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Harmonic Resolution by Karelia [Reviews - 3]

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Fa – 639 Hz – Connecting/Relationships

Music is in a continual state of becoming.
Aaron Copland

The next days flew by in a haze. Hermione spent much time asleep, for her waking hours were tortured by the memory of the cries interrupting the music, stalling any research, muting any enthusiasm for the beauty nature afforded. Slowly, she came to terms with the fact that her former professor was alive, wherever he was and despite the fact that she’d seen him die, and that he needed her to heal him. How to achieve his recovery, she had no idea.

Thursday arrived, and she woke up with a start. She’d completely forgotten about Narcissa Malfoy’s visit. Damn. The kitchen looks rather needy; I better get organised…

Looking in the mirror nearly sent her back to bed with a fervent wish to ignore life. A white face, whiter than Snape’s on his worst days, with purple shadows beneath her eyes stared back at her. “So much for all that time spent outdoors,” she muttered and reached for her make-up bag. No way would she face the world or, worse, a Malfoy, looking like a zombie.

Thus equipped, in a reasonable state where looks—if not mind—were concerned, Hermione Apparated to the large Tesco in Inverness and bought a fortune’s worth of groceries. She’d be damned if a Malfoy had any reason to sneer at her kitchen.

Reducing her bounty proved difficult. The store had a 360-degree car park, and it took a while to find an inconspicuous space, but eventually, she did find it, reduced all the bags to fit into her cloak’s pockets, and Apparated back home.

Reacquainting herself with the kitchen while finding space for various oils, vegetables, and exotic herbs demonstrated a challenge. When she’d finally managed to put everything away, with the use of more than one expansion charm, Hermione felt hungry for the first time in days. She remembered the homestead nearby and, in an instant, Disapparated to buy some eggs.

Back home, she realised the poor state of the cottage and rushed around to rid it of dust, put carelessly strewn clothes away, and generally make it presentable. She was shocked how far she’d let it go, and all because her former professor had cried out for help. Hermione rolled her eyes at herself.

“Calm down. It’s not like you’ve been neglecting the house because of laziness,” the giant said in his gentle voice.

She flew around. “You… you’re real!” Her eyes were wide.

The giant chuckled. “Of course I’m real. Did you doubt that?”

Hermione thought for a moment and shook her head. “No, I didn’t doubt it. It’s just… you’ve only ever appeared in dreams or when I wasn’t exactly at my most lucid.”

“You’ve never needed encouragement in other situations before.”

“And I do now?” Hermione met his eyes.

He chuckled again. “I think a little encouragement won’t go amiss. You’re nervous about receiving a pureblood in your home.”

Hermione sighed. “Yes, I am. I did enjoy lunch with the Malfoys, but really, to Mr Malfoy I’m nothing more than a glorified Mudblood.”

“Don’t say that. You are, for him, a great tool for learning that race does not matter. And the fact that Narcissa is coming to visit you speaks volumes. Don’t you think he’d stop her if he didn’t approve?” the giant challenged.

Hermione pondered his words. “I suppose you’re right,” she conceded. Then she sat down and sighed deeply. “Really, all I want to know is how to bring Snape back to the living!”

“All in good time, my dear, all in good time,” the giant soothed and faded away.

“Thanks, Mr Giant. Nothing cheers me up like a friend disappearing,” Hermione muttered and continued to improve the state of her cottage until the wards alerted her of human presence.

Ignoring the wave of trepidation, Hermione hurried to the door. “Hello.”

“Hello, Hermione. I hope it’s not inconvenient for you. To see me, I mean.”

Realising the older witch was just as anxious, Hermione couldn’t help herself and laughed. “No, Narcissa. I think you’re godsent!” She motioned for her to enter and led the way to the kitchen.

“Oh, really?” Narcissa sounded doubtful.

“I… I’ve had a few rough days, and I think an afternoon of cooking and talking mushrooms will do me a world of good,” Hermione admitted as she prepared some tea and a plateful of biscuits.

“Rough times is a concept I’ve come to understand only recently,” Narcissa said and took a delicate sip of her tea. “It’s strange, but I feel better for the experience.” She offered a hesitant smile.

Hermione nodded. “I suppose I can’t even begin to imagine what you’ve gone through. First Voldemort taking over your home…” She trailed off, inwardly cringing. Well done, Granger… Put your foot right in it, why don’t you?

“And then becoming outcasts in the wizarding world, yes,” Narcissa offered, her voice laced with amusement rather than indignation. “If I only look at the bad things, I tend to get rather depressed. But if I look at everything that’s happened because we were shunned by the rest of our world, I realise how much I’ve gained.”

“Yes.” Hermione nodded. “While in the midst of unpleasant experiences, we don’t realise how we grow or even if we grow at all.” She sipped her tea. “But, do tell, how did you come to appreciate mushrooms?”

The two witches chatted amiably, and Hermione was surprised to realise how much she enjoyed Narcissa’s company. Within an hour of her arrival she felt as if she were talking to an old friend.

What astounded Hermione even more was how adept Narcissa was at kitchen charms and her considerable knowledge of when to avoid magic to preserve the taste of particularly tender morsels.

“Oh, it’s something every pureblood witch learns by the time she’s a teenager,” Narcissa said dismissively. “True, I never have to cook, but I happen to enjoy it, and Lucius appreciates my culinary creations now and then. In fact, he only had the second kitchen in the manor built after we got married; in those days it wouldn’t have done for him to have his wife share a kitchen with house-elves.” Her laughter matched the tone of her voice.

When the two witches sat down for dinner, Narcissa raised her glass. “I must say I haven’t enjoyed myself this much in a long time. Thank you, Hermione.”

Hermione smiled. “I agree. I’ve had a wonderful time, too. Thank you!” She raised her glass now, too.

Narcissa left late in the evening with the promise that Hermione would meet her in Muggle London the following week, leaving a bewildered but happy young witch behind.

Hermione returned to the kitchen, but decided what little was left to clear up could wait until the morning. It had been an atypically eventful day, and she yawned as exhaustion washed over her.

Lucius eyed his wife with interest. “Spending time with the girl does you good, love. You radiate happiness, I sense the old Narcissa confidence returning, and you walk taller. Are you going to see her again soon?”

His greatest regret over having joined Voldemort’s ranks was not so much his beliefs in racial purity—he’d been brought up that way and had no scruples to use that reason as a perfectly valid excuse—no, it was the fact that he had failed to maintain Narcissa’s happiness at all times. His most often recurring what if question was not, What if I’d never taken the Dark Mark? it was, What if I’d never turned up in that ghastly graveyard when the rat helped the Dark Lord create a body? To watch the effect the young witch had had on his wife was pure joy and made him momentarily forget the state of his oldest friend.

“Oh, Luce, I had the most wonderful time!” Narcissa assured him. “She is great company, offers intelligent conversation, compassion, and blimey, she can cook!” She smiled, making his heart swell. “But let me greet Severus before I tell you all about this afternoon.” She rushed past him to reach her friend.

“Oh, Severus. You would have enjoyed this afternoon. I know you love to cook, too, and Hermione certainly knows a lot of the little, not necessarily magical, tricks to improve the taste of food. I had the most excellent dinner at her place,” she whispered.

“He moved his head, Lyra said,” Lucius stated hesitantly. “She also said it can mean either he’s starting to recover or leaving this plane.”

“Merlin, please, no.” Dread washed over her in strong waves at the thought of losing him. She straightened, determined to concentrate on the problem at hand. “Maybe, just maybe, meeting the old witch on Sunday will bring some solution…”

Lucius nodded slowly. “We shan’t give up hope.”

Narcissa sighed. The euphoria of the wonderful day was gone without trace, and the fear of loss took reigns painfully once again.

Their lovemaking that night was tender—without even a hint of selfishness on Lucius’s part—and held an edge of desperation. When Narcissa nestled against his body, spent after a curiously powerful release, he pulled her even closer.

“I don’t want to lose him, love,” Lucius whispered. “He’s never had a life. He realised a lot sooner than I did that the Dark Lord’s seduction was without substance, that it was all based on an inhuman, draconian belief, one that would destroy itself because of its very nature. Then he spent twenty years playing puppet to two masters, neither of whom ever had even the remotest right to control him. And when his slavery finally ended, he had to be bitten by a snake.” A rough edge of bitterness laced his voice.

Confidence bulged within Narcissa, the source or reason for which entirely escaped her. “He will live, Luce, do you hear? He will live! When he recovers, we will build him a cottage, with a lab, and then we’ll help him start his own brewing business. And we’ll make sure he’ll be at least content if not outright happy.”

Lucius’s expression was solemn when he nodded. “I promise.”

Rays of morning sun peeked through the curtains, tickling her nose. Pleased that nature celebrated Sunday with the absence of rain, Hermione rose from bed, her feet carrying her with renewed energy in anticipation of a roam through the forest.

Oak and birch trees were bare, and all the fern had died, leaving not even glimpses of its once bright green leaves now all turned muddy brown and ready to re-enter the soil from where it’d come. Pine and fir and conifer, however, gleamed in various shades of green, creating stark magnificence in contrast to the deceivingly deep blue sky that spoke of warm summer days. The air carried the promise of snow.

Hermione took deep breaths as she leisurely hiked towards the lake, appreciating the cold, clear air that filled her lungs. Hopes for any kind of harvest were futile, she knew, but few activities lifted her spirits the way a walk in the Scottish wilderness did. Overcome with keen hope, the replenished spring in her gait hurrying her forward, she thought, Maybe I’ll solve some of the calculations this afternoon.

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Harmonic Resolution by Karelia [Reviews - 3]

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