“Have you seen Hermione?” Ron asked Harry.
Harry shook his head absentmindedly, his thoughts concentrated on the panic he felt in Draco’s movements. Something was going on, something bigger than-
“Are you listening Harry?” Ron complained.
“Look Ron,” Harry said testily, “I’m under a crap load of stress right now and I don’t think I can be your shrink for the day again.“
“We’re all under stress,” Ron muttered. “And what the bloody hell is a shrink?”
Harry laughed and felt better as he did. “It’s the Muggle equivalent of a-uhm…Healers who are experts on spell damages, especially the uhm…mental kind.”
“Oh. That’s a funny word.”
“It’s slang, actually. But really, Ron, give Hermione some space.”
Ron sighed deeply. “I can’t help it, Harry. Hermione- she invades my mind and…“
“Please, could you talk to Ginny for that?”
“She’d laugh at me,” Ron moaned. “You know how she is and you know how close she is to Hermione. She’ll think I was the one that was wrong, that I caused all this to happen-“
“Didn’t you?” Harry said arriving in front of the doorway of the Great Hall.
“Fine, I did,” Ron said, scowling. “I’m trying my best to make amends here.”
“Just…let her be,” Harry said tiredly, wanting to discuss more important issues, like his life, for example.
Ron stopped, knowing he wasn’t getting anywhere. He also noticed Harry’s agitation. “What’s going on, mate? Is there something you’re not telling me?”
Harry sighed. “It’s about time you noticed.”
“Fine,” Ron said. “At least after our last exam for this woeful Wednesday?”
Harry nodded. “Deal.”
He walked alone, unable to stomach lunch. He had not seen Theodore Nott and wondered sardonically if he was still trying to make a pass on Hermione again. He was walking along the seventh floor this time.
Draco found himself in front of Dumbledore’s old workplace, a workplace that Professor McGonagall still maintained for sentimental reasons, though she herself had chosen a different room for her use. He paused and stared at the ugly stone gargoyle guarding the entrance. The gargoyle was unmoving, as only a password could open the entrance. Draco sat on the stone floor, beside the gargoyle, staring at the wall across him. Just when he felt he had direction, he suddenly felt lost.
With his head bowed down, he began to hum a lullaby his mother used to sing to him before. He felt defeated and worn out from the tension. He tried to remember the words to the song and only had a smattering of memories left from it.
“Hush baby, my doll, I pray you don't cry, and I'll give you some bread…And some milk by and by…”he sang in a trembling voice. He shut his eyes and strained to recall the words.
“Or…or perhaps you like custard…” he stopped, hearing something move. He stood up and found the gargoyle completely turned around, revealing a staircase. His eyes widened, and without further delay, he stepped on the staircase and into a room he had never been in, in all his years of studying in Hogwarts.
The room was filled with various objects of interest, and Draco felt he had stepped into a vault filled with odd treasures. There were thin silver instruments that emitted light smoke; portraits of past Headmasters filled the walls, some were sleeping, some canvasses were blank. There were cabinets filled with shiny things. The Headmaster’s table in the center of the room had a thick blanket of dust over it, as was the perch where Fawkes, his Phoenix, used to stay on. He saw a high podium on one corner, were the Sorting Hat sat dormant, waiting for the next new batch of first years. He approached it and was about to touch it, when it spoke, making Draco jump back one step.
“I remember you,” the Sorting Hat growled, forming a thin line near the brim to indicate it had some sort of mouth. “Malfoy, Slytherin.”
Draco let out a breath.
“Enjoying your last year are you?” the Hat asked.
Draco scoffed. “You’ve got to be kidding me. That House will get me killed soon.”
“Ah, but I’m never wrong.”
“Maybe once. Just once,” Draco muttered.
“I remember you wanted to be in Slytherin…” the Hat told him coyly. “I only announced what was your destiny.”
Draco scowled and turned his back against the Hat. The Hat became quiet once more, as if it had fallen asleep again. In the corner of his eye, he spied a peculiar looking object. Something that looked like a sink, but it had strange, silvery liquid that also looked like it floated inside of a metal basin. There were rune carvings all over the stone pedestal. Draco bent down to translate the characters carved into the four corners of the stone base. It read: Isa, Nauthiz, Gebo and Kenaz, meaning Ice, Need, Gift and Torch respectively.
Draco frowned and wondered what this contraption was. He had heard of basins with curses- but surely Dumbledore wouldn’t have placed such an item for the world to see if it were truly cursed, right? There was a cabinet near it, filled with bottles in all shapes and sizes, all faintly glowing in wispy blue and silver light. He saw the bottles marked with dates and curiously he reached out for one.
“October 1, 1981…” Draco read. He opened the bottle and tried to see if the liquid would come to life on its own. Instead it trailed down into the basin and Draco, quite shocked by what he had done and believing it to be irretrievable, scrambled to get it back, holding onto the basin’s edges.
What happened next was something Draco had never experienced yet. He thought he had drowned, but how could he when his head was just inside a basin? The liquid swirled around him, changing hues, the ink then formed into a scene. Draco’s eyes widened. Was he inside a memory? He felt his stomach jolt forward when the scene had materialized completely.
He, along with a few young adults, were inside a room; some castle perhaps? Dumbledore was there, as were a young red haired woman carrying a baby and a man with unruly hair that certainly looked familiar.
“I can be the Secret-Keeper,” Dumbledore said.
The woman and man shook their heads. The baby in the woman’s arms gurgled, happily playing with Dumbledore’s beard. Dumbledore looked on with sad eyes.
“Sir, we appreciate what you’re doing but it is best if we chose from our closest friends,” the young man said earnestly.
“Lily, James…”Dumbledore began. “This is your family’s life we’re talking about and that man is out to kill you, surely-“
“Professor,” Lily said in a soft voice, placing a hand on his shoulder. “Certainly this will all lead to good, especially for Harry’s sake…”
The scene began to rapidly evaporate and the ink swirled around Draco. Draco gasped as he stood away from the basin, his heart thudding. Had he just witnessed a memory of Dumbledore’s? It was the first time he had also seen Harry’s parents…and Harry, he was helpless, so young, so needy… He had heard of this contraption before but had never seen it up close…holding the empty bottle close to the basin, he experimented by using his wand to siphon the wisps back into the glass bottle. It worked. Elated, Draco looked for other bottles with significant dates. His thin hands roamed throughout the cabinet.
He found an old memory, and knew it wasn’t from Dumbledore’s time. It was dated, according to the old parchment stuck to it, on the 31st of June, 1744 with the initials P.E. Professor Everard must’ve been the Headmaster at this time, since his own great grandfather had served during the late 1890s. He saw a portrait, empty, but with Everard’s name. The date of his instalment corresponded with the bottle’s own date.
Draco unceremoniously poured the contents onto the basin and put his head in. The scene changed quickly. He was now in a room...wait, he was in the Headmaster’s office two hundred years ago. He was staring at four people in the room. One was Professor Everard, the other two were young men no older than he was, and the last one was...Areatha! He took a second look at the young men, hoping that one of them would be Colin Peverell. One of the students was wearing Hufflepuff robes and his pallor contrasted with the bright yellow.
“You are sure you saw no one sneak onto your cauldron?” Professor Everard’s hoarse voice asked.
The Hufflepuff lad shook his head. “I don’t know what happened, Professor. One moment I was waiting for my concoction to simmer…if it wasn’t for Miss Lestrange..I-“
“Yes, yes. I know about Miss Lestrange’s heroic actions. What I want to know is this…who else was near your table before you accidentally got poisoned. Mister ah, Mr. Colin Peverell, you used the area before Mr. William Diggory, did you by chance leave any residue from your previous concoctions that may have resulted in this accidental poisoning?”
“No, Professor,” Colin Peverell vehemently denied. “I cleaned up after and thoroughly at that. We had the same ingredients for the afternoon class. How could I just grab bloodroot from Professor Viridian’s storage?”
Everard nodded thoughtfully. “Miss Lestrange, did you by chance notice anyone near Professor Viridian’s cupboards? Or near Mr. Digorry’s cauldron?”
Areatha stepped forward, the faint light in the room illuminating her appealing face. She was small in stature beside the men inside the room. She shook her head in reply.
“I will hold further enquiry to other students and professors…in the meantime, let it be known Miss Lestrange, that you will receive a special award for saving Mr. Diggory.”
William Diggory (who oddly looked like an older version of Cedric) nodded in agreement, a blush forming on his face. Draco saw Colin Peverell eye William’s expression. Colin then gazed at Areatha and gave a small smile.
“Well, that’s that,” Everard said. “If you please, Mr. Diggory, I’d like to have a private word with Ms. Lestrange and Mr. Peverell.”
William nodded and excused himself, his eyes lingering on Areatha all the while as he walked for the exit. Everard sat on his chair and looked at the Slytherin lass and the Gryffindor lad in front of him, each on a chair also.
“I hope you know why I’ve asked to have a private word with you.”
The youngsters shook their heads.
“I do not mean to pry into such a juvenile world, but I have heard of rumours about fights starting in the guise of defending your houses and...your names.”
“Just silly pranks, Sir,” Colin said quickly.
“Ah, but pranks, although silly, may prove dangerous. Take Mr. Digorry’s near fatal prank? If you do not mind, would you care to divulge the friction between you two?”
“There is no friction, sir!” Colin nearly interrupted him.
“I believe Miss Lestrange has a say in this too, Mr. Peverell,” Everard said.
Areatha looked up from her chair. “I- there are no fights between us.”
“Friendly competition, then? You two are outstanding students, after all,” Everard chimed in.
“Something like that,” Areatha whispered, fidgeting with a necklace.
Draco saw the pendant and his eyes nearly popped. She held the key to the chest and book before he did!
“As prefects, I suggest you to straighten things out between your Houses. I know rivalry is something that won’t disappear. Your Houses are polar opposites after all. A few hexes reported by the school nurse have been enough to call my attention. I have heard of your cousins, Miss Lestrange, planning to boycott Muggleborns for getting into Hogwarts next semester-“
“They don’t understand,” Areatha said. “There is no rivalry between Colin and I. If they only saw the-“ she stopped, afraid to say more.
“Yes, Miss Lestrange? Are you finding it uncomfortable to discuss certain sentiments between you and Mr. Peverell?”
Areatha looked into Colin’s eyes imploringly. Colin spoke up then.
“Sir, please understand. We do not mean any harm, but we need to quell the rumours of us being...together. She’ll be persecuted by her family, I can’t have that. I do care for her, sir. If I had my way, I’d let the whole school know...” his voice trailed off and his face turned red. He had said too much.
“I have graduated from the House of Ravenclaw, I am of even ground and your secret is safe with me,” Everard assured them. “I do suggest that you maintain cordiality in spite of the recent events. Appearances are paramount in this age and time,” he sighed. “If only the Houses could live in harmony and completely at that. Well, that is all. You may leave.”
The youngsters murmured their excuses and stood up slowly. While Professor Everard opened a book, he saw out of the corner of his eye the young man and woman quietly holding hands. He smiled sadly...
Draco was launched back to the real world, his heart thudding at the thought of seeing his ancestor and a descendant of Peverell in the inked flesh. He quickly returned the bottle with the memory and sat down on a stone step. He had just witnessed Areatha wearing the pendant he now wore. What the hell did this mean now? A sudden clang broke the silence in the room, the clock striking one in the afternoon. Draco groaned; tests were going to start in a few minutes. He stood up, not wanting to leave the room. The clock rang again and Draco cursed, hating the horrible timing of events.
While Harry and Ron were talking, across the castle and Draco was busy with the Pensieve, Hermione was sitting on the ledge that she and Draco used to sit by. She was alone, like how she wanted it. It was cold that noon, and the lake gleamed under the sunlight that had somehow broken loose from the clouds. She sat, cold and uncaring. She sat, trying to numb herself from what had happened the night before. One last hurdle and she’d survive this part of the N.E.W.T.S.
Strangely, her heart felt empty, but not devoid of hurt. She had done her best to heal the bruise Draco had inadvertently given her. There was nothing on her face to show that mark, except her eyes had mirrored most of the ache. She had avoided almost everyone successfully that morning, with various typical ‘Hermione’ excuses about studying or to catch up on her reading.
Hermione’s gaze shifted to the dense forest across her. In that green expanse, the underground cave lay, undisturbed. They had not stepped inside that cavern in nearly a month- well she didn’t, she wasn’t sure about Draco though. Draco again, in her mind, Draco… She shivered and wrapped her coat around herself tighter, determined to last through the rest of the day despite a nagging pain in her chest.
A/N: just a little story 'breather'. thank you for your reviews!