Chapter 1 : Down the Rabbit hole
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Chapter image by (sol) @ TDA
Dawn was breaking, and as Hermione Granger slipped silently out of her velvet curtained, for poster bed, a timid shiver ripped through her delicate body. The sky outside was littered with wisps of red and grey, the March morning peeking its face through the remnants of the night, the darkness subsiding somewhat reluctantly. With a glance to her watch as she tugged of her pyjama pants, she confirmed that not even Filch would be awake and roaming the castle at this hour of the morning. As quietly as possible, the wild haired brunette slipped out of her night clothes, swapping them for her slightly worn Gryffindor school uniform. And then, with a fleeting look to the sleeping faces of her dorm mates, she crept from the dormitory, careful not to slam the door as she exited. The last thing she needed was for one of the girls to awaken to her slipping out so early. She’d had enough of rumours to last her the rest of her life.
No one awake meant that the petite girl could find some much desired solitude to do some studying. Her book bag knocking against her legs as she traipsed down the stairs, the most direct route to the entrance hall. Not her Destination of course, but the pathway. As she walked, she ignored the annoyed mutterings of disturbed portraits, merely waving her hand towards them as she passed to show them her disinterest. As she neared the final flight of stairs before her stop, she tugged her cloak closer around her small frame, bracing herself for the cold that was somewhat imminent. As she descended into the cavernous room, her shoes clacked against the stone, and she hurried across to the door, one hand flat on the wood as she pushed it open, and the creak alone was enough to make her jump. Stepping into the icy air, she tugged the heavy door closed behind her, and taking a deep breath of the frosty air, she hurried down the stone steps, not taking a minute to appreciate the sanctity she’d just been enveloped in.
The hems of her robes were damp as she finally found her tree. The old Willow bent with age against hundreds of year’s worth of harsh winds, its dead limbs stretching to the sky. Satisfied, she settled herself down on an old stone and raised her knees to her chest, on top of which she placed her worn book bag. Opening the flap and flipping it over, she withdrew her history of magic textbook, and preceding it, a well used spiral notebook. Opening the musty old textbook, Hermione revelled in the scent. A sly smile crept onto her face as she began to read, the words spilling from like page like water from a fountain, and Hermione drank in every last one. Her eyes skimming the pages as if she would be going blind the proceeding day. It wasn’t long before she reached absently into her bag and pulled out a crushed quill. She began scratching at the pages, hundreds of year’s worth of knowledge transcribed into perfectly worded sentences, paragraphs and soon, pages worth of study notes. The girl was home within the words of the book, absent from the rest of the world as it began to awaken around her. In the distance, the whomping willow stretched out its branches, birds that had been nesting within their confines took to the sky in a flurry of panic. She would have found amusement in this sight if it were not for the fact that she was being watched.
Even as her hand moved like lightening over the page, it failed to escape her attention that she had an audience. A small audience, but an audience none-the-less. Sitting not three feet from her, sat a perfectly white rabbit. Her eyes flickered up from the page, casting the creature a small smile, the thought not crossing her mind that she had never in fact seen a rabbit on Hogwarts grounds. Instead, she leaned forwards, tilting her head to the side and resting her elbows on her knees. “Hello there,” she grinned, her voice still slack from the sleep she had awaken from not half an hour ago. Looking over towards the forbidden forest, Hermione frowned. “What are you doing out here then? Are you lost?” She hesitated as the creature moved closer, and she held out her hand. “Don’t worry, I’m not going to hurt you,” She inched herself closer, hand outstretched for it to sniff, making up its own mind whether or not she was a thread or not.
Almost as if on cue, the rabbit stopped, wrinkled its nose, and then sat back on its haunches. The brunette’s eyes widened as she watched it, tilting her head at the sight of a rabbit sitting up like a human would at the dinner table. “Aren’t you clever?” she cooed, holding out her hand again. “I didn’t bring any food down with me,” he frowned. “Sorry little guy. Or else I might have gotten you some toast,”
“I am NOT a beggar,” The Rabbit’s mouth moved, and words seemed to fall out in synchronisation with the movement, but Hermione jolted back.
“P-Pardon?” She asked, turning her head to make sure that no one was around to bear witness to her conversation with a rabbit. The white Rabbit’s eyes rolled in its head, and it thumped its foot thrice on the ground before continuing to speak as if there was nothing unusual about the circumstances at all.
“I said, I am NOT a beggar. If I need food, I would simply get it myself. Now if you DON’T mind, I’m very late, and you’re in my way,” With that, Hermione scrambled upright, looking in awe as the rabbit hopped right on past her and disappeared behind the tree. “Twas nice meeting you,” the rabbit called out as it disappeared.
“No!” Hermione called out as she clambered forwards, pushing herself away from the tree. “Wait! What are you late for?!” What could possibly be some important that a rabbit must rush off in a hurry. Was he late for dinner with a badger perhaps? Or maybe he needed to get to Hagrid’s cabbages before they were treated for insects and the like. “What are you?!” She called out as she tried to follow him around the trunk of the tree. Somewhere to her left, a voice answered.
“I am a rabbit,” The voice called out as if from the end on a tunnel. Emerging on the other side of the tree, Hermione raised a hand to her chest, eyes wide as she searched for the rabbit. “What in the world?” she asked herself. Although it had seemed quite realistic, she couldn’t shake the feeling that perhaps this was just a dumb trick. Perhaps some rare type of rabbit had escaped from the care of magical creatures department, or there was a student hidden somewhere around here, giggling ferociously. But after standing there for a good five minutes, she decided that it was probably best to forget that this ever happened. After all, she didn’t want to give the two boys an excuse to convince her that she was going insane.
As she stepped away from the tree, the lose dirt around her feet shifted, and she felt her feet sliding almost uncontrollably. With arms outstretched, she reached for the tree, her palms flat against it as she laughed. Here she was thinking she had stepped on a snake or something, but it was just a rabbit hole. Brushing her hair from her forehead, she rolled her eyes before pushing herself away. “Silly,” she muttered to herself. “It’s just a rabbit hole. Getting yourself worked up over nothing Grang-” but then she stopped, and turned back around. “A rabbit hole!” she exclaimed, before casting a nervous looking around her again. “Of course,” her voice dropped back to a whisper as she bent down low to examine the hole, barely big enough to squeeze in a first year.
“Hello?” she called into the tunnel. “Hello? Is anyone down there?” What a stupid question, she thought to herself. Who on earth would be hanging out in a rabbit’s hole? But never-the-less, she stooped down low, examining the blackness with wary eyes. From inside the tunnel, a cold wind caressed her face, and she was positive there was something, or someone talking down there. Shifting a little closer, she pulled out her wand, igniting it, then shining the light inside. When she was certain nothing was going to grab her and pull her into the abyss, she began to inch further and further inside, having to wriggle to get her frame through the opening. Once she had immersed herself inside, she found that it was easier to move forwards. It was quite large inside, the roof not high enough for her to stand, but certainly to crawl. And her arms merely caressed the wall as she moved past it. Her light bobbed up and down as she moved, shuffling forwards into the unknown. “Mr Rabbit!” she cried out, hearing nothing but her own echo reach her ears. “Are you in there?”
Many minutes passed, or perhaps they were hours, when finally, Hermione stopped. It was dark in here, and her stomach released an audible grumble. Perhaps she would turn back, leave this adventure to another day. It was then that she heard it, a voice. It was a deep voice, winding through the cavern and back to her ears. “Hello?” She called out. “Is that you Mr. Rabbit?”
Suddenly, she felt the earth disappear from under her as she began to fall. The cold air embraced her as she screamed, her yells lost in the dark. Her wand slipped from her hand as she plummeted to the ground. The roaring of the wind strangled her ears as she fell, her skirt billowing and her robes flying up into her face. Her wand was gone, so there was no way that she could make her fall any less painful. She scrunched her face, thinking of anything that she could do. Reaching out her arms to feel the side of the pit, she felt nothing but air. She’d lost the voice when she fell, and now, there was no going back.
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