Hermione was stunned when she got to the tower after her
classes had finished to find received a heavy trunk
“Bloomers!” Winifred screamed in delight and waved the sky blue fabric. “Will you be joining the Quidditch team as well?”
“Certainly not!” Hermione laughed as she snatched them from Winifred. “My flying is frightful.”
She lifted the short skirts that went with the bloomers out of the trunk and a hard black scroll case fell out.
“How to Transfigure Your Own Bicycle.” Christina read off the side, her eyes widening. “There’s a note tied to it!”
Hermione took the case and opened the note.
I hope your naughty adventure has turned out merry and that you have found a kinship with your fellow students.
I have sent along a few things to help you get by until you have an outing to get things for yourself. I am reluctant to send any actual money, so ask Albus how to charge things to the family account whenever you need something.
I know some of the clothing I have sent is old fashioned, but I cannot believe wearing a corset all the time is good for a lady’s health.
I have sent along a bicycle kit. They are becoming quite fashionable and I thought you may like something to do with your spare time besides needlework.
You have been enrolled into the Young Witches Program, but they have been informed about the changes to your wardrobe and that you have permission to have a bicycle and bloomers.
“Good Lord, this is like something my grandmother would wear.” Winifred pulled out an empire waisted dress, cut from deep blue silk.
Hermione let out a sigh of relief as she realized, though she had been provided with corset and bell, she had much more comfortable dress options.
“I think I’ll wear that one tonight.” Hermione said as she took the dress from Winifred. “I do not want to attempt to sit in a hoop at the match.”
“That is always good for entertainment.” Christina nodded, small red curls bobbing around her face. “There’s at least one poor girl that ends up flipping it when she tries to sit.”
“Robes weigh it down a little.” Winifred insisted as she sat on her bed and peered into Hermione’s trunk.
“Not enough.” Christina made a face as she picked up a bundle of hair ribbons and tried to match one to the blue dress.
“You could always do what
“What’s that?” Hermione asked as she pulled out a small stack of handkerchiefs and put them away.
“She never goes.”
“I thought the library was closed during games?” Hermione asked. She might want to do a bit of studying instead of watching Quidditch one day.
“It is, but
“A key?” Hermione asked. The library was never locked in her time. “It is actually locked up?”
“Oh, yes!” Christina pulled a cream colored hat box out of the trunk. When she opened it she reached in and carefully pulled a deep emerald bonnet out of it “There are some very dangerous books in the library.”
“Heavens,” Hermione said, only because she was biting back her real thoughts: Like what?
“With Albus escorting you everywhere you will see more than enough of the library.” Winifred insisted. She pulled a tiny pink three-cornered hat out of Hermione’s trunk and held it to her head, posing.
“You look like you’ve stolen the hat from a pirate’s
“A fashionable monkey.” Christina laughed as she took off the bonnet and handed it to Hermione.
“Oh, well, since you put it that way…” Hermione snickered and put the hat on a shelf inside her armoire.
“I’ll see you at the game!”
“Fly well!” Winifred called out.
“Don’t you dare lose!” Christina reminded
“In Gryffindor, yes.” Christina said. “Hufflepuff has two girls, Ravenclaw has three, and Slytherin none.”
“There don’t seem to be many girls in Slytherin at all.” Hermione said as she pulled out a pair of dancing slippers from the trunk. Damn. “It does make sense for none to be on their team.”
“Rachel Black used to play for them, but she broke her shoulder last year and her mother forbade her from playing anymore.” Winifred shrugged as she admired a pair of light colored stockings.
“It must be horrible to love something and not be able to participate anymore.” Hermione remarked as she pulled out a small silver box that rattled.
“It was amazing they let her play to begin with.” Christina
said as she flipped through a fashion magazine that she had found in the trunk.
“It’s different for
“That is not very nice!” Winifred said sharply.
“Well, it’s true.” Christina frowned at a picture of a gaudy yellow bonnet with pink trim. “It’s not fair that she gets to do as she likes and the rest of us are forced to act like ladies of society every bleeding moment we’re awake. The other girls that get to play are either from Muggle families that don’t understand what is going on or lowborn.”
“It is what you get for marrying above your station.” Winifred scolded. “If you were not marrying Mr. Bulstrode this would not even be an issue for you and you could play as well.”
“And what do you think your father’s reaction is going to be for your life plan?” Christina raised an eyebrow at her. “Marrying you off above your station seems to be his goal as well.”
Winifred was silent for a moment. “I don’t care what father thinks. I have an apprenticeship at the Ministry secured and will be able to support myself. I don’t need his inheritance.”
“What is this plan?” Hermione asked, interested. She opened the box to find some cosmetics and a couple crystal bottles of what she assumed were perfume.
Winifred sized up Hermione for a moment. “I do not want to get married and I want to work on experimental potions at the Ministry.” She held up her chin and waited for a reaction.
“That sounds like a sound career choice.” Hermione said as she took out a bottle and unstoppered it. Roses. She put the stopper back in it and placed the bottle on a shelf in her armoire. “You do not want to get married at all?”
“Perhaps later.” Winifred pursed her lips. “But father already has a boy from Durmstrang picked out. We are to meet over the winter holidays. He is Unger Schmid of the Schmids of Berlin. His family is a supplier of wand ingredients.”
“You‘ve not even met this guy and you are expected to marry him?” Hermione squeaked and she closed the box. She placed it on a small mirrored dressing table near her bed.
“But I’m not going to.” Winifred said firmly. “When I meet Mr. Schmid over the holidays I will explain to him I have other plans for my life and it would be best if he looked elsewhere for a mate.”
“Winnie, your father will beat you senseless.” Christina’s voice was just above a whisper. “Are you insane?”
“I have looked into it. I can use magic to defend myself if threatened when I am at home. I will simply bind him and let him know what I think of him,” Winifred said simply.
“Your father is a Muggle?” Hermione asked she picked up a small roll of velvet from inside the trunk. When she unrolled it she found a series of hairpins and a scroll of charms meant to tame unruly hair. Several of the charms had proved to be harmful when used over a long time, but that wouldn’t be known for decades.
“And her mother’s a squib.” Christina remarked. “Lucky she’s descended from an influential family or she would be likely to be placed in Hufflepuff.”
“What would that have to do with the sorting?” Hermione asked as she rolled up the pins and put them in a small drawer in her dressing table.
“Quite a bit.” Christina said. “There is expected to be an ingrained civility from the higher houses that only comes from better breeding.”
Hermione visibly flinched. “Higher houses?”
“All the students with the exception of Hufflepuff.”
“Cannot one be lower born and shrewd, brave, or smart?” Hermione asked crossly.
“Of course they can.” Christina said. “And those with potential for assimilation into proper society are chosen for other houses. Mr. Williams was a street rat before he got his letter. Mr. Sterling is a whore’s son.”
“Suspected whore’s son.” Winifred interjected.
“Or be kept down.” Hermione frowned as she rummaged through the trunk.
“It is for the Sorting Hat to decide.” Christina insisted. “Not for us to question.”
“That doesn’t seem to be very fair.” Hermione frowned.
“Life is many things,”
Hermione remembered an older Dumbledore explaining to her that the Sorting Hat learned many things in the headmaster’s office over the years. Maybe it had not learned about equality for all social classes yet. She wondered when the hat would learn. Or what would cause it to learn dividing up classes was a bad idea. She shivered.
“I suppose not.” Hermione said as she pulled a light pink corset out of her trunk and put it in a drawer. She waved her wand and her trunk shrunk to a size she could easily slip under her bed. “I should get ready for the match. The rest can wait until later tonight.”
“We should style your curls before the match.” Christina eyed Hermione. “We have enough time if we go bathe now.”
“I- I suppose so.” Hermione stammered. “My father allowed my hair to do as it wanted. I kept it pinned back.”
“Like a peasant?” Christina laughed. Hermione scowled at her. “That would not be befitting a Gryffindor!”
Hermione never thought she’d find herself biting back a retort about Gryffindors and the way they went about things.
“Perhaps that is why she is a Gryffindor.” Winifred said smiling. “Because she is brave enough to be true to her soul and not the trappings of society and fashion.”
Christina sized up Hermione, who was holding the blue empire waisted dress. “Perhaps.”
Christina showed Hermione where the small baskets lined in gold brocade were stacked in their room. She helped Hermione gather her bath things, a bottle of yellowish water and a bar of sweet soap, and they, along with Winifred, made their way to the Gryffindor 7th Year Girls’ bathing chambers.
They made their way to the ground floor of Hogwarts and Hermione was surprised to see them make their way to the dungeons. When they stopped in front where Professor Snape from Hermione’s time had his classroom, there was a portrait showing a verandah on a sunny spring day. It seemed strange for this cheerful scene to be tucked away in the dungeons. A bunch of vibrant red roses sat on a glass table. Two small white chairs flanked the table.
“Nia?” Winifred said softly at the painting. “Nia?”
The bunch of roses shook and small fairy with a shock of red hair and deep pink wings fluttered out of the bunch of roses. She was dressed in petals.
“Greetings, smelly!” The cheeky fairy made a face at them.
“What nerve!” Christina exclaimed.
“You are here to bathe. You must be smelly.” The fairy hovered in the air over the flowers with her tiny fists on her hips.
Hermione laughed at the small fairy. “Perhaps you are right. Perhaps you are wrong, but we still want in!”
“Sirens,” Winifred said.
The portrait swung open and they stepped through the portal. Golden tubs lined each side of the room. The raised dais on the far side of the room had dressing tables and modesty screens lined up. The floor was still sloped slightly to a drain in the center of the room. Hermione was used to seeing a heavy iron grate in the floor. This drain cover was brass and inlaid with abalone shell. Stained glass windows filtered colored light into the room through scenes of mermaids and the seashore.
The girls pulled curtains around their tub area and disrobed. As soon as Hermione settled into the tub of fragrant bubble filled water there was a loud crack and a house elf appeared near the tub with a long handled brush in one hand.
Hermione shrieked loudly.
The other girls laughed as the little elf apologized profusely.
“Am so sorry, Miss!” The elf squeaked in horror. “Tibby was sent for when you arrived in the bath, miss.”
“They wash our hair!” Christina called out from her spot in the bathroom. “Forgive Miss Dumbledore, Tibby. She is new to the school.”
“I hope Miss will be enjoying our castle.” Tibby said as she pushed Hermione roughly back to a reclining position and poured warm water over her head.
Hermione spluttered and wiped the water from her eyes as she felt her hair being rubbed with something that smelled foul and made her eyes water. She was afraid to sit up for fear it would run into her eyes.
“What is that?!” Hermione asked, a bit scared to hear the answer.
“Water and ammonia, Miss.” Tibby rubbed furiously. “The glycerin will take away the smell in a moment.
Hermione lay still as more water splashed over her head and the bar of soap was rubbed over her hair. Tibby tossed the bar and it landed in the water near her leg. Hermione smelled lavender as Tibby worked it into her hair.
“Would Miss like Tibby to warm up the hair irons for her?” Tibby asked as she poured more water over Hermione’s head and ran her long fingers through the wet tangles of Hermione’s curls.
“Will you be setting my hair as well?” Hermione asked.
“If Miss wishes, Tibby would be pleased to do Misses hair.” Tibby splashed more water over Hermione’s head to rinse the suds out.
“What on earth did you do in
“My father thought such things were indulgent.” Hermione called out, cringing inwardly at the lie. “I only wore a corset since coming to Hogwarts.”
“Your father is so old fashioned!” Winifred said in a
surprised tone of voice. “To be so near to
“But she is allowed to have bloomers.” Hermione heard a lilting Middle Eastern accent comment. “Almost as comfortable as a sari.”
“Good afternoon, Charity!” Winifred called out. “We didn’t hear you come in.”
“I’m here as well!” Matilda called out.
Hermione heard a curtain yanked across a bar. A few moments later she heard a splash, then a pop.
“Hey now! Get off!” Hermione heard Matilda cry out.
“Many apologies, Miss!” Hermione heard a small voice squeak out.
The other girls laughed.
“It’s not natural, having someone else rub you down.” Hermione heard Matilda complain.
“With that attitude, you will never find a husband!” Christina said wickedly as the other girls roared.
Hermione heard water splashing out onto the stone floor and scrubbed her front quickly as Tibby scrubbed her back with the long brush.
It was strange. Normal or not, she wasn’t sure she wanted assisted bathing ever again.
“I will do the rest,” said Hermione. “Thank you.”
“I will prepare a chair for Miss,” Tibby said. “Your towel and robe are on the warmer in the corner.” Tibby gestured to a corner of the curtained off area. Then there was a crack and she was gone.
Hermione pulled the plug to let the water out and when she stood up a pipe with a small silver spout and chain grew up and out of the tub. She pulled the chain and a warm spray of water came out of the spout, rinsing the remaining bubbles off her body.
After drying off and putting the warm robe on, she met Tibby at a dressing table and watched as the elf dried and styled her hair.
“This seems a bit extravagant for just going to a Quidditch match.” Hermione said as Tibby was still working on straightening her hair as the other girls joined them at the dressing tables.
“Tibby will put the curl back in the hair after oiling it,” Tibby said. “Curly hair is more complicated than straight hair.”
Hermione looked wistfully at Charity, who had already had oil applied to her hair and was having it done in a straight braid down her back. She just smiled at Hermione.
“Hannah, you should feel lucky,” Matilda insisted as she scurried to a dressing table. “Curly hair is fetching.”
“Thank you.” Said Hermione as she watched the elf apply sweet smelling oils to her hair. Tibby gestured with her hand and Hermione felt her head heating up slightly. “Tibby, what is that?”
“Drying spell, Miss.” Tibby said simply as she reached out into the air and a few hairpins flew into her hand. With a few more spells and some firmly secured pins Hermione found herself with an elegant style that swept her hair up, but allowed small curls to cascade down her back and around her face.
Winifred combed and braided her long black hair and wound it around her head before putting a burgundy velvet bonnet firmly atop it.
“That looks like a much simpler idea.” Hermione said to Winifred as the small elf attacked her head with pins.
“Then next time you should decide to wear a bonnet with your dress.” Christina chided her. “The dress you have for tonight will go with that silver cloak I saw you pull out of your trunk.”
“Or you could just dress sensibly,” Charity giggled. Christina sniffed at her.
“I will have to charm the dress so it keeps me quite warm.” Hermione mused as the elf gave her head a satisfactory pat.
“I would suggest a spell to counteract wind as well,” Winifred smirked as she tied her bonnet tightly under her chin. “It would be a shame for that tower to go spilling over.”
“It’s not that tall!” Hermione rolled her eyes.
“No, it is not!” Christina said with a sharp look to Winifred, who just laughed.
“Tibby’s pins are secure, Miss,” said Tibby as she secured ivory combs in Hermione’s hair. “But a wind spell would help.”
“I will think upon your advice, thank you.” Hermione rose from the chair and went to the dressing screen that the elf had put her dress over. It was quick for her to dress and she waited while Winifred and Christina fiddled with their own corsets and other under things.
Matilda had the small elf dry her hair and assured the distressed elf that her hair would grow back eventually and it was going to be alright. She quickly dressed behind a screen and afterwards slipped behind Charity’s screen to help her pleat her sari quickly.
When they had finished, Hermione looked over Christina in her pink and layered white lace dress robes and Winifred in her dark burgundy layers, accented with metallic gold trim and wondered if she was underdressed for the game.
After Winifred and Christina put the finishing touches on their persons, they and Hermione hurried back to the tower to drop off their bath things and grab their cloaks.
“We are to escort you to the match.” James Williams announced to Hermione as they made their way to the common room after gathering their cloaks. Aberforth was shuffling his feet behind James. They were both wearing bulky winter robes in Gryffindor colors and had matching gold pointed caps with ear flaps.
“Why, thank you, Mr. Williams,” Christina smiled brightly as James carefully offered his elbow to her. “How very thoughtful of you.”
James beamed and practically strutted off with Christina.
Aberforth offered his elbow in front of Hermione and Winifred.
“Who is that for?” Winifred asked.
“I don’t know.” Aberforth spluttered. “What do I do if there are two ladies?”
“You offer each an elbow in turn,” Winifred sighed. “I’m not sure if it is you or James who is worse.”
Aberforth reddened and Hermione saved him by taking his elbow. “Thank you, dear cousin. We will feel all the much safer with you as an escort.”
If Aberforth turned any redder Hermione suspected that he might start glowing.
“I shall escort myself.” Winifred sniffed. “I won’t have either of you jostling my person about or tripping me down the hill like the Muggle rhyme.”
“What Muggle rhyme?” Aberforth asked.
“Jack and Jill?” Hermione offered.
“Quite.” Winifred sniffed as Hermione giggled.
“I am more than capable of helping a lady to her seat.” Aberforth insisted as he opened the portal for Hermione.
“I feel quite safe on your arm,” Hermione assured Aberforth.
“Thank you.” Aberforth turned to smirk at Winifred and he stepped on Hermione’s cloak. She tripped with the sound of tearing fabric and grabbed onto Aberforth for support. They spilled into the hallway in a jumble of fabric.
“On the other hand, I may be better off walking on my own until we get some practice.” Hermione said as she picked herself up off the stone floor.
I did caution you.” Winifred said as she stepped smartly through the portal and walked past Hermione and Aberforth, who were struggling to their feet.
“Quite the debut.” Hermione heard a deep voice comment. “No doubt people will speak of it for years.”
“How do you do, Mr. Long?” Aberforth brushed himself off and nodded at Michael.
“Quite well, thank you.” Michael said. “I was hoping to escort Miss Dumbledore to the match tonight, but I see she already has an escort.”
“Yes, she does,” Aberforth snapped at Michael.
“And even if she did not, her father would hardly consent to her being escorted by a boy she hardly knows and he does not.” Winifred said in a huff.
“Albus knows me well enough to speak for my character.” Michael pointed out. “My father has known her uncle for years.”
“It is in bad form to seem overeager, Michael,” Christina said softly as she walked back with James, wondering what was taking the others so long.
“Even worse to let an opportunity pass one by.” Michael said, his green eyes leveled on Hermione.
“A Slytherin through and through.” Aberforth shook his head.
“Thank you for the offer,” Hermione said before anyone got into a fight. “But I do have an escort this evening and my dear cousin has offered to counsel me about the state of the teams at Hogwarts.”
“Perhaps another time then.” Michael said with a cordial bow. “I hope to see you in the Great Hall after the game.”
Hermione dipped as he passed and retook Aberforth’s arm. “Let’s try this again, shall we?”
Aberforth smiled at her in relief as he straightened himself and strode off with her on his arm.