Unlike the invisibility cloak, the Shrouding solution does not glean its power from the ability to deceive sight, but relies, instead, on its ability to deceive all of the senses. When brewed well, it is designed to reach into the depths of the drinker’s soul and change not only the person’s appearance, but also the sole characteristic that makes them who they are.
Hermione ruminated over the description of the Shrouding solution she had found in the rear of her Potion’s textbook in her fourth year. She had found this particular potion to be especially intriguing since it was the first potion she encountered that truthfully scared her. She had always wanted to learn how to brew the potion; but, never had she, in her six and a quarter years at Hogwarts, ever thought of testing it.
“Fill the vials carefully to the brim, Ms. Granger—I said carefully,” Snape sneered, doing little to hide the menacing undertone of his voice.
Hermione’s hands were shaking as she slowly poured spoonful after spoonful of silky violet potion into the twin antique silver vials seated on her desk, now separating her from Draco.
“That’s it. Now let the potion sit, wait till it foams at the top,” Snape directed.
Hermione was almost in a panic. She looked to Draco for support, but being the blind bat that he was, he showed no emotion to the whole situation—no fear, no support. He sat patiently, almost as if he were in denial, like he was expecting the ministry to walk in at any moment and save them from the atrocity that was to come.
Nobody came—much to Draco and Hermione’s disappointment. And, the potion—had started foaming.
“It is time!” Snape said menacingly. Hermione could tell that he was thoroughly enjoying this.
“Remind me again why we are testing our solution?” Draco queried, the anxiety rising in his voice. “I mean what if Hermione made a mistake—I can’t see so I don’t know what is in… OUCH!”
Hermione struck Draco in the rib cage, causing Draco to lose his balance momentarily while gasping for air. Grabbing hold of the table, Draco prevented his fall, but his lungs, now thoroughly sore, found it a little harder to breath.
“Nothing is as it seems,” Snape replied. There was a temporary pause.
“NOTHING IS AS IT SEEMS?!??” Hermione cracked. “What kind of answer is that? You want us to risk our lives so you can have a little fun. I can’t believe… I mean you are a professor…there are protocols and a code of decorum… I mean, MERLIN, Dumbledore trusts… he…”
“…is not here, Ms. Granger!” Snape finished. “Now, drink. The two of you, NOW!”
Obeying orders, Hermione handed Draco his vial and, in turn, reached for hers. She was about to drink when, suddenly a voice, emerging for the shadows of the eerie dungeon, made her stop.
“Put the glass down please, Ms. Granger.”
Thrown completely aback by the headmaster’s unexpected appearance, Draco fell off his chair smashing his empty vial to smithereens. In a flash, Snape’s grin transformed into an unmistakable frown, and Hermione—well Hermione was just plain relieved.
Ron was growing desperate. Hermione had avoided him all weekend and he did not know what to do anymore. He liked her. He really liked her.
Why, of all years, did this whole rebound of fate have to happen NOW? Ron thought furiously, disgusted by the irony of his life.
This was his year. The year he had resolved to finally ask her out. In fact, that night—the night this whole thing had started, he had approached her in the library. Actually, he had waited, past curfew, for the library to empty, so that he could talk to her—alone.
He had been so nervous. His palms were wet with sweat and his face was burning, reaching a complexion hotter than that of the sun. How many times he had performed a drying charm, he did not remember. A calming drought probably would not have had any effect over the anxiety that had pervaded his bloodstream that night.
After many hours of waiting in anticipation, he remembered the library finally being vacant. He remembered approaching her from behind a stack of Defense Against the Dark Arts books. Of course, she was in the library reading the latest edition of Hogwarts a History. She was always quoting from that book.
He remembered sneaking up on her and placing his shaking hand firmly on her left shoulder—slightly frightening her. The smile that had crept across her face, however, upon her realization that it was her red headed friend who interrupted her studying and not some stranger, haunted and teased him day and night—giving him hope when nothing else did.
“Hi!” he had managed to whisper, gracing her ear with his playful voice.
“Hi!” she had said back. He swore there was a kind of expectancy in her voice, like she had been waiting for this moment—the moment where they could be alone—just as long as he had.
Ron collapsed on his bed, emerging from the flashback. He placed his head in his hands—defeated. Not only had he failed to ask her out, but they had fought that night: something along the lines of never doing homework and always taking advantage of her.
Lying back on his pillows, he sprawled himself out over his covers. He was desperate. He was running out of time and he still needed to convince her. He needed to show her—just how much he cared. He sat up against his pillows, in the comfort and privacy of his bed. Reaching into the inner pocket of his shoddy second-hand robes, he withdrew a vial. Letting the antique encasing rest firmly in the palm of his hands, his fingers began to fiddle with the pearly liquid, almost nervously—almost guiltily.
He was desperate. Now, locking his eyes on the vial of Amortentia in his hand—he began to wonder.
Am I desperate enough?
“Severus, could I have a word with you?” Dumbledore said wistfully, emerging fully from the shadows to reveal his billowing robes, accented by his long white beard and half-moon spectacles.
“Of cour…course, Headmaster,” Snape stammered, half annoyed by the interruption and half fearful of his superior’s forthcoming reaction. Snape walked over to Dumbledore’s side of the dungeon, just out of earshot of a relieved Hermione and a fallen Draco.
“Severus, would you be so kind as to explain what exactly you are planning to gain by this course of action?” Dumbledore probed.
“I am just following orders, Headmaster,” Snape responded.
“Severus,” Dumbledore began, carrying an undertone of disappointment in his voice, “I am afraid this is not what I meant, when I came to you for help. Do you understand the severity of the situation at hand?”
“I don’t think you do. We are dealing with a sacred prophecy and you are too engrossed in procuring revenge on their momentary insolence that you too have been blinded,” Dumbledore said calmly.
“Headmaster…” Snape began, but was quickly silenced.
“These two students are neither aware of the prophecy nor do I want them to be aware of it. They have been affected by some extremely powerful magic. I do not need them to worry about the ulterior motives of a professor they are supposed to be able to trust. You will grade their potion without further testing. Are we clear…” Dumbledore said.
But before he could finish, Dumbledore’s intervention was interrupted by a cry of confused panic. Draco had stood up and was frantically looking around the dungeon. He was running in place, turning around and around. Laying eyes on the student next to him, he ran up to Hermione, a grin making its way onto his face.
Draco grabbed Hermione’s shoulders.
“Hermione! Ask me… ask me what color your shirt is?!? God damn it, ASK ME!”
In a half confused, half panicked voice, she obliged to Draco’s request, “What color is my shirt, Malfoy? Not that you will be able to…”
“It is blue with a white lacy trim on the edges of the sleeves,” Draco exclaimed proudly.
Hermione was so shocked at Draco’s correct response; she did not know what to say. There was no possible way he could have known what she was wearing. Besides the fact that he was blind, he had never really seen her wearing normal, muggle clothing before. In his presence, she usually sported her black Hogwarts robes, with the red and gold Gryffindor logo. For Snape’s detention tonight, she had unusually opted for something more comfortable. Lazily, she had put on a muggle outfit, replacing her black robes with a pair of denim jeans and the lacy blue top, Draco had just described to her.
“How—Draco, how did you know?” Hermione stammered.
“Hermione, I can see. My vision is not as clear as before, but I can see you! I—I think it was the potion. I had already drunk my potion before Dumbledore had instructed us not to.”
“That’s impossible… you can’t just be cured like that,” Hermione said, doing little to hide her skepticism.
“Fine, ask me something else!” Draco prompted.
At this point, Dumbledore and Snape had made their way over to the pair, curious as to what had made Draco scream with such utter panic and joy.
“Alright, Mr. Malfoy,” Dumbledore began intrigued by the young man’s challenge, “Please describe the vial, which contains Ms. Granger’s serving of Shrouding Solution?”
“The one sitting on the desk, directly in front of her?” Draco clarified.
“That is the one…” Dumbledore said, a little more excitedly.
“It is silver, but it has lost its shine. It looks rather antique, definitely not something you could find in Diagon alley nowadays. It is too outdated,” Draco recited, accurately.
“Headmaster, how—I mean how is this possible?” Snape reacted in disbelief.
“Interesting, Draco. It seems that the rebound of fate may have worn off or fallen into a type of remission…” Dumbledore said a little disappointed; he had hoped Hermione and Draco would be the ones.
After Draco’s miraculous recovery, Hermione had let her skepticism get the better of her. Instead of rejoicing with her companion, she decided to perform a little test, while a seemingly cured Draco distracted Dumbledore and Snape. Hermione had inched slowly away from the three men standing before her, purposefully breaching her seven feet limit. Standing towards the back of the dungeon, Hermione called to Dumbledore.
“He may be able to see, but I still cannot go beyond seven feet without losing my sight. So, either his sight is a further development in this whole rebound of fate situation or his sight is only temporary,” Hermione analyzed.
“Professor, I can see—well not clearly, but I can see,” Draco told the Headmaster eagerly. “Please tell me that this is a permanent thing. I don’t think I can go on living without my sight,” Draco said honestly, almost pleading with Dumbledore.
“Draco, we cannot be sure that you have permanently regained your sight,” Dumbledore replied, instantly depleting Draco’s high hopes.
“I don’t know how to explain it to you, but I can see. I mean—I drank some of the potion—and then my vision, it just cleared up. It was like this curtain had been lifted revealing an audience that was Hermione. I could see her, so incredibly clearly—and then you,” Draco rambled.
“Wait—you did drink some of the potion then,” Snape said sinisterly. “Professor, this isn’t permanent. It is a diluted effect of the Shrouding Solution.”
“I see…” Dumbledore said pensively, now eyeing Draco’s smashed but empty vial on the floor behind Draco’s feet.
“NOOO! I can see; I swear I can—I have to be able to see,” Draco howled. The blond was so distraught by the prospect of losing his sight yet again that he just broke down. What emotion he had attempted to contain these past few weeks, flooded from the depths of his chest. In front of everyone, he bent down on his knees and collapsed on the frigid dungeon floor, letting his frustration fall relentlessly from his eyes.
Hermione leaned down next to Draco; and, as if obeying an unexpected instinct, wrapped Draco in a tight embrace. What she did not expect was for Draco to return the gesture. Finding comfort in Hermione’s reassuring hug, Draco collapsed in her arms for the second time in his life. The pair stayed there on the dungeon floor, under the watchful eyes of both Dumbledore and Snape, both of whom were absolutely taken aback by the display of emotion and affection between Draco and Hermione. Minutes rolled by, before Draco regained his composure.
“How long do I have before my sight wears off again?” Draco asked, directing his question more towards Snape.
“Because the potion was not brewed to its fullest capacity, probably only a couple of hours,” Snape responded curtly.
“May we leave?” Draco asked Dumbledore.
“Yes, Draco—you may.”
Without further discussion, Draco took Hermione by the hand and led her determinedly from the dungeon.
A familiar silence accompanied Draco and Hermione, as the pair made their way into their common room. Hermione did not know what to say to comfort Draco—she knew how hard it was for him, but she also knew that words were of no comfort to him right now. So, she obeyed the silence between them, waiting for Draco to make the first sound.
And he did.
“I’m sorry—“ Draco began, standing in front of the fireplace. He was oddly handsome, standing before the faint light of the flames. Half in shadow, his face embraced a sadness Hermione had never seen before. His blond hair had fallen slightly out place, giving Draco a slightly disheveled air. But he wore it well—and she noticed.
“Why are you sorry?” Hermione asked sincerely.
“I did not mean to break down back there—it was inappropriate and if I made you uncomfortable in any…” Draco answered.
“You didn’t,” Hermione replied. “In all honestly, I knew it was bound to happen eventually. I mean you can’t blind yourself and then be forced to live with a complete stranger and not have a meltdown eventually.”
“I am a Malfoy. We are strong—meltdowns are not acceptable. Therefore, I am sorry.”
“Why do close yourself off—you sound like a geometrical proof. Let A be this, then B is this by this ridiculously stupid theorem, and therefore we can conclude that C is this.”
“Geometrical proof?” Draco questioned.
“Right, sorry. No muggle speak!” Hermione apologized. “But seriously, Draco. It is okay to be vulnerable—I mean I won’t tell anyone if that is what you are worried about.”
“I am not worried about—ahh, just forget it,” Draco said, defeated.
“No, Draco, I won’t forget about it—you are a human first, Malfoy second. You can’t deprive yourself of your humanity,” Hermione argued.
Silence. Believing the conversation to be over, Hermione turned to leave, knowing that for the night at least, Draco would be able to find his own way up to the dormitory. She, of course, had memorized the layout of the dormitory; and, even though she hated having her sight taken away from her, she could manage without her sight for a little while—if that meant giving Draco some much needed space.
“Do you know how beautiful you are?” Draco asked, as she began to climb the first step.
Hermione stopped dead in her tracks, baffled by Draco’s comment. She did not know how to respond. She did not know if he was kidding; and, she did not dare ask for any kind of clarification. She just stood at the bottom of the stairs, staring at the handsome man standing before her.
“Do you know how beautiful you are?” he repeated.
“No, beautiful is not usually a word used to describe a mudblood like me,” Hermione said, choosing her words carefully. She had turned away from Draco’s gaze, almost in shame.
A sudden grasp on her shoulder, startled her but at the same time sent a wave of comfort down her spine. Draco’s grasp on her shoulder was firm and purposeful; and, in that moment, all she knew was that no one’s touch had ever done as much to her as his had just then.
“Well, you are,” Draco said, before ascending the stairs ahead of Hermione, leaving her in an uncertain daze.
Dearest readers and reviewers,
So, this chapter marks a pretty momentous point in my story and I thought I would take the time to thank you personally. I cannot say it enough… all of you have made writing this story an absolute pleasure. And, even though I have taken forever to update, you have been patient with me and I thank you. Thanks for catching my mistakes as well! I really do thrive off your feedback and I cannot wait to hear what all of you have to say about where my story is heading.
Thanks for the reviews and reads and I hope you enjoyed this latest addition to Blinded.
Yours always, foreverfleur
P.S. Here is a shout out to my wonderful editor-in-chief Melissa, who has worked tirelessly along side of me from the very beginning to make this story the best it can possibly be.