Ye olde almost forgotten standard disclaimer :
I Horace Nihil, hereby state that not being J., do not own the Harry Potter Universe, and all related characters, décors and such. This story is posted for fun and without intend to any Copyright infringement. So mote it be.
Chapter 1 - Silly Ruler Waving.
It was Thursday afternoon, and the fifteen year ( plus ten months) old girl had complied with the daily routine initiated since the beginning of the summer vacation, riding her bike for half a mile to the local library where she would assist the librarians in handling various groups of young readers. Depending on the audience, she would read stories aloud, help older kids to choose books, or teach the basics of reading to the youngest.
The latter was her favourite.
She had been unable to pinpoint why she enjoyed this so much. At first, she thought it was the joy of introducing the children to the unlimited pleasures of reading. Lighting the drive to learn, to be able to harvest the unlimited fields of knowledge, fantasy, feed their imagination…But she realised after a while that there was something more tangible.
It was the ruler.
She had found an old ruler, made of dark wood, square gauged, forgotten in a box of junk and had taken the habit of using it to show letters and pictures on the board. The ruler fitted amazingly well in her hand, and she had made a habit of keeping it close all the time. It had grown as a joke in the library, people stating that it was her teacher's uniform, to distinguish herself from the average teenager. The manager had even commented on the object, quite a rare artefact, without real monetary value : while most of those rulers where made out of beech or oak, sometimes ebony, this one had been manufactured from vine wood.
So, she was there, watching the children draw little scenes and copying letters, holding the ruler in her fingers and tapping it rhythmically on her thigh, daydreaming. She was considering her life, the perspective of her GSCEs, A-Levels and the following years in University. She was thrilled, of course, about the prospect of learning new things, feeding her seemingly insatiable thirst for knowledge, but on another hand, she was troubled.
She was troubled, because once again, she was unable to pinpoint why she was feeling wrong. Something was odd, unfitting and she could not figure it out to save her life.
And unfortunately, she had the nagging feeling that her life could depend on it.
She was pondering those statements when a marker pen fell on the floor and rolled under a bookshelf, she waved the ruler in the overall direction, and a word got caught in her throat, like an order, sharp and precise, but she could not voice it.
She shrugged and picked the marker pen by hand.
"What were you expecting? Order it to jump into your hand by magic ?" she growled.
Although the remainder of the afternoon was uneventful, she grew more and more annoyed by her incessant fidgeting with the ruler. In fact, she was constantly fidgeting with anything resembling a stick: it could be a pencil, a twig in the garden, even the car's radio antenna she had to unscrew at the car wash. She would surprise herself with drawing figures in the air, meaningless at first sight, but those gestures were very precise, like they had been rehearsed many times. What puzzled her that they seemed incomplete, empty. She had the feeling they had a purpose, but without intent, it was just silly ruler waving.
She was quite in a state when she left the library, without lingering between the shelves once the place had been cleaned up after the kids. She picked her bike, oblivious to the delightful weather of the summer day, and pedalled aggressively, without a glance at the blooming gardens, barely avoiding a dog, a bus and a fall on a slippery turn. She was in her room in a confused state when she noticed she had slipped the ruler into her bag.
She sighed heavily and growled in frustration.
"Hermione Granger, you're…"
"Hermione !" cut a voice in the hallway.
"Up there, mum !"
"You're going to be late for your appointment !"
"My ap…oh, gosh !"
She scrambled to her feet, grabbed fresh clothes, dashed into the bathroom for one of her shortest showers ever and joined her mother.
"What's with you, dear ? You're usually much more focused ! Is your job so tiring ?"
"No, mum." she replied, following her mother towards the car. "It's just, I don't know, I'm just bothered."
Mrs Granger didn't answer, as she drove out of the alley. "Like something is out there I can't figure out. It's annoying…"
The ride was short, and they hurried to the medical centre where she was due for a check-up with her gynaecologist. It was just a routine check, so when after a few minutes into the examination, she caught a glimpse of a frown and a questioning look by the usually kind doctor, she just frowned back.
"Something wrong ?"
"Not at all, everything is in order." huffed the woman. "But it's not fully worth coming here if you retain information. I won't tell your mother unless you want me to."
"Tell her what ?"
The woman shrugged dismissively and, while adjusting her clothes, Hermione caught a glimpse of the computer screen, where had been entered a comment that startled her. She could not take her eyes away from the text in green letters on a black background, oblivious to the talk delivered by the woman on the value of trust in patient-doctor relationship.
It was very late in the night, or even early in the morning, when an uneasy sleep eventually came, after hours pondering the fact. Of course, she was, at some point, sexually active. No more, no less than the average teen. But to be able to be defined as such by a gynaecologist, it meant that…that she was no longer a virgin, and, well…you are supposed to be aware of the fact, aren't you ? And she was not. Honestly. I don't even know a boy worth a try…
So the only plausible scenario was a rape under GHB. That would explain the weird sense of inadequacy, the unfitting memories.
But not those obsessing gestures with anything resembling a stick.
Unless it was a call for help of sorts, some post traumatic disorder.
She was lost.
Or was she merely barking mad ?
She jumped, startled by the call of the yoga teacher, losing the precarious balance of her position.
"That won't do, Hermione. I don't know where your mind is, but it's not here. What's the matter with you today, dear, you're not your usual self ?"
"I…" she stammered. "I have a lot on my mind, Ayesha. A hard time focusing properly"
"I can see that" replied the teacher, before adding, on a kinder tone, "Will you tell me ?"
Hermione stayed silent for a while, before nodding, unable to trust her voice.
"I think…I'm afraid that…". She paused, biting her lower lip to stop the trembling. "I think I might have been raped" she whispered. Then after a minute or so, went on : "I saw my gyno yesterday. She said I was sexually active, scolded me because I did not tell her. I was so shocked I did not deny it, but I don't remember, I can't remember, and I…there are plenty of things I don't understand…It might be GHB, you know, but I don't even remember going to a party where I could have been dosed…"
And she began to cry, silently at first, before giving in a full scale bawl.
The teacher observed her intensely, with a sense of dread.
"Lie down, Hermione. Flat on your back. Close your eyes, and focus on the places where your body is in contact with the mat. Just the contact. Hands flat on the mat."
Then, she positioned herself behind Hermione's head.
Hermione Granger. The name had rang a bell when the girl had came for the first time a couple of weeks ago with her mother, and it suddenly clicked. She had heard it from one of her twin nieces, Parvati.
"GHB my arse." she whispered, discretely pulling eleven inches of Willow and waving it towards the girl with a muttered phrase in Hindi. Her eyebrows shot upwards at the results. If this girl was who she thought she was, she should radiate magic far above the near-squib level her scan was showing. Another couple of diagnostic charms confirmed her guess.
"GHB my arse, indeed."
That was a massive memory charm if she had ever seen one. So massive that it should have reduced her to a vegetable, unless the girl was who she thought she was, the brightest witch of her age with the appropriate mind and willpower.
She pondered the situation for a couple minutes, until she noticed that Hermione's breathing was now peaceful, regular.
"At least, she managed to relax." whispered the teacher, with a sad smile towards the sleeping teen. Then, she tried to sort things out. Hermione Granger, of course. She had been the target of a rather nasty slander campaign a few months ago for her alleged role in some "love triangle" of sorts with the world famous Victor Krum and Harry Potter, the no less famous Dark Lord Vanquisher. It was public knowledge that she was one of the Boy Who Lived's closest friends, the closest according to Parvati, the only one according to her sister Padma. The girl was pictured by Padma as an astounding combination of skills, dedication, intelligence and with quite a bunch of magical power.
Then, she tried to recollect what she knew of Hermione's parents. Both Dentists, managing a practice in the neighbourhood. They were pleasant people, she had been introduced to Hermione's mother by a mutual friend, who happened to be an American wizard. The perfect guy for the job.
"Maybe it's time to make a long-distance phone call…" she said out loud.
Hermione was sitting cross-legged on a mat in her bedroom, in front of a lit candle. A few days had passed since the talk with Ayesha and, while she had kept her job at the library, she was working very hard on mind exercises and relaxation. Working hard on relaxation, that can apply to nobody but me !
She breathed slowly, focusing on the little flickering flame, enthralling herself in the tiniest details. After an undefined time - it could have been minutes or hours, she'd been unable to tell and that was the very purpose of focusing on it - she lost sight of the candle, her conscience drifting slowly inwards.
And suddenly, she found herself in an undecipherable landscape, a whirlwind of images and feelings. The dominant feeling was oppression, akin to being forced into a rubber costume many sizes too small. She thought of some sex fantasy involving latex clothing - if clothing was an applicable word - and chuckled mentally, breaking her concentration and bringing the candle back in sight.
"This is not going to be quick." she muttered.
It was the seventh time this morning that, after minutes of meditation, she had managed to catch a glimpse of this feeling before being pushed away, as if her mind itself would prevent any effort towards a more complete introspection. She checked the time, extinguished the candle and stood up.
She had been spending time like this for days now, but she hadn't made any real progress.
Today was an off-day at the library. She made herself a quick lunch before watching a movie on the TV, delaying till later the chore of giving another go at her mediation.
Having consumed her allotted share of slacking, she chose to try it outdoors, in a secluded spot of the garden, and she brought a purse the teacher had given her as the ultimate weapon.
After setting the mat, undressing to a short and a bikini top - at least, she would get a bit of a tan from the exercise - she pulled a little piece of blotter from a cellophane wrapping and slid it under her tongue, before focusing on a single leaf.
She wondered if it was the idea of the chemical help - it was supposed to have a delayed effect - but she lost the leaf faster than anything else before, and was met with the rubber oppression, but before being distracted by the weird qualification, she felt the pull of something. She was tempted to analyse it but the idea was swept away and she suddenly found herself trying to force her way through the rubber. She vaguely thought it was the chemicals, but she could not care anymore, even if she was aware of the terrifying idea of being suffocated to death in a giant condom. I just have to keep pushing until I tear it apart. So she pushed.
She could catch images distorted by the translucent material : unicorns, flying horses, winged lions, giants and dwarves, and faces. Most of all faces. Friendly faces. Fantasies. Wow. This acid is strong. Even a…dragon ? And Mermaids. Ugly ones, by the way.
By all that's Holly…Now, she was freaking out, trapped in these visions. But some of those faces were really friendly. And somehow familiar, so familiar she could almost put names on them, and the warm feeling was balancing the angst. And there was something else. Something just there, just beyond the thin material. It was her hand, holding a quill.
I never wrote with a quill! The visions she was experimenting were so disturbing to her rational mind that she wanted to scream, to run away…
Her hand. Holding another stick. Waving around. Swish and flick.
Not a ruler, but shaped artfully, with characters carved at regular places. The grain of the wood was unmistakable. Vine wood.
Vine wood and Dragon Heartstring, a flow of golden and blue sparks in a dusty shop.
And the rubber broke, thrusting her in front of a tidal wave of images, sounds, scenes, smells.
She watched, horrified, something unbelievable unrolling in front of her.
Watch the bookworm !
The bullies in school.
Look at the Beaver !
Ah. Of course those happy memories of school time were amiss…
I most assure you, Miss Granger, that it is no hoax.
A stern looking woman with a Scottish accent changing into a cat and back in front of her parents.
Yes, Ravenclaw, of course! Wait. There is something else. Deeper, just waiting to blossom. Courage. A rebellious streak, a will to fight tooth and nail for the loved ones. No more doubt, Miss Granger, it will be… Gryffindor !
That can be.
"It's no wonder no one can stand her, she's a nightmare, honestly."
No. It does not make sense.
"Books! And cleverness! There are more important things - friendship and bravery…"
What the fuck ?
Wingardium Leviosa. Accio. Expecto Patronum. Protego. Expelliarmus. Reparo. Petrificus Totalus. Lumos. Principal Exceptions to Gamp's Law of Elemental Transfiguration…Aguamenti. Lacewing flies stewed 21 days, knotgrass, leeches, powdered bicorn horn, and fluxweed picked at full moon.
Tell me I'm not barking mad ! Please ?
Of course, shredded Boomslang skin is rather touchy to find, and of course a bit of who one wants to turn into…
Hermione, my girl…there is no such thing as magic!
A/N : Edited on January 2nd, after a thorough review by Tumshie. Praises to him !