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Harmonic Resolution by Karelia [Reviews - 3]

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Mi – 528 Hz – (Mediant) Transformation and Miracles (DNA Repair)

Aside from purely technical analysis, nothing can be said about music, except when it is bad; when it is good, one can only listen and be grateful.
W. H. Auden

Hermione threw yet another parchment on the floor. “What am I missing?” Taking a new parchment, she started again, but this time when she cast the spell, instead of forming three, not-quite-connecting triangles, her wand issued Latin words in a spiral fashion complete with musical notes. Ut queant laxis…

Her mouth formed an O as understanding began to dawn. Ut, Re, Mi, Fa, Sol, La She made a mental note to find a book on the history of music for better understanding.

Next, her wand produced numbers. Numbers? Hermione shook her head in confusion. “Oh!” The same numbers as on the clock. She looked at the parchment again and saw a rune appear, this time to the right. Ansuz. Signal. Communication. Power of word.

Suddenly, the soundless night was pierced with the tones of the first three notes of the scale, brought forth by a violin in crystal clarity the like she’d never heard before. Ut, Re, Mi… Mi!

Hermione listened intently until she looked at the clock. Exhaustion washed over her. Another hour and the sun would rise. Heading for the bedroom, she lay down and was asleep before the covers settled on her form.

“Cissy.” Lucius sounded apprehensive.

Narcissa turned away from her task of dabbing Severus’s face with a moist towel and met her husband’s eyes. “What is it?”

“I… I thought we could get away for a couple of days. Maybe the Highlands. Just you and I. In the middle of nowhere. Maybe we’ll even find some mushrooms. You’d like that, wouldn’t you?” His expression was anxious and hopeful.

“Really? You wouldn’t mind?” Her patient momentarily forgotten, she stood and wrapped her arms around him.

His laugh was one of relief. “Is there anything I would mind doing with you, love?” His hands cupped her face. “I was hoping you’d like the idea. I read somewhere the mushroom season only lasts so long, and if we’re lucky, we might catch the tail end of it.”

“I would love to go. But… have you talked to Lyra? We can’t leave Severus alone overnight.” Narcissa leant against her husband’s chest, drawing comfort from his heartbeat, his scent, the soft feel of his robes, and then, from the echo of his low chuckle.

“Not only have I arranged with Lyra to stay here during our absence but I’ve taken the liberty to book a bed and breakfast just outside Grantown-on-Spey, close to the forest,” Lucius said, his tone faintly smug.

Narcissa clung to him more tightly, grateful that he was finding a footing in the world again, something to distract him from the sad state of his oldest friend and the fact that they were outcasts in their own world. “When are we going?”

Lucius weaved his fingers through her hair. “Tomorrow, if that suits you. Lyra will be here in the morning, and she agreed to stay until we return on Sunday.”

A ray of sun speared through the narrow slit between the curtains, waking Hermione. She looked at the clock, hurried out of bed to pull the curtains apart, and smiled. The rain had finally made way for a blue sky, and the sun bestowed his rapidly waning strength of mid-autumn on the Scottish forests.

The calculations can wait. Better make use of the beautiful weather, she decided and headed to the kitchen to prepare a quick breakfast. Next, she cast mud-repelling charms on her boots and jeans, took her basket and headed out, at first toward the lake, then on the trodden path leading around it, picking mushrooms as she found them. She knew the path led towards town and pondered a visit to the pub for lunch.

“No,” Hermione suddenly heard a voice shriek, “not that one! It’s poisonous! Only Severus would know how to use it.” She looked in the direction the voice came from. Some blonde was physically preventing her partner from picking a fly agaric.

Hermione shook her head at the ignorant man and walked towards them. “Sir, the fly agaric is poison—” She stopped abruptly, recognising the couple. Why, oh why?

“Miss Granger. What a… delight.” Lucius Malfoy’s sneer was magnificent.

“Lucius! Stop right here! She’s right!” Mrs Malfoy hissed at her husband before turning to her with what Hermione figured was a friendly expression for a Malfoy.

“Miss Granger. I apologise for my husband’s behaviour. You know what men are like…” Mrs Malfoy looked apologetic.

“I doubt I know men as a species, Mrs Malfoy, but I do know mushrooms,” Hermione offered. “And I’d hate to see anyone who survived Voldemort poisoned because of sheer ignorance.”

“Touché, Miss Granger.” Mr Malfoy regarded her with sudden interest, as if he were surprised to see a Muggle-born capable of more than incomprehensible drivel.

Mrs Malfoy cast a withering glare at her husband and then faced Hermione. “Miss Granger, would you mind looking at the mushrooms we’ve collected so far? I’ve never actually picked them myself before, and although I’m fairly certain I didn’t take any questionable specimens, having studied them for several months, I’d like to be sure.” She glanced questioningly at Hermione and held out her basket, which was half-filled with various mushrooms.

Hermione took a step forward and looked at the collection. She removed one after the other and in no time had two piles on the ground. “These,” she pointed at the large pile, “are exquisite. Chanterelles, king boletes, horn of plenty, hedgehog fungi. Those,” now she pointed at the small pile, “I’d call… well, not exactly questionable. They are edible per se, but you’d really have to be desperate to eat them. Some taste bitter or sharp, and those will give you stomach upsets.” She waved her hand at some bright coloured russolas. “The ink cap, of course, tastes wonderful, but if you choose to have even one glass of wine with your meal, I’d say stay away from it. It’ll give you terrible indigestion.”

“Oh. I didn’t know about the ink cap. Or the bitter ones. Thank you. I appreciate your help,” Mrs Malfoy said, and Hermione could not help but wonder just how much of a lesson in humility the older witch had been receiving since the end of the war. She knew the Malfoys had become nobodies in the wizarding world since Voldemort’s fall, but Mrs Malfoy’s behaviour suggested she’d learned the painful way that money could not buy everything once a certain line was overstepped.

“You are welcome,” Hermione said and then added, “I think I’ve grazed pretty much the area around this side of the lake.” She indicated the direction she’d come from. “But the crops have been abundant all over the area, so you should have no trouble finding plenty. I’ll be on my way, then.” She nodded at Mrs Malfoy and turned to leave.

Hermione heard Mrs Malfoy whisper something, but paid no attention; nor could she make out the words. Then, the older witch’s voice stopped her. “Miss Granger, wait!” Hermione turned around to face the couple, who were now standing close to each other.

“Please. I… I would love to learn more about mushrooms. Would you agree to have lunch together somewhere and share your knowledge?” Mrs Malfoy looked at her with a combination of shy and expectant expressions. “Please?”

Something in the older witch’s demeanour stopped Hermione from declining outright. A lunch with the Malfoys. Well, if I suggest the local pub, she’ll probably be put off very quickly… “Why not?” she answered. “There is a pub not far from here that offers lunch. Typical Muggle pub fare, but most of the fancier establishments are closed now that the tourist season has ended.”

“A pub?” Mr Malfoy curled his lip.

His wife rolled her eyes. “A pub, Lucius. If Miss Granger knows it, I cannot imagine it to be the shady kind one typically finds in London’s East End.”

Hermione noticed his face fall and wondered what his wife’s words had insinuated. She’d sounded perfectly normal and civil to Hermione’s ears, too civil for a Malfoy even, as far as discussing anything Muggle was concerned. She smiled at the older witch. “It’s tame enough. Just a typical country pub in the Highlands, and the food is not bad.”

“As long as haggis isn’t the only item on the menu,” Mr Malfoy whined.

Hermione laughed. “No, they have a variety of foods. I don’t care for Haggis either. If we’re lucky, chanterelle omelette will be the day’s special.”

“Wonderful,” Mrs Malfoy said. “If you don’t mind, lead the way, Miss Granger.”

Any awkwardness Hermione had expected initially had dissipated by the time the three reached The Craig on the edge of Grantown-on-Spey. The conversation started about mushrooms and soon changed to cooking mushrooms, to eating locally produced food, choice of wines, a subject Mr Malfoy contributed to with gusto, and only paused momentarily when each perused the menu.

Hermione smiled when she saw the day’s special. “I’ll have the omelette. I couldn’t figure out all the ingredients last time. Maybe today is the day.”

Mr Malfoy, rather grudgingly, walked to the bar to place the food orders and returned with half-pints of locally brewed ale. “It’s supposed to be the best around here,” he said, sounding doubtful as he put them on the table.

His mood picked up visibly when he tasted the chanterelle omelette. “They do know how to cook,” he admitted, grudgingly still, but with an edge of appreciation in his voice.

“And why wouldn’t they, Luce?” Mrs Malfoy challenged her husband. “I know you like Carluccio’s—a Muggle’s—cooking as much as I do, and we agreed a while ago that a lot of chefs are highly underrated.”

Hermione nodded thoughtfully. “There are a few places around here that offer good food, the kind you’d expect to be featured on TV, and yet, they are rather unknown. I’m no longer sufficiently submerged in Muggle culture to base my suspicions on facts, of course, but it seems that Muggles go for instant gratification in terms of food. Many seem to prefer a drive-through, fast-food place to fill their stomachs over sitting down and eating in a more… social environment.”

Later on—Hermione had no idea when exactly she’d become friendly with the Malfoys—they’d parted calling each other by first names, and Narcissa had asked her for a mushroom cookery lesson in the near future. The sun was setting fast, and she walked at a brisk pace to reach home before it was dark, not wanting to interrupt the swing of the day with Apparating.

As she reached the front door, the universe began to play, stopping her cold. A perfect bass and a faultless cello were soon joined by impeccable viola and violin, and finally, equally unflawed French horns—a sweet symphony that overshadowed the genius of Mozart to its last tone.

Harmonic Resolution by Karelia [Reviews - 3]

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