Chapter 4 : chapter four
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By the time I got down to the Great Hall, it was already busy with activity. Groups of students clustered around the hall yelling to each other where they wanted to go to first, and what they planned to buy. I spotted Ron and Lavender up by the door with Harry and sighed. Harry had been my one hope for the day as Ginny was sure to be off with Dean Thomas. I guessed that I would have to go it alone today, not that that bothered me too much as it meant I could get the shopping done that I wanted without interruption. It would make Three Broomsticks a little lonely though, but I supposed that I didn’t have to go for the usual drink there, and could instead head back to the castle to get ahead on my reading.
The heavy wooden doors opened, allowing the cool wind to blow its way into the entrance of the castle and I bustled closer into my jacket trying to escape the sting. It was lightly snowing outside but the gust of the wind made the cool day look worse than it really was. Everyone began to push forward, still excited to make the trip to Hogsmeade, even though the wind had a cruel bite and was not letting up. Snow had blown up into my face the moment I stepped out of the safety of the castle, and I quickly wiped away at the wet residue and continued to follow along behind the crowd. If it wasn’t for the wind, it would probably have been a nice winter’s day and I would have been much more inclined to take my time to get to Hogsmeade as I usually did. But that day was not one to dawdle outside. Instead I planned to make my way to the farthest building I needed and then work my way back towards the castle. I knew I would have been one step ahead of everyone else, who would surely have sought out the first building or The Three Broomsticks just to warm up. I didn't have to worry about waiting to check out which would mean that I would get back to Hogwarts earlier to study.
I could see the entrance to Hogsmeade just through the clearing up ahead and many of the groups of people began to run ahead, excited to finally be there. Bells rang out as doors to shops opened in the distance, the first groups already reaching the warmth of the town. I had to admit, I wasn’t as excited about this trip as I usually was, even with the Christmas shopping to get done. There was just something about shopping with friends that made it a wonderful experience and you couldn’t fully appreciate it until you didn’t have anyone to be with. I hated that Lavender had done this to our group. It was her fault that I was alone and not with Harry and Ron. Couldn’t she have gone with Parvati and claimed that she needed a girl’s day? I had already lost Ron to her, but did I really have to lose Harry too?
The Three Broomsticks was already crowded as I walked by, not allowing myself to stop; I was still determined to get to Scrivenshaft’s Quill Shop to begin my Christmas shopping. I couldn’t help but look in the frost stained windows as I continued by, trying to locate either Harry or Ron. My heart plummeted a bit as I finally spotted Ron. He was trapped underneath a sprout of Mistletoe near the bar, and I watched as Lavender tiptoed up to him and wrapped her arms around his waist. From my position outside, I could hear the cheers as she kissed Ron to release him from the trap of Mistletoe. I ducked my head down and continued on my way, and tried to hold back a few tears. It didn’t seem to matter how many times I had seen them kiss in the last week, each one was another stab to my heart. I hated that Lavender made me feel like this. I was a highly logical girl but no matter how much I tried to reason with myself, I couldn’t help but let my emotions come over me at the thought of her with Ron.
Scrivenshaft’s Quill Shop was just up again and I ran to get inside, hoping to escape from both the weather and Ron and Lavender. The familiar scent wafted over me the moment I opened the door and I couldn’t help the contented sigh that escaped my lips. Not only did Scrivenshaft’s Quill Shop sell an abundance of Quills, but it also housed many different types of parchment as well. And it was the scent of parchment that permeated the air. It was also the very reason that I was here. Last year for Christmas, I had gotten my mother a brown leather bound journal with the Hogwarts crest on it and she had loved it. She quickly filled it, with what, she wouldn’t tell me, and begged for me to get her another one. I figured that year, I would get her two.
The journals were along the back wall, and I easily made my way over there, no one else had made it this far into Hogsmeade yet. I let my hand run along the covers of the journals as I read the descriptions of each one. Some made it so that only the owner of the journal could read what was inside of it, while others left inspirational messages to the writer. There were also others that would make Fred and George proud, as they spouted off jokes. Not sure of what they were being used for, I decided to buy a red and gold bound one that had the Gryffindor crest on it that would only allow my mother to read what was inside, and then also an inspirational one that was bound in a sea green color. The journals were a bit pricier than I would like to admit, and while my coin purse got lighter, my spirits rose. I wasn’t thinking about Ron and Lavender any more, but instead allowed myself to get fully submerged into doing all of my Christmas shopping.
My father was going to be a quick buy as well. The last time he wrote to me, he mentioned how cold this winter had been already and that the poor circulation in his hands really made it hard for him to be outside. And I knew that Gladrags Wizardwear had a pair of self-warming gloves that would be just perfect for him. Tomes and Scrolls would be my next stop though, as it was just across from Scrivenshaft's.
Of the stores down Hogsmeades main road, Tomes and Scrolls was by far my favorite store. I could spend hours alone just wandering through the shelves of books. It was always a quieter store, very few students finding the need to buy a book when they could just as easily spend their money at Zonko’s or Honeydukes. The bell of the shop rang as I opened the door, and it seemed that nobody else was there, not even the owner Mr. Bleakly could be seen behind his usual post at his desk.
“Hello,” a voice I recognized as Mr. Bleakly’s called out from the back of the room. “I’ll be right out to help you.”
“Take your time Mr. Bleakly,” I told him, “it’s just Hermione.”
Mr. Bleakly was one of the shop keeper types to make sure that he knew each customer’s name just as fondly as he knew each book title his shop held on its many shelves. He was a kind balding old man, who had a passion for books. There were many occasions that he would make sure to save his newest arrival for me behind the counter, each a book that he promised that I had to read. And he was right. Each book he presented me with was somehow better than the last.
“Oh Hermione,” he said as he staggered around the corner of the room, “I’m so glad to see you in here. I was most disappointed when the last trip had been cancelled, but nevertheless, I saved you some good ones.”
“You didn’t have to do that Mr. Bleakly.”
“Well who else am I going to share them with?” he asked as if no one else ever paid his store a visit.
“Would you like some help Mr. Bleakly?” I asked as I continued to watch him hobble with difficulty. I had never once wondered about his age, but as I took in the tired sunken in look of his face, I realized just how old Mr. Bleakly had to be. And it wasn’t just his face that looked every bit of his age but also his stature. He was normally rather tall and thin, but because of his hunched over state, you would never be able to tell.
“Don’t worry about me,” he said, seeming to read my thoughts on his poor state, “there’s still some life left in me yet.”
He bent down behind the counter and came back up with a small stack of books. There were a total of four black leather bound books, and it looked as if they were relatively old, the yellowing pages the only indication of age. I watched as Mr. Bleakly ran his hand across each book fondly, as if they were an old friend, before he slid them across the counter towards me.
“I can’t afford to buy this many books,” I told him; as I pushed back three of the books, holding onto only the top one. “I still have most of my Christmas shopping to do, and I have already spent more than I had meant to.”
“These books aren’t for sale,” he whispered, as he wiped away at his eyes, a stray tear making its way down his wrinkled face.
“I don’t understand,” I said as I placed the book back on top of the other three.
“I want you to have these books, no cost,” he took a deep breath and then continued on. “These were my wife’s books, her most favorite, and I’ve held onto them for all these years. But now as my condition continues to deteriorate, I’ve realized that they will do me no good. I will soon be joining her but I want to make sure that the things she held most dear, these books, that they will be well taken care of. I’ve watched you for years come into this store and admire each book in a way that I had only ever before seen her do, so please, take these.”
“Are you sure?”
“Miss Granger, I am more than sure that I want you to have these books. I hope that they give to you what they gave to my wife.”
“Would you tell me about her?”
"I would be honored to,” he told me and wiped away another tear.
I listened as he told me the story about how he and his wife Helen had met at Hogwarts all those years ago. They were in differing houses, Ravenclaw and Hufflepuff, but he said that to him, there was no one prettier, or smarter, than her. He could recall with great clarity the day that he finally asked her out. It was toward the end of their sixth year and he could see her reading under the old tree by the Black Lake. And the wind had rustled her hair a bit and he said that he knew in that instant that he couldn’t wait another minute to ask her. He approached her, and she looked up from her book- at that, he pointed out the top book in the stack, and she smiled at him. He could recall his heart racing at her beauty and he asked to sit down next to her. They spent the rest of the day hanging out under the tree as she shared with him the book she had been reading. When it was time for dinner, he helped her up, and said “I have loved you for several hours now, and every second, more.”* It had been a quote from the book she had just read to him, and he could recall the smile that came to her face as he leaned in and kissed her. She had passed on ten years ago, but he said that in the quiet of the night, he could still picture her just as beautiful has she had been when he first met her, curled up with that book.
The bell rang out, signaling more customers had entered the store, and I hastily wiped away a tear that had fallen at his touching story. We shared one more look before he turned and made his way over to great his new customers. I grabbed the four books off of the counter and took great care of placing them in my bag, now knowing just how priceless the gifts that Mr. Bleakly had given me were.
“Can I help you find something?” I heard Mr. Bleakly ask.
“We don’t need your help, old man.” I couldn’t help but gasp as I made out who his new customer was, Draco Malfoy.
“Well, if you do decide you need something, I’ll be just right over there,” he politely responded, completely ignoring Draco’s
“Draco,” came another voice I recognized as Pansy’s, “why won’t you tell me what you were doing last Saturday. It had to be something big if you were willing to miss the Quidditch game.”
“Let it go Pansy.”
“No Draco, I won’t let it go. That Mudblood Granger saw you that night, and now there’s rumors going around that she was meeting up with someone. I’m not stupid Draco, and I don’t think that you would do anything with her, but you aren’t giving me anything else to believe.”
“I’m done here Pansy. You can run back to Blaise like I know you do when you think I’m not looking.”
With that, the bell rang out once more as someone left the shop. I could only hazard a guess as to who left, but my suspicions were proved correct as Pansy rounded the corner with a book tucked under her arm. I watched as she wiped away at her eyes, trying to hide the fact that she was crying, before she spotted me. Her eyes got big and then I watched as her face transformed from a look of sorrow to one of anger.
“What are you staring at?” she snarled.
“Nothing,” I told her and turned to wave at Mr. Bleakly. “Thank you again for the books, and the story, she was a very lucky woman.”
“Not as lucky as I,” he responded and began to total up Pansy's books.
AN: I hope that you enjoyed this brand new chapter! I found that while editing, there was a rather sizable gap between chapters three and my original chapter four and decided to close the gap a bit. And I'm rather proud of this chapter, I think that it came along rather well. Thanks once more to Dee and the many wonderful people in my cabin keeping me going! Huge thanks goes out to Rose for all of the support she has given me so far! As always, I would love a review! Tell me what you liked or didn't like!
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