Hogwarts gleamed like a
beneath the starry sky, and Hermione Granger hurried up the steps
the warmth and light. She stood for a moment in the Great Hall,
the heat slowly penetrate her body, then removed her scarf and
the ice crystals slowly melt into water and drip onto the floor. It
the coldest night she could remember. Hogwarts had experienced an
cold snap immediately following Christmas break, and the short, icy
and long, frigid evenings were beginning to run together in a
week. The giant squid was hibernating deep at the bottom of the
lake; Professor Sprout was sleeping in the greenhouse, so that she
cast Heating Charms on her precious plants; Filch was constantly
the castle, attacking sleet with a vengeance; students were
to be careful of frostbite when traveling out-of-doors.
So, of course, Harry had
that it was a wonderful night to visit his godfather. Sirius had
doing some work for Dumbledore, which involved a great deal of
in Animagus form and sleeping outside without the comforts of
but when the cold snap hit, Dumbledore booked him a room at a
inn. He’d been staying there for about a week, but Harry hadn’t yet
The journey to Hogsmeade
been bad – the secret passage under the one-eyed witch was far
underground to be insulated against the cold, and they slipped into
with no problem. Sirius was using a simple Glamour charm when he
into the streets in human form, but he barely needed it – two years
leaving Azkaban, he was hardly recognizable as the hollow-eyed
from the Daily Prophet. They’d ordered dinner and Butterbeer
the Hog’s Head, began talking, and stayed too long. By the time the
had risen from their chairs and said farewell to Sirius, Honeydukes
closed. Harry, Ron, and Hermione had walked from Hogsmeade to the
It was lucky, Hermione
that they hadn’t been missed. On the other hand, it wasn’t exactly
The weather was forcing everyone to stay inside, and the common room
crowded with students basking near the fire. When someone was
they were assumed to have fled to a quieter place to
"Come on, we’d better get rid
this wet stuff and get up to the common room," Harry said, wringing
soaked scarf. "I can’t believe we’ve been gone so long – with our
McGonagall will be looking for us right now." His feet made
noises as he walked from the Hall, leaving a trail of sleet in his
Hermione and Ron followed
They were halfway to the common room when the former stopped short.
no," she exclaimed. "I just remembered – Filch is probably after us
– there’s snow all over the Great hall. You two go on – I’ll just
a quick Scouring Charm, it’ll only take a minute." She rushed off,
the two boys staring at her. "If you two come with me, it’ll just
Filch mad at all three of us!"
She reached the Great Hall in
time, and was just casting a Drought Charm on the first puddle of
sleet when a grating meow made her turn sharply. Mrs. Norris
standing directly behind her.
If Hermione had ever
considered Avada Kedavra, it was then. She hadn’t as much as lost a
for Gryffindor all year – but Ron had already received a detention.
Filch would take one look at the mess and indict Ron and Harry along
her, and that could mean another detention for them, which could
the loss of his Ron’s Prefect badge – the badge Ron was so proud of,
he’d worked so hard to win – and it would be all her
But Hermione followed her
instincts, turned reluctantly away from illegal curses, and only
Mrs. Norris a steely glare and muttered "Defricio!" to the
pile of slush.
"Ah. Miss Granger. How
to see you."
Not Filch, but Snape.
"Doing a bit of cleaning? How
I’m sure Mr. Filch would love to know that you’re delighted to help
Or perhaps you were cleaning up after someone else – someone like
and Weasley. Just what were they doing to get so filthy?" He didn’t
an answer, and Hermione didn’t give him one. "Sneaking out, perhaps?
your lives by frostbite? Ten points off Gryffindor. Ten points
"No, professor, it was just
Hermione said quickly. "I had to go out to the Astronomy tower – I
I’d left my dragonhide gloves there – but they weren’t there, they
in the common room." She produced the offending articles from her
pockets, but Snape wasn’t convinced.
"Then a double detention,
For – yes, I think that’s about right. Lying, showing contempt for
rules, and besmirching the castle. To be served Saturday
* * *
Saturday night, Hermione was
in hating sugar quills.
They were the double bane of
Hogwarts professor. It wasn’t a proven fact, but anyone who had ever
knew: besides being temptingly sweet and ridiculously fragile, the
promoted inattentiveness in class. They dripped onto papers; stuck
of textbooks together; and left permanent sticky marks on
She tried not to think of the
that Ron and Harry must have been having in the common room as she
harder on a gluey spot. Snape was infamous for his horrible
and this one was a classic. After Christmas, the students –
the younger ones – had attacked their holiday sweets with a
mostly in class, and the desks were coated with a sugary substance
undoubtedly came from sugar quills.
Snape had, therefore,
her the hideous task of scrubbing every desk in Professor
Transfiguration classroom until each was cleared of sugar. And
them by hand. No magic. Just to make sure, he’d confiscated her
She hated sugar
Hermione spent a few moments pleasurably imagining a very painful
for whoever invented them. Being stabbed through the heart with his
seemed about right.
Ron had always considered
quills the perfect gift for her. He’d given Hermione a whole box
Christmas since first year. This year, he’d snuck them into her bag,
reveled in her confusion when she found herself writing with spun
rather than eagle feathers. He and Harry once challenged each other
a quill-eating contest. They’d both been violently sick after
but the look on Ron’s face when one of the sugary feathers tickled
back of his throat was priceless.
She hated sugar
And she hated Valentine’s
for that matter, Hermione thought, as she found a crumpled heart on
ground. It read, Will you go to the dance with me? Colin. The
It was coming up, as Parvati bemoaned daily, and no one showed any
of asking her. "It’s just disgraceful," Lavender had said at lunch
week before. "Here we are, three charming girls, and there
boys absolutely withering without partners in this school –
we haven’t been asked!"
Unfortunately, Malfoy had
close enough to hear. "Well, no one’s going to invite Gopher
are they? Except – maybe – a weasel?"
That was how Draco had
charming tufts of green fuzz on his ears, and how Ron had received
detention. But Hermione still didn’t have a partner.
She hated sugar quills.
just maybe, someone would have taken a hint and asked her to
dance tonight. She’d certainly made it blatant enough last year. But
the detention, her nice invitation was out of the question. Ron was
sitting in the common room now, trying to pick the prettiest girl to
"Hermione?" a voice
Or maybe he
She jumped. "Ron! But –
not supposed to be in here, don’t use any magic or you’ll get a
too. I told you what I went through to keep you and Harry out
this. Snape’s just dying to grab that prefect badge. Why
you in the common room with Harry?"
"Common room life?" Ron asked
"It got old. What’s a Saturday night, after all, without Hermione
you to study?"
She threw him a glare. "Are
going to be useful, or are you going to demonstrate your
"I thought you didn’t want me
Hermione attacked the eighth
"Where is Harry, anyway?"
"In the broom shed." Hermione
an eyebrow. "De-icing his Firebolt. He said he was busy. Don’t look
me like that."
"I’ll look at you any way I
Ron Weasley!" Hermione blushed. She hadn’t meant for her retort to
like that. She managed to cover her embarrassment by
on a particularly stubborn stain.
She hated sugar
When her face was pale enough
turn around, Ron was gone.
Some day, she would hunt for
sugar quill in the wizarding world. And very, very slowly, she would
them into fragments, until only miniscule grains of sugar were
Another spot. She could have
that desk was clean a moment ago. "I – hate – these – bloody
Hermione had never sworn
before, and hearing the word echo around the empty classroom gave
a curious sort of satisfaction.
"Miss Granger!" said a
voice. "I am shocked and appalled at your language. Twenty points
How did he do
Ron was standing behind her again, doubled over in laughter.
And the ninth desk,
was clean. But there was a perfect, whole sugar quill lying on it.
when she looked at it incredulously, it flew into her
"Um, Hermione?" Ron asked
finishing the Banishing charm and tapping the tenth desk with his
"Well – what I was wondering was – I mean, I don’t have a partner
and we’re running out of time – and so I think so we may as well –
is to say – d’you want to go to the dance with me?" With a flourish
his wand, he finished the task.
Hermione suddenly realized
Snape was nowhere in sight. And her job was done. And she might
get her wand back.
She realized, just as
that she didn’t care.
It was amazing how much she
A/N: Happy birthday,
Quill! I know I could have improved this plot bunny somewhat, but I
want to risk it hopping away! Wishing you a very happy birthday and
wonderful year, with many, many more birthdays to come!