The Sugar Quill
Author: Yolanda (Professors' Bookshelf)  Story: A Conversation with Albus Dumbledore  Chapter: Chapter Three: Making Memories
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Chapter 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.

"Hello, Yolanda. Professor Dumbledore asked me to bring you to the Great Hall for dinner."

"I'm curious 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 themselves here?"

"We have a full staff of house-elves, but I believe that they are permitted to use magic to make the dishes wash themselves."

"House-elves? 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."

"What's with 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 any scissors?"

"Please, Mrs. Johnson," said Lupin, snorting into his soup. "I have a dignified persona to maintain."

"What-ever," I said.

Professor Dumbledore 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.

"Hello, Professor 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 said.

"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."

"I see," he said. He looked at me as if I were something slimy and disgusting. Am I that revolting? At least I wash my hair!

"Professor Snape, I was wondering how big your classes are. I noticed that the schedules combine students from two different houses?"

"In general, 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."

"That sounds 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.

"Love potion?" 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 night-life?"

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 table.

Both Remus 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 clientele

Just as we arrived, Remus said, "I should warn you that you may see a lot of different-looking people here."

"Really? You mean foreign people?" I asked, stupidly.

"Not exactly. 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.

"Oh, sorry," 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."

"Obviously, you've 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 one.

"I guess I'll be reading some more tonight. I hope Madam Pince doesn't mind if I take Hogwarts, A History."

"I suspect 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."

"That's what's 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."

"Professor Dumbledore, 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."

"Shoot, Professor 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."

"You're right, 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.

"Oh, Professor, 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."

"What?" I asked in mid-pet.

"Reveal yourself, please."

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.

"That's quite 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 staircase.

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."

"Thanks, Remus." 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.

"Good-bye, Remus. Be happy."

"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.

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