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Chapter 10 : Grandpa's Little Girl
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I ran from Professor Dippet’s office, blindly stumbling down the tight spiral staircase and falling into the hall.
It simply couldn’t be true.
I didn’t know where I was going; all I knew was that I had to get away from Nana, who was just standing there lying to me. How could she look at me like that and unload all those tremendous lies? Grandpa had been killed because a bunch of Muggle planes had bombed the port? It wasn’t plausible. It couldn’t happen.
I whipped around a corridor, swiping furiously at the wetness on my cheeks.
Why would Nana say that? Why? It just couldn’t be true…I had just seen him, I had just talked to him…
A fresh sob tore through my throat. None of that meant anything. And I knew deep down that Nana would never upset me, or say something like that to me unless she was sure. Grandpa must be dead.
I covered my mouth with my hand, trying to push every emotion I had back down my throat, back down deep inside me. I ran around another corner just to smash right into someone.
“Excuse me,” the girl said, glaring at me and then pushing her square spectacles up her nose. “You know it’s not very safe to be running around like that, I—”
She stopped, seeing my face, all red and puffy and glazed with tears.
“What on Earth?” she asked, disapproval written all over her, from her stern looking face to the bottom of her Gryffindor robes.
I glared at her, and the only thought I had spilled out of my trembling mouth. “Shut up.”
She just stood there, jaw open. I took another winding corridor, running until I couldn’t take another step, and I finally collapsed beneath a large mirror somewhere on the fourth floor.
I couldn’t think about anything, I couldn’t breathe. The only coherent idea that floated across my mind was “why?”
Why would this happen to him, the only person I had, and the only family member I had left who cared about me? If there was anyone on this earth who deserved to live a long life and die warm in bed, it was my grandpa. And now he was dead, buried beneath some pile of rubble in a Muggle town…
I sat there in the hall for a very long time. Ghosts floated by and the sun was hot on my face before it sank down.
It turned dark and I shakily clawed my way to a standing position, using the mirror to steady myself. There was a low thump and for a moment, I thought I had unhinged the entire thing from the wall, but it merely slid down to the floor, revealing a dark, square tunnel.
I stared at it, dully registering that it must be some kind of secret passage. Even my ubiquitous curiosity had left me now. I pushed the mirror back up to where it had been and tried my best to find my way back to my dormitory in the dark.
I didn’t really care if I was caught wandering about this late. What could they do to me that would be worse than this?
But I came across no one on my way to the dungeons, spoke to no one in the common room, even though they all stared and inquired where I’d been, and I pulled the curtains around my bed so I could sleep—sleep away this nightmare, wake up fresh and know it hadn’t been real.
Something warm was lying on top of me. I opened my eyes to see Scarlett curled up on my chest, innocently blinking as I rubbed the sleep from my eyes.
My stomach dropped. Grandpa was dead. It hadn’t gone away.
I didn’t bother rushing to get up; I had nowhere to go, and no desire to go anywhere either. I stayed in bed and stroked Scarlett’s soft black fur, wondering vaguely what it would be like to be a cat. She had no problems at all.
Once it was past eleven, I hauled myself upright. My reflection was repulsive: eyes swollen and puffy, hair tangled, and skin shiny and red from the crying. I considered going back to bed simply because I didn’t want the world to see me in this state, but immediately felt a wave of nausea at my own pettiness. Look at me, standing here worrying about how I look when my Grandpa had just died.
Scarlett O’Hara wouldn’t worry about what she looked like. She would hold her chin up and do what she had to. I narrowed my eyes and extended my neck, trying on her look of confidence.
It looked better than hopelessness.
I forced myself to dress, taking a deep breath before I went downstairs. Vaguely, I realized that I would have to tell someone what had happened. But I didn’t want Marcella to gasp and apologize and fuss. I didn’t want to see Joey’s cheerful, open face fall into sadness and hear him console me.
I wanted Tom. Tom would know what to do.
I took my time getting to the library, where I was correct in assuming he’d be. His face was in a book about curses. I sat down next to him, not sure what to say.
He glanced up at me, but did a double-take seeing how disheveled I must look.
“What’s wrong with you?” he asked, most unkindly.
“My grandpa died,” I retorted.
A beat of silence. Tom frowned at me, looking uncharacteristically unsure. He nodded.
Nothing more, just a nod of understanding.
Many minutes of silence passed, during which I stared out the window, watching the activities on the ground and thinking of nothing but Grandpa. Anger and misery took turns on me.
“I found a book you might like,” Tom said quietly, pushing a raggedy volume towards me. “Teaches you how to vanish things and such…you like that Transfiguration stuff don’t you?”
I smiled. “Thanks.”
Tom’s eyes lingered on me. “Your grandfather was killed, wasn’t he?”
I swallowed. “Yes.”
I didn’t bother asking how he knew. “Yes.”
He was frowning like he couldn’t understand me, fingering his wand in thought.
“Are you angry?”
The hatred I had felt last night came rushing back, setting my veins on fire. Yes.
I only shrugged. I didn’t want him to think I was crazy; I didn’t want to reveal to him that I would easily kill the person who had dared attack my Grandfather. It scared me how angry I was.
“You are,” he said, correctly interpreting my noncommittal gesture.
I nodded, feeling the tears stinging the insides of my eyes again. Tom watched a fat tear roll down my cheek and land on the book he had given me.
Tom leaned toward me, and lowered his voice. “Get revenge.”
The suggestion hung in the air, tantalizing, poisonous. I longed to take it, to rage and throw my fists and cry. I wanted to expel this feeling inside me, burning up everything. I had never felt this before, the savage want to hurt someone else, to—
“Punish them,” Tom finished my thought, his dark eyes raised to mine, burning with energy.
He understood. He didn’t think I was crazy. A rush of gratitude mingled with the anger now ebbing away in my bones.
Tom knew exactly how I felt.
I never told anyone else about Grandpa. They simply didn’t need to know. I had never talked about him much here anyways…most of my Slytherin classmates would have been put off once they found out I was related to a Muggle anyways. Perhaps for good reason.
Grandpa certainly was the kindest Muggle I’d ever met. I always excused them for being terse or grumpy when they served me in their Muggle diners or theatres, since I didn’t know what it was like to live without magic. But maybe my Grandfather was the exception. Perhaps Muggles really were as nasty and barbaric as people always said. Only a barbarian would be mad enough to drop fire on an entire city and kill everyone inhabiting it.
Maybe only a Muggle was capable of that.
“What is it this time, Miss Harley?”
A very annoyed looking Madam Bellhurst was peeking at me around the door of her office. “Another frozen body part? An inflated foot? A bad jelly-legs jinx?”
“Er—” I wasn’t sure how to explain my current predicament.
“Oh, for the love of—what am I going to do with you?” she asked, seeing and seizing my arm, which was now resembling the limb of some sort of canine. Claws were sprouting from my fingertips, and black fur covered me from elbow to wrist.
“I was hoping you’d heal me, but if you were thinking about throwing me off the Astronomy tower…”
“I am very seriously considering that,” she snapped, twisting my arm this way and that, end puling her wand out to tap it. She muttered under her breath for a few moments, but everything she did had no effect. Eventually she sighed and said, “This is some very powerful Transfiguration, Miss Harley. I don’t want to know where you encountered such magic.”
“Oh, around, ya know…”
“No, I don’t!” she sniffed, straightening up. “I can’t help you here. I’d go see Professor Dumbledore if I were you.”
“What?” I cried, throwing my arms (both fur covered and normal) out to the sides. “Why can’t you fix it? What if he can’t? What if I have to stay like this forever?”
“Then that would be a good reminder to stop messing around with magic! I don’t think you know how seriously you can hurt yourself!”
“Ugh,” I grumbled. “Fine. Thanks.”
I made my way up to Dumbledore’s office, furtively pulling my arm out of my sleeve every so often to glance admiringly at it. Finally, some progress. I had effectively turned my arm into that of an animal. Without a wand. The only problem was that I didn’t know exactly what I did to accomplish it. Oh, and the fact that I didn’t know how to turn it back to normal.
I had become obsessed with my quest lately, burying myself in magic, finding anything and everything that could distract me from thinking about Grandpa. I knew it was easier to forget about it here at school than it ever would be over the summer, but I tried not to think about it.
Tom was ridiculously helpful in this aspect; we learned a new spell almost every day. I learned to stun, to blast things apart, to bind things with rope. I guessed we were nearly as skilled as most of the fifth and sixth years now.
Anyway, I knocked on Dumbledore’s office door and was swiftly invited inside.
“Miss Harley! To what do I owe this pleasure?” Dumbledore asked, smiling at me from behind his desk.
“Well…” I didn’t know if he was going to reprimand me like Madam Bellhurst had. “I, er, had a bit of an accident. Madam Bellhurst said you might now how to fix it better than she would…”
I held up my arm. Dumbledore frowned and said, “How did this happen, exactly?”
“I don’t know,” I said truthfully.
Well, it wasn’t exactly a lie.
Dumbledore rose from his desk, his fantastic cerulean robes swishing behind him. He examined my hand and waved his wand around for a bit like madam Bellhurst did. I was beginning to panic when his incantations did nothing, but he eventually produced a flash of blue light and I watched the claws retreat to fingernails and the black fur retreat back to my arm until it disappeared.
“Of course,” Dumbledore said, lowering his wand. “But I must warn you, Miss Harley. I know better than anyone the allure of strong magic, but one must exercise caution along with their curiosity.”
“Yes sir,” I said, slightly uncomfortable. Dumbledore was surveying me, unsmiling. I tried not to think about my pursuit of becoming an Animagus, just in case he was looking through my thoughts.
“And remember that some types of magic not taught here are extremely dangerous, and at times, not exactly legal.”
Dumbledore put a delicate stress on his last word. I smiled innocently.
I wasn’t doing anything illegal. Sure, you had to register yourself if you became an Animagus, but I had hardly become one yet. And yes, Tom had found a rather interesting passage about something called the Imperius Curse in a sketchy book from the restricted section, but it wasn’t as if we had used it.
“I understand, Professor. I just got a bit carried away.”
“The best of us often do,” he said, though unnerving me with his serious manner. I quickly excused myself and galloped down the hall. I wasn’t in the mood to be lectured. I was too busy thinking about what animal I was going to become. Perhaps I’d turn into a dog, or some kind of fox. Maybe I was to be a coyote. Either way, it would be completely brilliant.
About a week later, Marcella was glowing. There really was no other way to put it, as she sat there on her bed, blushing and smiling as she told us about her plans for the first Hogsmeade trip of the year.
“He just sort of pulled me aside after potions,” she said, “And asked me if I wanted to go with him!”
“You’re so lucky,” Bess said sulkily. “He’s quite good looking.”
“Not to mention his family,” Rachel chimed in. “The Avery’s are well off and pureblood back for centuries.”
Marcella flopped backward onto the bed, her blond hair out like a fan behind her head. “Jonathan Avery really asked me to Hogsmeade. This is so grand! But what am I going to wear?”
I giggled as she popped up and started rooting through her trunk. “It’s not till the weekend, Cella. Relax.”
“I know, but I want to look nice, it’s not every day that a boy like John Avery asks me out!”
I frowned, a funny thought hitting me. No one had asked me to Hogsmeade. Apparently these trips were the social events of the year, and all of the older kids asked each other to Hogsmeade as a date. My mind wandered to Tom, wishing vaguely that he would be normal for once and ask me to go with him.
Ironically enough, Rachel rounded on me and said, “I’m assuming Tom asked you.”
“He might have,” I said, tilting my chin away from her and praying to Merlin that I looked mysterious and confident. Thankfully, she took that as a yes. I watched with satisfaction as an unmistakable wave of jealousy infected her face.
“Well, we all saw that one coming,” she said, trying and failing to keep the bitterness from her voice.
It was only later that night, when the other girls were asleep, that a panic hit me. Tom hadn’t asked me anywhere. Rachel could assume whatever she liked from my ambiguity, but he very well could ask her tomorrow. I surprised myself by feeling perfectly sick after imagining Rachel Burke at Tom’s side, waltzing down Hogsmeade’s main street with him.
I knew logically that the chances of that happening were very slim indeed, but the idea that it could caused me to purse my lips in the darkness. It was true I had never tried to be anything but Tom’s friend, maybe he didn’t know I wanted him to ask me. I didn’t know I wanted him to until I realized he could ask someone else.
I yawned, turning into my pillow. I was fine for the moment. Maybe I could get him to ask me, but even if he didn’t, I was still his best friend. I was fine with being his best friend…for now. But if any other girl thought she could be more than that, she’d have to go through me first.
“Why don’t you watch it, or else I’ll jinx you next time,” the girl in front of me sneered, pulling out her wand and waving it threateningly at the Ravenclaw girl beside her.
“I didn’t do anything wrong, I was only saying,” the Ravenclaw girl said, pulling nervously on one of her pigtails. Her voice was annoyingly high pitched.
“You did so. Just take yourself and your glasses somewhere else!”
“You’re so mean!”
The girl with pigtails pouted and scampered down the hall. I stood there and watched the other girl, wearing Slytherin robes, scowl and put her wand back in her robes. When she turned and saw me watching her, her eyes widened in fright.
“Are you a Prefect?” she squeaked.
I snorted. “No. You were making a scene though, you’re lucky none of them came along.”
She sighed in relief. “Well it’s not my fault. That stupid Myrtle was mouthing off about me being in Slytherin, so I figured I’d tell her to knock it off…”
“I don’t blame you in the slightest,” I said, grinning. “What are you, a first year?”
“Yes, I’m Olive Hornby,” the girl said, smiling up at me, obviously still grateful I didn’t turn out to be a Prefect.
“Nice to meet ya, Olive,” I said, sticking out my hand. “I’m Anne Harley. And don’t you ever let anyone say a word about your being in Slytherin. It’s the best house around, don’t forget it.”
Olive looked thrilled, but I heard a loud “tut” from behind me. I turned to see a Gryffindor girl, the same stupid Gryffindor girl I had ran into outside of Professor Dippet’s office. An unpleasant wave assaulted my insides as I remembered how hard I’d been crying, and why.
“Excuse me,” I said icily, “Did you have something to share?”
“Yes, I do. Did you not see that this girl,” she pointed at Olive, “just made another girl cry, threatened her with a wand, and made fun of her glasses?”
“As a matter of fact my vision is quite good,” I snapped, glancing pointedly at her ugly spectacles. “So I did see. What I don’t see is how it’s any concern of yours.”
She looked affronted. “I don’t think it’s good to be praising younger students for breaking school rules!”
Olive looked rather frightened, but I only smiled sweetly. “I’m sorry, but I don’t know your name.”
After a few seconds hesitation, the girl said, “Minerva. Minerva McGonagall.”
“Are you a Prefect, Minerva McGonagall?”
Looking as though she’d rather not admit it, she glared at me and said, “No, but—”
“So could you please tell me precisely what authority you have over me or Olive here?” I asked, my voice sounding wonderfully innocent.
“I can’t make you do anything, I just thought I’d let you know that I saw that, and I don’t think—”
“Well then, since she can’t make us do anything, we really don’t have to stay and listen to this rubbish, do we, Olive?”
Olive stared at me in awe, and then shook her head fitfully. I beamed at McGonagall.
“And just for future reference, if you ever think anyone wants to hear your opinion on disciplinary actions, you’re probably mistaken. So keep your fat mouth shut.”
Feeling immensely proud of myself, I left her again with her jaw open in outrage. Olive was looking at me as though I was a Veela, and I saw her smile importantly to all her friends after I said goodbye to her.
I smirked. It was good to be a third year. I made it breakfast and sat down next to Joey, very satisfied.
“You’ll never guess what just happened,” I told him, swiping a piece of toast from his plate.
“You enrolled in a course on manners?”
“Oh, ha ha. No, I just verbally assaulted some Gryffindor wannabe Prefect. She was going off about breaking rules and I told her where to shove it.”
Joey snorted into his orange juice. “How lady-like of you.”
“Whatever,” I said, globing jam onto my bread. “She had it coming. You shouldn’t get into other people’s business. She’s so the kind of person who’d rat you out for breaking rules just so she could feel important. Oh, there she is now…”
I pointed my toast in the direction of the doors, through which McGonagall had just walked. Her black hair was falling out of its messy bun, and she kept pushing those stupid glasses up her nose as she struggle with her overflowing school bag.
“She’s not bad looking,” Joey said carelessly, shrugging a shoulder.
“Ew. I am going to forget you said that,” I said, thoroughly offended. “She’s a hag.”
“Keep your shirt on, Harley,” Joey said easily, reaching over to ruffle my hair.
I ducked out of the way and made a face. “Shut up, my shirt is in no danger of going anywhere. And you’re being mean.”
Joey laughed. “Oh, it’s mean to talk about Gryffindor girls around you? Have I struck a nerve?”
I rolled my eyes.
“What, are you the only girl that’s allowed to be pretty?”
Forgetting what he had said about McGonagall, I smiled my best and blinked to show off my long lashes.
“Aw, you think I’m prettyyyy?”
“Damn straight I do, everyone knows that,” he said, unblushing. “Which reminds me, I’ve been meaning to ask you something.”
“Well, you know the Hogsmeade trip is coming up…”
My stomach flipped over.
“…I was just sorta wondering if you’d want to come with me. I mean just to hang out, like I’m not saying it’d have to be a date or anything…”
Joey looked for the first time slightly unsure as he saw my shocked face.
“I mean, it can be if you want…” he added, incorrectly interpreting my discomfort.
“Oh, I, er…”
I really had no clue what to say. Normally, I would have accepted his invitation immediately. I mean, he was an adorable quidditch player, quite popular, and he made me laugh like no one else. I liked Joey. I really did. Then why did I have a horrible, knotting feeling inside my stomach?
Joey looked at me expectantly, blinking his sparkly blue eyes.
I knew I would have fun if I went with him. I also knew I would hate myself for not going with Tom. Plus, I had as good as told Rachel I was going with Tom. I couldn’t back out now.
“Oh, Joey,” I said, barely having to feign my distress, “I would have loved to…but I already told Tom I’d go with him.”
I watched his face fall ever so slightly, an annoyed spark touching his eyes before he forced a grin.
“Still hanging around that mute, huh?”
I didn’t bother defending Tom. Now didn’t seem the time.
“It’s not like a date or anything,” I said quickly, wondering why I felt like I needed to clarify this.
“Oh, yeah, don’t worry about it. Just figured I’d ask, you know…we’d have had fun.”
I nodded. “We would have.”
Feeling exceedingly glum, I headed back to the common room before my next class. I felt bad about lying to Joey…somehow, lying to him wasn’t the same as lying to anyone else. I was let into the dungeons after giving the password (Bloody Baron), and was immediately seized around the wrist.
“Shh. Follow me,” Tom’s hand was strong on my arm, and he pulled me after him into a side dungeon and another antechamber.
“Where are we?” I asked, ignoring his request that I stay quiet.
“It doesn’t matter…watch.”
Tom pulled out his wand and pointed at a tawny owl that seemed to be cowering against the windowsill.
“Isn’t that—” I started, meaning to point out that I’d seen that owl, that it must be someone’s pet.
But my voice died in my throat as I watched what happened next.
The owl stopped pulling away from Tom, but instead perched on the windowsill, staring blankly at the two of us. Tom moved his wand downward, and the bird took a dive. He flicked it to the side, and the creature immediately followed suit, jerking to the left and looking like a poorly controlled marionette.
It landed on the ground, turned in circles, and even started what looked like a tap dance before Tom turned to look at me, triumph shining in every line of his face.
“The Imperius Curse. Now all that’s left is for me to try it on a human,” he said quietly, almost contritely.
Before I could protest, Tom said, “Imperio!”
Suddenly, all was well in the world. I thought of nothing, felt nothing. A pleasant, dreamy feeling drifted across me, and I stood there, wanting nothing else in the world, worrying and thinking about nothing.
Walk to the window.
A wonderfully echoing voice filled my head, and now my only desire was to obey it. I walked.
Break the window.
I pointed my wand at the glass and shattered it with a Reductor Curse.
Stun the bird.
I whirled on the spot, hitting the owl with a red stunning spell.
Then everything went away. I was back to normal, that beautiful voice gone, and I was left only a vague memory of what had just happened. It didn’t take long to piece it together.
“Tom!” yelped, taking in the shattered glass and stiff, unresponsive owl.
“H, how, why…that’s illegal! I can’t believe you just…”
He looked mildly disappointed. “Don’t start. I thought you’d get it.”
“I...” Trying not to make a fool of myself, I swallowed my voice. Mostly I was mad Tom had cursed me, and only after did it occur to me that he had just performed one of the most forbidden and dangerous spells in the world.
Eventually I collected myself, and asked the question that, shockingly, was most prominently burning on my tongue.
“How did you learn it?”
“It wasn’t hard,” Tom said unhelpfully, bored.
I closed my eyes and felt the envy rising inside me like some powerful, slithering creature.
I couldn’t stand him knowing something so powerful. I didn’t want him to have such a hold on me. I knew it was illegal and supposedly wrong…but I couldn’t help myself.
“I want to learn,” I said, carefully controlling my voice as not to sound too excited, or too scared.
Tom smiled. “Oh, really?”
I could have punched him for his smirk, and the way he was obviously enjoying me asking for his help.
“But it is illegal, like you said…” he taunted, somehow making me feel ridiculous for worrying about such a thing. A memory of Dumbledore’s warning flashed through my mind. I ignored it.
If only Grandpa had still been alive. Don't you think he would have been proud of his little girl now?
A/N Hi guys, I know this chapter was a little random and had a lot of different things happening, but hey, Annie's busy. I hope it wasn't too much. I wanted to get it all in :)
Lemme know what you think. Thanks for reading and giving me your time!
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