3: Making Memories
Thanks for reading this
very fluffy story I wrote for my son.
Thanks to Christina Teresa,
who first used the Marilyn Manson reference in her story, Late Bloomers.
Thanks also to Zsenya
for the severing charm idea.
At 6:00, when I had finished
about half of the materials Madam Pince and Professor Dumbledore had collected,
I decided to freshen up and change. I had a flowing dress that seemed
more fitting for this place than the clothes I was wearing. I wanted to
make a good impression too. After all, these people might be teaching
my son for seven years.
From the materials
I had read, including One Thousand Magical Herbs and Fungi and
a magazine called Practical Potions, I thought David might like
Potions best. I was anxious to meet the teacher since Professor McGonagall
had said good things about him. I was interested in the Charms teacher
and the Flying teacher as well. Then, there was Care of Magical Creatures,
another subject I knew David would love. What kid wouldn't want a Niffler
or a Kneazle?
At 7:00 I heard a
knock at the door. It was Remus.
Professor Dumbledore asked me to bring you to the Great Hall for dinner."
about the food. I wondered if there was special wizarding cuisine,"
I said to him.
"There are one
or two things that might seem a bit foreign, but there really isn't much
difference in the dishes. The difference lies in their preparation."
He led me along the corridors.
"You mean you
don't just cook food?" I asked, wondering what they did do. Of course,
my own desire to cook is non-existent, so I had no room to criticize.
"Well, we do
cook, but we use magic to help it along. It's much faster and easier than
the Muggle way."
"OK, I have to
ask this question because I so hope the answer is yes. Do the dishes wash
"We have a full
staff of house-elves, but I believe that they are permitted to use magic
to make the dishes wash themselves."
I love this place!" I exclaimed.
We entered the Great
Hall. Remus introduced me to Rubeus Hagrid, the Care of Magical Creatures
teacher, and Professor Flitwick, the Charms teacher. I had to work hard
not to stare at Hagrid because he was so very large. Professor Flitwick
was so small that he had to sit on a couple of books just to reach the
table. Both of them were quite friendly, although shocked to meet a Muggle.
Professor McGonagall was polite and helpful. I spoke briefly to Madam
Pomfrey and Madam Hooch on the way in as well. I sat down with Remus,
noticing an empty chair next to mine.
I have to explain
at this point that, although I have no magical powers, I must be cursed
with ability to conjure up a person if I have made or am about to make
a nasty, embarrassing, or critical remark about that individual. It's
true, just ask my friends. I think I have two left at this point.
I noticed Remus look over
to the far end of the Great Hall at the door. I saw a tall, slender man
with stringy, dark hair and a very unfriendly expression on his face walk
in. Let me tell you, his skin was the color of plain yogurt, you know
the kind everyone buys, but never eats? He made my freckle-faced husband
look like George Hamilton. The hair was the kicker, though. He would have
been better looking if he had done something with it, like wash it.
"Remus, who is
he?" I whispered.
"That is Professor
Snape, the Potions teacher."
the hair?" I whispered. "What does he think this is, Woodstock?
He looks like Keith Richards having a bad hair day."
Remus had a very amused
look on his face. "I suppose he does." Go, Remus! You know
who Keith Richards is! I thought, surprised that he would be so Muggle-worldly.
I tried another one on him.
"Well, he's certainly
too old to be going for Marilyn Manson."
That was it for Remus.
He dropped his polite restraint right then. He looked at me with mischief
in his eyes and said, as Professor Snape was heading for, guess which
chair, "All that superior magical training and our Severus simply
hasn't mastered the Severing Charm."
I think Professor
Snape heard what Remus said, because he shot us an icy look. I knocked
Remus with my arm and said, "Does that mean you people don't have
Johnson," said Lupin, snorting into his soup. "I have a dignified
persona to maintain."
spoke up from down the table. "Severus, permit me to introduce you
to our guest, Mrs. Johnson. She is visiting from Texas. Her son is to
receive a letter from Hogwarts next summer."
He looked at me for
a moment trying to figure me out. Then, in a silky voice, oozing with
nastiness, he said, "Oh, an American, how charming. Mrs. Johnson,"
he said, nodding and looking down his rather large, hooked nose at me.
Snape. I'm glad to meet you. I don't want to disturb you too much at dinner,
but I have a few questions to ask about your subject," I said as
deferentially as possible. I offered him my hand, which he took and let
go of quickly.
He eyed me a bit more
curiously. Another one with interesting eyes, but he's certainly no
Remus Lupin. "Have you not had Potions training yourself, Mrs.
Johnson?" he asked.
"Um, I don't
know quite how to tell you this, Professor, but I'm not one of you. I'm
a mere Muggle."
"But then how
- I mean I don't understand how you came to find this place," he
"Well, it's kind
of a mystery. I was driving by the front of the castle and, at first,
all I saw was a ruin. Then, as I tried to take a picture, I saw the outline
of Hogwarts. Professor Dumbledore found me and brought me inside. We discovered
that my son's name is the book. I've been reading books and articles about
magical training, schools, and the curriculum here all afternoon."
he said. He looked at me as if I were something slimy and disgusting.
Am I that revolting? At least I wash my hair!
I was wondering how big your classes are. I noticed that the schedules
combine students from two different houses?"
I'd say they have no more than 26 students in them. Why do you ask?"
"Well, it seems
that the art of potion-making requires a bit more care and precision than
your average eleven year-old boy is liable to muster on a given day. How
do you keep them from blowing themselves up? Do you have an assistant?"
"I assure you,
Mrs. Johnson, I have no need for an assistant." His voice was almost
a growl. I bet you don't, I thought.
"Tell me then,
Professor Snape," I said, smiling, and turning wide-eyed and innocent,
in his direction. At my age, it's not that easy to do anymore. "Can
you explain how it all works. I mean, is there magic involved in the mixing
of the ingredients, is it the combination of the ingredients, or is it
the ingredients themselves?"
That seemed to be
the just right suck-up remark to make; a skill one learns working for
a politician. "It is a combination of all three elements, Mrs. Johnson.
We begin, of course with the simplest potions, which require only that
the order of the ingredients be followed to the letter. I test them on
the knowledge of the ingredients and their properties, as well as the
finished product. As we progress, I add more skill requirements."
quite interesting. It's something like chemistry class. David has a chemistry
set and works on things with his father. Tell me, Professor Snape, are
there forbidden potions, you know, we would call them controlled substances
or dangerous drugs?"
"Yes, the Ministry
of Magic controls the use of certain types of Potions, such as truth potions."
"I can see the
need for that," I said.
Dumbledore spoke up.
"At Hogwarts we have banned the making and use of love potions by
the students." His eyes were twinkling and I raised an eyebrow. He
couldn't possibly mean that the man sitting next to me would ever give
anyone a love potion. But then again, he might have to.
I asked. "To think I had to do it the old-fashioned way."
I talked to Professor
McGonagall about Transfiguration a little more. I also wanted to be sure
and tell Madam Hooch that she might have trouble getting David on a broom.
Ever since he broke his elbow at four, he's been reluctant to climb.
Then, I turned to
Remus and Professor Snape and asked innocently, "So, what do you
gents do for fun around here? I read about Hogsmeade. Is there any worthwhile
Remus gave me an odd
look, but it was nothing compared to the look on Snape's face. "You
guys do have fun, right?" I asked. "You're both young.
Aren't you trying to meet nice single women?" Professor Dumbledore
coughed. Professor McGonagall shot me a smile.
Hagrid chuckled and
said, "We do go tip a few at the Three Broomsticks. Would ye like
to go tonight?"
"Sure. It sounds
like fun." My guess was that Hagrid could drink us all under the
and Professor Snape were looking at me as if I had three heads. I got
a little annoyed. "Listen you two, just because I'm a mother and
look old enough to be your mini-van-driving older sister doesn't mean
I can't have any fun."
"Do you think
it proper for a married woman to go to a tavern unescorted?" Snape
asked me, and from the look on his face, he was quite serious. I had to
really work hard not to laugh. I think my eyebrows were somewhere right
under my hairline.
With the courage of
someone who would be leaving soon, I began my little speech, "Well,
that's very chivalrous of you, Professor Snape. I tell you what, since
you are obviously sensitive to the issue, why don't you be my unofficial
escort? If you spot someone you want to talk to, just tell them I'm your
cousin from the American branch of the family, you know, the one that
no one talks about. We do have the same hair and eye color, after all."
Snape was totally
speechless. Remus was looking in the other direction, shaking. Professor
Dumbledore cleared his throat and said, "I think we could all use
a night out."
I figured Snape wouldn't
go and that was fine. I mean, he seemed not to be the type to hang out
at bars. Professor McGonagall conjured up some clothes for me so I wouldn't
feel too out of place. Remus, Hagrid, Professor Flitwick, Professor McGonagall,
and I left for the Three Broomsticks. It was a cozy pub with a very eclectic
Just as we arrived,
Remus said, "I should warn you that you may see a lot of different-looking
mean foreign people?" I asked, stupidly.
I mean, well, we might run into some old hags."
"Hey, watch it,
junior, " I said, in an irritated voice. "You'll hit forty before
you know it."
"No, you misunderstand
me. I mean real creatures called hags," he said, chuckling a little.
I said sheepishly. This is so weird, I thought.
As we sat down, we
saw a group of strange looking men in the corner. They looked a little
like bikers in drag, but then, the clothes everyone wore in this world
were a bit unusual. Remus said they were very wild warlocks. "Those
old boys don't act like they get out much. They haven't been in the county
lock-up, have they?"
"I don't think
so, but they are from a remote place. I'm sure you aren't accustomed to
that type of crowd."
never seen the jail chain in Dallas County."
I had a nice chat
with the proprietress, Madam Rosmerta. She had on the greatest shoes,
and told me that she is in an avid shopper. She and I had fun sizing up
the male population in the pub, including Remus, I might add. She introduced
me to Gillywater. I promised to send her some really good tequila.
We went back to the
castle early. I suspect this wasn't the party crowd I was with. Remus
insisted on walking me back to my room because he was worried that I would
get lost or trapped on a staircase. I was afraid to ask about that last
"I guess I'll
be reading some more tonight. I hope Madam Pince doesn't mind if I take
Hogwarts, A History."
Professor Dumbledore will be certain you get to keep a copy."
We said good night
and I got back to work. One of my biggest reservations was allowing my
son to be taught by Professor Snape. He had seemed to loosen up when I
had asked him questions about Potions, but I couldn't help feeling that
he would seem very stern and frightening to a young boy of eleven. There
must be something I'm missing about him. Either he's really good at his
job, or he does something else important that I don't know about. Otherwise,
why keep him around? I thought.
The next morning Remus
came by and took me to Professor Dumbledore's office. I had to have a
talk with him about Hogwarts one last time. "Professor Dumbledore,
I'm sure you understand that I have reservations about sending David here."
"How can I help
you, Yolanda? I know that this world is dauntingly foreign to you, but
I assure you, it will serve your son well to be trained to use his powers
effectively and wisely."
bothering me, Professor. I mean the distance and the unfamiliarity are
one thing, but it strikes me that you are giving these young people very
powerful tools and then setting them loose on the world. How do you convey
the need for restraint, empathy, and moral behavior?"
"I find, and
you will probably agree with me, that if moral fiber is not developed
by this age, it is not certain that it ever will be. We do have a very
strict set of rules as to the use of magic by under-aged witches and wizards,
but we must rely on the family members to have done their job of teaching
the child right from wrong. Naturally, we do not teach the Dark Arts and
will not tolerate open use of any dark spells in the school. We use detention,
suspension, and expulsion as a means of enforcing this rule. There are,
of course, some children who come to us with backgrounds that are less
than desirable, but you must understand that sheltering a child from exposure
to people who do not share the same values is not necessarily the best
method of ensuring that his own values will become fully developed. In
life, he will meet people who try to lead him astray. They will be everywhere,
in your world and in ours. You cannot keep him from that forever. It is
best that he learn to deal with them now and develop his own code of behavior,
rather than face the adult world without any prior challenges at all."
I nodded, but with
some trepidation. "I agree that it's up to the parents and family
to teach right from wrong. I think we've done all right with that. There
is another complication, of course, in that part of his upbringing has
included religious training. It's bound to clash with this world at some
point. What can I do about that? His father and I certainly won't reject
him if he decides to live in your world, but I hope he doesn't feel too
much internal turmoil."
"I am afraid
I cannot advise you on that subject. This school is secular, although
we have students from many religious backgrounds. In the end, Mrs. Johnson,
everyone has a crisis of conscience in manner of speaking, whether it
includes religious beliefs or secular moral principles, or both. As long
as he has a good foundation, he will choose the right path."
there is one other thing that disturbs me. I sensed last night that many
people in your world don't like us. They seemed surprised that I could
even see anything magic and accept its existence. Will that be a problem
for David at Hogwarts? I know I can't shelter him from bigotry. In my
country, race, religion, ethnicity, and economics can all be focal points
for clashes, but this is something so different. I mean, it is within
our control to keep him away from this world. Should we?"
"You cannot ask
me to make that decision for you, Mrs. Johnson," he smiled at me,
as if he understood all my anxieties. "Again, you are correct in
asserting that he cannot be sheltered from the world. There are those
who would say he should not be at this school. But as long as I am here,
no one who has magical ability and is willing to develop that ability
will be turned away. As for your willingness to believe in magic, it is
uncommon in your world. I wonder what has made you this way myself."
Dumbledore, I think it just means that I'm nosier than average, that's
all. Maybe it means that I've lost my cynical streak with age."
"I see. You have
had your own crisis and come through it. He will too, most likely more
than once in his life."
Professor. Where were you when I was in school?" I asked.
Just then, there was
the sound of scratching at the door. Professor Dumbledore opened the door
and a large shaggy black dog came in.
he's darling. Is he yours?" I asked, walking over to the dog and
kneeling down. He eyed me and then wagged his tail once. I petted him
and scratched behind his ears. "Oh, I miss my dog. You are so cute.
Yes, you are, aren't you, you big boy." I said to the dog. As I was
about to throw my arms around the dog and hug him, Professor Dumbledore
put a hand on my shoulder, looking very amused.
"Perhaps I should
let you in on a secret, Mrs. Johnson. This is not a dog."
I asked in mid-pet.
A man appeared where
the dog had been. I stood up quickly, trying to recover my composure.
"Holy cow! I dated some guys in my time who turned out to be dogs,
but this is the first time I've ever met a dog who turned out to be a
man. Sorry about the petting." I said, and I was extremely embarrassed.
all right," he said with a very wicked little smile. "I was
a bit worried that you might try to take me home, though."
"Oh well, sorry,
I already have a dog," I said, very relieved that I would be leaving
soon. Then I looked at my watch. "I guess I'd better get going
now, Professor Dumbledore. I have all the materials you gave me and I
returned some books to Madam Pince. I wish I could stay. Maybe the house-elves
would give me a job."
He chuckled. "I
have a feeling you will be back here someday, Yolanda. Until then, do
keep your eyes open. You may discover that there are some of us right
around the corner." We shook hands and I left, going down the spiral
Remus was waiting
near my room to say good-bye. We went in and he grabbed my bag. He looked
at me very seriously and said, "Yolanda, I promise you, if you send
David, I'll watch out for him; we all will."
We started walking to the front doors. I hated to leave Hogwarts. I wished
so much that Rob and David had been there. Hagrid, Professor McGonagall,
and Professor Flitwick were in the entryway.
"Thank you all
for making me welcome. I wish our worlds weren't so far apart. Good-bye."
I shook hands with
everyone and Remus took my bag to the car. They had moved it back to the
side of the road where I had parked it yesterday. By the time we got there
I had tears in my eyes.
"Be careful on
the road, Yolanda." He shook my hand and turned to walk back. I watched
as he walked through the ruin of the wrought iron gate and disappeared.
In a perfect world, he wouldn't have had to disappear, I wouldn't be
going home to a giant stack of offense reports, and yeah, baby, my dishes
would wash themselves.