Chapter 15: Library Chit Chat
Nicholas Flamel…I know he’s in one of these books…
The Chamber of Secrets…a basilisk…PIPES.
Three twists on the time turner means three extra hours to study!
“Herm-own-ninny?” the burly voice came from behind her, startling her into dropping her book.
“Come on Hermione! Come out and watch us practice!” Ron whining as she worked on her Transfigurations essay.
“We need to find a spell to destroy horcruxes,” Harry’s determined voice as they crouched under his invisibility cloak searching through the Restricted Section.
“I would have expected more from the two of you…” her hurt filled words seeming quiet as they echoed behind her as she flew amongst the bookshelves in an attempt to escape…
Hermione shook her head and the memories dissipated. She had never realized just how much of her time at Hogwarts was spent in the library, but as she thumbed through a book she recalled reading in her fourth year to help Harry prepare for the Triwizard tournament, Hermione was bombarded with thoughts and memories of the past, or the future, as it were.
The Hogwarts library had always been a safe haven for her that inspired a vast array of emotions within. Confidence, excitement, happiness…
“Hermione, are you quite done?” Minerva huffed in irritation.
And, most recently, annoyance.
Really, Minerva McGonagall was dancing on her last nerve! They had been in the library working on their paper for a few hours now, and the two were making very little progress. Hermione’s mind would keep wandering and Minerva always seemed to notice this and would snap at her, which only served to irritate Hermione while making her want to take an even longer time with whatever passage she was supposed to be working on.
They would be in the library for eternity at this rate and Hermione deemed it past time to do something about the animosity between them.
“Have I done something to you?” Hermione asked abruptly, snapping her book closed.
Minerva blinked owlishly, the sudden question catching her unawares. Slowly, she too closed her book and her blue eyes focused on Hermione. “Excuse me?”
“Have I done something to you?” Hermione repeated. “I must have done something to offend you to warrant your childish behavior.”
Minerva flinched slightly and a nervous hand tugged a black strand of her hair out of her face. “I’m sure I don’t know what you are talking about.”
“You’ll forgive me if I find that hard to believe since you have been nothing but rude to me since my arrival,” Hermione stated dryly, opening her book once again.
The girl opposite of her shifted in her seat in a combination of guilt and irritation.
Hermione continued to speak without looking up from her text. “I was just curious as to what your reason for hating me was.”
“I do not hate you,” Minerva said slowly, obviously picking her words carefully. “But I find I cannot like you.”
She lowered her book and fixed Minerva with a straightforward gaze. “I admire your honesty,” she said softly.
Which was true, Hermione did appreciate her honesty. With living amongst Slytherins, honesty had been a sparse trait in her den. It seemed as if she had spent the last few months drowning in one lie after another.
Not for the first time, Hermione wished she had been sorted into Gryffindor. But would it have really made a difference? The other students would still be wary of her, the Slytherins would still hate her, and Tom…well, she was never certain of anything when it came to Tom Riddle.
There was a long stretch of silence between them, and although Hermione tried to ignore it, she still felt that jab of pain in her heart at the bad air between them. She wondered how her McGonagall had felt when seeing her younger self sorted into her house. Was she surprised? Angered? Hermione supposed she’d never know for certain unless she made it back to her time and asked the Gryffindor Head of House herself.
“I may surprise you yet, Minerva,” Hermione found herself murmuring. “We are not all as we seem.”
“What do you mean?”
Hermione smiled. “Simply that while it is true I do admire your honesty, I find myself disagreeing with your logic.”
“I find myself disagreeing with you in general,” Minerva grumbled.
“And why is that?”
“You’re a Slytherin,” she stated as though that one sentence explained everything.
And, sadly, it did. Hermione wondered if she was guilty of treating the Slytherins of her time with the same bias she was now on the receiving end of. She’d like to think she hadn’t, but she hadn’t always been friends with Lucius and Severus. What about the years before that? Had she treated her classmates with disdain because of a patch on their robes?
Perhaps it was time for Hermione to give Minerva an eye-opener.
“I suppose then that it hardly matters that the hat nearly put me into Gryffindor?” she asked dryly.
Minerva flinched and Hermione smiled at the stark disbelief on the girl’s features. “Really?” she sputtered.
Hermione nodded. “The hat said I was perfectly matched for both houses.”
Curiosity tilted Minerva’s head. “Then why did it pick Slytherin?”
Frowning, Hermione’s eyes clouded as she recalled the hat’s words to her.
Not only the mind of a Slytherin, though…yes, you would meet your match there- you have already met him. Far be it from me to separate the two of you…
“It didn’t want to separate me from Tom,” she murmured distractedly as she finally realized this herself.
“It’s true, then? You knew him before you came here?” Minerva asked, placing her forgotten book on the table and giving Hermione her sole attention.
Hermione shook her head to clear her thoughts, smiling as she answered, “Yes, I spent the summer with him because I arrived earlier than expected. If I recall correctly, you were the first choice to house me, but you were in Greece. Can you image where we’d be if I had spent those few months with you?”
She was asking Minerva, but Hermione couldn’t help pondering over the question herself. Fate had sent her back to a specific time when Minerva had been gone on vacation, forcing her to live with Tom. Imagine if she had arrived a week earlier, or even a week later. Where would she be then?
It was almost like it was meant to be…
“You’re not like the other Slytherins,” Minerva grudgingly relented.
Hermione laughed. “I’ll take that as a compliment.”
Minerva smiled softly. “It was meant as one.”
There was a long, awkward pause in which neither knew what to say. While the tension had lessened between them, there was still that air of unease.
“I was reading about a charm that will cause temporary blindness to whoever is hit by it,” Minerva filled the void.
Hermione found herself nodding and opening her book to show the Gryffindor what she had been reading. They spent the next couple hours in relatively friendly chatter about defense spells. Just as she, Severus, and Lucius had at the beginning of their friendship, they stuck only to academics. Naturally they began with defense, and then on to their favorite topics, Hermione smiling when Minerva confessed to wanting to do something in Transfigurations.
Hermione still doubted whether or not they would ever be friends, but perhaps she’d have another set of eyes besides Thomas’s to look at her with something other than hostility.
When they got on the subject of divination, Minerva was almost laughing at Hermione’s colorful descriptions of the art.
“The future is just something that can’t be predicted since it hasn’t happened yet,” she claimed after Hermione’s impromptu rant.
Hermione choked on air. “What did you say?” she sputtered.
“Well, it seems not only silly, but also presumptuous that we mere mortals would even think to claim that we can divine what the future holds in store for us.”
“So you don’t believe in timelines being parallel, but rather it is just one, ongoing thread,” Hermione stated, frowning as she pondered the possibility.
“I don’t see how it can be otherwise. If a person had knowledge of the future, then they would also have the power to change it, so how can we change it if we already know what is going to happen. It’s all rather confusing, really.”
Hermione gave a laugh that wasn’t entirely filled with good humor. How many times had her quick mind traveled up and down that road?
“Don’t think about it, it’ll drive you insane. Time is a paradox. I’ve learned that it is useless to dwell on what is to be. Perhaps it is more important to dwell on the here and now,” Hermione mused.
“You’re very smart, Hermione, so why are you wasting time with a subject like divination?” Minerva asked, politely ignoring Hermione’s almost sad, pensive tone.
Hermione went to retrieve a text from her bag and opened her mouth to answer Minerva’s question, but froze when her fingers connected to a small, thin card. Frowning, Hermione pulled out the card Professor Thompson had slipped to her.
It must have slipped out of the book, she thought as she glared down at the face of the card.
“Hermione? What are you doing with a tarot card?” Minerva asked, stretching her neck to glimpse said card.
“The professor gave it to me.”
Minerva blinked. “Oh, well, which one is it?”
A red tide swept across her cheeks as Hermione wordlessly handed over the card. Minerva took it, her blue eyes narrowing on the entwined couple that lay naked on the card.
Hermione coughed, snatching the card back when Minerva fixed her with an inquiring gaze. “I’m using it as a bookmark,” she hurriedly said, throwing the card back in her bag.
“Right,” Minerva chimed, going back to her defense book, a smug little smile curling her lips.
Another hour went by with the two reading silently, every once in a while rattling off an interesting fact or spell they discovered, and only when she had finished the last paragraph on Class Three Defensive Charms did Minerva close her book and yawn.
“It’s getting late,” Minerva said, stretching out her stiff neck.
Hermione looked up from her book. The candle she had been reading by was down nearly to the nub and she knew that it was already past curfew. She wondered briefly if Tom was finishing with his rounds and if he would be by the library soon. Strange, really, but the past four hours spent with Minerva was probably the longest she had been apart from him. His warning as she left the Great Hall had been stuck in her mind at the beginning of their meeting, but as Hermione gathered her books and prepared to exit the library with Minerva, she told herself Tom had merely been paranoid.
It was then, of course, that she caught a glimpse of a blonde head and a couple other shadowy figures.
Hermione froze. Had it been a trick of the candlelight, or her imagination?
“Did you hear something?” Minerva whispered urgently.
Hermione mentally groaned. Well, definitely not her imagination, then.
Quickly, Hermione’s mind analyzed the situation. She and Minerva were out past curfew and about to be cornered by Malfoy and an unknown number of Slytherins. As Head Girl, Minerva could attempt to threaten them, but Hermione knew that the temptation of catching her all alone and hexing her to pieces would be too much.
Besides, the Slytherins listened to no one save for Tom Riddle.
Tom, Hermione’s heart leapt. He said he’d make the library his last stop, and he should be nearly finished with his rounds…
“Minerva,” she whispered as inconspicuously as possible. “I’m going to say goodnight to you and I want you to leave the library. Go and find Tom and bring him here as soon as you can. Do you understand?”
“Is it the Slytherins?” she asked just as softly.
Hermione’s jaw clenched as a muffled footstep came from her right. “Don’t worry about it. Just go and find Tom.”
“But I can’t leave you-”
“You can and you will,” Hermione cut her off. “We don’t stand a chance without Tom and I need you to go get him. He should be close by anyway,” she stopped her furious whispering and when she spoke again it was in a loud, forcefully cheerful tone. “Bye Minerva, I’ll see you tomorrow.”
Minerva bit her lip in indecision. “I’ll hurry,” she promised softly before she then said, “Yes, Hermione. I’ll see you tomorrow.”
Hermione watched Minerva’s quick exit, her heart racing. Please hurry, please hurry, she repeated over and over in her mind as though she could quicken Minerva’s feet if she willed it hard enough.
The door to the library shut with an audible click and Hermione took a steadying breath to calm her racing heart.
Alright, Hermione, stall them…
“You can come out now, I know you’re here,” she called out.
Silence, and then the sound of heels clicking on the wooden floors greeted her as Abraxas Malfoy stepped into view.
“You’re just so clever, aren’t you?” he sneered.
Hermione defiantly lifted her chin and was proud when her voice did not quiver in her response, not even when Orion Black, Devon Felton and Evan Goyle came up to stand menacingly behind Malfoy.
“You just make it easy.”
Malfoy’s eyes narrowed at her and Hermione heard Tom’s voice in the back of her mind.
I don’t like the way he looks at you…
“Such a clever little mouth you have, Mudblood,” he spat, taking a step towards her.
Hermione quickly retreated. “I’d be careful if I were you,” she warned.
Abraxas snorted. “And why is that?”
Hermione removed her wand from her pocket, her knuckles turning white around the thin piece of wood. “Tom is on his way here,” she claimed.
Orion and Devon flinched slightly, whereas Evan gave an audible gulp, but Abraxas just smirked calmly as he confidently said, “We can finish with you before he gets here.”
If possible, Hermione’s grip tightened on her wand. “But he will want to know who attacked me, and for some reason, I won’t mind telling him.”
Abraxas’s eyes glittered eerily at her. “We’ll obliviate you.”
Hermione swallowed nervously. “He’ll still know it was you,” she pointed out, knowing it was the truth. “He’ll punish you…again.”
She knew she went too far with her last remark when Abraxas’s eyes narrowed and he lifted his ebony wand to her chest. “It will be worth it,” he claimed, his voice filled with a dark promise.
Heart thudding painfully, Hermione lifted her own wand. “You don’t scare me.”
Orion and Devon took out there wands, Evan following suit after a quick jab from Orion. Abraxas smiled. “Then you’re a fool.”
“Perhaps,” she allowed. “But that would make you pathetic, since you need help to take of this poor, little fool.”
Orion stepped forward. “You talk too much, Mudblood.”
“Yes, she does, doesn’t she? Perhaps we should shut her up,” Abraxas hissed.
Hermione barely had any time to react before a red light shot out of the end of his wand, hitting her chest.