The Lion, the Snake, and the Safe Room
14 October 2006
Beautiful is the fifth chapter of The Lion, the Snake, and the Safe Room.
Harry awakes somewhere unfamiliar, but he can smell breakfast nearby which makes him happy. He wonders where he is that he is getting "the royal treatment" and then he remembers why and where he is, including why some of it is fuzzy. His hidden memories tempt him briefly, but he again places his trust in the presence he felt at the Silver Spring. He gets up and washes himself, through all of which Malfoy sleeps: Harry notes that he looks much younger when asleep, which then prompts him to wonder what might have caused that…
Draco's dreams are invaded by a strain of music which winds itself around him, initially causing him to strike out at it. When it backs off, giving the impression of just wanting to be friendly, he relents, holding out his hand. It bounds up, nuzzles his hand, climbs his arm and flows into his ear. As the sounds unfold, the music touches something deep within that he had hoped was no longer alive: softness where he needs to ne hard, weakness where he needs strength. But then he realises that it would fool the others: they have no way of knowing that he hasn't always secretly loved music, they'll think he's truly going soft.[Note 1] He opens his eyes and realises that there is music outside his head as well as inside. He decides to get up and locate the musician and maybe ask for some lessons; maybe he'll regain some favour while showing how well-rounded a prince he could become. He ignores the way the internal music sounds like laughter…
Meghan is already up. if not exactly dressed: she is sneaking out in her nightdress to listen to the merpeople singing. She makes her way to the orchard where she dances to the mersong while the dawn breaks, and then to the song of the trees in the Great Forest. She spins around soaking in the light of the sun…
Hermione sleeps through the dawn, awakening to the feeling that she has just missed something wonderful. She is however not particularly bothered, reasoning that every day will bring her wonderful things. She ponders her situation while cleaning her teeth, considering her vague memories of "back home" where she recalls that she had grown a little accustomed to everyday wonder, as a defence against being overwhelmed. She is just hoping that she won't lose all her sense of wonder…
|“||Imagine not being even a little excited to see[…]Aslan…||”|
She curtseys, promising herself that when she does meet Him, she will not be found lacking: she has no idea why she was chosen, but she will be worthy.
Harry meanwhile is letting his feet carry him upwards through the Palace, seeing nobody but hearing the occasional passer-by: he briefly wonders whether they are avoiding him on purpose. He reaches a tower and starts to climb: he can hear a single voice singing above, distinct from the chorus he had been hearing before. He is just considering whether it's a deep-voiced woman or a high-voiced man when he reaches the top and peers around the doorway. It turns out to be Garnet who is creating a miniature castle from clay as she sings. Harry is impressed by her skill and curious as to whether Kargin also crafts like this. Garnet completes her work and stands to sing:
Sun in its rising,
Harry is so taken with her singing that he almost falls when the door moves under his weight. Garnet whirls round in surprise, drawing a shining dagger, and Harry draws his wand in reflex. She remarks on the latter, comparing it to a staff and wondering whether its usage is similar: he notices that she corrects herself, calling him "Harry" rather than "Your Highness", and wonders whether she has been talking to Kargin. She smiles at that because Kargin, as it turns out, is one of her "many" brothers. Harry recalls Kargin mentioning that he is one of six, which she confirms: she is the oddity, not only because of the rarity of dwarf girls overall but because her family notably have very few indeed. She saves Harry the trouble of phrasing his question delicately, telling him bluntly that dwarf women always have many children to ensure that they survive (she calls this "Aslan's gift") but because most of the men are obsessed with their work they don't marry. Even some of those who do marry outside their race: her oldest brother, for example, "has his eye on" a dryad.[Note 2] She pretends to be offended when Harry finds this last bit funny but presses on with her question about his wand. He suggests that a practical demonstration might help and tells her to hold out her hands, which are caked with clay. He casts Scourgify and is worried when she flinches. She is thoroughly impressed, however, noting that even her mother can't clean like that. She guesses that he can do other things as well, unless he was simply going to clean her to death. His instinctive reply turns out to have a double meaning but she is amused rather than offended, asking him to escort her to the dining hall for breakfast. She curtsies, addressing him jokingly as "Your Highness" when he asks for help finding it. He responds "Harry. Please." so she calls him that, picking up her work and leading the way.
Hermione's exploration reaches the ground floor when her attention is caught by a "rhythmic thumping noise" which she follows outside into the sunlight. As her eyes adjust she realises that she's found the training ground, and the noise turns out to be Kargin who is practising his archery. She is impressed with his progress and waits until he is finished before applauding, which catches him unawares. He shouts and spins around, and immediately apologises. She reassures him and apologises in turn for startling him, complimenting him on his accuracy. When he calls her "Your Highness" a second time she chides him for mistaking her for Draco which makes him smile. She asks whether she could learn to shoot a bow: he asks if her eyes is any good, to which she responds that her spells "always seem to get where they're going". He is confused so she asks if they have more targets: they drag one out for her to use in place of Kargin's which is riddled with arrows. She calms herself, deciding to use Colour Changing spells: for some reason she desperately wants to impress Kargin and has to stop her mind babbling about it. After taking a deep breath she casts Commuto Coloris[Note 3] and changes the centre of the target from red to white. Kargin is impressed while Hermione is simply relieved that it works. She proceeds to practice on the target rings, first setting them to alternating black/white, then to red/gold, then to green/silver. Meghan, who has arrived in the meantime, expresses her approval of the most recent colour scheme and asks if she might try. Hermione is surprised because this is usually a Third-year Charm but apparently Meghan's mum has been teaching her at home, and that Charm is useful for sprucing up stained clothing. Meghan runs over from where she has been watching, revealing that she is wearing only her nightdress and no shoes, so it is no surprise when she asks to borrow Hermione's wand. Hermione hands it over, and Kargin asks whether borrowing a wand is like using an unfamiliar bow: Hermione supposes it's something like, but more so because of how "the wand chooses the witch". They stand back to watch Meghan and Kargin asks quietly whether she usually wears so little: Hermione explains that they only just met, so she doesn't know, nor is she sure whether it's appropriate. Kargin rejoins that as a princess Meghan can do as she likes, but his tone is significant and Hermione declares that she should at least wear shoes. Kargin responds that if she uses that tone, nobody—least of all Meghan—is likely to disagree.
Draco has found his way to the beach, where he is sitting watching the sun rise over the sea, imagining that he could walk out and touch it. He hears someone approaching from behind, someone who asks him what he thinks of "our Narnian mornings" in a familiar voice. He bites back a stroppy reply, mindful of his ticking-off the previous day, and stands up, turning to face Nata. He tells her that they are pretty, different from home where he never cared to watch the sun rise. She interrupts his self-criticism (for sounding trite) by asking him how they differ and he tells her. He is gratified that she is rapt with his imaginings of walking out along the rays of the sun to take hold of it, feeling the power. He elaborates, spinning a story of letting the sun carry him through the sky on its journey, looking at all the countries below, finding out where it rests at night, and finally discovering how it returns to the east every morning. The little sneering voice in his head is just telling him how ridiculous this all sounds when Nata breaks her silence: she thinks his stories are beautiful and poetic. He says modestly that he doesn't always speak so well but he does appreciate beauty, and in return she begins to spin patterns of mist, weaving rainbows, and then she begins to dance. It is his turn to be enraptured, but not so much that he cannot argue with that little critical voice, finally deciding to simply order it away: it sounds like his father and he doesn't need that right now. The voice goes away and for once he is alone in his thoughts, so that when he thinks that Nata is "beautiful" it echos in his head without a trace of a sneer.
- Harry Potter
- Hermione Granger
- Meghan Freeman
- Draco Malfoy
- Queen Caelin of Narnia
- Kargin, a Red Dwarf, Abra's youngest son
- Garnet, a Red Dwarf, Abra's daughter
- Nata, the Naiad of the Silver Spring
- ↑ Not sure this logic is sound, but whatever keeps you sane…or near equivalent!
- ↑ No problem guessing who these two are meant to be!
- ↑ According to the HP Wiki, the incantation for the Colour Changer is Colovaria, apparently derived from one of the video games. In canon, Harry manages to mix this up with a Growth Charm during his OWLs, although we don't know what that incantation should be…
- The Lion, the Snake, and the Safe Room, Chapter 6 on FanFiction
- The Lion, the Snake, and the Safe Room, Chapter 5 on Fanficauthors.net
|The Lion, the Snake, and the Safe Room|