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Chapter 5 : Ramona Weathers
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I struggled feebly against Ramona Weathers, but her old, claw-like hand had an iron grip on the collar of my shirt. I staggered slightly as she finally released me and slammed the door. My first instinct was to bolt away from Ramona Weathers who was breathing like an angry rhinoceros, but I had a strong feeling that she could probably catch me if she wanted to.
“You take your sweet time getting down there and now you have the nerve to come back up here empty handed.” I looked down guiltily at my hands. There was no doubt about it, my hands were empty. I didn’t think that the tiny pools of nervous sweat that were building up in my palms counted. She was just so angry. I hadn’t known what to expect from Ramona Weathers, but I didn’t expect her to be so scary.
“I don’t…I mean,” I stammered, looking down at the ground.
“Look at me when you talk,” Ramona Weathers snapped, and I quickly looked up into her blue eyes. “I really didn’t expect you could actually fail at this. Getting the mail isn’t particularly difficult.”
Now I was really stumped. It was clear that Ramona Weathers had it in her head that she knew me. I had never seen this woman before in my entire life. And she wanted me to bring her the mail? Last time I checked, owls brought the mail.
“I’m sorry,” I murmured, shuffling my feet. I really had no idea what else to say. I really didn’t think I had the chance of convincing Ramona Weathers that she didn’t know me. Especially because it would probably maker her even madder. And considering the fact there were a number of sharp knives near by. It appeared that Professor Longbottom was quite correct. There were no traces of the Ancient Runes classroom; it has truly been transformed into a small flat. The door I had been pulled through led right into a kitchen, and there was a nearby, narrow hallway that clearly led to other rooms. The kitchen was a rather dreary place. Considering magical cleaning is no great task, it was pretty depressing to see cobwebs clinging to the windows and to the light fixtures. I felt tingles creep along my neck; spiders had never been my favorite creature.
The kitchen table had home and garden magazines scattered across it, and there was only one chair even though the table was quite large. The appliances and cabinets looked as if they came from the 1950’s. The only pop of color the room claimed was coming from a piece of paper taped on the refrigerator. The painting was clearly done by a small child. There were three stick figures in the painting, and I think they were meant to be a father, a mother, and a child. The painting stick people were grinning and waving, and a deformed looking bird soared through the sky. The name Lionel with a backwards “E” was splashed clumsily at the bottom.
“Always sorry for something,” Ramona Weathers muttered, going into the kitchen. “I suppose you want something to eat, then?” I shook my head, looking at the door. Now that she had moved into the kitchen, I might be able to make my escape.
“No,” I managed to gasp, fixing my shirt where she had tangled it with her fingers.
“What?” Ramona Weathers looked at me accusingly. It was the same look Mum gives me when she knows I’m getting sick. “Lionel, when aren’t you hungry?” I really can’t imagine what Ramona Weathers must have thought of the mortified expression on my face. Though I prayed silently in my head that his eighty year old woman was pulling my leg, I was terrified to admit that Ramona Weathers believed me to be the person who had made the painting on the refrigerator.
“I should probably get going.” I was proud of myself for actually managing to get a whole sentence out. Clearly this whole Ramona Weathers endeavor had been a spectacular mistake. As I made my way towards the door and put my hand on the knob, the voice of Ramona Weathers cut through me like a knife.
“But you just got here! At least stay for a sandwich.” It wasn’t what she said that stopped me in my motion, it was the way she said it. The anger seemed to have dissolved from her voice; it was now full of a completely different emotion. There was distinct panic in the words as if the life of Ramona Weathers depended upon me staying in the flat. Though I still felt rather frightened of Ramona Weathers, I couldn’t bring myself to leave. She sounded so desperate for company. I knew what it was like to feel lonely and out of place. I was torn between my compulsion to do the right thing and the compulsion to run away and forget the whole thing. As I looked at Ramona Weathers with her wispy grey hair and large, round glasses I had the strong feeling that most people had forgotten about her. I mean she wanted to spend time with me.
“Alright. I…I guess I could do that.” I whispered. “I guess I could stay for a few minutes.” I came back into the kitchen fully and gave Ramona Weathers a weak smile. Ramona Weathers didn’t exactly smile at me, but the frown she had been wearing turned up at the corners slightly. She reached out a patted my hand.
“You’re a good son,” she declared, turning towards the refrigerator. “Not the most reliable one, but a good one.” I felt my ears turning red with embarrassment. I glanced once more at the painting on the fridge. It was clear. Ramona Weathers believed me to be her son, Lionel. Where was the real Lionel Weathers? I had no idea. I kept my nervous hands at my sides as I made my way over to the kitchen table and stood next to it. Ramona Weathers, moving spectacularly well for an elderly woman, bustled around the small, ancient looking kitchen putting together a sandwich on a plate.
“How’s Claire?” As she asked this question I noticed that she slammed the jar of mayonnaise down on the counter rather hard. For about the millionth time since I entered the flat, I wondered if this interaction was nothing but a disaster.
“She’s fine,” I answered simply, hoping the answer would satisfy.
“I don’t like that girl,” Ramona Weathers continued, coming forward with a ham and cheese sandwich on rye bread. “She thinks she owns you; she’s happy to have her claws sunk into you.”
“I don’t like her either,” I declared quickly, arranging the sandwich so it was centered on my plate. Ramona Weathers stared at me like I was the crazy one.
“Then you shouldn’t marry her! I told you that she was nothing but trouble, but could you listen to your mother? Of course not.”
“I don’t think I’m hungry anymore,” I said, backing towards the door. I had had enough. This situation was over my head. I actually managed to get the door open this time before Ramona Weathers said something else.
“So you’re leaving then? Doing what you’re best at, I suppose.” I gave Ramona Weathers a confused and withered look before exiting the room. Before I shut the door behind me I heard her call,
“Don’t forget the mail!”
Since Glen was off serving one of his many assigned detentions from Professor Ramsey, I instantly scanned the Great Hall for Lily and saw, disappointingly, that she was already sitting with her Gryffindor girlfriends. I wished she had been free so I could have someone to talk to. That way, thoughts of Ramona Weathers could be pushed from my mind. So, instead of growing a spine, I made my way over to the Hufflepuff table alone and straightened out my place setting before reaching to take food. I busied myself keeping my pile of peas away from my mashed potatoes. I hate it when one of my foods touches another one; it’s just disgusting. When we have Christmas dinner at the Burrow, James combines all the dishes into one globby mess which he proceeds to inhale. It always makes me feel a little queasy.
I shook my head at myself for taking peas. What was I thinking? They roll all over the plate. I was concentrating on making a barrier between the peas and potatoes with my knife when I heard my sister’s voice.
“Hugo?” I looked up and Rose was standing across from me, her orange-ish, red hair in a high pony tail.
“Hi Rose,” I said, still battling with the peas. Any other person on the planet would have asked me what I was doing, but Rose had seen me separate my food enough at home. Rose took a seat across from me, and gave me a smile. I finally got my peas in place, and looked at her curiously. Now, don’t get me wrong. Rose has always been a good sister, but she usually doesn’t go out of her way to interact with me when we’re at Hogwarts. We have our own little worlds…well, mine is little.
“I have an idea,” Rose said, her smile getting bigger. “I know this really nice girl in Gryffindor, her name is Hailey. She’s a fifth year just like you, and I think you two would have a lot in common.”
“That’s nice,” I said absentmindedly, missing the boat completely. Rose rolled her eyes.
“There’s a Hogsmeade weekend in the near future. You should take her.” I must have still looked confused because she added, “You know, for a date.”
The word “date” sent a jolt of nerves through my body. I had never been on a date before. Though I could imagine what it would be like. Decisions have a way of making me nervous, and dating was a lot of deciding rolled up into one evening. What do I wear? Where should we go? Should I open doors for her? What should we talk about? Am I talking too much? Am I talking too little? Am I saying the right things? Should I hold her hand? Does she want to hold my hand? Should I pay the bill where ever we go? Do I have enough money? The only person I could see myself enduring that madness for would be Connie Bishop…
“Hugo! Earth to Hugo!” Rose snapped her fingers in front of my nose and I came out of my anxious little world. I blinked at her as my brain started concocting all the ways to tell her “no.” Hopefully I could come up with a way to tell her so she wouldn’t get angry with me. This was going to be the sort of thing Rose would be unable to understand. She saw herself giving her younger, shy brother a chance to break out of his shell. However, breaking out of a shell doesn’t sound like anything I would ever do. It sounds too messy.
“So what do you think?” Rose prompted, looking excited. “She’s really nice, I’m sure you’d get on.” As I looked into Rose’s brown eyes, eyes which were so like Mum’s, I started to wonder if Mum had put her up to this. Rose, I’m sure you know a lot of girls who would love to go out with Hugo. I bet a nice girlfriend would help him find his way better.
Rose looked at my frozen expression and nodded knowingly. “You’re going to say “no” aren’t you?” I nodded slowly and forced myself to respond.
“Its not that I don’t appreciate it,” I assured her, wondering to myself if I did indeed appreciate the action. “I just don’t think I’m ready.” I instantly wished I hadn’t added that last part to my response. Rose’s eyes suddenly got wide with anger.
“Ready for what exactly, Hugo?” she demanded. “You can’t just sit here and wait for your entire life to pass you by!?” I didn’t know what else to say. I felt embarrassed and ashamed of myself. Rose rolled her eyes again before getting up. As she turned away, she pulled at the tablecloth, moving my plate, and upsetting the peas once more. I wanted to say I was sorry. I wanted to say, “Just kidding, sis. Let’s go meet Hailey.” But I couldn’t. Instead, I got to work wrangling peas once more.
I went to the library after I had finished dinner to begin working on some History of Magic homework Professor Binns had assigned. I wandered through the sea of shelves until I arrived at my usual desk. Many desks in the library were arranged near one another so students could work together in pairs or groups to compete assignments. The desk I liked was one all on its own. It was between two tall shelves of books and was set up right near a large window. I liked the solitude, and I liked the window. I dumped the books I had gathered on the desk and began to go through them. I had just picked up an immense volume, Important Witches and Wizards of the 21st Century, when I felt a terrible feeling, the feeling of something crawling up my leg. I froze, thinking it might be a spider…but it felt bigger than a spider. Should I move? Get my wand out? I tried to think, but my fear was definitely getting the better of me. Just when I thought I couldn’t take this suspense for another second, a furry mass leapt off my leg and landed right in the middle of the page I was reading. In spite of myself, I let out a yell.
“Hugo, for goodness sake, get a hold of yourself.” The mouse that had been in my bed the other day was now sitting in front of me with an exasperated look on her…er…its face. “It’s only me.”
“Only you?” I said, casting a look around the area. The last thing I needed was for other students to walk by while I conversed with a mouse. I took in a few deep breaths to steady my heart rate. “Did you really have to…leap…into my lap like that?” If a mouse could roll its eyes, I’m sure this one would have. There was no doubt that this mouse was the same one that had visited me once before. Why did it have to keep coming back? Why did it have to find me, and continue to bother me? I’m unstable enough as it is.
“Look, Hugo,” the mouse went on, sounding very critical all of a sudden. “You’re not done, I hope you know that.”
“Not done with what?” I asked, wondering if this mouse was coming by to check up on my homework progress. Because in that sense, I was certainly far from done.
“You’re not done with Ramona Weathers. She still needs help.” Goosebumps prickled all over my body as I began to remember. I remembered that after I refused the help of the talking mouse, she had asked me if I would be willing to help other people. It seemed that Ramona Weathers had been my first assignment. And apparently I failed.
“I didn’t know what to do,” I admitted, quietly. “She’s old. She’s confused. She thinks I’m her son. I don’t know how to help her.”
“Hugo,” the mouse went on, twitching its whiskers. “I know what you’re capable of, and I wouldn’t have assigned you a person you are not able to help.” She paused for a moment, and examined me carefully with her beady eyes. “You are under the impression that you would only make the situation worse. I won’t lie to you, Hugo. It is quite possible that you might make the situation worse. But there is a greater possibility that you might change a person’s life for the better. And because of that, you need to keep trying.” I stared back, helplessly.
“You’ve got the wrong person,” I tried. “This isn’t the sort of thing I’m good at. I don’t understand people. I don’t even understand myself most of the time. If you don’t tell me exactly what to do, there’s no way I’m going to figure this out.”
“Telling you how to help Ramona Weathers would defeat the purpose.”
“Defeat the purpose of what?”
“Hugo, the answer is right in front of you, I promise.” The mouse swished her tail and clamored onto my leg. I froze, until it had jumped onto the floor. It had its final word saying,
“You’ll know when you’re finished with her.” Then, she scurried away.
“What’s going on?” I muttered, laying my head on the book in front of me. If this was all orchestrated by Glen, he had truly put together a masterful and elaborate joke. This mouse was driving me crazy. The only way I could secure my sanity would be to forget about it completely. Why did I have to listen to a talking mouse anyway? There is no law that says the commands of all talking mice must be followed. I picked up my head, determined to once again settle into my work. As I looked at page 872 of Important Witches and Wizards of the 21st Century a name seemed to leap right off the page. Lionel Weathers.
There, right in front of me, was the picture of a tall man with faded brown hair and a stern smile on his face. His arm was joined with a woman with curly hair who was wearing a dissatisfied expression. I quickly read the caption below.
Lionel Weathers, age 52, is responsible for discovering the six properties of lionfish spine. Once he graduated from Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry as a Ravenclaw Prefect, he spent years near the Mediterranean practicing and studying his theories. His discoveries altered the world of potion brewing forever. Lionfish spine is now a common ingredient used in potions in classrooms, homes, and businesses throughout the world. Lionel Weathers went on to achieve quite a fortune, and married his Hogwarts sweetheart, Claire Bennett.
The book went on to say more about Lionel Weathers, his accomplishments, and the company and factories he owned and managed. Could this have been what the mouse had meant? About the answer being right in front of me? I certainly did not know how to make Ramona Weathers’ life much better, but the least I could do would be to write this man a letter. I mean he should know how his mother is doing. Maybe he could even set her straight if he came for a visit. I rummaged in my bag to find a spare piece of parchment. I dunked my quill into my ink and began to write,
Dear Mr. Weathers,
I am currently a student at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry and I had the pleasure of meeting your mother recently. It is quite a strange thing, but I think she has confused me with you. It was an awkward situation, and I felt bad leaving her alone in that state. She seemed quite lonely and desperate to visit with me…though I am sure she believe me to be you. I am sure you’re a busy man, but I think it would be best if you came and explained things to her. I know she would like the company, and my conscience would be relieved if you would come.
A response from Lionel Weathers came much more quickly than I expected. But as I sat in the Great Hall with Glen the next day at dinner, one of the school owls made its way right towards me, and landed very close to my perfectly divided dinner. As I took the letter, I felt my hand shaking slightly. I was unsure what emotion was driving the shaking. Was I excited? Scared? Worried? I was about to open it when Glen leaned across the table and asked,
“Who’s it from?” he asked, curiously.
“My Mum,” I answered, lying more successfully than I ever have in my entire life.
I ripped open the envelope, and started to read eagerly. As I read, my heart dropped in my chest and by the time I finished, it was settled someone in my feet. I could practically hear the snippy tone of Mr. Weathers shooting out of the words.
I certainly do not see how any of this is your concern. My mother behaved in an unforgivable manner, and it something I do not wish to discuss with anyone; especially people I do not know. If my mother is confusing you with me, it is quite clear that her mind has become unhinged. While this saddens me ever so deeply, because of business, I do not see how it is possible for me to come visit her. I do not believe it would be healthy for me, for her, or for my marriage, for us to be in contact once more. Now I feel it pertinent to offer you some advice. Keep your nose out of other people’s business.
“What’s wrong?” Glen asked, his mouth full.
“Nothing,” I said; lying less successfully than the previous time. I could tell that Glen was going to push the subject further, so I glanced quickly at my watch.
“Isn’t it time for your detention with Professor Longbottom?” I knew it was because Glen had been talking about it all day. Of course, he thought of it as a date with Lily. He’s got some twisted mind.
“You’re right!” Glen said, jumping up. “I’ve been looking forward to this.” He flashed me smile and sprinted out of the Great Hall, attempting to catch up with Lily who had just left. I turned my attention back to the letter; holding it my hands as though it might explode at any second. I hadn’t succeeded. It seemed the only thing I had succeeded in doing was pissing off Lionel Weathers. He wasn’t coming. He wasn’t going to make Ramona Weathers feel better. Apparently she had done something to piss him off as well. I thought of the mouse’s instructions. The answer had been right in front of me. Clearly learning about the son of Ramona Weathers had something to do with helping her. But Lionel Weathers didn’t want to have anything to do with his mother or with me.
I tucked the letter in the pocket of my robes and got up from the table. I had to do something. For some reason I was feeling rather resentful towards Lionel Weathers. He didn’t even seem concerned that his aged mother was so confused and lost. Unfortunately I could not control what Lionel Weathers did, I could only control what I did. And the very least I could do was go to visit Ramona Weathers and keep her company. As I left the Great Hall I was feeling very determined, but by the time I reached the hallway where the flat of Ramona Weathers was located, I was feeling much worse. What if she yelled again? I had no mail to bring her, once again. What if I only made it worse?
I was so worried about Ramona Weathers, I forgot to worry about myself. As I debated internally with myself about approaching the door, I felt a large hand grab the back of my robes. I let out a surprised squeal as I was turned around and slammed against the wall. The very large, and the very furious face of Evan Lee was inches away from mine. I felt my blood turn cold, and I noticed that my feet weren’t even touching the floor.
“Where is he?” Evan Lee snarled these words into my face. As I struggled against his grip, I also struggled to find meaning in what he just said. I was terrified. Evan Lee had always been a bully to me, but it had never been like this before. His voice is usually taunting and his actions usually include things like tripping me or taking my books. This was something different. I didn’t answer, so he pushed me up against the wall even harder.
“Where’s Saunders?” he demanded, and I instantly cursed Glen for putting me in this situation. I also thanked heaven that Glen was at this moment in detention.
“He’s in detention,” I gasped. “With Professor Longbottom.” Even Lee looked so angry, I was waiting for actual steam to come shooting out of his ears.
“Well, you’re going to have to give him a message for me, then,” Evan continued, rage surging through each word. “I just found out that the broom he burnt can’t be repaired. My father bought me that broom new this year. You can tell Saunders that I’m going to spend the rest of the year taking what he owes me out of his hide…and out of yours.”
Evan spat out these last words loudly, and brought his knee up and buried it into my chest. I doubled over and crumpled on the floor. The world was pretty hazy; a combination of the pain and the panic. As I regained my bearings I heard Evan’s retreating footsteps, and a nearby door opening. And then a voice, a voice I knew, said,
“Lionel, are you alright?” I pushed myself to my feet, and stared at Ramona Weathers who was standing in front of me. I tried to answer, but all I could do was stand there shaking like a leaf. “Why don’t you come in and I’ll get you a glass of water.” I wouldn’t have been able to decline if I wanted to, so I let Ramona Weathers lead me into the flat and over to the sole chair at the kitchen table. After a few seconds, she shuffled to me and put a glass into my hand. I sipped the water while she stared at me.
“Feel better?” she asked, as I gulped down the last drop. I nodded.
“Thank you,” I said, putting the glass on the table. My stomach was still throbbing in pain, but I tried to focus on the pain of Ramona Weathers instead. She had clearly done something that upset her son, and she was still waiting for his forgiveness. She was eighty, and probably realizing that the forgiveness might not ever come. There was a good chance that was why she projected her feelings on to me. She was desperate to gain the forgiveness of her son while she still had the chance. As I looked into her eyes, I realized I could give her that. I could give her that forgiveness, and that peace of mind. I was not sure what she had done, or if she was deserving of Lionel Weathers’ forgiveness. But she had just helped me, and I knew, in that moment, I had to do the same.
“Mum?” I said, choking on the word ever so slightly.
“Yes, dear?” she asked, hope alive in her voice.
“I’m sorry,” I breathed, trying to make the words sound honest and true. “I’m not mad about what happened anymore.” Tears started to form in the eyes of Ramona Weathers, as I pressed on. I was surprised how easily the words came; as if they had been inside of me all along. I was so sure what I was doing was right…for once I knew I was doing the right thing. And that made all the difference.
“I want you to know that I’m glad I’m your son.”
Ramona Weathers burst into tears and threw her thin arms around my neck and sobbed into my shoulder murmuring how much she loved me.
“I love you, too,” I managed to whisper.
I made it back to my dormitory feeling quite strange. Normally, my brain would have been fixating on the Evan Lee attack in the hallway, but all I could think about was Ramona Weathers, and how brightly she smiled at me as I was leaving. I told her that I would miss her, and she kissed me happily on both cheeks. She told me to come back soon, and I told her I would. And I think I meant it. As I looked at my pillow and noticed that there was a small, torn, piece of parchment on it. As I got closer, I realized that it was the piece of parchment that had Ramona Weathers printed on it. But now, it had been torn down the middle. All in a rush, I understood what it meant. I was done with Ramona Weathers. I had helped her in the way she needed to be helped.
As I crawled into bed that night, I began wondering if all of the strange things that had been happening to me were coming to a close.
I got my answer the next morning when I found a new piece of parchment taped ever so precisely to my forehead.
A.N Thank you all so much for stopping by and reading this story. I know your lovely reads and reviews will help me through tomorrow. Keep your fingers crossed for me!”
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