La – 852 Hz – Returning to Spiritual Order
No, a symphony must be like the world. It must embrace everything.
Hermione sighed. She’d been tossing and turning for hours now, and sleep was nowhere near.
When she’d been well enough to leave, neither Narcissa nor Lucius would hear of it. “No, darling, you cannot possibly return to the wilderness up there and have us Apparate hundreds of miles every time we worry about you!” Narcissa had pointed out, then added, “Look, we have more space here than we could ever use, so pick a room and at least stay until the new year.”
The room was beautiful, Hermione admitted, but had it been up to her, she’d never have left the one she’d woken up in. The bond they’d formed was subtle but ever-present. She wondered if he was asleep.
I could go and check, and if he’s asleep, I’ll just come back here… she thought and sighed. Now that the idea was there, she definitely wouldn’t go to sleep until she knew whether he was awake or not.
He felt her approach before he heard her bare feet tap over the wooden floor.
“Severus?” she whispered.
“Yes, Hermione, I’m awake.” He grinned at her sigh of relief and grabbed the wand on the side table to light a few candles.
She stood next to his bed now, worrying her lip. “I… I couldn’t sleep, and I’m feeling restless, and I was wondering if you were awake, so I figured I’d check.”
“And found me awake. You may as well sit down and cover your feet with the quilt so you don’t catch death,” he muttered, but his hand patting the pillow next to him belied his grudging tone.
She flew into the familiar space and instantly stretched her ice-cold feet into the covers. “Thank you.” Once she was comfortable, her back resting against the headboard and her feet rapidly warming after he’d silently cast a warming charm, she started, “I have a strange feeling. It’s the same sensation that preceded the other occurrences of the music playing to heal someone. But it… the giant always appeared and took me to wherever the person in need of healing was. I don’t think he’ll come now.” She sounded dejected and hopeless and helpless, and all he wanted was to take her into his arms and chase her worries away.
He would have acted upon it had the contrabass not intervened. His head perked up at the same time as hers.
“Hear that?” They’d asked at the same time, and both smiled.
“The cello will follow,” she whispered, and as if on cue, a cello gently entered with soothing tones.
She locked eyes with him then, and they gazed at each other until violas interrupted.
“It’s somewhere in St Mungo’s.” Her voice was still a whisper. “Would… would you come with me?”
The plea and trust in her eyes threatened to derail him, but now was not the time. “Naturally,” he said gruffly. “I’d hate to see you end up spending New Year’s Eve in a hospital. Narcissa would never forgive me.” He added a sneer for good measure.
“Ever so helpful and pleasant,” Hermione said lightly as she moved her feet onto the floor and stood up.
He followed her and stopped when she cast a questioning glance his way. “St Mungo’s, then. I don’t know if you’re strong enough to Apparate on your own.” He proffered his hand, and she took it and smiled.
To her surprise, Gilderoy Lockhart was standing in front of the building. “Oh, thank goodness you’re here! I heard the music, so I followed a hunch to come here and then wasn’t quite sure when I didn’t find you.”
The violins piped up and ushered the three inside and up the stairs. One floor, two floors, three floors…
And the universe laid out its symphony before them. Earth was rumbling in the low tones of a double bass, simultaneously warning and inviting. Mars played along in low-key strings of the cellos, and Moon and Jupiter added the higher registers of violas and violins. Mercury and Saturn competed for first violin in a duet so skilfully, and joyfully, delivered, it soon became clear that only both could rise as winners and would have to settle with two first violins in this orchestra.
Venus danced into the performance with the piano, and the strings moved to the background, clearing the stage for a spectacular solo.
The Seven Sisters joined with their heavenly choir, met by Andromeda’s deeper rumble in a sea of tenors. Orion threw his spear, the clarinet, a single clear note that ascended into the sublime. And finally, Neptune joined in with the resounding tones of the harp, playing arpeggios from low to high to low in a playful conversation with Venus.
Tears ran down Hermione’s face unnoticed as she watched the first lucid communication between Neville’s parents in two decades.
“Do you feel like there’s some lost time?”
“Yeah, for sure.” Frank’s eyes widened.
“Merlin, Frank. We missed bringing up our Neville!” Alice started to cry.
He embraced her. “We did, didn’t we? And yet, he’s always been loyal to us, visiting whenever he could.”
“And your poor mum! Not only did she bring up our child but she’s visited every single day since we ended up here!” Then, with a wistful smile, she added, “I wonder how many Blowing Gum wrappers our boy has collected over the years.” Alice met her husband’s eyes again. “You know, we should be proud of him. So proud. He killed Nagini!”
Frank hugged her. “Yeah. I remember him telling us that,” he said into her hair. “What a great wizard we brought into life, eh?”
“Didn’t we just! Oh, remind me to deal with Uncle Algie when we see him. He should not have done that!”
Hermione swayed, but all Severus had to do was tighten his arm that was already resting around her shoulders. He frowned when he looked at her tear-stricken face. “We’re done here, yes? Shall we leave?”
“Take… please take me home.” Her plea was interrupted by sobs.
Lockhart put a hand on her shoulder. “Hermione. Get some rest. If you need anything, anything at all, an owl will find me.” He waved at Severus and Disapparated.
“Come. I’ll take you home.” Severus was holding her tightly with both arms now.
“Not to the manor. I need to go home to my cottage.” Sobs interrupted her, and she impatiently waved an arm. “I need to get used to being alone again, and I have research to do. I felt so much at home when I was staying in your bed, but I know it’s wrong to get used to that.” She once more gave in to her misery, sobbing her heart out. “And Harry and Ron must be terribly worried because I was supposed to meet them at the cottage on Christmas Eve, and it’s nearly New Year’s Eve!” She was positively wailing now.
He patted her shoulder awkwardly. “For what it’s worth, Cissy figured you’d made plans to spend the holidays there, so she had Kingsley send an owl to the Burrow explaining that you were busy with important things and would get in contact once you’re done, so stop worrying.” His heart reeled when she cast a grateful glance at him. “And as to home, do you seriously think I’ll leave you alone? I saw—and felt—Narcissa’s anguish when you were out cold for four days after you healed me. I have no doubt there’ll be a fire lit to warm the room at the manor, and probably tea charmed to stay hot, but if you really prefer your cottage, I’ll take you there.”
Her tears had stopped when she met his gaze again. “In that case, take me wherever you’re willing to stay with me. Sod the tea. I need sleep.”
Severus lifted the witch into his arms, ready to leave.
“Look, Frank. A new love is blooming.” Alice whispered as she tugged her husband’s arm, pointing as the couple Disapparated with a pop.
Narcissa smiled at the sight of Severus and Hermione fast asleep in his bed, his arm tugged around her midst. She wondered where they’d gone so early in the morning when Severus opened his eyes.
An owl knocked on the window, and Narcissa walked across to let it in, frowning and wondering who’d be sending a letter so late in the evening. “Sleep well?” she enquired as she opened the parchment.
“Like the dead,” Severus muttered. He pulled his arm away from her, ready to rise. “Anything interesting?”
“I suppose it has to do with wherever you went this morning.” Narcissa handed him the parchment.
This time I won’t be able to keep the Unspeakables away. They are keen to meet Hermione as well as Severus and Mr Lockhart after this morning’s miraculous healing. I managed to convince them not to turn up at the manor before 4 pm. Sorry about the inconvenience.
Minister of Magic
“Is the Department of Mysteries after me now?” Hermione asked, yawning.
“Yes, I suppose so. The note is from Kingsley, warning Narcissa that Unspeakables will turn up,” Severus said.
Hermione took a deep breath. “I have no idea what to tell them. This whole music experience is overwhelming.”
“If it’s any consolation, they want to see me and Lockhart as well,” Severus said as he finally rose from bed.
Narcissa smiled inwardly when she saw Hermione’s expression change to one of relief.
“I’m glad you’ll be there,” Hermione said. “And I don’t care much about Lockhart, but maybe he’s got something that escaped my notice.”
Severus nodded. “It’s a possibility. And stop worrying, Hermione. When Unspeakables come out of the woodwork like that, it’s usually for recruitment. So you may have a job that pays you for doing exactly what you want to do. That can’t be bad!”
The two Unspeakables had left, as had Lockhart, and Hermione had not said a word. Narcissa and Severus exchanged glances. He shrugged.
Eventually, Narcissa stood. “All right, time to prepare our New Year’s Eve dinner.” With a look at Lucius, who was preparing drinks for himself and Severus, she addressed Hermione. “Feel free to join me in the kitchen, dear, if the men’s company bores you.”
Hermione looked up distractedly. “I will in a bit. I think I need some fresh air.” She went to fetch her cloak and stepped through the French doors leading into the grounds.
Severus sipped on his cognac and sighed deeply. “So the silly girl’s been offered a job doing exactly what she wants to do, with a virtually unlimited budget, a far better pay package than a headmaster at Hogwarts could dream of, as much staff as she wants, choice of location, and she doesn’t say a word.” He sounded frustrated.
Lucius nodded knowingly. “Yes, the species is called women, Sev.” He smirked at Severus’s raised eyebrow. “Joking aside, I think she is simply overwhelmed. I don’t know her as well as Cissy does, which isn’t all that much, but from what I’ve observed, Hermione is not only a remarkable witch but also a very humble one.”
“Yes. Yes, I think you’re right.” Severus took another sip.
“You like her.” It was not a question. “She likes you, too. I think you would make a good match, Severus. Think about it. If she accepts the Department’s offer—and she’d be silly not to—you’ll be working side by side.”
“I’m too old for her,” Severus replied. “Besides, how could I be sure that it’s not just this strange bond we’ve formed because she healed me? It’s too risky.”
Lucius didn’t suppress the snicker. “And you call her silly? Lyra must have missed the fact that the long coma addled your brain.” Then he turned serious. “Severus, don’t be a dunderhead. You’ve fallen for her like I fell for Cissy the second time we met. I can tell you one thing. Without experiencing this love, no matter how short- or long-lived it is, life wouldn’t be worth living.” He shook his friend’s shoulders. “Go, find her. Talk to her. Here, take my cloak.” A silent Accio floated the desired garment straight at Severus.
He wrapped the cloak around himself and headed outside. Entirely unappreciative of Lucius’s choice of aftershave, he cast a silent Scourgify while looking for the witch.
She was standing on the edge of the lawn, her head bent upwards, staring at a starry-lit sky. When he approached, she turned towards him. “Severus.” She offered a hesitant smile. “I’m sorry I rushed out like that. I’m,” she sighed, “I’m overwhelmed I suppose.”
“What do you think you’ll do?” he asked quietly.
She laughed helplessly. “How can I not accept their offer? It’s a dream come true. There is so much to find out, so much that needs documenting about the music, and,” she met his eyes, “I like the idea of working closely with you. That is, of course, if you accept their offer.”
His heart soared to unknown heights when she cast a hopeful glance. “I think I might be very tempted to accept. Provided, of course, you do the same,” he murmured. His feet had carried him closer to her out of their own accord.
Her face lit up. “Really? I’m so glad.” Then she looked away. “I was worried you’d hate the idea of working with me,” she said quietly.
His fingers turned her chin towards him until her eyes met his again. “There is nothing I hate about you, Hermione. On the other hand… there is a lot I like. Such as having you sleep next to me. Or spending waking hours discussing interesting subjects with you. Or watching you eat. I like the way you daintily take each bite and appreciate it with such gusto.”
Hermione swallowed heavily. “Really?” She sounded disbelieving, but now was the moment to convince her of the truth of his words.
“Really.” Their faces inched closer and closer until his lips met hers. Soft lips gently caressed each other until a tongue lightly requested entry.
His arm stayed around Hermione’s shoulder when they entered Narcissa’s kitchen.
“Ah, just in time. Dinner is nearly ready!” Lucius stood leaning against the Welsh dresser as Narcissa efficiently sprinkled arugula leaves with balsamic vinegar followed by olive oil.
“There. Luce, if you could direct the dishes onto the dining room table, I’ll get the plates and cutlery.”
Lucius and Severus floated the dishes to the dining room while Narcissa opened the cupboards to choose plates.
“I attempted that mushroom dish we made at your cottage. I have no idea how it came out,” Narcissa said and handed Hermione an armful of plates.
“Oh, that’s wonderful! I’m sorry I didn’t join you earlier.”
Narcissa interrupted her search for cutlery and smiled at Hermione. “Do I detect some particular happiness, darling? I hope the two of you will be very happy!”
Hermione blushed. “Thank you. I didn’t know I was missing anything, but life seems more complete right now.”
“Oh, I’m sure it is. Lucius and I have been together for well over twenty years, and we still enjoy each other every single day. A little bit of give and take goes a long way.”
The two witches headed for the dining room to have the last meal of the year, ready to enjoy, to indulge in the pleasure of a marriage between vegetables and meats and herbs and spices that Narcissa had created with love and great skill.
When everyone had finished eating, Lucius addressed Hermione and Severus. “So, any ideas yet as to your future? You are accepting their offer, aren’t you?”
Severus nodded slightly at Hermione, and she answered, “Yes. It would be really silly not to. Initially, I planned to take off a year to research the music, but I’ve been doing it for nearly six months, and no matter how ambitious I feel about it, even if I did manage to work twenty-four hours a day, a year is nowhere near enough. I feel more like it is a life-time project, even more so given how little is documented about the music of the spheres.”
Severus put a hand on her arm. “It’ll be easier from now on. You won’t be alone.” His heart lurched when she smiled and answered in the affirmative.
Lucius exchanged a glance with his wife.
“I know it’s early days yet, but do you have any plans as to where you’ll be living?” Narcissa asked. “And, please, nothing would please us more than both of you deciding to stay here! The manor is big enough to offer plenty of privacy, and we could easily give you an entire wing.”
“Thank you. I don’t quite know what to say to that generous offer!” Hermione said and then added, “I have the cottage until June. I very much enjoyed living there. There is nothing like rolling out of bed and picking mushrooms for breakfast in front of your door.” She smiled as memories of many mushroom forays entered her mind. “Of course, once the temperature dropped, I had to make sure to remember to cast Warming Charms. But being able to simply walk outside and be one with nature was priceless, really…”
“Ah, yes, the cottage. Cissy has been waxing lyrical ever since she visited you. So, I figured if—” Lucius’s hand went inside his robes to pull out a piece of paper—Muggle paper, “—I purchased it for you, we might have a chance of visiting every now and then.” He handed the paper to Hermione, smirking.
Hermione looked at it, her eyes widening as she read on. “You… Oh, Merlin!” It was the deed to the cottage. She met Severus’s eyes. “Severus. What do I do?”
He smirked. “Just say thank you, like any well-mannered witch would do.”
“Thank you,” she whispered, eliciting happy laughter from the Malfoys and Severus.
Bells started ringing a distance away. “Happy New—” Narcissa’s words died in her throat as the contrabass piped up, announcing the galactic orchestra’s entrance to bring in the new year with a greeting of joy and hope.
The performance, dedicated to those present in the manor, brought forth primarily joy but also temperance, sheer happiness, restraint, and a reminder of the abundance of love.
The manor was silent for long minutes after the last tones—pristine interaction between piano and harp—had rung out.
“Happy New Year,” Hermione said in a small voice.
Severus turned to her and pulled her close. “Happy New Year, love.” His head bent towards her, and her lips readily embraced his.
Lucius locked lips with Narcissa until a pop announced the arrival of champagne on the table. He slowly stood to uncork the Veuve Cliquot and pour four glasses.
He lifted his own, looked from one to the next, and said, “May the rest of this year continue the way it started.”
On New Year’s Day, Hermione returned to the cottage with Severus. When she entered, it felt just like the early days: exciting, exhilarating, homey.
“It’s beautiful, Hermione. But you know we don’t have to stay here if you don’t want to. Malfoy Manor will always be open to us, and we also have the choice to live within the Ministry.”
Hermione scoffed. “Really, that last option isn’t an option. I want real light in my life, not some magically created light during daytime hours.” She sighed. “I actually like it here. It is where I encountered you first.” She shuddered lightly as the memory of his cries washed over her.
He wrapped his arms around her and rested his chin on her head. “Then, perhaps, we should consider enhancing the place. We can expect regular visits from other Unspeakables as well as Lockhart. And we should consider adding a second bedroom so Narcissa and Lucius can stay here.”
“And maybe add a fireplace to every room so we don’t freeze. Although,” her eyes danced with mischief when she faced him, “if it’s cold, we’d have a perfect excuse to stay in bed.”
“What a splendid idea,” he murmured, and slowly, arms still entangled in each other’s, they walked towards the bedroom.
A/N: Most grateful thanks to my friends who helped tremendously by offering concrit and giving encouragement all the way: Ariadne for providing the amazing idea of Hermione hearing and then researching the music of the spheres; Debjunk, without whose musical expertise and pertinent questions this wouldn’t be what it is; witchywoman for the initial beta; machshefa for rearranging my thoughts in the right order in a moment of panic; mollyssister, stefdarlin, and kittylefish for cheerleading at various moments of writing; Lucius, my Muse; and last, but most important, annietalbot for the final beta-read.
According to history, Pythagoras was the first to discover the music of the spheres. Plato, Cicero, and much later Kepler drew on the original material, or what was still available, to further investigate the music. There is some school of thought that Bach, Mozart, and Beethoven knew more about the music of the spheres than other composers. Jamie James, in his book, Music of the Spheres, goes into some detail in that regard as well as into the idea that the music plays a part in modern rock/pop. Personally, I drew most of the inspiration from Mozart’s Requiem (Dresden Semper Oper recording) and Sibelius’s Violin Concerto (Hilary Hahn’s recording).
Reviews are music.