eyes open and prick up your ears – rehearse your loudest cry.
folk out there that would do you harm so I’ll sing you no lullaby.
lock on the window; there’s a chain on the door; a big black dog in the hall.
dragons and beasties out there in the night to snatch you if you fall.
No Lullaby – Jethro
Last Night I Dreamt I Went in Slytherin
Again – Second Chapter
It was quite
convenient with the Ministry cars. In no time, we had packed all the things and
headed over to the King’s Cross Station. Dad
watched Harry with hawk eyes, never letting him out of sight. On the platform,
our friends from school were busy loading the luggage or saying goodbye to
their families. When Percy caught sight of his girlfriend Penelope he walked
over to her, sticking out his chest so that she would not miss the shiny new
Head Boy badge. Harry and I looked at each other and smiled. I might have read
something into that smile that wasn’t there, but I felt a lot more relaxed in
Harry’s company now at least, which was good.
When we were about to leave, it was hugging
and kissing galore. Harry got an extra hug from Mum. He looked quite
embarrassed by all the affection lavished on him. It made me smile. As we put
our trunks on the train, Dad took Harry aside. I couldn’t hear what they were
saying. It looked quite serious; their faces pulled and solemn. They were so
engrossed in their conversation Harry nearly
missed the train. He had to run to catch up with it as Ron held the door open.
We all leaned out through the window to wave to Mum and Dad a last time before
we were off to school for another term. I felt a bit uneasy in my stomach as
the train turned and they disappeared from view. Who was going to sit by my bed
now, stroking my hair when I woke up in the night with a bad dream?
Virginia!” I thought to
myself. I had better toughen up. Had I not said I wasn’t a little girl anymore?
“I need to talk to
you in private,” Harry muttered to Ron.
“Go away Ginny,”
“Oh that’s nice!” I
said and swept out without a look at them. What a very nice moment for Ron to
act as the biggest prat on the planet, and Mr. Holy Harry Potter and the
stuck-up know it all didn’t lift an eyebrow to intervene. It was all right to
have little Ginny with you as long as Harry Potter didn’t want to talk about
serious grown-up stuff. Then you couldn’t have little Ginny tag along. No, just
ditch her like a bag of groceries. I kicked the wall of the train. It didn’t
exactly do any good, it only hurt my foot, but somehow it felt better all the
same. I walked down the corridor and then I stopped before a window, fuming,
looking out as we left London behind us. I wondered where the boy I saw on the
underground went to school.
“Hello Ginny!” I
turned and saw Neville Longbottom smiling at me. I liked Neville. He seemed at
least to realise that one bloody year wasn’t an eon of age difference.
“Did you have a
good summer?” he asked.
“Yes. Excellent!” I
said, although I couldn’t exactly remember which part I was referring to.
Neville was looking at his hands at a set of new shiny schoolbooks he held. On
his shoulder sat his pet toad Trevor. Trevor had been known to get lost quite
often and perhaps that was no wonder the way Neville carried him around. Should
he not have him in a cage?
“Eh, I just wanted…
“What?” I said.
“I just wanted to
say that I was very glad you were rescued last year. We were all very worried
about you.” He blushed.
Neville.” I said, staring out the window. I was very embarrassed, but at the
same time, it made me feel all fuzzy and warm inside. It was nice someone had
given a thought whether I lived or died. An awkward pause followed. I was
fishing for something to say. To be honest, I didn’t know Neville that well.
“Are those your new
school books?” I asked. It was quite obvious that they were, but it was at
“Yes, and some nice
Herbology books my gram let me buy. Herbology
is my favourite subject,” Neville said. We fell into yet more awkward silence.
I felt stupid standing there.
“Shall we go find
an empty compartment?” said Neville.
“Yes, of course,” I
said, glad for something to do. We slipped inside an empty compartment and sat
down. Neville opened one of his books and started to read. It was nice sitting
there. I was happy he didn’t feel obligated to make forced conversation all the
way to Hogwarts. That would have been unbearable.
At one o’clock the
witch with the food trolley appeared.
“Do you want
anything from the trolley dears?” she asked.
“No, I have
sandwiches,” I said. Neville’s grandmother had made him sandwiches as well. He
bought us a couple of chocolate frogs anyway.
“For dessert,” he
said, as he handed me two, smiling. I smiled back.
I brought out the
book I had bought in London and we sat reading eating our sandwiches. As time
passed and the sky grew darker outside the weather was getting worse, windy,
and rainy. Sitting in the train felt cosy and protective, the engine kept
chugging in an even determined way, and the rain beat on the window with
increasing fury as the hours wore on. The only sound in the compartment was the
pages turning in our books, and an occasional croak from Trevor. Neville
sometimes quoted some fact from his Herbology book. They were sort of interesting,
at least they seemed a little interesting because Neville obviously found them
fascinating. It reminded me a bit about Potions.
Later when only wrappers remained of our sandwiches and the cards
from the chocolate frogs had been put to service as new bookmarks in our books,
the train suddenly started to slow down and came to a complete stop.
“Are we there
already?” said Neville, looking up from his book. “That can’t be right.”
“No, we stopped for
some reason. Is the train broken maybe? Let’s go and find Ron, Harry, and
Hermione. She’ll know what is happening.”
“Right,” said Neville and stood up.
When we had walked
a few steps through the corridor, the confusion started. All the lights went
out and we tumbled into Ron, Harry, and Hermione’s compartment in total
darkness. Hermione cried out when I fell on top of her
and we were all tangled in a mess for a while. Finally, we managed to get
ourselves sorted, and I sat in the darkness beside Harry. An adult I didn’t
know suddenly conjured up a handful of flames to light the compartment.
“Stay where you
are,” he said, but before he could reach the door, something happened. I felt a
terrible despair grip my soul. It was
like I was falling into a chilling endless void. My body started to shake
I made my way
through the crowd with a sense of growing panic. It was so terribly hot here
and I couldn’t think properly. I had to find the others. I had to calm down and
think. “Virginia, collect yourself!” I screamed to myself in my mind. “ You cannot
let the fear bubble up. Hold it back, put it down, don’t think about it, you
are not going to be a silly little girl, and start crying. You are not going to
feel the panic. You will not start screaming and running. Collect yourself and
think!” The sweat made my shirt stick unpleasantly to my back and my face was
dripping in the merciless rays of this Egyptian sun. I forced myself to stay
calm, still on the edge of panic, but holding myself together. “You can’t get
lost in this strange country with all the staring people.” They were not only
Muggles, they were foreign Muggles, and despite Dad’s assurances many of them
did not seem very friendly. If I tried to ask for the way in English I was sure
they were going to just laugh at me. “Which street where you coming from? Turn
around and look for it”
“Charlie!” I called
out as I saw his red hair in the crowd. Why was he wearing a red cloak all the
sudden? It looked pretty cool though, expensive.
“I am not Charlie,”
said the man as he swept around. His red hair and height was just right, but it
was not he. I stopped, confused. The man’s eyes did not look right. My heart
started to race again, even faster now, as more panic replaced the relief I had
briefly felt when I thought I had found my family. My legs felt weak. The eyes
of the man were red and had no pupils. They looked evil and hateful as they
narrowed and took me in like he wanted to bite me. “Isis?” he asked. His voice
sounded as hoarse, harsh as the sand, and desert of this merciless sweltering
“I’m not Isis,” I
“Oh, really,” he
said, “But I can feel the mounting flame, I can.” He smiled evilly and his red
eyes glittered. “ We shall find you out.” He waved his hand magically in the
air and the crowd behind him departed, revealing a snake charmer and a cobra
standing on its tail, hissing threateningly. The red haired man's evil grin
widened as he made a sudden gesture in the air. The cobra spun around without
warning and lashed out in a different direction at a small boy who stood watching holding his mothers hand.
“NO!” I screamed.
“STOP THAT!” The hissing language that came out was the unmistakeable sound of Parseltongue, the
same language Harry had spoken at the duelling club, the same language Tom
Riddle used. Amazingly, the cobra stopped its attack and turned its light blue
transparent eyes on me.
“AS YOU COMMAND, OH
MIGHTY DAUGHTER OF THE SUN.” It hissed and sank to the ground were it lay on
the sand. There was a murmur, and scared and bewildered faces turned towards me
in the crowd. I started to back away, shocked. “Oh my God, I’m a monster!” I
thought. “I’m evil!” The suffocating heat and unrelenting sun made my head
spin. The man with the red eyes was nowhere to be seen. Instead, I backed into
a woman who had been standing behind me. She looked somewhat like a witch. At
least she had some black mantle or cloak with a pattern of golden scorpions.
The tall black men that stood behind her looked like bodyguards. They were
wearing black Arabic style clothing with turbans and cloth covering their
faces, only revealing their watchful, serious eyes. I would have been scared of
the woman if she hadn’t been smiling in a friendly way, and at that moment a
friendly smile was the most hopeful thing in what felt like a long time. She
swept her hand over the crowd and said, “Obliviate.” It was obviously a memory
charm, and she wasn’t even using a wand. At least she was a witch, although
decidedly foreign with her long black straight hair and dark skin. Her fancy
clothes and the bodyguard gave me some hope she had something to say about
things around here. Perhaps she could help me. I tried to calm down and get a
hold of myself to ask a question, I already felt a lot calmer and my heart was
settling in my chest. Then it felt like a hand reached inside my mind - a
strange probing force. Images started to flash before my eyes at a speed that
made them all swirl together in a sickening blur.
I was back in
detention with Snape. The slimy git had made me dissect a tremendous amount of
tadpoles. I then had to put their livers in a big jar with some green liquid
that made them look even more disgusting. My hands were filthy and burning from
a number of small cuts that I had accidentally inflicted on myself in the two
hours I had been in the Potions masters clutches.
“Now Miss Weasley,”
Snape said. “Educational as I think this detention has
been for you, I am sure you might have found it a little unpleasant.”
You mean you hope, I thought angrily but kept silent waiting for the next blow.
“Therefore you are going to have the pleasure and the honour of walking with me
through the Slytherin common room.” I looked at him in surprise. Whatever for?
“You see that jar is quite heavy so you will need to carry it while I open
doors, and to put it in its proper location we need to pass the common room
most unfortunately.” He smirked a little to himself as if there was something
Slytherin common room was quite interesting but soon enough I found out the
reason for Snape’s smirk (I made a mental note
to myself – when Snape smirks start running.) The common room was full of
Slytherins and apparently the punishment of dissecting Snape’s frog livers were
well known to them.
“By the pricking of
my tongue, something pickled this way comes!” sang Draco Malfoy, and the whole
common room exploded in laughter.
My face burned red
with the humiliation and the heavy burden somehow made it flush even more. I
was pretty sure I looked pathetic carrying the heavy jar across the room. You
could easily have fried an egg on my cheeks.
“Oh let me have
one, please!” shouted Pansy Parkinson.
“Is that the livers
smelling or do all Gryffindors smell like that?” shouted a seventh year boy,
and the room erupted in laughter again.
I muttered all the
curse words I knew silently to myself over and over.
toil and trouble,” sang Malfoy.
Snape smirked a
little to himself again as we made our way across the room to a door behind a
curtain. He opened the door as I followed balancing the heavy jar. Perhaps I
should accidentally trip and spill its contents all over the Slytherin common
room. I didn’t think I would survive to tell the Gryffindors about it, so I
We came down a long
corridor and turned left, then down a few steps through a door into a cold and
damp cellar, supposedly just right for pickled frog liver.
“Now put that jar
over here Miss Weasley,” Snape said. I put the heavy jar with a grunt of effort
on a deep shelf. It wouldn’t kill Snape to help me a little. He was after all
more than a few heads taller than me. As I stretched my numb arms and flexed my
fingers, my eyes fell on yet another stone door leading away from the cellar.
There was a magnificent picture of a golden cobra and a crab on the door.
“What is that?” I
“That Miss Weasley
is something put there by the great Salazar Slytherin himself and it needn’t
concern a Gryffindor. Now, move along so we can wrap up this detention. Unless
you would like another go at the frog livers.”
I blinked in the
sunlight. Dazed and very confused. Where was I? Had I fallen asleep? The
friendly woman still stood in front of me smiling.
“You help me find
what I seek and I will help you find what you need,” she said and waved her
hand again. I didn’t much reflect on the fact that she too was speaking snake
language because I was hearing Ron calling my name.
there you are!” He came running panting. “Just because Mum said you couldn’t go
into the tomb you can’t go running off like that. Where have you been?”
“Ginny, are you all
right?” Hermione was putting her arm around me.
“Yes,” I sobbed.
“What just happened?” I was sitting in the corner of the compartment and I was
“It was one of the
guards of Azkaban,” said Hermione. “It is gone now.” The man in the shabby
robes handed me a large piece of chocolate.
“Who is he?” I
whispered to Hermione.
“The new Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher,” she
whispered back. “He seems to actually know something. That will be a nice
change around here.” I looked at him as I took a bite of the chocolate. I felt
warmth returning to my body as if I had been out on a snowy winter day and had
just put up my feet before the fire. With the returning light and warmth, the
new teacher didn’t look at all unfriendly, but he looked a bit tired and worn,
as if he had been ill not long ago.
“We’ll be at
Hogwarts in ten minutes,” he said.
When we came back
to our compartment voices could be heard inside. Someone else had settled there
while we were gone.
were really terrifying! That was almost as scary as last year when… Oh, hello
Ginny!” Sandy Anderson fell silent. I was pretty sure she had been meaning to
say something about when Ginny Weasley set the Basilisk on all the Muggle born
students in the school. “Hello Neville!”
Neville. He looked a little taken aback that the whole compartment now was
filled with girls he didn’t know. Sandy seemed to know who he was, but that was
hardly surprising. She generally kept track of everybody, especially older
boys. I was quite sure that Neville wasn’t very high up on her list of the
cutest boys, but he was currently high on my list of the nicest, if he cared.
He stood there awkwardly looking around as if pondering whether he should sit
down or take his books and make a run for it. I suppose I should have
introduced everybody, but I just stood there too, still dazed by that horrible
memory the Azkaban guard,
the Dementor, had managed to bring back.
“Hello! I am Luna
Lovegood,” said the girl sitting next to Sandy while she reached out to shake
“Nice to meet you
Luna. I'm Neville Longbottom.”
Luna was a little
peculiar, but she was all right. Usually she seemed to have her head in the
clouds but she was always very friendly. Her father was the editor of that very
odd magazine the Quibbler, which meant that she subscribed to many ideas that
people, who were more down to earth, like McGonnagal and Hermione Granger,
would find utterly ridiculous.
your Herbology books?” Luna asked. Trevor was sitting on them, clearly
wondering where Neville had gone off.
“Who reads about
Herbology before the start of term?” Sandy remarked and swept out of the
compartment. Her little clique of faithful sidekicks followed suit, Sunita
Paramar, Julie Orzo, Eliza Rodahl. Neville looked slightly hurt by her remark.
A few minutes
later, we arrived a Hogsmeade station. People
hurried back and forth to collect things, creating a lot of commotion. The
weather outside was awful, icy cold and rainy.
“Oh no! This is always so much trouble,” said
Neville. “Where should I put Trevor?” He looked confused and slightly
panic-stricken, as if he would not be able to get his things together in time
and the train would return with him on it.
“Put him under your
hat,” said Luna, with a smile and a hint of eagerness in her voice.
sceptical but followed her suggestion. Trevor croaked.
This year we were
not taken to the castle in open boats over the lake, which was a very good
thing considering the weather. The first-years' first impressions of Hogwarts,
and they were bound to be plenty and variable, would no doubt be associated
with wet and cold forever. Black carriages were to take us to the castle,
seemingly moved by magic, or possibly, invisible horses drove them. The terrible
Dementors were standing guard outside the gates to the castle. I felt sick as
We arrived at the
castle and made it up the stairs and through the giant oak doors into the great
hall. I stopped a second to take in the atmosphere. I had to admit it felt good
to be back. The enchanted ceiling was dark and cloudy today. They worked so
hard on creating the illusion that we were still outside it hadn’t occurred to
them that perhaps a bit of sunshine would have made for a more cheerful
welcome, especially for the first years.
“Enemies of the
heir beware!” Malfoy whispered maliciously in my ear as he passed behind my
back. Oh, that infuriating little rat! I had almost managed to forget he ever
existed over the summer.
I rounded on him
and wheezed, “Anguis in herba!!” trying to sound like a snake while doing
claw-like gestures with both my hands over my head,
fixing him with a mad look. To my amusement, his eyes went round and he
turned away quickly. “Scared of little Ginny?” I thought, smiling to myself.
“Did you just speak
snake language?” said a voice beside me. It was Colin Creevey and he looked scared too, which wasn’t all that
“No, that was Latin you idiot!” I said impatiently. Colin
looked hurt that I had snapped at him and didn’t speak. “I’m sorry Colin,” I
apologised. “It’s just, Malfoy is getting on my nerves. I didn’t mean to sound
just like him.”
“Quite all right,”
he said, walking away to find some place other to sit than beside the mad snake
woman. I sunk down at the table, feeling tired
and confused again.
“Where did Harry
and Hermione go?” I asked Ron.
to talk to them about something. Apparently it did not concern me.”
“Serves you right
to be left out. Let you have a taste of it. It will
do you good.” I said.
“Whatever are you
on about?” he asked. “What was that you said to Malfoy?”
“A snake in the
grass,” I said, grinning. “And it was Latin not Parseltongue,”
I hastened to add.
“Well, I know you
don’t speak Parseltongue,” Ron said. “I didn’t
know you understood Latin though.”
“Contrary to my
docile and daft brother who can’t be bothered to wake up long enough to
discover there might be something out there in the world worth knowing, I read
a book or two on occasion,” I replied, although I couldn’t exactly remember
where I had picked up that line. Whatever made Malfoy cringe was worth
The sorting of the
first years had begun. I was eternally grateful that I had that behind me.
Walking up there last year had been the longest walk in my life. Of course,
being a Weasley, I had been pretty sure I would be sorted in Gryffindor, but
what would I have done if the sorting hat had shouted Slytherin...?
“Were I in Slytherin, I’d be on the next train home,” said Ron.
“I’d go drown
myself in the lake,” Colin said.
“They just go on
like nothing ever happened. Just like Salazar Slytherin had never built that
bloody chamber and set the monster on all the Muggle born in the school, nearly
killing them. Not to mention my little sister!” he muttered quietly between
I felt warm inside.
The school year
started and it was business as usual. Breakfast in the great hall and lessons
with the professors all day, heaps of homework to deal with in the evenings.
One morning at
breakfast, an owl arrived for me. I was a little intrigued because I didn’t
recognise it. It wasn’t Errol with the usual letters from Mum and Dad asking
about schoolwork and how things were going, with long lists of do’s and don’ts.
The owl was black with yellow, almost golden flecks in its shroud. It was very
handsome. I detached the little parcel from its leg and the owl took off
soundlessly. I opened the parcel to find a small necklace inside. It was
pretty. It didn’t look expensive but it was stylish and elegant, made of pink
coral with a simple string. I looked around me to see if anyone was watching.
Everyone seemed busy with the mail so I tried it on. It was lovely. There was a
note as well:
Didn’t you enjoy
your little taste of Slytherin? I gave you a
little of what you wanted; now don’t forget to give a little to me. Beware of
he who seeks immortality, his impostor is among you.
My sister? I stared
at the note. I had tons of brothers but no sister. I didn’t know any of the
girls in Slytherin. Was this about the dream or whatever it was on the train?
But, I hadn’t told anyone about that, nor had I enjoyed it particularly. What
was this, some kind of joke? Who would give me a necklace just for a joke? I
looked around me to see if anyone was looking in my direction, but no one
seemed to catch my eye. Was it one of the boys? There seemed to be little point
in signing it, “Your sister,” if it was a boy who was too shy to speak to me.
Secret admirer would have been quite all right, although admittedly a little
clichéd. I put the note in my robe and gathered my things to get off to Defence Against the
Dark Arts. I was immediately reminded of Dad’s warnings about unknown magical
objects and felt guilty for not throwing it away or running off to McGonnagal.
A boy had sent it to me I decided stubbornly. I was not going to throw away
something that nice. It wasn’t as if it was tedious routine in my short life to
receive jewellery at breakfast, or any other time of day for that matter.
Besides, it didn’t seem to be magical so, what was the harm?
The new Defence Against the Dark Arts Teacher, Remus Lupin,
was not only nice but also an interesting teacher. He was going through the
basics of the Dark Arts with us, talking about simple hexes and the deflections
one could employ in defence against them. It
was all very fundamental, but since our previous teacher, the now as ridiculed
and despised as he was previously famous, Gilderoy Lockhart, had spent most of
the classes reading from his books, all featuring himself in various adventures
that had apparently been more or less made up, we had a lot to catch up. Taking
this class with Ravenclaw made it easier to relax and listen than when the
Slytherins were around.
“I am covering Dark
Creatures of various kinds with the third years and we will review what you
know about dark spells, hexes and dark arts objects and devices,” Professor
Lupin said. “I hope we can move forward to what we should be talking about in
the second year soon enough, but since I don’t know yet just how much you know,
we will be revising for now.”
“Are there any
questions so far?”
“How can one
determine whether an object is a dark and dangerous?” I asked before I could
stop myself. I had been thinking about the necklace and too late, I realised
what I was saying.
“Why do you ask?”
Professor Lupin trailed off and paused with comprehension dawning on his face.
”Oh, Miss Weasley...” He cleared his throat.
“Well, It is not very easy. Powerful dark objects have lured many wise
and old wizards. There are no foolproof ways to determine if an object is dark
when it wants to conceal its true nature. Generally, if it communicates with
you or tries to make you take certain actions then you shouldn’t trust it, if
you are not sure where it keeps its brain. By that we usually mean, who created
it, for what purpose and what it wants with you. Who stands to gain from what
it wants you to do is a good question to ask.”
“How does one know
when someone is possessed?” Sandy asked innocently.
The whole class
turned to look at me instead of Lupin, and then they quickly turned away again,
when I looked up. There was a chilling pause as Lupin drew in breath.
“Miss Anderson,” he
said. “Don’t you think that question was a tad insensitive when Ginny is
sitting right beside you?” I was grateful that he didn’t pretend like nothing that would have made me feel even
worse. It was also satisfying to see Sandy go red in the face for a change.
“All those things
and lots more will be covered in due time if you just bear with me,” Lupin
continued in a lighter tone. “Now, class dismissed,” he said, and the bell
rang. That man seemed to have an eerie sense of time, as if he was counting the
seconds in his head.
“But how do we know
she’s not still dangerous?” I heard Sandy say to Eliza as we left the classroom.
I felt a sinking feeling in my stomach. How long was this going to last?
said Luna, smiling at me and pointing. “Did you get that this summer?”
“No, someone gave
it to me,” I said.
“Oh, really? Not
“No, I don’t think
so,” I said. Perhaps it was possible, but that note didn’t make sense at all.
Somehow, I didn’t think Neville was that interested in me, he had just wanted
some company on the train and had been his usual friendly self. But maybe that
was what he had meant by signing it, “Your sister.” Perhaps he had meant that
he valued me as a friend. Obviously if he had signed it, “Your brother,” I
would have wondered which one. No, that made no sense at all. Why would he send
a necklace to a girl to point out that he only wanted to be friends? That would
surely be quite insane. The necklace had not communicated with me or tried to
make me do anything improper though. I decided that if it ever did I would pay
Moaning Myrtles bathroom another visit.
“He is pretty cute
though, isn’t he?” said Luna dreamily.
“I don’t know,” I
“His face is very
round,” Luna continued in an airy voice as if it was the most delicious feature
she could think of in a boy. Whatever happened to square jaw, or dreamy green
“Did you two meet
in the summer?” Luna interrogated me.
I giggled a little.
“No we didn’t Luna. Now give it a rest. I only bumped into him on the train.
There is nothing going on.”
Next class was
potions down in the dungeons with Snape. We had that class with Ravenclaw this
year, which would be a real blessing. It meant we were spared Snape’s sickening
favouritism in class towards his Slytherin students. However, relief was not a
word one associated with Potions, and as Luna and I walked down the stairs, I
felt the usual apprehension. I also thought about my meeting with Snape in
London and I hoped it would not affect his behaviour towards me. As if to make
my worst fears come true immediately, we ran into the object of his affections
outside the potions dungeon. At least it was quite obvious to me that was she.
Snape was standing there talking to a woman that seemed to be about his age,
perhaps a little younger. She had dark hair that was cut in a straight page
hair cut, delicate dark features, and very dark brown eyes. She was shorter
than Snape and looked quite athletic. She seemed to dress like him, in all
black robes with a Slytherin badge. I could easily see why Snape found her
attractive, but what she saw in him I didn’t understand. I stared at the
brilliant moonstone necklace she wore. It looked very expensive and beautiful.
“Well, you know you
can’t ask, Miss Weasley, so just run along. Don’t make it a habit of bumping
into me,” Snape said.
I was dying to stay
and listen to their conversation, but that was of course impossible. I quickly
followed Luna into the classroom and sat down beside her. Snape entered the
dungeon shortly after in his usual manner, by banging the door open. I wished
he would stop doing that - it was so annoying. The whole class fell silent.
“This is Miss de
Winter,” Snape said, pointing at the beautiful woman who had come in after him.
“She is a Slytherin honour student who is currently studying to become a
Potions Master at L'École Supérieure de magie avancée Isobel D'Éry, est. 1189,
in France.” He paused, and his eyes swept around the dungeon. “Which, in case
any of you did not know, is one of Europe’s finest universities named after the
legendary twelfth century witch Isobel D'Éry.“ He said this in a tone that
suggested only an utter idiot could be unaware of this distinguished
institution. “You need not worry, she is as English as Shepherds pie.” At this,
Miss de Winter smiled a little. “She has recently completed part of her exams
and is qualified to teach second level Potions. That would be first and second
year students to you. She will fulfil some of her practical training as my
assistant this term helping me to teach a selected number of Potions Students
from the first and second year classes, who have shown particular aptitude.” He
looked around at us as if he seriously doubted anyone would qualify. I was
thunderstruck. Did he actually have an affair with one of his students? She had
of course graduated and she was his assistant and not a student, but it still
sounded highly inappropriate.
“Close your mouth
Ginny,” said Luna.
“So to get a head
start on the new term and assist Miss de Winter in assessing which students
might qualify,” he paused and his eyes flickered around the classroom as if
someone would spring out of the cupboard to curse him, “we will start off with
something simple to see how much of your potions skills you have retained over
the summer. This interesting Hair-Raising
Potion should give you something of a challenge to start you off. You will
partner up two and two. You may begin.” He waved his hand in the air and the
recipe and list of ingredients appeared magically on the blackboard.
I groaned as I read
the instructions. That was not exactly something simple, but Snape liked to be
his usual sarcastic, sunny self. Clearly, love hadn’t changed his demeanour.
Luna and I went to
work. Now was the time for concentration and perfection. If you messed up your
failures would be thoroughly rubbed in before the whole class, Snape relishing
every second. It was also at times like these that it became apparent why Luna
was in Ravenclaw. Her mind could be very sharp when she had something concrete
before her to dig into. Actually, I wasn’t so bad with potions either and at
the end of last year things had seemed a lot easier than before. It was like I
saw the whole picture were there had been individual pieces of the puzzle
before. Snape and Miss de Winter walked around the classroom inspecting the
work of each group at random.
Snape said behind my back to Sunita. “You seem to have neglected to wait the
proper time before adding the sage.”
“No sir, we waited
as we should. I promise,” said Sunita. “Honestly sir,” Eliza tried to help.
“She is clearly
lying,” said Snape to Miss deWinter.
“Yes, now it will
be runny no matter how long she brews it.” Miss de Winter said. I quickly
inspected our potion and it wasn’t runny. I sighed in relief.
Small pieces does not mean atom by atom,” Snape said to Sandy.
“Like that will
do,” Miss de Winter filled in.
“Miss Lovegood, why
do we heat quickly at the beginning?” Snape said.
circulation,” Luna answered.
“For how long,”
asked Miss de Winter?
“Until it starts to
turn yellow,” Luna said.
“This is more
brownish,” Snape said.
“Or even rust brown
perhaps,” Miss de Winter said.
“Miss Weasley, did
I not clearly write you need five rat tails for the Hair Rising Potion?” said
“You seem to have
used only three,” said Miss de Winter.
“That will not
work,” Snape continued. What was this, Snape in stereo from two directions at
once? It was really terrifying. One could draw breath while the other attacked.
“You don’t need
five if you roast them before you grind them,” I said nervously.
“Mm,” said Snape,
scratching his crooked nose.
“That will work,”
said Miss de Winter.
“You seem to have
improved your understanding of Potions Miss Weasley. However, I do not want you
to divert from my instructions,” Snape said.
“No sir,” I said.
It continued like
this for the rest of class and before long I felt like a nervous wreck. Luna
and I did well though, and our potion was actually the one Snape tried, to
demonstrate its effect. His long greasy hair stood straight up on his head
while he looked around as if he dared anyone to laugh. No one did. It would
have been a sure way to receive detention.
At breakfast the
next morning Dean Thomas was entertaining a large group of Gryffindors with a
story about what had happened in the third years first class with Professor
Lupin. They had been training on defending
against Boggarts in the teacher’s staff room and had had to face up to their
worst fear. Dean Thomas vividly described how Neville had made the Boggart turn
into Professor Snape in a green dress and a hat with a vulture, clothes like
those his grandmother always wore. Neville smiled brightly at the memory. He
seemed pleased with himself that he had pulled off the exercise so well. Lupin
had complemented him and handed out lots of points to Gryffindor. I wondered
what the students in the staff room would have said if Tom Riddle and the
Basilisk came out of that cupboard, or a man with red hair and red eyes that
spoke Parseltongue. When Dean said, “So now we
know who is the Drag Queen of Potions,” the table exploded and everybody was
lying in heaps wriggling with laughter. I laughed so hard my stomach hurt.
“Finally the slimy git comes out of the closet,” I pitched in. No one laughed.
Everybody looked terrified and fell silent. Still giggling I looked behind me.
“I can assure you
Miss Weasley that if I needed to be in the closet, I wouldn’t.”
“No of course not
Professor,” I stammered. “I mean I know you’re not… I mean…I didn’t mean… You
have… ” I was utterly helpless.
“You should stop
talking now Miss Weasley.” Snape paused, his black penetrating eyes boring into
mine. “ I came to let you know that Miss de Winter apparently was a little
impressed with your use of rat tails. I can’t say I was, but she wants to
consider you for her tutorials. This note gives the details.” He swept off with
his black robes billowing. When he had reached what seemed a safe distance the
Gryffindors broke out in hysterical laughter once again, Dean was rolling on
the floor clutching his stomach. ”Out of the closet,” he wheezed. I stood there
utterly mortified with the note in my hand. Slowly I walked away from the
table, thinking my only option now was to jump off the Astronomy Tower. Had I
known the Avada Kedavra spell, I would have
performed it on myself at that moment.
Without having a
very clear idea of how I got there, I found myself in the library. It was very
nice, cool, and quiet. I wanted to be on my own to let the sickening
embarrassed feeling recede, if possible. I wandered down the aisles, tracing my
finger idly against the spines of the books. I was deep in thought and didn’t
know exactly where I was going. I wasn’t looking for anything in particular. My
finger stopped at a book with the peculiar writing I had seen in the British
Museum. I hesitated for a moment, then pulled it off the shelf and opened the
book. I looked at the various chapters. This was a very old book, no doubt.
Strangely, the text seemed simpler this time, like everything had started to
seem simple. I must have been an idiot before. This language wasn’t that hard really; similar to Latin in a way but it was
Greek. I turned pages at random and read little bits here and there. The Greek
had recorded old legends from Egypt and other! Places. I stopped when I found
what I was looking for: the mention of Isis.
“There are ways to
bring the goddess Isis into the realm of the mortals, but beware for her wrath
can be terrible if she is annoyed or called upon for an unworthy cause. Her
colours are white, gold, and cobalt blue, the colours of royalty and comfort; “ I spelled out slowly, tracing my
finger over the text. Turning the page I read, “The gems and stones of Isis are
pearl, coral, lapis, geodes, and moonstone. Wearing jewellery with these stones
embedded is just one way to bring the goddess near. Fragrances of the goddess
are myrrh, rose, iris, and eucalyptus. Candles and essential oils are useful in
bringing the fragrance of Isis into the home.”
“Eh hem!” Someone
cleared her throat behind me. “I believe this is the restricted section Miss
Weasly,” Madam Pince said.
I snapped the book
closed quickly. “I was just admiring these beautiful symbols,” I said somewhat
“Ah, Linear B,” said Madam Pince.
“Yes, that is quite beautiful. It’s a shame no one here can read it, except for
Dumbledore of course. I guess there is no harm in looking at that, but you
should really get permission first Miss Weasly.”
“Yes Madam Pince,
I’m sorry. I didn’t look where I was going. Sorry.” I backed away from the
stern looking librarian only to bump into Albus Dumbledore. Oh, crap! Here I am
sneaking into the restricted section by mistake and who should be around to
apprehend me but the Headmaster himself. I had never seen him in the library
before, why did he have to be here now of all days?
“What was that you
were reading, Miss Weasley?” he said. He didn’t sound particularly angry.
“I don’t know,” I
lied. “I was only admiring the writing.”
“Yes, nice isn’t
it? I have been meaning to have a word with you Miss Weasley about the events
of last year.” My heart pounded in my chest like it always had the few times
Dumbledore had spoken to me. There was just something so magnificent about him,
and imposing. The fact that he was always very friendly almost made it worse.
“I had a word with your father and he said that you had been plagued by rather
bad dreams this summer.”
That is no problem any more. You needn’t mention it to anyone,” I babbled.
“No, of course not.
I was wondering though if perhaps someone had attempted to communicate with you
in the castle. Through your dreams,” Dumbledore said.
“No sir, not
through my dreams.” This was true; there had been no scary dreams since I had
arrived at Hogwarts, quite possibly the tremendous workload made me too tired
every night. Technically, receiving owl post at breakfast could not count as
anything out of the ordinary, so I decided not to mention that.
Dumbledore commented. “Coral is it?” I nodded. Was he reading my mind? Then why
did he need to ask?
gave it to me,” I said quickly.
Dumbledore smiled. “I knew his parents very well. Well, Miss Weasley, should
you think of something, anything at all, that you would like to tell me you are
always welcome to call at my office.”
“Eh, I have one
question,” I said. “How long has Professor Snape known Miss de Winter?”
“Since she was at
Hogwarts I believe. She is a year younger than Professor Snape, and they were
both in Slytherin. She was very talented and as you know, Professor Snape has
always appreciated talent. They kept in touch after they had graduated and
remained friends. She probably applied to come here because she knew what an
excellent teacher Professor Snape is.”
“How good friends?”
an eyebrow. “What do you mean, Miss Weasley?”
“Eh,” I stammered.
”Its just that she asked me to participate in her special potions class,” I
tried to get out of my predicament. I couldn’t very well ask what I really
wanted to ask. I held up the note as if it would explain everything.
“You should seize
that opportunity, Miss Weasley. She is an extremely talented potions student.
She was at the top of every class at Hogwarts and has since made a great name
for herself. I would recommend you accept her invitation. Now, Miss Weasley, if
there is nothing further you wish to ask, I shall go and devour this excellent
thesis on the application of magical frogs against strained backs.” He smiled at me as he held up a small blue book. He
then walked away between the aisles in his purple robes. I saw his white hair
disappear through the door of the library. What had all that been about, and
why was I not being punished for trespassing in the forbidden section? Had he
forgotten about it? What a horrible mess I had made of everything this day, and
it wasn’t even lunch yet.
Author’s Note: Departure from canon in this chapter:
1) Snape would never show Ginny the Slytherin common
room. Even if he doesn’t care the Slytherins wouldn’t take it lightly if she
suddenly appeared there.
2) Neville and Luna are not supposed to know each
other until OotP. However I’d much rather have Luna as the second heroine in
this story than an OC, I hope the readers feels the same. Someone needed to
comment on Neville to inject the thought that he might have sent the necklace
in Ginny’s thoughts, therefore Neville and Luna needed to meet on the train.
Many thanks to Caducee
for checking the French and helping me out with the name of the French
university. She also came up with the witch Isobel D'Éry, a beautiful and
distinguished name indeed. I would also like to thank my lovely beta Ada
Kensington for beta reading this chapter, and Birch Tree for beta reading the