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Prologue


It was the perpetually present ink upon her fingers that fascinated him most. Through all the years he had known of her, she had maintained the same unique obliviousness to the world surrounding; and her nimble fingers, smeared as they so often were with the residue of hours upon hours of holding her quill aloft, in the face of untold histories, and unknown truths, were no exception.

The only kind of truths she sought were the ones held in books, and the kind that only a pure academic such as herself could truly appreciate.

He often wondered what it would feel like to have that unwavering and intent gaze rest upon him. A mixture of discomfiture and a disturbing sort of eagerness, he thought.

He never had experienced such a thing though; for it always slid right past him. He supposed she thought no one was watching in moments like those, when she was most open, most easily read.

And certainly not someone like himself.

He came upon her in the most obscure of places, and she was always reading: in the Astronomy tower, the Hogwarts Kitchens; and on one notable occasion, behind the statue of Aphrodite of Cnidus on the fifth floor.

He never went searching for her, certainly not at first; instead he always seemed to stumble upon her as he made his way to the seventh floor corridor. 

He figured her out eventually though, but not without some difficulty.

There were two things that struck him every time he came upon her, hidden in alcoves as she so often was, with her hair clouding from behind whatever large volume rested against her knees. The first was utter perplexity at her choice of reading material; and the second, wonderment at her ability to be so consumed by Alberetti's Theorem for Applied Arithmancy that she was so completely unaware of his gaze upon her.

And though he found he could not answer the latter, the first riddle had been solved.

Each Friday night she would go to that place of dark and narrow aisles, of endless tomes and ancient scrolls, and borrow a book according to an absurd system she had established. She would start at the very first book alphabetised under the letter A, and upon finishing that she would move on to the first title in the B section. This cycle continued until she had read her way through each letter of the alphabet, and would start again with the next book along.

It was complicated. It was bizarre. And he was utterly fascinated.

The absurd nature of her reading habits perplexed him thus, not simply because she was presently reading the 14th title under her chosen section, which represented an absurd amount of reading for one person; but also because a good portion of the books she forced herself to read were unutterably tedious.

It had taken him the better part of two months of constant note taking to figure it out.

Had his father known, he would have undoubtedly been livid.

But Draco felt he needed this distraction more than he could say. It stopped him thinking about his predicament, the one from which there could be no escape.

It had started as a form of silent mockery and amusement for him. It wasn't like that now. It was something far more indiscernible. It was a morbid sort of fascination that ought to concern him more than it actually did.

He thought perhaps she was trying to escape from something too, though what, he could scarcely begin to fathom. For what other reason could she possibly have for the hours she spent reading in drafty corridors, rather than in her sumptuous and inviting common-room.

From whom was she hiding, and why?

It was not a question he should be asking, but he had scarcely known where he was, before he was in too deep. Yet there was one thing of which he was certain.

The time for observing was over. He was ready to become an active participant.

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