Hermione flew through Alexi Slytherin's journal, experiencing all the heartache and loneliness the poor fifteen year old felt going through his first year with the other Hogwarts students. A thick tear fell on the open journal as Hermione read how Alexi was teased relentlessly by his fellow housemates and would often sleep in the library, much to the bookkeeper's annoyance, rather than admit to his parents that he was not fitting in very well. She bolted upright in her bed when Alexi described charming a room on the seventh floor to only be accessible to him or any other distraught student. Hermione could not believe it! She was reading the journal of the creator of the Room of Requirement. She knew that the child of two Founders would be powerful but the proof was astounding! Nearly a thousand years later he inventions was still functional.
The sun was rising when Hermione finished Alexi's fifth year. She wiped the tears out of her eyes, both from sadness and lack of sleep and bounded out of her bed, throwing on the first clothes she could summon. The hallway was deserted on the painfully early Saturday morning. Hermione did not encounter anyone on her way to the library, Alexi's journal clutched to her chest. Once at the library, Hermione inched open one of the doors just enough to slip through and quickly checked that Madam Pince had yet to rise for the day. Hermione knew that the stern librarian made a habit of waking herself up with a romance novel in her private quarters before dealing with students. Hermione walked briskly to the same section she occupied yesterday and took a deep breath before speaking in a loud whisper.
"Alexi! Alexi, where are you?" She swiveled around in excitement but the ghost boy did not appear.
"Alexi! Please, come out! I know you invented the Room of Requirement! You're brilliant, utterly brilliant!" Her voice had dipped above a whisper in her desperation. She found herself climbing onto one of the tables like the ghost boy had done the night before, sitting as he did, sighing to herself.
"The Room of Requirement?" Hermione jumped when she heard the boy's voice to her left. His expression was tired though laced with curiosity. He twirled the quill he still held in his hand, his other hand twitching at the sight of his journal.
"Yes, the Room of Requirement, the room on the seventh floor. The room that only appears when you have a great need for it."
"Oh, yes. It was just a sanctuary I needed, somewhere where my father could not find me, or his favorites for that matter." Alexi continued to twirl his quill, not meeting Hermione's eyes.
"I have only read a little but you didn't appear to be happy at Hogwarts. Why are you still here?"
"That is a difficult answer, Hermione. I had my happiest moments right here, in the library. I was born in the castle. I died in the castle. I never left while living and I could not leave in death. The Hogwarts grounds is all I have ever known."
"How did you die?" Hermione could not help but ask in a low voice. "What happened?"
"You will have to finish reading before I can tell you that." The young looking ghost disappeared, leaving Hermione confused and frustrated.
The next hour she tried to do her Transfiguration homework but her mind would not stop drifting to what the Ravenclaw women, Alexi's mother and sister, were said to have taught back in their day. After reading the same paragraph for the fifth time and noticing she had taken no notes, Hermione gave up on being productive and pulled out the ghost journal again, this time diving into August 1013.
18 August 1013
I turned sixteen yesterday. Father took me to a hidden place in the castle. The great hall was only slightly larger than the room he had been molding. He outlined his plans to me, that once I was fully grown, our faces would be cast into a large stone statue. I am his legacy, he said. I am the most important thing in his world, more important than his advancements, more important than his rivalry with Godric, more important than mother. He showed me a batch of eggs. He said that they would hatch in to one of the many great things the House Slytherin will be known for. Glory he said, I am meant for glory.
I do not feel very glorious. I feel stretched thin.
"Alexi, are you listening to me?" The Slytherin girl's voice stopped Alexi from going further into his own self wallowing state.
"No, sorry, I was not." The two sixth years were sitting together in the smoky Potions class. It was December so the normally oppressive heat felt quite nice in the dungeon. Carolina Greengrass was one of the few Slytherins that talked to Alexi. More like talked at Alexi. The longer his education went on, the more he was convinced that he belonged in his mother's house. His personality was more suited for Ravenclaw. If only there was a way he could have chosen his house without his parents' input.
"I was asking you your opinion on the ball that your parents and the rest of the Founders are throwing. Why are they inviting other schools?" The blonde ignored their potion that was close to bubbling over. She was always more concerned with gossip than their studies. In the time he had known her, Alexi learned that Carolina was born of French nobility. She never missed a chance to remind others that she had royal blood in her veins. Muggle royal blood, as she was constantly reminded. She was one of the few magical members of the Greengrass family. Helena warned Alexi that she had her sights set on him. He was considered nobility in the magical world and she would do whatever she could to get a marriage oath from him.
"Strength and diversity. My father wants to show how strong Hogwarts is and my mother wants us to experience the diverse ways magic can be performed. Godric wants consolations on a theory he's working on and Helga wants to meet other witches and wizards and therefore we meet other witches and wizards."Alexi found himself slipping into lecture mode as Helena called it. It was an automatic response to a question. He tries to focus on righting the substance in their cauldron. It was one of his mother's inventions. She called it the Nectar of Knowledge. It was supposed to give the drinker's mind a boost, expanding the thought process. The solution should have been a bluish purple but theirs was a bluish green.
"I assume you are going to this Yule Ball then?" Carolina looked straight at Alexi and caressed his long hair, a habit he wished he could break her of.
"You would be assuming correctly."
"Would you escort me, my handsome smart boy?" He sighed again. The girl was too forward for him. Alexi said the first thing that popped into his head, a whiff of Nectar entering his nasal passage.
"I am under the impression that I am to escort my sister Helena. I apologize, Carolina."
"Oh, there's no need for an apology. I recall my uncle, Baron Waldo, expressing interest in your sister. I can write to him and have his escort her so that can free you to escort me. We would have such a great time, you and I. I can assure you his nickname, Bloody Baron, is only that of a false reputation." Carolina began to braid a strand of his hair, pulling it tightly. Alexi could not help but close his eyes. "We can dance together and make all the other students jealous of how regal we are. Think of it, Alexi."
"There's no need. I shall accompany my sister." He would speak to Helena as soon as he could. There was no way that he could let the Bloody Baron get his hands on his sister.
"If you insist, Alexi. You must save several dances for me though. Promise?" Their potion had finally turned the desired color and he felt himself nodding as he focused on the purple hue.
"You did what!? I cannot go to the ball with my younger brother!" Helena did not take his plan all that well.
"Please, Helena. I cannot go with Carolina. She is insane. She wants to marry me. Last week she was saying how she thinks our children would be beautiful with my hair and her eyes. I cannot escort her. Please." Alexi hated pleading with anyone but his sister left him no choice.
"I am sorry, little brother. I already accepted an offer from a baron. Mother was so proud. The reputation of our name has spread so far. I am going to the Yule Ball with Baron Waldo and you will escort your Carolina. It has been settled." Helena turned to the large mirror on the wall of her chambers and began to brush her hair.
"Even more than I cannot go with Carolina, you cannot go with Baron Waldo! He is said to be a violent man!" Alexi sat firmly on her bed, staring at his sister, priming herself for an imaginary audience.
"I can take care of myself, Alexi. Now you go tell Carolina before I involve your father in this conversation. I am sure that he would be thrilled that his heir is escorting a royal Slytherin to his event."
"Go, Alexi. I will hear no more of it."
Hermione could not explain the feeling of jealousy and anger she felt when she read how Alexi was set up with Carolina Greengrass. Yes, it was irrational. It happened nearly a thousand years ago. It did not stop her from wanted to slap Helena Ravenclaw as she turned the page to read Alexi's account of the first Yule Ball. The candles were low in the library, so low that Hermione did not see the silver glint of Alexi reading covertly over her shoulder.