For the Love of a Library
Six months after the final battle, the dust had finally settled, and Hogwarts was back to its original glory. Of course, this was mainly due to the sentient nature of the Castle[i] and the fact that she was able to handle most of the repairs herself. The Castle allowed a few trusted individuals (like the Headmistress and Horace Slughorn) to assist with some of the finer and more intimate parts of the reconstruction, but other than that, she made it clear that no additional workmen were needed or wanted.
The students and faculty were also busy rebuilding their lives. This included Hermione Granger, as well. She had decided not to return to school in the traditional way for her seventh year. This decision was mainly due to her age (she was over 20 years old, if you factored in all of her repeated days under the time turner), and the fact that she had completely missed the last school year while on the Horcrux hunt. Plus, she knew that after all of her experiences during the war, she just couldn’t go back to being a regular school girl again. Therefore, she made arrangements with Headmistress McGonagall to become Madame Pince’s apprentice while she prepared to take her NEWTs.
Minerva was happy to offer the opportunity – with the enthusiastic approval of the Castle, of course! It was an easy decision – especially since Hermione had spent almost every day since the battle helping Madame Pince repair the damages to the library and the precious books contained within. This seemed to be one of the few areas in which the Castle genuinely needed assistance with reconstruction. However, it soon became clear that she would only allow her long term librarian and Hermione to help there. She just didn’t trust anyone else in such a sensitive area. Therefore, Minerva considered those four months of work before the start of term as “Time Served” and listed it as such on the Apprenticeship papers that she, Irma, and Hermione had filed at the Ministry right before the start of the new term.
The apprenticeship was really the best solution for everyone. Hermione would have a home and a vocation that she loved. She would also have a family, of sorts, with the faculty - all of whom looked upon the girl fondly. Minerva knew that this would be especially important since Hermione’s constant companions for the last seven years, Harry and Ron, had decided to forgo their last school year altogether and go straight into Auror training at the Ministry. Irma Pince was also thrilled with the arrangement because that meant that she would be able to retire[ii] after the two year apprenticeship was over and know that her precious library was in good hands. Minerva also benefitted by having another responsible staff member on board whom the students could look up to and emulate. That was especially important after the last few hard years that everyone had experienced. The Castle was also thrilled because Hermione had always been one of her favorite students and now she would be able to keep her close.
The first couple of months of the term passed along smoothly enough, and Hermione had sunk into a comfortable routine. Her friend, the Castle, provided breakfast in her quarters and then Hermione’s morning was spent in the library. Lunch was eaten in the Great Hall at the Gryffindor or Ravenclaw table with Ginny and/or Luna and then she went back to the library for the afternoon. Dinner was taken at the High Table with the staff. Afterwards, her evenings were spent with all of the professors on a rotating basis for NEWT instruction or advance tutoring - if she needed it.
Otherwise, she spent her evenings in the cozy set of rooms that the Castle had provided for her. At the time of her first arrival in her newly created quarters, Hermione had briefly felt the Castle rummaging around gently in her mind for ideas and, just a few minutes later, she had been provided with chambers that were perfect for her. The Castle had provided everything that she could need - from the expansive amount of bookshelves in the sitting room down to the deep soaking tub in the bathroom. Also, the chambers were decorated in a deep red and gold color scheme to represent her loyal affiliation with the Gryffindor house – as well as splashes of dark purple here and there. Hermione smiled as she saw the purple accents - since it was her favorite color. She couldn’t imagine a nicer set of rooms and made sure that she thanked the Castle profusely! The Castle, who was underappreciated and misunderstood by most of her inhabitants, was grateful for Hermione’s attention. It was one of the reasons why the girl had always been one of her favorites.
As wonderful as her quarters were, though, Hermione didn’t isolate herself there totally. Occasionally, Ginny or Luna came by for some private girl talk or one of the professors would come by for tea. However, mainly she was alone there – able to enjoy her studies in the peace and quiet, along with simple and comforting presence of the Castle.
On the weekends, she rotated library duty with Madame Pince. During her free weekends, she sometimes went to Hogsmeade with the girls or visited the boys at Grimmauld Place or the Weasleys at the Burrow. It was a simple life, but she was content with it – especially after her hectic and dangerous childhood.
Her favorite times, however, were the mornings and afternoons that were spent in the library with Madame Pince. She had loved the library as a student and was growing to love it even more as an adult. She took great pleasure in knowing that the Headmistress, Madame Pince, and the Castle were all entrusting her with this huge source of wizarding knowledge and were willing to let her take up the mantle of ensuring that it would be safe and secure for further generations of Hogwarts students and staff to utilize and enjoy. Therefore, she cheerfully learned everything that she could about handling the day to day operations of a school library, the fascinating history and care of magical libraries, and the repair and maintenance of the materials after the (mostly) careless students were through with them.
As Hermione wandered through the aisles one afternoon after Madame Pince had left, she pondered the organization of the library itself. It never failed to fascinate her that magical libraries didn’t follow the Dewey Decimal system of organization the way that Muggle libraries did. Instead, most personal libraries were keyed into their owner’s magic and reorganized themselves according to their owners’ changing interests. If they were looking for a particular book, then it would always be located at eye level in the exact center of the main shelf. Otherwise, the magical library default layout meant that their favorite books or topics were always located on the shelves that were the most easily accessible. Least favorite books or topics were always located on the higher, lower, and peripheral shelves. Disillusioned shelves hid those books that were meant to be private. At this thought, Hermione remembered how much she had giggled when she was perusing Minerva’s library during tea in her former professor's chambers once over the summer. She wasn’t surprised to see that books on Transfiguration, as well as books about the magical history of Scotland and Quidditch dominated the main shelves. However, when her hand accidently grazed over a disillusioned shelf and it flickered into view, she was surprised to see that Minerva was a connoisseur of naughty bodice rippers, as well!
Hermione was extremely grateful that school libraries, such as the one at Hogwarts, were organized differently than that, however. Otherwise, it would be mass chaos if the shelves rearranged themselves every time a different student came in to look for something – and Hermione really did not want to know what their secret interests were! Therefore, the school library shelves remained static and were organized by topics. For the most part, the sections that correlated with the required school subjects were located on the lower levels around the central study tables for easier access. Therefore, there was a Transfiguration section, a Potions sections, a Charms section, a Herbology section, etc - all located on the first level. The elective courses such as Divination, Care of Magical Creatures, Muggle Studies, Ancient Runes, etc all had devoted sections on the second level. Any book dealing with the History of the Magical World that wasn’t located in one of the specialized sections was located on the third level. This would include subjects such as the Four Founders, the geneology of the pureblood families, and Professor Binns’ favorite – the Goblin Wars. Other general and special interest sections lined the back walls, far shelves, and secluded alcoves of the higher levels. As a Muggleborn, Hermione once assumed that it would be difficult to locate materials in such a huge place without a definite classification system. However, she soon realized that witches and wizards had no need for card catalogs or Muggle computer programs to find the particular book that they needed. All first years were taught the basic Reperio Liber[iii] spell during their first orientation visit to the library. Their wand would then act as a compass drawing them towards the particular book that they wanted. If it was unavailable for some reason, a simple Reperio Alium Liber[iv] spell could be repeated until a reasonable substitute was located. Hermione sighed with pleasure as she remembered how much easier studying and research were when she could rely on magic to help find the right books.
Still thinking about the organization of the Hogwarts’ library, Hermione smiled when she thought about the fourth level section that contained all of the Quidditch books. She remembered, very well, just how much time Harry and Ron (as well as many of the other boys) spent there. She was less fond of the Romance and Fashion alcoves on the fifth level, however, because they tended to attract large numbers of giggling girls. She found that she had less patience with them then she did with the boisterous boys. She suspected that this was due to the years of friendship as the only female member of the Golden Trio, however. As much as she loved Harry and Ron, she realized now that their extraordinary friendship and adventures left little time for her to develop natural friendships with any other girls besides Ginny and Luna. Therefore, she just naturally felt more at ease with the male students than she did with the female ones. She tried not to let this bias show when taking points or assigning detentions, however. It must have worked because she was known throughout the school as a tough, but fair, staff member – even by those students who were just a couple of years younger than her.
Speaking of detentions, Hermione was pleased to note that she had very few repeat offenders. Apparently, one evening spent climbing up and down the ladders to dust the books and shelves by hand and without magic – and the sore muscles that usually resulted – was enough to remind the less studious and more disruptive students that Madam Pince and Apprentice Granger preferred to have a clean, orderly, and quiet library. They didn’t need to know that when she was alone, Hermione kept the books and shelves immaculate with a magical librarian’s secret weapon - a quick swishing motion with her wand and a whispered Pulvis Detergeo[v] spell.
That dusting spell wasn’t the only magical shortcut that she utilized on a frequent basis. Students were sometimes very hard on the precious books in the library. Hermione tried to understand and forgave small mistakes and normal wear and tear. Aliquet Liber[vi] was the most common spell that she used for generally damaged books. However, specific spells like Confirma Spina[vii] and Emantur Ligna Page[viii] worked better when it came to repairing things like spines and pages in these types of situations. However, sometimes there was purposeful vandalism and that led to strict consequences which made dusting shelves by hand seem like child’s play. Hermione’s favorite punishment to dispense to such offenders was making the student prepare the simple, but noxious, bookworm repellent and apply it to the affected books by hand. The mixture absorbed into the book quickly leaving it undamaged and scent-free. However, it took days before the scent could be washed off of human skin. The repellent wouldn’t harm the student but it did seem to drive their friends off as effectively as it did the magical and destructive bookworms for which it was intended.
Hermione loved the entire library, but her favorite section was the Restricted section, of course. This deceptively small room magically expanded upon entering with a simple Extendo spell. It was located directly behind the circulation desk and the entrance was now located behind a password-kept portrait of William Shakespeare[ix]. This new security measure was Hermione’s idea since she remembered how easily Harry had sneaked into that section as a first year during the holidays. She didn’t tell Madame Pince any details of that excursion, but she had a feeling that the old witch suspected it, anyway. At any rate, she wanted to guard against the likelihood of something like that happening on her watch!
Also, these simple precautions meant the librarian and her apprentice could keep better track of who came and went from that section so that they could organize the occasional search and rescue party[x], when needed. This wasn’t usually a problem, though, because not many people visited it. Even though Hermione had used the Restricted section once with Lockhart’s permission back in second year, and had proved trustworthy enough that she had basically been allowed free access to it ever since her fourth year, very few other students had ever even seen that particular section of the library. Usually, only a few sixth or seventh years who were working on independent study projects were allowed access - and then only with professorial permission. Most of the professors casually used the main library itself. However, only a few of the most dedicated professors, drawn by personal research and/or advanced lesson planning needs, ventured into the Restricted section. Therefore, since the death of Professor Snape had put a sudden stop to his visits there, the Headmistress and Professor Flitwick were only frequent visitors at the present time. Everyone else was too wary of it because the Restricted section contained advanced, dangerous, or even in a few cases, dark magic texts. However, the Restricted section was keyed to the magic of the Librarian and, in this case, her apprentice, as well. Therefore, Madame Pince and Apprentice Granger could walk through, touch, read, clean, and care for the magical texts without fear of being bitten, hurt, cursed, or whatever else the books were designed to do. Everyone else had to take their chances, though…and, therefore, access was limited.
All in all, Hermione was very happy with her new life. Her brave and adventurous Gryffindor side was satisfied with the occasional rescue from the Restricted section, foray into the Forbidden Forest with Hagrid, or chocolate gathering mission to Honeydukes during a crowded Hogsmeade weekend. Her intellectual side was challenged by lively debates with all of the professors - including to her surprise, the portrait of Severus Snape[xi]. Her loving familial side was satisfied with her status as Mione, and then later as Aunt Mione[xii] - which provided her with a constant family through several generations of the Potters and Weasleys. Best of all, her bookworm side was satisfied with the centuries of knowledge that was constantly available - right at her fingertips – through access to the wonderful magical library at Hogwarts!
[i] For more information, read “For the Love of a Castle” - Part 1 of my Witchcraft, Wizardry, and Worldbuilding series.
[ii] I have made Irma Pince older here – more like she appears in the books rather than the movies. This is mainly because I have always pictured her in my imagination as an old, crotchety, and stereotypical version of a librarian, anyway!
[iii] Find Book (Latin) *Spell should be followed by the title of the book or the author’s name
[iv] Find Another Book (Latin)
[v] Wipe Away Dust (Latin)
[vi] Repair Book (Latin) *Must be said while wand is touching the damage
[vii] Strengthen Spine (Latin)
[viii] Mend Page (Latin)
[ix] William Shakespeare was a Muggleborn wizard who entered Hogwarts in 1575 and was sorted into Ravenclaw. He became a famous playwright in both the Muggle and Wizarding worlds. His portrait guarding the Restricted section of the Hogwarts library was well known for launching into random soliloquies from his plays and often had to be threatened with a Silencio spell. It was also a well known fact that he was in a committed relationship with the Gryffindor Fat Lady and that they often traveled back and forth between the two portrait frames.
[x] As was the case at the beginning of term, when a sixth year Hufflepuff panicked and got trapped inside a book about Sphinxes when she couldn’t answer its riddle. It took Hermione, Hagrid, two thestrals, some Bubotuber Pus, and the Castle herself to get the foolish girl out.
[xi] Professor Snape had mellowed out so much in death that he actually requested for a second portrait to be placed in Hermione’s office - where he always acted pleased to engage in spirited verbal sparring with the witch and actually kept his personal insults down to only one or two a day - especially since she charmed books for him so that he could read them from his portrait!
[xii] This title provided a layer of protection when the next few generations of redheaded pranksters started to attend Hogwarts. They had grown up on the stories of her adventures with their parents and grandparents and were not going to take any chances with her Avis Oppugno (Attacking birds) spell!
[xiii] The End (Latin) ;)