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Chapter 1: A Prologue: The Restricted Section
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"May I go into the restricted section, Miss? I have a permission slip from Professor Mercer."
Rose Weasley stood nervously at the desk of the librarian, Madam Vincent, fiddling with a stray curl of hair which had come loose from her ponytail.
Madam Vincent held out her hand for the slip, regarding her suspiciously through those jam jar bottom glasses of hers. She reminded Rose of an owl, but not one of those cute ones with big amber eyes, but like one of those ones who would peck your eyes out just for coming within a metre of it. Her eyes narrowed as she read the slip, and then she reached under her desk to pull out a key. She thrust it at Rose, along with the slip, and nodded curtly.
Rose scurried away, gripping the cold metal tightly. She reached the door to the infamous restricted section, slotting the key and turning it with an echoing click. Walking through the rows of shelves cautiously, she wondered what order they were sorted in. After examining some of the books she discovered that they were listed alphabetically according to the surname of the author.
"Varkoztisch... V..." she muttered under her breath, striding along the rows until she was nearing the back of the room. It was then that she noticed a sudden change in the atmosphere. It was as if a dementor had just walked into the room, as if something were lingering in the air, something dark. Something terrible.
The lights flickered.
Rose turned the corner into the 'V' row, her breath coming out in heavy gasps and her heart thudding frantically in her chest. She hated this place. She loved libraries, but this was not a library. This was the restricted section. This was the place where people could go and never come back. This was the place that no one dared to set foot in.
Her foot was about to come down to form another step when she heard some paper rustle. She cast a look behind her to search for the source of the sound.
"Who's there?" she called, her voice wavering slightly.
Pandemonium ensued, and Rose let out a shriek. Books. Books were flying everywhere. Left, right, up, down, clockwise, anti-clockwise, diagonally - you name it, a book was being hurled in that direction.
"Peeves! Is that you?!" she yelled above all the chaos, hair whipping wildly around her face, having come out of it's elastic band. Out of the blue, a book came down and thumped her on the head, landing with a thud at her feet. Abruptly, the restricted section fell silent.
She breathed out, straining her ears for any sign of Madam Vincent coming to check up on her. Most probably not, she guessed - Madam Vincent was a deaf old hag who needed to be practically shouted at to be heard. This left the library a place to socialise and study simultaneously, unlike how it had been with the previous librarian, who'd left a year ago because she said the students of Hogwarts were putting a strain on her heart.
Rose picked up the book, turning it over front to back, examining it. It was a strange book - there was no title, no author. Just a plain, faded, green leather book with a silver buckle and yellowing pages. She undid the clasp, opening it up onto the first page.
Turning to the next page, Rose found a table of contents. The chapters were not named, instead just a simple list of Chapter Is and IIs. Chapter I began on the next page. Rose peeled the paper back, revealing it.
She dropped the book in surprise. A sort of mini whirlpool of air and smoke had started up, bringing forwards dust and loose bits of paper from the surrounding area. It was also bringing forward Rose. She couldn't help it - the pull was also emotional not just physical. There was a burning desire inside her to just step into the whirlpool.
No, Rose! NO! A distant voice in her mind was telling her. She didn't listen. Taking another step forwards, she let the whirlpool pull her in.
Updated 7th September 2012
Rose awoke, dazed, to the feeling of hard ground beneath her back, opening her eyes to find an elderly woman's face about five inches away from hers.
"Ah, Rosalinda," the woman said. Rose blinked. If she hadn't been so dazed, she would have been screaming her head off right now. "That was quite a fall you had there. Are you alright?"
"I - I'm fine," she muttered (her mother had taught her not to be rude, even in strange situations - which this definitely was), accepting the woman's hand to help her up and looking around, disorientated.
Where was she? Why was she being called Rosalinda? And why was she wearing this silly dress?
"Your father is expecting you for lunch in half an hour, so we best hurry!" the woman said, taking hold of Rose's wrist and leading her towards a horse-drawn carriage. It was black, with a sleek design that shined in the midday sun and red curtains on the inside. There was a man dressed in black who sat at the front, holding the reigns of two horses and waiting patiently for the two women to board.
They climbed into the carriage, Rose first with assistance of the old lady, and then set off, the ride a little bumpy.
"So, Miss Rosalinda, what are you planning to do with that green book of yours?"
Rose's face was blank. "What green book?"
"The one we came all the way out here to buy, silly! The one in your bag!" she answered.
"Oh," Rose said, opening the bag she hadn't realised she had been clasping in her hand the whole time. She pulled out the book.
No. It couldn't be.
This was the same book from the restricted section! Well, it was less battered, of course, but it was definitely the same. There was no title, no author, either, exactly the same as the other book. Rose opened it up onto the first page, expecting to find For Susannah. It was blank, as was the following page, and the page after that. Panic soon engulfed Rose, setting her heart racing and prompting a cold sweat to start up on her forehead. If there was no Chapter I, which was the thing that had brought her here, how was she going to be able to get out?
"Are you alright, Miss Rosalinda?" the woman asked.
"Stop calling me that!" Rose snapped.
The old woman looked taken aback. "What would you like to be called?"
"Miss Rose? But that is not your correct name!"
"No, you're right. It's not Miss Rose. It's Rose. Just Rose."
"Pardon me, your lady - "
Before the argument could continue, the carriage came to a grinding halt, and Rose stood up (well, as much as you can stand up in a carriage about five foot tall whilst wearing a dress that weighs about five tonnes), jumping out of the door after the driver had opened it for her.
She stopped short at the sight before her, her breath catching in her throat. This was her house? If you could call it a house. It was like a castle, with several towers and several floors, and big old fashioned stone walls with ivy covering every surface. The windows were tall and stained-glass, the sort of things you'd expect to find in a cathedral or church. They added colour to the magnificent building, along with the big mahogany doors situated right in the front centre of it.
The old woman came to stand beside her.
"Takes your breath away every time, doesn't it?" she murmured.
"This - This is my house?" Rose choked out, disbelief evident in her tone.
The old woman chuckled. "Not yet, my dear. When your father dies, then, yes, it will be yours."
Rose nodded numbly. She like this house. A lot.
"Of course, you'll have to share it with your brother," the old woman added.
Rose groaned. "I have a brother?" As if Hugo wasn't bad enough, she had another one here too? Great.
"No matter how much you dislike him, you must not pretend he doesn't exist," the old woman scolded.
The two began walking up to the house. "What's your name again?" asked Rose.
"Martha. Are you quite alright? We must have you examined by a doctor, you've been acting rather strange since your fall."
Rose stayed silent, strutting ahead. How was she going to get out of here? This world was obviously not where she belonged, and she definitely didn't want to stay here forever.
They reached the house less than a minute later, where a man in a suit with slick, gelled back hair and a moustache greeted them at the front door.
"Good evening, Miss Rosalinda," he beamed as she strode in past him, too wrapped up in her own thoughts to even acknowledge his friendly greeting. She reached the stairwell and began making her way hurriedly up it, assuming Martha was somewhere behind her to guide her to her room.
"I've had Jeremy get you a doctor to come up in a minute or so," Martha said from behind her. Rose reached the top of the stairs and turned right, praying it was the correct path to her bedroom. Then she slowed down her step a bit so as to let Martha take the lead. She followed the old woman along the corridor until they reached a door at the end, which was slightly ajar. Martha pushed her way through and made her way up a set of creaky wooden stairs. Rose followed her warily, watching she didn't tread too heavily on the worn-out oak.
Reaching the top, they were greeted with a splendidly decorated room with soft pastel tones and a large window looking out onto a huge stretch of lawn. A four-poster bed stood to the right of the window, lavished with beautiful flowing hangings and several layers of sheets and quilts. Golden sunlight filtered through the window, sending a shaft of light across the room, revealing hundreds of tiny dust motes swirling about in the air. A large wardrobe and chest stood side by side on the left side of the room, a mirror placed upon the chest and a stool sitting nearby.
"The doctor will be with you in a minute," Martha said, patting Rose on the shoulder before tottering back down the stairs.
Rose sighed, plopping herself down on the bed. She needed to get back, but she had no idea how. She looked down at the book, still clasped tightly in her hands. A sudden idea struck her and she jumped up, glancing around wildly for where she might find a quill. And ink. Where might she find ink?
"Looking for something?"
Rose span around to find a figure in the doorway. A sickeningly familiar figure.
"Weasley. I thought I'd find you here."
Rose opened her mouth, attempted to say something, failed, and closed it again.
"Looking for an explanation? I went into the restricted section and found a book lying on the floor with a big whirlpool thing coming out of it. And it sort of... called to me. Like a chocolate cheesecake does when you're really hungry."
"A chocolate cheesecake?"
"A chocolate cheesecake."
"Uh - look, never mind about chocolate cheesecakes. We need to get out of here. Now, my theory is, if we got sucked into this world on chapter one, then maybe we'll get sucked back on chapter one. But the only thing is there isn't a chapter one yet, so I'm going to have to write it in. I don't have a quill or ink, though, so I'm stuck."
Malfoy pursed his lips. A second later he seemed to have gotten an idea since he quickly strode over to the bed, grabbing a pillow and tearing it open.
"HEY - " Rose began, before realising why he was destroying her beautiful bed linen.
He spread out an assortment of feathers from inside the pillow over the bed sheet. "They're duck feathers, so they won't be as big, but we'll have to make do."
Rose bent over the bed beside Malfoy, selecting the largest one she could find before turning to look at him. "Ink?"
"Now, this one is harder..." He ran a hand through his sleek blond hair, thinking. Ten minutes of thinking later, his eyes suddenly lit up. "Maybe...?" he muttered.
"Maybe what?" Rose asked excitedly.
"Where's the fireplace in this room?"
"Over there." Rose pointed over to the right of her bed, where, indeed, a fireplace was situated. Malfoy scooted over to it, bending down and reaching inside the hearth, coming back up moments later with a lump of coal clutched in his hand.
"We need a liquid now," he requested. Rose scampered over to the chest, grabbing a tureen of water and bringing it back to him. "Have you got a glass or a small container?"
"There's an empty perfume bottle here," she suggested, picking up a dainty little bottle off of the mantle piece.
"Yes, that'll do." Malfoy grabbed the bottle, prising open the lid and crumbling the coal into it. He grabbed some of the smaller, dust-sized particles of coal from the hearth and added them into it before pouring the tiniest amount of water into it too. He put the lid back on, shaking the bottle up a bit before opening it again. "Try this," he said.
Rose grabbed her make-do quill, dipping it into the pot and turning to the first page of the book.
For Susannah, she wrote, mimicking the style she had read earlier back in the restricted section. Surprisingly, the make-shift ink was near enough perfect.
She turned the page, making a bold heading of 'CONTENTS' before turning to the next page.
"Well, here goes nothing," she muttered, scratching the words 'Chapter I' on the paper. Nothing happened. She rested the quill on the bedside table, looking up at Malfoy's face, trying to find reassurance. Unfortunately his expression was as disappointed as hers.
"How do we get back now?" she asked, tears beginning to form in her eyes. "We need to get back!"
"Don't panic," he said, though he sounded on the verge of panicking as well. "It's just.. delayed."
Boy, she hoped so. Being stuck in this world with Scorpius Malfoy was her definition of hell.