There is no logical way to the discovery of elemental laws. There is only the way of intuition, which is helped by a feeling for the order lying behind the appearance.
Ignoring the cold, Hermione slid to the ground to listen, to absorb the sound, to become one with the music. She sat in rapt silence until the sweet tones of perfectly tuned instruments were interspersed with cries. Cries of a male voice. Cries for help. Cries of agony that far surpassed Bellatrix Lestrange’s Cruciatus Curses, making her curl up on the cold earth. Cries becoming so intense her heart ripped apart.
When it subsided and then finally stopped, just as she thought she could take no more, Hermione crawled inside the cottage, fleetingly grateful she’d set the wards to recognise her, and collapsed into bed.
The giant approached her quietly. “Are you ready to see more?” When Hermione shrugged, he smiled. “Surely, you know that your journey has only just begun?”
“I don’t know what to make of it,” she admitted. A small sigh escaped her. “How does one recognise what to do in a situation like this?” Maybe the giant knew the answer.
“You are doing well. Come, I’ll show you.” He stretched his hand out just as he’d done before, and she took it, this time aware they’d defy gravity and travel by unconventional, unknown means.
They landed on the balcony of an old, decrepit mansion near the Irish Sea, its former glory long dissipated, chipped away by the passage of time. The giant motioned for Hermione to look inside through the large window.
The light inside was dim, but she made out a bed on one side and a chair next to it. A woman, not old, but with once auburn hair heavily peppered with grey, sat on the chair, her lips moving and her eyes shifting between the book in her hand and the motionless form of a young boy on the bed.
“A few days after his eighth birthday, he was poisoned by a gang of Muggles who thought he was the devil incarnate because of his bouts of uncontrolled magic. He’s been catatonic for nearly six months,” the giant explained quietly. “Nobody has been able to bring him back. He spent the first three months at St Mungo’s, but then his mother wanted to look after him in her own home, hoping he’d be more comfortable here.” Hermione watched with almost morbid fascination the scene inside the old house.
She turned to face the giant. “Muggles did this?” Her voice was one of terror. “Oh, Merlin!”
He nodded, his expression sombre.
“The poor, poor family,” Hermione whispered, her heart reaching out to the mother for her loss and the boy for missing out on his life. Images of Harry and Ron in her first year came to her mind, tugging further at her heart. He may never experience friendships. Or Hogwarts…
Hermione frowned when her companion smiled. And then, suddenly, she comprehended.
The bass began to play, its low rumble tickling her skin before it entered her ears. The cello followed seconds later, its pristine tones causing her to shiver from the sheer beauty.
When the viola approached, hesitantly at first, but gradually gaining more courage and, with it, volume, Hermione rejoiced. The arrival of the violin, proposing a tantalising cadenza of each note building upon the previous, gaining intensity, no longer surprised her, but the beauty of absolutely perfect harmony brought forth by what appeared to be the melodic interpretation of a planetary alignment left an indescribable sensation within her, one she feverishly hoped to repeat many a time and one she knew she’d never forget.
She didn’t notice the tears on her face as she watched the boy looking at his mother with wide eyes, nor did she hear the French horns enter the symphony with nothing less than a full chord.
The mother cried out in perfect tune with the offering of the universe.
A smile spread over Hermione’s face as she watched mother and son reunite. Gryffindor, maybe… A sob escaped her, unnoticed. “Merlin, what can I do?” She looked helplessly at the giant.
“Look what you have done!” He pointed at the scene inside the room and smiled.
Hermione did a double take. It really is so. The music woke him up! The realisation knocked her out cold.
When she awoke, the sun was high in the sky or, rather, as high as it reached in the Highlands with winter approaching. The memory returned slowly. Dream? Not a dream? Who knows…
It didn’t matter, and she pushed the thought aside. It did matter when she received an owl carrying a Prophet with the headline, Jonathan Diggle Awake! Healed by Unknown Source! The article included a photograph of young Jonathan, still in his bed but awake, smiling and sitting up. The same boy she’d seen in the dream, in which he’d been lying in bed, unmoving, unresponsive, while his mother had read to him.
“Lucius! He moved!” Narcissa called out, excitement ringing in her voice.
Lucius looked at the recumbent form on the bed. “You really think so, love?” He sighed. “I don’t mean to shatter your hopes, but he looks all the same to me. I wish I could say differently!”
“No, I know he just moved. I saw it. It was not imagination. He moved his head at least two inches,” Narcissa insisted.
“Cissy. Love, I know the article in the Prophet is hopeful, but let’s remain realistic, yes?” He let out a deep breath. “You know I want nothing more than for Severus to wake up and be well, don’t you?” His hands found her neck, and she let him pull her closer.
“I know, love.” Narcissa sighed. She knew she wasn’t wrong. Severus had moved. Not much, but it raised her desperate hopes for him.
“You need a break,” Lucius said. “It’s been weeks since you last went out.”
Narcissa nodded slowly. “You’re right; it’s been too long. I suppose I could owl Hermione Granger and see if she is up to giving me a cookery lesson.”
“If that is what you’d like, go ahead. It will do you good to have some female company.”
She knew he had no objections despite his initial reservations about the young, Muggle-born witch, which had soon dissipated over the lunch they’d shared. “Yes. If nothing else, it’ll be a girly day out for me.” Narcissa met his smile and moved to her desk to write a note. Then she headed outside to find an owl strong enough for the journey to the North.
Winter had started in the Highlands. Grass and other just-above-ground bushes were covered in a layer of frozen dew. There were no more mushrooms except the most hardy, all inedible. Hermione looked at the landscape in wonder. It was so beautiful, yet harsh, forbidding. Until the bass made itself heard. Then it turned to perfect beauty. She slipped outside in her pyjamas to hear it better, more completely. And it turned perfectly whole. The contrabass, the very base of every orchestra, offered its perfection at her feet, keeping them warm and cosy. The cello granted more precision as it followed the deepest of strings, making her sigh in contentment. When viola and violin joined in, she cried out with joy. But it was nothing compared to the horns and then, the flute. Sweet tones set against dark, savoury ones, wholly fulfilling her very soul.
She cuddled the ground, not minding the plants beneath her, in comfort so acute she doubted it was real.
“Go back inside! You’ll catch death!” the giant’s voice interrupted her.
She crawled back inside and lit the fire. Then she curled in front of it, cherishing the warmth and dozing off.
An owl knocked on the window, waking her.
If you are willing still, I’d love to meet you for a cookery lesson. How about Thursday? Let me know either way, please. The owl will wait for your reply.
Hermione stretched. Yes, some company will make a nice change… And teaching a Malfoy the art of mushroom cookery will make good conversation when I see Harry and Ron again. She chuckled at the thought and sat at the table to pen a reply for the owl to take.
It was time to look at the calculations again, now that she’d heard the music several times. Hermione sifted through the parchments, stopping at the last one filled with three-digit numbers and the names of the first six notes.
“Oh! Frequencies,” she muttered and pointed her wand at the parchment. The letters changed and righted themselves instantly to each correspond with one frequency.
Looking at the previous parchment, the one with the spiral, Hermione frowned. The notes correspond to the first syllable of each verse… And it reads like a hymn… She pointed her wand again, but only a rune appeared. Isa. Hm. Yes, I suppose this is beginning to frustrate me.
When the contrabass began to play again, interrupting her thoughts, Hermione looked up, startled. She left the parchments be and headed for the door, grabbing her cloak on the way out.
The cello joined the bass. So did another cry for help. No, please! she thought and stopped in the midst of the herbs in the front garden, dreading the imminent anguish. And it arrived with force. The cries grew stronger, the agony piercing her heart in rapid succession like a maniac let loose with a needle. She opened her mouth to scream, but no sound came out. The viola played now, too, but the cries for help, desperately conveying an agony she’d never before encountered, drowned its sweet melody.
Hermione bent to kneel on the ground, her arms wrapped around her chest in a poor attempt to shield her from the torment. The cries became yet louder until the entire violin section of the galactic orchestra came forth to voice its opinion. Then, finally, the volume of the sobs subsided, and only a small whimper remained. The gentle tune of the French horns began to converse with the violins, and a flute chirped in occasionally. Hermione opened her hands to allow the music to penetrate her, to heal her shattered heart. She took a deep breath, and finally, realisation hit her that she knew the voice. The voice of a man the world had thought dead for a year and a half.