Chapter 2 : Friend and Protector
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Clio had sent her books and clothes in a trunk ahead of her, and arrived at Hogwarts with only her wand, broom, dog, canvas messenger bag (packed with dog biscuits and a few other essentials), and the clothes on her back. Like many Americans of her generation, she preferred modern clothing to traditional wizards' robes.
When required to dress "wizard" she generally favored the style dubbed "Jedi Wear" in an ironic reference to Star Wars. The day was sunny and warm, and she'd stowed her outer robe in her bag. Now she was dressed in a sleeveless tunic, loose pants, and knee-high, soft-soled boots that hardly made a sound as she walked along the road from Hogsmeade. Her wand rode in a wide rune-marked belt on her hip. Her shoulders and arms were brown from the Mediterranean sun, and strong from the sea.
"Nox, let's go," she said. The dog, a small jet black mongrel that most closely resembled a whippet, abandoned the bush she'd been intensely sniffing and jogged to catch up.
When she'd arrived before for her interview she'd been escorted through the gates and up to the castle by Hagrid the groundskeeper, a giant bear of a man who she thought (despite his jolly demeanor) would make anyone think twice about attempting any kind of shenanigans. Now, she took a deep breath and spoke the time-sensitive password that had been delivered to her by owl earlier that day:
After an excruiating pause that may have lasted 2 seconds in real life, the tall iron gates swung slowly open. Nox leapt forward, and Clio had to call her away from the left gate as they passed under the scrutiny of the winged boars to keep her from claiming it as her own.
"There're plenty of trees here, Nox, anything metal or stone is off limits," Clio said, her heartbeat slowing just a tad now that they had passed safely through the gates. The dog dropped her head and looked up at her mistress with sad brown eyes. A moment later she pricked her ears and trotted off across the lawn towards a gnarled willow.
"Not that one!" Clio called after her, . Dumbledore had already warned her about the whomping willow, as he'd gone over the list of things that were off-limits to students. Nox stopped abruptly and looked back over her shoulder. "That one'll kill you. Any other tree, though."
The dog's sides heaved as she made her way towards an oak tree near the cabin where Hagrid lived. Clio had already met his dog, who was approximately four times Nox's size. Size wouldn't deter the mutt from checking him out, however. Clio continued on towards the castle; Fang was docile and Nox would circle back towards her eventually.
She slackened her pace, enjoying the sun on her arms and drinking in the smells of grass and wildflowers. There was no sign of dementers, so far, something else Dumbledore had warned her about. By the time she reached the cool shade of the courtyard, Nox had found her way back, tongue lolling out one side of her mouth and perhaps a dozen small green burs clinging to each of her ears. The dog ran straight past her to the fountain in the middle of the yard for a drink.
Clio was seated on the edge of the fountain, trying to coax the stubborn burrs out with her wand, when Hagrid ambled around a corner with a boisterous laugh.
"Here yeh are! Callimachus, righ'? Congratulations on becomin' our new ancient runes professor, I had a good feelin' when I met yeh at the gate."
"Thanks, Hagrid," she said, smiling as her own hand was swallowed up by his huge paw. "You can call me Clio." He towered over her, even bent over as he was to exchange greetings.
"Wha's this little 'un's name again?"
"Fang's a bit larger'n you," he said to the dog, "but he's a sweethear'. They'll enjoy playin' together."
"I'm sure they will."
Hagrid's smile broadened. "I s'pect you'll need time to unpack an' get settled, but as soon as you ge' bored come on down to me house for some tea. It's bin a while since we've had an American here."
"Well, technically I am British," said Clio, "It's a long story."
Hagrid lifted his shaggy eyebrows and chuckled. "Well, if yeh feel like sharin' it sometime, I'll break out the fire whiskey."
"It's a deal." She started to turn, and then thought of something else. "It seems pretty quiet around here, are the rest of the staff on vacation?"
"Filch's here, he's the caretaker, an' his ruddy cat – Nox doesn' chase cats, does she? You'll wan' to keep her away from tha' one. Dumbledore's away on business today, but he pops in an' out a lot. Madam Pince the librarian is here, and Madam Pomfrey the healer. Ev'ryone else should be rollin' in tomorrow or the nex' day. Students arrive on Wednesday."
Clio felt her stomach flip. She knew runes almost as well as English. She'd grown up in a mixed muggle-wizard household full of her father's books, and had begun learning to read them at the same time that she began reading Dr. Suess. Assisting with a class was a far cry from teaching one, though.
"Wednesday, already?" she murmured. She said goodbye to Hagrid, and walked through the main door to the castle. She ran her fingers lightly over the stone walls as she passed through. After growing up in America, she was awestruck by 1000-year-old buildings like this one.
Inside it was cool, dim and, for the moment, deserted. The clicking of Nox's toenails echoed throughout the castle as they made their way up the steps to Clio's small fifth-floor office. The door stood open, allowing the midday light that fell through the office window to spill out into the corridor. The office was simply but tastefully furnished with a beech wood desk and matching bookshelves.
Except for an elaborately painted Bronze Age vase, the shelves were bare. Nox sniffed excitedly around the desk, then plopped down on the pale blue Persian rug and rolled over onto her back, kicking her hind legs in the air. Clio went to the window. Looking to the right she saw more of the castle, but looking to the left she could see the lake in the distance.
Clio sighed; she had a lot of work to do before she could, in good conscience, go for a swim. She closed the door behind her and pointed her wand at it to set the password. "Wendigo," she said, guessing that not many here would be familiar with North American monsters.
She slipped her wand back into her belt and walked to the bookshelf that held the vase. It was decorated with a squid or octopus, and she smiled as she trailed her fingers over the tentacles. "Ready, Nox?" The dog leaned into her legs as she rotated the vase counter-clockwise one-quarter turn.
The bookshelf on the left wall swung open to reveal a doorway to her bedchamber beyond. Light flooded the room through a large window that stretched from a cushioned bench seat up to the ceiling. The distant lake sparkled in the sunlight, and she spotted a thestral circling leisurely overhead.
To the right of the window was a fireplace flanked by mismatched blue arm chairs. To the left of the window, the same beech that was used in the office supplied another book shelf, wardrobe and four-poster bed. She caught the dog eying it hopefully. "Uh-uh, Nox, you get your own bed."
Her trunk sat waiting in a corner. With a few waves of her wand, she hung her robes, tunics, pants and cloak from the top rack of the wardrobe; sorted the jeans, t-shirts, flannels, socks and underwear into separate drawers; and arranged her collection of sandals, sneakers, boots, and one lonely pair of heels at the bottom.
Nox's soft wool bed sprung out and settled near the head of her own. She'd be able to reach down and scratch the dog behind her ears during the night. Food and water bowls and an assortment of chew toys and balls tumbled out next, guaranteeing that the dog would be kept busy for at least an hour. "Aguamenti," she murmured, and the water bowl filled to the brim.
With another flick, Clio's wand sent most of her books (professional reading on runes, ancient magic, and a few recent purchases on modern teaching methods) flying through the doorway to the empty bookshelf in her office, where they arranged themselves by subject. A few (maps, muggle graphic novels and science fiction, photo albums and yearbooks from her seven years at Salem) stayed behind, setting themselves into the bookshelf by the bed.
Finally, a few knickknacks popped out. She carried each one carefully to the office and arranged them by hand, being careful not to bump the ancient vase, which she suspected was worth more than everything else she had ever owned put together. Her treasures included stone tablets, a papyrus scroll in a wooden case, a vintage wizard camera that had belonged to her grandfather, a couple of film projectors (deceptively simple little boxes), an assortment of amulets and talismans, a hand-carved wooden runeset and a quodpot quaffle etched with runes to keep it from exploding.
Finally, she unloaded the essentials from her messenger bag. She set her own wizard camera and the accompanying pouch of accessories on the book shelf by her bed. Her case of runemaking tools went to the top drawer of her desk. A dog cookie flew into Nox's food bowl. Her blue music box settled itself next to her camera. Clio tapped it with her wand, and music began to play softly. She fell backward onto the bed to think, and floated away on the gentle stream of sound created by the strings and drums of Band of Centaurs. Ten minutes later she was sound asleep, the music melding with the sound of Nox gnawing away on a bone.
Clio never made it to her classroom that day. She woke from her nap feeling famished and lonely, and so walked down to Hagrid's. They never got around to discussing her family history. Instead, Hagrid talked nonstop about the various creatures that lived on and around the school grounds as she drank tea from one of his enormous mugs and choked down a very dry and heavy scone. Then they'd taken a walk by the lake and through a nicer, sunnier part of the forest. Clio was disappointed at not getting to meet the centaurs until Hagrid took her to see the hippogriffs. After bowing to each of them in turn, she'd spent nearly an hour petting and photographing them all so that none would feel left out.
Clio set up her classroom the next morning. It was on the second floor of the castle, and she discovered that it was already relatively clean thanks to Filch's upkeep. She'd met Filch at dinner the night before and tried to strike up a conversation. He'd only frowned into his soup as she talked, and actually snarled when she mentioned her dog. The rest of the meal had passed very quietly, interrupted only by a loud belch from Hagrid and her own giggling at it.
The classroom was a bit stuffy from being shut up all summer long, and smelled slightly of dungbomb. As she rarely did anything without music, she set her box spinning in the air and sang along as she worked. A fresh grade ledger and empty seating chart was already waiting on the podium at the front of the room. She found older ledgers, one for each year, arranged chronologically in the cabinets at the back of the room. She counted 25 years in the first drawer she opened at random, and 42 drawers total.
After a perfunctory dusting, she arranged a few books and scrolls, a couple of good owl feather quills, and a fresh bottle of ink on the podium. She soon became painfully aware that the dungbomb smell permeated the room. She could try to disguise the smell with a perfume charm, but fresh air would work far better. Clio's stinging eyes turned to the windows lining one side of the room. They all appeared to be painted shut.
Frustrated by the stench, she pointed her wand at the nearest window.
"Alohomora," she commanded. The glass shook in the pane, as if it wanted to open but couldn't quite, and a few flakes of paint floated down to the floor. Clio walked to the window and tried to lift it manually. It gave a little, and a few more paint flakes fell, but there was still at least one more layer of paint holding it fast.
"Alohomora," she commanded again. The window trembled so that she thought it might break. Paint showered down all around, but there was yet more paint holding the frame in place. Clio sighed then, grasping the window with both hands, pulled upwards with her entire body. After a brief struggle, she felt the window give and it flew suddenly upwards in a veritable storm of dried paint. White flakes clung to her dark brown hair and black t-shirt like oversized dandruff.
Clio sucked in a noseful of the fresh clean air wafting in from outdoors.
"One window down," she muttered, "Four more to go." Fifteen minutes later, trembling from the exertion and covered head to toe in decades-old paint, Clio reveled in the green smells of the nearby forest.
"Huh, I didn't even know those windows could open," sang a high female voice from the open doorway. Clio spun around, and found herself looking at another witch who had to be close to her own age. She was about the same height but with slimmer shoulders and rounder curves, long blond curls, blue eyes and a wide mouth that was currently stretched in a smile. She was dressed in dark jeans, platform sandals and a floaty teal blouse with gold hoops in her ears and around both wrists. Clio was suddenly very conscious that she was wearing her rattiest pair of jeans, with holes in both knees and strings dragging from both cuffs. She was also covered in paint chips.
"They were a little stubborn," she said with a shrug, sounding as effortlessly cool as possible.
"I'm Charity," said the blond witch, extending her hand. "I teach muggle studies." Clio offered her own sweaty, grubby hand for a quick shake.
"Clio," she said, "ancient runes."
"Glad to meet you, even if it means that the already small pool of eligible bachelors around Hogsmeade may become even smaller," Charity said.
Clio smiled crookedly, "Well, if it makes you feel any better, I recently ended a relationship and am not interested in jumping into another one."
Charity laughed. "So, you're just looking for a rebound." Clio's eyes slid sideways in mild embarrassment. Charity continued, "So what are we listening to?"
"This is Merlin's Beard," Clio said. Charity just stared at her blankly, so she added, "They're American, they've got a sort of a post-grunge, alternative-folk kind of sound."
"Oh. Do you have any American muggle music?"
"Yeah, I've got some R.E.M., Pearl Jam, Lenny Kravitz, Indigo Girls, Smashing Pumpkins, Tom Petty, Prince … I have a mix." Music was a topic she was much more comfortable with.
"Wonderful! I may like to borrow some for class sometime, if you don't mind."
"Not at all," she said. "That's just my newer stuff, I've got older stuff, too."
"I'm so glad there will be another young singleton to hang out with!" Charity suddenly blurted. "Aurora, Professor Sinistra that is, is fairly young and I love her to death, but she's also married and so far I've been lucky to drag her out once a year."
"Where is there to go around here? Hogsmeade seems pretty..."
"Small? Yeah. We should hit the Three Broomsticks for lunch." Charity moved closer and lowered her voice a bit before adding, "I can give you the scoop on all the rest of the staff."
"Sure." Clio paused to flick a paint chip from her hair, "I should probably clean up a bit first. How about one o'clock?" She hoped that her desperation to talk to another human being about something other than animals wasn't overly apparent.
"It's a plan. I'll meet you in your office," said Charity, grinning as she skipped out.
Clio obliterated the drifts of paint chips that had collected on the floor, then hurried back to her room for a bath. She'd discovered the night before that the bathroom was the most spectacular portion of her new living quarters. A living wall of plants divided the toilet area from the deep, blue-tiled tub.
Calling it a tub actually did it a disservice. She estimated that the diving well in the center was eight feet deep, and that ten people could sit comfortably around the shallow sides. She'd filled it and then enchanted the water so that it would purify anything without having to be emptied or replenished; a spell she'd picked up in Egypt, where water was precious and scarce.
Clio stripped off her filthy clothes and slipped into the cool water, swimming down to sit on the bottom for a moment before returning to the shallower edge to scrub the paint out of her hair. Her pomegranate shampoo disintegrated as soon as she dipped her head under the surface. She floated on the surface for a few minutes, marveling that she could extend her fingers and toes without hitting the sides.
She just hoped that she could keep the plants alive. Herbology had been her worst subject. Her father and older sister were both skilled gardeners, but she couldn't keep a cactus alive for more than a few months. Her friends at Salem had once held a mock trial for her "murder" of a juvenile mandrake. She wondered whether her room assignment was merely a coincidence, or a perverse joke on Dumbledore's part.
She had just finished dressing when she heard Charity's light rapping on the outer office door.
"Come on in!" Clio called, and the door sprang open to emit her new friend. The blond witch made a fuss over Nox, who greeted her with a bone in her mouth and a wagging tail. Clio grabbed her camera on their way out, planning to finish a roll and test out the photo lab once she got around to setting it up.
The witches exchanged school and work histories on their walk into town. Charity had graduated from Hogwarts just a year before Clio had finished at Salem. She'd spent two years studying muggles undercover before publishing a best-selling memoir of her experiences. This would be her third year of teaching at Hogwarts. She was fascinated by Clio's mostly muggle upbringing, and as a dyed-in-the-wool Hufflepuff, she couldn't get over the fact that Salem didn't sort its students by magical means.
"So how do you get placed in housing?"
"The system is random, unless you have legacy status. First year, you pick your top 3 hall choices, and assignments are made based on that. For all the other years there's a lottery. You can pull up to 8 people into a hall on one number, so all your housemates pool their numbers, and the best ones pull the others into a hall."
"So, you could be in one house one year, and another house another year?"
"Yeah, although, there's a difference between your house and your hall. A house is a group of people, a hall is just the building where your house lives. So, if you're in Order of the Badger, for instance – that's the Hufflepuff legacy house – and you live in Fairchild Hall this year, and next year you decide to move to Jones Hall because it has a better view, then you could take the Order of the Badger with you.
"That's just bizarre," Charity said, shaking her head. "So what house were you in?"
"We started a new house my second year, Mugblood House. I'm still in touch with most of the Mugbloods."
They'd just reached the inn, and Charity stopped, her hand on the door, anger mingled with horror twisting her face. "You called yourself what?"
Clio had been prepared for her reaction, as she'd had to explain herself before. "Mugbloods – with a g. We started with all muggleborns and halfbloods." Charity gaped at her. "The legacy houses, like Order of the Badger, are reserved for students with a blood relative who was a member. They actually exclude muggleborns, or they let in one or two so they can say they're 'progressive.' Mugblood House and one other, Enoch Banana, were the only ones that actively recruited them while I was there."
"Oh," Charity looked more sick than angry now, "That's so sad. It's like you've got multiple Slytherin houses."
Clio shrugged. "I think it will change over time. There was a surge of pureblood mania in the States around the time of Big V's, I mean Voldemort's, reign, but it's finally fading."
Charity cringed at the name. "So Dumbledore's obviously gotten to you. I still can't say it."
"It does feel weird," Clio agreed.
They were soon settled at a table with drinks – gin and tonic for Charity, beer for Clio – and a platter of fish and chips. Clio ordered extra chips, since she didn't eat meat. A few other patrons milled about, including a couple of wizards who were, as Charity put it, "Nice enough, but not worth breaking out the new panties for."
"Okay," she said, taking a sip of her drink. "You've met Hagrid, who is basically a giant teddy bear." Clio nodded, flashing her crooked half smile.
"Madam Pomfrey comes off all stern, but she keeps boxes of monthly supplies and birth control tea outside her office that you can grab from any time, no questions asked. Filch is..." Charity made a gagging face. " Rumor has it that he and Madam Pince, the librarian, are an item. I don't know if it's true, but she's a dried up old prune, so they're perfect for each other. Speaking of the library, the books all have hexes on them and Pince will not cut you any slack if you're late turning any in, so my advice to you is, if you want to borrow a book, just wipe out the hexes. Don't bother checking it out. Then just sneak it back whenever you're done with it."
Clio nodded, chewing thoughtfully on a chip.
Charity took another sip before going on. "Madam Hooch teaches flying. If you need to borrow a broom she's the one to ask."
"I've got one, but good to know."
Charity raised an eyebrow and nodded. "She'll probably be very interested in hearing about American Quidditch … Quo-Quodart?"
"Right. Aurora, I mentioned, anyway she teaches astronomy and is totally cool. She's just a few years older than us and lives with her husband in the castle during the school year. During the summer they live in London. He comes into Hogsmeade every morning to commute to work and she teaches only at night, so you'll only ever see them at dinner. They're such a cute couple," she added, sounding a bit envious.
"How did they meet?"
"In school. They're both Ravenclaws." She took another sip, her fair cheeks flushed from the alcohol. "Septima Vector teaches Arithmancy. She's pleasant enough, but standoffish. I don't think she's said more than ten words to me in a row during the entire the time I've been here. Now, Sybill Trelawney teaches Divination. She's a bit ... special. You'll know what I mean as soon as you meet her. Just watch for her googly eyes." Charity held her hands up in front of her face like a pair of gigantic glasses. "Then there's the ghost; Professor Binns teaches history."
Clio rolled her eyes. "Oh yeah, I ran into him last night."
"Whatever you do, don't let him trap you into a conversation. He will literally go on forever."
"Too late," Clio grimaced. "How long has he been teaching here?"
"You know, I'm not quite sure. I think he's been a ghost far longer than he was alive. You didn't let on that you're at all interested in history, did you?" Clio shook her head. "Good, because if he thinks you are then he will never, ever leave you alone."
"Got it, although, that may be hard given my subject."
"If you see him floating towards you, then just flee. Or start talking about something he knows nothing about, like the latest fashions."
"Or modern music?" Clio grinned, washing down another chip with a swig of beer.
Charity nodded and laughed, her gin and tonic almost gone. "Okay, now there's the heads of houses. Professor Sprout is the herbology professor and head of Hufflepuff house," Charity paused to cup her hands over her heart, making Clio snort beer up her nose. "She's like a big soft pillow that you just want to squeeze."
"Does she make house calls for plants?"
Charity cocked her head, "What do you mean?"
"There're a ton of plants in my bathroom that I know I'm going to kill if I don't get help with them."
"I've never heard of her doing house calls, but you should ask. I doubt she would say no."
"Awesome. Sorry, go on."
"Where was I? Oh yes, Professor Flitwick is charms professor and head of Ravenclaw. He is so cute, I mean, he's like a tiny little doll that you just want to play with. Literally, he's maybe, three feet tall. I think he's part goblin, but anyway, he's really nice. And tiny."
Charity's eyes widened. "I didn't mean it like that!" she said, tossing a chip at Clio, which she batted out of the air and directly into the path of one of the exiting wizards, who squashed it flat with an oddly satisfying crunch that sent both witches into spasms of laughter. The befuddled man began loking around for the source of the joke, which only made them laugh harder.
"Anyway, where was I?" Charity asked, when she'd finally regained the ability to speak. "Oh, yes, Professor McGonagall is head of Griffyndor and also assistant headmistress. She's very stern and very Scottish, but unlike Pince she has a heart. She should be at dinner tonight. You'll get along with her fine as long as you're not lazy or rude."
"She sounds a lot like my grandmother," Clio sighed.
"Then there's Professor Snape." Charity blew out a puff of air. "Oh, where to begin? He's the head of Slytherin and the potions master, and … I believe the muggles would call him "emo" or "goth." Anyway, he only wears black and has long black hair and he literally lives in the dungeon."
"He can also be an asshole, although, I'm not entirely sure that he does it on purpose. If you make a mistake, he won't let you forget it, ever. I said "oblivate" once instead of "obliterate" and he still brings it up."
Clio chuckled again; the beer had definitely gone to her head.
"It's not funny! Well, okay, it was at the time, but after two years it's just annoying." Charity lowered her voice and leaned closer for her next revelation. "Also, rumor has it he used to be a Death Eater."
"Really?" Clio frowned, suddenly feeling very sober. "That partially explains the odd questions during my interview with Dumbledore."
"Weird isn't it, that Dumbledore would trust him? He supposedly recanted before You-Know-Who's downfall and seems to have reformed." Charity eyed her empty glass wistfully.
"My family left Britain because of the Death Eaters," Clio said, brow furrowed.
"A lot of families did," said Charity. "Don't worry about Snape, just don't expect him to be friendly. It's not you, it's everyone. We all just pretend that we don't know, and it's never talked about." Clio nodded absentmindedly.
"So where was I? Oh yeah, Defense Against the Dark Arts. There's a new professor there, as well. There's a new one every year." She leaned in again. "A lot of people say that the position is cursed, and I'm starting to believe it. The new guy is named Remus Lupin. I haven't met him yet, but he's supposedly a very nice man. Single, too. He's also a werewolf." She sighed. "I don't expect the curse to be broken this year."
She sighed again. "So that's everyone you need to know at Hogwarts. Bottom line is: no one is dateable. Which is why I come here; where I am almost always sorely disappointed."
"Ah, well," Clio murmured, polishing off her beer and thinking that that explained the other half of the odd interview questions. She regretted her flippant answer even more now, and hoped that Dumbledore hadn't thought she was prejudiced. Of course, he wouldn't have hired her if he did, would he? "Ready for another round? I'll buy."
"Absolutely." Charity abruptly changed subjects, then. "So, tell me more about the differences between American and British muggles. You don't mind me picking your brain, right?"
Clio popped another chip into her mouth, "Not at all."
They were both very giggly when they sauntered back to the main gate, at least they were until they saw the two dementors looming above it. The smiles drained from their faces as the wraithlike creatures sniffed the air around them.
"Neither one of us is Sirius Black, so you can shove off," Charity said testily. The spectral shapes just stared emptily back. Clio started to raise her camera, but Charity grabbed her and pulled her through the gate. "Are you nuts? You can't stop like that." Clio walked backwards, composing the shot in her head as they retreated toward the castle. She would have to come back later.
She got the opportunity that evening when she took Nox out for her last walk before bed. The dementors were still hanging above the gate, silhouetted against the dusky sky. Nox was not interested in going anywhere near them, and began to whine when Clio gripped her wand in her left hand and continued walking.
She stopped just inside the gate, raised her camera with her right hand and waited until one of the creatures turned towards her. She hit the shutter and racked the zoom lens, letting the dementor loom closer and closer until, finally, she could feel it's foul breath. The world grew cold, darkness closed around her and her vision tunneled down.
This is where she found herself now, as her thoguhts caught up with the present.
Her camera arm felt suddenly heavy and she let it fall. How easy it would be to close her eyes and offer her mouth to it...
Something within her wasn't ready to give up. Survival instinct kicked in, raising her wand. Her lips had gone numb, and with great effort she muttered, "Expecto Patronum," willing Domino into existence. A silver spark shot up from her wand and bloomed into the border collie who'd been her companion since birth (first as a flesh and blood dog and now as her immortal watchdog).
He took off like a streak, circling the dementor, barking and nipping at the shreds of its cloak. It twisted up and away in distress, and stopped 20 yards or so beyond the gate, not daring to come any closer as Domino snarled and barked. Shivering, Clio retreated toward the castle, whistling for both dogs. Domino circled around her, leaping through the air over imaginary hedges, then coming down to earth to chase after Nox, who had gotten over her fright. Clio let them chase each other until she reached the doors, where (still trembling) she called Domino back to her.
"Good boy," she whispered, and he faded into oblivion.
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