"So I bound its roots like it suggested in Proudfoot's journal, and now it's twice as big and still growing."
I lied. When I thought that even Longbottom's company would be better than endless silence--I lied. It isn't better. It's mind numbingly dull. I now know more about the Gloriouso family of creeping Bantu vine than I could have ever imagined. It is a plant that old women grow because it's pretty and it has no known magical use whatsoever. I could not be less interested.
Three weeks have passed since Miss Granger found out that I'd been lying in bed with no company and no mental stimulation. Three weeks of having at least two visitors a day. Potter has shown up twice and used his time to give me a detailed account of the final battle. I was glad of it, and especially enjoyed the description of Voldemort's last moments, may he rest in hell.
Then Potter ruined it all by getting over emotional and repeatedly asking my forgiveness for him not understanding what side I was truly on. I don't mind his repentance, per se, but I wish he wouldn't go on and on about it. He was meant to think I was dark, they all were. Merlin, that was Albus' chief reason for me taking him out. Certainly, there was some small amount of concern for Draco, but mostly that plan was bred from the mind of a general thinking about pawns lost and battles won.
The fact that he was correct and his plan worked perfectly is not truly any consolation at all.
Hagrid's come to see me several times, but mostly he cries and talks about who we've lost. If my condition continues, and I have no reason to doubt that it will indefinitely, Hagrid will become better company when his emotions have had time to even out. I'm fond of Hagrid. That might surprise some people, but it makes perfect sense to me. When one has spent most of one's adult life as a spy, it's refreshing to be around someone with whom you always know where you stand. Hagrid is an open book. He literally cannot keep a secret. Honestly, now that Albus is gone, Hagrid might end up being my best friend. I find his presence calming, despite his emotionality.
Minerva also comes to see me. She shows up nearly every other day, but never stays for long. She's busy, I know, so I try not to blame her for the shortness of her visits. Overseeing the repairs to Hogwarts is a big job. She tells me all the details of the damage and how the repair work is going. She always reminds me there's a place for me there when I get better.
If I get better, more like. I enjoy hearing about the reconstruction, I only wish I was able to get out of this bed and help.
As far as the future job goes, I'd consider it. Hogwarts is more a home to me than my shabby house ever was. What I never want to do again is teach potions. While I love brewing potions, I hate teaching it. Too many variables. In a potions classroom, one is always hyper vigilant in an effort to keep students from poisoning themselves or blowing up the classroom. Defense classes are far more easily controlled, and while accidents happen, they are rarely fatal and often easily dismissed. The stress of teaching potions and my work as a spy was almost more than I could handle. It was far easier when I was playing at Headmaster, even if I did have to keep the thrice-damned Carrows from slaughtering the children.
Longbottom's lecture on useless flora winds down and he excuses himself to go visit his parents. The silence is a blessing for a while, but the endless hours of lying in this bed unable to do anything are wearing me down. To go from almost frantic activity to this nothingness is beyond imagining.
I shouldn't be so hard on Longbottom. He did kill the damned snake that put me in this position. I may never truly enjoy the boy's company, but he has nothing to fear from me any longer.
I've been sleeping too much. Some days, I sleep nearly all the time except when I have a visitor. I've got to stop doing that. I feel as if my brain is atrophying. I must find ways to keep it active. It won't matter if I get out of this bed someday only to find that I've become a blithering idiot.
I begin by mentally choosing a letter and then listing all the potions ingredients I can think of that start with that letter, as well as their uses. It's a ridiculous exercise but it does pass the time.
I have reached Nettle when I hear approaching footsteps and a small breeze wafts in an odd combination of citrus peel and wormwood. It's an interesting scent, a mixture of sharpness and a rich, earthy tone. I decided a few days ago that it's the shampoo Miss Granger uses. Wormwood is a good choice for detangling. When brewed with citrus peel it gets a slick but dry texture, rather like silicone. I imagine that Miss Granger has taken to making her own hair care products in an effort to tame that griffin's nest that resides on her head.
I find that I'd like to see the effect. Purely from a scholarly interest, I assure you.
She always greets me with the same dogged cheerfulness and always calls me 'professor' despite the fact that I'm no longer anyone's teacher. I appreciate the effort, but she needn't bother. She is good company and I neither expect nor need her to be pleasant all the time.
"Sorry I haven't visited in a few days. I've been that busy. I've got a project I've been working on, and it's taking quite a bit of my time. I should be out looking for a job, I suppose, but I want to finish my project first."
That's right. Minerva told me that all the seventh years had been granted passing grades for their graduation. It made more sense than expecting any of them to repeat a year, especially with the state the castle was in. Miss Granger should have little difficulty finding a placement. The girl was always well ahead of her studies. Her intelligence coupled with her status as a war hero--and being a personal friend of Potter--and no employer would be concerned about her missed class work.
"Once I finish my project, I'll figure out what I want to do. I've had loads of job offers. The Headmistress suggested I write to each of them and express interest while mentioning I plan to take some time off because of the war and it worked like a charm. Every single one of them contacted me to tell me I should take all the time I need and get back to them when I'm ready."
Hmmm. Minerva is a sly old cat. I wouldn't put it past the old woman to have a place in mind for Miss Granger at Hogwarts. Encouraging Miss Granger to put off her job search would play right into Minerva's hands.
"I'm staying with Harry for the moment, and we both have some money saved up, so there's no need to be in a rush about anything."
Is she staying with Potter? I would have thought the lass would be with her parents or the Weasleys. I know the Grangers have had their memories restored, she mentioned that last week. So, why is she staying with Potter? Wasn't she Ronald Weasley's girlfriend? Seems to me that Hagrid mentioned that. I thought Miss Granger had better taste, but I wasn't truly surprised. Those two have been dancing around each other for years. But if she's with Weasley, what's she doing living with Potter?
Why do I care who the bint shacks up with? It's certainly none of my business. I don't know, I suppose it's because she's kind and intelligent, and I think she deserves better than some young idiot.
"Now then, I've brought us a new book today. This one's a muggle one, but it's got the most hilarious and unbelievable magic in it, so I think you'll be entertained. It's called The Warlock's Bride."
Miss Granger begins to read, and the book is hilarious and scandalous by turns. Having a former student of such a young age reading to me books that are sexual enough to be banned by Hogwarts is both odd and rather amazing. Her voice gets quite low and husky when she reads the erotic passages. It makes me think things about Miss Granger that I probably shouldn't. The girl's young enough to be my daughter.
The hell with it. She's of age, she's no longer my student, and I am unlikely to ever rise from this bed under my own power. Besides, I'm simply not all that altruistic. I can think of the young woman however I like. For the rest of Miss Granger's reading, I stop fighting the inevitable and imagine the two of us in all the naughty situations that the warlock and his bride get into. It certainly makes the book more interesting.
Right in the middle of a particularly steamy scene, there is a sound like an approaching elephant, and Potter bursts into the room.
"Hermione, I found it! Oh, sorry. Hello, Severus. Good to see you."
Severus? Since when has Potter started calling me by my given name? I'm not certain I like this turn of events, but I can hardly complain.
"You found it? Are you certain it's the right one?"
I wonder if this "it" has something to do with Miss Granger's mysterious project? She certainly sounds excited about it."
"Yes, I'm sure. It was warded six ways to Sunday. Ron's brother Bill had to help me with a couple of them. We're talking some seriously dark wards."
"Excellent. Glad Bill could help. Charlie had to head back to the Dragon preserve, but Bill plans to stick close to home for a while and keep an eye on George."
Damn. It's hard to lose anyone you care for, but I can't imagine losing a twin sibling. I wonder if they fear George will do harm to himself. Such a bright mind that boy has. if I wasn't stuck in this bed, I'd seek the boy out myself and get him interested in some potions projects for that shop of his. Might be fun at that, thinking up some nasty potion tricks that aren't too dangerous. I'll give it some thought since I have little else to do.
"I didn't want to risk bringing it here. It's back at the house."
"Did you look at any of it?"
"No. I'll tell you about it later."
Whatever it is that they are talking about, it's clear that Potter does not want to discuss it in front of me. Curiouser and curiouser. Are they working on something illegal? But why would they be concerned if I hear their plans? I'm in no condition to cause them any trouble.
Sadly, Miss Granger takes her leave shortly after Potter's arrival. She bids me goodbye, and the two of them walk out, whispering to each other. I wonder what young Weasley thinks of all this; his girl living in Potter's pocket. I personally think Potter is a slightly better choice for the girl than Weasley, but I don't much fancy either of them as a match for the intelligent young woman.
She'd be better off with someone of my intellect.
Yes, I'll get right on that as soon as I leap up from my sickbed.
Depressed again, I forget all about my campaign to stay awake more and drift into a fitful sleep.
A/N: At last, things are starting to get interesting! Curiouser and curiouser indeed! Thanks to all who are reading, and for the kind comments. I think we are perhaps halfway through this tale. Maybe 4 or 5 more chapters to go.
Big thanks for everyone who has nominated my paranormal mystery, Wyrd House, on Kindle Scout. If you want to check it out, you can find it at Amazon[dot]Kindlescout[dot]com. Look under mysteries and you'll find me. It's a fun book that has magic and romance, so I think my readers will like it. If you nominate it, and it gets selected, you get a free advance copy of the eBook.
I'm working without a beta, so any mistakes are my own.