Chapter 3: A Mystery
Chapter 3 - A Mystery
It was late as Hermione ran up the staircase leading to her office. Her brow was creased as she was deep in thought.
"I should have realised that I would be late tonight! What would he now think of me missing our first appointment. After all my lecturing earlier today about being serious and I go and miss our meeting!"
The school term officially got underway earlier with the sorting ceremony and the traditional feast that took place in the great hall. Hermione was introduced to all the students as the new part time Transfiguration teacher. The Headmistress also used the occasion to briefly explained the restoration project and that Hermione would be the person responsible on behalf of the school to coordinate the works.
However at the end of the feast, she was expected to attend a special informal gathering of all the school teachers to introduce each other and to talk a little about the coming school term. She was already late when Dickinson finally was able to corner her in a conversation that she could not even remember most of now. She had tried to evade him all evening but he was persistent and at the end she graciously listened and pretended to be interested in his upcoming teaching plans for the term. She however soon sensed a turn in the conversation towards more personal issues and managed to excuse herself with a flimsy excuse of a long day. She soon regretted dismissing him so easily and promised herself to try harder with him the next time.
As she skidded to a stop in front of her office she could see a faint light still on in his office down at the end of the corridor. Maybe he was still here after all. She suddenly felt a bit flushed and quickly put it down to her mad dash a while ago. The door to his office was left slightly open and this gave her the excuse to venture down along the dim corridor until she stood before his open room. She paused before knocking softly on the door and peering inside slowly. Oddly, she felt both a sense of relief and disappointment when she confirmed that he was not in and her first instinct was to turn around and leave but the sight of various stack of books piled up on the little couch caught her interest.
She ventured into the office and immediately noticed that he had made no attempt at cleaning off the dusty furniture and shelving. Honestly! For something that would take all of five minutes to accomplish with her wand she could not comprehend the lack of such an easy task from him. He must be a complete lazy prat she thought. As she stepped further in she now observed that his desk was also covered in various books and stacks of parchment scattered all over just like she had seen earlier on the table in the courtyard.
Her natural habit made her glance over the various books on the couch and while she could understand that a number of them pertained to the study and repair of ancient buildings she was surprised at the variety of subjects that the other books covered. She absently picked a book out of the nearest stack when it keeled over and a small cloud of dust spewed up in the air. She huffed to herself, pulled out her wand and pushed up her shirt sleeves before quickly muttering various cleaning spells around the room.
"You couldn't help yourself could you?" she heard his voice lightly behind her suddenly.
She jumped and spun around holding her hand to her chest. He was leaning against the door frame with his bag hung over his shoulder.
"God Mr. Weasley!" Don't do that! You surprised me! I thought you already left for the night." she replied breathlessly.
"And that's why you felt it ok to come and inspect my office?" he quizzed with a frown.
"No! That's not it! I saw the lights and I first thought you were here so I came to apologize for missing our appointment." she quickly explained. "and I am not inspecting your office! I just noticed that you seem to be rather lazy in cleaning it. Wouldn't it have been more practical to first dust off the place before bringing in your stuff?" she addressed him sharply.
The red haired Mr. Wesley studied her face for few seconds before visibly relaxing.
"Sorry. Another bad habit that I am trying to control. I get a bit antsy when people are in my space uninvited. Thanks for cleaning up. I was going to do it later." he said casually. "and stop calling me Mr. Weasley will you?"
He moved into the room to drop his bag and picked up some books from the couch before turning to examine the shelving along the opposite wall. Hermione noticed that he seemed to have just taken a shower as his hair was still wet and the clean distinct scent of his bath soap drifted over to her. He had also changed into a clean jeans and a light colour polo jersey which fit tight to his torso.. Even though he was slim in build she could clearly make out his taut and fit body under his clothes. Her senses were tingling as he passed near her on his way to pack away the books on the shelves and she was momentarily frozen in place as she tried to clear her mind. She was back on the roller coaster as her mind adjusted to the ever changing emotions that had assailed her just in the last ten minutes.
He turned to look at her and she saw his eyes flicker towards her left forehand which was still exposed by her pushed up sleeve. She let out a small gasp as she quickly pulled down her shirt sleeves and moved towards the desk in an effort to calm herself. Had he seen her scar? Did he know about it? Why was it so important that he not see that horrible part of her? Hermione had tried over the years to put that part of her life behind her and she had succeeded in mostly controlling her nightmares and dread feelings which still infrequently plagued her. She tried to ease her mind with conversation.
"I'm really sorry for being so late but I had some unexpected duties after the welcoming feast." she said suddenly. "I should have catered for it. I hope I did not make you wait."
He smiled at her before replying.
"Don't worry about it. I figured as much so I went for a run around the grounds then had a shower in the bathroom one floor up that the Headmistress showed me before. I hope that was ok to use." he said still smiling. "Can you pass me the next pile there on the couch? Might as well make some use of you eh?" he chuckled out.
She involuntarily felt herself returning the smile as she passed a couple of books at a time for him to continue packing.
"I did not expect you to have so many different books to be honest. I didn't take you for reader at all. I can't seem to get a handle on you Mr. Weasley. You also do surprise me a lot too." she said trying to sound friendly.
He shelved the last book in his hand and turned slowly around to look directly at her, his blue eyes staring through her.
"You'd be surprised at the things we have in common Hermione. Even though we are completely opposite, you and I are quite similar in many ways. I know it may sound confusing and I know you really want to...get a handle on me as you put it... but not tonight. It's late but I promise I will tell you all about me tomorrow when we meet and you will get your chance. You should know anyway before someone else tells you anything and you get the wrong idea about me." he stopped to seemingly give her some time to digest his startling words and again she felt his eyes stray to her now covered forehand for a brief second.
Hermione was slightly stunned as she leaned against the desk to steady herself. She had listened to him and yes she was taken aback at some of his statements but what bothered her the most was the hint of sadness in his eyes that seeped through as he spoke in that quiet voice. She wanted to ask him so many questions, she wanted to clear up this mystery that she had felt about him all day, but it shocked her that what she really wanted to do was to step forward and put her arms around him and comfort him.
What was it about him that made her so crazy?
Instead she held on to the edge of the desk for dear life and just nodded. When was she ever at a loss for words? The sound of his light chuckle cleared her brain as she watched him move to her side and lean against the desk and cross his arms over his chest .
"I'm sorry if I scared you Hermione. Don't worry. It's not like I'm a serial killer or anything I promise." he laughed lightly.
Somewhere inside her head, it registered that she really liked the sound of her name coming from him. It rang a danger bell as she finally found her voice.
"You didn't scare me Mr. Weasley. You just surprised me...again. But you're right, it is late and we both have had a long day. I guess I can wait for whatever you are going to surprise me with again tomorrow... and I really think you should stick to calling me by my proper title." she glanced sideways up at him.
He faked a surprise look before his lopsided friendly grin appeared.
"Why? I like your name. Don't you? Come on Hermione we will be working together for a while and I refuse to sound like a proper gentleman throughout our association." he paused to run his hand through his hair. "Tell you what. I promise to address you as Miss. Granger in the company of all teachers and students but between you and me or among friends I get to call you by your proper name and the same goes for me and my name. Deal?"
She studied him for a few moments before letting out an exasperated sigh.
"Fine. I agree. Are you happy now?" she stood up to leave when she remembered something. "Oh! you asked me earlier to help you with certain arrangements you remember? Do you want to discuss them now or can they also wait for tomorrow?" she inquired.
He took few moments to gather what she was asking before nodding.
"Yeah don't fret yourself. We can discuss them tomorrow. The only one that I really need for you to see about right away is getting me a pass or permission to use your library. I need to do as much research on anything related to Hogwarts and I bet there are some great books in there that I can use. Anything with some history and drawings or description of the buildings themselves. I was told that I should get my hands on a copy of Hogwarts a History but it was not available at the book shop at the village. Do you think I could get a copy from the library?" he asked as they moved towards the door.
Hermione couldn't help herself as she let out a laugh.
"I never thought I would hear someone actually ask that! Harry goes on about me and that particular book. It's one of my favourites actually. If the library is out of stock I can lend you mine." she explained. "I will speak to Madam Pince tomorrow to let you have the use of the library."
"Thanks. I told you we have some things in common." he grinned as he closed the door of his office behind them.
They both stopped in silence as they reached her office but he spoke before it became awkward.
"By the way, the team will be working tomorrow around the same corridors that were barred off today so you can organize your routes until I tell you otherwise. I will brief you a bit more tomorrow? Will you be ok getting back to your room by yourself this late or should I wait?" he asked hesitantly.
Hermione felt an unfamiliar rush of appreciation at his gesture as she answered with a slight stutter.
"It's fine. This school is the safest place to be right now. Thanks for the offer but I have some paperwork to finish."
"Well all right then. I will see you tomorrow. Goodnight Hermione. It's been a pleasure" he stuck his hands in his front pockets and made to turn as he looked at her.
"Yes it has been." she smiled. "Goodnight Mr. Wesl...I mean...goodnight Ron. See you tomorrow." she watched him turn and walk down the corridor.
Later that night in her warm bed, Hermione went over her eventful first day at Hogwarts. It was all that she hoped it would be. The sorting ceremony and the great feast. Her acceptance as a teacher. She felt like she belonged here in this place of learning and she was honoured that she could contribute. She looked forward to her classes tomorrow and for the first time in a long while she felt contented.
She also could not help herself but think about the mysterious red haired man who had occupied a bit of her time on her first day here. She had no clue what to make of him but for some reason he had left a lasting impression on her in that little time. She was at a loss to describe her feelings towards him as each one she remembered seemed to be a first for her. She would just have to be careful. After all, he had a secret to tell and she would find out tomorrow.
She finally turned into her pillow and fell asleep.