AN: In celebration of the excellent film version of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, which I had the good fortune to see on the day of its release (there's something to be said for pre-booking seats with your friends), I had decided to go through my collection of previously-unfinished works stored on the computer and upload a few for your collective enjoyment over the next little while.
And without posting any spoilers, Emma Watson is much improved over the previous movies – she isn't acting with her eyebrows anymore.
The Deputy Headmistress of Hogwarts had almost finished a particularly scathing reply to the Minister of Magical Education's suggestion on how Hogwarts might cut back on its spending and expenses when a knock on the door broke her concentration. She had been taking advantage of a blissfully free Friday afternoon to catch up with some urgent correspondence that she had been forced to neglect after an incident during the previous evening. A new Weasley's Wizarding Wheezes product had made its way into the school undetected and violently disrupted Thursday's supper along with her own evening plans, forcing her to instead spend six hours tracking down all the school's collection of chinaware which – once enchanted by an ingenious but sadly misused animation charm – had ran out of the Great Hall mid-way through the meal and hidden in every possible corner of the castle until the teachers could hunt them down and return them to the kitchen. This excitement necessitated a short letter to the Weasley twins, informing them in no uncertain words that if her day was ever disrupted like that again, she would be paying a visit to their shop and demonstrate to them exactly why she was a Transfigurations professor.
'Come in!' Minerva called out irritably, glancing briefly up from behind her desk at the visitors as they entered, her quill poised above her parchment and ready to detail the fourteenth point of why the Minister of Magical Education was a bigoted ignoramus who ranked below a Flobberworm in intellectual capacity and possessed all the sense of a Hippogriff in breeding rut.
To her surprise, three students that walked into her office instead of the expected one.
Or to be more precise, Harry Potter and Ron Weasley stumbled into the room supporting the third member of their informal trio between them.
'May I help you, Mr. Potter?' Minerva said, frowning as Hermione Granger was deposited face down on the carpet in front of her desk.
'So sorry to bother you, Professor,' Harry panted out, bent slightly at the waist. It appeared that they had travelled some distance to reach the office. 'Hermione…she …well…I'm not really sure what happened.'
Hermione had sat up and was now smiling brightly up at Ron, who was beside her.
'She began acting like this half-way through Flitwick's afternoon class.'
Although his voice was steady, Ron's ears were pink with embarrassment, a trait that he had inherited from his father. 'I think Pansy Parkinson may have had something to do with it, she's still angry over…'
He was interrupted mid-sentence when Hermione impulsively threw her arms around his legs and hugged him tightly.
'You're soft!' she hiccoughed into his robes. 'Soft like a baby Heffalump!'
Minerva's eyebrows arched upwards towards her hairline; Hermione's words were slurred beyond belief. What was left of the pallor in Ron's freckled skin had gone a brilliant shade of red as he struggled to remove his friend's arms from his being. Deciding that the remaining member of the trio would be more forthcoming about Miss Granger's present state, Minerva looked expectantly at Harry. Although she did dearly want to ask him if he knew what a Heffalump was - presumably a creature known only to Muggles - she choose to address a more pressing matter instead.
'It's fairly obvious that someone's spiked her food with an Inebrius potion, Mr. Potter,' she said, vaguely perturbed by his inability to recognize such a common ailment. 'I realize that I'm your Head of House, but why didn't you go straight to the Infirmary with her?'
'Madame Pomfrey's down in the Hufflepuff rooms treating someone,' Harry answered, running his hand through his already untidy black hair, 'And your office was much closer than the Hospital Wing so I thought…'
Harry let his words hang in the air, leaving unspoken his suspicions that because Hermione was Minerva's favourite student, they had assumed that she would help them with this unusual request to save Hermione some embarrassment from the student gossip that would certainly circulate should they go down to the Infirmary through the busy halls with a drunk-out-of-her-mind Head Girl.
Sighing inwardly, wondering why these things always seemed to fall on days when she was at her busiest, Minerva set her quill in its holder and sat down in her chair to collect her thoughts, one hand covering her eyes to hide the scene in front of her. Ron had managed to prise himself from Hermione's clutches and retreated to a safer position on the other side of Harry, who was still looking rather dumbstruck at the condition of their normally serious and sensible best friend.
'Mr. Weasley,' she began, silently longing for a strong cup of tea and a place where student antics like this were only a distant memory, 'Kindly go down to Professor Snape's office and ask him for a Dipsomania Antidote on my authority. Mr. Potter, go fetch me one of Madame Pomfrey's Protosoma packages, they'll be on the large wooden shelf opposite the first bed as you walk in to the Infirmary. There should be a hang-over remedy in there somewhere. If we do manage to find an antidote to whatever she's drunk, she'll have a splitting headache for half a day at least.'
Completely oblivious to the goings-on around her and seemingly ignorant of any other occupants in the room, Hermione had crawled on her hands and knees over to the bookshelf on one side of the office and begun re-ordering Minerva's books in a catalog system that seemed to revolve around cover colour and spine height, all the while humming to herself a tune that sounded suspiciously like an off-key rendition of God Save the Queen. Apollon's Mysteries of Asian Transfigurators was now shelved between Edna Dinklehop's A Practical Guide to Muggle Laws of the United Kingdom and a scientific publication on Scotland's wilderness and wildlife, all three books sharing walnut brown covers. The harlequin-patterned cover of Shakespeare's Sonnets seemed to conflict with Hermione's newly-created chromatic classification system and the book had been tossed aside onto the floor along with a polka-dotted, Muggle-made book on knitting that Albus had given her a decade ago – both polychromatic texts obviously lacking the necessary spectral uniformity for shelving under this new system.
If Minerva hadn't known better, she'd have sworn that someone had given Luna Lovegood a vial of Polyjuice Potion with Hermione's essence in it and set her loose on the school.
'Quickly, boys,' she snapped, watching in concern as Hermione, now well into a dark green section on the second shelf from the bottom, switched a velvet-bound Majiks of the Ancient Orient with her much-loved copy of Spirion and Tholpe's Translations of Eighteenth Century German Transfiguratory Methodologies.
Harry and Ron fled the office in opposite directions.
'They do go fast, don't they, Albert?' Hermione remarked to the bookshelf she was in the midst of rearranging. 'We'll have to ask Crookshanks to eat them tomorrow.'
The set of wooden shelves did not answer her. On the floor, Shakespeare's Sonnets gave a half-hearted flop, putting a little distance between itself and the student who had cast it aside.
At least it could run away, Minerva thought miserably to herself.
Tearing her eyes away from the surreal scene, Minerva picked up her eagle quill and focused on her half-finished parchment to the Minister, being of the belief that if she ignored Hermione's wild behaviour, there was a chance that she wouldn't be provoked to do anything too irrational to entertain her one-person audience.
Minerva was, in retrospect, being far too optimistic. The peace and quiet lasted for less than a minute before the strangely slurred, sing-song voice shattered the silence.
'Isn't it warm in here?' Hermione trilled.
To Minerva's horror, Hermione had abandoned her librarian enterprise, removed her school vest and begun unbuttoning her long-sleeved blouse before Minerva could rush around her desk to grab Hermione's hands away from her remaining clothes.
'Miss Granger, I don't care how drunk you are, you are not going to start stripping to the skin in my office,' Minerva hissed, clutching Hermione's fingers closed as the girl swayed side to side, barely able to keep her balance on her feet.
Hermione looked unperturbed at this forceful intervention and was, indeed, now gazing up into the Minerva's face, utterly enthralled.
'You're very beautiful,' Hermione said in a hushed, almost reverent voice, her hazel eyes wide and fixed unwaveringly on Minerva's own. 'Did you know that, Minerva?'
Minerva's well-defined jaw dropped soundly to the floor, stunned both by the unprecedented use of her first name by her student and the fact that Hermione had just made a remark that she hadn't heard in years. Against her will, Hermione's hands slipped out of her loosened grasp and she watched in detached horror as they moved up to the sides of her face.
'Miss Granger, whatever are you…' she began.
And then she was abruptly cut off as Hermione Granger kissed her full on the lips.
It was an unexpectedly spectacular kiss – one which lasted for nearly ten seconds before Minerva could wrap her mind around what was happening and collect her wits enough to pull her prized student away from her mouth. At that exact moment, the combined effects of the magical alcohol and emotional excitement finally took their toll on Hermione and the predictable happened.
Still in possession of quick reflexes, Minerva caught Hermione before she hit the ground, her own knees buckling under the combined weight of them both. Gravity made the impact with the hard floor moderately painful and Minerva bit off a curse as her knee caps collided audibly with the flagstones below.
There was very little else that could possibly go wrong, Minerva reasoned from where she lying on the floor trapped under Hermione's body. She had a pile of papers to respond to, along with a bookshelf to reorganize. She'd missed two meals already today and likely wouldn't be eating until near midnight. Her arms were full of the best student of her teaching career, who was also thoroughly drunk, partially unclothed and now unconscious.
It couldn't get worse than this, could it?
Another knock on the door broke the silence, and Minerva finally lost her temper.
'Oh, of all the saints in Christendom…' she shouted vehemently, struggling to extricate herself from under her student's limp frame, wisps of her own dark hair hanging down in front of her face. 'COME IN!'
The door to her office crashed open with a bang and a wrathful Severus Snape swept into the room in a black-cloaked fury, tugging a valiantly resisting Ron Weasley behind him.
'This student tells me that he requires one of my Antidotes on your orders,' Severus snapped out without a word of greeting, scanning the room right and left for a person on which to project his displeasure at having being roused during his period off. 'Is this correct? Or has one of his puerile friends gotten themselves drunk and this is some cheap excuse at…'
Severus paused mid-rant when he finally noticed the intended subject of his criticisms was kneeling on the floor next to one of the students in her House, who just happened to be unconscious.
Minerva's eyes narrowed as she watched the man's face change away from anger as he processed the colour-coded bookshelf, the vest on the carpet and the position of Hermione's body on the floor. He finally settled into a clearly readable expression that made her even angrier.
The insufferable grease-filled git looked gleeful.
'Very well, Weasley,' Severus drawled in a slow, satisfied voice. 'It seems you were telling the truth this time.' Releasing his grip on the red-headed student, he offered a small bottle of dark liquid to Minerva with a nasty smile.
'We really must have a chat about this next week, Professor McGonagall.'
Minerva bit back several politically-incorrect and entirely inappropriate retorts about the Snape's heritage and intellectual aptitude and consoled herself with silent fuming. Her sense of honor prevented her from descending to his level, but her mind was happy to invent caustic insults even if they were never used. Perhaps his Legilimens abilities would penetrate her mind and save her the trouble of saying them out loud, while still allowing her to retain some semblance of dignity.
'Oh, and Professor McGonagall?' Severus had stopped at the threshold and turned to look back at the remaining occupants of the room.
'Yes, Professor Snape?' she snapped out.
'Your lipstick seems to have smeared,' Severus said with an unpleasant smirk, pointedly glancing down at the unconscious young woman beside her. 'As has Miss Granger's.'
Feeling faint, Minerva's hand drifted reflexively up towards her mouth, which only served to make his smile even more smug. With a mocking bow in Minerva's direction, he exited the room with his cloak billowing out behind him.
As she watched Severus leave, Minerva promised herself that she would exact vengeance on him at some point in the near future, preferably in an embarrassing and public manner.
Now rid of her most unwelcome guest, Minerva's gaze turned to the only conscious student in the room. To her surprise, Ron Weasley's bright blue gaze was fixed on Hermione, staring in confusion at unfamiliar ring of red now circling his friend's mouth – a ring that perfectly matched the colour of Minerva's own lipstick. His eyes travelled to his professor's flushed face, the strands of dark hair which had escaped her bun and the long green robes that looked more disheveled than he'd ever seen them.
Ron's vivid imagination put two and two together and came up with an obvious and very inappropriate activity that Minerva and Hermione might have been engaged in while he was away fetching the Antidote.
Realizing by his horrified facial expression that it would be prudent to defend herself as soon as possible before things got out of hand, Minerva had opened her mouth to explain when she was interrupted by a new voice from the doorway.
'What's happened to Hermione?'
An out of breath Harry Potter had just returned from the Infirmary, clutching an assortment of vials and bottles in his arms which he deposited in a heap on the carpet beside Hermione.
'What's that on her lips?' he asked, bending down towards Hermione to take a closer look at her mouth. 'Hermione doesn't wear lipstick.'
Minerva gave up.
'OUT!' she yelled, her voice dropping out of its perpetually perfect Received Pronunciation and adopting a dark and overwhelmingly menacing Scottish brogue. 'Both of you, OUT!'.
Harry and Ron, making use of that primal part of the male psyche that warns its possessor when a female is irate enough to do strange and dangerous things, left the room, shutting the door behind them as a precautionary measure.
And, now free of every possible distraction, Minerva set about the onerous task of making her student sober again.