"Do I get to look now?” It was the morning after that first shoddy night and I was grumpy.
Alessandro smiled at me. “Calm down, you will soon, but before you get to do that, I have to tell you the rules of choosing your name,” he said.
“There’s rules for that?” I asked.
“Yes,” he sighed. “You are to be revealed to all the other guardian angels before you even get to see yourself.”
I opened my mouth to interject, but he stopped me by raising a hand. “I know, it is scompigliato su, but has been part of the rules since our existance. The reasoning behind it is that they have to see fit if you’re good enough to be sent back to the real world. If they see that you are, then they all pick a name that will fit your new lifestyle. If they decide that you’re not good enough, we have to make the changes that they tell us to make.”
Cocking my head to one side, I asked, “What is scompiglito su?”
Alessandro visibly colored. “Erm, its messed up.”
My eyes widened. “You, who serves God, swore?”
“No, no, no, no!” Alessandro cried, waving his hands. “It really does mean messed up, you’re assumming things.”
I grinned. “Okay, so when are we leaving for this big reveal?”
Alessandro parted the curtain. “Ah, that time is now, milady,” he said, bowing.
I giggled and walked through the curtainway, which lead into a large, but surprisingly modest hallway. It was made of the same pure white stone the exterior was, and the ceiling curved into a gentle arch. I felt Alessandro position himself himself behind me, wrapping one arm around my waist, and the other slightly lower around my hips. With a slight whoosh of his wings, we were slightly off the floor and gliding swiftly down the hall.
Varied archways flew by, each covered differently, or didn’t even have a cover at all. One had beautiful oriental looking hangings, while another just had multicolored beads and shells. I had time enough to get a quick glance in one room that didn’t have any coverings on the archway and saw that it had more books in it than I had ever seen in my life. Or afterlife for that matter.
We stopped after going down a grand set of stairs that lead to the largest archway I’ve seen yet; it must’ve been at least 30 feet tall. Instead of hangings like all the other ones, this had two sleek wooden doors. Alessandro set me down gently.
“Just a few things I need to say before you go inside,” he whispered. “This is the only time you will be able to see all the other angels. They will ask you a few questions, so just answer and don’t say anything else; it’ll make the process go by a lot faster. Also, don’t let their grand demeanor intimidate you, be the strong girl I know you are, Hermione. You have to go in by yourself, but I’ll be right behind you, even though I won’t be able to speak to you. It’ll all be done before you know it.” He swooped down and gave me a gentle kiss on my lips, then lightly pushed me towards the doors, which were slowly, and ominously if you ask me, opening.
As soon as I stepped through the threshold of the cavernous room, the first thing I heard was rustling, like parchment paper. I soon realized that it was the sound of hundreds of wings. The first thing I saw, was a large, throne-like chair in the center of the raised seats, straight across from the doors. This chair was occupied by what many would consider a classically beautiful, buxom woman. She had shining black hair, which fell in gentle waves to the seat of her chair, and piled there. She had heavily lidded eyes, a strong nose, and full lips. Her wings were large and a bright gold.
“What is your name?” the woman asked in a sultry voice.
“Hermione Granger,” I said, managing to sound normal and not squeak under pressure.
The woman’s lips curved into a slight smile. “Hermione Granger, my name is Minerva. I was chosen to speak on behalf of all the guardian angels. Do you know why you’re here?”
I immediately didn’t like Minerva. Her holyer-than-thou attitude just rubbed me the wrong way. “Yes, I killed myself,” I kept my chin up saying that, holding up what dignity I had.
Minerva’s eyes narrowed; she apparently liked me just as much. “Why do you want to have a second life if you killed yourself?”
I sighed, hoping that this question wouldn’t come up. “I believe that taking my own life was a mistake. If I was allowed a second chance, I think that I can do great things in the world.”
“Large words from such a small girl,” she spat. “Do you think Alessandro should have saved you before you killed yourself?”
This felt more like a trial for Alessandro than a desicion on my name; I didn’t like it. “No,” I said hotly. “If I had the choice to continue my old life, I wouldn’t have killed myself, now would I?”
“You insolent girl, you don’t deserve to have a second life!” she growled, standing up.
“Minverva!” I looked over to see Alessandro standing in front of the doors in his gold and white glory. “You don’t have the power to make that desicion, only the combined vote of all the angels decides that.”
“Alessssssandro,” she purred. “How nice of you to join us. Since you so kindly jumped in while I was in the middle of uh, questioning this girl, and mentioned the vote, let’s just go ahead to that. If you believe Hermione Granger is fit to be named, fly down to the floor next to her. If you believe there is a need for improvement, stay in your seats."
Immediately, there was a flurry of movement and I was suddently surrounded by many shades of gold and white. Someone grabbed my hand, and I looked over to see Alessandro smiling at me reassurringly. I couldn't see what went on except for anything right by me, I couldn't tell if there were 10 or 100 angels around me, only the downy feathers of wings. There was a shadow above me and I looked up. It was Minerva, flapping above my head.
"It has been decided then," she said with a touch of malice. "You are to continue with your new life. Let The Naming begin!"
The Naming was just a large invasion of personal space. Hundreds of hands touched my hair and my skin, but it felt like they were touching my soul; it gave me shivers. Then without warning, I was left alone, with only a few feathers and Alessandro still at my side. He led me away as the hall filled with more and more noise as the angels discussed and debated on my name.
"Shouldn't you-" I was cut off as Alessandro swooped me into a large hug.
"Oh, mia cara, mia cara! Ce l'abbiamo fatta!" he kept crying in Italian.
I laughed in his arms. "What are you saying this time?" I giggled.
He set me down and pressed his forhead against mine. "Oh my dear, my darling! We did it!" he whispered, smiling largely.
"What was all that?" I wondered.
Alessandro sobered. "It was a test of my abilities as a guardian angel, to see if I was up to snuff. I couldn't tell you, because, of course, you would just lie. Of course, Minerva would be the one to head it."
I said, "What was her problem?"
"She once tried to court me, but I spurned her advances. Minerva wanted to radically change the way guardian angels worked, with me by her side, and I wanted nothing to do with it. Ever since then, she's tried to ruin me," he sighed.
I hugged him on instinct. "We got her this time then," I said.
"Yes, indeed, we did," he replied and his face broke out into a smlie once again.
"Excuse me," someone interruped. It was a slight woman with golden hair and wings such a light gold, they were almost white. "We're ready for you," she said with a smile.
Alessandro took my hand again and led me into the hall once again. As soon as we entered, it fell into a hush.
Minerva was once again on the throne of a chair. "Hermione Granger, how nice of you to rejoin us." she said. "We have decided on a name for you." A covered mirror was placed in front of me. "Welcome, Astraea Prideaux!" The cover was flung back and I gasped.
The woman looking back at me was delicate, yet strong looking at the same time. She had wide blue-grey eyes and slightly wavy brown hair, so dark it was almost black, that fell past her shoulders. Her nose was small and had a very light smattering of freckles if you looked closely, and she had a bold red mouth. I blinked and so did the reflection.
"This is really me?" I said touching the glass with my fingertips. The reflection reached out as well and I half expected warm fingers to touch mine instead of glass.
I saw Alessandro approach me in the mirror and felt his hands on my shoulders. "Do you like it?" I saw the concern wrinkled in his brow.
"Its how I've always dreamed of looking," I said and grinned, meeting his eyes in the mirror.
He grinned back. "I hoped so," he replied.
"Astraea Prideaux!" a voice rang out and I jumped. I'd forgotten there were hundreds of angels in the room still. "Are you pleased with your appearance?" Minerva asked.
"Yes I am, very much pleased, thank you," I said as warmly as possible.
Minerva smiled back, I didn't like that look, it was like the cat ate the canary. "Well then, tomorrow, you shall attend your funeral so you can see how your death has affected others. This convergence is ajourned." She spread her wings and flew straight up and out through a skylight in the roof.
The blonde who had told us it was time to come back in approached us. "Hello Alessandro," she said, smiling just as brightly as before.
"Orabella!" he cried, throwing out his arms and embracing the woman. I stood and watched awkwardly as the two spoke rapidly in Italian.
"Ahh those two," said a deep voice next to me. I jumped and looked over. A man with dark chocoalte skin that made his white wings even whiter had appeared next to me. He laughed at my reaction. "Hello, my name is Adalric, its so nice to meet you Astraea. I've seen you many times guarding my own charge," he said.
"Who do you guard?" I asked, without even thinking of adding niceties.
Adalric laughed again. "Have you ever heard of a man named Harry Potter?"
"No way!" I gasped. "You're pulling my leg!"
He raised his left hand. "Angel's honor I'm not," he said.
"So all this time, it wasn't really magic that kept him alive it was..." I murmered, half to myself.
"Your Dumbledore was correct on his theory of love. Love did protect Harry, because it is love that fuels our magic. If it wasn't for Lily's love for Harry, I wouldn't have been strong enough to hold back Voldemort's curse," he replied.
It all suddenly made sense to me. "I get it now! Its like that last missing piece of the puzzle is there, the why love works," I cried, feeling triumphant.
Alessandro turned his attention back me. "Ah, I see you have met my good friend Adalric," he said. "It figures he would come talk to you when he got the chance."
"I couldn't resist," Adalric said, shrugging his big shoulders. "She always seemed like a great conversationalist to me."
Alessandro pulled the woman he was talking to towards me a bit. "Astraea, I'd love for you to meet Orabella, my best friend and closest thing I have to a sister."
"Pleased to meet you, Orabella," I said, with a smile.
Orabella dipped her head. "Likewise."
I tried to stifle a yawn behind my hand, but Alessandro caught it. "Time for bed for you I think, little missy," he said.
"It was lovely to meet you all," I said. "And Adalric, I'll sleep a little better a night knowing that Harry has someone watching over him."
Adalric laughed at this. "Honey, we all have someone watching over us," he replied.
I was gently led out of the hall and the last thing I remember was thinking how lovely it felt to be curled up against Alessandro's chest while he carried me.
P.S. Gorgeous chapter image by the one and only Zephyra @ TDA :)
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