“October is a symphony of permanence and change.” -Bonaro W. Overstreet
September gave way to October, and Harry was managing to fail potions brilliantly. No matter how hard he tried, he could not manage to brew a decent potion. Hogwarts was abuzz with a flurry of preparations for the Halloween Ball, which was only a week away.
“’Mione, could you help me with my Potions paper tomorrow?” Harry asked, one day at dinner.
“Harry, I can’t. I have to go into Hogsmeade tomorrow and buy my dress for the Ball,” Hermione replied.
“And you promised to buy me the most beautiful dress,” Ginny added.
“What if I give you all the money you need, Ginny, and you can pick out the most lavish dress available? Hermione, you can entrust Ginny with your money, and she’ll buy your dress too. She has great taste. Then, Hermione can help me do my homework,” Harry said.
Ginny pouted a little, but finally conceded. Hermione handed over her money and wrote down her measurements for Ginny.
Saturday morning came, and Hermione met Harry in the deserted Gryffindor common room to work on his Potions project. From the moment she saw him she knew it was not going to be a productive day. Harry did not look rested. A victory in Quidditch the night before had resulted in much partying, and he had barely slept.
“Morning,” he mumbled, barely raising his head from the tabletop.
Hermione drew up a seat beside him, and placed a mug of strong coffee in his hand.
“Drink it,” she ordered.
“You need to be awake if I’m going to help you with this paper.”
“Fine,” he snorted, chugging the black steaming liquid back.
Hermione examined the materials he had brought to work on his assignment. There were quills, ink, rolls of parchment, and his Potions textbook.
“What healing potion are you writing on?” she asked.
“What research do you have on it?’
“None. I‘ve been given a dose of it, so what more research do I need?”
“Harry! This is due on Monday!”
“We need to go to the library. You can’t write without proper research!”
Hermione dragged Harry up to the library and pulled a stack of books off the shelf, while the coffee began to work its magic. She opened a book and dove right in. She knew better than to expect Harry to find all the pertinent information in such a hurry. She pulled a quill out and began writing page numbers, sources, and facts on a sheet of parchment. Soon, she was absolutely absorbed in the turning of pages and the movements of the quill in her hand across the paper.
“Miss Granger, why are you writing Mr. Potter’s paper?” a silky voice behind her whispered, causing her to jump.
She turned around to find Professor Snape glaring at Harry, who was asleep on the library table.
“I’m helping him with his research, sir. He only just drifted off,” she tried to explain.
“Miss Granger, I’m thoroughly disappointed that you would help Mr. Potter cheat, and then lie about it. Ten points from Gryffindor, and detention with me, next Friday night,” he said.
“But…that’s the night of the Halloween Ball!” she protested vainly.
“What a shame. Perhaps you should have thought about that before you agreed to do Mr. Potter’s homework,” he said, skulking off.
“You can’t go to the ball?” Ginny asked, shocked.
“No, I have detention,” Hermione replied, absently stroking the canary yellow satin of the dress Ginny had bought her.
“That greasy git!”
“You should be glad. He didn’t give Harry detention,” Hermione sighed, as Ginny smiled.
“No. Harry will be going with you to the ball.”
Ginny jumped around the room, forgetting Hermione’s plight. She picked up the pale gray silk dress she bought, and swung it loosely around and around, like a dancing partner.
The night of the Ball arrived. Hermione helped Ginny fix her hair in loose waves around her shoulders. She was a sight of sophisticated beauty in her gray halter dress. Harry came up with a surprise for Ginny, a small package carrying a diamond and ruby bracelet. Hermione watched as the couple set out for an evening of enjoyment, before making her way to the cold darkness of the dungeons.
Snape was waiting for her in the Potions classroom. Hermione wondered whether he had intended to go to the Ball or not, and decided that he did not. He was dressed in his usual imposing black robes, and he looked gaunt and tired.
“Miss Granger, you will clean the school cauldron set, tonight,” he said, handing her a pair of dragon skin gloves, a scrubber and some cauldron cleaner.
“Yes, Professor,” she replied, pulling on the gloves and beginning her task.
Hermione scrubbed in silence for some time, as sweat began to slide down her forehead. Her usually bushy hair was being plastered against her face, as she perspired from the effort of scrubbing cauldrons. The task was intensive, but Hermione would not give in or complain. She watched Snape occasionally, marveling at how she could find herself attracted to him. Severus Snape marked the papers on his desk with gloomy ferocity. Hermione heard the music floating down from the Great Hall, and she envisioned the couples dancing.
Suddenly, footsteps could be heard resonating in the corridor next to the Potions room. They were crisp and short, like a woman’s heels. Without so much as a knock, someone opened the Potions door. Rowena Snape emerged, looking surprised. She was dressed in a black strapless silk ball gown and gold shawl.
“Severus, what in Merlin’s name are you doing down here in the gloom? The point of these Balls was to get everyone out for some cheer, including you,” she scolded from the door frame.
“Detention,” he mumbled, gesturing to Hermione.
“Oh,” she sighed, looking down on Hermione, who was worse for wear from the scrubbing.
“Yes,” he replied, slumping in his chair a little.
“Why are you keeping such a promising young woman down here in the dark? She ought to be out dancing,” Rowena argued.
“She has to scrub the cauldrons,” he replied wearily.
“Those can easily be cleaned with a simple flick of the wand. You know that. Why don’t you let Miss Granger go? This is her first Halloween Ball and she ought to be enjoying it,” she said, shaking her finger.
“Fine,” he conceded. “Miss Granger, you may go.”
“Thank you, Professors,” Hermione said as she got up to leave.
“Wait!” called Rowena Snape, as Hermione ran up the corridor to get changed.
Hermione turned around to see Professor Rowena rushing towards her, with wand in hand.
“Let me fix your hair, dear,” Rowena said.
With a flick of her wand, Hermione’s hair was instantly tamed and lying in loose waves at the nape of her neck.
“There. Now if you hurry and dress, you can still catch the last half of the Ball,” Rowena encouraged.
Author's Note: Hello Everyone! I'm glad that you've been enjoying the story so far. (Will Hermione grow up enough to see her crush come to fruition? Will Severus go to the Ball? What did Rowena whisper to him at his trial?) In time, my dears, all your questions will be answered. If you would like to be on a post-to-mailing list for this story, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.