Chapter 25 : Blood and Lust
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My first attempt at Chapter 25 (previously posted as 'Of Mind and Men, Ink and Quills') just didn't feel right and quite honestly beckoned for a complete overhaul. Here's Take #2. Sorry for the confusion and really, really hope you enjoy the latest installment of Blinded. Couldn't have done it without you and your continued support. Reviews and constructive criticism welcome and much appreciated, as always!!
Wishing you and your families the happiest of holidays.
Chapter 25: Blood and Lust
Hermione strummed her palms against the shelves of books on either side of her, as she swayed rhythmically through the stacks of the library, her fingers stopping every so often on a dusty spine she didn’t recognize, just long enough for her to mentally add the title to her long list of books to read before graduation—that is, if she ever graduated.
It was a concern that had only recently begun to carry serious weight among the many other troubles in her life, exacerbated not by her near-perfect grade-point-average but by her tenuous—it seemed—relationship with fate.
Every step she and Draco had managed to take forward, towards a solution to their little situation, always ended up feeling more like two steps back, any and all progress impeded by a new twist, a new turn courtesy of the elements they had begun to so fear.
It was exhausting. She just couldn’t keep up with everything anymore. Her patience had long been replaced by a deep-felt anxiety and, at times just like this one, when an air of uncertainty rivaled the shadows of nightfall, she could feel her heartbeat hasten to a pace irregular, uncomfortable, but now all too familiar.
She breathed in the scent of the stacks, willing a kind of strength from their mix of ink, paper, dust and centuries-worth of insight, a strength—it seemed—only she found hidden between their pages. The scent calmed her mind, restless as it was, in a way few things could these days.
After what felt like an eternity of following Narcissa and James, this way and that, all throughout the castle, the pair much to Hermione and Draco’s relief had settled in for a night’s worth of research and … Merlin knows what else. James was always up to something new, Hermione had quickly realized in their short time together. It had in reality only been a day or two and she was already finding it difficult to keep track of his various machinations.
In fact, for what seemed like the first time in her entire life, Hermione found herself in complete agreement with Severus Snape. Harry’s schemes, his penchant for trouble was but a matter of blood, an inheritance bequeathed to him by nothing other than genetic proximity to the one and only James Potter.
Not long after their arrival in the library had Draco managed to etch out a comfortable spot for himself within the stacks, to catch up on some much needed rest. The poor lad, though he tried his best not to let on, was still suffering from a painful headache. This, of course, was courtesy of his fall the day before, which was in truth more of a calculated push, if you counted Lucius at all responsible for what had transpired on the quidditch pitch. Draco certainly did, perhaps more out of an inborn spite for his father than anything else though.
Indeed, it took Draco almost no time at all to fall asleep in the Herbology Section of the library, somewhere Hermione had noticed between Encyclopedia of Toadstools and Miranda Goshawk’s famed Guide to Herbology. And Hermione, perhaps a result of intuiting more than Draco would have liked her to, just couldn’t find the heart to wake him, though they admittedly had much to accomplish in the library before the night’s oil ran out.
Instead, she took the opportunity to steal a few moments for herself, hard to come by as they were. Carving out a seven-foot radius from where Draco laid dormant, she let herself wander about the stacks, taking in the moonlight streaming through the giant window-panes of the clerestory above, while walking comfortably in and out of sight. It was amazing the way it no longer scared her, the threat of darkness. Of course, it also comforted her to know that she was in the library, the one place in the entire castle that she knew like the tip of her wand; the one place in the whole wide world that she didn’t need to see necessarily to know exactly where she was.
She too, like Draco, was exhausted. But they had both agreed that at least one of them should always brave the night lest anything of importance occur while they slept unaware; and since Draco was clearly not going to be of any use tonight, Hermione did her best to wipe all traces of sleep from her limbs.
She didn’t mind doing it though—not for him.
And in all honesty, staying awake proved to be an easier task than she had initially thought it would. Her mind, jammed packed with a slew of questions, none easily answered, was too busy to really entertain any prospects of sleep.
Though some might argue they had seen very little in the days since their arrival on the quidditch pitch, having only been privy to a few minor interactions between Narcissa, James and their respective friend groups (minus Sirius and Remus much to Hermione’s disappointment), they had in truth experienced more than their fair share. Emotions were constantly running high between James and Narcissa, no doubt a consequence of the rebound-of-fate, not to mention Narcissa and James’ mutually abrasive affection for one another.
These in combination with Hermione and Draco’s own emotions, which on their own always managed to be the most complex of roller-coasters, were almost too much for them to muster through. But, in the end, they did somehow or another manage to survive until now, but not without leaning on each other for support in a way, even Hermione had to concede, they had never had to before.
They had become close again in a way that always surprised Hermione when it happened; and though it was always a good surprise, Hermione still could not shake an underlying feeling that something still wasn’t right, that it just couldn’t be real. It, of course, didn’t help matters that at present they both happened to be stuck in another’s memory, with no real idea yet as to how they were going to free themselves or if that was even a possibility to contemplate.
After completing what felt like three rounds of the Herbology Section, investigating to some satisfaction at the least the few books on its outer rim that she had yet to read or thoroughly peruse, Hermione reluctantly retraced her steps back towards her sleeping companion, only somewhat ready to commit to a night’s worth of work.
However, after catching a full glimpse of the moon in all its harvest glory, Hermione seduced from the corner of her eye, quickly and gladly abandoned her course for the nearest window.
Full moon, she thought inwardly as she gazed across the grounds and up towards the midnight sky, through the glass barricade of the window keeping her firmly inside. Maybe that’s why Remus and Sirius have been so absent of late.
Hermione had learned of Remus’ unspeakable condition in her third year, having pieced together his symptoms following Snape’s well-timed assignment on werewolves. It was not until a few months later, however, that she learned of how the Marauders had responded to the same news, becoming animagi just to keep their friend company and in check during his monthly transformations.
How brave of them, she admitted to herself, not entirely sure she would have reacted in the same way—with as much courage.
Perching herself on the windowsill, her body taking in the cool surface of the glass pane, her eyes eventually landed on the Whomping Willow in the distance—unusually still and peaceful it was, keeping its treachery hidden carefully in the shadow of nightfall no doubt.
Hermione made a mental note to avoid the Whomping Willow for the next couple of days, knowing the full extent of what it kept safe at this time of the month. She feared, however, that should James and Narcissa suddenly have the desire to make their way in that direction that she too, thanks to their uncertain connection, would not be able to resist a visit. Turning her mind back to Draco, she wondered how much he knew of the Maurader’s—not many were privy to their secrets, though Remus’ condition had been revealed to the wider wizarding community a few years back, after his stint as Hogwart’s Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher.
Cursed, Hermione thought, shaking her head at the thought of the post. In truth, she had yet to have a teacher to stay at that post more than a year. And now, Snape had won his way into the position. Very cursed.
As she cracked open the window to let in to the library some much needed fresh air, the breeze ruffled her robes with unexpected warmth, inviting her outside and into the night. Resisting the temptation to join the stars above her, however, she sat back against the stone niche carved out by the window frame, breathing in a huge gulp of air and balancing her form.
A faint bout of laughter emanated from the other end of the library, recalling Hermione’s attention from the grounds back onto the stacks behind her. James and Narcissa, it seemed, were going through somewhat of a good spell in their relationship at the moment and Hermione, remembering once again all that she needed to accomplish tonight in the library, hoped beyond all else that it lasted till morning.
With a renewed sense of resolution, Hermione turned back towards Draco, jumping down from the windowsill and edging closer to him, though on tiptoe so as not to disturb his slumber. She had no idea what she would be able to learn about the rebound-of-fate in the Herbology Section of the library and even began to curse Draco’s thoughtless decision to fall asleep here of all sections, not that he would have known where he was necessarily, still unable to see. No sooner had she started, therefore, did she stop, catching herself mid-curse. She convinced herself to instead think positively, to remain hopeful that a hidden gem of a book indeed lied among the stacks before her.
This new faith, however, dwindled rapidly as she began to peruse the titles once more, it taking but a second for her to remember why exactly she and Draco had yet to truly explore this group of texts to begin with: because it was the Herbology Section, plain and simple. No one apart from Neville Longbottom, perhaps, ever hung around long enough to take in what it had to offer inquiring minds, for fear of drowning in a ravine of absolutely futility or, worse yet, boredom.
Hermione made a second mental note never to think such thoughts around Professor Sprout, assuming that she ever made it back to the present to be able to do so. In her seven years at Hogwarts, Hermione had come to know Professor Sprout as one easily offended by the stray opinions of others, in spite of the strong exterior she so often boasted for her students; and, though she had much respect for Professor Sprout and her craft, unlike Professor Trelawney and Divination that is, the last thing she needed right now was a teacher to somehow read her mind and misinterpret, to turn against her.
It’s possible, she assured herself. With what she had experienced in the last few months, she was certain anything was possible.
‘Lumos’ Hermione whispered, lighting the tip of her wand. The moonlight was admittedly only so helpful to her the deeper she waded into the room.
Draco was snoring loudly now, but she did her best to tune him out, concentrating instead on the texts before her. Hermione crouched down on all fours, scanning the titles for anything remotely useful. Her eyes jumped from spine to spine, taking in first a Guide to British Gardens 1100-1950 before moving quickly onto Hadrian Whittle’s Magical Plants of the Highland Lochs, not to mention all those in-between.
Hermione shook her head, her mouth cringing in frustration as she read the titles in front of her. None of them showed the slightest bit of potential in helping to unravel her current predicament. She spun around on her heels, her thighs throbbing slightly under the weight of her body, and then plopped down on the stone floor, finding use in the Herbology Section after all, this time as a much-needed backrest.
With only a fragment of hope remaining, she pointed her wand across the way from where she now sat, illuminating the other side of shelves, which after some of the library’s usual shifting and scuffling found relief in a display of books beginning with the letter ‘R’.
How does one just go from M to R … in a library? Hermione thought to herself, her exasperation starting to get the better of her. Though she had over the years grown accustomed to the library’s organized mess it somewhat illogically insisted was a ‘system’, at times, she just really missed the easy simplicity of the Dewey Decimal system.
Flitting her wand impatiently from a book on Radishes and other Red Plants to another on The Redcurrant Cure, Hermione finally paused on a third. It was tucked away between two giant texts, one of which to Hermione’s distaste was covered in white fur. In fact, if it wasn’t for the book’s golden spine, that reflected the light of her wand somewhat painfully back into her own eyes, she likely would have missed it entirely, left with only her waning patience and a snoring Draco for company.
It took her a full three seconds of squinting to make the book out completely, her curiosity eventually goading her to her feet. Taking in the title slowly so as not to miss a letter or misinterpret a word, she felt a rush of unanticipated excitement flow from her toes through her torso. She even, almost let out a shriek, before managing luckily to catch it in her throat, storing it for a later date when Draco wasn’t busy dreaming the good dream.
A Rose By Any Other Word: Herbology at Magic’s Origins, she read the title in disbelief, repeating it over and over again in her head until she was convinced it was, in fact, real.
So simple. Roses, roses, roses … why didn’t I think of that sooner, she mused. After all, was it not the very thing that had brought them to the past in the first place?
Grabbing the book from the shelf on which it was securely perched, she started rifling through it pages, surprised to find them blank. Her heart skipped a beat and dropped just a little in her chest. She knew she had been getting ahead of herself, to think that a book—even with a title as tempting at this one—would hold all the answers that she so desperately sought.
Too easy, it would have just been too easy, she admitted.
She couldn’t bring herself to re-shelve it though, too mesmerized by its emptiness. Instead, against all reason, she continued thumbing through its pages, taking in the texture of the book in its entirety, even pausing on its binding.
It was undoubtedly an older text. She could tell by the striations in the paper, the way it was bound with thread, as if woven together by hand; so peculiar it was in her grasp, it looked as if the book had veins, its own life force. She didn’t know what made her think of it but she looked down at her own hand, turning it back to front, back to front, watching the blood pulse through her veins.
Her mother had once told her that she had inherited the Granger curse, veins lodged on the surface of her skin, inconcealable even with the thickest of make-up. And, where Hermione had grown to like the specks of blue that tainted her pale skin from within, a reminder of her mortality even with magic as her companion, her mother never did cease looking for a cure.
Turning her hand over and over, it came to her in a flash—a truly absurd idea, not that anything about this whole situation wasn’t already absurd enough.
Perhaps that is exactly what the book needs, she thought, convincing herself. A life force—my life force?
She had seen many things in her time in the library—from books that grew in size, to books that turned viciously on its reader, sporting sets of teeth that rivaled even the scariest of monsters that called the Forbidden Forest home. It, therefore, wouldn’t have been a surprise to her if this happened to work, if what the book needed was, in fact, blood; it was elemental magic, after all, that she and Draco were dealing with here. And, from what she could tell, there were no rules when it came to the elements.
In a moment of utter defiance, Hermione swiped her finger across one of the book’s rougher edges, hoping a paper cut was all that would be needed to do the trick. It didn’t take long before her finger gave in to the pressure, the book ripping her skin, blood rushing to the surface in need of air, meshing with the open pages.
It was, in truth, an unbelievable sight, one she had never witnessed until then—the blood taking on a life of its own, scrawling into ink, indelible.
Hermione read the first line as it appeared across the page, in a calligraphy fitting of its poetry. ‘A rose, by any other word would smell as sweet.’
She smiled, recognizing the reference immediately.
How many nights as a young girl, having far surpassed her grade’s reading level, did she sit up with Juliet’s famous soliloquy, repeating the words to herself, conjuring the image of her own Prince Charming who would one day steal her heart in the same way Romeo did Juliet’s on that balcony.
She turned towards Draco, comparing him to her long-forgotten dreams.
Uncanny, she chuckled inwardly before turning back to the page. Apart from the silver blond hair, he was almost on point.
Scanning the rest of the text, she began to breathe a little easier.
For, what she loved most about Romeo and Juliet’s story all those years ago was not its fateful romance, nor its tragic ending—but its poetry, its innocence, its hope.
Indeed, it was hope—above all else—she realized now that she held in her hands, that which, when it was all said and done, she had needed most to find.
Ron grasped Pansy’s wrist firmly with the palm of his hand. Though she tried restlessly to wriggle free, twisting her arm back and forth against his grip, in what he surmised to be but feigned reluctance, he refused this time to let her go, to let her off so easy.
She would come to him—in time.
Pansy glared at Ron, hoping beyond all else that her usual scoff would do the trick and scare him into submission as it so often did for many of her minions. But alas—they had been spending too much time together these past few days for it to be even the least bit effective. In fact, many of her preferred weapons of choice—her seething wit among them—seemed to be failing her of late, no longer of any use against her latest accomplice, comrade in arms, ally…friend?
Though she continued to protest, he pulled her closer, quickly collapsing the expanse between them, that which had separated them for so long and in more ways than just one. Pansy could feel her body stiffen in anticipation as his breath—calm, relaxed, inviting—neared the nape of her neck.
She closed her eyes.
Her skin was radiating with pins and needles, numb yet so alive. And, her pulse—her pulse was racing, but not with trepidation, as she had expected. It was for once excitement she felt running through her veins, accelerating the lapses in her heartbeat.
It had been ages since someone had made her feel this way, as though the world—her world—had been turned upside down and inside out. In fact, so foreign to her body was the fluttering now in the pit of her stomach that she began to wonder if anyone—Draco included—had ever made her feel as she did now. So blissful.
This thought, however, caught her off guard and, instead of giving way to a quick and painless surrender, fueled her resistance one final time. She was fighting a losing battle though and ultimately conceded defeat to his grasp, for once in her life allowing her heart to trump her head.
Why this felt so natural, so right—she just couldn’t explain it in words even to the most inquiring, the most compassionate of minds. She thought of Draco and Hermione. Was this how he felt with her? Pansy could only guess—hope, for his sake.
Meanwhile, Ron’s arms had slipped down across her waist, leaving her arms free to move about at last. Forsaking the obvious chance at freedom, however, Pansy found her fingers to instead be traipsing rather instinctively up his embrace, pulling him ever closer. He returned the gesture in full force, grazing his lips, warm, slightly wet, against her bare shoulders…
THUD! A book dropped in the distance, jarring Pansy from a deep sleep.
Her head was spinning and she noticed an unusual tingling residing in the pit of her stomach, discomforting yet oddly pleasurable. She massaged her head, as her eyes adjusted to the darkness around her.
What a strange dream… she mouthed into the darkness, as she affirmed her surroundings, not knowing really what to make of it. She could only remember bits and pieces of the narrative—the warmth of his touch, the grace of his lips against hers—but what she could recall she really couldn’t believe. Ron? And me? She shook off the idea, as quickly as she could, shuttering at the thought, the betrayal.
She was currently sprawled beneath a monstrous book that was resting unconcernedly in her lap, immobilizing her legs and creating sharp, somewhat painful indentations into her skin. Coming to her senses quickly, she rolled over onto her side to escape its paralyzing grip, exhaling a dramatic sigh of indignation, as she tossed the heavy text to one side and proceeded to unfold her legs from their once seated, crossed and admittedly cramped positioning.
She took a deep breath, reveling in the effect the renewed circulation was having over her body. As she made to inhale a second, she let her body drop against the floor, pressing her bare back into the stone, her shoulder blades aligning somewhat comfortably now with the crevices in the ancient surface beneath her. Stark, yet inviting the stone of yore.
Pansy closed her eyes in search of but a moment’s worth of relief. But, the relief she so desperately sought was nowhere to be found—nowhere away from her dreams, that is. Her body remained awake with contrition, unable to find refuge even in the remotest of confines the Restricted Section of the library had to offer her.
Though Dumbledore had assured her repeatedly that what had happened between Draco and Hermione in the corridor but a few days back was far from her fault, guilt—a guilt she had never known—began to eat away at her, mixing with her tendency to overthink, to overdo, leaving her with nothing but a powerful, empty anxiety stewing within her bones. It was a feeling both unfamiliar and unwelcome, yet somehow unrelenting, as well. Questions on top of questions swarmed her mind when all she longed for was but a moment of peace.
Had she not left the rose for them to find? Had she not been the one to hatch the plan, designed to send them away? Had she not been the one to suggest they use a rose, of all objects, as the portkey to do it? Why of all objects had she been drawn to the rose?
After a minute or so, she sat up, her hair a bit disheveled, sitting off to one side. She made to move, craving air neither musty nor tainted by the smell of centuries-old ink, but managed only to shift her weight from one palm to the other.
Her nose cringed as she fought off the smell of the stacks, her mind trailing a short distance from her previous distress. Binns had told her once that blood had been the preferred material for ink way back when, used even as early as the time of the Founders Four.
‘Pure, trustworthy, common to most…complete even with a bit of color,’ he had stated, quite matter-of-factly, when Pansy had asked rather impudently why, in his opinion, such had been the case.
Pansy remembered the conversation well. That was the day Binns had tried to convince her that her family, Draco’s family, etc. were in fact all mad for giving such importance to matters of family and marriage; that the blood wars had never been about lineage at all, but were in their origins quite literally about blood itself and its uses—that is, who’s blood, given its consistency and color, was fit for use in such areas as record keeping, contracts, literature and so forth, and who’s quite frankly, for strict matters of preservation, was not.
‘The invention of ink and quills saved our world long ago,’ Binns had shouted gleefully while exiting the classroom. ‘You people place such importance on pureblood, mudblood, this blood and that blood, because you simply don’t know your history.’
It was the only time she had ever heard Binns speak in a tone that was not his usual, monotonous drawl. She had been taken aback sure, but had quickly recovered, in the end giving little thought to his claim. In fact, she had scoffed at his words then, taking Binns for the fool most nowadays believed him to be.
But perhaps there was more truth to his words then than she had initially given him credit for, than she had ever given him credit for, for that matter.
‘Ink and quills…ink and quills…’ she mouthed into the darkness, as if in hopes that repeating Binns’ insight would incite some progress of her own.
She and Ron had in truth made little progress on the research front in the past few days. Though they had begun to devote almost every waking hour to scouring the library’s most ancient, most noble of resources, the rebound of fate remained as elusive as ever, referenced only fleetingly here and there, if mentioned at all.
She had never been one for research and from the looks of it neither was Ron.
‘Do-er, I’m a do-er,’ he would say over and over again, when Pansy would nudge him to keep going, in spite of his growing stupor. ‘Hermione was always the one with the books. Not me, never me.’
Where the infamous ‘do-er’ had gone to now, she could only guess.
Forsaking her usual grace, Pansy stumbled as she stood, grabbing onto the mounds and mounds of books now surrounding her for a much-needed bout of support. It seemed the stacks were having an adverse effect on her health after all, making her weak and hazy. Even standing felt more like floating these days. But this could just as easily have been the sleep deprivation talking. Pansy had yet to have a complete night’s rest in over four days much to Ron’s chagrin. Ron couldn’t go three hours without a nap if he had his way.
Pansy fumbled around in the dark for a landmark of sorts, keeping her hands firmly out in front of her so as to keep from knocking into anything sharp, as she made her way slowly through the organized mess of books she had read, books she was currently in the process of reading, books she had yet to touch. But this too was to little avail, as her lamp had long died out, with but a few remaining embers holding steadfast and strong; and her wand, her only other source of light that she cared to make use of anyways in this dead of dawn, was far from at her disposal, stowed securely somewhere or another on one of the many shelves before or behind her, somewhere she couldn’t at the moment for life of her recall, even if offered all the galleons in Gringotts in return.
Blind she was to her surroundings. It was a wonder she hadn’t just fallen asleep…again.
Feeling her way from stack to stack as she waded her way across the library, through the neighboring Herbology Section, where a lone window remained ajar, unhooked at its latch.
Odd though she found it to be—Madame Pince was usually very thorough about locking all the windows and doors before retiring to bed, not one to miss an open window—Pansy quickly displaced her worry, distracted by the piles of books that had been so stoically, so loyally keeping guard around her.
Such heights they had managed to reach, she was surprised she was only noticing the books now. They were in truth slightly daunting. And, if Pansy hadn’t noticed the air around her beginning to sway in rhythm to the inpouring night’s wind, she might have been a bit frightened; fearful even that she had somehow become trapped in a labyrinth of unending pages, an otherworldly dream with no evident point of entry or return.
Grabbing hold of the windowsill with one hand, she pushed the window fully open with the other—taking in the night’s warm breeze with her cheeks, flushed by moonlight. The wind ran rampant up her bare shoulders, playing tag with the few strands of lose hair hanging across the back of her neck, leaving her feeling more refreshed than before.
She laid her head against the window frame. She could see the Whomping Willow standing in the distance, still as could be. But beyond that, she could make out only forest, kilometers worth of trees.
Hogwarts in the moonlight was indeed quite the sight, she admitted to herself, even for a witch in her seventh year.
Hermione was biting her lip with unease, as she read down the page. Though she had managed to read through a majority of the book—twice—in just under an hour, she found the seventh chapter to be quite honestly… indecipherable.
It was the second to last section in the book before the ‘Annex’ and where the rest of the book had been relatively straightforward in breaking down the physical anatomy of a rose—its stem, petals, thorns—corresponding each to various magical abilities, this part proved to be the most cryptic of them all, neither scientific in its analysis nor helpful by any standard definition of the word.
Most puzzling of all was its commitment to rhyme and verse. Though written as prose, it fell in and out of a poetic meter, frustrating Hermione to no end.
Inconsistency had always been one of her greatest pet peeves; at times, she had even lusted for predictability, hanging on to it with bated breath, cursing those—even her closest friends—if they dared get in the way. And, the unpredictability of it all, more than anything else, was just pushing her to her last nerve.
Indeed, letting her frustration overtake her reason for the second time tonight, Hermione threw the book across the room.
It didn’t go far, though it made a smashing orchestral performance as it went, rolling about before landing near Draco’s ear. It was the gold spine—the product of gold to stone was only ever cacophony.
Draco, of course, didn’t budge, still captive to his dreams. Hermione shook her head. Typical.
Exasperated, she glared at the book, before swallowing her indignation and heading towards it once again. She picked it up in her hands, dusting it off, though in truth it was perhaps more pristine than before her little outburst. She opened it again to its seventh chapter and began reciting it, as if a play. Perhaps hearing it will give her new perspective, she thought.
Pansy jumped down from the sill, a glint stronger than the moon having caught her eye from within the stacks, drawing her attention back onto the lanes of books before her.
With her back now facing the grounds, she started in towards the Herbology section again, stopping but midway through. Her feet paused at a de-shelved book that lay strewn in the middle of the floor. It was a beautiful book, not too big, not too small, with a golden spine that rivaled her parents’ fortune.
Pansy picked up the find, making a move to re-shelve it so no one would stumble upon it and trip. This must be what had fallen, she thought holding it in her hand, the thud that had drawn her from her dreams. Pansy felt suddenly grateful towards the book, her savior.
She turned it in her hands, examining its cover and binding. Her curiosity spiked upon reading the title: A Rose By Any Other Word: Herbology at Magic’s Origins.
A coincidence? She breathed. It was as if the book had found her not fallen, as if she was meant to see it, to read it.
Obeying the impulse, she took a closer look, noticing specks of something on its edges. It looked red in the moonlight but she couldn’t be sure; light was dim as it was and growing fainter in the darkest dark before dawn. Dismissing it as ink, Pansy opened the book to scan its pages feeding her lust, her need to know more. She was disappointed, however, to find the book entirely blank.
Weird, she mused. A book with no words, no ink?
She brought it closer to the window to examine it further. The specks of red had grown darker in the time she had spent with it—if that was possible—and, she remarked, they were now even accompanied with a faint but nonetheless unpleasant odor. She began to wonder if it was indeed remnants of blood, her thoughts trailing back to her conversation with Binns.
Perusing the pages, one by one—Pansy became mesmerized, reveling in the book’s emptiness. She had never seen anything like it, not that she was an expert of books or the library. There was just something about it that she felt connected to.
‘Ouch!’ Pansy shouted into the stacks. The book had clipped her finger, adding to her slew of paper cuts from her past few nights in the library.
Her pain was quickly pushed from her mind, however, when she saw how the book responded.
‘Unbelievable!’ Pansy’s eyes were aglow. Sitting atop the windowsill, she watched as her blood unraveled across the page into ink, into prose.
‘A rose, by any other word would smell as sweet,’ she read, overcome.