Chapter 12 : Middle Aged Women
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"The cards!" she spluttered, "They have Seen!" And in her excitement she promptly spilled the deck of cards all over my office floor. She blinked at the mess, perplexed, but only momentarily, "Ah well, I remember perfectly," and then her madness seemed to seize her again, "Panic! Murder! Deceit! Honour! Loneliness! Fear! Happiness! Torture! Death! Love! Destruction! Bedclothing!"
She was in such a state, I can’t even describe. I said, “And this list is…”
“For…” (She scooped up the cards…well, at first she tried to do it with her wand, but ended up setting them on fire, so had to do it with her hands). She began flipping and shuffling madly.
“A dungeon---A man—,” she said, “Potions—dark in appearance—power—wears robe size seven—enjoys the Dark Arts, pink cadillacs, and long walks on the beach—“
“Enough! I understand—it’s me. Now if you’ll kindly leave.” And then I shoved her out the door and slammed it in the most chivalrous and polite way as one could ever do.
You see, I am always polite to Trelawney. There was one embarrassing incident with me listening at doors that I’d rather she not mention. She is insufferable, though…and if I wasn’t quite mistaken, she’d been reading my personal ads as well.
Worrisome. Very worrisome.
Ah well. I comforted myself by returning to Pennymeister.
Unsurprisingly, I was again interrupted by an old, unpleasant bag with nothing better to do. This time McGonagall.
She waltzed right in. No knocking, nothing. I had four Alohomora-proof locks, yet somehow these women always seemed to get past them. Well, in McGonagall’s case it may have been because I had propped the door wide open to let in the breeze, but that is not the point.
She began, “Severus, I doubt—“
She stepped on one of Trelawney’s cheap bangles—apparently she had shed them as I had, shall we say, escorted her from the room. We both observed the floor. On it were two filmy little scarves, a ring and a few bracelets. All of them hideous, naturally.
McGonagall cleared her throat, a glimmer in her eye that I could not like.
“Trelawney’s been here I see.”
“Yes,” I said, on edge. She was up to something.
As she fought a smile unsuccessfully, she said, “And what, precisely, was she doing in your office that would require the –er—shedding of clothing?”
I nearly died. For a moment I thought I had. But once I realized that I had not been so lucky, I gathered what was left of my dignity and will to live and said, “Now really, I—you—I will not even—” She snorted triumphantly.
I could stand it no longer. I hexed her through the door. It must have been an Itching Curse because she was scratching pretty badly as screeched, “That is it, Severus! I’m going to Dumbledore!”
She sounds a bit like a cat dying when she screams. Perhaps that explains her Animagus.
Anyway, she ran off. I yelled, “Sniiiiitch!” after her, but I don’t know if she heard me. Someone yelled, “UGLY HERMIT!” back, but that couldn’t have been meant for me.
I sat there fuming until there came a knock at the door.
“Come in if you must,” I called, thinking it was Dumbledore.
I was surprised to see Avery, ready to spill his heart out once more, I assume. Unfortunately the first thing that caught his eye, lying on the ground, was McGonagall’s hat that had gone flying off as she flew through the door. Even more unfortunately, it was very distinctly McGonagall’s, with her unmistakable ugly feather sticking out like a couple of misplaced toes. His eye then went immediately to Trelawney’s jewelry—again, unmistakably hers. He raised his eyes to me, red faced behind my desk. He could barely suppress his smile.
“Been busy, I see, Professor. Perhaps I should come back later,” and he chortled out the door and down the hall.
I leapt up, slammed the door, and just when I finished locking all the locks, someone knocked on the door again. I ripped it open.
It was Dumbledore.
I didn’t invite him in. We both knew that he would follow me in anyway no matter what I said. As I stepped back into the room, my foot got caught in McGonagall’s horror of a hat. I threw it into the fire. (The ugly mutant feather was, naturally, fireproof—as unconquerable as McGonagall’s Jelly-Leg Jinx).
Dumbledore shut the door behind him.
“Please sit down,” he said. I very nearly exploded. How dare he invite me to sit down in my own office? It’s my office and I’ll sit whenever and on whatever I like. I’ll sit on him if I have the notion. But he's always been a pompous old madman…
He conjured himself his own chair. I only keep one chair in my office—keeping more might encourage people to stay. But of course Dumbledore never takes a hint, not if you whacked him over the head with one.
“Aaaahhhh, Severussss,” he began, “I have had quite exciting accounts of your day. Not a small amount of minor injuries to middle aged women, eh? And yesterday! Suggestive language and angry outbursts towards Quirrel?” His eyes weren’t even twinkling anymore. They were more like little blue strobe lights.
If he expected me to speak to him—ever—he soon thought again.
“I think you have unsettled anger, dear, and I know how to fix it.”
He called me dear. He did. My ears blew off my head and started doing little cartwheels in the air. Or that’s what it felt like anyway--And that’s why I thought I heard wrong when he said:
“Poetry, Severus, is the only sure way to target and release anger,” he paused, and suddenly seemed to come out of his imaginary little world. He added, “And if I do not have three poems on my desk by next Tuesday, Trelawney has several stargazing nights in the next month and I know she needs a companion…Severus? Are you…alright?”
“I…er…just feeling a bit…just lightheaded sir…I’m sure it will…pass…”
And I fainted.
What else was I to do?
I awoke in the Hospital Wing. Dumbledore was sitting next to me serenely, peering down over his bottom-shaped glasses (oh come on—two little “half moons,” we all know what that looks like).
I instinctively pulled the sheets over my head and whispered, “Headmaster, I know we have some…artistic differences, and I understand that I am sometimes a bit difficult, but now is the moment of truth: I am in a desperate situation. And I need your help. Please. Will you help me?”
“Naturally. What is it, Severus?”
“You cannot let Madam Pomfrey see me.”
“Alas, she has already seen you.”
“Yes, but—that’s not the point! She can’t see me awake! She—you see, she…likes me.”
He merely sighed and said, “Ahhhhhhh, to be younnng and in lovvvve…”
“Headmaster! She’s around sixty-seven years old!” I glared at him through the sheet, “Please, you really have to get me out of here! You have no idea how bad it gets—“
“Alas…” he said. He often says “alas” with no real meaning attached to it. Then he said, “Yes, I will help you. On one condition.”
“Anything!” I gasped. I heard high-heeled footsteps not far away.
“You must referee the next Quidditch match.”
“No idea. Madam Pomfrey just expressed her wish to see you on a broomstick, so I may as well gratify her. She expressed other wishes as well, but they aren’t particularly fit for conversation…”
“Fine! I’ll do it! Just get me out!” I whipped the sheet off my head and pranced out of bed, a bit like a dashing leopard, landing on all fours.
“Madam Pomfrey!” called Dumbledore, pointing across the room, “Quick, look over there!”
She turned and looked away as I leapt onto Dumbledore’s back and he sprinted me piggy-back-style out of the room.
All I can say is: desperate times call for desperate measures.
“But—Dumbledore—“ I panted, as we ran together as far away from the Hospital Wing as possible, “I don’t know—the rules—of Quidditch!”
He wasn’t even breaking a sweat or panting in the least (and how he managed to procure a sweat band and jogging shorts in that short time, I’ve no idea). He turned to me, still running, and said, “Oh, not to worry! Just fly about and shout ‘Penalty!’ every once in a while. No one will know the difference.”
I nodded. Now I would just have to learn how to ride a broomstick. How hard could it be to mount the winds and master the skies?
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