A Professor of Magic at Hogwarts - C.332: The Invitation

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As August arrived, Felix had expected to remain in Diagon Alley until the start of the Quidditch World Cup, until he received a letter from his student, Clementine Vira.

"Dear Professor Harp,

I'm still working at the Egyptian Gringotts. Despite the somewhat gloomy and damp environment, everything is fine here.

I've made friends with many kind colleagues. One senior colleague, Bill Weasley, introduced me around. When I mentioned you to him, surprisingly, he knows you! He entered Hogwarts in the same year as you! I couldn't resist asking him more about you, and his description took me by surprise. He called you the 'Wandering Sphinx.' Apparently, in the brief interactions he had with you, you politely inquired about his profound knowledge of ancient magical texts and magical theories. He couldn't answer, which left him feeling embarrassed and his pride wounded (Bill himself is a very witty and humorous elder, and he said these things with a smile). He found it amusing because you never took Ancient Runes as a subject.

I've also made friends with some locals from the mysterious school, Vagadu. It's a massive magical school with over five thousand students! It's hard to imagine a scene where so many people attend classes together. They told me it's because Vagadu accepts students from all across Africa...

I'm facing a dilemma now. After exploring the bottom level of an Egyptian pyramid's ancient tomb, we unexpectedly discovered a hidden chamber leading even deeper. It's a long, winding corridor shrouded in dense black mist, filled with various dangerous magical traps. We hadn't even fully explored the corridor when a colleague suffered from seven or eight curses, so we had to hastily retreat.

The colleague was sent to the hospital, but he brought back a piece of stone slab from the corridor's wall. Astonishingly, the slab was inscribed with ancient runes I've never encountered before. Not even my grandfather could decipher or translate them. They seem to come from an even more distant era.

I strongly suspect that they are all practical ancient runes (I've attached depictions of the patterns with this letter). I'm urgently seeking your guidance. It would be amazing if you could come.

Your student, Clementine Vira."

"Tsk! The Wandering Sphinx..."

Felix set the letter aside, gazing at the Egyptian Heron beside him. The bird was over half a meter tall, all white except for the black accents on its wings and tail feathers. It huddled to the side, treating itself like a delivery owl, pecking at the cookies on a plate.

The bird had a shiny, bald, black head and neck. Its long, downward-curving beak resembled a black sickle.

With long, sturdy legs, the bird kicked a tightly wrapped package over when Felix glanced at it. After unwrapping it, he found a three-foot square piece of parchment with depictions of the patterns Clementine had mentioned in her letter.

He carefully examined the rubbings of the stone slab, and with his first glance, he confirmed the true nature of these patterns. They were indeed ancient runes, specifically, a fragment of some ancient magical script. As he tried to trace the contours of these fragmented patterns, arcs of black lightning danced in the air.

Felix meticulously reviewed Clementine's letter again and sensed a contradiction. The chamber's owner openly displayed a stone slab inscribed with ancient magical secrets in the corridor, suggesting generosity. However, the black mist and curses seemed at odds with such generosity.

He wasn't quick to label this as the work of a Dark Wizard. Throughout different eras, the definition of Dark Wizards had evolved. In ancient wizarding communities, those deserving of the title were exceedingly evil, unlike today's standards.

"A powerful ancient wizard sneaking into a pyramid, creating a hidden chamber with intricate curses... Could this be some rigorous form of legacy? Are the mist and curses meant to challenge intruders?"

"Or perhaps, it's a test of human greed, punishing those who unexpectedly venture in?"

Felix penned a response, including all these insights and his speculations. He expressed gratitude for Clementine's invitation and then, with a thought, inquired if he could bring a student along. His assistant, over the course of two years, had acquired a significant knowledge of ancient runes and was due for some real-world exposure.

After a few days of waiting, Clementine Vira's reply arrived. She warmly welcomed both him and the student, and along with the letter, was an official invitation from Gringotts, featuring two spots. One had already been filled with "Felix Harp," while the other was blank.

Only with this invitation could they enter the pyramid's interior for exploration.

Felix smiled faintly and filled in the blank space with "Hermione Granger."

The next morning, Hermione arrived at the Future World Company in Diagon Alley, brimming with excitement as she looked around curiously. Just yesterday, Professor Harp had sent her a letter explaining the situation and inviting her to explore the Egyptian pyramids together! She had been longing to go, and while the professor mentioned that he'd mostly be staying behind the scenes, there was still a chance for her to get up close to magical remnants from thousands of years ago in safe conditions.

"Professor Lupin!" Hermione exclaimed unexpectedly as she spotted Lupin. "What are you doing here?"

Lupin smiled and said, "One has to find oneself a job." He led Hermione upstairs, offering a brief overview of the company. Employees they encountered along the way greeted Lupin warmly, and soon, they reached an office on the fifth floor.

Upon entering, Felix was seated in a chair, his gaze fixed on his palm where a black lightning bolt rested. Seeing Lupin and Hermione enter, he dispelled the magic and smiled.

"Lupin, I might need to be away for a few days."

Lupin shook his head with a sigh. "And after you return, are you planning a trip to France?"

Felix humorously replied, "Lupin, do you have the gift of prophecy?"

...

"Professor, are you researching magic lamps?" Hermione inquired. Upon her arrival, she noticed various magical creatures in different forms, each with a glowing magical orb. They reminded her a lot of the ancient magical illumination spells she was familiar with.

Felix chuckled. "The research is complete. They're preparing for the Quidditch World Cup, a grand light exhibition."

"An exhibition..." Hermione imagined the scene, her anticipation growing.

"Alright, time is a bit tight today. After we return from Egypt, you can stay here and explore more," Felix said. He was eager for Hermione to continue studying ancient runes after her graduation. Her current level of expertise had already surpassed all the employees in Future World.

And there were still a full four years until her graduation from Hogwarts.

...

Egypt, Nile Valley.

Felix and Hermione strolled through the streets of Cairo, experiencing the exotic atmosphere firsthand. A man with a heavy accent offered them a camel, and they declined. Hermione watched the peculiar-looking camel depart with a reluctant gaze, feeding it a handful of hay as a parting gift.

"Well, we should meet your senior first. She must be eager," Felix said, adding with a smile, "Maybe we'll get a chance to ride a camel later? I remember the pyramids being in the desert..."

In a tavern within the city, Felix and Hermione met Clementine Vira. She wore a sun hat with a sheer scarf cascading from its wide brim. When she pulled back the fabric, both saw her sun-kissed brown skin, radiantly smiling.

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