Ms. Fitzpatrick woke me up at seven the next morning. I pulled my trunk downstairs and set it in the hallway. She made breakfast and we ate in silence, as the other children in the orphanage were still asleep. Before we finished eating, Mrs. McGreggor arrived and sat in the kitchen patiently while I finished my breakfast. When I’d finished, she insisted that we really had to get going, so I walked up and gave Ms. Fitzpatrick one last hug.
We both cried for a moment before she told me I shouldn’t keep Mrs. McGreggor waiting, so I released her, grabbed my trunk from the hallway and followed Mrs. McGreggor, who had left the room to give us some privacy. I literally felt my heart break as I stepped out the front door. I walked down the steps and Mrs. McGreggor put her hand on my shoulder to comfort me. Just as we were about to leave the yard, I turned back to look at the orphanage one last time.
Ms. Fitzpatrick was standing at the door watching, and waved goodbye when I turned around. I had a terrible urge to run back and hug her again, but Mrs. McGreggor said, “Come on, dear,” and took me by the hand, leading me back down the road to where it was safe to apparate. Silent tears still ran down my cheeks as we walked. When we reached our ‘apparition spot’ beneath the huge oak tree down the road from the orphanage, I gave Mrs. McGreggor my trunk and took hold of her hand, and grimaced as the all-too-familiar squeezing sensation started. When it ended, I opened my eyes to a truly astounding sight.
There it was: Dunamase Institute of Magical Learning, in all its splendor. A large, chest-high stone wall enclosed the school grounds, which included one large, main building and a few smaller ones as well. All the buildings were made of the same grey stone as the wall. The school sat at the top of a hill, on a small, winding country road. There were no houses or other buildings anywhere nearby, just green, rolling hills as far as the eye could see. “Welcome to Dunamase,” Mrs. McGreggor said as she handed me my trunk and started walking up the winding, uphill road.
I followed, pulling my trunk behind me, looking up at the castle as I went. We passed through the opening in the wall and continued up the road, which led to a round stone gate, shaped like the many grey turrets of the castle. Mrs. McGreggor indicated several things about the school grounds as we walked; she pointed to the smaller buildings to our left and indicated that those were the greenhouses, and she pointed off to our right to indicate the school’s owlery and the flying field, where I’d be taught to fly a broom. As we approached the stone gate, the wooden double doors opened and I set foot in Dunamase castle for the first time.
I was immediately reminded of a medieval castle as Mrs. McGreggor escorted me up to the girl’s dormitories on the third, and highest, floor of the castle. The hallways were lit both by the light streaming through the ceiling-to-floor windows and by the flaming torches hung between the paintings that adorned the empty wall space on the opposite side of the halls. Identical green rectangular rugs ran the length of each hallway, covering the majority but not the entirety of the stone floors. Each rug bore the school’s emblem in the same purple from my recently-bought uniforms.
Several doors led off each hallway, and the hallways formed one big rectangle, whose middle was made up of the dining hall, the healer’s office, and several large classrooms on the first floor, more classrooms and teachers’ offices on the second floor, and the dorm rooms on the third floor. The dorm rooms only had one entrance door from the hallway, which led to a large, open living area with couches and fireplaces for all the girls to share, and was also decorated in the school’s colors, purple and green. Countless doors led off the living area to the dorm rooms, and each dorm room was shared by four girls of the same year.
Once Mrs. McGreggor had taken me to my room, I’d started getting settled in. I put my clothes and other belongings in the oak dresser next to my new purple-sheeted, four poster bed, and I waited for my new roommates to arrive. The rest of that day, and that week, for that matter, were spent getting accustomed to the layout of the castle and meeting all my fellow students, as well as our teachers. I quickly found, to my delight, that I was just as skilled at learning magic as I had been at learning all the subjects in “normal” school.
I excelled in all my classes and was adored by all the teachers, though that made me less popular with all the students. I quickly got used to my new school and visited the orphanage over the Christmas and Easter holidays, spending as much time as I could with Ms. Fitzpatrick. I always dreaded having to say goodbye again, but each time I returned to Dunamase feeling refreshed and ready to get back to studying magic. I quickly grew very close to Mrs. McGreggor, who in turn grew very close to Ms. Fitzpatrick during all her trips to the orphanage to either bring me home from school, or to pick me up and take me to school.
My first year at Dunamase passed rather successfully, with every indication that I would finish out my educational career at the top of my class if things continued the same way for the next 6 years. And that should have been it. I should have had a wonderful seven-year career at Dunamase, got a wonderful job somewhere in the Irish wizarding community, met a man and got married, and lived happily ever after. But no, of course life wouldn’t make it that easy for me.
I did have a very successful career at Dunamase while I was there, though I didn’t have many friends. But I ended up only being at Dunamase for six years, because something happened at the end of my sixth year that changed everything. We had just taken our exams and had a week left in the school year. We were waiting for the results; we were told they’d be given to us after breakfast the morning before we left school for the summer. I was extremely nervous that morning - I barely ate.
When breakfast was finished, Mrs. McGreggor stood up and told all the sixth years to stay seated, but that all the other students should leave the dining room. They did as they were told and filed out in a single-file line, and about five minutes later the last of the other students walked out of the dining room. Mrs. McGreggor then said that she would call our names and that when she did so we should come up, take our results, and leave the dining room. I sat in my seat, practically bouncing because I was so nervous, and there were still quite a few people in the dining room when my name was called.
I stood, walked up to the front of the dining hall, and took my results from Mrs. McGreggor, who flashed me a quick smile before calling the next name. I turned and walked out of the dining room and outside, onto the grounds that were now filled with sixth year students, reading their exam results and then showing them to their friends. I walked as far away from the others as I could and sat down on a bench before opening my letter. “Yes!” I said to myself quietly as I read it. I had done it! I’d aced every class I’d taken and would be able to continue with the last year of N.E.W.T. level classes!
As I sat there quietly, basking in my triumph, I thought of how proud Ms. Fitzpatrick would be. She knew how worried I’d been about the exams; I’d written to her about it. And I got so immersed in thinking about how to tell her how well I’d done that I didn’t notice several of the other sixth years walking towards me. When I finally heard them approaching, I looked up and was immediately reminded of Gloria and her swarm of friends that day on the playground when I was 11 years old.
Five students were walking towards me with determined smirks on their faces. Their green and purple school uniforms were waving with the wind as they walked, and it was clear that they'd been searching for me because all of their eyes were fixed directly upon mine. I got a very ominous feeling in the pit of my stomach. I was scared, but I wasn’t 11 anymore. I was 16, and if they wanted to fight for some dumb reason, I was going to defend myself. Unfortunately, defending myself was something I’d had to learn through experience at Dunamase.
I re-folded my letter and stood up, looking at them all approach. “Hey Newsome,” one boy called. “I aced every single class. Let’s see you beat that!”
I smiled at him politely and said, “Congratulations,” but nothing more.
“Come on then,” he said. “How many did you pass, Miss Perfect?”
I wasn’t sure if I should answer him, but I did anyway. “All of them,” I said quietly.
Everyone started whispering amongst themselves; a few of them were shaking with quiet laughter. I’d apparently embarrassed the boy. His face turned bright red. “Well, if you did so bloody well, then how come you were bouncing off your seat like you were nervous while you waited for Mrs. McGreggor to call your name? I mean honestly, I thought you were going to pee on yourself.” Everyone started laughing hysterically; it was my turn to be embarrassed.
“It doesn’t matter,” the boy continued. “I know the only reason you did so well is because you’re Mrs. McGreggor’s little pet. She feels sorry for you because you’re an orphan - or rather, because your mother and father were too stupid to use their powers to put out a house fire.”
At that, everyone roared with laughter. I, however, did not find that amusing at all. I pulled my wand from the pocket in my skirt and took full dueler’s stance: I extended my right leg out in front of me, raised my left arm and positioned my left hand slightly behind my left ear, and raised my wand to point it directly at him. “Leave me alone,” I said. He stood there looking dumbfounded for a moment. Then he turned around, and I thought he was leaving, but before I knew what was happening he’d taken his wand from his pocket, turned back around and disarmed me.
I quickly scurried to where I’d seen my wand fall, hoping to grab it before he hit me with another spell, but he reached it before I could. Laughing, he threw my wand behind him and said, “Now what are you going to do?” Just then, I heard Mrs. McGreggor’s voice in the background.
“Aaron,” she screamed as she ran towards us. “Leave her alone!”
“Oh look,” he said quietly. “Mrs. McGreggor’s come to rescue you. Probably because she knows you can’t defend yourself, especially without your wand.”
But it was too late for Mrs. McGreggor to rescue me. I’d already gotten too upset and started feeling just like I had that day at the orphanage before the freak storm had come up. I became unaware of my surroundings again and could think of and see nothing but Aaron’s laughing face. I felt the anger swelling inside me again, and I once again knew that something was about to happen that I had absolutely no control over.
In talking with Mrs. McGreggor later, I discovered that once again, my eyes had lost their color, and it appeared as though I were frozen and as though my mind was in a completely different place. And once again, the skies darkened and the wind began to pick up. Lightning pierced the sky and thunder roared, and rain started falling in torrents even though the sun had been shining just moments before. And Mrs. McGreggor later told me that just before she reached me, she heard Aaron ask in a frightened voice, “What are you doing? What’s wrong with you?”
When she reached me, she was extremely frightened by the change in my eyes and spoke to me, to try to convince me to go see the Healer and make sure I was okay. When I didn’t answer, she’d grabbed me by the shoulders, like Ms. Fitzpatrick had done five years earlier, and shaken me, trying to make me snap out of it. And once again, my whole body jerked and I let out a loud gasp. I’d blinked my eyes and looked up at her, asking what had just happened. She didn’t answer me at first; she simply stared at me for what seemed like an eternity. She later told me that she’d been staring at me because my eyes were quickly changing back to their normal color, which had amazed her.
Again, I remembered none of this, but I do remember what happened next, because it changed my life forever. Mrs. McGreggor asked if I was all right several times, and I insisted to her that I was. Then I looked around to see that all the other children were gone. I asked her where they had gone, and she said, “They must have run inside to get out of the…”, but then she stopped. She looked up at the cloudless sky and then back at me. “The storm!” she finished, before grabbing me by the shoulders and staring me straight in the eyes. I asked her what was going on, and the only response I got was a whispered, “Merlin.”
“What?” I asked, frightened.
“You’re a Nimbimagus,” she said.
“I’m a what?” I asked.
“Never mind dear, I’ll explain it to you later,” she answered. “It’s time for all you children to go home. When I take you home I will sit down with you and explain everything.”
“Okay,” I said as I walked to where my wand lay and picked it up, completely perplexed. An hour later we were walking back down the street in front of the orphanage. I was very excited to be home. I ran into the house, completely abandoning my trunk on the front lawn, and showed Ms. Fitzpatrick my letter; she was completely thrilled. Then Mrs. McGreggor stepped inside and said that she needed to speak with Ms. Fitzpatrick and myself on the front porch.
So the two of us stepped outside and Mrs. McGreggor relayed to us what had happened less than two hours ago at the school. I was puzzled, but Ms. Fitzpatrick spoke up and said that it had happened before, but she thought that was just a normal part of being a witch when she’d found out I was one. Mrs. McGreggor said that it certainly was not, and then said again that I was a Nimbimagus. “But what does that mean?” I asked her.
“Jayde, you know what an Animagus is, right?” she asked.
“Yes,” I replied. “A witch or wizard who can choose to turn into an animal.”
“Very good.” she said. “Now what is a Metamorphmagus?”
“A witch or wizard who can change their appearance at will, depending upon their mood,” I answered.
“Right again,” she said. “Now then, a Nimbimagus is a witch or wizard who can change the weather in their immediate vicinity, depending upon their mood. They’re very rare, I’ve never even seen one before, and being a Nimbimagus isn’t something that can be taught, you have to be born with it. It runs in the family, so one of your parents must have been one as well, and since your mother attended Dunamase and I haven’t heard anything about her being a Nimbimagus, it must have been your father.”
“Wow,” I’d said, mesmerized by the idea that I could affect the weather.
“Jayde, I have to warn you,” Mrs. McGreggor continued, “this could mean that you will have to change schools.”
“What?!” I exclaimed. “What do you mean change schools? Change to which school? Why?”
“Calm yourself dear,” she said. “You may have to change schools because Dunamase has never had a Nimbimagus before; you need to be taught how to control your powers so they don’t consume you, and that’s not something I can teach you. The nearest wizarding school is in Scotland, but I’ll have to write to the headmaster first to find out if his school is capable of teaching you.”
“Scotland?” I shrieked, “Are you serious? But that’s a whole other country! So I don’t have a choice then -I’ll have to transfer?”
“I’m not sure yet,” Mrs. McGreggor answered. “You will return to Dunamase in the fall. If all goes well and you don’t have any more outbursts like the one today, then you may stay at Dunamase. But if this happens again, I’ll have no choice but to insist that you transfer, for your own well-being. Trust me Jayde, I don’t want to see you go either, but if it’s for your own good…”
“Okay,” I said, praying that when the fall came the same situation wouldn’t happen again, so I could stay at Dunamase.
But, of course, my life couldn’t be that simple. By the second week of my seventh year of school everyone had found out about my being a Nimbimagus somehow. And one day at lunch, Aaron walked up and said, “So Jayde, what’s the weather going to be like today? Mostly sunny, with a small chance of Jayde losing it and causing a tornado that kills us all?” before walking off.
Of course this had upset me, and another episode had ensued. This time it went a little further, though. This time, I passed out and had to be taken to the nurse. I’d been unconscious for quite a while before coming to in a hospital bed, with Mrs. McGreggor standing over me, looking very concerned. “I’ve written to the headmaster of the wizarding school in Scotland,” she said. Resigned, I’d flopped my head back down on the pillow, depressed.
It only took a few days for Mrs. McGreggor to receive a response. The headmaster of the other school, Albus Dumbledore, had written to tell her that I was more than welcome to come to his school. He said they’d taught a few Nimbimagi and that they had school records showing that my father was a Nimbimagus and that he had been taught there. As if that wasn’t enough to convince Mrs. McGreggor to send me, he’d also said that one of his teachers, Professor Severus Snape, was one of the few wizards in the world who could correctly brew the very complicated Nimbimagus potion, which when taken correctly, could help keep my powers in check. So Mrs. McGreggor wrote to Ms. Fitzpatrick to make sure it was okay with her if I was transferred, and of course Ms. Fitzpatrick had agreed that if that was what was best for me, then that’s what needed to be done.
Mrs. McGreggor then wrote back to Dumbledore and told him that I’d be transferring. Dumbledore responded to tell her where I could buy my new school uniforms, books and supplies and gave her a list of what I’d need. He told her that as soon as I could acquire my new books and supplies, I was welcome to start at his school.
Mrs. McGreggor and I argued for the next two days about the transfer. I kept telling her I didn’t want to go, and she kept telling me that it was in my best interest to go; it was a stalemate. I pointed out all my concerns about transferring, like the fact that I knew no one in Scotland nor at the school I was transferring to, and she kept pointing out all the bad things that could happen if I stayed at Dunamase and didn’t learn to control my newly discovered powers. She insisted that Albus Dumbledore was a famous, respected wizard and a colleague of hers and that she trusted him, and that I should, too.
Finally, just so I wouldn’t have to argue with her about it anymore, I conceded. The following Saturday, Mrs. McGreggor came into my dorm room early in the morning and said I needed to get up because she was taking me shopping for my new school things, and then to my new school. I hadn’t expected the transfer to take place nearly that quickly, but I got up and dressed in my regular clothes, packed my trunk and met her on the grounds with it twenty minutes later. We walked away from the castle and down the winding road a short way before she gestured for me to take her hand. Before we disapparated, I sadly took one final glance at Dunamase.
We disapparated and landed in Clonminam, and went to a second-hand shop to sell all my Dunamase things except my wand; I wouldn’t need them anymore. When we’d finished, we disapparated again and landed in Dublin, near Gringott’s. We went inside and Mrs. McGreggor explained the situation to the goblin behind the counter. She told him that my account needed to be transferred to the Gringott’s in London, and he assured her that it was no problem and that my money would be there before I would. As we left Gringott’s, I asked her, “Why does my money need to go to London? I thought the school was in Scotland.”
“It is,” she replied. “But the nearest Gringott’s is in London.”
“Great,” I’d said. “I’ll have to go to a whole other country every time I need money from my vault.” Mrs. McGreggor told me to stop being so pessimistic. Then we walked into the forest near Gringott’s and disapparated again. When we landed this time, we were in a small, dimly lit pub. When I asked Mrs. McGreggor where we were, she said we’d landed in The Leaky Cauldron, a wizard’s pub in London. She then led me through the crowd and in between tables to the back of the pub, through the back door and outside to a courtyard, closed in by a brick wall. She looked like she was counting bricks for some reason, and then she tapped a few of them with her wand.
Immediately the bricks began shifting and relocating themselves, and within a moment’s time they had cleared a large archway, which we walked through. The alley we’d walked into was very crowded, and there was sign hanging above our heads that read ‘Diagon Alley’. I looked around curiously as we walked past several shops, some of them large while others were small. We walked for a few moments before we came upon the tall, leaning white building that I knew had to be Gringott’s, even before I read the sign. We walked inside and up to the counter, explained to the goblin that my account should have just been transferred from the Gringott’s in Ireland, and waited while he went to the back and made sure everything checked out and grabbed the key for my new account.
Whereas my old vault had been number 615, my vault at the Gringott’s in London was number 681. We rode down to my vault, took out a few handfuls of coins, rode back up to the main room of the bank, and left, and I tucked the key to my new vault into my pocket. Then the London shopping spree began. We went to a shop to our left called Madam Malkin’s first, where I was fitted for and given my new school uniforms; personally I thought they were rather plain and ugly compared to my Dunamase robes. We left there and bought my cauldron, scales, books, ingredients for potions class, and all my other supplies.
I wondered why my new school required materials that were so much different from the supplies I had to have at Dunamase. In fact, I was amazed at how much of a difference there was between Diagon Alley and Clonminam. When we’d finished shopping, Mrs. McGreggor told me to take her arm again, and when I did we disapparated. We landed in a tiny, cramped toilet stall and quickly squeezed our way out. Luckily, there were no other girls in the bathroom at the time. We left the bathroom and I found myself inside a busy train station. “Where are we?” I asked Mrs. McGreggor.
“King’s Cross Station,” she answered.
“Why are we here?” I asked her.
“Because a train is the only way to get to Hogwarts, and Professor Dumbledore has arranged a special train to come just for you and me.”
“Okay,” I said, finally having heard the name of the school I was going to. Mrs. McGreggor pulled two train tickets from her pocket and then headed towards the platforms.
She slowed down when she got to platform 9, pointed to the wall between platforms 9 and 10 and said, “Jayde, the platform we need is there. Take my hand, we’re going to walk through that wall.”
“What?” I said, confused. Not answering me, she took my hand and led me towards the wall. I braced myself for the impact, but it never came. I heard a train whistle and opened my eyes, and we were standing on what the sign called ‘Platform 9 ľ, Hogwarts Express’. Mrs. McGreggor handed the ticket-master our tickets and we boarded the train. We picked a compartment, put my trunk in the overhead storage, and sat down and waited for the train ride to begin.