AN: This was written as an entry in the third round of the Quidditch League Fanfiction Competition. (Prompt: the historical destruction of a vessel or aircraft)
"This next ship," intoned a bright feminine voice, "the Pellrevel, was the finest in the Wizarding fleet." Hermione Granger waved her wand in a complicated pattern, and a piece of paper rose from the High Table, folding itself into a tiny reconstruction of a ship with billowing sails. The paper Pellrevel sailed down each table, drawing polite applause as it finally floated up to join a procession of ships circling the Great Hall.
Professor Granger waited until the students had settled down. "Can anyone tell me why the Pellrevel was considered the finest ship?" A young Ravenclaw girl shot her hand in the air, waving it so hard that she almost fell backwards off her seat.
Hermione nearly sighed, catching herself before she inadvertently let the students see her irritation. "While I appreciate your enthusiasm, Miss Peachtree, perhaps we should let the other students have a chance to answer."
Softly, so softly that only she and the occupants of the High Table could hear, came a whisper. "Know-it-all."
Hermione whirled, her narrowed eyes scanning each Professor for any sign of who had heckled her student. She immediately suspected the dark, sour Potions Master, but his face was a mask of polite interest. "Is there a problem, Professor Granger?"
Gritting her teeth, Professor Granger smiled. She gripped her wand tightly and replied, "No, Professor Snape, there's not a problem. Are you enjoying my presentation so far?"
He raised an eyebrow. "Are you asking for my input on a History of Magical Warfare lesson?"
Hermione smiled sweetly. "Why, yes, Professor, I am." Just then, a wicked thought shot through her mind, as they seemed to so often do when Professor Snape was near. "For instance, would you be able to tell the students why the Pellrevel was the finest ship in the Wizarding fleet?" She felt smug. Answer me that, you insufferable man.
Snape smirked. "The Pellrevel was the finest ship in the Wizarding fleet because it was the only ship to have enlarged wands instead of cannons. The Pellrevel could fire off enhanced offensive spells, which it did to great effect during the uprising of Grindelwald."
He got up from his seat and approached Hermione. He bent to her ear and whispered, "Now who is the smug one, my little know-it-all?"
"How dare you!" she hissed, her hair crackling with energy. "I worked for weeks on this inter-House presentation, and I'm not about to have you ruin it!"
The Potions Master drew the History of Magic Professor to the High Table. "I was merely trying to save your presentation," he whispered, careful not to be overheard by the students. "Honestly, Hermione, it's boring as dry toast."
She sniffed indignantly. "It's a damn sight better than what Binns would have taught."
He snorted. "That's quite a low bar. Macaroni art would be better than what Binns would have taught."
Hermione barely managed to not stomp her foot. "Fine then, Snape. You have such lofty ideas?" She poked him in the chest. "You teach the lesson."
Severus smirked. "Gladly." He directed her to his chair at the High Table. "Have a seat." He waited until Hermione complied.
Turning back to the students, Severus rose to his full height and intoned, "Who here can tell me how each of these ships was ultimately destroyed? Besides Miss Peachtree." He glared at the young Ravenclaw, effectively silencing her.
He walked from one end of the High Table to the other. "No one? Not one of you dunderheads can tell me how such famous vessels met their untimely demise? Well then, Miss Peachtree, since you seem to be the only student bold enough to answer, let's hear it."
The young girl stood and cleared her throat. "If you please, sir, the Pellrevel went up in flames when Grindelwald volleyed back one of its spells."
"Very good, Miss Peachtree; one point to Ravenclaw." He smirked at Filius. "Now, would you please demonstrate the incident?"
The girl was confused. "Um, demonstrate it how, sir?"
"Come now, girl. Surely you have learned the proper spell."
Miss Peachtree's eyes widened in understanding, and she nodded. She pulled out her wand, took aim, and shouted, "Incendio!" The origami Pellrevel burst into brilliant flames, gracefully diving to the floor where the tiny ship fell to ashes.
Severus sighed dramatically. "Alas, the Pellrevel is no more." He vanished the mess and looked out at the students, noting that he had their complete attention. "Now, who can tell me which ships the Pellrevel destroyed?"
Every hand went up.
Hermione sat in one of Snape's most comfortable chairs, sipping a glass of wine. She watched the dark wizard take off his frock coat and pour himself a firewhiskey. She pondered the man before her. "Admit it, Severus. You like teaching."
He sat across from her and stretched out his impossibly long legs, his crossed ankles resting on a worn footstool. He unbuttoned his collar and smirked. "I will admit to no such thing." He carelessly waved his hand and levitated a log into the dying flames.
"Lazy bones," she teased.
Snape sipped his drink and nodded. "That I will admit to."
A companionable silence settled between them as they watched the fire. After a time, Hermione cleared her throat. "I, um, I want to thank you for your help today. I've never seen the students so engrossed in a lesson." She grinned. "I should have them destroy things more often."
"It was an inexcusable mistake." He looked up at his wife and immediately realized she had misunderstood him. "Not your actions, Hermione; mine. I usurped your lesson, and I have no excuse for myself. I would be furious had you done that to me, and to be honest, I'm confused as to why you are even talking to me."
Hermione sat her glass of wine on the table and got up from her chair. She approached her husband and curled up on his lap, his long arms automatically embracing her. She looked into his dark, haunted eyes and kissed his crooked nose. "Not every mistake you make is unforgivable, Severus." She sensed his somber mood and realized that he needed reassurance of her love. Hermione touched her forehead to his. "I will always forgive you, Severus, no matter what. Always."
He choked and crushed her to him, gently rocking her until she took him to bed.