Hermione becomes obsessed with the idea of slapping Slughorn's ass and learns an important moral lesson as a result.
The next day she spent hours in the library trying to find a solution to her problem, but magical texts turned out to be rather unhelpful where psychological conditions were concerned. There were spells and potions that could cause or suppress basic emotions, but that seemed to be as far as it went. And all the while the image of Professor Slughorn’s mile-wide ass kept floating up in her mind. The library having failed her, Hermione decided to deal with the crisis through sheer force of will. She forbade herself to think of Slughorn at all, and whenever she caught her thoughts straying near the subject, she concentrated on counting backwards from ten to one. That seemed to help, and the next two days passed without incident, although she found the constant mental vigilance rather exhausting. On Friday, however, Hermione had a near miss that made her reconsider her strategy.
They had Potions that day, and Hermione found it a lot harder to concentrate with the object of her obsession almost constantly in sight. Nevertheless, she managed to brew her potion correctly. It was after the class that the alarming incident took place. It took Hermione longer than usual to gather her things, and by the time she was ready to go, everyone else had already left. She was surprised to find herself alone in the dungeon, for she had not lingered on purpose, and then she noticed that the door to Professor Slughorn’s office was ajar. She knew that the right thing to do was to pick up her bag and leave, but instead she started walking toward Slughorn’s office, taking a novel and perverse pleasure in the very fact that she was doing the wrong thing. Trying to tread as silently as possible, she approached the door and carefully peered inside. Professor Slughorn was standing with his back to her, apparently looking for something on the shelves with potion ingredients. Hermione’s gaze was immediately drawn to the twin Mount Everests of flesh that were Slughorn’s buttocks, his robes draped tightly over them, and what little self-control she had left, evaporated. She moved like a sleepwalker toward the unsuspecting fat teacher until she was standing right behind him. She raised her hand, prepared to strike, but fortunately for her, Slughorn chose that moment to turn around.
“AAAAAGH!” he yelled, dropping the jar he had been holding. Hermione was so startled that she jumped.
“Merlin’s beard, Miss Granger!” exclaimed Slughorn. “You nearly gave me a heart attack! Do you always sneak up on people like that?”
“Oh, gosh, I’m…I’m terribly sorry, sir,” she stammered. Realizing that her hand was still raised and Slughorn was eyeing it suspiciously, she used it to brush a strand of hair from her forehead as if that had been her original intention. “I didn’t mean to sneak up on you. I should have knocked…so stupid of me…”
She laughed nervously, and Slughorn seemed to relax.
“Never mind, never mind, no harm done,” he said with a wave of his hand (which, Hermione noticed, was still trembling a little). “So what was it that you wanted from me, Miss Granger?”
“Uh, I — I wanted to ask you something about, um, the potion that we brewed today.”
“Ask away, then.”
“Er…” Hermione tried to come up with a question, but she was so shaken by what she had nearly done that she couldn’t seem to think straight. “Gosh, it’s so stupid, but I’ve completely forgotten what it was! I’ll…I’ll ask you next time, sir. Sorry for scaring you!”
“It’s all right,” Slughorn said, his bewildered gaze following Hermione as she hastily left the office.
Having put some distance between herself and the Potions classroom, Hermione slumped against a wall and tried to breathe slowly. She felt weak, and her heart was still beating madly. She had very nearly physically assaulted a teacher, something she would never have thought she was capable of. It was as if someone had put the Imperius curse on her…except that she had been aware the whole time that what she was doing was wrong. Even as she had raised her hand to perform the unthinkable, a small voice in her head had been screaming “No!” She had chosen to do what was easy instead of what was right. What did that say about her?
“I need help,” she whispered. But who could she turn to for help? Certainly not Harry or Ron — what would they think of her? Professor Dumbledore might be more understanding, but she still couldn’t picture herself telling him about her obsession with Slughorn’s fat ass. Besides, Dumbledore had enough on his plate already. No, she would have to deal with this on her own.
“I’ve always been a good girl,” she thought. This wasn’t true, strictly speaking, but Hermione’s mental censor suppressed the contradicting memories. “I’ve always played by the rules, always stayed on the straight and narrow. Can I not do something wrong for once? Something selfish? Especially when I need it so badly?”
After some deliberation Hermione decided that, yes, she did deserve the right to do the wrong thing once in her life. She felt greatly relieved as the soothing balm of justification washed over her thoughts. She promised herself that she would go to Professor Dumbledore if the act didn’t cure her obsession, and that took care of the last of her doubts.
She acted on Sunday. Having waited until Harry and Ron had started playing chess in the common room, which always took a while, she pretended to leave for her dormitory. As soon as she was out of sight, she cast a Disillusionment charm on herself, then snuck back into the common room and crept up the staircase that led to the boys’ dormitories. A couple of minutes later she returned to the common room and carefully made her way toward the portrait hole, freezing every time somebody looked in her direction. Having reached the hole, she pulled out her wand and cast a silent spell at the fireplace. The fire flared up violently, and the momentary distraction it provided allowed Hermione to leave unnoticed.
It did not take her long to reach Slughorn’s private quarters. The corridor appeared deserted, and she hadn’t run into anyone on her way there, but Hermione wasn’t taking any chances. Undoing the Disillusionment charm, she quickly retrieved the Marauder’s Map. She felt somewhat guilty about taking it without Harry’s consent, but she intended to return it long before Harry and Ron’s chess game was over, and what Harry didn’t know couldn’t hurt him. According to the map, the coast was clear, and Slughorn was in his chambers — specifically, in the smallest of the three rooms, which was probably the bathroom. This simplified things a great deal. Making herself semi-invisible once again, Hermione started to undo the protective charms on Slughorn’s door. After ten minutes the last of them broke. Taking a deep breath, Hermione pushed the door, and it swung open.
“It’s not too late to turn back,” said a voice inside her head.
“Shut up,” she muttered, and slipped inside, closing the door behind her.
Slughorn’s sitting-room was as lavish as Hermione had expected, but she didn’t waste time looking around. She walked purposefully toward a door on the right, from behind which indistinct humming and the sound of running water could be heard. Fear and anticipation coursed through Hermione like a current as she placed her hand on the door handle and pulled on it ever so slowly, with the same deliberation and concentration she would employ when handling a dangerous poison in her Potions class. When the door was open a small fraction, she peered inside.
The sight that greeted her was rather unexpected. Slughorn, who was completely naked, was floating in midair, revolving slowly around his axis like a fleshy planetoid. Jets of water were hitting his body from above and below, issuing from numerous nozzles installed in circles in the floor and ceiling. Many of the nozzles swiveled, the jets tracing seemingly erratic patterns on Slughorn’s doughy skin. This had to be some kind of water massage, and Slughorn appeared to be enjoying it a great deal as he snorted and grunted and hummed some pompous march, his eyes haf-closed. Hermione momentarily forgot how to breathe as her twin targets came into view, quivering and rippling as the jets of water hit them. This was better than she had hoped for; no clothing would dull the pleasure. She waited patiently until Slughorn had completed another rotation, and then, as his right side was facing the door, she acted.
Opening the door, Hermione stepped inside and covered the distance that separated her from the shower assembly in three strides. She would have to get wet, but she didn’t mind. At long last, she was going to scratch that terrible itch and (hopefully) get back to normal. Pushing back her sleeve, Hermione raised her hand and waited, her predatory gaze locked on Slughorn’s right buttock. As her superior intelligence signalled that the buttock was at an ideal angle for a strike, she drew a deep breath and slapped it with all her might.
The sound of the impact was like a whipcrack, exactly as Hermione had imagined it, and for a split second her senses tingled in pure rapture. Then the spell was broken as Slughorn uttered a terrified scream and plummeted to the floor, his fall sending a slight tremor throughout the room. The shower assembly stopped running, and Hermione found herself standing over Slughorn’s motionless body. She could hear water dripping from the nozzles and draining away, underscoring the otherwise complete and ominous silence.
“Professor Slughorn?” she said timidly. There was no reaction.
“Professor, are you all right?”
The great mass of flesh remained unresponsive. Stepping closer, Hermione gingerly prodded Slughorn with her foot. He didn’t stir.
“Oh, god,” she said, her eyes wide with shock. “Ohgodohgodohgod. I’ve killed him!”
Drip-drip-drip. It was as if the water confirmed her assessment of the situation. Hermione took a step back, staring at the inconceivable consequence of her decision.
And then she ran. Out of the bathroom, out of Slughorn’s quarters, and then she didn’t know where. She just needed to run, as though by running fast enough she could reverse time and undo the terrible damage she had wrought. As she hurtled around a corner, she was shocked yet again by the sight of Albus Dumbledore walking in the opposite direction. She skidded to a stop, but it was too late.
“Who is there?” Dumbledore asked sharply. Before Hermione could react, the Headmaster whipped out his wand and pointed it in her direction. The Disillusionment charm lifted, and Dumbledore’s eyebrows shot up in surprise.
“Miss Granger!” he said, aprroaching her quickly. “What happened?”
“I — I’ve killed Professor Slughorn!” she blurted, looking up desperately into Dumbledore’s face. He frowned and looked her straight in the eye. For a split second Hermione felt as though her whole mind were illuminated by a strong searchlight, and then Dumbledore said curtly, “Follow me, please”.
Panting, Hermione set off after the Headmaster. Neither of them spoke as they made their way back to Slughorn’s quarters. Hermione was filled with dread, but it was laced with a little hope now, an irrational hope that Dumbledore would somehow put things right as he always did (well, more or less). At least, the Headmaster looked reassuring, an image of glittering, perfumed determination.
At last, they reached the door that Hermione had entered not ten minutes before (but to her it seemed like ages). Dumbledore went in without pausing, and Hermione followed, bracing herself for the sight of Professor Slughorn’s dead fat body. However, the night had yet another shock in store for her.
The door to the bathroom was still open, but Slughorn was no longer lying on the floor. He was sitting up, looking bemused but very much alive. He looked up as Dumbledore and Hermione approached, and cried out in surprise, covering his crotch (although his belly pretty much concealed his naughty bits). Hermione slumped against the wall and let out a sigh of the greatest relief she had ever experienced. Dumbledore smiled a little, his eyes twinkling.
“Merlin’s beard!” said Slughorn, staring at the two of them. “Albus…Miss Granger…what the hell is going on?! I was in the shower when someone hit me from behind, and I must have fainted. I just came to about a minute ago…please give me a moment while I fetch my bathrobe.”
Slughorn got ponderously to his feet and shuffled sideways, his hands placed strategically in front of him. He exited the bathroom a few seconds later, wearing a green silk bathrobe and a worried expression.
“Now would either of you care to explain what is going on here?” he demanded.
“Well, I am actually as much in the dark about it as you are, Horace,” said Dumbledore with a smile. “I ran into a rather distressed Miss Granger in a hallway, and she said she’d killed you, so we both hurried back here. I’m sure Miss Granger will tell us more.”
They both looked at Hermione, who went the deepest shade of red and covered her face with her hands.
“Please, please, just kill me now,” she said in a small voice. “I beg you, don’t ask me to tell…”
“Now, now, Miss Granger, surely it isn’t that bad,” said Dumbledore. “I, for one, am sure that you would not have tried to harm Horace of your own accord. Perhaps somebody made you? Somebody with a grudge against Horace, or maybe a Death Eater?”
Slughorn shot Dumbledore an alarmed look. Hermione shook her head without lowering her hands.
“No, I…nobody made me,” she said. “I…oh, god!” She let out a dry sob.
“There, there, Miss Granger,” said Slughorn. “Just tell it like it is. I promise I will be understanding.”
Hermione was silent for a few moments, then lowered her hands and began to speak, her gaze trained at the floor.
“A few days ago Ron made a joke about slapping you on the behind, and I became obsessed with the idea. It was all I could think about. I nearly did it after our last Potions class. I knew then that I needed help, but didn’t know who to go to…so I decided that I had no choice but to do it. I knew it was wrong, but I convinced myself that I was entitled to it because I had always done the right thing before. So tonight I snuck into your bathroom and slapped you. You know the rest. There, I’ve said it. Will you please kill me now?”
She waited, but no response came. When the silence became unbearable, she dared to look up. Slughorn was looking thunderstruck, and Dumbledore pensive in an amused sort of way (or amused in a pensive sort of way, it was hard to tell with Dumbledore). Hermione opened her mouth, but no more words came. The Headmaster cleared his throat, drawing Slughorn’s attention away from Hermione.
“Well, just as I said, it is not so bad,” he said, looking kindly from Hermione to Slughorn. “Your obsession is a peculiar one, Miss Granger, but the human mind works in mysterious ways, and I have to admit that Horace’s rear parts are quite an impressive sight. That said, what you did was indisputably very wrong. You violated the privacy of another person, who happens to be your teacher, and physically attacked him. While Professor Slughorn wasn’t harmed, he very well might have been. You do understand that such an act cannot go unpunished.”
“I understand, sir,” said Hermione, looking down at the floor again.
“On the other hand,” Dumbledore went on, “I don’t think a detention would be appropriate here. It would raise too many questions, and if the truth somehow got out, it would be damaging to both your reputations, which I think neither of you deserves. No, I have something else in mind.”
He winked at Slughorn. Hermione raised her head and looked expectantly at the Headmaster.
“Miss Granger, you snuck up on Professor Slughorn while he was naked in the shower and slapped him on the behind,” said Dumbledore. “I think — and I’m sure Horace will agree with me here — that it would be a fair punishment if he did the same to you.”
“I — excuse me?” said Hermione.
“Well, obviously, Professor Slughorn cannot sneak up on you if you are expecting him to, but he can still slap you when you are naked in the shower,” explained Dumbledore. “Do you consider this a satisfactory punishment, Horace?”
“Uh…why yes, I do, Dumbledore,” said Slughorn, now looking at Hermione in an appraising sort of way. “Very satisfactory, indeed.”
“Excellent!” said Dumbledore. “Now, Miss Granger, if you would remove your clothes and step into the shower…”
“Y-you mean, right now?” she stammered, looking at the Headmaster incredulously.
“I see no reason to postpone your punishment, Miss Granger,” replied Dumbledore, smiling at her.
“But — well — all right,” she said. “Uh…could you please look away, sir?”
“I don’t think so, Miss Granger,” said Dumbledore. “Since it was I who proposed the punishment, I feel obligated to oversee it, being a responsible Headmaster.”
Still smiling, he gestured for her to get on with it. Looking away from the two old men, Hermione took hold of her robes, pulled them slowly over her head and cast them aside. Her face was burning. Now the only clothes left on her were her bra, panties, stockings, and shoes. She stood there, her eyes cast down, and made no further movement, hoping against hope that either Dumbledore or Slughorn would change his mind.
“Do go on, Miss Granger,” Dumbledore said cheerfully.
She took a moment to brace herself, then kicked off her shoes and pulled off her stockings. She considered begging Dumbledore to stop it, but thought better of it. She had knowingly and willfully done wrong. She deserved this punishment. Deciding that she might as well get it over with as soon as possible, Hermione unclasped her bra and tossed it on the floor, then quickly pulled off her panties (she heard Slughorn inhale sharply at that) and stood there completely naked. Her teenage body was a very pretty sight, her skin smooth and milky-white, her breasts small but shapely, her legs toned, and her feet small and delicate. If she had looked up, she would have seen Slughorn staring at her, completely mesmerized.
“Very good, Miss Granger — no, no, please keep your hands at your sides. You saw all of Horace, so it is fair that he should see all of you,” said Dumbledore. “Kindly proceed to the bathroom.”
Hermione obeyed, Slughorn and Dumbledore following her as she entered the bathroom and went to stand in the middle of the shower assembly.
“Horace,” said Dumbledore.
Hermione tensed as she heard Slughorn approach her. He was breathing heavily as if he had been running. Then, rather anticlimactically, he gave her right buttock a half-hearted slap.
“There!” said Dumbledore. “Now, Miss Granger, you know, at least, to some degree, how you made Horace feel. The violation of privacy, the fear, the embarrassment — the consequences of your choice to do a small (in your eyes) evil that (in your eyes) would be offset by all the good you had done. I wanted you to experience firsthand the power of choice and the insidious nature of evil, not on a whim, but because I believe that you will need the knowledge in the days to come. You are one of the best students in this school and a friend of Harry Potter, no less. With great power comes great responsibility, Miss Granger. This is a lesson that needs to be learned the hard way, which is why you got this punishment where any other student would have merely gotten detention. I hope you understand, Miss Granger, and will not bear any animosity toward me because of it.”
“I understand, Professor,” said Hermione, looking at Dumbledore over her shoulder with tears in her eyes.
“Excellent!” said Dumbledore, clapping his hands. “Now, Horace, I trust that you and Miss Granger are now even, and she has earned your forgiveness?”
“Huh?” said Slughorn, who had been staring at Hermione with his mouth half-open. “Oh, yes, yes, absolutely!” He smiled at the naked girl. “As far as I am concerned, Miss Granger, this little incident never happened. I’ll be happy to see you in my next class.”
“Thank you, sir,” she replied with a shy smile.
“Capital!” said Dumbledore. “Now let us leave, Horace, so that the young lady can get dressed in privacy.”
Hermione managed to sneak back into Gryffindor tower and return the Marauder’s Map to Harry’s trunk before Harry and Ron had finished their chess game, so no one in Gryffindor ever found out that she had been out that night. Outwardly, she remained the same, but the change that Professor Dumbledore’s lesson had wrought in her was profound. It was thanks to that lesson that Hermione didn’t abandon Harry during their endless camping trip, which could very well have spelled defeat for the forces of good. After the victory celebration she paid a private visit to Dumbledore’s tomb and thanked the late Headmaster for making her strip naked in front of himself and Slughorn that night. After she had died (Horace Slughorn having also passed away by that point), a written record of the incident was found enclosed with her last will, which stated it should be made public. The story was touted as yet another example of Albus Dumbledore’s great wisdom and foresight, and became part of the legends of that great time that would be retold for many years to come.