Nobody ever asked my birthday

Chapter 276

Zambini exited without saying a word, simply leaning casually against the wall near the door.

"Next?" called Snape, and the room shuffled. Well, most of it, anyway. Nott, Malfoy and Harry Potter were quiet.

"I'll go," Hermione Granger said boldly, and Snape felt the undercurrent of fear that she refused to feed.

Stepping into the next room, Snape led Hermione Granger, "Wands out, do your best, until death do you part."

Foolishly, Hermione Granger sharply looked at Snape, who was busy disappearing into the shadows, so all she saw was his face.

"Well, well, well, look what the cat dragged in." Draco Malfoy stood in front of her, "All gone and muddy, little library mouse."

Hermione Granger's eyes seemed to spark, and - clad in darkness, Snape allowed himself a brief smile, "This mouse tires of mazes." As Granger began to speak, she'd begun to cast, and Draco Malfoy seemed to waver a moment, before solidifying again.

"Tricks? An Illusion may I be, yet still I'll make you bleed." Draco Malfoy said smugly, sending out a crackling firespell that Hermione threw up a hasty shield to avoid.

"Oh, you'll have to do harder than that."

"I intend to."

Snape watched the rest of the battle with sharpened eyes. Granger was still pulling her punches, but it was in an odd way. She was avoiding anything that might be illegal. Not Dark, mind, just illegal. The spells she did use, hit center of mass reliably. Moody had trained her well.

Granger tried a bodybind, and Snape nearly cursed with frustration - before seeing the cutting spell that she sent after. Malfoy had rolled away, of course, but it was the thought that count.

Granger finally dealt the final blow, sending him down onto a bed of roses, that she'd transfigured, thorn by rose, throughout the fight... and then splashed a paralytic poison on.

"Every rose has its thorn." Granger said primly, and then turned towards Snape and bowed, "Am I done, sir, or must we wait until he succumbs?"

Snape emerged, eyes flashing, commenting wryly, "You'd be waiting until eternity itself ended."

Hermione Granger's mouth twitched, as if she was afraid to laugh at Snape's wit. Well and good, it would be good if she could learn to be a little more a mouse and less a lion.

"Not a word to anyone." Snape said sternly.

"Of course not sir," Hermione Granger said, putting every inch of "I Don't Cheat on Tests" into her voice, belying the wanton child she really was.

[a/n: I caved. Snape doesn't particularly want people to think they're fighting to the death with actual people, otherwise he'd have done this illusion with his cunning. He does want to see how far people will go.

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