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Metaphysicka by Caseyrochelle

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Rating: NC-17. Created: April 13th, 2017. Updated: April 13th, 2017. Read Reviews (0)
Disclaimer: Characters, the magical world, etc, is property of J. K. Rowling and Warner Bros, not the owner of this fic.

Disclaimer: I don't own Harry Potter, nor am I making money from this fic. I'm a fan.

"You are lying, filthy Mudblood, and I know it! You have been inside my vault at Gringotts! Tell me the truth, tell me the truth!"

Hermione heard herself scream. She felt the knife, hot and cold simultaneously on her skin. Her brown eyes flew across the room, seeking the sharp grey that hadn't been able to meet her own just moments before.

"What else did you take? What else have you got? Tell me the truth or, I swear, I shall run you through with this knife!"

Pain. White-hot pain was all Hermione could register. She couldn't feel her tears, couldn't hear her screams. As the pain ebbed, her eyes finally met grey, and there she could have sworn it was those eyes that were being tortured.

"What else did you take, what else? ANSWER ME! CRUCIO!"

She screamed, her raw voice cracking as she sat up in bed, drenched in a cold sweat. Sun was pouring in through the window, as if trying to chase away the evil she'd just witnessed. Hermione breathed hard for several minutes, her system flooded with adrenaline.

"It's not real. You're safe. She's dead. She can't hurt you." Hermione whispered to herself, using the same tactics Harry always used when waking her from nightmares, as he became accustomed to when she'd lived with him. She had to stand. Throwing the blanket back, she launched herself from the bed and began to pace. Soon, her self-reassurance turned back to work.

"Department of Mysteries. Today, it's time." she halted her pacing at the realization. She glanced at her alarm clock next to her bed. 8:46am. She was already running behind, but she realized as she headed for the bathroom, at least she'd miss the morning rush at the Ministry. She groaned inwardly at the thought of being out in the public eye again.

June 14, 2002 London, England - Ministry of Magic

An hour later, Hermione finally arrived at the Ministry. She'd had to shower, dress appropriately, gather her research into her bag, and eat her breakfast. She'd been starving from skipping her last meal and she made a mental note to not go so long without food again. She had Floo'd from her flat, a perk her clearance with the Ministry had granted. She'd remembered to attach her clearance card to the top of her skirt, though no one would stop Hermione Granger, one of the most recognizable faces in Wizarding London.

She made her way to the golden lift at the end of the atrium, nodding politely at the people she recognized, grinning at those she knew personally. She tucked herself into a mostly full lift, requesting the ninth level, and held on tight as the lift began to move. Witches, wizards, and memos came and went until at last, the cool voice announced her arrival at the ninth level: The Department of Mysteries.

The owl she'd received from the Ministry had given her the information she'd needed to navigate the floor; she found the library with relative ease. Hermione took in the dark shelves with a deep sigh. She hoped what she was looking for lay on these shelves. The library was darker than the one at Hogwarts that Hermione had so loved. The floors were a cool black, the shelves and tables a dark mahogany. Flameless torches adorned the walls between the rows. Hermione found a table close to the potions section and dropped her bag onto it. She'd seen a couple people, but no one she'd recognized. The library was now mostly empty from what she could see.

She took her journal from the bag, turning to her list of documents and books that she'd need to gather before setting out amongst the shelves to acquire them. She was lost in thought, roaming from the potions to the alchemy section, curious to see if there was any overlap between the two subjects, as she had wondered previously. The two sections seemingly melded into one another, and she wasn't quite sure where one began and the other ended.

She trailed her fingers lightly along the old leather-bound spines, relishing the soft, well-worn texture when a symbol that looked oddly familiar caught her eye. She pulled the thin book from the shelf to inspect it better. The same symbol was embossed on the front cover as on the spine. It bore an eerie resemblance to the symbol of the deathly hallows, but this symbol was different. The outermost shape was a circle, an equilateral triangle resting within it. Inside the triangle sat a square, its points touching the arms of the triangle while the bases lined up. Inside the square sat another circle.

There were no words on the cover to the book, so Hermione gingerly lifted the cover, revealing delicate, ages-old paper, and in what seemed to be handwriting, the words "Commentary of Metaphysicka: An Alchemic Journal". Hermione flipped through the journal, before gasping as she came upon some of the same symbols she'd seen in the advanced potions books.

"If I cross-reference these…" She trailed off, mind whirring as she studied the journal, feet already headed toward her table of their own accord. She sat the other books she'd gathered on the table and immediately lost herself in her notes and cross-referencing the symbols she'd come across in the more ancient potions books with this new source. She frowned.

"Why were the wizards using alchemic notation in their potion brewing?" She whispered to herself, jotting the question in the margin of her notebook.

"That's an excellent question, Granger." She jumped at the deep voice from behind her. She turned, chocolate brown eyes meeting grey. Draco Malfoy was leaning against the bookshelf behind her, several books in his hand and a knowing smirk on his face.

"Malfoy," She said in greeting, trying to keep her tone even. She hadn't seen the boy, man now, in person since the trials and she wasn't quite sure how to act around him. "What are you doing here?"

"Isn't it obvious, Granger?" he raised an eyebrow at her, then lifted the books in his hand. "Research, same as you. You really need to work on your deductive reasoning if it took you that long to figure out." His voice didn't hold any of the malice it had at Hogwarts, and she almost swore she saw the corner of his mouth turn up at that jab.

"Oh." Hermione said weakly, then let her shoulders sag. "Perhaps I'm just overworked." He nodded in agreement.

"So I see you've found the work of my ancestor, Granger." He tilted his head towards the book in front of her.

"Your - wait," She marked her spot with a bit of parchment and flipped to the front page. She wasn't sure how she'd missed it before. There, under the title, the name Armand Malfoy. She was dumbstruck. Was this part of the donated materials his family had gifted the Ministry?

"If you're quite done gawking at the name of my forefather, would you mind handing over the book?" Draco asked, pushing himself away from the bookshelf.

"But- I'm using it to cross-reference my research. There are so many alchemic symbols used in ancient potion-making that could have practical uses in beginning to integrate more modern sciences into the field." Hermione said, looking back to the journal and lightly tracing one of the symbols. Draco's eyebrows knit together.

"You may have a point, Granger." He allowed, crossing to the other side of the table and depositing himself gracefully into the chair. Hermione, for the first time, noticed the other books Draco had been carrying. Nearly all of them were research notes on alchemy and several of them bore his family name or crest.

"The Malfoy family of the 11th century was known for its loyalty to King William I," Draco started slowly. "Armand was his court wizard, much in the same was as Merlin was for King Arthur. It was under instruction from the king that Armand began his research into alchemy. It wasn't unheard of that he would speak to Muggle philosophers for input on his craft. He even wrote that," Draco nodded toward the journal,"a commentary on the Muggle Aristotle's work, Metaphysics. Well, Aristotle was a squib, but even still. Armand's commentary expands upon the philosophy and connects the broad ideas of the universe with concrete laws of alchemy and, by extension, potions. Scholars for centuries have been drawing those line and connecting alchemy and potions." Draco finished.

"That's so odd!" Hermione exclaimed, pulling out her notes and looking for the proper passage. "In Muggle culture, scientists and philosophers have been drawing the same conclusions about the link between modern-day chemistry and alchemy. Though most Muggle authorities on alchemy have been unable to produce a philosopher's stone." Her eyes shot up to meet Draco's. "Do you know why that is?" She set her pen against the paper, ready to record any notes.

"Because they lack magic." He said simply, "And before you round on me about being a blood supremacist, let me explain. The Philosopher's Stone and the Elixir of Life which it creates is essentially an extremely complex transfiguration, or, more accurately transmutation potion. Only one man ever truly figured out how to brew it correctly, and, if done wrong, the results were often deadly. Muggle alchemy was little more than discovering the natural axioms which exist in the world, which was only theoretical until proven. It truly was the bases of modern chemistry. But they lacked the magic needed to apply that knowledge to any kind of real work towards the stone."

Hermione took note furiously, jotting down connections and questions she had, her mind spinning.

"So then why has no witch or wizard connected the three subjects and applied their knowledge before?" Hermione wondered aloud, brows furrowed. "Or have they?"

"One wizard did, but his research is a highly guarded secret and no one has had access to an unredacted version in centuries." Draco sighed.

"Wait. Flamel?" Hermione's eyebrows shot up. Draco smirked and nodded.

"Precisely. So you see my conundrum. There was rumor of later Malfoys working with Flamel, even researching together, but I've yet to find documentation to substantiate the claim. I'm hoping the works of Armand, the first of the British Malfoy line, will be able to shed some light. So far, all I've been able to find have been odd symbols and calculations beyond my comprehension."

"I know the feeling." Hermione grumbled. "If you want, I could take a look at the symbols, cross-reference them with my own?" She didn't know if it was his willingness to unveil the history of his family that made her offer her notes and assistance, or if it was the way his grey eyes found hers without wavering over their research.

"I- don't have them with me," Draco looked away. She thought she could see a light tinge of a blush on his cheeks. Odd. "I- What if I owl you to arrange a meeting time? We can cross-reference all our material then, and we might actually get somewhere." He sighed, sounding exhausted.

"Yeah, we can do that." Hermione agreed. For some reason, her stomach tightened as her eyes met Draco's again. There was a thirst for knowledge she most certainly could relate to behind those eyes. But what caught her attention was the spark that flickered feebly in his grey irises. It had been years since she'd seen that spark. The last time she'd seen it had been in Potions class during their fifth year. That spark had all but faded from the boy as he grew into a man, and she'd only noticed while she had been writhing on his ballroom floor, at the mercy of his deranged aunt. He'd changed a lot since that day. He'd filled out, looking healthier than the gaunt boy he'd been. Color returned to his cheeks and she was reminded of the pink-cheeked first year he had been what seemed like a lifetime ago. His pale blonde hair was shoulder length, tied back at the nape of his neck. She wondered at what brought the spark in his eyes back now.

"Granger?" His voice shook her from her head.

"Yes?" She said softly, feeling a bit absent.

"I said, you should keep that journal for now. I've read it through and have my notes, we'll compare when we meet." he smirked at her absent look, shaking his head. "Honestly, Granger, you should really start taking better care of yourself. Dozing off mid-conversation does not a good researcher make."

"Had a rough night. Maybe I'll call it an early day and try and catch up on some sleep." She said, closing her books and piling them neatly in her magically extended bag. She pulled her wand from the bag and sent the books she didn't need back to their shelves with a quick flick.

He watched her carefully. She, too, looked different from the last time they'd met. Her hair wasn't as untameable, it actually hung rather limply around her face. He could make out the dark circles under her eyes, though he could see she'd tried to Disillusion them, and she was rather thin, looking like she hadn't had a proper meal in ages. She was painfully aware of his gaze on her as she finished packing her things and stood to leave.

"I'll be in touch," Draco said, standing and offering her his hand. A tense moment passed, Hermione a tad shocked at the offered hand. She finally took it, returning his firm pressure and meeting his eye once more.

"I'll be waiting." She let herself smile a bit at the prospect of having a research partner before releasing his hand and leaving the library and ultimately, the Ministry, for the comfort of her own flat.

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