Chapter 6: The Meadow
|Chapter 5||Chapter Index||Chapter 7|
After breakfast the following morning, Dan and Emma left to go to their dentist office. They had appointments to keep with patients and wanted to begin closing down their practice. Harry, Ron, Hermione, and Ginny put the kitchen in order and then sat at the kitchen table deciding where they would go sightseeing. Hunched over maps spread out on the kitchen table, Ron and Harry were pointing out places of interest. Hermione and Ginny were sitting next to each other looking through a small travel booklet that Hermione had picked up while grocery shopping the previous evening.
Hermione looked at Ginny and winked. Then, turning the open booklet toward Ron and Harry, she pointed to the page and said, "We could go see the famous domed reading room at the Melbourne library."
Ron and Harry froze and looked at her with expressions of dread on their faces. Hermione and Ginny laughed.
"Very funny," said Ron with a smirk. Harry also grinned.
Hermione said, "Well, maybe Harry and Ginny should decide since they will be going back to England tomorrow. What would you like to see?"
Ginny took the booklet from Hermione and turned back a few pages. "Sherbrooke Forest looks interesting. It's an all-natural forest area with native trees, birds and animals. There are walking trails and one that leads to a waterfall."
Harry pointed to the map. "Sherbrooke Forest is here and it's got a few apparition points. ... Ron, what do you make of this?"
He leaned in to look where Harry was pointing. A small half-red, half-gold star slowly rotated along an alternate trail that led to the waterfall. "Not sure mate. I haven't seen that mark anywhere else on the map. Hermione, Ginny, what do you think?"
After looking at it, both Hermione and Ginny shook their heads.
"Well then, let's go find out," said Harry.
They apparated into a secluded thicket beside a picnic area. From where they stood, the trailhead was visible a short distance away. They could see some muggle hikers in the distance walking away toward the waterfall.
As they were about to step out of the thicket, Ginny said, "There's a path over here and a sign that says Waterfall. This must be the alternate trail. We should go this way."
They all agreed and began walking the narrow path. They had only walked a few minutes when the trail became wider and forked off in two directions.
"Which way should we go?" said Harry.
Ron looked up from the map. "The two forks join up again further ahead."
After a short pause Harry said, "Ron, why don't you and Hermione take that trail and Ginny and I will take this one. If either of us comes across anything interesting, we can send a patronus and join back up."
"Okay. We'll see you up the trail in a bit." Each couple began walking their separate trail.
Harry and Ginny walked quietly side-by-side taking in the sights. The path weaved its way through the dense underbrush and between tall trees that filtered in a gray overcast light from above. Off to each side of the path they heard the call of lyrebirds. "Oh look!" said Ginny excitedly as they caught a brief glimpse of a lyrebird running into a thicket.
As they leisurely moved forward along the path she said, "Harry, do you have any plans for when you get back to England?"
"Yeah. I want to ask Kingsley if I can join the Auror department. I still need to complete my NEWTs at Hogwarts but Kingsley said the Aurors are short-handed. I'd like to help them if I can."
With an anxious expression she said, "You need to do what you feel is right for you ... but ... will you be in a lot of danger or have to go away? I ... I'm afraid of losing you again."
He abruptly stopped and turned to look at her. In her eyes, he saw trepidation and concern for him. Thoughts came back of how he had felt for her safety before leaving to hunt Horcruxes.
"Not just right for me, but right for us. I want you to tell me honestly if you don't feel right about me becoming an Auror. I'm going to do my best to avoid combat situations. I've already done more than my fair share of that. I think a detective career will help keep me mostly out of harm's way. Is this okay with you?"
"Right for us," she thought as the words calmed her fears. "Yes, that will do nicely. But I'll still worry about you."
They began walking again. "What are your plans?"
"Mum and Dad would be very disappointed if I didn't finish my education. I've thought about working in the healer profession. But nursing and healer assistants need top marks in their NEWTs. I also want to try out for the Gryffindor Quidditch team this year."
She looked at him with a tentative expression. "You know that scouts from professional Quidditch teams sometimes attend Hogwarts games that have seventh year players. I'm not sure I have what it takes to be pro but I'd be happy just to get a chance to try out. Now don't you laugh or tell anyone this but ... when I was younger, I occasionally fancied myself playing for the Harpies."
"You're fantastic on a broom and I think you have a good chance at impressing a Quidditch scout."
"You really think so?"
"I hope you're right. Once we get home, I want to go to Hogwarts and help get the Quidditch pitch back in order."
"That sounds great. Can I help you?"
"That would be very much appreciated." She gave him a quick peck on the cheek.
They continued walking and after a moment she said, "Have you thought about where you will live?"
"Not really ... Grimmauld Place I suppose. But I'm not too sure about its security. Yaxley got the secret when we escaped from the Ministry. Maybe I'll rent a flat somewhere."
She stopped walking and held him back in shocked disbelief. "Escaped from the Ministry? Is this another story that I'll have to wait to hear?"
He pressed his lips together and then nodded his head.
"Humph," said Ginny in displeasure. After a short pause she said, "Harry, you're very welcome to stay at the Burrow. There's plenty of room and it would make Mum and Dad happy."
"That's a very tempting offer. But I've already imposed enough on your family."
In a scolding voice she said, "It's not an imposition Harry, you're as good as family. You'll need a much better reason than that."
"I'll be tempted to sneak into your room," smiled Harry. "These last few nights have been really nice."
"Yes they have and that will have to end when we get back. But to put your mind at ease, the door of my bedroom has a lock." She grinned. "I can use it if you think it will be necessary."
"Okay, I'll stay at the Burrow. And I'll let you know if you need to lock the door."
Ginny smiled warmly.
"But I am going to start looking for a place of my own, someplace in the country."
"May I help you?"
He looked at her and there was softness in his expression, "Definitely." They began walking again. "It needs to be open so you can see the stars at night and hear the wind rustle the leaves of the trees."
"I love the rushing sound the wind makes when it blows through pine trees." ...
Ron and Hermione walked hand in hand along the path. A small brook that paralleled the path a short distance away softly cascaded down its meandering course. Looking further up the path, they could see small animals scurry off into the shrubs as they approached. They marveled at the majestic height of the eucalyptus and ash trees.
After a short while she said, "Ron, have you thought about what you'll do now that the war is over?"
"A little. Reckon I'll finish my classes at Hogwarts and then try to get into the Auror department. Though with Fred's passing, I think Mum would feel better if I did some other career. And I'm not sure I can meet the Auror academic requirements. As you know, I've always been more hands-on rather than facts and figures."
"I'll help you study for your NEWTs if that's the career you really want."
"That won't be fair to you Hermione. You are going to have some very hard NEWTs of your own and you'll need to spend time studying for them."
"You know I've always helped you with your studies. Now ... well, I want to help you get what you want for your life. I can manage time for both."
"I'm already well on the way to having what I want for my life." He gently squeezed her hand.
She looked at him with a warm smile.
"Besides, if I'm going to be successful as an Auror, I need to make it on my own and know the things they require. Otherwise, I'll just be putting myself and others in danger."
"If not an Auror, what other career?"
"I've thought about going into business with George. I think Fred was right when he said that folks need a laugh now and then. If George won't have me, then I fancy doing something in the Department for Magical Games and Sports. It would take a lot of work to get in there but it's something that I really like."
"It seems to me that you've thought about this more than just a little."
"Well, when a guy has a girlfriend, he needs to plan things out a bit further."
"If I'd have known that, I would have snogged you in first year," she said with a grin.
"Yeah, but think of all the arguments, misunderstandings, and time spent in the library we'd have missed out on."
She rolled her eyes and laughed.
"What are you going to do Hermione?"
"I definitely want to work in the Department for the Regulation and Control of Magical Creatures. Ever since we talked to Nesbit in the hospital wing, ideas have been popping into my head about how I might be able to help improve their rights."
"Are you going to restart SPEW?" said Ron teasing.
She hit him gently on the arm, "No, and it's ..."
"S.P.E.W." Ron grinned. "The Society for the Promotion of Elfish Welfare. See, I've learned a few facts. Why don't they ask that question on a test?"
Smiling, she wrapped her arm around his arm. "Maybe someday they will. We've fought so long against injustice for witches and wizards. I think it's time that intelligent magical creatures are also treated with respect."
"With Hermione Granger working on it, it's sure to happen."
They walked in silence for a short while.
"Ron," she said tentatively, "there's something else I want to talk to you about. Where do you plan to live when we get back?"
"At the Burrow of course, you can live there too. Mum and Dad would love to have you stay with them."
An uneasy expression formed on her face. "Umm ... so would my mum and dad."
"Oh ..." He stopped as a chill of realization jabbed at him. He turned to face her. "You're right of course. I ah ... Oh Hermione, I'm sorry. I've been so used to having you around all the time that I didn't think about that."
"Ron," she said in a sincere voice, "Please believe me when I tell you that I'm very happy being with you, and I don't want it to stop. It's just that ... Mum and Dad have missed so much with me being away at Hogwarts. I want us to be a family again. And not just with me, they want to get to know you too."
Ron put his arms around her. She tensely waited for what he would say.
"I understand Hermione. Your mum and dad need to be part of your life. And I'm happy to know they want me included. Now that you-know-who is gone, there will be time enough for all of our family and friends."
She let out a deep sigh and hugged him firmly. "Teddy knows how to make my anxieties go away." Then, she looked at him with a serious expression and in an authoritative tone of voice said, "Ron, I want you to promise me that we will see, or at the very least talk to each other, every day!"
"That's an easy promise." He leaned forward and kissed her softly. Then they turned and, arm in arm, continued walking.
The time spent walking seemed to pass unnoticed, absorbed in rapt conversation with each other. The trail dovetailed and rejoined with the other. They came to a stop and looked down the other path to see if Harry and Ginny were close. Presently, the sound of voices announced their approach. They too were absorbed in conversation with each other.
Ron pulled out his map and began to study it.
Hermione looked at Ginny. "Have a nice walk?"
"Yes, we did. How about you?"
"We did indeed."
Harry smiled to himself. He knew that girls sometimes spoke in a secret language that only they understood. Maybe someday he would try to learn it, if that was even possible for a guy to do.
"The place indicated by that mark should be just a little further up the trail," said Ron to the others.
They walked slowly for a few minutes carefully looking on each side of the trail. The vegetation grew thicker on each side and the way ahead darkened. Now large ferns dripping with dew blocked their view on both sides. They found a small path, almost completely hidden, branching off into the ferns. They looked at each other for a moment. Then Ginny took Harry's hand and led him along the narrow path followed closely by Hermione and Ron.
They followed the winding path in single file. The ferns and undergrowth became thicker with each step and the light filtering in from above grew steadily dimmer. They had to duck under and climb over tree branches along the way and their clothes became damp as they brushed against the wet plants. When it began to seem like they had gone the wrong way, the path turned sharply and abruptly ended on the edge of a large brightly lit clearing. After only a few steps into the clearing, they stopped and stared.
Trees of oak, birch, and hornbeam arched away on the left and right encircling a very large meadow for as far as they could see. Warm sunlight bathed the scene and everything seemed to be radiating a fuzzy white glow of limitless vitality. The meadow was covered in green grasses sprouting flowers of lavender, poppy, and marigold. Butterflies fluttered about the blossoms and a light breeze made the flowers gently sway. The intense blue sky was dotted with puffy white clouds and a flock of migrating birds flew high overhead in the distance.
Widely scattered across the meadow grew trees of apple, pear, and cherry. Some had fruit on their branches while others were in colorful spring bloom. They heard the sound of flowing water from a small brook that wound a twisted path between the trees. Along the banks of the brook grew watercress, rosemary, laurel, and many other herbs. A step stone footpath before them led up a gentle slope toward a distant group of large trees growing on the crest of the meadow. From the group of trees, they heard a faint murmur, like an immense choir of voices. The sound was haunting and it seemed to be a musical composition.
"This is wonderful," said Ginny. "Are we still in the forest?"
They all turned to look back at the way they came. The path leading into the clearing was still visible though partially hidden.
"It's like a living apothecary," exclaimed Hermione. "I don't recognize most of the plants."
"Neville would absolutely love this," said Ginny.
"As a precaution," said Hermione, "we should leave a mark where we came in."
She took out her wand and gave it a flick. "Avis!" A number of small birds with brown wings and yellow breast feathers appeared and fluttered in the air before her. Ron grimaced slightly and took a step back.
Hermione giggled. "Nothing to worry about Ron." Harry grinned.
Ron's eyes fixed on the birds as they flew to a nearby tree and perched in its branches. Then the birds began happily singing the Hogwarts song. With an expression of satisfaction, Hermione turned to face the meadow. She pointed her wand toward the group of trees on the crest of the meadow. After casting a few revealing charms, she turned to the others. "We're the only ones here."
"Let's follow the footpath toward the choir sound," said Ginny eagerly.
The soft delicate sound of the choral symphony grew no louder as they approached the cluster of baobab and cedar trees. Now they began to hear another sound, like many distant wind chimes. It blended harmoniously with the choir of voices. As they carefully stepped into a clearing within the group of trees, a circle of very old stone monoliths of different shapes and sizes came into view. The tallest of the monoliths were easily twenty feet high and engraved with runes and ancient writing. Toward the center of the circle of monoliths, a low circular wall of tightly fitting stones held a very large pool of crystal clear water. Filled to the brim all around, the water seeped over the top and down the sides of the stone enclosure. Within the pool, jagged rocks of varying size jutted above the water in different places and at odd angles. A large silvery object, that looked something like a crown, floated a short distance above the center of the pool. It was covered with symbols and set with oddly faceted gemstones. Colored beams of light glinted and fell onto the surface of the water in prismatic patterns as it slowly rotated. Above the circular diadem, a star-like point of light twinkled brightly.
With expressions of wonder on their faces, they moved closer and paused just within the circle of obelisks. They saw the star-like point of light radiating a soft glow onto the surface of the pool of water. It also cast a diffuse beam of light down into the center of the floating silvery crown. Within the confines of the crown, a thin grayish cloud of mist floated and gently swirled. Dark onyx-like droplets fell at random from the lower edge of the crown along its circumference. When a falling droplet touched the water in the pool, it would softly chime with a unique tone and a bubble would form. As the ripples from the droplet spread out on the surface of the water, the tone wavered with an ethereal quality. The slow and gentle rain of droplets produced a genial symphony of sound. The sound was melodious, ever changing, and somehow, familiar and heartwarming.
They continued to walk along the footpath as it turned to encircle the pool of water. Closer now, they could see that the water in the pool contained an intricate lace-like pattern of many different sized bubbles. Within each transparent bubble, a mist was visible. In places, the bubbles packed close together like foam. In other areas, the bubbles stretched in thin spider-web-like strands. Throughout the pool, the bubbles interconnected and formed a unity.
Almost imperceptibly, the bubbles flowed outward toward the edge of the pool. As they did, the mist within most of the bubbles turned white, seemingly at random. In places, the pattern encountered the jagged rocks in the pool. Upon contact, some of the bubbles would burst. The mist within was released and a small chip of the rock broke off and sank into the depths of the water. But most of the bubbles rethreaded the lace pattern and flowed around the rocks. All across the surface of the water, gray and white mists were seen.
Inevitably, the outward motion of the lace pattern brought bubbles into contact with the stone edge of the pool. Upon contact, the bubbles would burst and release the gray or white mist contained within. The gray mists tumbled like a thin fog over the stone edge of the pool. The mists continued outward and dissolved into the low-growing hemlock and wild roses that closely surrounded the pool. The white mists became sprite-like and rose slowly upward turning pink and then golden. The sprites dissolved into a translucent cloud floating high over the entire area enclosed by the monoliths. Different parts of the cloud pulsated, as if laughing. The cloud radiated a gentle glow of purest golden light as it gently swirled and undulated.
"This is amazing," said Ron as they slowly walked around the pool. "Hermione, do you know what the runes and symbols mean?"
With a slight frown of concentration she said, "I recognize the Elder Futhark runes and the Theban alphabet. I'd need my Spellman Syllabary to work out the other symbols. Most look very old and I'm not sure they're even in the Syllabary." She pointed. "The large sigils on the stone enclosure mean Fire, Earth, Water, and Air. They are the ancient understanding of the fundamental elements of the world. They also represent the base nature of human beings; desire, stability, emotion, and thought."
"The colored stones on the floating silver ring are unusual," said Ginny. Pointing she said, "That reddish one is tee shaped and the green one next to it is shaped like a six point star."
"Look at that yellowish crescent moon and blue star," said Ron. "And that purplish one looks a bit like a yin and yang."
"The engraved rune that looks like an arrow pointing up is chokmah," said Hermione. "It means wisdom. And the rune shaped like the number four is called chesed which means mercy."
Harry pointed. "I remember those runes from astronomy class. That's the symbol for Venus and the one next to it is Mars."
"They can also represent man and woman," said Hermione. "When the two symbols partially overlap, like those do, it means man and woman joined together. That's what makes runes so fascinating. They can mean different things and yet, those things share a common truth."
They walked a short distance further and saw a group of willow and aspen trees shading a stone pew. The gently curved pew faced the pool and had a high back. They decided to sit and rest for a while. They were surprised to find that it felt like sitting in one of the plushy comfortable couches in the Gryffindor common room. Harry pulled water bottles from his rucksack and handed them to the others. They talked quietly and watched the dark droplets falling into the pool. The music-like tones were soft, gentle, and hypnotic. It evoked a peaceful calmness in each of them.
A few moments later, the scent of jasmine wafted on the breeze. A vaporous magenta colored mist that looked like thin wispy ribbons fluttered in. They watched without blinking as the mist swirled into a small fuzzy cloud a short distance in front of where they sat. Then, a gentle voice from the cloud began to chant.
Where waters flow and spring blossoms grow,
In a meadow made of dreams from above,
Joined with heavenly grace in that sacred place,
Two hearts create life out of love.
From conception day, until it must pass away,
A soul's journey of comforts and aches,
On a temporal quest to find purpose and zest,
Unique path, each day chosen, it makes.
Learn from those who have lived and the wisdom they give,
The toils of their labors untold,
Choice seeds I am sowing, the world ever growing,
The vision for a universe unfolds.
With another to share a lifelong promise of care,
Labor of love and family traditions replete,
Reminisce the bygone days, when youthful vigor was ablaze,
Earthly lessons for the soul are complete.
Now essence the treasure, time no longer the measure,
A lifetime in the blink of an eye,
Where eternally imbued, and our spirits renewed,
Another place and being is nigh.
Throughout infinite night, countless stars dim and bright,
Worlds of wonder and difference entwine,
Their proverbs desired and enlightenment inspired,
Spirits joined with their creator divine.
With all wisdom accrue, I compose symphony anew,
The word and power of love to bestow,
Burst forth golden light and in rapturous delight,
Waters of life, in a barren meadow, begin to flow.
The voice faded into silence and only the soft chime-like tones of the droplets falling into the pool were heard. The cloud diffused and floated out across the pool where it mingled and became indistinct with the other mists rising from the water. They sat in silence staring out across the pool.
After a moment, Ginny softly said, "That was beautiful. Have you heard anything like it before?"
"No," said Hermione quietly. "It made me feel peaceful, like watching the sunset on a warm summer evening. What about you Ron?"
"It seemed familiar but I can't place it." He looked at Ginny. "The tune felt like something Mum might have sung to us when we were little."
Ginny nodded thoughtfully. Looking at Harry she said, "What do you think Harry?"
Gazing at the pool he said, "I think I've heard part of it before." He looked to their questioning eyes. "It was after being cursed in the forest. I remember hearing very faint music that faded away as I became aware of my surroundings in that place."
"That chant seemed other worldly to me," said Hermione.
"This whole place seems other worldly," said Ginny. She looked around with a heartfelt expression. "I love the magic that's here."
After a while, they all stood and continued to walk slowly along the stone steps around the pool. They talked about the runes and the different shapes and patterns the bubbles formed in the pool.
Abruptly, Harry pointed toward the pool. "Look there, glowing bubbles close together, two gold ones and two red ones."
They all stopped and looked. It appeared that these bubbles had just passed through a narrow split between two large jagged rocks in the pool. A strand of bubbles trailed behind and connected to a much larger group also trying to pass through. Ahead of the colored bubbles, toward the outside edge of the pool, were a few much smaller and widely spaced stones.
"You reckon those colored bubbles might represent us?" said Ron.
"I think so," said Harry.
"Maybe," said Hermione. "It could mean almost anything."
"If not us, than what?" said Ron.
"I don't know," said Hermione shaking her head slightly.
"It does seem to fit what has happened," said Ginny. "The rock looks like it's been split down the middle and broke into two pieces."
"There are other pairs of rocks like that all over the pool," said Harry. "Some are smaller and others have wider gaps between them."
They were quiet for a moment and then continued to walk. After a short while, they arrived at the footpath leading back toward the meadow and forest beyond. They stopped and took one last look around lost in thought. The awe-inspiring surroundings filled each of them with feelings of solace.
"I wish I'd brought my books on rune translation," said Hermione in a disappointed tone. "I would so much like to spend more time studying the inscriptions."
"We can come back again sometime," said Ron in a consoling voice. This made Hermione smile.
"I'm so happy we got the chance to see this," said Ginny. "It's all so wonderful." She took Harry's hand and gave it a squeeze.
They reluctantly started walking back through the meadow toward the forest. The music-like sound from the pool slowly faded. Reaching the place where they had entered the meadow, Hermione recalled her singing birds from the tree. The birds flew back and briefly circled around her singing brightly before dissolving into thin air.
Then with one last look across the meadow, they all turned and walked back into the forest.
|Chapter 5||Chapter Index||Chapter 7|
This is an original fan fiction story based on the seven book series 'Harry Potter' written by J. K. Rowling. Harry Potter, the characters, names and related characters are trademarks of Warner Bros., Inc. Harry Potter publishing rights © J.K.R. This is an unofficial, not for profit site and is in no way connected with J.K. Rowling, Scholastic Books, Bloomsbury Publishing or Warner Bros., Inc. This site is not endorsed by any of these aforementioned parties. Rights to characters and their images is neither claimed nor implied. This fan fiction story is owned by the author and subject to copyright law under transformative use.
Copyright © 2015-2017 Don Buczynski
San Diego, California
Last Updated: 9/24/17