Disclaimer: I do not own any of the characters. I just manipulate them…

Trick Step

Hermione was stuck.

It was dark, and something always happens to you when you venture through Hogwarts at night. Things such as close calls with teachers, a confrontation with Peeves, or even…an encounter with the trick step on the staircase between the second and third floors.

After almost seven years of avoiding what could be a very embarrassing situation, Hermione Granger, Head Girl and resident know-it-all, forgot to skip the trick step.

Unfortunately, the trick step is tricky enough that it takes two people to escape it, and Hermione, being the only one on this venture, was, well, in a load of crap.

As she had missed dinner, due to an unhealthy amount of studying, she had decided that a quick trip to the kitchens wouldn't go amiss. Borrowing Harry's cloak and turning down offers of accompaniment (which she greatly regretted now), Hermione had made her way down, only to be stopped by the Decidedly Evil and Nefarious Trick Step of the Devil, as she now called it.

After the initial jerk that made her fall back on her bum in a very undignified manner, Hermione had laughed at herself. Surely, anyone would find it funny that the most intelligent witch of their age was hindered by a mere step. The step had proven its tenacity, as, no matter how she tried, it held a firm grip, from ankle to toes. The harder she pulled on it, the tighter it held, and she knew what her fate would be. She would either stay there until a teacher found her, or stay until the morning, when a student would happen upon her.

She didn't know what would be worse. With a teacher, she would be punished, have points taken off and such. If a student came upon her though, the news of her embarrassment would be spread around the whole student body by the end of breakfast.

It seemed like fate had decided the worst possible outcome for her. There was no mistaking the measured steps coming her way. Standing up, she looked to the top of the stairs and saw the most horrid teacher in school about to descend them. Gauging which side of the staircase he was tramping down, Hermione leaned as much of herself over to the left of the stair, never mind that her foot was stuck smack dab in the middle. Her heart-rate and breathing accelerated as he drifted closer, and she closed her eyes in horror as she felt one of his boots connect with her leg, which was sticking out of the nasty little trick step in a weird angle.

She was only glad that the step was the second to last one on the staircase, as Professor Severus Snape was able to catch himself with his hands before his face was able to come in contact with the stone floor. As he fell, a yelp was pulled from him, along with Harry's invisibility cloak which had caught on his boot. It managed to drift off into an obscure corner, much to Hermione's relief. Harry would kill her if Professor Snape got a hold of it.

Speak of the devil, the professor had recovered enough to stand, and was now brushing himself off. He slowly turned around to face her, and she noticed his eyes widen minutely, but other than that, no evidence of surprise showed on his face. Hermione was impressed.

"Ooops," Was all she could say.

"Very elaborate, Miss Granger. What, may I ask, are you doing?" He said, in a tone that meant he would be very displeased if he wasn't answered honestly in the next second.

In a moment of brash Gryffindor stupidity, Hermione said, "I would think that much is obvious, professor." This did not improve the potions professor's horrid mood, from what she could tell. With only the moonlight from a nearby window, half of his face was in shadow, giving him a sharper countenance that sent danger signals through Hermione's brain.

"That will be twenty-five points for walking around after hours while not on patrol, and ten for your cheek." He said in a decidedly condescending tone, raising his eyebrow as if daring her to talk back. Knowing it would not do her any good, she looked off to one of the stone walls, where a portrait of a snobby-looking woman pretended to snooze in her chair.

"Yes, professor." She said, and after a few seconds, looked back to see why he wasn't already helping her out of the trick step. He just stood there, haughtily looking down at his nails. Sighing under her breath in annoyance, she put on a fake smile. "Would you mind helping me out of this?"

At this, Professor Snape looked up and sneered before walking to her side. He grabbed her arm rather brashly with both hands and yanked her hard enough that she skittered a few feet from the bottom step after she was freed. The professor stalked off towards the staircase leading from the second to the first floor, and Hermione gave a sigh of relief, glad that she wouldn't be getting a detention. That would definitely be an embarrassment for the Head Girl. She saw professor Snape pause again with trepidation. "By the way, Miss Granger, detention tomorrow at eight." With a snap of his robes, he was descending the staircase.

Hermione grumbled as she made her way over to the corner the invisibility cloak floated. She picked it up and shook the dust off, before placing it around herself again. She looked back the way she came, making sure to glare at the trick step, which looked as perfectly innocent and normal as the others. Well, she might as well go to the kitchens anyway, seeing as she was already more than halfway there. She'd just have to be a bit more careful, of both the castle and the teachers prowling about it.

Hermione quietly made her way towards the stairs leading to the first floor, descending them cautiously, even though there were no trick steps or jinxes to dodge. Just as she stepped off the last step, she was roughly grabbed by the arm and not to gently pushed against the wall by a furious Severus Snape. "Why, Miss Granger, are you not going to your room?" He said in a dangerous voice, reaching out and clumsily slipping the hood off of her cloak. If looking at a floating head was unnerving, he sure didn't show it.

"I'm sorry professor. I was just heading down to the kitchens, as I had missed dinner. It's quite awful trying to go to sleep when you're hungry." She replied, once she regained her composure. Professor Snape sure knew how to make people jump out of their skin!

"Yes, I'm sure." He said in a flat voice. "I suppose, as you have made it this far, you can go to the kitchens, but be quick about it, and don't let me catch you sneaking out again. Another detention will be added to your punishment for disobedience, now get going before I decide to punish you more." All Hermione could do was gape at him, but when he raised his eyebrow, she knew he meant business, and turned in the direction of the kitchens.

"Yes, sir. Thank you." She replied, not seeing the puzzled look that crossed his face before he turned to continue his rounds.

Hermione could not believe that she was let off the hook so easily. Sure, her punishment was thirty-five points and two detentions, but she never thought he would let her continue her little jaunt to the kitchens! Maybe he was going soft. Yeah, right. She tickled the pear and entered the vast kitchen, almost unprepared for the legion of little house elves that almost swallowed her as she stepped through the portrait. They all looked up at her eagerly, if a bit warily as well, waiting for her orders. She knew her antics with S.P.E.W. had something to do with it, but shrugged off the reminder of her failed attempt at justice. She supposed they looked happy enough, at least at Hogwarts.

The house elves eagerly complied with her wishes, and she was soon walking back towards her Head Girl rooms, glad that she didn't have to listen to any girly gossip. It was only around eleven-thirty, and surely they'd still be up. She entered her quiet rooms and looked around in satisfaction, from her impressive collection of books to the photographs, muggle and wizarding, of her friends and family. Then, walking towards her queen-sized bed, she got down to the business of sleeping.

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Well? What do you think so far? Please review if you wish! It would definitely encourage me to write more! Hahaha.