The stars twinkle and wink, flirting with the hazel-eyed woman who watches them ever so closely from below. She used to imagine the constellations wheeling and spinning to make themselves shine all the brighter, each trying to arrest her attention away from others. She peers through her telescope, noting placement and brightness for her charts, color and orientation, before mobiliscopium’ing the telescope carefully back into its cupboard. She hates leaving it out to the elements and human clumsiness, however shielded the castle may be. Once the beautiful instrument is tucked away, she makes her way from the observatory, her apple-shiny crimson stilettos sounding along the slat boards of the floor before hollow echoes give way to solid clicks as wood concedes its place to stone when she enters the castle proper again. Seating herself on the bannister of the winding stair, she outdoes the storied nanny-witch Mary Poppins as she slides all the way down to the base of the tower. Why walk when one can glide?
“Professor Penuryst is magical!” a first-year, a flash of muted yellow at her skirt, whispers to her companion as they flatten themselves back against the staircase wall at the woman’s jolly “On your right, mamselles!”
“Well, of course she is, you git! She is a professor.” The second-year, badge emblazoned in emerald, rolls her eyes.
“No. I mean, she’s, like, ruby-slippers magical!” the awed Muggle-born sighs.
Of course, her pureblood classmate had not the foggiest notion of what she was talking about, Dorothy and her yellow brick road not being overly common bedtime fare for witchy children.
“And those shoes…!”
The woman hits the floor moving, never breaking stride as she manoeuvres through the night-shadowed corridors. A few students scurry about from the library and study groups, off to their common rooms and dorms before curfew chimes throughout the castle and she hurries them along their way. Making her way to a wing off-limits to students, the female professor draws out her rich cherry-wood wand, waving it succinctly at an unremarkable door in the hallway. It swings open and admits her to a comfortable parlor, the fire in the grate leaping up into life and causing the handsome barn owl perched before it to ruffle his speckled feathers and preen.
“Gawain, you’re supposed to be in the Owlery, or, better yet, out hunting,” she chides, to which the owl only clicks his formidable beak and settles once again on his now-warm perch.
How on earth did the witch expect him to be out hunting when he knew he would be delivering missives near and far for her once she completed her charts? Even an owl needs his sleep.
Delorah Penuryst merely chuckles and proceeds into her study from the parlor, setting down her scrolls and wand. Twisting up her abundantly unruly hair into a bun, which she then secures with said wand, she settles down with journal, fresh stationary, and fountain pen (yes, she was a fan of a few more modern epistolary devices than just quill and inkwell and parchment). She then goes on to compose several different letters, one of which to be delivered just over the hill. But, in that particular case, letters were far safer than face-to-face conversations, as she didn’t wish to get Firenze into trouble with his herd after all.
The night deepens as Delorah writes, first the letters and then in her journal, taking in the sweet silence of the night, with only the crackling fire in the next room for company. She writes not only to Firenze but old friends, colleagues, and mentors. She writes to the head of the Magical Creature Rehabilitation Conservatory in Wales, the mother of her best childhood mate. She writes in German to her grandmother, currently serving on the Board of Governors of Beauxbatons Academie of Magic. Delorah writes until the paper bullets in her brain run out. Letters enveloped, sealed, and addressed, they wait in their parcel stack for when Gawain awakes in the pre-dawn, ready for work.
Delorah, meanwhile, rises from her desk and makes her way to bed, weary of mind and body but utterly content. There is nowhere she would rather be than where she is right now, at home in Hogwarts, teaching the art and science of Charms and Astrology to rising young witches and wizards. No, nowhere else in the world. Freeing her abundant curls, she settles beneath the covers of her bed, a threadbare and oft-kissed rag doll at her side. Tomorrow will be here soon enough for this “ruby-slippered magical” woman. Giving the wand one more flick, Delorah bids the world sweet dreams and good night.