Chapter 9 : Flowing Gems of Purity
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The day started out blissfully quiet in the sixth year girls dormitory. For once, Hermione was free of the incessant chatter that spewed like an endless stream from the mouths of the other girls. Refreshed by this, Hermione went about with her usual morning routine, went for a quick jog, and returned to shower. Once these morning rituals were over, she noticed it was time for lunch already, and made her way down to the Great Hall. Upon entering she couldn’t help but notice the remarkably few number of students present for the holidays at Hogwarts this year. It seemed that Professor Dumbledore was of the same opinion, and had decided to move all the house and staff tables, choosing instead to have one single table for all the students and teachers to share. It was strange to see the Great Hall so empty with nothing more than one large table and a Christmas tree in it. Hermione made her way over to the table slowly, noticing that it was already occupied by several students and teachers.
“Ah Hermione! Do come join us for lunch my dear” Professor Dumbledore exclaimed in a jovial manner.
“Thank you Headmaster” She replied nodding slightly at him.
As she went to take a seat, she noticed that there was a rather large gap between the students and Professor Snape, while there was no such distance between any of the other teachers and students. Hermione decided that instead of squeezing between the other younger students or teachers, she could just as easily sit near the Potions Master.
As she sat down, she received startled looks and curious glances from both the staff and students. The only people who did not seem surprised by her choice of seating were the Headmaster, and Professor Snape himself. Nevertheless lunch was a quiet affair. Most of the students remaining this year were in fourth year or below, with a few fifth, sixth and seventh years scattered in between. The students all seemed too nervous to talk as they normally would, likely a result of their close proximity to the professors. Granted, their strange silence could also be attributed to the harsh glares they were periodically receiving from Professor Snape. Hermione however, was not fazed by sitting so near the staff, nor was she discomforted by her close proximity to the fearsome Potions Master, in fact, she was quite pleased with the sudden and rare quiet that encompassed the Great Hall.
The meal passed in blissful silence, and the students scurried off as soon as was acceptable. Hermione found this amusing, and thought reminiscently back to those blissful years when she too had naïvely idolized, worshipped and even feared her beloved professors. Perhaps it was the odd feeling of being alone on Christmas that caused all of her recent nostalgia. It seemed as though the world had changed so drastically during those months she was gone, when in reality the world at large had not been altered at all, no, the change she felt came from within. It was as though they had killed the joyful, carefree spirit she once had, leaving behind an empty shell, one with no other goal than pure, sweet revenge.
Hermione spent the afternoon wandering along the hallways in a somewhat dazed manner. She was caught in a sudden bout of nostalgia and found herself reminiscing about all the relatively carefree times she had spent in the school, trying desperately not to let her thoughts drift to the darker recesses of her mind. She wandered aimlessly, letting her feet guide her, only to be found some time later in strange hallway deep in the depths of the school dungeons. Not entirely sure how she had gotten there, she decided to explore.
The corridor seemed long deserted, like no one had ventured there in years. It was dark like many of the underground tunnels of the school, but had an eerie glow that seemed to emanate from the walls. Said walls were jagged and well worn, yet the stones below her feet were smooth, evenly cut, and polished like marble. The effect was interesting, like a cross between old and new.
There were no portraits adorning these halls, and upon looking up, she noticed strange patterns on the ceiling. There were intricate designs that vaguely resembled Celtic Knots. In fact, upon closer inspection she noticed that the walls did not exactly glow per say, but had tiny well-like holes that were filled with some kind of glowing, blue substance, enough to light the way in an eerie glow.
Intrigued, Hermione continued down the hallway which seemed to beckon her. The corridor seemed to stretch endlessly, and the patterns from the ceiling bled over down the walls the farther she walked along the hall. Hermione lightly trailed her finger tips along the wall, tracing the designs with her fingers as she walked. What she failed to notice however, was that for every line she touched, it would flare a brilliant emerald green, glowing much like the blue substance in the walls.
A little way down, Hermione stopped abruptly at the sight of a massive arch. It was here that she noticed the green glowing, as the colour seeped in, filling the carvings and wound its’ way around the archway. Hermione stepped back in shock. The glowing faded when it completed its’ course around the arch, only to flash silver. Then, like an overflowing river, molten silver poured from the carvings, coating the wall under the arch in shimmering silver fluid.
As if in a trance, Hermione reached her hand out towards the shimmering wall. The instant her fingers touched the silver she pulled back, her fingertips coated in thick silver fluid, not unlike Unicorn blood. Though it looked like molten silver, in reality it was not hot at all, on the contrary, it was actually rather cool. She passed her hand along the wall again, relishing in the feel of the smooth silver liquid. It was refreshing, much like a cool spray of water on a hot summers’ day. Drawn to the arch, Hermione stepped closer, reaching out to the wall which called to her longingly. This time, when her fingers touched the liquid, they passed through, as though the fluid had opened a passageway and was a waterfall of liquid silver. She hesitantly passed her arm through the sheet of silver, and taking a deep breath, she closed her eyes, plunging through it.
She stepped through, and opened her eyes, only to find herself in a large, circular, elaborate looking room. The room was large, with a massive dome ceiling, and floors of brilliant white marble with emerald green and sapphire blue swirls embedded in it. There were majestic columns entwined with lush green ivy lining the room.
Hermione turned behind her, and saw that the passageway looked the same as it did from the other side. Satisfied that she could still get out, Hermione started walking along the perimeter of the room. In one corner there was a long mirror which caught her eye. It was not the mirror itself that caught her attention, it was the reflection that met her eyes. There she stood, her reflection was the same as it had always been, except she noticed that her hair was now coated in the thick silver at the ends. The droplets slid slowly down her shoulders, shimmering softly before disappearing. It cast a glow around her, giving her an ethereal sense, purifying her in a way she had not been for many months.
Tearing her glance away from the mirror, Hermione continued her explorations. There was not much in the room, but the designs from outside adorned these walls as well, leading her to believe there could be more rooms and doors hidden amongst the carvings. Hermione was so entranced with her new discovery, she hardly noticed how much time had passed, only the sudden pang from her stomach, reminded her that perhaps she ought to leave her explorations to another day.
Sighing, she stepped back through the archway, retreating back along the way she came. The doorway disappeared after she walked away, the silver turning back into green and retracting as though it were following her. Upon reaching the beginning of the hallway, Hermione turned and looked back at the hall. Now looking back, it only had a faint blue glow to it, as though someone had lit their wand with a lumos at the end of the corridor. Turning once again, Hermione retraced her steps through the dungeons back to the main part of the castle, deep in thought.
So engrossed was she in her thoughts, she hardly noticed the looming figure of the Potions Master who was approaching her.
“Miss Granger” Came the sharp voice of her Professor.
“Hmm? What…Oh, good evening professor, how can I help you” Hermione replied calmly.
He merely quirked an eyebrow at her, before enquiring accusingly where she had been at dinner.
“Is dinner over already? I’m afraid I lost track of time sir” She replied coolly.
“Indeed. Do you have any idea what time it is Miss Granger?” He asked arrogantly.
“Seven, sir?” Hermione wagered casually.
“Hardly. It might interest you to know that it is currently 12:30, over 2 hours passed your curfew” He sneered.
“I beg your pardon Sir?” Hermione asked shocked at the time.
“20 points from Gryffindor. Get to your dormitory now before I remove any more” he barked.
“Yes sir” she replied demurely, still surprised that so much time had passed without her noticing.
Had she been that preoccupied, that she failed to notice ten hours pass her by?! That corridor had entranced her so much that the time literally flown by, yet she wasn’t tired in the least. On the contrary, she felt energetic, and oddly enough, peaceful for the first time in months.
Thoroughly astonished by the events of the day, Hermione returned to her Tower following the same route she had for the past 5 years. Upon reaching her room, she got ready for bed, and laid in her bed feeling strangely relaxed. Not five minutes after she lay down, her eyes drifted closed, and she slipped away into a deep, peaceful, and blissfully dreamless sleep.
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