A/N: Thanks to Genesse
and Darker Rage, who pre-beta-ed and Brit picked this so long ago I’d be
surprised if they remembered it. They helped more than they know, and people
should only be so lucky to have them as readers. Of course, thanks also go to
my SQ beta, Beth, who is unbelievably patient.
a cold, rainy sort of day, about two years ago, Gilderoy
Lockhart came to Bandon, County Cork, Republic of
He had come to meet a friend of mine, my
best mate, actually. Maura and I have always been best mates. I was born a few
months behind her, and since my father was a wizard, and both her parents were
magical, it seemed only natural that we more or less grew up together. When we
went to Hogwarts, we stayed friends, even though it was hard at times. She was Sorted into Slytherin, and I went into Hufflepuff, which
would have made things difficult at the best of times, but since I was half and
half, a lot of her housemates tried to make things especially hard. But if
Maura hadn’t been Sorted into Slytherin, I’ve always
thought that she would have been sorted into Hufflepuff. She was stubborn and
loyal to a fault, and she always ignored her housemates whenever we sat
together in the library or went into Hogsmeade. By the time we graduated, the
war had started to heat up, and it became more difficult to rationalise our
friendship to my own housemates, never mind Maura’s. After we left Hogwarts,
the war intensified, and Maura, as stubborn as she was, made her loyalties
blatantly obvious. Such as it was, I’m sure both of us were lucky to survive the
Maura’s best subjects at Hogwarts had been
Defence Against the Dark Arts and Care of Magical Creatures, so it seemed only
natural, after the war ended and everyone could go back to their normal lives,
that she take up “taking care of pests,” as she called it. She officially
worked on her own, but anyone involved in that line of work knows that it’s
foolish to go it alone, so usually she went where she was needed and worked
with whoever was locally “taking care of pests” there, and she was developing
quite a reputation for herself.
Within a few years after the war, however,
Bandon received its own pest. Really came out of the blue, nobody was sure
where it had come from, and no one wanted to get close enough to ask it. Maura
hadn’t dealt with Banshees before, and tried to get some of her old contacts to
come over and help her get rid of it. Banshees were rarely a problem outside of
Ireland, and people in Ireland who knew how to get rid of them begged off for
some reason or another. Later we found out that one of the preferred ways of
ridding an area of a Banshee was forcing it to go somewhere else. You can make
of that what you will.
The local wizarding
community tried to watch out for the Muggles. We
really did. We got permission from our Council of Magic to put up Muggle wards,
so they’d stay out of the Banshee’s territory. We put up wards around the
Banshee to try to keep her in. But sometimes a Muggle got too close to the edge
of the wards, and for a while it seemed like it had been during the war, where
the local Muggle papers would have mysterious deaths on the front pages every
few months or so. Then Mister Lockhart came, and everything changed for Maura.
It was almost time for dinner, I thought,
looking at the clock on the wall. Maura seemed to be aware of this, as she was
almost pointedly not looking at the clock. She continued pushing a cloth around
her desk, having run out of things to file at least an hour ago. Occasionally
she would halt her cleaning, wander over to the filing cabinets and then poke
through the files, as if she expected them to jump around in the drawers since
the last time she checked.
I sighed and pushed away from my own desk
and started walking over to Maura. She didn’t look up even though I wasn’t
making any effort to walk quietly. She did tense up and stop moving for a
“Maura.” No reaction. I tried again, louder. “Maura.”
“Do you need help with something, Adela?”
“No, everything’s fine. I was going to
suggest we close up for the night. I’m starting to get hungry.”
“I’m fine. I’m not hungry. You can go if
you want. I’ll close up when I finish.”
She said this every day. Once in a while, I
actually let her get away with it. I’d go home for dinner or I’d stop by a chip
shop or go down to the pub for dinner, and I’d think of an excuse to walk back
to the law firm and the lights would still be on, and Maura would either be
scrubbing a spot onto her desk or just staring
off into space until I rapped on the door and startled her.
“Well, if you’re not hungry, you can still
come. I’m thinking I’ll go to the Legless Duck for dinner. I’ll buy you a
Maura looked at me with one eyebrow raised.
How she still managed to do that was beyond me. “You are going to eat at that pub?”
“When a person gets hungry, they’ll settle
“Why don’t you eat at home?”
“Well, I haven’t had time to do any
shopping, have I? It being so busy ‘round here,” I said, gesturing at the
She gave me a vaguely amused look but
continued fingering the cloth that she hadn’t
yet put down.
“C’mon. We both could use some
socialising.” I banished the cloth to the dustbin. “Get up.”
Maura looked blankly at her desk for a
minute and then pushed back from the desk.
“Great!” I tried not to sound too
enthusiastic. Sometimes she just outright refused, usually when I tried to get
her to come to my house for dinner. I think it’s easier for her when she’s in a group of people and she can
pretend the focus isn’t on her, even though it’s just her and me eating at a
table. I think the only reason why she can stand it at work is that she can act
as though she’s too busy to make polite conversation.
I went over to the coat rack and got both
our coats. Bandon has a small magical population, and the few magical
businesses, like the Law Offices of Miotas and Evolutio
(where we worked) and the Legless Duck, were shielded
from Muggles and most of the witches and wizards donned Muggle clothing to
The pub wasn’t too far away, and Maura
didn’t say much on the way there. I know that she doesn’t like working at the
firm. I couldn’t really blame her. It was so different from what she used to
do. After what had happened, and she had been out of St. Mungo’s for a few
months, she obviously couldn’t go back to what she had been doing, at least not right away, and not before a lot of
revision. The way she’s been acting, I wouldn’t be surprised if she was still
scared. A bit of the “once bitten, twice shy” thing going on.
Not that anyone could blame her. Knowing what happened to her probably put a
few folks off of working with “beasts.”
But I get the feeling that she knows that
this isn’t right. And it isn’t. She’s got talent. That sort of thing doesn’t
die, no matter what’s happened to you. Someone who’s got the gifts that she’s
got doesn’t deserve to be sitting in the Law Offices of Miotas
and Evolutio, where there isn’t anyone named Miotas and Evolutio and the two
people that work there would never have a chance of practicing law.
The “law firm” we worked at had been a
running joke around town for the last couple of years, at least. Miotas had studied law to carry on the family tradition,
got his licence by bribery and used more of the same to get Evolutio
to work with him. Miotas did some of the cases, did
more of what he called “research” and Evolutio did
most of the cases, and never seemed to have a need for any of the research that
Miotas dug up. One day Miotas
came in, said that he didn’t really care to practice law any more, but in the
interest of economy, he’d practice historical law, and that his half of the
staff would be assisting him in research. No one quite
knew what historical law was exactly, but it quickly became evident that by
research he meant reading old newspapers looking for his name in the headlines.
By that afternoon, Mr. Evolutio had packed up and
left the office, never to be seen again. Rumours later floated back to the town
that Mr. Evolutio had ended up at a small resort in
St. Kitts in the Caribbean, taking care of whatever legal problems it may have.
His staff was added to Mr. Miotas’
staff. After a while, James Feehan asked him if there
was anything else he wanted done. Mr. Miotas said
that there wasn’t, but that if he wanted to leave to find another job, he’d get
one hundred and fifty galleons as severance. James left, and each time someone
else asked him the same question, they’d get the same answer. I couldn’t have
left because my mum was ill, and she being Muggle and my dad dead, I was the
only one to take care of her and there weren’t many other jobs in the vicinity.
By the time my mum, bless her, had died, I was the last one left at the firm.
Mr. Miotas had left himself, having moved out to a
farm to raise geese. Most times when I was at the office, I’d read the papers,
mark ‘em and file ‘em if
they had anything about Mr. Miotas or his family in
them, and then would listen to the wireless for a while or read until it was
time to go.
few months after my mother died, Maura had her accident, or whatever you wanted
to call it. I went over and visited her in hospital quite often, and when she
came back she needed a job. I told Mr. Miotas that I
needed help, and that Maura would be perfect for the job. She’s been working
there for going on two years now, and the only noticeable change between
working there by myself and Maura working there was that it took half the time
to read the papers and that I had to keep thinking of excuses of not letting
her go to that empty house of hers every night. She’d only be worse off than
she is if the only place she goes is her house and the office.
As we got closer to the pub, I noticed that
there wasn’t a big crowd inside. That worked out well. If it was noisy and
full, it was usually harder to keep her there. She may prefer groups, but no
one likes being jostled around.
We got our drinks and I got my food, which,
as expected, wasn’t that nice, and sat down. I started cutting up my food, and
watched Maura run her finger around the rim of her glass. She was in one of her
moods tonight, and I knew that she wasn’t going to stick around long if she
could help it. It’d be enough if she would finish her drink tonight.
After I took a few bites it was becoming
apparent that certain awkward silence was settling in. The
fact that I almost always tried to make Maura come with me somewhere, anywhere,
after work had never come up in conversations. I believe that Maura
assumed that it was retribution for getting her a job; that the payment was
keeping me company when I needed it, when John, my Significant Other, as they
say, was out on the other side of the world doing repair work on the Floo
Network. Honest enough work, but he wasn’t home often. Of course, she could
have seen right through me. She had always been able to do that, and though I
assumed that had changed after she had lost her memories, I wouldn’t be
surprised if that weren’t the case. Still, even if she hadn’t lost everything,
bringing up my concern for her wasn’t exactly comfortable dinner conversation.
Casting about for a topic, I blurted out the first thing that had come into my
mind which was something that I had been thinking about for the past few
“How long do you expect you’ll be working
at the firm?”
Maura’s glass suddenly danced across the
table and I reached out to steady it before it fell over or went off the edge
of the table. “What—I thought—I didn’t know that it was considered temporary.”
She let the unasked question hang in the air. I raised my eyebrows at her,
wishing again that I could just raise one, though I really couldn’t see the use
in this situation.
“Well, it wasn’t, really. You can stay
there until you quit working all together, if you’d like. But the only reason
why I stay there is that it pays the bills and I can’t be bothered to try to
find another job, because honestly I don’t care. I like my freedom, and Merlin
knows I get plenty of it at the firm. But I’m the first to admit that counting
blades of grass is an adrenalin rush compared to working there. And, Maura,
don’t try telling me you like it.”
Maura, having recovered both her wits and
her glass, took a sip out of the latter, and then said levelly, “I’m sure you
don’t find it any more fascinating than I do.”
I dived right in without any heed for my
own sanity. “Of course I don’t. But I accept
it. Sometimes I’m disappointed that I couldn’t be doing things different.
Travelling all over the world, meeting the rich and famous, seeing my own name
in the papers, but I’ve mostly accepted that it’s my lot in life, and mostly
I’m happy with it. Miotas is fair enough, he lets me
take time off when I need it, and I make enough to do some travelling once in a
while, and my John is around often enough for me not to be wanting in that
area. But Maura, you don’t accept it. Otherwise, why would you be rubbing spots
into the desks, and organising the files alphabetically, numerically,
chronologically, by length, and any other which way after doing the same thing
only ten minutes ago. You’re restless, dear, and no one can blame you. You
aren’t meant to be doing this sort of thing. You know that.”
Maura was looking out of a window. There
wasn’t anything interesting out there, but I figured that she needed to gather
her thoughts together, and I started to make a dent into my dinner. I had just
come back from the bar with another drink when Maura spoke again. She had been
running her thumb over the tips of her fingers and had been doing this for a good
five minutes, which is why I nearly upset my own drink when she suddenly said
“Beg pardon?” I asked, dabbing at the spot
on the table where some of my drink had splashed.
“I don’t,” she repeated calmly.
I tried to remember what I had last said. I
remembered the general gist of it, but not verbatim. “Don’t what?”
“I don’t know that I’m not meant to be
working at the offices.”
“How do you mean that?”
“Well, supposing I am meant to be working
at the firm, and you’re just saying it.”
I blinked a couple of times. “What, you
think I’m lying to you?” I put down my fork. “Are you saying you like it
“I---I don’t know.” She sounded rather
final about it, and put her glass down with a thud.
I looked at my own glass and thought for a
second. “Well, it’s a simple enough question. Do you or don’t you like working
“Didn’t you here me? I just said I don’t
I was getting a bit tired and frustrated.
“How do you mean—”
“Why’s it matter?” Maura’s face was getting
a bit red, and her eyes were getting a bit shiny. “Well—I’d say that I—I like
working there a lot more than you do. You’re always the one that wants to leave
I knew that it was because she didn’t want
to go home, but I couldn’t figure out for the life of me why she didn’t want to
go to my house at night, or go for something to eat after we left. “Well…all
right then. You like working there. Forget I said anything.” There. The ball
was in her court. If Maura wanted to say anything more, it was up to her to
bring it up. I started poking at the remains of my dinner.
After a few seconds, Maura cleared her
throat. I looked up at her and met her eyes. She met my gaze for a moment, and
then went back to running her thumb over the tips of her fingers.
“How can you know that I’m not meant to be
doing this sort of thing?”
I sighed. She really was a piece of work.
“Well, for one thing, anyone who spends anytime with you in that office could
see it. Since I’m the only one there, though, it’s up to me to bring it up. But
I know you, Maura. You don’t like doing this type of thing. You’re not meant to
be cooped up inside. You never were, and I don’t see any reason to imagine that
you ever will.”
“So what you’re saying is that you think
you know me better than I know myself,” Maura said slowly.
I recognised it for what it was, of course.
I knew it was a loaded question, even as I was saying “Of course not! What are
you on about?” Heaven knows that I’ve pulled it a time or ten on John when he
was home for a long enough time for us to get into a fight. And just the same,
Maura was using that tone where she was angry, but didn’t think it was the best
idea to show it. Funny. The last time I had been on
the receiving end of that tone had been from my mum, a few years before she died.
Sure enough, Maura didn’t say anything for
a few minutes afterwards. She kept on running her thumb over her fingers.
Suddenly she relaxed and put both her hands on the table.
“Well, it’s true, I imagine.”
There were a few minutes of silence between
the two of us, during which I cleared my throat a few times. Then I decided
that tact could shove it.
“Well, yes. I suppose so. I mean, that’s to
be expected in this sort of thing…” I started trailing off, realising that tact
was very useful in this sort of thing, as well as making you think
twice about saying things that you might regret.
Maura hadn’t lost everything. “No, Adela,
you’re right. ‘Tis a pity, though, that there has to
be this sort of thing.”
I swallowed, then
“You’re probably right about other things
as well. I imagine I’m not exactly thrilled working at the firm. The problem is
I can’t think of anything else I can do
at the moment.”
There was something in her tone that was
making the hair on the back of my neck creep up. Sort of reminded me of when my
grades from school came home and my mother got to the owl before I did. Mum may
have been a Muggle, but she understood Hogwarts’ grading well enough. I cleared
“Well…maybe if you ask around…Or I could.
Be glad, too. If you’d like…”
“There’s an idea…”The tone was still there.
The sort of tone my mother used when she asked me if I could turn the cushions
into a hoard of midges when I was five or why was I getting “Needs Improvement”
in Transfiguration. “But I think the problem is that there isn’t much better.
I’m not exactly sociable, so I couldn’t work in here,” she said, waving her
hand at the pub in general. “I could work in the Flahertys’
shop, but I’m no good at maths. She began tapping her fingers on the table,
very quickly like. Sort of like those stepping songs the
Muggles around here used to fond of. Or one of those
classical songs. Bee. Flight
of the Bumblebee. That’s it. “That’s it for places of the magical sort
‘round here. If I worked with Muggles, they’d be suspicious, that’s for sure. Someone who can’t remember who they are.”
I cut in. “Well, you’d have to make stuff
up if you were to be working with Muggles anyway.”
She kept going. “I suppose I could go over
to Cork. Find something there. It’s not that far. I could take one of the
Muggles’ buses. Or find a Floo connection. You’ve got one, yeah?”
I nodded. It didn’t seem likely that she
had run out of steam yet, so I just let her go on.
“But what will I do?” She was still tapping
madly on the table, and she hadn’t looked at me in the past few minutes. “All I
know how to do is file papers.” Suddenly her head jerked up to look at me. “If
I don’t like working at this place filing papers, how am I supposed to like
filing at other places?”
“I’m not sure.” I hadn’t expected this
conversation to take hold. At least, I don’t think I did. I just wanted her to
start thinking about moving on if she was able. Just get her to start thinking
“I’m not sure either. I can’t go back to
Hogwarts, to learn everything I’m supposed to know. Those counsellors gave me
some of those pamphlets on the necessities. Scourgify. Accio. Incindio. I suppose I could summon housecleaning supplies to me and
after I’m done with them, I can light them on fire.” She gave a short, quiet
laugh. “Nobody’s going to hire me. Even the Muggles expect you to have gone to
“The Ministry will give you a fake—” I
“I still don’t know the slightest thing
about Muggles. I’m still having trouble sorting out their money. They’d notice
that, I’d say,” she said bitterly.
“Well, I still got my old books from
school. I’ll loan ‘em to you. Not the same as
learning from someone, but better than nothing.”
“I’ve still got my old texts.” Maura said
shortly. “I’ve read ‘em.”
I hesitated. “Well, you’ve tried some of
the spells, then?”
“Of course. You think I’ve been using them as door stops?”
I watched her fingers, tapping the table.
She was enjoying this. She always liked to play mind games, especially when
something was bothering her. “Then what’s the problem?”
“Do you ever look at anything else in those
papers besides Mioatas’ name?”
I thought for a moment. “Well, yes. Can’t say I ever pay close attention to them, though.”
Maura stopped tapping her fingers on the
table, and put both of her hands around her glass. “There was something in it a
few weeks ago. It was advice to kids who had just left school. You have to sell
yourself, it said.”
I laughed. I couldn’t help it. “Well, I
suppose that wouldn’t hurt, but I hear you can get some awfully nasty things
Maura rolled her eyes and took one of her
hands away from the glass. “Well, my problem is,” she began, ignoring my
statement, “what I’ve got to sell. No skills. No talents. I’m a medical case. I
know they aren’t supposed to discriminate.” She said, holding up a hand to stop
me. “But they do, and just call it something else. And I know I’m not prize to
“You’ve been thinking about this before,
then? Asking around?”
She nodded. “Didn’t want
to hurt your feelings. You’ve been good to me. Getting
me this job, checking in on me. Didn’t want you to
think that I didn’t appreciate it.”
“I never thought you’d have stuck around.”
I said, surprised. “Not that I don’t appreciate it, mind.
But…” I trailed off. I never could figure out a plan for Maura after she
outgrew the position at the firm. Merlin knows that I’ve spent time thinking
about it, but I had always thought it would be one of those things that sort
Maura was studying me. “I never asked you
to be my caretaker, Adela.”
I smiled a little. “Someone’s got to take
care of things for you. No one else knows you that well.”
Instead of returning my smile, as I had
thought she would, she looked back down at her glass. “Nope.
No one does. You know me best.” She glanced back up me and then stared out the
window. “What would I do without you?”
Maura plays mind games. I crack jokes. “Be
in a right state, I imagine.”
She didn’t answer, and began running her
fingers around her glass. “It isn’t really fair, is it?” She asked quietly. She
abruptly stopped her finger and reversed direction.
I kept quiet. I don’t know if she was
expecting an answer.
“Its right, isn’t it?” She asked. “Your mum
dies for a couple of years, and you’re stuck here taking care of her while your
husband goes around the world. Then your mother dies, and you’re stuck at this
job. Then I get—I don’t know, and you have to take care of me.”
I choked on my last bit of food. “Honestly,
Maura. I don’t look at it that way. Neither should you!”
“Can’t help it,” Maura said bitterly.
“Maura, knock it off. I really don’t mind.”
“I do.” Maura took a sip of her drink. I
don’t know why. It was water. Maybe force of habit. “I’m an expert in whatever
it is I did. I still don’t know what the title was. Obnoxious Magical Beast
Catcher, I guess. I worked with all these other experts. Then damn it all, I’m
out in the fields, gibbering like an idiot, and I don’t remember a damn thing.
It isn’t fair.” She gulped down the rest of her water and started choking on
it. I hit her back a few times.
“No, it isn’t.” I answered when she
“Damn banshee.” She thumped her glass down
on the table. “I’ve read through all those books that I had from before. I’ve
read all I could think of. Never read about a banshee that knocks out memories.
My luck to find the one that does. My luck that Lockhart’s weakness is
Shielding charms. And Silencing charms. And whatever
other charms that could have helped.” She breathed out threw her mouth. “How
the hell is he such an expert if he doesn’t know Shielding charms? Excuse me,
is weak at Shielding charms? Hell,
how is he still alive? Seems to me that’d be the first thing you learn.” She
leaned back in her chair. “I know it’s not his fault. If I was such an expert—”
She looked over at me for confirmation. “Then I would know this stuff myself.
It was my fault. I wasn’t quick enough on the wand. I was being stupid. I
wasn’t sticking close to Lockhart or he wasn’t sticking close to me. Whatever
happened and however it happened. It doesn’t matter now.”
I finished my drink, then
looked at her. She was staring at the ceiling. I got up and got our coats. She
put hers on without saying anything, and we started walking away from the pub.
Once we got to the end of the street, we’d have to go our separate ways until
“I’m sorry,” I murmured into my coat. I
think I was sorry for bringing it up. I know I was sorry for it happening.
“It’s all right,” Maura said absently.
“Well, I guess it isn’t.” She sighed and a cloud of steam floated in front of
us for a second before disappearing.
“I guess it would make sense to be
confused. And I did that. I remember being confused. I was more confused about
the stuff that I did remember. How did I remember how to talk? How come I
remembered to dress myself? How come I don’t get lost around here?”
She looked so lost that I laughed a little
out of instinct, trying to lighten the mood. “Yeah, I remember coming in and
you arguing with the Healer about how come you remembered how to go to the
Maura gave a laugh that turned into a sigh.
“I remembered how to read. And once I started learning the spells again, the
basic ones came back quick enough. But it seems like it took away everything.
You know more about me than I do. Half the people in this town know me better
than I do. And it just seems like it will always be like that.”
We walked in silence for a few moments.
“Did I ever tell you that Lockhart sent me a gift while I was in hospital?”
I was surprised. “No, I don’t think so.”
“He sent me a
singing card. I know it’s a nice thought and all, but all it sounded like was
Cornish Pixies screeching. Actually, it was Cornish Pixies screeching. He wrote
in it, saying that if I start off with Cornish Pixies, I could work my way up
to Banshees. Build up an immunity. That’s what he did,
apparently, how he saved himself. I was still mostly confused, I guess, but I
was just so angry at him. I wanted to throttle him. Did he tell me that before
we left? Before we went out to meet the Banshee?”
I shook my head. I
didn’t know. I had wished her luck the night before, as was our practice when
she went out on dangerous missions and pretended that we knew that we would see
each other within the week. But I usually hadn’t done her research with her, or
gone with her whenever she worked with another person or a group of people and
they did debriefing, or whatever it was they called it.
“Shouldn’t it work
that way?” She asked, trying to sound calm, but her voice began to thin out. “I
tell him everything I know about the situation, about the ‘beast’ and he does
“I’m pretty sure
that’s how it usually worked when you did that sort of thing.” I wanted give
her a hug or try to comfort her in any way, but she was so high strung at the
moment that she would probably snap. Maybe it was good that it was brought up
now. If it had been left any longer, she would have stewed over. If that wasn’t what she was doing now.
“I’ve heard him on
the wireless, not too long ago. Sometimes when I’m home alone and I’m tidying
up and…well, you know. Sometimes it goes by quicker if it feels like someone’s
there with you. Anyway, ‘parently he’s writing a new
I nodded. “It seems
like he always is.”
Maura grinned a
little. It was amazing how quickly someone’s temper changed. “Aye, but this
one’s an autobiography,” she said knowingly.
I halted for a
moment. “And the others weren’t?”
Maura’s smile almost
strengthened for a moment. “I went over to the bookstore in Cork last Saturday.
They had signs all over. It’s going to be out in two months. Imagine that? Having signs up about a book two months before they’re going to
sell it!” Maura shook her head. “It’s going to be called ‘Magical Me.’”
We were at the
corner where we had to split up, but Maura was hesitating. I took this as a
good sign. Usually she left my company as soon as was polite. To try and keep
the conversation going, I grasped for a question. “What were you looking for in
Maura’s face closed
up again, and I sighed inwardly. “Nothing too particular.”
She glanced down towards her street, but I at least had to try to find out what
was going on.
“Well, did you buy
anything?” I asked.
Maura again glanced
down the street. “Well, I was actually looking at his books,” she said, and I
had the feeling that if she had one, she’d be glancing at her wristwatch. “Did you buy one of them?” I prompted.
“Actually, I did. Break with a Banshee.”
I had been expecting
that, but I tried to match her tone of trying to keep the conversation. “Was it
a good read?”
Maura breathed out
through her nose. “Very informative.”
I raised my eyebrows
at her, but Maura ignored me and started to walk down the street. I shrugged,
and walked with her.
“Well, what did you
think of it? Was it an ‘Enthralling Read’? A ‘Smashing
Success’? A ‘Real Page Turner’?”
Maura shot a look at
me. “Mr. Lockhart is an excellent story teller. It’d be a good read if it were
a complete work of fiction….For all I know, it very well could be.”
I nodded, and walked
quietly beside her for a moment or two. “So you didn’t remember any of it?”
slumped. “Not one word. Of course, he didn’t put much in that I imagine I would
recognize. The only times I was in there was at the beginning and when Mr.
Lockhart went in and rescued me ‘mere seconds before the horrid Banshee of
Bandon sent the girl to meet her maker!’ Very impressive, I thought.” She added
“I think you’re
“It is fiction. In
all the time I’ve known you, I’ve never known you to have intentions to meet
your maker. The man doesn’t know what he’s talking about.”
We walked for a bit
without saying much else other than pleasantries and the weather. When we got
to her house, I stepped in for a few moments, and she offered me some tea. That
in itself was hopeful, but I had something I wanted to do before I turned in
for the night. Maybe this would last. I hoped it would. We said our good
nights, and see you tomorrows, and Maura closed the door and I walked back
I walked past the
street I would need to walk down to get to my house, and continued to the main
street of town, and walked back to the Law Offices of Miotas
and Evolutio. I unlocked the doors and lit the
lanterns again. Then I walked over to the filing cabinet labelled “Bandon’s Famiousities.” Mr. Miotas
insisted on calling it that, and it was full of news items that really didn’t
have anything to do with Miotas, but Bandon as a
whole. Anything exciting that had ever happened in Bandon was in here, magical
or Muggle was in this filing cabinet. Considering the size of Bandon, it wasn’t
that full, and about half of it was filled with events that had started
happening seven years ago, on 14 April, and Catherine Finnigan’s
boy first saw it. The wretched creature began screaming, but fortunately it
wasn’t the “fatal cry” and the boy’s own instinctual magic created a silencing
block before the thing changed pitch.
We all knew not to
go out there, but even with our precautions for the Muggles,
there’d be another death that they couldn’t explain. At least it wasn’t as bad
as during the war, but it still didn’t make things much easier. It was
heartbreaking to see the families upset and wondering how their perfectly
healthy family member had a heart attack in the middle of a road. Each article
telling these tales was dutifully chronicled in the filing cabinet.
Maura was the only
one around who knew how to deal with dark creatures. She bought all the books
she could find on Banshees. Travelled up north and to Canada
and the States to talk with the few people living who had gotten rid of
banshees. Set up a lot of correspondences with the experts. Then one
day, on a whim after seeing so many of his books in the bookstore, decided that
it couldn’t hurt to write Mr. Lockhart and see if he had anything to say on the
subject. Before you could know it, he was here, in Bandon, suggesting that they
go out there that very weekend.
Maura hadn’t thought
it was a good idea. Even though it generally seemed dangerous, she always liked
to stake out the area where her “beasts” lived before she went after them. But
she, like all of us, had been wowed by his merits. Surely if he could cure a
werewolf, turn a vampire vegetarian, and spend a whole year with a Yeti, he
must be able to do something about a banshee. So she had made her preparations
as quickly as she could, and that Saturday they both went out. Within two hours
they both came back, Maura with that horrible dazed look in her eyes. My John
hadn’t been working for the Floo Regulation Panel then, so he’d been home at
the time, and he took her to St. Mungo’s by Floo. We had to Confund
her before we could get her to step into the fireplace,
she had been so out of her mind.
Mr. Lockhart gave us
his story, didn’t even bat and eye, and finished with “Unfortunately, these
things happen all too often. Dreadfully sorry. Do keep
me informed of her condition.” Then he Disapparated.
A few months later, we received a letter from Lockhart’s solicitor, saying that
Mr. Lockhart was planning on writing a book on his experiences in Bandon, and
that he had received an advancement from his
publisher. Mr. Lockhart had very generously directed that a hundred Galleons
from the advancement should go to Ms. Maura Leary’s expenses derived from her
stay at St. Mungo’s. Would we be so kind as to ensure that she receives it?
I found myself
staring at Lockhart’s picture in the paper, and wasn’t very surprised to find
that I really wanted to rip it in half. I wanted to see the surprise in his
face as it happened. I also wasn’t very surprised to find that my hands and
arms were shaking. I’m sure if I looked in a mirror, it would have commented on
the redness of my face and perhaps my eyes as well.
I took a deep
breath. Then another. Then I returned the clippings to
the folder where they came from, returned the folder to the drawer, and slid it
shut. I turned off all the lights, went outside and locked the door. Then I