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Her Palace, Her Peace

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Hermione Granger was always an odd student. She had the grades, but spent hours studying what took others minutes to learn.

She was meticulous in her schedules and planning. Most, for she heard what they said, thought she was a swot and a brown noser. A goody two shoes bent on making others have more homework.
But she knew no other way. She needed to get top marks for her parents to possibly respect her. Failure was not an option to them. And failure was anything less than perfection.

The schedules helped her remember. Remember the map of the school, the exact route from class to class. The passwords for her dorm, trunks. Things she knew others remembered. More things she knew she had to work harder at.

The truth was, she loved learning. But there was a reason she wasn’t a raven; she only wanted to learn what interested her. And doing anything at her own leisure and speed sounded something out of a dream. No, instead she planned and studied herself silly to make herself Hermione.

A character she’s created. One who, though somewhat unknown to her, was incredibly naïve. Social situations were also planned, failure to do so resulted in awkward spewing of nonsense. Interactions only appeared simple on the outside, forever dissected after the fact. And social cues were frequently missed, obvious to subtleties other girls her age loved to focus on. The flirting of her peers, side eyes and eye rolls often missed. She was Hermione and she was too busy planning to notice. Because as Hermione, everything must be planned.

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This is all why, in her final year, when break was nearing, Hermione surprised even herself.

During the break, students were able to opt in and take a “field trip” of sorts to a few magical locations in another country.

There were rules, expenses, new sights, and the illusion of freedom. And a break not having to pretend everything was fine in front of and for her parents.. Well it was more than enough motivation to sign up.

Her itemized list of luggage was packed. Her itinerary tucked safely in the pocket of her dress, the maps with route drawn in folded along side

She had wanted to be one of those people who packed light, only a few things for the 5 days they would be gone. But the expandable bag she now held was proving it had been a good idea.

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Her and about a dozen other students made their way to the great hall the morning of break. Two teachers and two parents would accompany them. She didn’t really care who was going, she couldn’t plan for that, so the decision to be a solo mission was already made up.

The headmaster had allowed them to connect a floo to reach their first destination. 14 kids before her went through. Two parents, one she was certain was a Hufflepuffs dad and the other a Ravenclaw mother.

Two hours into the trip and even she could tell the dad seemed there to eat his way through. And the mother to squeeze every drop of knowledge out like sap in a tree. Both too distracted to be the effective chaperons they should be. This suited her though, it gave her the ability to pause. To stay back from the group and not be asked inane questions.

Professor Flitwick was taking charge. The trip largely set up by him in the first place. Professor Snape stayed nearly as far to the back of their group as Hermione. She watched him sometimes, his face looking almost pained when anyone tried making small talk with him. But somehow looked calm when he thought no one was looking. Practically the picture of peace as he watched the water flow through the intricate structures.

It made her realize the power in the places they visited. The divine beauty in the mosaic work, the water features like backing music to a song only the birds knew. Being at the back let her pause to admire these, away from the endless idle chatter. And unlike Professor Snape, no one would see her face start to fall. To break.

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Being at the back of the group also kept her at the ever eyes of one Severus Snape. He had watched the girl the entire first two days of their trip, chaperone duty or whatever he told him self. But in truth he simply couldn’t help it.

Her eyes impossibly blown in pure wonder. Her floaty dresses and wild hair giving her an indescribable aura. His own trip enhanced by seeing it all through her, though he’d never tell a soul.

He could tell she was trying to keep it in, the pleasure of being free despite not actually holding freedom. Trying to appear nonplused as to avoid ridicule.

By the third day the group had made its own sub groups. The students easier to watch and more predictable. Leaving it to the other chaperones, it was easy enough to slip back and have a fragment of peace.

They were visiting The Alhambra in Granada, Spain. The gravity defying water something that still amazed him.

His eyes too glued he caught himself accidentally bumping into someone.

And of course it was Granger. But she was.. Crying. Sobbing really. Hysterical almost, though silent. Vanishing her tears and snot with a wave of his hand, then offering her the same hand to help her up.

She took it, more gracefully than anyone that distraught should, hiding her face as she stood.

“Miss Granger,” he tried, “Forgive me for not watching my step. And for asking- what is the trouble?”

“I ..I don’t know.” Quiet, almost embarrassed but he knew it was honest, impossibly so.

“You.. don’t know?”

“One minute I was fine. I mean as close to fine as one can be in a situation such as this. Away from home, kind of solo.. But this.. This spot. It’s like.. I.. Well, I don’t know.”

He looked around to see them near a small corner, almost entirely blocked off. A glimmer in the light the only thing telling them muggles couldn’t see much past this section. He knew it was magical, it’s purpose. But surely she didn’t. Though even he had to admit the residual magic was still strong despite the years.

“Please excuse me a moment, Miss Granger.” He had said before quickly finding Flitwick. Before taking any control of his mind back, he had already made his excuses to Flitwick. Telling the small professor that Hermione was in need of a break and he would make sure she was safe and catch them both up to the group at the next destination.

His breath hitched as he went to announce his return.
“The.. The group is continuing on. Take the time you need, I have made our excuses.”

“Professor?” Her quiet voice was like a symphony after the silent minutes that had passed.

“Yes Miss Granger?”

“What is this place?”

“It is the Alhambra.. A palace, of sorts, in Spain. But I do not think that is what you are asking.”

“No.. I.. Do you feel it? There is something..”

“Magical? Follow me, Hermione.”

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Hermione followed, her silent sobs still wracking through her failing attempts at calm.

“There’s a seat, just up here..” It was soothing, serene almost, coming from the Professor.

Breathing a little more, she could see the mosaics around them were different here, though she wasn’t sure why. It was like they were brighter- yet more decayed at the same time.

The shapes seemed to swirl and blur, something Hermione blamed on her still tear filled eyes.

The room they just entered suddenly struck her as funny. More clear than anything she’d seen that day, the mosaics so bright it was like being surrounded by pure crystal. The dancing of a thousand moon beams.

The ceilings high above, the whole thing like a gazebo around her. A fountain perfectly flowing just past the window, the water trickling into a pool so clear it looked like glass. It held a beauty like nothing she had ever seen, and the glow encompassing her..

“Others can’t see this part.” She heard, drawing her from the reverie. Follows by an almost unheard “I found it by accident nearly a decade ago.”

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He didn’t know how to keep talking. And he certainly didn’t know how to hold it in any longer. Hermione may not have been the most observant in some ways, but he knew she was already connecting the dots.

“You know this was once a palace. You have heard there used to be a princess. I dare say you are currently sitting upon a sette in her personal chambers.”

“What you may not have heard, is that said princess, she.. Fell in love. A forbidden love.”

“It was with the royal wizard. They tried to keep their love a secret but some say it was too great. They were discovered and the wizard soon sentenced to death.”

“The wizard spent the last of his days searching for a way to keep them together. Some say he failed in brewing a potion to persuade the entire kingdom. Some say he gave up and went easily to his demise. But ultimately, he was burned and thus never seen again.”

“The princess was heartbroken. She refused to be married.. Suitors tried to steal her away. The kingdom nearly went to war with many others. But were always mysteriously dissuaded.”

“There are many gaps in the legends, the history. But shortly after the wizards death, they all agree that magic is banned and never discussed again.”

“There is only speculation on when it happens, but the princess is said to have quite suddenly gotten married to a yet unheard of prince.”

“Many romanticize that it was the wizard, some how having found a way to return as a prince.”

“What ever the story, every version I have found. There is one thing in common.. A bright light, brighter than anything imaginable, filled this very chamber the night of the wizards death.”

“The more dramatic tellings say the princess sobbed for hours, her vow to love him eternally saving him from the grave through her tears.”

“The less saying she accidentally performed her own magic and turned him immortal.”

“Both hold truth. On the night they call the wizards death, the princess was overcome with grief at the thought of loosing her true love. “But one kiss” she begged. Pleaded with the wizard to just bestow upon her their first kiss, and soon thereafter, their last.”

“The rumors of the bright light were correct. The light nearly blinded both the wizard and his princess. That night magic bound the two the moment their lips met. A light surrounded their bodies as if erupted from inside and all around them.”

“They accidentally created a soul bond. The wizards soul and the princesses.. It is now said that the two are fated to find one another, in this spot, for all of eternity.”

 

Hermione's tears had stopped somewhere around the middle of his tale. His voice ethereal in the quiet around them, little more than a whisper by the end.

“Well, they did always say I was an old soul.” Hermione sighed, finally breaking the silence. And then, one Miss Hermione Granger had the audacity to laugh.

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Of course it was bloody her, Hermione thought.
Her eyes seeming to sob silently on their own accord now, with relief or something more she wasn’t sure. He probably thought her mad as she laughed and cried herself silly.

Composing herself, she just stared at the professor. The man before her was the same man she had seen every day since her start at the school. The feeling around her was one she associated with Hogwarts, but now realized it was his presence.

“By others, that can see this place I mean, did you mean muggles or well, everyone?” She was sure she already knew the answer.

He smiled then. A good look for him she thought. “You always were observant to the nuances. It’s true.. Though the wizard failed in convincing the kingdom to spare him, their bond was enough to make the chamber where they stood unfindable and forgotten. Rather similar to a fidelus charm. Though many can feel the magic here.”

“Did they kill the wizard, then?”

“Yes. Though their soul bond made him return.. The prince.. She knew the moment he set foot back in her castle.”

“And is that when you knew? The moment I first entered Hogwarts?”

“Indeed, and not an easy thing to digest over a sorting feast.” He laughed, cheeks pink.

“Will we get their memories?”

“No, I don’t believe we will. From what I can find, it’s more a lure and a gentle push toward one another, not a force. Though I admit to having a few odd dreams.. Made it easier to piece my findings of their story together. Though rather unsettling at times. A glimpse of hands meeting here and there, the brush of a cheek. I like to think of them as memories anyway..”

“You never thought they could be prophetic.” It was far from a question.

“You were a girl.. Just a kid. It was their story, our story, I don’t even know. And I, just a creepy old man. A dungeon bat who happens to be a death eater, helping the mad man trying to ki..”

“You’re my prince. The rest doesn’t matter.”