That evening, she felt strangely tingly and at ease after placing the charm on the walls of her own quarters, the seaside hiss of silence flooding in, shaping the room. Silence now had a texture, a taste, a sound, and a feeling of safety. She liked to imagine she was deep in the ocean, quiet and alone. Irma had never learned how to swim, her aunt had never gotten round to teaching her, but she imagined that diving must feel glorious.

Thus submerged in the dark emptiness of her quarters, behind a locked bedroom door and tightly drawn double curtains and drapes around her bed, she allowed herself to relax. Relax enough to indulge in the second flight of fancy under the covers of her bed, darkness and her night-gown, self-consciously, shutting away every thought of where her hand had wandered. It was not done.

In her mind, the thought was like a treasure, and she only took it out to look at it at special occasions. And learning the quiet hissing existed and was what she had always heard was a special occasion. And Minerva McGonagall… Like today, standing erect and still, hands outstretched. The closeness was almost painful, and she knew that it was rather disrespectful of her to relive it in this fashion. The image of Minerva McGonagall in her mind's eye brushed away the thought.

"Hush," the Deputy Headmistress said in a voice so low it was almost a whisper. "Quiet now, don't fret."

The witch leaned closer, her eyes only inches away from hers, and she could feel her breath on her face. She caressed Irma's cheeks lightly, fingertips wandering over her cheekbones and under her chin, as the seaside-sound engulfed them both.

Irma noticed that it got louder as blood started pumping through unfamiliar areas of her body and she self-consciously listened to her breath, heavier, her heartbeat chopping the quiet noise into pieces. The closer Professor McGonagall got to her, the louder the ocean in her ears became, almost like listening to the sea-shell, almost like her own blood, as her own hand—.

Her heartbeat chased her body over the edge and after her last panting breath had exploded into the quiet dark as a rough, whispering gasp, Irma sank back into the rustling cushions. She listened to the hammering pulse in her ears, the hissing sound having risen to a cacophony which only slowly ebbed back to its normal volume, taking the heat with it that had filled her body only moments before. She was left feeling hollow and uncomfortably sweaty. Irma quickly took her wand from the night stand with her other hand, casting a spell fastidiously, then turned to her side, curling. She caught herself briefly wondering what her other hand would have tasted like, but banished the thought instantly. These things were not thought about.

Irma Pince was a librarian and a knowledgeable woman. She was painfully aware of what it was she had been doing, but she knew that unlike the teenage girls she had shared the dormitory with or her parents in the room next to her sibling's and hers or the rough hand groping in the dark, she did not indulge in this feeling because of some base instinct.

It was more pure, it was admiration, she told herself.

Soon, she found herself being lulled to sleep, her mind still occupied, unwilling to let it go of the image just yet. In her mind, the Deputy Headmistress, Minerva, was sitting on the bed next to her, watching over her until the comforting ocean living inside her ears finally pulled her into the dark.