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Hermione/Snape fic for hp_art_tales!

Getting this online so I can sub it for hp_art_tales -- it started out light-hearted and fun but took an unexpected turn to the Dark Side at the end.

Summary: Hermione's reaction to Ron and Lavender, combined with a rediscovered childhood charm, leads her to try a dark and dangerous experiment.

Victus fabula

I. Hermione Granger was never bored. This was remarkable for a nine-year-old girl, but to Hermione it was simple: as long as she had a book to read, boredom was an impossibility. Her favorite books were books about magic. She devoured anything that opened the door to a world where spells worked and conjuring was a science, not a dream. She never actually tried any magic, because after all, everyone knew magic wasn't real -- if it was, her father would just spirit people's cavities away, or add magical protection to teeth so they never got cavities in the first place. But it seemed real when she read about it.

Late one rainy afternoon she was curled up in a chair in the farthest (and therefore quietest) corner of the library reading for the fourth or perhaps fifth time one of her favorites: Half Magic, by Edward Eager. The yellowed pages had a dry, spicy smell that she always thought of as the smell of magic. She'd always loved Half Magic, because Jane and Mark and Katharine and Martha were ordinary people just like Hermione, who suddenly found themselves able to do magical things. It gave her a sneaking hope that maybe, just maybe…

Jane had just made her first wish on the magic nickel. "If you have ever had magic powers descend on you suddenly out of the blue, you'll know how Jane felt," Hermione read. She sighed and shifted her position in the chair. A scrap of paper fluttered out of the book to the floor. Hermione, who was a very neat little girl, leaned over to pick it up, noticing as she did so that the paper was unusually thin yet stiff, almost like parchment. She sat back and examined it. Written on the creamy paper were words in a neat but tiny script: I can do magic.

Hermione's heart seemed to stop and then start up again, very fast. Carefully, holding her breath, she read it again: I can do magic. She flipped to the front of the book to see the name of the last person who had checked it out: Luna Johansson. "Luna" was a strange name, the kind of name a magical person might have. Hermione turned the paper over. On the back were written, in the same hand, two words: Victus fabula.

Hermione frowned. She looked again at the words on the front, then the back. She glanced around to see if anyone was watching then, feeling foolish yet wildly hopeful, her hands clenched so hard on the book the spine creaked in protest, she closed her eyes and whispered, "Victus fabula."

Nothing happened. She opened one eye, then the other. Still nothing. "I knew it," she whispered, angry at herself for her foolishness. "Humph." She flopped back in the chair and reopened the book. “ ‘I was just wishing we were all on a desert island,’ said Mark.”

And a hot wind blew sand stinging against her cheeks.

She sat bolt upright, eyes wide, looking around. Someone was playing a trick on her. No, no one there. She turned back to the book. "Desert there certainly was...mile on monotonous mile of it...” Sun beat on her head, she heard the hissing of tiny sand grains tirelessly scrubbing each other in the burning wind. She slammed the book shut: the scratchy fabric of the chair, the rhythm of rain on the roof, the rich dusty smell of hundreds of books. Was it...could it be...? She tested it once more. “It was then that the caravan appeared. It was a rather shopworn looking caravan, only three mangy camels with one ragged Arab driving them." The ripe odor of camel filled her nostrils. She heard the creaking of the harness, felt the heat of the desert baking up through her shoes. She wasn’t imagining it. Book closed: library. Book being read: an Arabian Desert filled all five senses. She couldn't change anything, just experience it, but still -- it was real. No, even better -- it was magical.

Hermione took a deep ecstatic breath, thinking of Tolkien, of Stewart, of McCaffrey and Haggard and L'Engle. All the books. Hundreds of books, to be read. To be lived. She didn't know how long it the magic would last, but she intended to savor every moment.


II. Hermione Granger was bored. Harry was off at Quidditch practice, Ron was doing lines in detention ("I will not make the house-elves bring me chocolate pudding in the library"), her homework was done, and she'd read everything the library had on offer. The other Gryffindor girls were piled on Lavender's bed squealing over some silly Muggle fashion magazine. Hermione rolled over and leaned down to see if perhaps the underside of her bed needed cleaning; while not thrillingly interesting, at least it would give her something to do. A small rectangular object sat there. Hermione reached for it warily, in case it was The Monster Book of Monsters – her copy had gone feral after their Care of Magical Creatures course two years ago and she hadn’t seen it in several weeks.

It wasn’t. Hermione blew the dust off the cover. Half Magic, by Edward Eager! Hermione had read it almost to tatters as a child; not only had she loved the story of regular children with magical powers, it had been the words written on the scrap of paper she had found tucked inside it – Victus fabula – that had given her the first inkling that magic was real. More than that: that she, the daughter of a dentist, could do magic.

She opened the book, smelling the spicy odor of the yellowed pages that, for her, would always be the smell of magic, and the memories flooded back. Starting in her ninth summer she had spent the next eighteen months whispering Victus fabula over the covers of all her favorite books and experiencing them – not reading them, but living them. She had fought the pulsing power of It with Meg and Charles Wallace, walked the Dry Lands of Earthsea with Ged, tasted the water of the Ents, felt the soaring sensation of flight on dragonback...

The spell operated, she realized now, something like a Pensieve: she could experience all the physical sensations in the narrative – see, hear, smell, touch, taste – but could not interact with any of the characters. The more characters in the narrative, the more diluted the sensations; one main character meant more intense experiences, with those written in the first person the most intense of all. But in the excitement of receiving her Hogwart’s letter and all that followed, she had forgotten about this simple but powerful piece of magic.

All my favorite books. She ran her fingers gently over the cover. All my favorite fantasy novels, she amended.

She sat up abruptly. Fantasies. Books about magic. Would the spell work on, well, other kind of books?

She got up, ignoring the giggles from the cluster of girls on Lavender’s bed, and retrieved from the common bookshelf a copy of Pride and Prejudice. She took it back to the bed, sat down, closed her eyes, whispered “Victus fabula,” and opened it at random. “More than once did Elizabeth, in her ramble within the park, unexpectedly meet Mr. Darcy...” Hermione inhaled deeply, smelling morning-damp grass; heard the twitter of birds in the hedges, felt the swish of long skirts against her calves. She flipped forward a few pages. “ ‘In vain I have struggled. It will not do. My feelings will not be repressed. You must allow me to tell you how ardently I admire and love you.’ ” Hermione felt her cheeks flush and a shiver ran up her spine as dark eyes found hers – still arrogant, still proud, but oh, just wait until chapter 58!

Hermione fell back on the bed, giddy with the possibilities opening before her. Rhett Butler. Cyrano de Bergerac. FitzWilliam Darcy. Ivanhoe. Lancelot. Max de Winter. The Count of Monte Cristo. Aragorn (to whom she had paid scant attention four years ago!). And if she ran through all of those...

“Lavender? What’s the name of that woman you read all the time? The English one, with the fluffy white hair and the fluffy dog. Writes books like The Dangerous Duke and The Renegade Rake.”

“Barbara Cartland.”

“How many books did she write?”

“I dunno. Like, six hundred?”

Hermione closed her eyes in bliss. “Can I borrow some of them?”


III. Hermione Granger had an idea. It was a dangerous idea – a spell of unknown origin, combined with a text of known provenance but unknown power, and intended for results of dubious propriety. It was also a seductive idea – the opportunity to taste not only heights and depths, but even venture around corners and down holes (metaphorically speaking) into areas never before explored.

Wrapped in a dark cloak, clutching a scroll of parchment in one hand and her wand in the other, a tiny ball of lumos casting a flickering light over the stone walls, Hermione crept down the seventh floor corridor until she reached the hanging of Barnabas the Barmy and the dancing trolls. Her heart hammered in her chest and a strange combination of terror and excitement pulsed in her veins. What am I doing? she thought wildly. This is crazy, this is crazy, this is crazy... She took a deep breath. Closing her eyes, she walked back and forth three times before the tapestry, holding an image clearly in her mind. She opened her eyes. The blank wall now held a door of dark wood, paneled and carved with intricate scenes; a quick glance raised a blush on Hermione’s cheeks – surely those slender intertwined legs and muscular buttocks weren’t actually moving? She pushed the door open.

Inside was a small wood-paneled room. A fire burned in the fireplace, glowing on the dark red and gold velvet hangings that softened the stone walls. Candles flickered on the mantelpiece and a tendril of scented smoke drifted from a lit stick of sandalwood and rose incense. Cushions of black velvet were heaped upon the floor, and a single crystal goblet stood on small side table beside a bottle of dark wine whose contents glowed like a ruby in the firelight. One would have had to look very closely to see that the shadows might have hidden other small details: metal rings driven deep into the walls, perhaps, or a whip coiled on a hook.

Hermione sank down on the cushions. Her body felt heavy, slow, almost drugged, as though warm honey ran in her veins instead of blood. She reached for the glass of wine, tilted it to her lips – rich berry flavors mingled with pepper and spices – and laid her wand and the scroll on the table. Victus fabula, she thought. The spell she had happened upon at the age of nine, on a scrap of paper that fell out of a library book, that had shown her magic was real. The spell that, murmured over and over that summer, had let her fall into her favorite children’s books, sharing every physical sensation the characters experienced. The spell that, in their fourth year, had made her lips burn with Rhett’s caresses and Max de Winter’s passion. The spell that made any and every book a kind of Pensieve, but far more vivid and intimate: she did not witness the narrative, nor could she interact with it or alter it – she simply experienced it. Lived it. Every smell, every taste. Every touch. Books with a single main character were more intense; those written in the first person created the most intense sensations of all, nearly indistinguishable from real life.

The lyrics of an old alternative rock song ran through Hermione’s head in a nervous loop: I’ve got one, two, three, four, five, senses working overtime, Trying to taste the difference ‘tween lemon and lime, pain and pleasure and the church bells softly chime... She took a deep swallow of the wine, picked up the scroll, and began to write.

“The last of the students left, the door closing silently behind them. The classroom was empty now except for Professor Snape. Slowly he came towards me, his robes swirling like black water, until he was so close I could feel the heat of his body. His dark eyes, inscrutable as pools of ink, seemed to see through me, through my clothes to my very skin. It burned at his glance.

“ ‘May I help you in some way, Miss Granger?’ he asked softly. I opened my mouth but before I could speak, he seized my arm in a rough grip, jerking me hard against him. Pressed against my thighs his cock felt like an iron rod beneath his robes. I shuddered, but did not pull away. “Or perhaps,” he whispered, bending forward until his lips grazed mine, “You would like me to...help myself?’ ”

She wrote for two hours, at the end of which, though she had paused to refill her goblet from time to time, the bottle of ruby wine remained as full as when she began. Because this was, after all, the Room of Requirement. Laying down her quill at last, she skimmed the final paragraph. She hesitated over a few words. Bound. Bruised. Screamed. But Ron was in love with Lavender, so she bowed her head, whispered “Victus fabula,” and began to read.



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(Deleted comment)
Dec. 1st, 2009 02:39 am (UTC)
Re: Sigh.
Thanks!! I wrote this for the hp_uk_meetup organized by a friend of mine; she wanted some fics to put in the attendees' gift bags and the recipient had requested Hermione and books, so it all fell into place rather quickly. Though I didn't initially intend the, er, alternate usage at the end I was pleased with how it worked out. "Come to the Dark Side, Hermione...mwahahaaaaa..."

And yes, well spotted -- I had in mind that Luna Johansson was Luna Lovegood's mum, who was so good at inventing her own spells :)
Dec. 11th, 2009 04:10 am (UTC)
I've just claimed your story from hp_art_tales for illustration and just wanted to say hi.

I love your premise in this story---you've come up with a great past-time for Hermione. ;)

I've got some illustration ideas but won't have time until after the holidays to work on them.
Thanks for the great story inspiration!
Dec. 12th, 2009 12:07 am (UTC)
Yay!! Can't wait to see what you come up with -- there are soooo many ways you could go with it :)
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