The Curse of the Goddess
Chapter 1: First Contact
Disclaimer: While I might wish I did, I do not own any of the Harry Potter characters or the Harry Potter Universe. They belong to J.K. Rowling and I will not be making any money from this…. I'm just taking some of my favourites out to play…
A/N: I want to profusely thank my beta's Saffron Angello and Brandy Schippers.
This story would be incomprehensible without them!
Hermione glanced at her computer screen when she heard the familiar 'ding' indicating that she had received an email. It was halfway through her summer hols after her fifth year and she had started spending more and more time online out of sheer boredom. She had finished her summer homework not three weeks after term had ended and she had not yet heard from Dumbledore about when she and Harry would join Ron at the Burrow. She idly wondered what would happen with number twelve Grimmauld Place now that Sirius was… She pushed that thought away before it was complete and opened her inbox to see who had sent her an email.
She had a few online Muggle friends she tried to keep in touch with during her breaks from Hogwarts. (They had all been informed that she was going to a boarding school in Switzerland.) She assumed it was one of them sending her a greeting.
She was sorely mistaken.
Hermione's eyebrows shot up to her hairline and she let out a surprised gasp when she saw the subject of the email: CONSTANT VIGILANCE.
'Constant vigilance' brought her back to her fourth year when the impostor Moody was teaching DADA. The subject line indicated that the sender was a wizard and probably one from Hogwarts, but she didn't know any wizards who were internet savvy. She looked at the email address to try and determine what this could mean; she felt a bit apprehensive about receiving such an unexpected email. The senders name was listed as PPGreenwoman. Well that doesn't really give me any clue, Hermione thought in exasperation. Questions raced through her mind as she opened the body of the email, reminding herself that hexes could not be sent over the internet and that there was no magical equivalent of a computer virus.
Subject: CONSTANT VIGILANCE
You have no reason to trust me, but you must. I am what you are and learn what you do. Need help. I am not of DE. Please meet me. I will be Waiting at the Room close to where the learning starts. Come in time to put a stopper in death.
Hermione was shocked This was not what she had expected and frankly, she had no idea what she should do. The message was a code of sorts – that much was obvious. As in everything else she did, Hermione was systematic and logical when she worked on puzzles or codes and most of this was pretty easy to figure out. She first thought about what she could make sense of at the outset of reading the message. The fact that she had received the email at all implied that the sender was half-blood or Muggle-born; greenwoman' and 'serpente verde' could only be a reference to a Slytherin and since no Muggle-born would be admitted into that House, that left a half-blood witch.
The passage 'Not of DE' was plain as well. DE would be an acronym for Death Eater.
However, the rest was more confusing. She recognized the last phrase; 'put a stopper in death' was from Professor Snape's first year preamble, a speech she doubted she would ever forget. As if she was eleven years old again she clearly remembered sitting in the dungeon, wholly entranced by his silken voice, soft and menacing. So that part of the message could be an allusion to Potions, or it could be another Slytherin reference as Snape was their Head of House. Hermione made a mental note to come back to that.
'Waiting at the Room close to where the learning starts.' What could that signify? Hermione pondered on the sender's meaning for 'learning.' Magic was the obvious answer, but there must be more. Her brow furrowed in contemplation. Hogwarts is where they learned, but where did it start? Racking her brain, she recalled her first year, when she first began at Hogwarts. She had met Harry and Ron on the Hogwarts Express… a smile crossed her face as she thought back to that day. She had been helping Neville find Trevor when she had met the boys. Later they had teased her that she had been lecturing them in her bossy voice right from the start.
Hermione's eyes widened as the realization hit her. The train. King's Cross Station, platform nine and three quarters. Perhaps that was what her mysterious correspondence had meant by 'where the learning starts'? Hermione's breathing became shallow with excitement as she quickly searched online for shops within 20 kilometres of King's Cross.
'Aha!' she exclaimed when she found it, clapping her hands together. The Waiting Room was a hotel and pub near King's Cross Station. She knew where to go now, but when? She read over the email again. The only part she hadn't figured out was that last bit: Snape's speech. Hermione mulled over what she had gathered. Snape, Potions… Slytherin and Gryffindor had Potions together. That could be the connection with Potions; perhaps this person had been in her Potions class last term…? She mentally sifted through her memories of last term's Potions classes but nothing came to mind. She thought about the Slytherins in her class, but she, Harry, and Ron had always done their best to avoid them whenever possible. She remembered how irritating it was to deal with Malfoy and his gang right after lunch while waiting in the corridor of the dungeons. Right after lunch… one o'clock, could that be it?Her face shone with a radiant smile as she realized that she had figured it out. She had always loved that feeling of satisfaction when she solved a particularly tricky riddle.
Seconds later, however, her face fell when she thought about what this message meant.Was she actually thinking of meeting this person? Someone whom she knew nothing about, and who she didn't know if she could trust—someone from Slytherin? It would be foolish to go; it was probably a trap. After the fiasco at the Ministry, Voldemort had been revealed and was again at large and dangerous. And as Hermione was known to be a close friend of Harry Potter, it was most assuredly not a safe time to attend a clandestine meeting with a stranger whom she knew nothing about. She glanced at the email again, though she had already memorized the message.
'Need help.' There was no way to sense emotion from an email, but Hermione imagined that she could sense desperation in those two words. The whole tone of the message seemed to imply danger. This person could have written something like 'come in time to bewitch the mind and ensnare the senses,' rather than the particular part of Snape's speech that they had chosen, put a stopper in death. Hermione couldn't help but feel a sense of foreboding as she re-read those words. Was someone's life in danger? Regardless of whom the email was from, could she ignore a plea for help?
As Hermione debated with herself, she could not help but picture her aforementioned Professor sneering in disdain how such brainless nobility was so very Gryffindor.
Hermione didn't know how long she sat at her computer staring at the screen, pondering her options. She knew she couldn't ignore this email, but all the same, she wasn't foolish enough to walk blindly into a situation that could very well be a life-jeopardizing risk.
If it wasn't summertime, she could simply Disillusion herself and stroll into the pub unseen to find out who this mystery person was before showing herself, but she couldn't use magic without running the risk of being caught by the Ministry of Magic. Well, she thought as her lips quirked up in a triumphant smile, perhaps I can't use magic but I can use Muggle means of disguising myself.
Hermione went to her closet and started rummaging around. Her hair was her most distinctive feature so she would need to hide that. She found a baseball cap she had never worn (a cousin had bought it for her on a trip to America the previous summer). She hastily stuffed all of her hair up into the cap and found a pair of dark sunglasses. She changed into a non-descript pair of trousers and white tank top and considered her image in the mirror critically. The cap and sunglasses did well to hide her countenance and if she stayed out of direct light it would be difficult to discern who she was.
At the last minute she slipped on a light jacket and lightly taped her wand to her forearm. Restriction for Underage Wizardry or no, she would not go into this without her wand and she wanted to be able to reach it easily. Going into this without a wand would be ludicrous and the subject of the email reminded her of what Moody would say to her in a situation like this: Constant Vigilance.