|by Van © 2015|
|OUR STORY BEGINS
In the months after the defeat of the Death Eaters and the demise of their leader, Tom Riddle, the self-styled "Lord" Valdemort, several things happened.
(1) Azkaban Prison was greatly enlarged, and continued to be enlarged as the Wizengamot Courts tried and sentenced captured Death Eaters.
(2) With the full support of Kingsley Shacklefort, the new Minister of Magic, Hogwarts was restored to its original condition, more or less. Thanks to the volunteer magical labor of hundreds of wizards and witches, more that ninety percent of the repairs were accomplished in a matter of weeks, soon enough to allow the new school year to start at the traditional time. This might seem surprising to the average muggle, but ancient structures like Hogwarts "want" to be restored, and the majority of the work could be accomplished with relatively simple charms and spells. All it took to rebuild the castle was organization, discipline, and perseverance.
(3) The remaining repairs continued apace, but were more problematic than returning the castle's stones, statues, window panes, and roof slates to their accustomed places. And while most of the school's magical defenses were restored and were generally adequate, they remained "out of tune" and unreliable against the most powerful of potential threats. For that reason, the non-teaching staff position of Sentinel Magus was established and the Ministry of Magic's Department of Magical Law Enforcement agreed to fill the post with one of its Aurors, subject to the approval of Headmistress MacGonagall, of course. Currently, the job is held by Ffion Tonks, cousin of the late Nymphadora Lupin.
(4) During the war, Hermione had missed her seventh year at Hogwarts because of her fugitive status. Ginny Weasley and Luna Lovegood had remained at school and finished their sixth years, so when Hermione returned to complete her studies she was now their seventh year classmate.
(5) Harry Potter and Ron Weasley have decided not to return to Hogwarts. Harry was granted a special Ministry paid internship and was training to become an Auror. For now, Ron was helping out at Weasley's Wizard Wheezes, his older brother George's lucrative joke shop on Diagon Alley, but he was seriously considering following Harry into the ranks of the Aurors.
What would be Hermione's, Ginny's, and Luna's final year at Hogwarts was now underway. Valdemort and all the Dark Wizards are defeated, the Ministry of Magic is restored, the wizards and witches of Great Britain are back under enlightened and competent governance, and Headmistress MacGonagall and a special committee of senior wizards and witches have the school's remaining repairs well in hand.
What can possibly go wrong?
& the Wrappity Wrope
"Really, Hermione," Ginny sighed, "it's all right. If I can't make it work, I'll think of something else as a present."
Hermione gave her friend a reassuring smile. "I'm sure there must be something in the Restricted Section you can adapt," she suggested.
"I want to do it myself," Ginny huffed, "not just cobble together a compound charm from already known spells."
"Unfortunately, the Restricted Section is restricted," Luna observed.
Hermione and Ginny exchanged a tolerant, knowing smile. Luna was being Luna, as always The trio of seventh year students were studying together in the library. All three were in school uniform, and while the sight of two Gryffindors and a Ravenclaw sitting together might be unusual, they were Heroines of the Battle of Hogwarts and would study where and with whom they pleased.
Ginny winked at Hermione as she replied to Luna, "Yes, the Restricted Section is restricted."
Hermione gave her best friend (and boyfriend's sister) a warning look. "I'm sure Luna is referring to the special restriction Headmistress has placed on the area."
"I was," Luna said in her usual vacant manner. "Until the Room of Requirement has been relocated and reintegrated, we're not to enter any of the off limit areas."
Ginny's eyes widened in mock wonder. "You mean all the off limit areas are off limits? Ow!" She frowned at Hermione and reached down to rub her left shin, where her now glowering fellow Gryffindor had given her a swift but harmless kick.
"It's all right, Hermione," Luna said, still smiling. "Ginny is only being supportive."
"She's being a tosser," Hermione replied, still staring at Ginny.
Ginny continued smiling, as not offended by Hermione being Hermione as she was by Luna being Luna. And her legs took far worse abuse playing quiddich, which was why she wore charmed shin guards on the pitch. "Anyway," Ginny said, "until things return to normal, I'll have to see what I can find in the compendium archives of the student stacks."
"Hah," Hermione scoffed. "Worthless. The critical elements aren't even cross-referenced with runic translations, ancient or modern."
"That would be dangerous," Luna stated. "Imagine first-year students researching levitation spells and following runic references to a list of flying spells, instead. They might levitate themselves beyond the atmosphere, freeze solid, then shatter when they fell back to earth. That would be disturbing."
"Not to mention messy," Ginny chuckled.
Hermione rolled her eyes and resumed reading the open volume before her on the table.
Ginny was trying to create a novel binding spell, as a present for Harry, something he could use to impress his Auror friends at the Ministry. And she was after something more useful than the "rope binding" or Incarcerous spell. It could be repelled by a wizard or witch who was fully prepared. Ginny wanted to craft something unusual and therefore unexpected, something that would be difficult to deflect. Ginny knew she couldn't come up with something truly powerful, but even a minor trick might be useful under the right circumstances. And if it helped keep Harry safe, it was well worth the effort.
"Hermione's right about the runic deficiencies of the student catalog," Luna stated. "For example, you probably only tried references in the card catalog for rope spelled with the letter 'R.' Am I correct?"
Ginny exchanged a confused look with Hermione (who was not confused), then focused on Luna. "Uh... yes, rope with an 'R.' How else do you spell rope?"
"With a 'W,' of course," Luna replied.
Hermione pulled out a scrap of parchment, a quill charmed to make its own ink, and quickly wrote a runic word. The result somewhat resembled "WROPE."
"Yes," Luna nodded. "Wrope, a variety of vine found in mature oak forests. Also, cordage woven from said vine. The plant was mentioned in fifth year herbology, but I don't believe there's a specimen in the greenhouse."
"It's supposedly quite dangerous," Hermione intoned, waved her wand to erase the runes from the parchment, then smiled at Ginny.
Ginny looked from Hermione to Luna. "Showoffs," she muttered. She expected this sort of thing from Hermione, but not from Luna. Actually, Ginny was well aware that Luna was far smarter than her somewhat dazed manner might tend to suggest. Her nickname might be "Looney," but only the truly shallow failed to recognize the intellect behind Luna's vacuous demeanor. Smart and kind, Ginny chided herself. She's smart and invariably kind. "Sorry," she said, patting Luna's hand.
"That's all right," Luna replied.
"You don't have anything?" Hermione asked Ginny. "You've made no progress whatsoever?"
Ginny shrugged. "I've been practicing the Incarcerous spell, in the hope of incorporating a counter-deflection flourish."
Hermione frowned in concentration. "That would be very difficult, possibly contradictory under the First Law of Magic."
"Still," Luna said, "it's always good to practice."
"I've never cared for Incarcerous," Hermione added, remembering the time she'd watched Delores Umbridge use the spell on a centaur in the Forbidden Forest.
"I use it when I knit," Luna said, "with my wand as one of the needles and the spell half-formed in my mind as I work. It's quite relaxing and can create very pretty patterns."
Ginny stared at Luna in amazement. Using the so called "binding spell" for such fine work was impossible. Was Luna joking? A quick glance suggested Hermione was also skeptical, or possibly impressed. "I've only used it as a fighting spell," Ginny admitted, "but I'm very good at it."
"I see," Hermione said, returning to her book.
"Really," Ginny reiterated, "I'm good."
"It's easily deflected," Hermione said, "which is why it's only used on dazed or unsuspecting opponents."
"Well," Luna said, rising from the table and gathering her books. "Let's go, then."
"Go where?" Ginny asked.
"To see who's right, of course," Luna said.
"Right about what?" Ginny and Hermione demanded in unison.
"About the spell," Luna explained. "Come on. I'm sure we can find an unused practice hall."
Ginny and Hermione exchanged a look, shrugged, and began gathering their own books.
& the Wrappity Wrope
On their third try they found a free practice hall. (The first two had been occupied by student couples honing their snogging skills.)
"I really don't see how this is at all productive," Hermione sighed.
"Practice is always productive," Luna said serenely, then smiled at Ginny. "Would you like to go first?"
Ginny favored the totally unconcerned Hermione with a somewhat predatory smile. "Why not?" She produced her wand with a flourish, then took position at one end of the hall. "Well?" she said, still smiling at Hermione.
Hermione heaved a long-suffering sigh, placed her books on the floor near the door, and produced her own wand.
The two friendly duelists faced each other across the darkened hall. The only light came from the quarter moon shining through a bank of Gothic-arched windows and the charmed candles of a row of sconces on the opposite wall. They bowed... there was a pregnant pause... then both wands flicked, more or less simultaneously. Being seventh year students, vocal invocations of offensive and defensive spells weren't strictly necessary, although their lips moved and muttered syllables escaped their pursed lips as they gestured and waved their wands.
Tendrils of wiggling rope flew from the combatants' wands like striking serpents and crossed the room. Both duelists were initially successful in wrapping at least a few feet of rope around their opponent, but then Hermione seized the initiative with a decisive flourish of her wand. The rope she'd looped around Ginny's waist flipped a coil around the redhead's wand, causing the rope Ginny had looped around Hermione's upper arms to change allegiance. It released Hermione, flew back across the room, and looped itself around Ginny's ankles, legs, waist, and arms. At the same time, Hermione's original rope also looped itself around Ginny's entire body, but from the opposite direction. Also, it interlaced itself with Ginny's now traitorous rope at several locations.
Ginny opened her mouth to protest, complain, or perhaps to congratulate Hermione on a well-cast spell—"Mrrrrf!"—but was silenced by six horizontal strands of rope, three her own and three Hermione's, which cleaved her mouth and tightened. "M'mpfh!" She tried waving her wand to break Hermione's concentration with a disruptive charm, but her hand was trapped at her side and the angle was awkward, to say the least.
Hermione rendered Ginny's feeble effort moot with another wand flourish. Ginny's wand flew from her hand and into Hermione's.
Hermione strolled to her defeated opponent, Luna joined her, and together they gazed down at the very vocal, albeit unintelligible, and very energetically struggling, but completely helpless, Ginny.
"M'mpfh nrr mff nurr mpfh!" Whatever Ginny was trying to say was totally garbled, but it was abundantly clear that she was not happy. The ropes continued shifting and consolidating themselves into a haphazard but clearly inescapable web. As was always the case with a well-crafted and ineffectively blocked Incarcerous spell, no knots were involved. The ends of both ropes had fused together, and it wasn't at all clear exactly where on Ginny's writhing, twisting, and mewling body that had happened.
"That was very good," Luna said, nodding her head in approval, "but it could have been neater."
"Neater?" Hermione was skeptical. She continued gazing at the still struggling and very unhappy Ginny. "I don't think that's possible in combat," she said, "not against a capable opponent."
"I guess I'll have to show you," Luna responded. As always, her demeanor was smiling and a little unfocused, anything but bragging or competitive. She took out her wand and strolled to the opposite end of the hall, to where Hermione had formerly stood.
Hermione sighed and readied her wand. She also suppressed a smile, confident that she was about to demonstrate herself to be queen of the Incarcerous spell.
The new pair of duelists bowed... readied themselves... and their wands flicked. Actually, Hermione's wand flicked. Luna's wand twirled in a continuous circle. A strand of rope streamed from Hermione's wand, as before, flying in a beeline for Luna. From Luna's wand, however, two strands emerged, and they streamed in a double helix around Hermione's attacking strand and towards Hermione herself.
Luna caught the end of Hermione's rope with her free hand before it could wrap itself around her body. At the same time, Luna's strands engulfed Hermione, spun her in a circle, and started tightening around her body from shoulders to ankles. Hermione continued spinning. Luna released her opponent's strand, and it joined the flailing cloud of rope. At the same time, Luna's wand continued waving in a circle.
Bound and gagged on the floor, Ginny watched with amazement as a neat, complex, symmetrical web of rope tightened around her erstwhile opponent, pinning Hermione's legs together and her arms at her sides. Hermione was also gagged by six strands of rope, but they were interwoven into a single thick cable incorporating a large, complicated knot that filled the captive's mouth.
Hermione gave a well-muffled shriek—"Urrrk!—and fell to the floor, but her impact was lessened by a flick of Luna's wand, no doubt a purposefully weak levitation charm of some sort.
The bound and gagged duelists stared at each other in surprise. Both were equally helpless, but Hermione's bonds were, in a word, neat. Ginny's bondage was elaborate and well-hitched, but was in no way symmetrical. Hermione, however, was cocooned in a web that had more in common with macrame than a bundled package or bound prisoner.
"It's the knitting," Luna explained with a smile as she joined her helpless friends. Hermione and Ginny's wands were in her left hand and her own wand remained in her right. "Invoking the charm with a pattern in your mind takes practice, but the results can be very pleasing. Watch." She focused on Ginny and rope flew from her wand to wrap itself around the already bound and gagged redhead.
Ginny shrieked through her gag as she was lifted off the floor and an additional long strand of rope wove itself around her body and through her existing bonds. She dropped the inch or two back down to the floor and found a diamond-shaped web had tightened around and through the other ropes. It did nothing to neaten up Hermione's ropes, but it did add an element of regularity. As before, as with Hermione's ropes, there were no knots. The ropes were fused, end-to-end, and the intricacy of the placement of the many hitches and loops made sure it was all in place to stay.
"There's only one drawback from this approach to the spell," Luna lectured as she pocketed all three wands. "The joining element is so greatly strengthened that the charm aspect has to naturally destabilize, and that usually doesn't happen until the next minor peak of the solar cycle, when all fundamentally labile influences realign." She smiled down at the helpless Gryffindors. "I suppose I should have thought of that before we decided to play." She turned and walked towards the chamber doors. "Oh well."
Hermione and Ginny wiggled and squirmed as Luna made her exit.
'Next minor peak of the solar cycle?' Hermione thought. That's sunrise! She fought her bonds with all her strength, but they held. They held easily. Luna Lovegood, Hermione vowed, glowering at the closing doors, you are sooo toast!
Ginny also squirmed and kicked, with equal futility. She couldn't free herself, and she couldn't roll over to Hermione and offer an assist. There were no knots to untie. At least the ropes weren't slowly tightening. She knew that was supposed to be a very nasty way to die.
& the Wrappity Wrope
Luna was considerate enough to ask the house elves to deliver the Gryffindors to their dorm, insuring they wouldn't be caught out of bed after lights out, and the elves were actually very nice about it. They apparated Hermione and Ginny to a storeroom in Gryffindor tower until all of their fellow students retired for the night, then apparated them into their beds. They also demonstrated a hitherto unsuspected level of finesse with magic by removing Hermione and Ginny's school uniforms, one item at a time, and without disturbing the ropes.
Shoes, knee-socks, skirts, jumpers, ties, and blouses disappeared, followed by bloomers and bras! Naked under their tight bonds, Hermione and Ginny blushed in mortified embarrassment as their clothing drifted away and was hung from hangers in their wardrobes or deposited in the appropriate laundry hamper. The naked and bound prisoners continued blushing as the house elves, and there were at least twenty of them present, debated whether or not Hermione and Ginny should be tucked under the covers as they were, or whether they should be dressed in the pajamas they normally wore to bed.
One side of the debate argued that many Hogwarts students slept without clothing, except in the coldest days of winter. Apparently, and to Hermione and Ginny's surprise, this was especially true in the Hufflepuff dorm.
Really? Hermione thought. Hufflepuff? Ravenclaw, that I would belief, but Hufflepuff?
Other house elves expressed the opinion that while humans as a species weren't nearly as attractive as elves, some adolescent human females were arguably elf-like. What this had to do with the issue at hand wasn't clear—to Hermione and Ginny, anyway.
Finally, it was agreed that the Gryffindors should be dressed in their customary manner. So... Hermione found a pair of her best knickers materializing around her loins, then a striped pajama bottom, and finally, a white tank-top. Ginny was also magically dressed in a pair of knickers, followed by her favorite two-piece, green, Holyhead Harpy pj's.
Wait just a minute, Hermione thought. The house elves know what each of us routinely wear to bed? Her blush returned.
Next, the ready-for-bed and bound and gagged Gryffindors were levitated above their beds, the covers folded themselves down, and they drifted back down onto the cool sheets. The top covers rose over their helpless forms and up to their chins, then, the sides tucked themselves under the edges of the mattresses on either side—"Urk?"—tucked themselves very tightly, indeed. There would be no accidental rolling out of bed and falling to the floor for Hermione and Ginny. The house elves wouldn't allow it.
And then, Hermione learned that her efforts to secure better treatment for Hogwarts' house elf servants had won her many friends.
Ginny watched as the house elves formed a queue. One-by-one, they climbed up on the bed, wished Hermione goodnight, kissed the blushing brunette on her cheeks or forehead, then disappeared with a pop. This took quite some time, as more elves wanted to say goodnight than had helped undress, redress, and tuck the bound and gagged humans into bed. New elves kept appearing at the end of the queue. By the time the last elf kissed the tip of Hermione's button nose goodnight and disappeared, her face was not only flushed, but shining with house elf saliva. Ginny would have been disgusted if it wasn't so funny.
And Ginny thought it was very sweet that the elves held Hermione in such high regard. Like most in the wizarding world, she usually thought very little about the entire subject of house elves. Maybe I should listen the next time Hermione goes on about elves' rights, she decided, after we finish fixing Luna Lovegood's wagon, of course.
As for Hermione, her thoughts of revenge had cooled. Besides, a good prank is a good prank, and Luna was hazed enough by her fellow Ravenclaws. Now, finding a way to help Ginny craft a spell for Harry, that's something else, she thought. Perhaps we can tie Luna down and tickle her feet until she tells us exactly how to cast her improved Incarcerous spell.
& the Wrappity Wrope