, his lips nearly grazing her earlobe as he whispered softly to her... "Let's get out of here."
Hermione Granger sat alone in the library, her small, thin hands stained with ink and her wrist aching as she whipped these lines from her quill.
God, she was good at this.
It was a funny thing. She had always considered herself to be far too practical for romance of any sort. Granted, the closest she had ever come to being on the receiving end of such advances had been with Victor Krum, but she totally disregarded that entire relationship. Sure, it had provided her with a few awkward snogs and melodramatic conversations. But it had been nothing like real romance.
She was now well into her sixth year at Hogwarts. It was the year between OWLs and NEWTs, and for once in her life, she was actually bored. She had read nearly every book in the library at that point, and nothing seemed to challenge her anymore. Even S.P.E.W., despite its small but enthusiastic group of supporters, was not enough to keep her occupied. Furthermore, Harry and Ron seemed content to pass the year in idle, meaningless Quidditch talk and very immature games of Exploding Snap. Harry was not facing any major crises or death threats at the moment, and Ron still had the emotional capacity of a slug. She couldn't really blame them for being such completely uninteresting individuals. They were bored, too.
It all gave her time to unwind a bit, and she felt a certain distant relief.
She remembered the morning she had first seen the advertisement. She was having breakfast as usual in the Great Hall. Harry and Ron were divulging in detailed murder fantasies involving Snape, and she was flipping through the Daily Prophet. This had become quite the routine. She often read it from cover to cover, carefully searching for clues as to Voldemort's latest schemes. After all, Harry was too impatient to do this, and someone had to keep an eye out for him.
Then, buried amongst ads for Madame Malkin's Robes for All Occasions and mail order forms for Weasley's Wizarding Wheezes, she had spotted the call for entries.
WITCH WEEKLY IS PROUD TO SPONSOR THE "DIAGON VENUS" ANNUAL SHORT-STORY COMPETITION!
"Diagon Venus?" she had repeated to herself with a chuckle, almost choking on her orange juice. Damn. She felt compelled to read on.
Are you a restless housewife with tales of romantic fancy buried in your piles of parchment? Do you write steamy stories of passion for a hobby? Witch Weekly is hosting a call for entries in their annual short-story competition. In 20,000 words or less, describe your most intimate encounter. Each entry will be judged on the following criteria: plot and character development, creativity, originality, believability, and passionate but tasteful detail. A winner will be announced by 30 November. Grand prize is 100 galleons, publication in Witch Weekly, and a six-month contract to write a serialized monthly fictional romance column which pays 200 galleons per story. Entries should be owled no later than 31 October and sent to Witch Weekly, 69 Diagon Alley, London, England.
31 October. This gave her exactly 2 weeks. As it turned out, she had only needed one night alone in her dormitory. She described the events between Victor and herself in the most romantic detail she could imagine. Obvious revisions had to be made to the actual content of the tale. For one thing, they must be older, and their names must be different. His rescue of her from the merpeople in the Second Task became a daring rescue from a burned and sinking ship. The Yule Ball became an enchanted evening at the Minister's Gala, with all eyes on her, of course. And Witch Weekly wanted "passionate but tasteful detail," so she had been forced to use her imagination on a lot of the specifics.
Nonetheless, she had written the entire thing in one night, the words spilling from her quill effortlessly. She aptly entitled it "Intimate Encounters of a Darker Nature." The only remaining problem was to invent a pseudonym for herself. There was no way under Jupiter she would use her real name. This was quite a task, she soon discovered; it had been easier to write the story than to give herself a name.
Rowena, she thought, thinking of Ravenclaw's founder. But what about a last name? Unfortunately, "Lockhart," her obvious first choice, did not carry such a great connotation these days. She thought of all the last names of people in her class, but even then, it was just too close to home for her comfort. She finally decided to make up a surname, and she laughed out loud when it came to her.
Ravvish. Spelled with 2 Vs. Rowena Ravvish. Perfect.
She owled the story the next day.
And she won. Contract and everything.
Which caused her to realize that she was in a very odd situation. She was now a romance columnist for Witch Weekly. No, she was a 16-year-old virgin romance columnist for Witch Weekly. With writer's block.
During the entire month of December, therefore, she racked her brain endlessly for ideas. Her first story was due by 15 January. She began to panic. Christmas holidays would give her ample time to write, but what on earth would she write about? As always, she had begun with a trip to the library on an icy evening in early December.
Unfortunately, the library at Hogwarts did not have a plethora of non-fiction relating to the art of writing romance. She did come across a book entitled the Kama Sutra in the Muggle Studies section. It had proven to be perhaps a bit too informative. She thumbed through the pages slowly, secretly wondering if Madame Pince had not made a mistake by shelving such a book. The illustrations were—well, graphic seemed to be an appropriate description, if not the understatement of the century. She turned the book sideways and upside-down, thinking the printer must have made a mistake with the binding. No matter how she looked at it, however, it just did not seem possible for human beings to contort themselves into such positions.
She thrust the book back on the shelf, convinced that she had no business at all looking at it. Besides, it gave her no ideas on how to start a serialized romance column. All it did was make her blush slightly and marvel at the sticky moisture forming between her legs.
She hated it, but she knew what she had to do. She approached the reference desk cautiously. It seemed miles away. Madame Pince was loudly tutting over what appeared to be a long parchment of unreturned books.
"Miss Granger," Madame Pince said brightly as she approached the desk. "How nice to see you! If only half of the students at Hogwarts had your—conscientiousness—my job would be so much easier."
Hermione gave her a weak smile.
"What is it, my dear?" Madame Pince asked softly, obviously noting Hermione's nervous expression. "You look rather...piquant. I promise I'll have that book on Ancient Runes you've been asking for by the end of the week...if I have to track the bastard down myself."
She muttered the last part of her promise beneath her breath. Hermione stood there transfixed, barely noticing.
"Madame Pince, do you have any Muggle fiction?" she spat out suddenly, the words running together.
"Fiction?" Madame Pince asked curiously. "Miss Hermione Granger, asking me for fiction?"
"Just a bit of light reading, you know," Hermione mumbled, "for the holidays."
"Of course, my dear," she replied, immediately pulling a long, narrow drawer out of her card catalogue and thumbing through it passionately. "What do you like? Adventure? Science fiction? Mystery? Romance?"
A wave of relief flooded over Hermione like a calming charm. She had been dreadfully afraid that "romance" would not be one of the categories so willingly offered by Madame Pince.
"The latter," Hermione answered with another demure smile.
"Ah, yes," Madame Pince replied. Hermione thought she saw something of a twinkle in the beady eyes behind the spectacles. "Romance. A very popular genre among girls of your age. And one of my favorites, as well."
Hermione blinked. She could not believe she was having this conversation with a woman who normally lurked around whispering sharp orders.
"One of my very favorite pieces of romantic literature is Brontë's Wuthering Heights. I find Heathcliffe to be so disturbed and compelling. Of course, if you wanted something a little more...descriptive," Madame Pince said as she eyed Hermione cautiously, "you might try some D.H. Lawrence. Lady Chatterley's Lover, perhaps?"
Hermione took a deep breath. "And where might I find it?"
"In the fiction section, dear, under L. It's back in the corner, behind Muggle Studies."
"Thank you," Hermione responded, not wasting any time in heading in that general direction.
She crept towards the fiction section quietly and shyly. It was new territory. The dusty shelves rose to the ceiling, with long, musty rows of books spilling the sent of thousands of searching hands into the dim, heavy air. For pity's sake, it was just a book. She normally worshipped books. They had certainly never inspired such butterflies in her before.
She passed the shelves marked "Aa-Ch," then "Ci-Eu," then "Ev-Fr." She was getting closer to the Ls, and her footprints were getting steadily more quiet and careful. She stopped abruptly at the shelf marked "Hy-Le." Looking down, she noticed that the side she stood in front of ended in "Jordan."
It's the next shelf, she thought to herself. She felt a rush of anticipation. She placed her fingers on the far end of the shelf and peeked around it feverishly.
The row was far from deserted, as she had expected it to be.
Quite the contrary.
Two figures were writhing against each other in the not-so-faraway distance. The dominant figure was a boy—a very tall boy—with black curls sweeping across his olive cheeks. The figure beneath him, that of a raven-haired girl, was barely visible. He had her pressed against the shelf as though he was a leaden weight in motion. His lips were at the base of her neck, his tongue circling the hollow between her collarbones. His long-fingered hands were grasping at her hips, dragging them up and down against his lower torso. They appeared to be fully clothed, but her head was thrown back against the books behind her, and her legs were wrapped around him, her body grinding against him as though she was going mad.
"Padma," he moaned, his voice wild and husky.
Hermione quietly retreated, her heart thumping wildly in her chest and her breaths coming in quick, violent rasps in her throat. She felt like she had been stung in the brain by a particularly nasty doxy. She slowly backed away and then broke out into a sprint as dulcetly as she could manage. She darted past the reference desk, not even stopping to heed Madame Pince, who was softly demanding, "My dear, didn't you find what you were looking for?"
She slammed through the double doors of the library, barely feeling the movements of her own legs. She ran as fast as she could down the corridor, her bag slapping against her hip and that three-second image of unbridled passion streaming through her mind like hot poison.
She did not stop until she reached the portrait of the Fat Lady.
"Password?" came the familiar voice.
"Amore divina," Hermione gasped, her whole body shaking with her effort to breathe.
It was only then that Madame Pince's question hit her, and the answer was deliciously obvious. She had definitely found what she was looking for.