Chapter 19 : Chapter 15
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'Are you sure you will be alright spending Christmas here by yourself?' Jon asked Ollie for what seemed the thousandth time since she had announced her intention of staying in the castle over the Christmas holidays. 'You know I would stay and keep you company but it is Uncle Oliver and Alicia's wedding and-'
'Shhh' Ollie said, putting a finger to his lips. 'I know and I'll be fine, there are other people in the castle so I will not be alone'
'Just look after yourself and write to me' Jon replied pressing a quick kiss onto her lips, before picking up his trunk and walking out of the common room.
Ollie sat down in a nearby chair and pulled out a transfiguration textbook which she pretended to read whilst watching most of Gryffindor house depart. She watched as Phoenix and Raven struggled to haul their heavy trunks through the portrait hole and how the first years where running around like headless chickens as they fretted as the whether they had packed all their belongings which they would need for the holidays.
Ollie was contemplating the fact that it was going to be nice to spend the holidays having some peace and quiet, there were only around 15 other people staying in the tower, when heather came bounding up to her.
'Hey' Heather said cheerfully, far to awake for Ollie's liking – oh how she was looking forward to lying in every morning.
'Hey' Ollie replied trying to match her friend's enthusiasm. 'Are you about to head off?'
'Yeah' Heather replied. 'I can't wait to go home'
'Is your mother coming home for Christmas?' Ollie asked referring to the fact that Heather's mother, Hyacinth, was nearly always absent from her daughter's life and it had been a shock to everyone that she had asked heather to come and spend time with her in New York last summer.
'No, she said she was too busy' Heather replied 'but Aunt Lavender is taking a break from her talks to come back to Christmas and I can't wait to see Niamh. I bet she's grown!'
'I suppose that will be nice' Ollie replied
'Look Ollie' Heather said almost hesitantly. 'I've wanted to talk to you about...well about me and Austin. You're ok with it right?'
'Oh yeah, its fine' Ollie replied absentmindedly, wanting the conversation to me over. 'I'm absolutely fine with it'
'Good, it's just I wanted to clear it with you...' Heather trailed off. 'Well I hope you have a good Christmas' she said finally and with an awkward wave she walked away.
'You too' Ollie called out to the Head Girl's retreating back.
Ollie sighed sinking deeper into the squishy armchair. She really did not know what to make of Austin and Heather. On the one hand she should be feeling absolutely fine with it, since she was the one who ended her relationship with Austin, for very good reasons and Heather seemed a much better match for Austin but on the other hand, she cared for her friend, though they were not as close as they once had been, Heather was still the first friend she had made at Hogwarts and she did not want her to get hurt. It had also hurt to see them dancing together at the party.
Heather had organised a birthday party for Austin the previous Saturday and had invited the whole of the 6th and 7th years. Ollie had been dragged along by her friends and had stayed long enough to witness Heather and Austin's passionate kiss on the dance floor. Seeing them together had brought back memories of all the good times they had had together even though she now knew that Austin's feeling for her were fake. It had physically hurt to see him with another girl.
Jon had led her out of the party soon after, Phoenix had had far too much to drink and was making out with her boyfriend, Cameron, in the corner, and so was not able to notice how tense Ollie was getting. Ollie did not know what was going on between her and Jon, even now, over a month after their kiss and heart to heart at the top of the old astronomy tower they still weren't officially going out, at least she did not think so, but they were more than just friends.
Ollie closed the transfiguration book, she had been trying to read and stalked out of the common room. How was she supposed to understand the transfiguration of a table into a pig perfect if she could not even hear herself think? She walked down the corridors, trying to avoid the steady stream of students who were heading in the opposite direction towards the entrance hall. Finally she found a relatively quiet empty classroom, which was free from annoying pupils and Peeves the resident poltergeist, in which she could practise the spell in peace.
'Urgh!' Ollie exclaimed, after the desk failed to turn into a pig or any sort of animal for the fifteenth time in a row. She was so annoyed, being the daughter of an animagus you would think she was good at transfiguration, but it was the class she found the hardest, even potions was easier! Admittedly this time there had been some improvement as the desk had turned pink and had sprouted trotters from the bottom of the table legs
'You need to flick your wrist more' came a slightly accented voice behind Ollie
Ollie turned around quickly to the curly haired Professor Swann walk into the classroom
'Like this' the transfiguration professor demonstrated, pointing her wand at a nearby desk, which immediately turned into a pig. 'Now you have a go' she stated after the pig had been transformed back into its original form.
Ollie copied the professor's movements and to her delight she managed to turn the desk into a snorting pig.
'Thanks Professor' Ollie said gratefully
'It is all in the details and the little movements' Professor Swann replied wisely. 'Come with me Katarina' she stated
'But Professor I'm practising-'
'You have practised enough for today and you have the rest of the holidays to do some more. Come and have a cup of tea and some biscuits with me in my office'
'Yes Professor' Ollie replied, flowing her transfiguration teacher out of the classroom to her office, knowing that it would be unwise and stupid to argue with her. Professor Swann was the only member of staff who called her Katarina, everyone else, including the Headmistress called her Miss Potter or Ollie. When she had asked Professor Swann to call her Ollie on the transfiguration teacher's first day in her fourth year, the new teacher had replied that Katarina was a perfectly nice name and since it was the once which was written in her register then that is what she would be called in her class.
Ollie entered the office and sat down in the seat Professor Swann had pulled out for her. She looked around the office curiously as the curly haired professor bustled around the office making tea. There were all sorts of strange things on the walls, everything from watercolours of mountainous landscapes, to a random crest containing a swan and books whose titles were written in a language Ollie could not understand.
'Do you take sugar?' Professor Swann asked
'Um...yes please, one' Ollie replied sitting awkwardly in the chair, wondering why the teacher wanted to talk to her.
'Here you go, I hope it's alright' Professor Swann said as she handed Ollie a tea cup and a biscuit.
'It's really nice, thanks' Ollie replied after taking a tentative sip. 'Professor why am I here?' Ollie asked finally as the transfiguration professor took a seat opposite her.
'Well, I guess I was curious as to why you did not depart with the rest of your family from Hogwarts this morning and I wondered if everything was alright, you've been very quiet in class these past few weeks'
'Oh yeah, everything is fine' Ollie replied hastily 'I just wanted to get a lot done this holiday and escape from the craziness that are Weasley family Christmases.'
'The Christmas break is called a break for a reason Katarina' the professor said sternly 'they are there so you can take a rest from studying'
'I know and I promise I won't work all the time'
'So what is this all about escaping the craziness?'
'Christmas with my family is so loud and noisy' Ollie replied
'Aren't Christmases meant to be like that?'
'I guess so, but I'm still not used to them being like that, involving so many people' Ollie remarked. 'When I was younger, when it was just Luna, my Godmother, my Dad and I, we had quiet Christmases in our house by the lake in Italy. We would stay up late on Christmas Eve and attend the midnight mass because that was what the rest of the community did and it was a really beautiful listening to all the hymns. Then on Christmas morning we would lie in before racing down the stairs to see if Father Christmas had visited and we would exchange presents around the tree. Some years, later in the day, we would meet up with the Malfoys or the Lupins for Christmas Lunch but normally it was just us three.
'So you don't like the change?'
'No, I think it's great experiencing a big family Christmas with wrapping paper flying everywhere and Dad's face lighting up when Ginny gives him a present or one of the twins climbs on his lap. It's just that I miss the peace that I used to associate Christmas with and after such a busy term I really need a break.'
'You do not know how lucky you are' Professor Swann stated sadly. 'I wish I could be with my family for Christmas but alas this job and other things keep me here' and she reached over and picked up an ornate photo frame which contained a photograph and handed it to Ollie.
Ollie looked at it closely. She would not have been able to tell that it was a magical moving photo if it was not for the small toddler sitting on the woman lap squirming every so often because the rest of the picture's occupants were standing so stiffly. Ollie figured out that the woman in the photo must be Professor Swann as they had the same curly hair, though in the picture it was a bit tamer and neat, which meant that the man standing stiffly next to her was most likely to be her husband, which meant that the two children must be her son and daughter.
'Your family?' Ollie asked as she handed back the photo frame.
'Yes' Professor Swann replied 'my son Sergei and daughter Ana'
'And that is you husband?' Ollie asked pointing to the man with a scar on his face in the photograph.
'Yes that is Ivan' the professor replied almost bitterly.
'Well...um...thank you professor for helping me with that spell and for the tea' Ollie said finally as she placed her now empty cup down.
'No problem Katarina, it was nice to have some company and don't hesitate to asked if you need any more help with transfiguration. We must do everything possible so you can get the grades you need for Healer school'
'How do you know about that?'
'Word spreads quickly in the staff room, especially since your father and Ginny can't contain how proud they are of you'
'I just wish he would show it' Ollie muttered as she left the office and headed back to the Gryffindor common room.
Later that evening, when she was sorting out her transfiguration notes, she wondered how Professor Swann seemed so interested in her, more than any other student and how she seemed to know so much about her. She also wondered why the transfiguration teacher was not able to spend Christmas with her children, especially since it was clear she really wanted to and Ollie could not see Professor McGonagall trying to stop her.
Tatiana Swann placed the photo, encase in the ornate photoframe, she had shown Katarina back in the shelf and sighed, brushing her fingers across the cold glass and she passed over the image of her small daughter, the daughter he husband had called a bitter disappointment because she had the wrong eyes. She had not seen her children in almost six years as a result of her and Ivan's fallout and consequent separation. She had wanted to take the children with her when she left but under the laws in her country the heirs had to stay with the father in the estate.
She then pulled out another photograph from behind the ornate frame containing to smiling girls, which had corners which were bent and was well worn. Katya would be proud of her daughter, she mused as she straightened out one of the corners, before putting it back behind the frame containing a picture of her lost family.
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