Part II – Deceit and Rain
All Hermione Granger wanted were two weeks away - a fortnight alone, without her friends where she didn't have to worry about the cares of their world - for a measly two weeks. It might have made her selfish, but if she had asked Harry or Ron, she was certain they'd have agreed that she deserved this time to herself. Everything was changing so fast in their world. Soon, Harry would have an impossible task presented to him, so this might be the last chance she had to do something for herself.
Therefore, Hermione Granger was going away to summer camp. Right before her fifth term ended this past June, Hermione's Aunt Rose told her about a camp that she found for Hermione (and was offering to pay for), right outside of London. The camp was for gifted students who were interested in literature, arts, and humanities. Just the thought of whetting her literary appetite with something new for two whole weeks made Hermione tingle with excitement. Just the thought of leaving behind trouble and strife for two weeks made her giddy with glee.
She hated leaving Harry and Ron behind … Harry, who had just lost Sirius a week ago, and Ron, who was badly injured (along with Hermione) in a battle with Death Eaters in the Department of Mysteries. Both battle weary and scarred in their own way. Still, this might be her last chance for normalcy. No one knew what bleak future might await the Wizarding world. For that reason, she would go to her camp, have a splendid time, and never look back.
It was only for two weeks, after all. That was hardly a lifetime.
Kissing her mother and father goodbye at the train station, she traveled alone to the deserted countryside until she reached Camp Donne, named after the seventeenth century poet John Donne. The little camp, set in the woods, was everything she expected it to be and more! Little bungalows littered the hillside. There was a river far off in the distance that supposedly had a waterfall and caves with rock formations. There was a large forest with cavernous ravines and drop-offs. In the copse of trees and buildings, in the circle of the camp, was a watchtower, near the clearing of the woods, near the campfire area.
Hermione was assigned a bungalow by herself and she couldn't believe her luck. After unpacking, she attended the orientation where everyone was informed that the rules were extremely lax. Classes included art appreciation, English literature, poetry, American literature, Greek plays, Shakespeare, application of art, Greek history and folklore, and creative writing. She was so excited that she hardly knew which classes she wanted to take! How could she cram the whole itinerary into the two weeks she had here! It would be impossible, but she would try!
The camp had no real structure, and she found that the camp instructors didn't care if the students flitted from one class to the next, tried one and then another, took as few as one, or as many as six or seven. While Hermione usually thrived on organization, in this instance, she was in summer camp heaven!
After signing up for as many classes as she could, she decided to take a walk, as classes wouldn't officially start until tomorrow. There was still plenty of daylight left and no curfew. A gentle rain was falling, nothing more than a mist, with bouts of sunshine peeking out around the clouds. She slipped on a white sundress, a pair of sandals, and pulled her long hair back in a plait because of the humidity. Grabbing a book and her wand, she set off toward the woods in the direction of the river. With each step, she felt a sort of elation, her spirits soaring higher as she traversed the rocky, forest path, her destination: the waterfall.
Continuing onward through the tall, primitive trees, which sheltered her from the mist of rain as well as from the sun and humidity, she followed a path along the stream, and listened for the sound of the roaring waterfall nearby. When she first heard it, it was almost as if it was calling out her name. She started walking faster toward the 'voice', feeling almost compelled to answer its call. When she reached the edge of the water, which was so blue it sparkled like sapphires, she removed the plait from her hair to let the now present sun soak into the long, brown strands.
That was when she knew the waterfall was close by. The water of the river circled around twigs, rocks, and reeds. Truly, a kinship was felt between Hermione and this place, almost the same feeling she felt when she discovered magic for the first time. She felt unequivocal exhilaration when the roar of the waterfall became louder. Like a child who could not contain her joy, she began to run along the pebbled path, lined with hollyhocks, laurel, foxglove, and flowers of undetermined origin. She felt the spray of water before she saw the giant, glorious waterfall before her. When she was close enough for the spray of the water to touch her face like kisses, she laughed out loud.
Hermione pursued the trail as it weaved its way along the stream to the waterfall. She walked down a rocky embankment, over a fallen tree, and onto a large boulder and suddenly there it was – in splendid detail - the magnificent waterfall. Massive, beautiful, bright, she was shocked at its magnitude.
The water frothed as it bounced off rocks. Holding onto high weeds on the embankment, she slipped on the muddy bank, the soles of her sandals having no traction, but she knew she had to get closer. The sounds of the waterfall muted every other sound in the forest. Her destination was clear; she had to go TO the waterfall.
She had no choice.
Stepping onto the rocks, the water splashed around her knees and the spray of the falls curtained her whole body as if she were showering. Walking upon the slippery, wet rocks, she found that she could slip right underneath the spray of water. Something forced her to continue her jaunt. Something told her she was seeing something that few had seldom seen. She felt almost as if she were suffocating on something unknown. Somehow, she reached the other side unscathed, so she dropped her book, slipped off her sandals, and even dropped her wand.
On the other side of the waterfall, she suddenly felt lightheaded, wearier than she had felt all day. She hadn't been walking that long, the jaunt hadn't been too strenuous, the golden sun hadn't been too warm, the rain hadn't been too taxing, so why was she so overwhelmingly tired?
Sweat beaded on her brow, curling her hair, sticking to her dress. Her fingers fumbled for the zipper of her dress. Pulling it downward, she let it pool around her feet, and without another thought she jumped into the liquid blue stream near the mouth of the waterfall, and she slipped under the water.
Severus saw the girl jump into the water, but the thing was, he didn't know where she had come from. She wasn't here a moment ago. He was sitting by the river, cataloging the plants he had just procured, when suddenly she appeared out of nowhere. He didn't think she had Apparated, because he hadn't heard the distinct 'pop' that was associated with Apparition, but still, she had to be a witch, because he had too many wards up for a measly Muggle to be able to merely walk into this area.
He ran over to the bank where he saw her dress, (goodness, did the girl have NO morals at all?), a book, her shoes, and A WAND! She was a witch. He waited for her head to pop back up out of the water, so she could explain to him just how she had breached his wards, and so he could give her a piece of his mind. And he waited. And waited. And waited.
His gaze lingered on the place where she had jumped in, though the water was now completely still. He looked back along the opposite shore, and toward the boulders and the waterfall. Was she alone? Had she wandered away from her family, or a boyfriend?
How long could she hold her breath? Was she in trouble? Was she drowning? Severus quickly glanced back up toward the treetops as the sun painted them gold and yellow. He looked back at her discarded clothes, and then back at the place where she had jumped. The water was so still. Could she swim? He saw her when she jumped in, and she seemed to be about his age, 16 or 17, so surely she could swim…except, well, he couldn't swim, could he?
The enormity of his predicament weighed heavy on him. Toss it all, he was going to have to save the bloody girl! He threw off his robes, kicked off his shoes, grabbed his wand and jumped into the water to save her.