Chapter 10 : Hermione's Discovery
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"Mrs. Ganley, we know this is a matter of record but it's important; we need to know for sure. Was Sephany Dell really the daughter of Mrs. Alice Dell?"
There was a long pause. Mrs. Ganley was small - and she felt even smaller in the presence of these great wizards gathered in her little parlour. The old lady sighed. "She was definitely Alice's baby. I delivered her myself. The identity of her mother is beyond doubt." There was a strange slight emphasis on the word 'mother'.
Dumbledore looked quizzically at Mrs. Ganley. "My dear Mrs. Ganley ... Gladys. Do you... do you know who the father was?"
Mrs. Ganley looked up from her chair at the group of people. She opened her mouth a couple of times as if to speak but failed. Finally she whispered, "There was no father. Alice was a maiden."
Gasps went up from the group. "You are certain?" asked Dumbeldore.
Mrs. Ganley smiled at him, a smile of relief as if a great burden of self-enforced secrecy has been cast aside. "Absolutely." she nodded.
"Do we now believe in angelic intervention?" queried Mad-eye Moody as they walked back down the lane in the opposite direction from Wollesby's high street.
"We have always thought of her as other-worldly." replied Dumbledore.
"Yes, but that is just her style." retorted McGonagall. "She always seemed kind of light and airy, even at school."
"Ethereal?" suggested the headmaster. He paused. "There is always so much we do not know, Minerva."
"One thing we do know for sure." responded McGonagall primly, as if awarding house points, "Miss Dell's intentions are good. They are very good indeed."
"This is secluded enough." said Moody as they disapparated.
Following his experience of watching Sephany Dell tormented by Bellatrix Lestrange, Harry's dreams began to occur more frequently. They were still very vague, with no form but only darkness and fear. Ron spoke to Hermione again one mid-week morning after a rather difficult night of Harry's groaning in his sleep.
"I'm sorry. I didn't completely forget but with all the activity of extra studies and until recently Harry has not been so bad since returning to school, I ... have tended to put it off. It's terrible of me..." Hermione looked very guilty as she realized.
"Don't worry Hermione. Anyway, Harry and I could have looked for some information about dream control but we did nothing either. If you like I'll..."
Hermione interrupted Ron, "Leave it to me for now. I have a library session planned for this evening. I'll get the 'Unusual Potions' collected works I mentioned when we were at your home. It has a huge selection. I think its pages must be magically enhanced. They are not numbered. If you start near the middle and work forwards you never seem to get to the end; never really get past the middle actually no matter how many pages you read.
That evening, Hermione made her way into the school library and soon found the old tome. But it was two weeks later before she found anything at all. As she scoured the book, a single syllable 'reve' on a skipped page caught her eye in passing. Fate took an unnecessarily painful side path in that moment but this was unknown to Hermione who simply sighed as she realized the section was written entirely in french. Her knowledge of that language was rather limited but she felt she had to investigate anything to do with dreams so she thumbed back to the page.
Glancing around the library she slipped out her wand and performed a simple translation spell. She began to read. Hermione was very disappointed to see the recipe was headed 'An Uncovering Potion.' It had nothing to do with dreams but as she browsed, it began to interest her nonetheless. It claimed to reveal the unseen, to uncloud the confused; to show where the invisible was hidden. It was clearly much more powerful than the Recognosco charm that Professor Flitwick had taught them. Hermione could hardly resist. She felt it would not help Harry directly but perhaps it could reveal another potion or a spell to help him. Some magic, such as the Room of Requirement, moulds itself to the needs of the user. This might save her a lot of time.
Several days passed in preparing the mix during which she kept her activity to herself. It was not a great secret but she was used to Ron and Harry being uninterested in her extra studies unless something useful was produced like a quill that would do your class work for you. Besides, she was rather embarrassed that she had made several attempts to produce the complex liquid before she was finally satisfied. She completed her notes with special attention to the wrong variations, laid down her quill, and gazed at the silent, swirling, green fluid.
She pondered how to use the potion effectively and how long its effect might last. There was no information other than to imbibe approximately one third of a goblet. But that was all she had made so she was reluctant to waste it. She decided to drink it in the relatively safe environment of the Gryffindor common room where there were friends to help if there was some unwanted side-effect. She often drank a little water while reading so nobody would take any notice. If all seemed well she would make her way to the library and see if anything was revealed to her.
Hermione was relieved to find the uncovering potion was not unpleasant to taste and she awaited its results with curiosity. No one noticed she had stopped reading and writing but seemed focused as if listening and waiting for something to happen. After a few minutes though, she was disappointed to be unable to detect any change, no heightened perception or increase in any of the senses. No lost coins jumped out from behind a chair. Perhaps there was nothing here to be revealed. Yes, of course that was it.
Hermione stood up and looked around ready to make her excuses to visit the library. Ron and Harry were absorbed in a game of chess. Seamus was dozing with a copy of the Prophet on his lap. David was reading a letter at a side table. He smiled at the letter as if receiving good news. Neville was just Neville. She carefully added to her notes what she could see and that no special effect was discernible after eight minutes twenty seconds.
As she walked hurriedly to the library she could not help but wonder what David's letter had said. It was always nice to share good news and David was a pleasant sort of... Hermione's train of thought cut short. Why did she think him pleasant? She hardly spoke to him. She could not even remember speaking to him at all. Ever. "This is nonsense," she thought to herself, "of course we have chatted many times over the last few years." Her pace slowed to a crawl while her mind raced furiously trying to recall anything about him at all, good or bad. As she passed the house points records book she paused then searched it back to her first year and worked forward. He had never lost a single house point! Nor had he ever gained a point! He simply wasn't in there at all. Had he even been here when she, Ron, and Harry first came to Hogwarts? Possibly he had joined later. Not all students began at aged 11. There may have been another new boy when those Slytherins and Laura Worthing came to Hogwarts at the last sorting.
David didn't frequent the library nor could she remember seeing him in the Three broomsticks or anywhere in Hogsmeade. She knew he was not on the quidditch team - never had been. He was not in or on anything! Poor David! He must be so completely introverted he never joined in anything. Somewhat guiltily she realized that he had no friends at all. He was practically invisible!
Hermione stopped her slow walk abruptly as if she had walked into a wall. Seeing the strange look she was getting from a passing third year boy she resumed her walk. David really was utterly boring and unnoticeable! Only the uncovering potion had made her realize he was even there. "Wonderful!" she thought as she added the positive result to her notes but then stuffed them away with her lips set in a serious grim line. "Learning is one thing but this is a real person who needs help." She felt she must get the boys to include him more in their conversations; help him to join in; encourage him to participate.
She forgot about her destination and Harry's dreams. Retracing her steps to the common room she became more aware of the oddity of David's exclusion. It was not only her but everyone else that ignored David. She began to recall things. The teachers never asked him a question; never 'volunteered' him for anything; never sent him on an errand. They marked his tests and handed out the results without a thought. The situation went beyond the bounds of reasonable credulity. Hermione felt excited by the whole thing. "That must be it. What lies beyond reasonable credulity? - Magic!" she thought, again slowing to such a pace that she was attracting stares from passers-by, "He must be cursed. Could it be a cruel spell cast on him? Or a doting, protective parent perhaps trying to shield him?"
The potion seemed to be uncovering more and more. She recalled memories filed away, unused, never noticed. She actually had seen him, had observed him, even stored away memories, but for some reason had never took any notice and never recalled any of those memories. She now was aware that he did join Hogwarts this year. She remembered him striding up confidently to the sorting hat... But nobody applauded. Nobody seemed to take much notice when the hat declared "Gryffindor!" and David took his seat at their table. He did not show any signs of shyness then. "or ever." the thought added itself.
And in the first few days of the school year she remembered he helped a tearful little Hufflepuff girl who had become lost in the many halls and changing stairs. He'd comforted her with a gentle smile and what she now realized was an unspoken charm. And he'd given her something. It was a little map. She could see it now vividly. It was enchanted to show the bearer not only exactly where they were in Hogwarts but where they were going to. It even had her name on it! Yes, it was Lindsey Croft. How had David known? Hermione was impressed with that and with the kindness shown but at the time she have never paid any attention. Had she actually really taken it into her thoughts at all? And how had he known to give the girl the map? Did he walk around with maps and compasses and watches and recipes, all with everybody's name on them and all ready to give to those that needed them?
"Harry ... Ron." she said quietly, "What do you know about David?" Hermione was back in the Gryffindor common room.
"Who?" muttered Harry, as he held his squirming queen on a potential square, trying to gauge some positive or negative reaction from Ron.
"David Grey. Don't you think it strange we don't even know him? I..."
"Of course we do, " interrupted Ron, stoically showing no response to Harry's ploy, "... is that your move then?"
"Tell me one single thing about him." challenged Hermione.
"About who?" muttered Harry, weakly pulling back his queen while Ron made a slight, told-you-so, smirk.
"About David Grey. What if he's a spy for ... You-know-who?"
"What are you talking about, Hermione?" queried Harry, leaving his queen in the vain hope that this new conversation might be important enough not to continue his hopeless position on the chess board.
"I'm sure he is under some sort of unseeable spell..."
"Why? Everyone knows David, he's over there look." said Harry, "More likely you have drunk a not-see-what-everyone-else-can-see potion" he grinned at Ron, really hoping to get him to forget the game. An abandoned game is not a lost game.
Hermione wondered how she could get them interested in someone who was made totally uninteresting and unnoticeable by magical means. She thought long and hard and after a few minutes she realized it was understandable and there was no real need to be concerned anyway. She ought to be studying dreams. She relaxed and turned away to fill her goblet with water from the jug. The goblet reminded her of something. "Yes, yes, potion ... it was David. Enchanted somehow. Use potion to see him ... but wait, I must see if I can use the potion to help with Harry's dreams..."
The effects of the uncovering potion faded sporadically over the next few minutes. One moment she had a vivid perception of David Grey; the next she was wondering what she was about to do. She started to swing back and forth from disinterest to panic as she realized her mind was wandering. "The effect of the potion must be wearing off." Then, "So what?" She felt it was nothing very important but being methodical she knew she should write it down. Using all her powers of concentration in an upswing of awareness she wrote firmly on a single sheet of parchment:
"Someone under some kind of 'unnoticeable' charm?
I think I know who but name doesn't matter I guess.
Furtive for a reason?
Only uncovering potion makes noticeable."
"Do I really need to keep this?" she thought.
As a sudden dramatic move of finality from Ron at the chess board caught her attention, the parchment slipped casually from her fingers into the drawer she called her "maybe someday" drawer. Perhaps she closed the drawer. It was not important.
The next morning Hermione was standing on the stairs up to the boys' dormitory wondering when Ron would join them from his lie in. Disappointed in her failure to find anything so far, she wanted his help in her library search and didn't want to involve Harry.
Fred and George decided to speed things up. Looking at one another, with one thought they rose to their feet. Fred tipped out a little powder onto his upturned palm from what looked like a pepper pot and advanced towards the stairs. The mischievous look in their eyes alerted Hermione.
"No way!" she said in a loud whisper.
"What are you whispering for, Hermione?" joked George very loudly. "Afraid of waking someone up?"
"Thou shalt not pass!" she commanded with a laugh, folding her arms and blocking the stairs as the twins ascended.
Fred looked at George. George looked at Fred. Both nodded. Turning to Hermione and ascending one more step, Fred held out his palm horizontally and pursed his lips. Hermione's eyes opened wide in realization. On impulse she leaned forward to blow first but was too slow. Fred was quicker. And Hermione was very, very close. She took the full quantity in one big gasp of surprise.
The dust had an immediate effect. Hermione was no slouch but now she jerked bolt upright with a startled look. The twins grinned. "That should keep you alert through Binns' history" laughed George. "For the rest of history I shouldn't wonder!" the twins added in harmony.
Hermione ran down past them and over to the little table she used as a desk in the common room. She pulled open her maybe drawer. A powerful feeling of something immensely important, something lost, gripped her. Tearfully she ransacked the drawer. Failing to find anything she started to scrabble frantically turning over the contents. Finally she pulled the drawer out fully from the table and flung it to the floor with a crash. Everyone in the room stared. Ron came bounding down the stairs with his wand raised.
"It works!" shouted the twins exultantly.
Confused, Hermione crouched and clawed at notes, cards, and booklets becoming more and more emotional. "Help me." she sobbed.
"Hermione, what are you looking for?" asked Harry, looking over at Ron, sensing the seriousness of Hermione's distress.
"I'm not sure..." Hermione replied to the room. There was something so very important just out of reach of her mind that she could not recall.
Ron stared back at Harry then at his brothers. "Fred! What did you do?" he shouted angrily.
"Just a slight variant of standard wake up dust, I swear!" answered Fred.
"Standard in normal doses. "muttered George under his breath, eyeing Fred.
Nobody noticed the concerned look on the face of David Grey nor the slight movement of his wand arm and the soothing breeze that wafted towards Hermione. He took a piece of folded parchment out of his pocket, read it sadly one more time, then disposed of it with a silent spell.
Hermione let out a sigh. "Sorry, I was panicking over nothing. I don't know what came over me."
"Must have been that fifteenth divinations question from last year's test - the one you thought you'd answered wrongly but hadn't." grinned Ron, "Enough to make anyone go crazy worrying about mistakes like that." His eyes rolled upwards as he looked at Harry.
With a more serious attitude, Ron strode over to Fred and George and began quarreling with them about trying out their mixtures on Hermione.
"Shouldn't you get dressed Ron?" asked George with a twinkle in his eye.
Ron looked down at his pyjamas, his eyes widened and he ran back upstairs.
Harry looked thoughtfully across at Hermione but said nothing. What had she been asking him yesterday? "Probably not important." he thought to himself.
As ever, your comments and reviews are welcome even if you don't like the story I'd like to learn from your feedback. Thanks. :)
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