A strange feeling came over Albus Dumbledore. He'd felt it come over him at odd moments before, never consistent but always the same feeling. It was as if knowledge hung just beyond his mind, memories partially Oblivated by a rushed expert that had more important things on his mind.
Now, as then, he moved to intercept. The source always came from the same location as before: the Hogwarts Library. Its ancient corridors, old as Hogwarts itself, were familiar to him. In his youth over a century before, Albus had spent many delightful hours delving into its mysteries. After seven years of academic digging, his interests turned more esoteric than ever, finding information everywhere his eye had turned.
A half-smile crossed his face at the memories. The Ritual of Knowledge, an old Druidic Rite had been tucked between a book of expired coupons and a journal that had smelled faintly of bananas. Entire aisles constructed of books stacked upon each other, had been left to ruin, known only to the occasional House Elf and whatever magics kept the shelves free of dust. No one librarian, even with magic, could personally inspect every stack, checking each book. Especially when the older families had willed their own libraries to Hogwarts, including the defensive spells designed to protect them from any number of threats.
Albus frowned slightly. He still was never quite able to understand why the now-extinct Halcyon line bore such hatred for the color red. A visiting colleague in crimson robes had ventured there, seeking the weather magics for which the family had gained renowned, and barely escaped with her life.
For that matter, the strange bursts of green and blue energy had refused to be analyzed. A charming puzzle for when he had more time.
A faint sound spurred him onward. Madame Pince was talking.
"Of course, you are always welcome here. Thank you for the loan, you wouldn't believe the things children do to books."
A faint noise answered, too low for Albus to hear. All that was recognizable was the phrase Ook ook.
"Well, perhaps. Do you actually allow that sort in your library?"
The sound of pity in the formidable librarian's voice almost stopped Albus Dumbledore in his tracks. Madame Pince held a reputation for being one of the strictest members of faculty in history. Her absence during the entire Abraxian Controversy less than a decade ago had been the result of her tracking down and – by all accounts, vivisecting – a specialist thief, that had dared steal from her library. Of course the whole thing had been hushed up, no one wanted to admit hiring the thief after such a punishment, and the Turkish government had been very unwilling to explain just why there had been so many Chimera on their southern borders.
In equally distressing turn of events the ICW had – behind closed doors and Secrecy Oaths – dedicated a full contingent of observers to watch the larger libraries. Something about a red-furred demon? Every time Albus had gotten close to the truth, the trail had run dry. Not that he'd spent much time on such frivolousness.
He turned the final corner and found Madame Pince calmly bidding farewell to a strange man. The man was shorter than most, although taller than Flitwick, although to be fair, most dwarves were taller. Albus couldn't see many defining characteristics beyond a pile of books taller than the man was. He had long, powerful arms, and a rolling method of walking.
A running child distracted Albus for a moment. By the time he looked back, the mobile pile of books was backing around a corner, and Madame Pince was approaching. The feeling was fading, almost gone already.
"Your pardon, Madame?" Albus inclined his head politely. She was, after all, the curator of the knowledge he himself treasured.
She gave him a respectful nod in return. "Headmaster?"
"Who was just here?" he glanced at the empty trolley carts, used to carry books from one side of the library to the other. "I was unaware we were having visitors today."
A faint smile passed across Madame Pince's lips. It vanished before he could be certain it'd appeared. "Oh, a colleague from another library. He had advice on the organization method – keep your eye on the blit. That's the ticket."
"Ah." Despite the rituals, Albus still did not fully comprehend the catalogue system employed. No one could, unless they dedicated their full intellect to the relatively minor art of Library Science. There were far too many things to do – and his own oaths prevented such a thing from occurring at any rate. "Very good. Please pass on my regards."
Madame Pince bowed once more, carrying on towards the next aisle.
It wasn't until after Albus had returned to his office that he realized something.
First: No visitor had passed through the Hogwarts Gates. Defensive magics older than Hogwarts protected the borders, strong in their day but now unbreakable,even by giants wielding goblin-forged weaponry.
Second: Why had Madame Pince been carrying a bunch of bananas?