Chapter 2 : Saying goodbye to my old life
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2- Saying Goodby To My Old Life
The next day I was back in University. Hermione hadn’t stayed much longer after I had said I agreed. She said she would go and get everything ready and I didn’t have to take care of anything. Somehow that was scary. She told me they would put memory charms on my flatmates, my friends and my colleagues from university so they would think it had been arranged for a long time that I should go and spend a few months at a different University, so they wouldn’t wonder where I had gone all of a sudden. She told me they would also change the official data back home in the muggle ministery of the UK, so my birthday would be adjusted to me being eighteen again. She said if I appeared in the magical world the dark side was bound to check up on me. I didn’t know everything they had to set up so I just accepted it when she told me she would come back the next evening to take me to a place called The Burrow.
So that left me only one day to say my goodbyes to my friends and my old life. It was a really weird feeling. I thought about it all through a course about the British Iron Age. I wasn't sorry to give all of this a break for a while. I would miss my dance classes but I wouldn't miss my work, my studies and there was no man anywhere around that would miss me, so i was feeling quite adventurous to set out into the wizarding world. Hihi. How cool was that?
One of my friends was presenting the status of the work she was doing and I watched Professor Schneemann nearly killing her afterwards. He told her plainly her work was rubbish, her presentation had been pathetic and she would do better to find a man she could marry soon. Tabea was nearly crying. I didn’t understand Professor Schneemann. What a horrible person. I mean even if he thought she hadn’t done a great job he could have told her differently, couldn’t he? He was really evil sometimes, and for a fleeting moment, influenced by everything I had heard last night, I wondered if he maybe was a Death Eater in disguise who just enjoyed hurting and humiliating muggle students.
I went for lunch with Espen and after that I was left to drawing the metall fragments that I had photographed yesterday. Not too eager to get back into Uni we went for a cup of coffee to a very nice café with very cozy couches and low tables where you could just chill out like nowhere else.
"Are you alright? asked Espen puting his head to one side and giving me a long look. I couldn’t help thinking how handsome he was. He came over and stood behind my chair then. I took a deep breath and he started masaging my neck. He’s done that a few times and everytime it was amazing. There was never anything going on between him and me but I swear there was something to the way he touched me those rare times when he gave me massages. I was ready to melt away.
“So you’re leaving tonight, is it?”
“Yes”, I said with my eyes closed.
“When are you coming back?”
“I don’t know”, which was perfectly true.
“But you are coming back, aren’t you?”
“Sure”, I said sighing inwardly. I knew he didn’t ask me when would I come back because it meant anything. He wouldn’t probably even particularly miss me. I had learnt the hard way that he wasn’t interested in me like that.
After giving Espen a hug to say goodbye I returned to University musing. That was it. I wouldn't see him until... who knew? I didn't feel like doing those drawings at all, and therefore I took to walking through the library to pretend I was really busy tyding up the bookshelves, putting books back into their right places. That wasn’t my job at all but I did it sometimes when I just couldn’t stand drawing another plate or jar or something like that.
I was doing the lowest shelf when Herr Schneemann walked in.
“Frau Granger?” he said and I turned around to him without getting up. It was one of the first days of October and still very warm and so I was wearing jeans, flip-flops and three tops with spaghetti straps, one over the other. I looked up at him. He was standing there in his dark grey trousers and a white shirt. He had taken off the jacket of the suit and he looked down at me. He was in his forty-two and looking very well dressed as was appropriate for a man in his position. I was twenty-three and showing a lot of skin on the arms and the neckline. I could tell he thought I wasn’t dressed appropriately (I was after all an employee in an academic institution) but didn’t say anything because he liked looking at me.
“Are you finished with the sherds from box 24?”
“Well, I’ve photographed them all, but haven’t finished drawing them yet. Do you need them today?”
“Well, no, not necessarily today, but as you won’t be coming in anymore from tomorrow onwards I would like you to get as much done as possible. I don’t know how soon we’ll be able replace you.”
Then he smiled and started flirting.
“Ah, Frau Granger, of course we’ll be never able to REPLACE you, but we’ll need to find someone to do your work.”
I returned the smile in a way that told him that I was well aware of his flirting and didn't object to it.
“I’ll just finish this shelf and then I’ll get back to drawing.”
With that I turned back to the shelf, knowing that he was staring now at the bit of skin showing on my back between the tops and the jeans. Men. They were so simple sometimes. I had not been lying to Hermione last night though. If I really liked this man I could never have been that self-confident. I was very insecure when I was around Espen, even though I knew for a fact there was nothing to lose, because he had never wanted me in the first place. I enjoyed flirting with Herr Schneemann, but I didn’t actually like him, and that made all the difference. So maybe their plan might work. Maybe I was the right choice to make that poor Malfoy boy fall for a Muggle girl after all.
After what would be my last Ballett Class for I didn’t know how long I went home and packed a few things. Then Hermione literally popped up and with a firm grip on my arm she took me to The Burrow. It was the most uncomfortable feeling ever and I felt slightly sqeezed when we appeared in a living room that was stuffed with all sorts of things and a whole bunch of people that looked very weird to me. A short woman with shining red hair gave me a smile and said: “Welcome to The Burrow, Helena!”
“This is Mrs. Weasley”, explained Hermione and I thanked Mrs. Weasley. “You remember Ron?”
A young man with the same shock of red hair as his mother’s shook my hand smiling.
“Blimey, you’ve grown”, I blurted out. I have always been tall for a woman, but this young man was a good foot taller than me. Well, he was not the kid anymore that I had met in Diagon Alley four years ago, so I guess I should have expected that.
Hermione introduced me to Rons father who seemed delighted to have a genuine muggle in his house, Harry Potter, who was four years older then the boy I remembered from Diagon Alley as well, and her headmistress,Professor McGonagall, a stern looking, elderly witch.
Professor McGonagall explained to me what was going to happen. First I was to drink a potion she had brought so my body would be eighteen again and after that she would work a piece of magic on me so I wouldn’t be able to tell anyone that I was actually older. I didn’t know why that was necessary, but she didn’t explain. Instead she handed me a small bottle with a sparkling yellow liquid in it. I uncorked the bottle and sniffed it. It smelled like lemonade.
“This is a very strong, very complex potion”, McGonagall explained. “You will need to drink it regularly once a week. If you stop drinking it, your body will age in the course of a few days until it has caught up with it’s natural age. It is perfectly harmless, but you need to make sure you take it regularly, not necessarily by the hour, but today being Friday, I suggest you just make a habit of drinking it every Friday night.”
“Yeah”, I couldn’t stop myself from saying, “I don’t want to look eighteen on Friday evening and waking up on Saturday with a 23 year old looking back at me from the mirror, at least not without a mad party to blame it on.”
Harry and Ron grinned, but McGonagall didn’t seem impressed at all. She gave me a look that made me decide immediately to keep my mouth shut from now on.
“I just informed you, Miss Granger, it takes more than one night for the effects of the potion to wear off.”
“I know. I was only messing. I’m sorry.”
I drank the potion and waited. Everybody looked at me expectantly. Than they all smiled.
“Brilliant!” said Ron and Hermione smiled.
“You look just like you did five years ago.”
I looked around for a mirror and Mrs. Weasley handed me one.
“Wow!” I said delighted. “Look at me! I’m young! God, I never appreciated how pretty I was!”
It was only six years, you’re not old with twenty-three, but my skin was better, my legs were firmer and all without doing any exercise. If I was a witch, I would sell that potion and make a living out of it.
Prof. McGonagall gave me another stern look.
“Miss Granger”, she said, “do you understand your task?”
I realised she wasn’t impressed with me again. I looked around and saw the tension on everybody’s faces.
“I do”, I said solemnly, “I’m sorry if I seem not to take this seriously. Hermione has informed me about the situation and I understand the charakter of Lord Voldemort and his Death Eaters. I assure you I do not underestimate what is at stake. I am just, unlike all of you, not used to it, yet, I haven’t lived with it every day for the last two years. I only heard of it last night, so I might come off as being unconcerned. But I’m not, I am indeed taking this seriously.”
“Some speech”, I heard Ron mutter, but McGonagall gave me a smile.
“Good.” she said. And then she explained to me, that this Malfoy boy apparantly had been trained to do Occulomy... Occlisems... something and that they didn’t know if he also could do Lemillige... Gillyleg... Legillymelly... something else. I think what they meant is, they weren’t sure he couldn’t read my mind. And therefore they cast this spell, which would keep me from saying out loud that it was all staged, that I was supposed to make him fall in love with me so the Death Eaters would chuck him out and from telling anyone my real age. And apparantly thus he couldn’t read it in my thoughts either. McGonagall was now the only one who could tell anyone my real age. I didn’t believe it until she asked me what my real age was and I opend my mouth to answer “twenty-three”, but I couldn’t do it.
“So we just agree on you being eighteen and a half. Your data in the muggle ministery have been modified and you will be nineteen on the first of June.”
“I suggest we return to the school then.” said McGonagall and stepped up to the fireplace.
What now? I thought. I remember Hermione telling me about travelling through fireplaces but I hadn’t expected to do it myself one day...
It was much nicer than apparating though. Once we had all arrived in McGonagall’s office Hermione, Harry and Ron took me to the Gryffindor common room. It was too late to show me the school tonight, but I had a good time sitting in a comfortable sofa watching those students practise spells, shouting at chessmen who shouted back, catching chocolate frogs who were trying to escape and all other sorts of magical things that nobody seemed to find particularly extraordinary except for me. Hermione told everybody who asked that I was her older sister, that I had just finished muggle school and that I was here as part of a work experience programme from the muggle ministery. Nobody seemed to care much really, what I was doing in their school though, which was a good thing, because our rather story was rather far-fetched and we were quite happy nobody asked many questions.
We sat by the fire place with Ron’s younger sister Ginny who seemed to be filled in on why I was really there.
“Here’s a plan”, she said in a low voice, “we take you into Hogsmeade with us tomorrow and then we’ll make sure we lose you. So you can just walk up to Malfoy and ask him would he show you how to get back to the castle. If you can convince him to walk you back, you’ll have a nice long walk together. What do you think about that?”
“I don’t know”, said Ron. “I can’t see him just agreeing to walking a muggle back into Hogwarts, especially Hermione’s sister!”
“You wait and see”, said Hermione smiling, “he was absolutely smitten when he saw her in Diagon Alley four years ago. I’m sure you’ll be able to persuade him, Helena.”
“Won’t he remember me? Won’t he think it’s odd I look even younger now than I did four years ago?”
“Ah well, “said Hermione, “maybe he doesn’t remember ever meeting you before at all. Maybe he’ll just be smitten by you again. Or maybe he does remember you but doesn’t remember exactly what you looked like. Or maybe you just tell him you were only fifteen when he saw you and that’s it.”
“Or maybe”, I said, “there are a bit many maybes in this plan.”
“Don’t worry about it”, said Hermione totally confident in my abilities. “He won’t be able to resist you. You’ll see that tomorrow.”
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