Amazing chapter image by my secret santa and dear friend, RoxiMalfoy from the forums!
A/N: There are two foreign language phrases in this chapter. The first, "Dia Dhuit", means "Hello", and the second, "Slan Leat", means "Goodbye". Please review!!
I am unsure of what happened next. All I have to go on is what Ms. Fitzpatrick told me years later when we discussed that day again. According to her, just as I began to zone out, she noticed a sudden chill in the air and darkening of the skies. She told Corey and I to get inside to get out of the approaching storm, and when I didn’t follow her she turned back to look at me. And as she looked directly at me for the first time in several minutes she realized something was horribly wrong.
What she saw filled her with terror; there I stood at the bottom of the steps, looking absolutely livid, but that wasn’t all. My eyes were completely void of color, and my entire body was stiff. My long, straight black hair swirled around my face from the strength of the wind, but it didn’t seem to bother me; I didn’t bother to try and keep it out of my face.
It appeared as though I was frozen, and Ms. Fitzpatrick could tell that although my eyes were open, I had no idea what was going on around me. It appeared almost as if I couldn’t see her, the orphanage, or the black clouds that were quickly moving towards us with occasional streaks of lightning in the midst of them.
Frightened though she was by my appearance, she was more fearful for my health and safety as the storm drew closer. She quickly ran down the steps and grabbed me by the arm, telling me to get inside; but I didn’t move. I didn’t even jump like Ms. Fizpatrick did when the sharp bolt of lightning flashed right above our heads, nor at the deafeningly loud thunderclap that followed it.
Panicking and wild-eyed, she took hold of me by the shoulders and shook me, begging me to snap out of whatever trance I was in and come inside as torrents of rain started pouring down, like a misty veil shooting down from the heavens. And just that quickly, as if I had been shaken awake from a bad dream, my entire body twitched involuntarily and I gasped loudly.
I remember none of this, but I do remember what happened after I snapped out of whatever daze I’d been in. Still unsure of my surroundings and feeling slightly frightened, I looked up at Ms. Fitzpatrick, who had a fearful expression on her face. “Are you alright, Jayde?” she asked with a hint of panic in her voice.
“I…think so,” I replied, “But why are you staring at me like that?”
As I spoke, Ms. Fitzpatrick noticed that my eyes didn’t look solid white anymore. They were now a very pale blue, and as she stood and watched in amazement, my eyes grew darker and darker until they were back to their normal, rich royal blue color. Thinking that perhaps she’d just been seeing things and not wanting to frighten me, she quickly said, “It’s nothing dear…I just wanted you to get in out of the storm.”
When I asked Ms. Fitzpatrick what storm she was talking about, she nearly lost her mind. “This one!” she said, waving her arms in the sky, “Don’t you see all the clouds, lightning and rain? Can’t you hear the thunder? Jayde what’s wrong? Are you feeling all right?”
“I feel fine,” I said, “But it isn’t raining, or lightning, or thundering, and there isn’t a cloud in the sky; the sun is shining.”
“Jayde what in the world are you talking about?” she asked, “It is absolutely dreadful...” She stopped mid-sentence as she looked up at the sky. I was right; there were no clouds, nor lightning or thunder, and it was definitely not raining. Ms. Fitzpatrick later said it was as if the past few minutes hadn’t happened at all. The sun was shining, birds were chirping, and the old man who lived across the street from the orphanage was still outside trying to lead his stubborn pony back into the stable.
Confused, she simply gave up trying to explain and told me to get inside before the storm came back. She was so shocked and confused about the storm’s abrupt ending that she didn’t even finish the conversation she’d been having with Corey and me. She went on about her duties and tried not to think about what had just happened.
We walked inside but didn't speak a word as she cleaned my wounds. When that was finished, she sent me up to my room to do my homework while she started making dinner. She called the other children and me downstairs when dinner was ready, and sent us all back upstairs to get ready for bed immediately after we finished eating.
The next few days went by rather uneventfully at the orphanage, and at school. Gloria had apparently had time to calm down about the situation, and I was just glad it was over. Though I stayed sore and my limbs remained bruised for a few days, I didn’t think much about the fight.
Ms. Fitzpatrick, however, said that she could not get the events that took place at the orphanage that day out of her head. She could still picture me standing there stiff as a board and the freakish storm in her head. She often had nightmares about it, though she didn’t tell me this until later. But from what she told me, what bothered her most about the events that took place that afternoon was the color of my eyes.
For some reason, it seemed to her that my eyes had lost their color just before the storm had set in, and that they’d regained their color just before the storm so rapidly ended. But she felt like a fool for thinking these things. What was she insinuating? That I had somehow caused the storm? That was completely ridiculous! She knew me, had practically raised me, and she also knew that sweet, innocent little girls like me didn’t cause storms, and the color of their eyes wasn’t affected by storms either.
She kept trying to convince herself that she had been hallucinating, but she found that very difficult to do. As for me, I was still hurt and shocked by Corey’s actions, but I had already decided what to do. From now on I was just going to completely avoid him, both at school and at home; even if he spoke to me I’d just completely ignore him. I decided that I didn’t want or need friends; that one time that I had been betrayed had been enough to let me know that I didn’t want to feel that way ever again. From now on, I’d be my own best friend.
A couple of months later, everyone had almost completely forgotten about the incident that occurred that afternoon. Unknown to me, however, another life-altering day was rapidly approaching; my 11th birthday.
I woke up early that Saturday morning to Ms. Fitzpatrick singing “Happy Birthday” loudly in my ear; a tradition she had performed on my birthday every year as far back as I could remember. I’d got up and dressed and went downstairs to help Ms. Fitzpatrick prepare breakfast, but she quickly refused my help and ordered me not to do any chores that day.
She told me I was to go outside and play all day; to enjoy my birthday. So I donned my coat, gloves and earmuffs and went outside to play in the snow for a while; I’ve always loved snow. I made several snow angels and an admittedly small and sloppy-looking snowman, and as I was looking for stones to use as the snowman’s eyes, I noticed a large brown owl sitting on the orphanage’s mailbox.
Shocked to see an owl out in daylight, I decided to slowly creep over to the mailbox, hoping to sneak up on the owl and get a chance to pet it. I started out on the left side of the orphanage’s wooden steps, where my pitiful-looking snowman was located. I slowly made my way around the steps and behind one of the snow-covered pine trees that bordered the orphanage’s yard to the right. I waited there for a moment before peeking out from behind the pine tree sheepishly, and then quickly darted behind another pine tree once I saw that the owl hadn’t noticed my sneaking yet.
I continued this process for several minutes, ducking behind pine tree after pine tree and peeking each time to make sure the owl hadn’t caught on to my scheme. I finally reached the tree nearest the mailbox and slowly made my way out from behind it, taking care not to step too loudly and alert the still-oblivious owl.
My target was directly in my line of sight now, still perched atop the black metal-clad and wooden-posted mailbox. I continued to approach the mailbox stealthily, and thought I’d surely catch the owl. The owl was too fast for me, however, and flew away only seconds before I reached the mail box. “Darn!” I thought to myself, disappointed that my mission had failed.
Having exerted so much energy trying to sneak up on the owl, I no longer felt like finishing my snowman and decided to go back inside; I was getting too cold to stay outside much longer anyway. Since I was already at the mailbox, I decided to check the mail and take it inside, so I pulled the mailbox’s handle forward and down and looked inside to see if there were any letters. There were, and I took the several letters out of the mailbox, closed it, and took the letters inside to Ms. Fitzpatrick, who had just finished setting the table for breakfast.
She didn’t bother to open the mail until after breakfast, at which point she called me into the kitchen and vaguely explained that she’d received a letter saying that someone was coming today to discuss possibly transferring me to another school. Neither of us had any idea who or where this letter had come from, and the idea of transferring to another school thoroughly frightened me, but Ms. Fitzpatrick assured me that everything would be okay before sending me out of the kitchen to enjoy the rest of my birthday.
I was in the living room watching cartoons two hours later when the doorbell rang, and I got up and answered the door. There stood a tall, thin woman whose blond hair fell in ringlet curls to her shoulders. She looked like she was in her late 30s to early 40s, and she had a very pleasant smile on her face.
“Dia dhuit,” I said in my native Irish tongue.
“Hello to you too dear,” the stranger said, “You must be Jayde Newsome. My name is Eva McGreggor, and I’m here to speak with you and your guardian about your schooling. May I come in?”
“Yes ma’am,” I answered as I pulled the large wooden door open farther to allow Mrs. McGreggor enough room to pass. Once she got inside I offered to take her coat and then escorted her to the living room and said I’d go fetch Ms. Fitzpatrick.
I found her in the laundry room and told her that the headmistress she’d received the letter from that morning had arrived, and Ms. Fitzpatrick followed me back to the living room where Mrs. McGreggor sat in a brown leather armchair, seeming very amused by the cartoons that were on the television. When she saw us enter, she stood up.
I introduced her and Ms. Fitzpatrick to each other and they shook hands and exchanged greetings. Mrs. McGreggor apologized for any confusion her letter had caused and asked that Ms. Fitzpatrick sign a confidentiality agreement before they began their conversation, which Ms. Fitzpatrick did hesitantly. Then Mrs. McGreggor began.
“Dunamase Institute,” she said, “is a school for students with special abilities. You received my letter this morning, and consequentially my visit today, because Jayde is one such student.”
“Oh!” Ms. Fitzpatrick exclaimed in excitement. “So Jayde’s been chosen to go to your school because she gets good marks in school?”
“Not quite,” Mrs. McGreggor replied, and she reached into her briefcase and pulled out a piece of paper. “This is a list of the courses Jayde would be taking in her first year at Dunamase, if she chooses to attend”, Mrs. McGreggor said as she leaned forward and gave the list to Ms. Fitzpatrick.
Immediately Ms. Fitzpatrick began scanning the page excitedly, but her face turned from an expression of excitement to one of confusion almost immediately. I leaned over to my left, looking down at the paper in Ms. Fitzpatrick’s hands, and immediately understood why she was confused. I couldn’t find ‘Arithmetic’ or ‘Reading’ anywhere on the course list. The list was comprised instead of words I didn’t understand, such as ‘Herbology’ and ‘Transfiguration’.
Apparently still just as confused as I was, Ms. Fitzpatrick lowered the paper and shifted her green-eyed gaze to Mrs. McGreggor. “I’m sorry,” she began, “But I’m afraid I don’t understand. This isn’t a list of real courses; half of these words look made-up! Why would Jayde need to take a course on ‘Potion-making’?”
“Because Jayde is a witch,” Mrs. McGreggor replied matter-of-factly, as though she’d just stated something that should have been obvious.
Neither Ms. Fitzpatrick nor myself could believe what we’d just heard Mrs. McGreggor say, and we both sat there on the sofa as though we were frozen, staring wide-eyed at this clearly insane woman.
It was Mrs. McGreggor who finally broke the awkward silence a few moments later; “I’m sorry”, she said, “I didn’t mean to startle you, but there simply isn’t an easy way to tell someone they’re a witch… especially when they don’t think witches exist”.
At this, Ms. Fitzpatrick scoffed loudly and gave a sarcastic smile before finally breaking her silence. “What kind of fool do you take me for?” she asked Mrs. McGreggor, to which the latter simply sighed.
It was evident from the look on Mrs. McGreggor's face that she'd gotten the same reaction from someone before, and that up until now she'd been hoping that this time would be different. She gathered her composure and took a deep breath before speaking.
“I don’t take you for a fool,” she began, but Ms. Fitzpatrick cut her off.
I'd never seen Ms. Fitzpatrick so upset before. Growing up she'd always told me not to interrupt people when they were talking, so I took the fact that she was breaking her own rule as an ominous sign. I knew that Mrs. McGreggor would surely not like what Ms. Fitzpatrick was about to say.
“You’re nothing but a scam artist!” Ms. Fitzpatrick began, “You send out these letters and come to people’s houses and try to convince them their children are devil-worshipping, broom-riding, wart-covered hags who cackle and cast spells on people for the sheer enjoyment of it. You think if you promise that you can make someone’s child extraordinary they’ll give you money for tuition and find then find out the hard way that ‘Dunamase’ doesn’t exist. You’re pathetic! You toy with people’s emotions and savings, and then run off with their hard-earned money! Well, this is one person you won’t fool so easily! I’m no fool; witches DO NOT exist!”
I could tell by looking at her that Mrs. McGreggor was very insulted by this accusation, and she immediately began vehemently insisting that witchcraft was not devil-worship, that it was actually a good thing.
She fruitlessly tried for several moments to convince Ms. Fitzpatrick of this, but only succeeded in making her more angry. “Fine then, I’ll prove to you that I’m not lying” Mrs. McGreggor said, but Ms. Fitzpatrick had had enough.
“You’ll do no such thing!” she said angrily, “You will leave this house RIGHT NOW before I call the police and have you arrested for trespassing and fraud!”
Having nothing else to say, Mrs. McGreggor nodded her head in agreement and got to her feet. I offered to get her coat for her, but she refused. But she simply stood in front of the chair she’d been sitting in, staring at the arch that led to the hallway. Ms. Fitzpatrick just sat there staring at her, but I saw something moving in the hallway out of the corner of my eye.
Turning so I could see which of the children had been eavesdropping on this strange conversation, I gazed into the hallway and what I saw made my eyes widen in fear and amazement. It was Mrs. McGreggor’s coat, coming towards us. But there were no arms or legs carrying it to her. There was no child’s face hiding sheepishly behind the brown fabric. There were no strings being used to pull the coat towards us. Mrs. McGreggor’s coat was floating towards us; floating in mid-air, with nothing to support it whatsoever!
I thought for several seconds, but could not come up with one logical explanation for why this was happening. The only way I could explain this situation to myself was by thinking, ‘It’s magic!’, but that couldn’t be true, could it? Coats didn’t just float by themselves! But this one was doing it anyway.
It continued to float towards us, defying gravity and several other concepts I'd learned in school. I began to question everything I thought I knew, and mentally argued with myself for several seconds. Feeling insane, I told myself that this must be some kind of dream, because there was no way this coat was actually floating across the room.
And I couldn’t be a witch, witches don’t exist! But somehow Mrs. McGreggor, who had just told both of us she was a witch, had made this coat float to her from an entirely different room in the house. And now she had pulled her coat on and had turned to face the two of us. Would she speak? Would she cast some sort of spell on us for not believing her?
Frightful of what would happen next, Ms. Fitzpatrick pulled me closer to her in a protective way, but Mrs. McGreggor simply smiled. “I’m not going to hurt you,” she insisted, “But you left me with no choice but to show you that I was serious. I will, of course, leave now if you still wish me to.”
This time, however, it was I who spoke up. “So you’re serious then, I’m a witch?” I asked incredulously, to which she simply nodded her head.
“Your mother was a very talented Irish witch, and your father was an English wizard,” she said.
I was flabbergasted; I couldn’t make sense out of anything that I’d just seen or heard. “This can’t be right,” I said more to myself than to anyone else. “I can’t be a witch! I can’t have powers! I’m a loser! A freak!”
At this, Ms. Fitzpatrick finally rejoined the conversation. “Jayde, how many times do I have to tell you?” she asked me, “You aren’t a loser or a freak. People pick on you because you’re special. Now I know this is just as hard for you to believe as it is for me, but if it was possible for Mrs. McGreggor to make that coat float to her, then it’s possible you’re a witch.”
“I’m glad you finally understand,” Mrs. McGreggor said. Ms. Fitzpatrick nodded her head and then asked Mrs. McGreggor what the next step in this process was. “Well, the two of you will need to decide if Jayde will be attending Dunamase in the fall and inform me of your decision. If Jayde will be attending, I’ll send you a list of books and materials required for Jayde’s first year.”
“And who is expected to pay for the tuition and books if Jayde decides to go?” Ms. Fitzpatrick asked.
“Jayde,” Mrs. McGreggor replied, “She’s the only heir to her parents’ account at the wizard’s bank in Dublin, so she’s got complete rights and access to her account. She can pay for her books, tuition, robes, wand, and anything else she needs or wants.”
“And where would she get such supplies?” Ms. Fitzpatrick asked.
“There’s a small wizarding village called Clonminam near the school,” Mrs. McGreggor replied, “If you’d like, I could take Jayde there to get her things before the school year starts.”
“So, I’d have to move, wouldn’t I?” I asked.
“Only during the school year,” Mrs. McGreggor replied, “Once the school year ends you’ll be right back here for the summer. And you can come back and visit over the Christmas and Easter holidays if you’d like. The school really isn’t far from here at all, but I know you’ve never been away from Ms. Fitzpatrick before and that this is a bit frightening for you. I’ll tell you what, I’ll give the two of you until July to decide, and I’ll come back here at the beginning of August to get your decision. If you decide you will be going, I will help you get your school things at that time, Jayde, how does that sound?”
When Ms. Fitzpatrick and I agreed, Mrs. McGreggor told us that we couldn’t tell anyone else that I’m a witch, not even the other children in the orphanage. She’d said that if I decided to attend Dunamase, we’d have to come up with some other story to tell the other children about what school I’d be attending.
She insisted that the wizarding world must be kept hidden from ordinary people at all costs; in fact witches and wizards can only use their powers in front of ordinary people in life-threatening situations. She said the only time this rule may be broken is if a witch or wizard has non-magic parents or caretakers, to show them that the headmaster or headmistress is not lying when we say that their child is a witch or wizard. She said that the consequences of ‘our’ world being discovered would be unimaginable.
Ms. Fitzpatrick then asked, “But if your world is such a secret, why did we discuss it here, inside the orphanage? There are many children roaming this house right now, how can we be certain one of them hasn’t already heard this conversation? How do we know they didn’t see your coat floating in here from the hallway?”
Mrs. McGreggor smiled in response to Ms. Fitzpatrick’s naive question. “Caroline,” she said, “You just saw me make my coat float to me from another room, but you think I’m not skilled enough to tell when a child is approaching or listening? There are other ways for me to ensure that I’m not being overheard besides constantly running to the door to make sure they’re nowhere around. They’re all either in the back of the house or upstairs, playing.”
“How do you..?” Ms. Fitzpatrick began, but Mrs. McGreggor interrupted her.
“I can’t tell you how I know, Caroline, just trust me when I say that I do,” she said.
Having finished discussing what she’d come to talk about, Mrs. McGreggor stood back up with her coat and briefcase in tow. “Well, I’d best get back to the castle,” she said, “I hope you both have a wonderful spring and Easter, and I look forward to seeing you both and hearing your decision in August. I hope you’ll join us Jayde, I know you’d be a wonderful addition to the school. Slàn leat.”
“Goodbye, Mrs. McGreggor,” Ms. Fitzpatrick said as she stood and shook the headmistress’s hand, “We’ll see you in August.” And with one final glance and smile at me, there was a loud ‘CRACK’ and Mrs. McGreggor disappeared into thin air.