AN: This idea came to me randomly, and I had to type it up. Please review and tell me if it's utter crap or not! Thanks!
And to all of my readers of Karaoke Conundrum, I promise that I will start work on that again soon. So sorry for my long absence!
And now, without further ado, to the story…
BRAND NEW AN: This is an update where all my careless mistakes are removed as my brand new very kind and wonderful beta, Angel, has been helping me out.
Severus scowled. The female attendees of his very serious potions class were just about to snap his last fibre of nerve. He stalked to the huddle of fifth year Hufflepuff girls at the back of his classroom, about to find out just what it was that distracted them from completing their anti-inflammatory salve. It better not be one of those blasted books again, he growled mentally. He was sick of seeing those everywhere in the blasted school. It seemed like every girl in the student body had at least one copy of H. J. LaGrange's salacious novels in their possession.
H. J. LaGrange had taken the literary world by storm since last summer. Well, a certain portion of the literary world at least. Her sizzling and scandalous romance novels, five of them published so far, had sold thousands of copies even though they had only been out for a few months, and three of the books had been sitting at the top of Witch Weekly's "Top Picks for Undercover Reading" list since their debut, a highly coveted position. The publisher of the books, an offshoot of the same firm that printed the Quibbler, received over a hundred pieces of fan mail addressed to LaGrange daily. However, all of these letters had to be responded to with a polite note informing disappointed readers that LaGrange wrote under a pseudonym and would not give out any personal details, including an address to which letters could be sent.
However, if the mysterious LaGrange was ever found out, Severus Snape vowed to make sure that she would no longer be able to pen a single word in her entire lifetime. Once he got to the back of the classroom, he stood over the girls, looming menacingly as they tried to look innocent.
"What, may I ask, is so amusing?" he drawled lazily, as if he had all the time in the world to watch them squirm.
"Pro-Professor, we were ju-just comparing notes on how to correctly chop the licorice root, Sir!" the girl stammered, cringing as her lie sounded unconvincing even to her own ears.
Severus rolled his eyes ever so slightly. "Is that so? Well then, Miss Andrews, I see no reason why you would object to letting me see your, ahem, notes that you're hiding behind your back there." He beckoned with his tapered fingers, palm outstretched. Abigail Andrews' glance darted around like a frightened rabbit before she realized that there was no other choice. With a sigh, she dropped the novel she was concealing into the professor's hand, mourning its loss. She wasn't even halfway through, and that had cost her all of this week's pocket money!
Severus held the novel by its corner, pinching it between his thumb and forefinger like it was some sort of dead thing with an unpleasant odor. He flicked through it disdainfully, glancing at the cover and remarking, "The Cauldron of Affection by H. J. LaGrange. How…scholarly. Twenty-five points will be deducted from Hufflepuff as a reminder to pay attention in class, and anyone else caught bringing another piece of LaGrange trash within my presence will have detention for a month!" He walked back to his desk, tossing the novel into the rubbish bin, the busty, scantily clad witch and absurdly muscled wizard posing on the cover squealing indignantly.
"I would like you all to bring up a flask of your excuses for potions to my desk, clean up, and get out of my sight. Homework, due in two days, will consist of a thirty centimeter essay on the role of licorice root in anti-inflammatory salve, as well as a thirty centimeter essay detailing exactly what the dangers are when one doesn't pay attention in class," Severus snarled.
The students groaned, and more than one of them looked towards Abigail and her friends with thinly veiled resentment. That was a heavy workload even from Snape! As the students prepared to leave, Abigail cast a hopeful look towards the rubbish bin, thinking that she could sneakily snatch back her novel while the potions professor was occupied with collecting the samples of the students' work. Unfortunately, however, Severus caught her glance, assumed where her train of thought was leading, and casually fired an incendiary spell into the bin where the book disintegrated in a small fireball. He quirked an eyebrow at her, and she scuttled out.
Hermione Granger, now in her seventh year, sat at her customary table in the library, awaiting the fifth year Hufflepuff girl she always tutored on Wednesday evenings. She was madly scribbling words onto a legal pad with a muggle ballpoint pen while she waited. She used quills for her school assignments so as to satisfy her teachers, but when she was writing just for herself, she couldn't beat the smoothness and mess-free quality of a good old biro. Plus, muggle legal pads were so much handier than thick and unruly scrolls of parchment anyways. Hermione looked up as her student trudged toward her, obviously unhappy.
"What's wrong?" Hermione kindly asked Abigail Andrews as she took her seat. The younger girl sighed wistfully, resting her head in her hands.
"Professor Snape was being really mean in Potions today!" she wailed. "He yelled at me and took away my copy of The Cauldron of Affection! I just couldn't wait to see if Hugo would find Lana in time to tell her he loved her before she was married to that bastard Sven, so I was reading it under the table after I had basically finished my potion. Snape saw, snatched it from me, and blew it up in the dustbin! Now I'll never know what happened since I can't afford to buy another copy since mum won't give me any more pocket money 'til the end of the month!"
Hermione smiled internally, pleased that someone was so enthralled in her plot while trying to manage the outward appearance of innocent sympathy. She wondered what Abigail would do if she knew that she was sitting at the same table as the author herself. An idea popped into her head. Abigail really had been doing better lately in arithmancy, and Hermione really needed to finish her latest train of thought on paper before it completely drifted out of her mind.
"Abigail," she inquired, "do you have any questions about yesterday's lesson?" When the girl shook her head, Hermione smiled. "Well then, since you've been doing so well lately, I'll cut you a break today. As long as you have the chapter seven review done for me to check over by next Wednesday to make sure you're prepared for the test next Friday, I'll let you have today off. What's more," Hermione continued, smiling wider and fishing her personal copy of The Cauldron of Affectionout of her cavernous schoolbag, "if you absolutely must know what happens to Lana, I'll let you borrow my copy. I trust you'll be finished by next Wednesday?"
Abigail squealed with delight, taking the proffered novel and nodding rapidly. "Thank you so much Hermione! Thank you, thank you, thank you!" She scampered off, clutching the precious tome to her chest. Hermione shook her head. She still couldn't believe her mad success. She had made close to half a million galleons from royalties from her five novels, and the oldest one had only been out for six months! Still-practical Hermione was very satisfied as she had begun this endeavor to secure funds for her living expenses as she pursued her further education. She had accomplished all that and more, and now she had so much money that she didn't know what to do with it!
For a little over two hours, Hermione sat in that same chair, filling up page after page of her trusty legal pad with the plotline of her next book. She was right in the middle of a particularly juicy sex scene when she paused to stretch her cramped fingers. What she wouldn't give for a laptop! That was her next project, after she finished this story. She would do some research and find a way to configure her laptop that currently remained back at her muggle home so that it would work around magic.
Pausing her train of technology-themed thoughts, she flicked back through what she had written. Even though her last five books were so successful, she still was very self-critical of her work. Ever the perfectionist, she got out a red ballpoint pen from her bag and set to work editing. After another hour hunched at that library table, she had nearly finished going over her work when she felt a gentle tap on her shoulder.
"Hermione, dear," Madame Pince said kindly, "it's nine o'clock and I'm about to close up the library." Irma Pince did not behave in a friendly manner towards students as a personal principle, preferring the company of her precious books, but she had a soft spot for Hermione Granger. Never in her entire career had she met a student with more respect for the sanctity of books, except perhaps for Severus Snape when he was a student.
Hermione looked up and smiled sheepishly. "Sorry, Madame. I seemed to have lost track of time."
Madame Pince smiled, an occurrence that would be unbelievable to the eyes of any other student. "You know that I would love to let you stay a little longer on most days, Hermione, but I have to admit that I'm a bit more eager than usual to close up shop here and retire tonight. I've just started H. J. LaGrange's new book, and I'm absolutely hooked…"
Hermione tried to swallow her shock as she nodded. "Of-of course! My fingers are aching as it is. I'd better call it a day and get some rest. Thanks, Madame!"
She gathered up her belongings and left the library with a bemused smile on her face. Even Irma Pince was reading her work? Wow… She had really accomplished a miracle. She was so lost in thought that she was not paying the teeniest bit of attention to where she was going, and with an oomph she ran right into someone walking in the opposite direction. To her great consternation, the person fell backwards, and Hermione fell right on top of him, and she gasped with horror and embarrassment as she looked down into the sallow face of Severus Snape.
Hermione was paralyzed with shock for a few seconds as she stared into his coal-black eyes, but once her brain had kicked back in, she scrambled off of the potions master and started to stammer her apologies as she hurriedly picked up the contents of her bag, which had been dumped out when she fell.
"I'm so sorry Sir! I was completely out of it. I'm sorry Sir!" she wailed, near tears. Severus Snape, once he got over the shock of being underneath one of his most obnoxious students, fixed her with an icy stare. His gaze flickered away from her, however, when he noticed the books she was trying to quickly stuff back into her bag.
"Not you too, Miss Granger! Please tell me that you of all people are not reading that rubbish. I expected someone with your intelligence to know enough not to waste time on that drivel!"
Hermione was, of course, immediately offended, but then what he had said sunk into her brain. Had he actually given her a compliment? After six and a half years of trying to impress him in class, did he actually truly recognize her? She knew she should be insulted but instead felt rather gratified. She could look past his criticism of her work since she didn't expect him to appreciate the, ahem, subtle nuances of a Harlequin-esque romance. She smiled, happy that he had finally recognized her intellectual prowess.
"What on earth are you grinning at, you silly girl?" Severus' snarl snapped her out of her reverie. She jumped, reminded of his actual presence, as he gracefully ascended to a standing position, looking down disdainfully upon Hermione, who was still on the ground stowing her scattered possessions.
"Ten points from Gryffindor for your clumsiness, Miss Granger, and I would suggest that in the future you would use that brain of yours to watch where you're going!" With that remark, Severus stalked off.
Hermione's satisfied feeling vanished. How dare he take points away? It's not like she banged into him on purpose; it was just an accident!
"Insufferable bastard," she muttered, regretting that Snape was now beyond hearing distance. His insulting words about her literary prowess returned to her mind, and instead of dismissing them as she did before, she let them infuriate her. "Insufferable, grumpy, miserable old bastard!"
With that out of her system, Hermione turned on her heel and stalked off to the Gryffindor common room. She would show him. She would find a way to take him down a peg or two, or rather, H. J. LaGrange would.
To be continued…