Author's Note: I don't have an LJ, but I took up Doomspark's Page 394 challenge anyway. Challenge rules and quotes used are as follows:

Doomspark's Page 394 Challenge:

1. Take the nearest five thick books. If you don't have five thick books near you, go to the bookshelf. If you're too lazy to do that, use fewer than five.
1a. None of the Harry Potter books are allowed, however. Anyone doing that will have a week's detention with Snape, and it won't be that sort of detention. It will involve scrubbing cauldrons and pickling pig foetuses.
2. Turn to page 394.
3. Take the second sentence on that page of each book.
4. Arrange the sentences to form as coherent a story as possible.
5. Post your wacky tale in your LJ with these instructions.

'He smiled.'

The Fellowship of the Ring, J.R.R Tolkien

'As for himself, he was done.'

The Curse of the Chalion, Lois McMaster Bujold

'"It's snickering at me," he said suspiciously.'

"The Mountains of Mourning" from Young Miles, Lois McMaster Bujold

'He was sweating, the renegade lock of hair plastered tight across his forehead, his face a muddy beige color.'

Agent of Change from Partners in Necessity, Sharon Lee and Steve Miller

'"Yes, and aren't you just breathless with anticipation for that!"'

Wicked, Gregory Maguire


He was sweating, the renegade lock of hair plastered tight across his forehead, his face a muddy beige color. Through the haze of the cauldron-induced steam, his eyes glittered dangerously and his lips were twisted in a poisonous scowl. Hermione thought with detached fascination that he looked positively homicidal.

"Everybody out!" he spat, turning to stalk back to his desk as the terrified third years scattered. He pulled a sheet of parchment and a quill toward him and began to write. He had had it. No more exploding cauldrons, no more Gryffindor-Slytherin spitball fights in the hallways, no more badly punctuated parchments not even worth the red ink he covered them with. Someone else could deal with the dunderheads. As for himself, he was done.

Hermione picked her way through the classroom, stepping carefully over the caustic spill from the botched Pepper-Up, to peer over his shoulder. "What is that?"

"My letter of resignation," he informed her tersely, continuing to write.

"Ah," Hermione said neutrally. He put the quill down, picked it up, and put it down again, then stood to loom over her.

"You can keep the ungrateful brats from killing themselves," he told her venomously, spittle landing on her shoulder. "You'll be very well-qualified by the end of the year."

"My apprenticeship doesn't end until the last week of June," Hermione pointed out calmly.

"Yes, and aren't you just breathless with anticipation for that!"

Hermione ignored this as beneath her notice. "You don't really want to resign," she informed him.

"I don't?" he asked dangerously, looming more earnestly.

"No. You enjoy intimidating first years. You thrive on swooping about the halls after curfew. You positively relish covering all those abominable essays with pithy insults—you agonize over the most cutting way to phrase your comments. I've seen you, don't try to deny it," she added as he drew breath. He subsided sulkily into his chair. "You even like sorting out all those ridiculous squabbles in Slytherin house. Admit it, you love teaching."

"I do not," he said, expression treacherously near a pout. He tried to disguise it with a disdainful sneer. Hermione ruthlessly quashed her snicker.

"Come on," she said. "They're serving treacle for pudding tonight. You know it's your favorite."

-'-

Snape stopped dead in the doorway of his office, staring at the rodent-like animal curled up in a basket on his desk.

"What," he enunciated, "is that?"

"It's a kitten," Hermione told him gleefully. "Isn't he adorable?"

Snape eyed the rat-thing with mistrust. "What is it doing here?"

"I thought you might like a familiar," Hermione said disingenuously. "Something to keep you company in those dungeons of yours."

"I don't want a familiar. I like my privacy." Snape watched in mild alarm as the little beast stretched and clawed at the fabric of its nest.

"Why don't you pet him?" Hermione suggested. Experimentally, Snape extended a finger and stroked carefully down the black-furred back. It arched under his touch and made a rumbling sound.

"It's snickering at me," he said suspiciously. He withdrew his hand.

"No, he's purring," Hermione contradicted him. "See?" The potions master resumed petting. "Isn't he the sweetest kitten you've ever seen?"

Snape drew himself up and looked down his nose at her. "No," he said bluntly. "He is a nuisance. But since you are obviously ill equipped to care for him, I suppose I will have to take the task upon myself." Picking up the basket, he swooped through the doorway and into his chambers.

Hermione grinned. "I knew you would like him," she said to the empty office.

-'-

Snape was alone in the empty potions room, carefully inspecting and packing away bottles for the next year. The students had left a week ago, and one by one the staff was leaving too. Now that Hermione had successfully passed her potions mastery exam, he was preparing to leave as well.

Behind him, he heard a muffled thump as Nuisance leaped for a dust mote and missed. He sneered affectionately at the disgruntled young cat. Inspired, the nimble beast leaped over to the lab bench and butted his head against Snape's frock coat. Snape petted him absentmindedly and examined another bottle for cracks. He knew before she spoke when Hermione walked in the door.

"Professor?" she asked softly.

"Are you still here?" he responded typically, turning to face her. She flushed a little.

"I'm about to leave," she answered softly. "I—I just wanted to thank you. For everything."

"You're welcome," he said shortly, for once without a trace of sarcasm. She didn't turn to leave. "Was there something else?"

"No," she said quickly. "I mean, yes. That is—" She blushed.

"Well?" he drawled.

She bit her lip, and then quickly, as if she wanted to do it before she changed her mind, she took a step closer, stretched up on her tip-toes, and kissed him on the lips. "Goodbye, Professor."

He stood there motionless for a full minute, staring at the doorway, until Nuisance leaped onto his shoulder and mewed inquiringly. He smiled. Gently, he set the cat down on the lab bench. He looked at his watch. And he strolled, without enough urgency to be noticeable, after her.

He caught up with her just outside the entrance of the Great Hall—all the late-night prowling ensured he knew the school inside and out, making it simple for him to find a quicker route through the castle.

"You forgot something," he pointed out unseen behind her. She whirled, wand out, and then relaxed as she looked up at him.

"I did?" she asked, brown eyes faintly puzzled.

"Yes," he said softly, taking a step closer, so that their toes were almost touching. "This."

Her eyes drifted shut as his lips touched hers, and after a minute fluttered open again. She took a step back. "I take it back, Severus," she told him, smiling a little at his bemusement. "Let's not say goodbye."