Author: Verus Lumen PM
Hermione opens a gift from a secret man, and unknowingly accepts a Visit in doing so. My answer to the I'm Just a Gigolo challenge. SSHG. Please, R&RrnThe Greatest Story Ever MiniMized included chp. 12 PERMA WIPRated: Fiction M - English - Romance - Hermione G. & Severus S. - Chapters: 13 - Words: 27,719 - Reviews: 183 - Favs: 66 - Follows: 25 - Updated: 03-04-05 - Published: 08-10-04 - id: 2004646
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
It was a good summer. Hermione stretched on her white cotton sheets and greeted the warm summer morning. It was a good day. She got up from her bed and took deep breaths, preparing her body for morning meditation. She was content.
She heard Harry rummaging around downstairs, probably looking for his broom again. There wasn't much to do today, or any day. It was summer, and she lazed about her summer home with Harry and Ron for the better part of it. Mostly, she decided, it was just a time to rest.
Breakfast and tea had been set out on her table, where Hermione ate it slowly, savoring the spice in the tea. Dobby was a good house elf, and he worked with pay. She smiled at that thought.
She looked around her mostly clean room and nodded happily. But during her inspection, she found a small box on her mantle that she had never seen before. Alarmed, Hermione left her table and walked cautiously toward it, wand in hand. She could never be too cautious.
After a few charms to determine whether the box had been hexed, she hesitantly reached out toward it. Instantly, she recognized it as a small perfume box and opened it. Little ruby beads glittered up at her and Hermione took one out, sniffing. To her, it smelled like a spiced flower, a captivating sent. She placed it on her wrist and watched as it melted into her skin, to leave a subtle scent on her skin. There was no note of any kind left with it. Just the undoubtedly expensive present. Harry would never buy her something like this. Ron was too po-...
Who could it be? She closed the lid over the sparkling gems and replaced it on her mantle. Even the box was beautiful, dark mahogany embossed with silver and precious gems. She debated whether or not to tell her friends, and finally decided against it. She would ask Dobby, who would willingly die before telling her secret. If Harry or Ron had given it to her, they would flaunt it openly, so she didn't need to worry about either of them.
Hermione dressed in a white summer dress and covered her wrist in a white band of chastity. It was old fashioned, but she honored the tradition out of respect for the matron of the house. Dumbledore knew her well enough to trust her with Harry and Ron, but the old widow who took care of the summerhouse had her doubts. Figg was her name.
Finally pleased with her outfit, Hermione padded out of her room barefoot. She descended the flight of stairs to find Harry tousled and looking for a fight. She sighed and resigned herself to it.
"Have you seen my broom?" Harry fumed with his hands on his hips. He didn't even notice how she had plaited her hair.
"No, Harry, have you lost it?" Hermione smiled, "And good morning to you, too."
"Good morning." He bit out, "Well, I haven't seen it and Ron hasn't seen it, so..."
"You think I've used it to kindle firewood?" She pointed toward the hearth and made a snapping gesture.
"No! Just, have you seen it? I was hoping to play some Quidditch with everyone today, they're all coming to visit."
"All?" Hermione asked, alarmed. She hadn't been told, "Who's all?"
"Oh, you know." Harry waved his hand dismissively, but when he saw that Hermione wasn't budging, he continued, "You know, Ginny, Fred, George, Oliver...Them!"
"And Bill and Charley and Percy and Cho, too?" Hermione ticked the names off on her fingers.
"And you didn't think to ask me?"
"But I thought you'd like a surp-"
"No you didn't. Don't lie to me, Harry. I know Legilimency, I know when you're lying," She threatened unconvincingly.
He laughed and put up his hands placatingly, "Alright, I'm sorry. But they're coming and Mrs. Figg already knows, she's set out a picnic for all of us."
Hermione sighed and walked to the closet in the hallway. "You know, you're really irresponsible, Harry." She said while pulling his perfect broom from the back of the closet.
"Oh! Thanks Mione!" He kissed her on the cheek and ran outside, whooping to Ron about how smart she was. She smiled. They were such children.
Mrs. Figg peeked out at her from the kitchen door and beckoned her to come and stir the barley rice. They chatted amiably until Hermione remembered her perfume box.
"Mrs. Figg? I completely forgot about something I found this morning." She started.
"Arabella. It's a pretty name and it shouldn't go to waste." Arabella interrupted, and interrupted again as Hermione opened her mouth to speak, "Actually, Bella. I like Bella. Call me Bella."
"Bella." Hermione tried it and found it to her liking. "It's about something I found this morning."
"Yes, you said that already."
"It's a perfume box, about the size of my fist. I don't know how it got into my room, but it was on my mantel this morning. It's quite beautiful, and expensive looking." Hermione described it and watched as Bella's expression changed.
"This box, the perfume, what did it look like?" Bella asked, a slight trepidation in her voice.
Hermione was growing slightly alarmed. This old widow seemed to be fearful of the box. Perhaps she shouldn't have used the perfume. "Well, the box is heavy mahogany, and it's got gilded sides with silver...embellishments, and emeralds and rubies along the top of it. The perfumes, they're so little, they look like tiny rubies."
Bella put a hand on her chin in contemplation. They'd burned the potatoes.
"Is there something I should know about it?" Hermione pressed, wanting desperately to know if she had somehow cursed herself in using the perfume.
"No, it's just. I think you may have received a gift from somebody." Hermione stared at the old lady. Obviously, it was a gift from somebody. She was about to say something when Bella shot her eyes toward Hermione, "You didn't use it!" It was a command, a question.
Hermione fidgeted under the intent gaze and nodded slightly, "I used one. I didn't know...well. I thought it could be a present from Ron or Harry..." She lied through her teeth.
"Oh, that means you've accepted his..." Bella caught herself in time.
"Accepted whose? Whose what?" Hermione was thoroughly worried and confused now.
"Oh dear. How old are you?"
Bella sighed at that. "Well then, it's you're choice. I've heard a few stories about the box. It's usually a different color, I've never heard of red before. If this is what I think it is, it's your choice..." She muttered, still consulting herself, "The stories I've heard were about a man who... well," she flustered.
"A man who..?"
"Comes to you at night." Bella declared dramatically.
"At night?" Hermione gawked at that.
"And it's in accepting his gifts." Bella lifted her pan and spread the potatoes over a cutting board to cool, "You've accepted one of them already. He's not known to visit just anybody, Hermione. A woman would be proud to have been called on, but you're little more than a girl..."
"This is...he's a...what?"
"The last I've heard of this secret man is that he'd...visited Narcissa Malfoy. That was four years ago. I've stopped hearing about him since then. He's well known in the wizarding world, but as a muggle born, you would have had little chance to hear of him. And...it's peculiar. The first gift is always from him, but it isn't usually...May I see the box?"
"Of course, I'll get it." Hermione left as Bella wiped her hands across her apron and folded her arms patiently.
She was utterly confused. Bella had tried to explain the situation to her, but had only managed in confusing Hermione even more.
When Hermione came with the box in her hands, Bella snatched it away immediately. She examined the underside of it and tapped it soundly on the top.
"You cast revealing charms on it?"
"Yes, of course."
Bella opened it gingerly, gasping at what she saw inside.
"These are so much nicer than the ones I've heard about." Then Bella sighed in resignation, "But you've already accepted his first gift. He'll visit you, once. After that, give him nothing. He accepts personal items as gifts. A handmade comb, a necklace from childhood, something personal and completely yours. He would take them from where he left his present. Do not leave anything personal there, and he will leave you in peace. I'm curious, but my duty to you and to Albus would have me warn you completely against this. You're too young. Perhaps he will come again in a few years..." Bella shrugged and continued cooking, leaving the box of perfumes at the countertop.
"What should I do with this?" Hermione gestured toward the gilded box.
"It's yours. Keep it, but don't use them frivolously. Those are expensive, worth more than I am. Save it for your wedding or something as important." She warned.
Hermione regarded the box in a different light. It was precious, and she had just wasted one of the perfumes on a day outside, watching people play Quidditch. She wondered how much the perfume bead had cost, and decided that it was probably worth more than a ruby of the same size. She winced.
She lifted a wrist to her face and sniffed, wondering if the scent still lingered. It did, and she soon found that her entire body emitted the subtly spicy scent.
Suddenly, she realized that he would come to visit her. Come to Actually visit her. And 'visit' could mean a number of things. She blushed at the thought, and her gaze went straight to the band of chastity at her wrist. Soon, though, someone would come to Visit her. She rippled with trepidation.
Bella seemed to notice her anxiousness and tried to soothe her, "Don't worry about it, Hermione. He won't do anything you don't want him to. I know that for sure." Then she went on in a long narrative about not being a witch and therefore never having the chance to have been approached by the secret man. Gigolo, she called him. Hermione laughed at that.
Soon enough, all was cooked and packed for their picnic out on the hill, by the small valley that Harry had cleared for Quidditch. It was already afternoon, as they had taken some time to cook the meal. She could hear Weasley voices out in the hallway, and recognized Ginny among them.
She took her box along with her and tried to hide it somewhere in her dress, but eventually decided to carry it at her side. Sometimes, thick, voluminous robes were essential.
Ginny was chasing Harry around with her new broom. It was a comical sight, but she had stopped running when she spotted Hermione.
"Hermione! Your hair! Oh, you're beautiful!" Ginny gushed, herding Hermione into another room, "You must tell me how you did it. And then you have to give me some."
Hermione smiled, "It's just a simple charm, I'll teach you later." Hermione hesitated for a second, and then decided to trust Ginny, "But there's something I have to tell you. You might know more about it than I do, but it's a secret."
Ginny nodded, confused, but alert.
"You can't tell Harry or Ron, nobody. Alright?" Hermione realized she had been wagging her finger at Ginny and put it down.
Ginny nodded fervently, "What is it?"
"I think, well, look at this." Gingerly, Hermione brought up the thick, heavy box and placed it on the table between them. Ginny placed a finger on one edge and traced the pattern of silver and jewel to the other side. The carved middle of it yielded to her finger, enchanted by a spell Hermione had never seen.
Ginny looked up, "It's..."
"A perfume box. Look." And she opened it, revealing all the little rubies. "Smell them, they're wonderful."
Hermione placed one gem on Ginny's fingertip and waited avidly. Ginny had brought it up to her face to sniff it, as if it were too precious to be held by her.
"It smells like...spiced apples." Ginny decided. Hermione's opinion of the scent firmly contradicted Ginny's reckoning of it, but she said nothing.
Ginny tenderly replaced the ruby.
"So who gave it to you?" Ginny asked, more enthusiastic, now that she knew the value of the gift.
"That's just it. I don't know. Mrs. Figg told me that it was the gift of a secret man...who would come to visit me. I don't know exactly what she meant, but I have a sneaking suspicion..."
"He gave this to you! Oh Hermione, I know who you're talking about!" Ginny corrected herself, "Well, I don't know who he is, but he Visited Narcissa Malfoy a while back. She made no secret of it, and that's the last person he had ever seen. Do you know what this means? What are you going to give him in return?"
"Wait, hold on. Mrs. Figg, she told me not to give him anything. She said that because I already used one of the gems, I accepted the gift and one visit from him. And that I'm not to provoke him into visiting me again by giving him anything. She said I'm too-" Hermione stopped abruptly. Too young? She looked again at the band on her wrist and considered it.
Ginny waited impatiently for her to finish, and when Hermione said nothing else, she spoke bluntly, "That's rubbish. Do you know how rare this visit is? You have to accept it! You'll be the envy of every witch who's ever heard of him. Mum used to talk about him and wish he would visit her. She was married of course, and she wouldn't do something like accept the gift, but he doesn't just approach anybody, Hermione! You'll see. Narcissa Malfoy never hid it. I don't know the woman, and I'm sure I wouldn't like her if she's at all similar to her prat of a son, but she didn't hide it. She...she." Ginny trailed off, trying to find some way to express the urgency of this event.
Hermione looked again at the box. A gift? What did she have to give him? Briefly, she considered accepting his Visits and giving her personal items to him without bounds, but then she realized how important some things were to her, and if he would ever require them of her. She would experience one visit from him, and see whether or not it was worth it, she decided.
Bella had come out of the kitchen with a huge basket filled with food. All the Weasley children, Oliver wood and Cho Chang waited eagerly with their brooms, ready for a game of Quidditch. Hermione smiled at that, remembering why she liked to stay in the summerhouse, and why this box of perfume was just an extra comfort.
Ginny grinned reassuringly and winked, as Hermione went back upstairs to put away her box. It was precious, in its own way, but she wouldn't trade her memories for something as fickle as this. The day was waiting for her, outside in the warm breeze of summer. Her family of friends was waiting for her.
This was such an awesome challenge, I just had to take it. I hope it meets standards and stuff. It might be one of the most original plots I've ever created, and that's pretty sad because most of the plot was from the challenge issuer person. This fic is not like a lot of others I've read. I can't look at it as the author, because when I write...I feel like it just goes through me and onto web-paper. It might not be good to others, but to me, I don't know if I could change it without feeling like I'm somehow ruining someone else's work. This is why I need a beta, to do these things for me.
Anyway, please leave a review. I tried to make it a long chapter, so yeah, please leave a review for my tireless, tireless efforts