Sleeping Bastard (PG; Severus, Hermione, original hag; 832 words): Hermione finds Severus having a bit of fairytale trouble.
"No one's ever accused him of beauty, I expect."
The hag's words hung in the air as Hermione stared at Severus, who lay on a mattress stuffed with Merlin knew what.
Although I can smell the herbs from here, she thought, trying not to curse herself for having turned her back to the door.
She cleared her throat, but the hag spoke before she could.
"Don't bother, dearie. I didn't force him to prick anything. He walked right into the spindle on his own."
It was in that moment that Hermione realised that Severus was bare shouldered, which meant—
Naked. She swallowed. "He's naked."
Hermione spun on the hag, wand raised, to find the old woman glaring down at a bag of what appeared to be flour.
"You're quick. Be quicker and shift that bag into the far cabinet."
"Take orders. Want to help. Ba ba, bleat bleat, me-me-me-me-me! Selfish, the lot of you, wand users."
"I wasn't going—"
The hag scowled at Hermione and snarled, "Wand user! Uninvited! Trouble, nothing but trouble!"
"I only meant to ask—"
The hag stood on the other side of the bed, looming over Severus as she narrowed her eyes. "He looks bad. Taking Draught of Living Death to the nethers'll do that to you, so it appears." She looked up. "Put away my flour, girl!"
Stunned by the old woman's words and startled by her sudden shout, Hermione flicked her wand at the bag and sent it to rest in the cabinet. In the wake of the Swish! Click! Thwip! of her actions, the hag began to cackle.
"Should've seen yer own face, you should have!" the hag exclaimed, clutching her stomach as she leaned over into a wheezy laugh. "You must have been such an obedient stu—"
"Oh, do shut up! What do you mean, he walked into, er, that is to say, he—"
"Have you a name?" demanded the hag.
"Bookish parents," the hag murmured. "'Course. I'm Friselda."
Hermione blinked. Pleased to mee—you read? I mean, read Shakespeare? I mean," she continued, trying not to stare at Severus, "pleased to meet you, Madam Friselda."
Friselda barked out a laugh. "I don't hold with honorifics. Friselda will do. Now put away that wand and help me get the Wiggenweld Potion on."
"But, but you're a hag."
Friselda turned as if to admire her long, crooked nose with all its warts in a mirror before turning back to Hermione and shaking her head. "And here I thought you were sharp." With a jerk of her head towards Severus, she added, "Yes, as sharp as a spindle."
"I didn't invite you to sit."
Sinking into the chair, Hermione sighed. "I didn't ask for your permission."
Friselda's cottage was well-scrubbed but certainly not clean; Hermione could smell the faint traces of old blood emanating from the round wooden table, the ruddy-coloured, round wooden table, that sat at the back of it by the dry sink and rough-sawn cupboards.
They probably squeak, thought Hermione, her eyes drifting widdershins around the room. After the cupboards, the leftmost corner of the room had been curtained off, and judging by the smells she could detect menacingly lurking behind said curtain, Hermione was sure there was a chamber pot inside.
Severus came next, lying on the bed.
Lying naked on the bed, Hermione reminded herself, because apparently, he walked into a spinning wheel.
Her fingers closed tightly around her wand. It did not sound like something that Severus would do, that.
"What actually happened?" she demanded.
Friselda rolled her eyes and crossed her arms. "I told you. Yer man walked himself right into the spindle."
Hermione followed the hag's eyes to the right side of the cottage. Under its only and rather large window, an incongruously beautiful spinning wheel sat.
And yes, thought Hermione, noting the fall of moonlight upon the shining spindle, that does look wickedly sharp.
There was straw strewn about the flour, she also noticed, and it had been disturbed.
"You kept the wheel closer to the door?"
"I moved it," Friselda said. "Cleaning day."
Hermione coughed. "I see."
"No," retorted Friselda, "you don't! That man of yours—"
"He's not mi—"
"Came barging in to my place, my own place! Came barging in and walked his most 'prized' right into—"
"You can hardly expect me to believe—"
"Girl!" shouted Friselda. "You are in my cottage. On my land. Uninvited! Trespassing! You will stop interrupting an old woman and listen!"
"I will," began Hermione, suddenly feeling a tad remorseful in addition to being so tired, so much more tired than she could ever remember being, "I will do as I . . . ."
She looked at the wheel, and then behind it, at the hearth, the fire. There was a cauldron full of herbs and what smelled like earth bubbling away on it. She blinked.
"What was I saying, Friselda?"
The hag smiled. "That you're ready to work—and give an old woman her only chair."