Severus Snape cursed the loud racket that was disturbing his peace and quiet during the last week of summer vacation. Whoever was causing such mayhem – and he had a good idea of who it was – clearly did not have an appreciation of his well-known temper that erupted when he was disturbed during the few and rare student-free days of his life.
He ripped open the doors of his quarters and stalked down the hall in the direction the noise was coming from. Spying an open door of a seldom used classroom, he hurried through it and came to a halt at the sight before him. Just as he suspected: it was none other than the annoying and infuriating new professor of Muggle Studies, Miss Granger. She'd barely been in the castle three weeks and already they'd had a row. Apparently she took offense to his refusing to call her Hermione or Professor, insisting that to continue to refer to her as Miss was belittling and insulting. Granted, it wasn't like he really cared about what he called her, but it was awfully entertaining to see her get worked up over it, so he'd refused to change it anyways.
He just knew when Minerva hired her that he would live to regret it every day. He thought surely now that she was no longer a student he wouldn't have to put up with her exasperating questions, know-it-all attitude, and insatiable curiosity, but leave it to Minerva to ensure that he'd never have a moment of peace again. And now here Granger was, ruining the last of his days of summer freedom by creating a ruckus of noise while moving some peculiar muggle artifacts. Well, to be fair, it was the house elves moving the artifacts while she was directing them. But that didn't make it any better in his opinion.
"Miss Granger, must you insist on ruining the last days of my summer vacation by creating a commotion so loud I'm sure they can hear you in Hogsmeade?" He inquired in his most snide voice.
Hermione whipped around to face him in surprise, a slightly abashed and yet slightly indignant look on her face. He took a brief moment to ponder how she managed to pull off both looks simultaneously, before tuning into her unnecessarily lengthy explanation.
"….for my seventh year classes. I thought it would be a great opportunity to supply a hands-on approach to learning about various aspects of muggle culture. Unfortunately, one of the house elves accidentally dropped the kiln they were levitating and so of course it created quite a loud noise and I had to repair it, but I think it still should work as good as new, don't you? I mean, I don't see why Reparo shouldn't work on a muggle object just as well as a wizarding one, right? But then, Professor Flitwick – that is to say, Filius – didn't really cover using that spell on muggle electric-based items in any of the seven years I was in his class so I'm really not sure; perhaps I should head to the library to research it. Though at this point, the damage has already been done and repaired, so if there's an issue with it, I'll find out soon enough as it were. But really, don't you think –"
Snape briefly considered casting a silencing spell on the witch just to shut her up, but thought it might be considered bad form to attack the newest member of faculty, even if she was being particularly annoying. "Enough already! Reparo works just as well on muggle artifacts as it does on magical ones." He was only supplying the information because he wanted her to quit talking – not because he was trying to be nice. Surely she would understand that. But just to be sure, he added with a sneer, "Obviously, however, your efforts are wasted. Have you suddenly forgotten that objects requiring electricity in the muggle world will not work here at Hogwarts? Surely the class know-it-all would know that?"
But instead of cowering at his tone or starting another (highly entertaining) argument with him, the silly chit had the audacity to roll her eyes at him. He must be losing his touch – perhaps the lack of students to practice on over the summer had left him rusty in the intimidation department.
"Of course I know that, Severus. Even first years know that! Luckily, however, Minerva and Flitwick both aided me in charming this room to let electrical objects work in here. Granted, it took a fair few days, but between the three of us we managed."
Unable to think of something sarcastic to respond, Severus chose to ignore the comment and instead moved to inspect the objects that the elves had finally finished moving. Half-blood though he was, he had little idea of what he was looking at – though he recalled the mention of something called a 'kiln' in Granger's rambling explanation earlier.
"What is all this? Nothing dangerous I should hope. Those dunderheads you call students will undoubtedly blow themselves up with all this unfamiliar equipment."
Hermione barely managed to stifle her laughter, in case he thought she was laughing at him and took offense – though really it was kind of funny imagining her students trying to blow themselves up with the five pottery wheels, the kiln, the slab roller, the extruder, and the many bags of clay she had in the room. Nope, definitely not dangerous – though granted, if you did have wet hands when you went to plug in the paddle to motorize the wheel you might get a nasty shock.
"Here, let me show you." She moved to pull a green apron off a hook on the wall, quickly pulling it over her head, tying the strings in back. She dismissed the few house elves with her thanks for their help as she moved over to a nearby table, waving Severus over so he could watch. "This is the wedging table. It's made of plaster because plaster absorbs moisture really well, which is really useful when working with clay. But you have to be careful not to get any of the plaster in the clay or it can mess up your piece when you go to fire it. Normally, I'd have to wedge the clay to remove any air bubbles from it, but the blocks of clay that I purchased have already had all the air removed from them, so we won't have to wedge it until we're reusing the leftover scraps." Snape pretended to know what she was talking about, nodding along as he watched her pull gray clay from a bag and use a wire to cut a block off of it. She set the block on a scale, measuring out two pounds, before taking the clay and smacking it into a ball shape with her hands.
Intrigued, though not really willing to admit it, he watched in silence as she filled a small bucket of water using an Aguamenti charm and then gathered a few tools and a small sponge before heading for the closest pottery wheel. She pulled a round piece of wood thing (he had no idea what to call that) out of a nearby cabinet and placed it over the metal wheel head, before plugging in the paddle for the wheel and taking a seat on a stool, scooting up close to the wheel.
"First, after you've got everything ready, you have to wet the wheel. So you just take the sponge, dip it in the water and press on the paddle to make the wheel turn while holding the sponge to it. If you use too much water, the clay won't stick and it will slide around when you begin to center it, so it just needs to be a bit damp, okay?"
He nodded his head, and then pulled up another stool so he could observe everything she was doing. Fleetingly, he wondered where she'd learned to do this, considering how comfortable and knowledgeable she seemed to be with the equipment.
"Next, you slam the clay down in the center of the wheel. Try to get it in the middle, it'll make easier for you when you're centering it." A resounding smack echoed through the large room as she slapped the clay down on the wheel. "It's important to have your hands wet when working with clay, it makes it a lot easier to mold, and you have to rewet them often throughout the process." She dipped her hands in the bucket of water, and then started the wheel spinning at a moderately fast speed. "You should brace your elbows on your thighs, it'll make it easier to keep your hands steady while working with the clay. First, you have to center the clay before you can start molding it." She showed him the proper placing of the hands to center it, and how to apply force to the side and top to get it where you need it to be. He was simultaneously fascinated and off-put by how mucked up her hands were getting, and the fact that she didn't seem bothered by it at all. He never would've guessed her to be the type to willingly get her hands dirty. But then again, she is muggle born and he supposed there had to be something to living the muggle way for the first eleven years of her life.
He watched as she slowed the speed of the wheel and then pressed a thumb down in the middle of the clay, opening it up. "Opening up the clay is the most disruptive thing you'll do to it in the whole process, so it's often easier to do it gradually, making sure the whole time that you're applying even pressure with your hands so that all sides of the clay end up even. After it's opened up, you can start bringing up the sides and molding it into something. When you're first starting out, it can be hard to make anything larger or more complex than a bowl, but you can also do coffee mugs and other such objects, before moving onto things like vases and pots."
He watched as the clay moved fluidly through her hands, the skill and experience evident as a vase started taking shape right before his eyes. "Once you get the initial shape formed, you can add designs to it later, and then once it dries you can trim it and glaze it – paint it –" she clarified at his confused look, "before putting it in the kiln to be fired." She nodded her head in the direction of the large round thing sitting in the corner of the room that he assumed was this 'kiln' she talked about. Though why you would want to set something on fire that you had just made was beyond him.
Snape found himself torn between watching her hands as she molded the clay and watching the passion for and intense focus on what she was creating play out over her face. It seemed like she was willingly letting him glimpse a side of her that she didn't normally show, and he had to wonder just why she would do that. It's not like he'd ever been particularly nice to her, especially since becoming his colleague, so why did he get the feeling that she was sharing something special with him?
Eventually, she stopped the wheel from spinning, and grabbing a wire, stretched it tightly between her hands and pulled it across the wheel head to sever the bottom of the vase from the wood it was formed on. Then she lifted up the wooden circle and moved the entire piece to a nearby table to let dry on. What he didn't expect, was for her to turn to him with a smirk, stating, "Now it's your turn. Let's see how well you take instruction, Professor." Somehow, that 'Professor' sounded more like a challenge than a title of respect.
Oh, and just let me say here and now: Even if I could afford a plane ticket to London, find a witch or wizard to take me to Ollivander's shop in Diagon Alley, convince him to sell a wand to a muggle, travel to the Forbidden Forest, Accio the Resurrection Stone, use it to bring back Snape, and Imperius him into making Polyjuice Potion for me – even then, I doubt I could ever get close enough to JK Rowling to pull out a bit of her hair, in order to claim ownership of Harry Potter and Co. So, no, I don't own this, nor am I making any money off of it. And neither do I have any money worth suing over (though I'll freely give you my student loans if you insist on having something).
Reviews are appreciated – though obviously not required – even if it's just to tell me that you think this whole story is a ridiculous idea. (I'm not convinced it's not.)