Disclaimer: The characters and everything else in the Potterverse belong to JKR. I only took them all and ran.
For Ariadne, who provided the idea.
Ut (Tonic) – 396 Hz – Liberating Guilt and Fear
Concerning matter, we have been all wrong. What we have called matter is energy, whose vibration has been so lowered as to be perceptible to the senses. There is no matter.
It was ironic, Hermione thought, that this incident—no, event—happened mere minutes after she’d had a heated discussion with Professor Vector about an historic wizard and an historic Muggle.
“But, Professor, how can you disregard Kepler’s mathematical approach just because he was a Muggle? It makes no sense! As a Muggle, he wouldn’t have known the existence of magic, so it’s only natural that he would have thought Fludd’s work based on superstition! That doesn’t mean Kepler’s findings aren’t important! On the other hand, Fludd should have realised Kepler’s limitation, knowing he was a Muggle!” She’d shaken her head at her professor’s stubbornness. The woman was an Arithmancer, yet she looked upon any Muggle-based sciences with disdain, forcefully ignoring the mathematical association with the magical subject. “After all, his vision of the music of the spheres is based on hard facts of astronomical measurement, isn’t it?”
“Apparently so. But you won’t find out unless you move to somewhere remote, with no distractions, and find the music of the spheres yourself. History has proven that is the only way to find it, and only very few have actually succeeded,” the Arithmancy professor said in a challenging tone, as if she’d meant to say, I dare you.
Hermione suppressed the urge to huff and instead decided to go for a walk. It was—yet again—time to ponder her plan of apprenticing with Professor Vector. Retreat to the wild… Maybe I should just do that. If only I could… Studying the music of the spheres had intrigued her ever since she’d read Kepler’s and Fludd’s works. So little was known about it, yet so much could be gained.
Her unintentional path took her to Hagrid’s hut, and the moment she saw his prone figure on the ground, mere yards from his front door, the music began to play, causing her to stop dead in her tracks.
The entire universe was alive with music, and Hermione unfolded her complete being—body, mind, and soul—, opened her hands outward, and placed her palms to face Hagrid, as if thus instructed by the wondrous celestial tones pouring out from the galaxy.
He rose slowly. “’Ermione? Blimey. Didn’t know you could do that sort of ‘ealing! Thanks, luv!” Hagrid got up, managed to stand straight, and said, “If you want tea, ‘Ermione, I’ll be glad to make ya some!”
It took her a moment to answer. “No, thanks, Hagrid. I don’t want tea. I want you to tell me what caused your… collapse.” Rapidly recovering from this most bizarre experience, she looked at him sternly. “I won’t tell anyone, but I need to know… for myself.”
“I… I… oh, bugger. I… a snake came to visit me. But she was kinda enthusiastic and bit me on one occasion. Is all I remember.” He sounded sheepish.
His answer brought back her worst memories. “What snake, Hagrid?” she asked, her tone sharp yet her voice barely more than a whisper.
“Well, I don’t know. Not Nagini, if that’s what you’re worried about.” His voice sounded defensive.
The relief sweeping across her bordered on pain. “I think you should go and see Madam Pomfrey, just to make sure you’re all right.” She turned to leave.
Hermione needed to think. Events she was unable to file under any specific label, occurrences for which she had no explanation irritated her and demanded research until she’d resolve the matter. But where to start? She slowly walked back to Hogwarts and headed for the library in the hope of finding an answer.
Hours later, Hermione threw her quill on the table in utter frustration. Too little knowledge had survived since the days of Pythagoras or even Plato. Cicero was nothing more than a starting point, for his vision was perhaps drawn from Pythagorean wisdom or possibly Platonic philosophies. She had made a few notes of possibly helpful book titles, of prospective quotations, but had found absolutely no explanation as to why she’d suddenly heard such incredible music or how Hagrid had been healed. Not even a handful of incidences had been recorded in history where a witch had heard the music and then moved on to heal someone, and each record was lacking in detail.This library is, for once, completely useless, she thought. Spending a year all by myself, with no distractions, is sounding better and better. Damn Vector for putting that thought in my head!
Given her financial situation, Hermione knew the thought was impossible to pursue into anything more; it would take no less than a miracle. She was honest enough to admit—to herself at least—that the main lure of apprenticing with Professor Vector was a reliable pay package. The salary wasn’t much, but accommodation and food were free, and she’d be able to save for the day she’d start out on her own. Of course she loved Arithmancy, but any ideas she’d ever had about research in the subject had always included Muggle science approaches, something her professor would simply not discuss, let alone allow. She couldn’t help wondering whether she’d last the three years it took to acquire the mastery of the subject, considering the limitations imposed by racial prejudice.
The universe has a way of showing approval when something right happens and will ensure transformation from impossible to likely, often with incredible speed. Some—those who use the power of observation—are aware of this and refer to such seemingly unrelated events as synchronicities. Narcissa shook her head impatiently. “Luce?”
Her husband looked up from the parchment in his hands. “Yes?”
“I’m not getting anywhere with these Muggle books. Most of them are complete drivel.” Her head turned to the recumbent form of the dark-haired man on the bed next to her chair. “Neither the Reiki master nor the homeopath nor the aromatherapist nor the NLP practitioner have made any difference to his state.” She took a deep breath. “Let’s look into other, magical, possibilities, please,” she pleaded.
Lucius rose from the sofa and walked over to sit on the edge of the bed. He carefully—almost tenderly—moved a lock of black hair behind the man’s ear. “Help me turn him over, would you?”
They moved silently to turn the man who hadn’t stirred in an entire year so he’d lie on his left side for the next few hours. “I have a lead. I cannot make promises to find the woman, but I’ll try my utmost best. Lyra suggested I approach her, as she herself has exhausted quite all possibilities of bringing him back.”
Narcissa nodded and sat down again. “Yes, if it’s a woman, it had better be you finding her. Your charms work better on females.” She smiled at her husband. “And we know we can trust Lyra; he’d be dead if it weren’t for her.” Her smile turned sad. “I wish he’d wake. This is no life…” Her voice trailed off, and she stared unseeing through the window into the Malfoy grounds. “At least Draco is happy. Sending him to France was a stroke of genius, love.”
Lucius smiled. After a moment, he said, “Cissy? Let’s go out. Lyra will be here shortly; she won’t mind staying a couple of hours to watch over him.” He pulled her up from the chair. “Come. Wear your green robes and those silver sandals that go so well with it, and then we’ll go out for dinner. Let me take you to The Neal Street Restaurant. I know how you love the food there.”
Her face brightened. “Yes. Let’s go out.” Narcissa laughed; the sound was harsher than intended. “It’s been a while, hasn’t it…?” She cast a wistful glance at her husband. “Isn’t it strange how acceptable visiting the Muggle world has become these days? I do so prefer it over Diagon Alley.”
He smirked. “It does make a difference whether one receives looks for looking strange or for being a Malfoy. I’ll have the look-strange glances any time.” Then, his smirk died and was replaced with a regretful expression. “I am sorry, Cissy. I never wanted you to be ousted by society the way we were.” His hands cupped her face, and he placed a gentle kiss on her mouth.
She smiled. “You know… I don’t even find it all that bothersome. I think… I think we actually have become better persons because we are outcasts in our world. And besides—” now her face lit up, “—Carluccio really does offer the best food!”
The Healer arrived when Narcissa was applying the last touches of an eyelash-darkening charm on her ever-blonde lashes. “You are going out!” the elderly witch exclaimed with a wide smile. “Oh, I’m so glad! Go, have yourselves a good time! Don’t worry about Severus; I’ll take care of him! You deserve a break. If you’re going to visit Neal Street, have some mushrooms for me, will you?” She smiled while wandlessly taking her patient’s vitals. Then her eyes met Lucius’s. “Remind me to give you some pointers on how to find the witch I mentioned the other day.”
Hermione looked at the letter the owl had delivered a minute ago with increasing annoyance. Couldn’t she have told me that in person? She read the letter again.
Dear Miss Granger,
It has been four weeks since I offered you the position of Arithmancy apprentice. I would really like your answer today, for if you decline, I have very little time left to find another potential apprentice. Please inform me of your decision whether or not you wish to apprentice for Arithmancy by the end of today.
Hermione scowled. If only I had an option… The thought of moving away from civilisation, Muggle or magical, had not left her since hearing the music. The prospect of entering a three-year apprenticeship with someone she did not have an accord with soured her mood. If only there were a way to say thanks, but no thanks… She rolled her eyes at herself. If only, if only, if only! Get a grip, Granger!
“Hermione, oi, what’s wrong? Failed your NEWTs?” Harry snickered.
She scowled. “Not quite. Not yet, anyway.” Being reminded that NEWT results were due in the next day or two did not improve her frame of mind in the least. Not that she had any doubt about passing them with flying colours—they’d probably let anyone involved in this side of Voldemort pass no matter the actual outcome—but not knowing, not holding a palpable result in her hands, made her feel queasy.
Another flurry of owls suddenly arrived—all Ministry owls, Hermione noted. NEWT results already? One plopped down in front of her, sharp talons on her breakfast plate. “Thanks, mate. So glad I’m done with eating. Have at it,” Hermione muttered as she untied the parchment, carefully avoiding the owl’s greedy beak and shooting a disdainful glance at the bird.
As she read the letter, her eyes widened. Oh, Merlin, the world has just become a better place… She stared at the parchment, her jaw dropping as she realised that she’d never have a day’s worry over finances.
Dear Miss Granger,
It is my utmost pleasure to inform you that, as one of the wizarding world’s War Heroes, you are awarded the Order of Merlin, First Class, the ceremony for which will take place at the upcoming Hogwarts Leaving Feast.
The Order of Merlin is not merely a medal. It is a financial safety net granted for services rendered. You have played a significant part in saving our world and are deserving of a regular income for putting others’ lives before your own. The amount of 300 Galleons will be deposited on a monthly basis backdating to May 1997 until your death or, should you turn Dark, until your incarceration in Azkaban. A deposit of 3,600 Galleons has been made to your Gringott’s account.
Minister of Magic
P.S. Hermione, congratulations! Take time off to see the world and enjoy yourself. You truly deserve it! If you need help finding a job or apprenticeship, at the Ministry or elsewhere, let me know, and I’ll arrange it. Love, Kingsley
Hermione stared at the parchment. I can research the music of the spheres! She looked at the other students. Harry grinned in a daft way, and Ron looked positively catatonic. It relieved her to see them receive equally good news. Harry didn’t need the money, for sure, but he deserved more than anyone else to be commended. And Ron… She smiled indulgently at him. Her Ron. He’d always be her Ron, even though he’d never be her lover. Never again.
A/N: Grateful thanks to Annie Talbot for the beta. More grateful thanks to HogwartsClassof91 for the initial beta and debjunk for the incredible concrit on the musical issues. And more grateful thanks to kittylefish, stefdarlin and mollyssister for the cheerleading. Without all of you, this wouldn't be what it is.