Chapter Three

"I've highlighted pertinent texts in Orchrimer's treatise on—"


"I think you'll find that Michelin's findings coincide with—"


"What about the recent theory that silver is needed as a catalyst to—"


"What do you want!?" Hermione slammed her hand down on the open text in front of her and glared at the man across the solid table. "I've spent hours searching for relevant articles within the parameters you stated! These are all well-respected masters in their fields who have made considerable strides in—"

"Miss Granger." He ran his hand over his face. "None of these findings have made concrete, documentable improvements in the treatment of lycanthropy. You need to go back further." He gestured to the wall of books behind her. "I suspect that what we're looking for will be found in the ancient texts, not in today's half-baked published findings."

"Fine!" she exclaimed, and slammed her current text shut. "Though you'd think it would be common knowledge and common practice if the cure has been around for hundreds of years," she muttered under her breath. "Half-baked!" she continued to rant to herself. "These are peer-reviewed articles published in reputable scientific magazines! Go further back," she said, mimicking her employer's voice in a low whisper. "Fine. Further back. But I'm not going to find anything." She read the spines of a row of tomes in silence. As her fingers trailed over the books, she frowned at one of the titles. Silver Moon, she read, pausing. When she reached out to take it, however, she recoiled in surprise.

Mr Peters was instantly at her side. "What is it?"

She stared at the book which was still nestled in its spot on the shelf. "It's cold," she said.

"Cold?" He took her hand in both of his. "Warm to the touch," he told her, running his fingers over her palm and each digit. She shivered, more at the intense concern in his eyes than the lingering sensation of frost in her hand.

"I'm fine," she said abruptly, snatching her hand back. He narrowed his eyes for a moment, and then turned to study the book. Raising his wand, he murmured a series of spells Hermione recognized to be revealing charms.

"It's not cursed," he told her, "though it is warded." After speaking another spell over the book, he removed it from the shelf and carried it to the table. "It should be safe enough now," he informed her.

"Well, that's comforting," she muttered, disgusted with her own reaction to both the cold book and her employer's attention. If she didn't know better, she would think she'd felt a spark of... something when he touched her. Probably just a lingering reaction from the warded text, she told herself. Because she simply couldn't be attracted to a taciturn and moody man who seemed to have no respect for her intelligence. With a heavy sigh, she took up her usual seat at the table and opened Silver Moon. It probably had no useful information in it, but as it had caused so much trouble, she fully intended to read every word of it.

Three hours later she was interrupted by the pop of Mona appearing beside her. The house elf was carrying a pot of tea and a plate of biscuits. "Tea time already?" Hermione questioned, but was answered by the growl of her own stomach.

"You is to be eating," Mona informed her. "And I is to be keeping you out of the books until you do."

"Hmm? What?" Hermione asked, speaking around a bite of biscuit even as she turned the page in her book. She was three quarters finished. Another hour, tops, was all she needed. She might have started reading Silver Moon on a whim, but it was proving to be a fascinating treatise of the effect of the moon on various plants, written in the late thirteenth century by a witch whose son had been bitten by a werewolf. She documented minute changes in the potion she brewed for him, experimenting with herbs gathered at different times of the lunar cycle, and then brewed in cauldrons with varying concentrations of silver. Herbs gathered at new moon seemed to work best, she surmised from the carefully compiled data, but the effects of the varying concentrations of silver in the cauldrons was much less conclusive. She was just about to read about the other alloys included in the cauldrons when Mona popped the book away from her.

"Hey!" she exclaimed. "I wasn't finished with that!"

"You is finished with the book until you eats," Mona said firmly, arms crossed over her chest and a stern set to her mouth. Hermione attempted to engage her in a stare down, but the elf stood her ground.

"Fine," she huffed, and poured herself a cup of tea. "Is that better?"

Mona nodded. "Another biscuit," she instructed.

She wanted to refuse on principle alone, but the truth was, she was hungry. Mona had brought her a sandwich for lunch, but she couldn't remember what kind it had been, or even eating it.

And the biscuit really was quite good.

"Mr Peters is saying that there are many books in the library. Not just the one you is reading," Mona continued, sounding much less confident than when she had been pressuring her to eat.

"Oh, he does, does he?" She finished the second biscuit and took a deliberate sip of tea before extending her hand toward Mona. "The book, please?"

Mona hesitated.

Hermione narrowed her eyes.

The book popped back into existence on the table in front of her.

Hermione smiled.

Mona sighed.

"Don't worry," Hermione said softly. "I am an excellent researcher, and Mr Peters will be pleased with my work. I take full responsibility."

Mona bobbed her head and winked out of sight, leaving a fresh pot of tea and a plate of fruit and cheese behind. Plucking a grape from a cluster, she popped it into her mouth and returned to her reading.

Several hours later, she was awakened by the feel of a book being edged out from under her.

"Miss Granger."

She blinked and found herself staring into the dark eyes of her employer. He was standing rather closer to her than she would have expected, and loosely holding Silver Moon in his hands.

"If you are going to insist on reading, it would behoove you to accomplish it while awake," he said mildly. "Come. Mona is waiting to put you to bed."

"I don't require assistance!" she spluttered, shoving her chair back with less grace than she was prepared to admit and self-consciously smoothing down the hair that had escaped her sloppy pony tail.

"Since you did not deign to join me for supper," he said, and Hermione blinked again, wondering just how long she had been in the library. The room was filled with shadows from the light of many candles, but that was to be expected. It wasn't as if the room had any windows, after all. "Since you have not eaten," Mr Peters continued, "Mona has a tray of food in your room."

She nodded, grateful for the consideration. Still, she wasn't finished with her reading for the day. She extended a hand toward him in the hopes that he would relinquish the book he'd taken from her. Instead, he grasped her hand in his and pulled her to her feet, still standing uncomfortably close. She felt herself blushing, though she wasn't entirely sure why. It wasn't as if the man was interested in her, after all. From his curt words and attitude, it seemed he barely tolerated her.

The stood in an uncomfortable silence, her hand firmly gripped in his, their bodies inches apart.

"The book, please," Hermione asked, her voice a trifle more breathless than she thought it had any right to be. It wasn't as if she'd just climbed the many flights of stairs to the Gryffindor tower, after all!

"Ah, yes. Silver Moon." He stepped back at once and handed her the book. "And have you gleaned any pearls of wisdom from this scintillating volume?" he asked.

Hermione felt her rancour rise. "You are the one who insisted that I look further back," she reminded him. "I am doing so. Now, if you don't mind, I will complete my reading in my own chambers, thank you very much."

"More reading?" He raised an eyebrow and glanced at the very old, very fine watch on his wrist. "It's almost midnight, Miss Granger."

"I have only one chapter left," she informed him. "And I won't be able to rest until I've read it."

Mr Peters glanced down to the table, where she had most certainly been asleep only minutes earlier.

"I would have woken up on my own soon," she said, flushing. "And finished the book before retiring for the night."

"Of course." He stepped aside and once more left her standing, watching him, as he exited the room. All he needed, Hermione thought petulantly, was a billowing dark robe and he could be Severus Snape. But no. There was something about Mr Peters that was intrinsically different from the tortured, angst-ridden Potions master. Mr Peters, she thought, absent-mindedly straightening the sheaves of parchment she'd used to order her thoughts, had a different air about him. It wasn't that he had a sense of humour, though she was certain he did. It was more the fact that Jamie Peters wasn't himself. His clipped comments and rigid posture were a part of him, to be sure, but they weren't him. Not the way Severus Snape's were. No, there was definitely more to Jamie Peters than he was currently allowing her to see.

"Missy Granger must not be eatings in bed!" Mona exclaimed, staring at her charge with eyes nearly detached from her little form.

With a grunt of annoyance, Hermione set aside the apple she'd been nibbling. "There," she said, never taking her eyes from the book. "No food."

Mona huffed. "And you is reading in bed!"

"Yes," Hermione replied, still not looking up. "I am." She was close. Only one chapter left, and she could relegate Silver Moon to the highly satisfying stack of Books Already Read. Her eyes flicked to the few remaining pages, and she found herself biting her lower lip. The author of the book was intelligent, as evidenced by her complex potions and careful study. But Hermione couldn't help wondering what she would find at the end of the book. It was, after all, written by a mother trying to find a cure for her son. Would the book end with the death of her child? A cure? Or perhaps the author had given up, resigned to her son's life of pained existence. She couldn't bring herself to read ahead, though. The story, told through meticulous potions records, needed to play out as the author had written it.

"You will nots be reading all night," Mona scolded, smoothing the covers on the bed that Hermione had mussed as she read and ate a late snack.

"Almost finished," Hermione said, still engrossed in her reading. She heard a pop, and heaved a sigh of relief that the attentive house elf had finally left her to read in peace. Oh, she'd be back, Hermione knew, but hopefully she'd have finished the book and be fast asleep, processing the information, by then.

When she reached the last page, she frowned at the bumpy texture of the paper. The rest of the book was in surprisingly good shape, protected, she assumed, by the charm which had chilled her hand at the first touch. Water damage, she wondered, tracing the bubbles.

Sliver Moon, the title of the potion read.

A misprint, surely. A simple transposition of two letters, which happened to form another perfectly acceptable, yet completely inaccurate, word.

An unimportant misprint, especially if this last potion was no more effective than any of the others in the book.

And yet, this was the only recipe with a title.

Odd, that.

She glossed over the list of ingredients, noting that they were identical to the previous potion. Until she came to the very last ingredient.

A drop of the slivered moon.

Moon weed, she wondered? It was a common enough ingredient in many potions, though it had never been associated with wolfsbane to her knowledge. It was normally chopped or minced; she'd never heard of it being converted to a liquid state.

She glanced back at the ingredient list. Taking out the term which had to be another typo, she looked at it more closely. A drop of slivered something. She flashed back to the ingredient preparation lessons that Professor Snape had worked so hard to drill into his students' minds. A slivered ingredient was long and narrow. Solid. How did one extract a drop from a slivered object?

It had to be a typo.

But two in one page? In an otherwise meticulously compiled research log?

No. She was missing something.

A drop of the slivered moon.

Her eyes tracked to her window, but her almost reflexive urge to look for the moon was thwarted. It was just past new moon, and the night cloudy. There was nothing to see except dark. Placing the book carefully on the bedside table, she crawled out of the massive bed and stood by the window. The grounds, of course, were only a mass of undistinguishable shadows, but she knew that a charming garden and smallish pond were within easy walking distance.

She'd been cooped up quite long enough, she decided. Tomorrow, she would take an hour to explore the grounds and breathe some fresh air for a change.

Happy in her decision, if not her reading, she climbed back into bed and drew the curtains around her, shutting out the scant light pouring in the window.

Sleep did not come easily. The lack of resolution in Silver Moon bothered her greatly. She didn't need a happy ending, she told herself. She just needed an ending. Had the last potion worked? Willing her body to relax, she recited the chapter headings of Hogwarts: A History, and then the list of periodical tables. A Shakespearean sonnet was next, followed closely by the basic Arithmantic formulae.

Somewhere between the healing properties of hawthorn and the dates of significant Centaur prophecies, she was lulled into a half-dreaming, half-waking state. A lullaby, sung by an unfamiliar voice soothed her.

I see the moon, and the moon sees me.
The moon sees the one that I want to see.

The voice was beautiful, but had such a plaintive quality about it that she frowned in her sleep and twitched, kicking off her blanket. Over and over the same words repeated, but the voice grew increasingly sad, until Hermione was certain that the singer was weeping uncontrollably. Instead of trailing off, as she would have expected the voice to do if the singer were overwhelmed with emotion, it grew in volume and intensity, until it was no longer singing, but screaming, begging, pleading.

Hermione cried out herself, and the singing stopped. She slipped into a deeper sleep, and didn't wake until Mona was at her side, pulling back the bed curtains and handing her a cup of coffee.

"I've got it!" Hermione said, slapping the copy of Silver Moon down on the table beside her as she joined Mr Peters for breakfast.

Mr Peters took another mouthful of scrambled eggs.

"It came to me in the middle of the night," Hermione continued, ignoring his lack of response. "'I see the moon and the moon sees me. The moon sees the one that I want to see.' Don't you see?" She opened the book to the last page and jabbed her finger at the list of ingredients listed as necessary for the Sliver Moon potion. "It calls for a drop of sliver moon. See? Right here." She was practically bouncing in her seat, her eyes alive with excitement.

"At first I thought it was an error," she explained, taking his silence as a sign that she should continue. "But why would there suddenly be errors on the last page of the book? But it didn't make sense. A drop of sliver moon? Impossible! But what if sliver moon refers to the first night after new moon, when the moon is a mere sliver? And what if the drop is a drop from a body of water reflecting the sliver moon?"

She turned to face Mr Peters fully. "Well? What do you think?"

He set his coffee down.

"It came to you in the middle of the night," he said, and she was shocked to see that he was visibly holding back his temper.

"Yes," she answered, completely clueless as to what she could have done to invoke his ire.

"And where were you when you had this nocturnal epiphany?" he demanded, suddenly towering above her and staring down at her with eyes blazing with rage. "Tucked safely in your bed? Or were you giving yourself a tour of the fourth floor?"

"What?" she said, frowning. "I was in my room, of course. Sleeping." Ignoring his still blistering anger, she sat down and tucked in to her breakfast, starting by spooning out a section of grapefruit. "I admit I had a strange dream, though, and that was what sparked my thought process." She hummed the tune of the lullaby she'd heard in her dreams, and watched her employer in confusion as he sank back into his chair.

"Of course," he said stiffly, and she thought he sounded relieved. Clearing his throat, he added, "It's a common enough lullaby. You heard it countless times as a child, I suppose."

"No," Hermione said, smiling sadly. "My mother wasn't one for singing. She read to me, though. That's why I recognized the words. They were part of a book of lullabies that she would read as I fell asleep."

"But you'd heard the melody before."

Hermione tucked into the scrambled eggs. "No. I remember thinking how lovely it was to hear the words I'd treasured as a child put to music. Does it matter?"

"Perhaps not," he said, studying his toast as if it were the most fascinating thing in the world. Hermione personally couldn't share his preoccupation with the precisely spread marmalade.

"Lullabies aside," she said, determined to keep on track no matter how he found his victuals, "what do you think of my interpretation of the last potion?"

To her satisfaction, he appeared to at last consider her findings seriously. "It is not something I have ever come across," he said thoughtfully. "We will test your hypothesis. Tonight."

Hermione's eyes lit up. "Splendid! I noticed you have a lovely pond in the back garden—I imagine that we can collect our drop of sliver moon from there. And I assume you have the other ingredients at hand?"

"I do," he confirmed. Placing his linen napkin on the table beside his plate, he excused himself to ready the potions laboratory and gather the ingredients.

"I'll help," Hermione offered, moving to follow him out of the room, but Mr Peters shook his head.

"How long has it been since you've brewed wolfsbane?" he asked, his gaze far too knowing for her liking.

"It's been a few years," she admitted, thinking back to how she had assisted Professor Snape for nearly a year after the war when he'd been recovering from Nagini's venom. Thank Merlin that year was over and done with, she thought. While she respected Severus Snape, and even enjoyed his acerbic wit at times, one year had been plenty long enough to share one weekend per month in the lab with him.

"Then I suggest that you familiarize yourself with the potion instructions and techniques."

He was right, of course, though Hermione glared at his retreating back anyway.

"Thirty-seven clockwise stirs, and then three counter clockwise," Hermione muttered under her breath. Beside her, Mr Peters held the next ingredient at the ready. "Do you really think this will work?"


Her arms were aching. It had been more than an hour since her hair had escaped her magically secured bun. She'd been standing so long that a muscle in her back was twitching. But the potion was progressing nicely, and there was only one ingredient left to add. After completing the requisite number of stirs, she watched breathlessly as Mr Peters added the drop of sliver moon.

She'd made wolfsbane many times. She'd made it properly. She'd made it improperly. Never before had she heard the potion howl. The eerie, plaintive sound echoed in the cauldron, resonating with the silver container.

Startled, she almost dropped the silver stirring rod into the potion, but Mr Peters prevented the tragedy, wrapping his fingers over hers to secure them more tightly around the rod.

"I take it you've never see that reaction," he said.

"No," she retorted wryly. "You?"

Wordlessly, he shook his head and reduced the flame under the cauldron. "It simmers for three days now," he reminded her. "And it won't be tested for another two weeks, of course."

Tested. Hermione bit her lip, wondering on whom the experimental potion would be tested. She ran through the list of ingredients in her mind again. None of them were known to be lethal, either on their own or in combination. Still, Sliver Moon was fundamentally different than wolfsbane, and she felt a frisson of unease at the thought of someone ingesting it for the first time. There really was no way of knowing beforehand if it would be effective, or even safe.

She hadn't had these problems at the Ministry, she thought grimly. Her research had been pedantic, boring, and quickly passed on to a higher authority to make the necessary decisions concerning it. She hadn't felt this close to a project since… well, since she, Harry, and Ron had searched for the Horcruxes.

She felt the familiar tightening of her chest as she thought about those months spent in the forest. Betrayal. Despair. Blind resolve. The emotions never quite faded, though the memories, at least, were less distinct now than they once had been.

"We're finished here," Mr Peters said, startling her from her reverie. And if she was feeling out of sorts, it was obvious that he was not. There was a sense of excitement, of expectancy, that she hadn't noticed about him before.

"I think I'll retire," she said, not wishing to dull his rare good temper with her own maudlin thoughts. It was late, after all, since they hadn't even been able to gather the sliver of moon until after night had fallen, and the potion had taken several hours to brew.

"Of course," he said, but she detected a certain stiffness that hadn't been present only a moment earlier. But when he turned to face her fully, he was grinning—a charming, boyish grin that evoked a genuine smile from her in response. She felt her heart thawing, and remembered how Harry had accomplished the exact same reaction countless times over the years. One smile, and apparently she was a pile of goo.

But Harry's smiles had never caused her heart to trip in exactly this way.

back    next


Author's Notes

Characters from the Harry Potter series are the property of J.K. Rowling. They are used without permission and not for profit.

Valid XHTML 1.0 Transitional