The First Evening
Fortunately, no one disturbed me in the last few hours. I was thrilled. I enjoyed the peace and quiet while reading the incredible books hidden in the library. There were many interesting topics hidden in the Black Family Library. New approaches to new spells which include the use of Ancient Runes and Arithmacy. Over the years, I have gained knowledge of dark runes and arithmacy. Thanks to my secret trips into the restricted section of the Hogwarts library.
Hopefully with the help of these books, I was given a different perspective in magic. Taking a piece of parchment, I started to work through on how to effectively go through these books.
The library itself was well maintained. A bit of dust and a grime here and there but otherwise it was okay. I made myself comfortable at the seat and checked the time. I had an hour before I need to get out before anyone becomes suspicious.
I made it a point to tidy up the books properly. If Molly Weasley found any of these book, she’d throw a fit. I checked the hallway and quickly went into my room. Thankfully the room was empty. Ginny and Ron were nowhere in sight.
It was still early enough for me to go out for a jog. I, unfortunately didn’t have martial arts training since it was sunday, so a jog around would have to do.
I crept downstairs and through the dark corridor. I didn’t notice the eyes watching me from the darkness. I jogged up and down the street of Grimmauld Place.
My thoughts going to the coming weeks. Keeping the Weasley’s from snooping won’t be easy. They were very welcoming and all. But they cannot tell the difference from curious to down right annoying. Too bad Harry wasn’t here, he could distract Ron and Ginny so i’ll be left in peace.
But as annoying it was being surrounded by prying Weasleys, I don’t regret coming to Number 12 Grimmauld Place. The House of Black’s vast library was all worth it. The knowledge was too good to pass up.
I was sweating furiously as I stepped at the front porch. I felt good. The run had my adrenaline pumping. I am not as exhausted as I thought I’d be. But then again Sensei’s training got my body used to the exertion.
I opened the front door as quietly as i could, I walked a few stepped and i stopped to listen. I knew i wouldn’t be able to hide my daily jog for long.
I didn’t hear anyone coming. I quickly climbed up the stairs so i can take a shower and change into a long sleeved dress. No one needed to suspect anything with all by bruises from martial arts classes.
I was hungrier than I expected from the work out. I quickly walked into the kitchen and i froze. I didn’t expect so many people! Sirius sat at the head of the table. All the Weasleys were present, Remus Lupin, Mad-eye Moody, and Professor Snape sat across them along with an unshaven man, a lilac haired woman and another woman who i do not know.
Everyone turned when I had barged into the room. I feel the blush crawling up my cheeks as I quickly went to sit at the empty seat beside Sirius. To my right would be Professor Lupin and opposite me Professor Snape.
I already made myself comfortable on the chair when Ron exclaimed. “But Hermione, you could’ve sat with us! We would’ve made room.”
I rolled my eyes. “That’s nice, Ronald. But I am okay here.”
Beside me Sirius chuckled under his breath.
I glared at him. He shouldn’t meddle in things he has no business in. He might’ve noticed that I was avoiding the Weasleys. But I really hate it when he gossips.
Surely one or the other wondered why I was able to suppress my curiosity so well and had not asked anything about God and the world. Only what should I ask, the so-called adults wouldn't answer and Ron and Ginny would have no answers to my questions, in the best case only assumptions. And what had I Rita's book for, there was much information about the order, the first war. I now knew more than the two Weasleys, the two won't get to any relevant information. I still hoped that the information about Dumbledore would not be so accurate, but I had doubts. So I took my plate, took a serving of roasts and tried to go as far into the shadow as possible, not to be noticed, and to be asked questions was the goal.
In the meantime, I took a cautious look at the loud corner, and I saw at least three pairs of eyes that were on me, interested and curious. What were they thinking? Even Snape looked at me with his eyebrow raised, then I quickly turned my gaze to my surprisingly interesting plate.
Miss Granger is avoiding the weasels? Interesting. The young woman seems to be isolating herself rather than staying with her peers. For the first time, she has not gloated of the numerous information she had learned like an insufferable know-it-all. Her expression of shock had been amusing when she entered the kitchen to find the Order around the table. She immediately took refuge in the corner where Lupin, Black and I resided rather than with the annoying Weasleys.
I studied her with a sneer. Why is she hiding from one of her best friends? What had changed? Because of my spying days, I am a good observer. I can read people easily and clearly something has changed.
Obviously, she had grown into the body of a woman, but there was something else and I could not place my finger on it. I glanced to where the Weasley’s and their large brood resided. Childish and idiotic as ever. My thoughts returned to Miss Granger, the “head” of her little band of friends.
This is going to be entertaining. As intolerable as it is to sit near Black and Lupin, I was ready for the coming entertainment. Fortunately, they were silent. Which was an advantage over this chattering group of chickens.
I sighed. Why Professor Dumbledore thought that ordering me here is a good idea is beyond me.
Back to Hermione’s POV
I groaned in my head. When will these people grow up.
Then again in the past month and a half alone, so much has changed for me. I do not know how I would be able to keep this facade in Hogwarts, the nodding and smiling.
Since Cedric’s death and the rise of Voldemort, I didn’t feel like laughing. He was young. He had his whole future ahead of him. It was depressing having someone’s life just cut off like that. Not seeing them again. I would miss him dearly. I know even if he had lived I wouldn’t see him as often. But knowing that he was gone...
I shook the thoughts off my head and smiled. Smiled for everyone else’s sake.
"Hermione, ... Hermione, ... hello ... hello!" I broke out of reverie and turned to Sirius.
“Uh. I beg your pardon?”
“I asked you how do you like my humble abode” he said sarcastically waving his hands to the surroundings.
“You probably won’t like hearing this.” I said quietly to avoid prying ears. “But the Ancient and Noble House of Black sure has something.” He raised his eyebrow at me. “Above all, I love the library. I don’t know how else to describe it other than Amazing.”
At the corner of my eye i could see Snape listening intently. His head was low, his hair fell to his face and he held no emotions but his attention was to Sirius and my conversation instead of his food.
“I expected as much.” Sirius said with a chuckle then leaned closer conspiratorially. “Now tell me Hermione. Why are you avoiding Ron Weasley?”
Remus had turned after he had finished his conversation with the lilac haired woman on his other side. He apparently heard the last part of the conversation.
“I would like to know as well.” he said staring at me intently.
“What do you want me to say?” I asked. “But I have a feeling you wouldnt stop pestering me until I tell you.”
The Marauders were determined and nodded. Sirius was tapping impatiently on the table. While Remus gave me a look.
“He’s getting on my nerves okay!” I hissed. “He’s annoying, he’s blind and childish.”
Remus looked horrified. Sirius however looked like he was going to laugh. At the corner of my eye i could see something flash in the eyes of the Potions’ Master.
“Hermione,” Remus started to scold while Black chuckled.
“What?!” I asked. “You wanted the truth. Don’t scold me for that. Don’t ask if you can’t handle the truth.”
“Why, Miss Granger, what came about the sudden change of heart. Suddenly so quiet and now so harsh with such statements!” Snape said in his low and sarcastic tone.
“Hello, Professor.” I said sarcastically “I didn’t notice you were there.”
Sirius snickered loudly he was shaking with suppressed laughter he almost fell of from his chair. I glared at him angrily and Snape did the same.
“Ron is immature and boisterous. We had a fight at the library when i was trying to study. I prefered to be left in peace and quiet.”
“Hermione,” Remus scolded. “That’s not a reason to sound so disgusted. He’s your friend.”
“You wanted the truth. And that’s the truth. I would appreciate it if you do not scold me for it, Professor Lupin. You do not need to announce it to everyone. I am just a little annoyed. I will be fine in a few days.”
Remus raised his hands in defeat. “Alright, I apologize. What do you think of calling me Remus. I am no longer your professor.”
"Gladly, Remus, thank you," I said gently, conciliatory and gave a nice smile. A derogatory "Mmmpfffff" was heard by Snape, who had followed this with attentive eyes. Remus turned back to his left as the young woman asked for his attention.
"Hermione, Hermione ... you truly have grown up since I last saw you, not that you've always been more than mature for your age, but now...! Amazing how time passes!" Sirius announced dreamily, looking deeply into my eyes. This Casanova. Snape watched him with questioningly raised eyebrows and frowned forehead.
"Are you flirting with me, Sirius?" I asked, looking intensively at him, which he replied stoically and not very shyly. Snape sniffed again as he heard my question.
"But what do you think, little one? Surely, not me... " he said playfully, but his eyes were bright as expected and he threw back his wavy hair.
“Sure, tell yourself that.” I said questioningly “Have you already found someone to play with, it’s quite boring here right? Oh yeah, i forgot, Ginny and Molly will keep you busy, won’t they?”
He growled slightly. "I don't think you would like to be a part of this game," he said provocatively in his own way, as he gave me an ardent and more than ambiguous look. I could feel professor Snape watching the whole interaction but i refuse to let it bother me and it didn’t seem to bother Sirius.
I giggled mischievously. "Are you so sure of that, you naughty, naughty dog ... Pffsh, what are you thinking again," I said flirtatiously, enjoying the fact that Sirius was involved in the game. A slight disbelief was evident from Professor Snape's face. His otherwise perfect indifference was shattered as he watched this flirting strike exchange. Oh, yes, Professor, just before you, two people, one of them, your pupil, and on the other side, your hated former classmate, a temporary prisoner, and the same age as yours. Would it shock them all, that I found men of more mature age more appealing to me than the boys in my age, who couldn't reach me in any way? Well, except one maybe, but no, not now, more later.
"Maybe I've already played, maybe I'm good at playing games, maybe, maybe. You never know, don't you, Sirius?" I said cryptically. I watched him, silently laughing, at a shocked, but also slowly understanding expression in his face. With this both of Sirius and Snape's head jerked up, and they both looked at each other with wide eyes.
Sirius let a lot of impulses run over his expressive face. It was easy to read, what the information, that I was not half as good as he thought, did to him. But as it said so beautifully, especially the still waters are very, very deep.
It was different with Snape. He had little to show. Only for a short moment disbelief and silent horror flashed through his eyes. Nothing else could be read in his face. What would I have done to be able to use legilimency now? What were they thinking? I would bet all my money on the fact that their thoughts weren't for kids at that very moment. And so that the good professor didn't even come up with stupid thoughts and try to apply legilimency on me, I never tried to look directly into his eyes and built the strongest walls around my mind, as best as I could and hoped it should hold, in case he still would try. You never knew. And I was gladly prepared for all eventualities.
I straightened on my seat ignoring the two adults. “Mrs. Weasley, I want to ask something.”
“I was wondering if I could just work on the library. Cleaning up and restoring. I just feel I would be more productive there than anywhere else in the house.”
I could see the frown growing on Mrs. Weasley’s face. But before she could say anything Sirius butted in.
"Of course, Hermione. I couldn't imagine anyone better for this task. Actually, I was planning to ask you for a favor to do the same thing. At least there aren’t any dark-magic artefacts in the library!” Sirius claimed playing along. I smiled widely at him.
“Sirius!” the Weasley Matriarch scolded. “The library is too dangerous! It’s teeming with Dark Arts books!”
“Oh, Molly.” Sirius said shaking his head. “Have a little faith. I am sure Hermione is old enough to know what to touch and not to touch are. Let the kid have a little fun.”
“Please Mrs. Weasley. I promise to be careful.” I said giving her a pleading look. "Please, Mrs. Weasley, I promise, I swear to you, you can trust me, please!" I begged
A wave of a wand and I’ll be finished with months of work in no time. Which gives me more time to read through the entire library within the summer holidays.
“But Hermione dear, I do trust you. I’m just worried. But you shouldn't be working on this alone…”
I interrupted her lecture with my own brilliant idea. “Oh, what a good idea. Ron could come with me. Ron, I have a very specific approach, which is essential to protect the books against any environmental influences. With a muggle-way, of course, very lengthy but incredibly effective, a very exciting ... ", and already I was interrupted by an outcry as I coldly calculated in my mind. The Twins, who watched the show also interested, as they already have caught me reading, almost fell from their chair with suppressed laughters and winked at me again and again.
“Mum, please don’t. I mean, I like Hermione I do but i really do not want to spend my holidays stuck in a library.” Ron begged his mother with a panicked expression on his face.
It took a lot to keep myself from laughing. I had thought it would take a lot more for Molly to agree. However, Ron is doing my work for me. And I wouldn't have a hard time keeping Ron and Ginny away from me. Two birds with one stone. And a show to add to it. Sirius and Snape were both looking at the whole encounter. They were silently judging and questioning my intentions
“Okay, okay. Ron. You don't have to.” I heard Ron sigh in relief. But Molly was persistent. “But i am really not comfortable with Hermione alone in the library perhaps Ginny..”
“Muuum!” Ginny whined hearing her name in the conversation. “I’m already helping you clean up the rest of the house. Please don’t force me into the library for the rest of the summer.
“Fine.” Molly said consenting much to the relief of the younger Weasleys. “But i do not like it.
"Oh it's alright, I know Ron and Ginny and know they don't mean it in a rude way. I don't blame them, really, guys, but you understand that I have to do that, because you don't get such a chance every day," I said to the relieved-looking siblings. Thanks to the exhausting round with Molly they were very red in the face, which bit itself incredibly with their red hair. They seemed to be completely out of breath.
“Well that is entertaining.” Sirius whispered. “Was that planned?”
“Should I really tell you my scheme?”
“The truth, Hermione”
“In a way, it was planned. I know how much Ron despises the library. Especially when I am with him. So he wouldn't voluntarily go into the library to be stuck with me through the holidays. If i worked it correctly. I would get my peace and Molly, Ron and Ginny wouldn't feel guilty for leaving me alone in the library. Since i technically asked for it.”
“Well, today has been truly interesting, Miss Granger. I am certain that you should have been sorted into my house. Many of my Slytherins might learn something from you.” Snape said monotonously. I raised an eyebrow at my professor this is a compliment coming from him.
"I hope for your secrecy, gentlemen," I said dryly when I rose. "Have a nice evening and have a lot of fun with your secret meeting," I smugly winked at them.
As I made my way out of the room, Ron and Ginny were told to go upstairs as well because of the meeting.
“Wait up, Hermione!” Ron called. “So what do you want to do for the rest of the day? We can play exploding snap.”
“I really do not feel like playing right now, Ronald.” I said. “However, I need to send a letter to someone can i please borrow Pig?”
“But do you have to do that now? We could hang in our room or try to listen into the meeting again.”
“Thanks for the concern, Ronald. But i would prefer to stay in the library for the time being. And i still have a letter to finish writing. I’ll see you later.”
Phew. That was close. Now i need to get them out of my tail. They could wait for me as long as they want but that would meddle with my plans.
I was accustomed to stay awake until one o'clock to read and work and I would continue this here. Now I just needed to have a plan of how to send Ginny and maybe even Ron, like my parents with their red wine, to the land of dreams. In the coming weeks, I would have to spend some nights outside one or even more times.
I hurried to the desk to start on my correspondents. My first letter went to Rangok with the request to send 2,000 galleons to the Twins.
My second letter would go to Viktor, with nothing but minor trifles, but I wanted to try to keep the contact, as I always said, you never knew what it could be good for.
When I finished, I picked up the books I hadn't finished before. A little charm, so everyone would think I was studying boring lectures about magic, not "black magical spells on all occasions" and "dark ritual charms," which always inspired me, protected me from discovery. As I noted, the meeting began shortly after we, the kids, had left the kitchen, at 10 pm. Now, at midnight, I heard sounds of a departure from the society.
I was well ahead. In an hour I should have finished reading the two books. I quietly walked around, no one had to realize that I hadn't even been in bed. Luck was good to me. Ginny slept deeply, not even waking up as I almost silently made myself ready for bed. In bed, I smiled at the memories of the conversation with Sirius. The flirting was invigorating, and that Professor Snape watched everything so attentively was very exciting, we would see how this game went further, but I also liked to play.
I tried in my meditation to clear my mind, because to master a game with Snape without this art would be really stupid and I was never stupid.