DISCLAIMER: Still don't own it...
ATTENTION: Two notices: If you wish to be on the email list, please tell me now so I can add you and tell you when the third part, Whispers of Tomorrow, is posted and updated. Yes, it will be out soon folks!
Congrats to the three people that correctly guessed the person she was talking to: RJ Lupin's Kat (sorry dear for torturing you so), Amber, and choco-crush. You each get an imaginary cookie.
That was a week ago.
The corridors of Hogwarts were now quiet as the last of the parents stopped by to collect their children. In some places you could still see the evidence of that fateful night.
Stones were scorched.
Blood stained some of the walls.
Charred remains were left of portraits.
School authorities would be deciding soon as to whether they wanted to reopen Hogwarts next year or leave it shut down for the safety of the children.
It seemed as if no one was going to be able to agree on the decision, though. Each had their own reasoning behind whether it should be closed or not and most didn't want to listen to other's ideas.
It seemed as if everyone was arguing. Their bitter words echoed in the empty castle hallways even when they were not present.
The portraits now remained silent as they drifted hazily from one frame to the next, careful to avoid those that burned, not really paying much attention to their surroundings.
One portrait, though, remained standing in his frame, his hands folded neatly behind him as he surveyed the only person present in the school at that moment save the ghosts and the portraits.
The girl was seventeen with bushy brown hair and seemingly ordinary brown eyes. The robe wrapped around her disguised the alluring figure beneath.
Her head was bent ever so slightly as she ran her eyes along the elegant frame. She was absentmindedly twisting the only ring she wore around and around her finger in a distracted manner.
Meanwhile, the portrait just watched her.
Minutes passed. The second hand slowly ticked by as time decelerated drastically around the two of them. One second, one thought, one painful memory.
Finally, brown eyes looked up. It was evident now that they were not ordinary brown eyes. No, these were the eyes of the richest chocolate one could ever imagine. Dark, dark brown…so dark that one could drown in the murky depths.
There was ambiguity in her eyes.
Indeed, she must be wondering why she just confessed everything to a portrait, one she had just discovered. And yet, deep in her heart she knew the answer to that.
But was she ready to explore it?
She knew the portrait in some way, though the answer remained unclear to her. She felt a connection with the figure. She knew somehow that she could trust him and she did…
Oddly enough, she did.
She was alone at the moment except for this single portrait who never once judged her throughout her tale. He merely listened patiently, asking a question or making a comment every now and then.
She knew him…and he knew her.
Brown, dark brown, peered at him questionably. "It's all going to change, isn't it?"
He nodded slowly, his eyes never once leaving her. "Yes," he paused, the corner of his mouth tilting slightly, "but you already knew that."
She returned the slight smile and nodded solemnly. "Yes, I suppose I did."
She reached up and caught a lose curl, shoving it behind her ear. "Sometimes…," she hesitated, only continuing after some persuasion on his part, "sometimes when I'm alone I begin to wonder. I see flashes and I don't know what they're of."
"Time, Hermione," he acknowledged. "It will take time."
She huffed in exasperation. "But I don't have time! I need to figure this out and yet I can't. But why? What do they mean? Am I supposed to figure them out?"
He smiled slightly, perching himself on a rock in the portrait. "Patience, Hermione, is a very good virtue to develop."
"What is that supposed to mean?"
He thought about it for a moment, his hands resting lightly on his knees. "Well, you could find out all the answers right now and be content, correct?"
"But what if you don't understand the answers you received?" he asked, causing her to pause when she went to answer him. "Ah, you see, understanding only comes with time."
She shrugged dispassionately. "I guess so."
He stood with a sigh. "Hermione, there are some things that you are better off not knowing for the time being, especially with all that is happening at the moment."
She considered his words before slowly nodding her head. "I guess you're right."
He stared at her for a moment before slowly motioning to her. "Follow me, there is something I want to show you."
Bemused, she did as he asked, trying to keep up with him as he moved from one portrait to another. They wound their way through the deserted corridors up to the sixth floor and to a hall containing many portraits.
"This seems oddly familiar…," she said hesitantly, "but I can't remember ever coming down this way before…"
Her words trailed off as she passed by the man and headed towards an empty portrait, her eyes lingering on the familiar scene depicted within the frame. "I know this."
The man entered the frame and smiled. "Indeed? Well, this is my portrait."
She followed the direction in which his hand pointed and read the words at the bottom.
Known to be the first wizard recorded to accomplish the task of becoming an animagus.
"Falco Aesalon," she muttered softly.
He smiled at her. You see, he had not informed her of his name earlier when she stumbled upon him on the second floor. Indeed, he had been rather close-lipped about his identity and instead focused on her.
"Yes, my name is Falco Aesalon and this is my portrait." He swung open and she gasped at what laid behind. A room, a glorious room decorated in the lovelies colours lied before her. If she had to decorate a room, she would have decorated it exactly like this one.
A flash…a roaring fire…a handsome man…the man from a previous image…cocoa… security…
She remembered safety and a small amount of joy…but who?
She didn't understand. With a shake of her head, she stepped further into the room and looked around, allowing the homely feeling to wrap around her like a thick cloak.
"Do you like it?"
She turned around to face a portrait that hung on the wall in which Falco now stood, gazing at her intently. She smiled at him. "I love it."
He bowed his head slightly, a small grin tugging at his lips. "Then I present it to you. Whenever you need a bit of time to escape, you are welcomed here. I will only admit you so this will be your private domain."
She couldn't believe it. Her own private spot to lose herself in her musings. "Thank you," she said graciously. "Thank you so very much."
"You're welcome," he acknowledged. He turned to cast a look around the room. "It has been many years since this room has had a person to occupy it." He paused, his eyes glazing over slightly as he was lost in his memories. "Yes, many years indeed."
A brow rose questionably. "This room belonged to someone before? But I didn't think students were allowed to have their own personal rooms…"
"They usually aren't," he interrupted, "but every now and then, an exception is made."
Hermione took a seat on the couch and stared at him expectantly. "Tell me about the previous owner…," she paused and then, on second thought, added, "please."
"What exactly do you wish to know?"
"Anything," she answered immediately. "Everything."
He smiled as he lowered his head slightly. "Very well." He rose his eyes to the ceiling as if trying to remember some lost detail. "It was about twenty years ago when a student arrived at Hogwarts, orphaned by the war."
"Dumbledore immediately ushered her to the Hospital Wing where she received proper treatment for her injuries. She shared with him her horrid tale and he placed her into the care of Minerva McGonagall who became her aunt."
"Minerva whisked the girl away to Scotland with her for a few weeks to recuperate and to rest before the start of the term. They returned here afterwards and she was given this room to reside in."
He smiled at the memory of his former charge and quickly glanced at the girl before him, amazed by what he saw. "I could see right from the start that she was haunted by her past and yet she had a strong will to live. She was very powerful."
"Who was she?" Hermione asked.
He shook his head slowly from side to side. "Names are not important, Hermione, only understanding. You see, this girl went through a horrible ordeal. In the space of a few months she lost everyone she had ever held dear- her parents, her loved ones, her friends. They were all lost to her because of the war."
A small frown creased his face. "She carried the burden with her, refusing to allow anyone to help with the weight. She wore reminders of her past and forced herself to look at them everyday."
"Wouldn't that only serve to depress her?" Hermione asked confused.
"You would think so, wouldn't you?" Falco asked with a small smile. "At first I think it did, but as time went on, it ceased to depress her. She was now filled with a determination to honour all those who had died by attempting to bring down an evil wizard."
"Voldemort," Hermione said, her eyes lowering to her hands briefly before looking back up to look at him. "But she didn't destroy him… He's still around."
Falco smiled. "There are other ways to destroy than to simply kill, Hermione."
She looked up, brown eyes clashing with the eyes of the portra
His words began to sink in and she put the pieces together, forming a giant jigsaw puzzle where all the hazy details that once alluded her began to make sense.
it. "This woman… she's the one who died for Harry that night, isn't she?"
Without missing a beat, Falco Aesalon replied, "Yes."
A/N: thanks for sticking with me through this necessary portion. I needed to show what happened during the first six years. Whispers of Tomorrow will pick up from here and go past the war. I'm still working on it so I don't know how it's going to end yet. I guess we'll all be surprised.
thank you ever so much for all your lovely reviews. You guys are simply wonderful! Remember to email me directly and ask to be added to the email alert list.