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My Not-So-Imaginary Friend by The Quiet Girl
Chapter 14 : XIV: Most Books are in the Library
 
Rating: MatureChapter Reviews: 14


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XIV: Most Books are in the Library

Doing homework on a Sunday night, just a few short hours away from when it was due, was nothing new to me. Although I was usually doing homework in the common room, not the library. And I usually sat alone, not with three of the Marauders working around me.

“Are you sure you don’t want help?” Remus offered from the bookshelf behind me. I could practically feel him wincing at how little of my Transfiguration homework I had finished.

“Need help? Definitely. Want help? Not at the cost.” I then pointed the end of my quill at Benjamin, who sat on the table directly across from me.

“I’m guessing that’s where Benjamin is sitting now,” James said from the end of the aisle. He closed a book and picked up the next one in line.

Peter, who also sat at the study table and was working on Muggle Studies, whimpered and scooted further away from where I just indicated. He looked around nervously before going back to his work.

I also squirmed a bit in my seat. Almost two weeks had passed since I revealed Benjamin to Remus and then the other Marauders. Since then, though, nothing had really changed except for the Marauders taking me to the library every evening so they could be ready to question Benjamin and get me to relay his answers.

I’m still pissed that you wouldn’t let me see the werewolf transform.” Benjamin’s cool gaze drilled into an oblivious Remus behind me.

I groaned. That wasn’t exactly a pleasant night for me. In order to prevent Benjamin from trailing Remus last Friday and doing who-knows-what to him while he was not human, I had waited until his guard was down and grabbed him from behind in a similar way I did two weeks ago. I then had to stay awake all night to make sure Benjamin didn’t shake free to stalk Remus. I was immensely grateful that the full moon wasn’t on a weeknight.

Remus closed a book loudly behind me. “Marta? What did Benjamin say now?”

I almost groaned again. Playing parrot to Benjamin was definitely not my intention when I told them my secret. “Just complaining about Friday night again.”

You don’t have to repeat every single word that I say. When I have something important to say, I’ll tell you to tell them. Why does the werewolf have to be so nosy?

I didn’t respond. I just closed my eyes, waited until my urge to groan again subsided, then returned to my essay.

And since we’re speaking again, why don’t you just let me to do the essay for you? Then we can leave the library. It’s boring here.

I looked up, meeting Benjamin’s gaze. Whispering, I replied, “Ever consider that I want to see how well I can do my work? Leave me alone.”

We both know you’re terrible at school. And you’ll never pass Transfiguration by yourself. Stop being so stupidly stubborn and listen to me.

“Shut up.” I bent lower over my essay. I reread what I already wrote, but even I knew it was rubbish. Then again, it was a quarter completed, so I wasn’t going to scrap it.

“Hey, Marta?” Remus moved to the end of the table, entering my field of view. “Benjamin giving you a hard time?”

“He always does,” I replied without looking up from my essay. “Why should tonight be any different?”

Instead of answering, Remus moved off to another part of the library. I thought he was looking for different books that might relate to Benjamin. But when he returned, he placed an open textbook in front of me. “Here,” he said, leaning over my right shoulder as he pointed to the chapter title. “This is a different Transfiguration book. It explains our subjects in the most basic way possible with a lot of examples. It might be easier to understand than the books McGonagall uses.”

“Thanks, Remus,” I said, looking up at my friend. I smiled up at him, letting him know I appreciated it.

Remus returned the smile. Until a rather large textbook from the shelf behind him landed hard in the middle of his head. He stumbled forward, caught himself on the desk, then turned away to straighten up and look for a further attack that fortunately never came.

Yes, werewolf, thank you for your help. Not.

Peter muffled a scream as his eyes scanned the bookshelves, looking for whatever might have thrown the first book.

James was by Remus’s side in an instant. He picked up the offending book from the floor. “Nice going, Moony. Forget that Benjamin doesn’t seem to like you?”

“I was just helping Marta with her homework,” Remus said, rubbing the back of his head tenderly.

“Just save the flirting until we get rid of Benjamin.” James opened the large book and started flipping through it, actually making sure to look at every single page.

That will never happen. And I only dropped that book because it was the heaviest one there. It doesn’t have any relation to what I am.

I consulted Remus’s Transfiguration book. “So you’ll admit that you’re not an imaginary friend?” I asked casually. My heart pounded hard in my chest.

Benjamin snorted. “Really? You want me to give you an answer while I’m having so much fun watching these Marauders conduct a useless search of all the books in the library? Honestly, Marta.

Sometime later, after James and Remus had moved down to another bookshelf and Peter and I were nearly done with our respective homework assignments, the library doors in the distance crashed open and footsteps rapidly approached our group.

Sirius skidded to a halt at the end of the hall, his grey eyes bright in excitement. “What are you lot still doing here? I’ve got something to show you!”

“What do you mean?” James asked. “I thought you got bored with the Benjamin thing.”

It’s only because you’re James Potter that I allow you to get away with calling me a ‘thing.’

“No, I got bored looking through books. But I found a way to finally let the four of us see what Benjamin looks like!”

Now all five of us looked to Sirius. I had thought it was impossible to make Benjamin visible to everyone else.

Benjamin had the biggest reaction. He sat up straight, looking at Sirius incredulously. “Impossible,” he whispered, his breath caught in his imaginary lungs. “No one can make me visible to anyone else. It’s simply not possible.

“Just for the record,” I announced, finding my voice, “Benjamin doesn’t believe it’s possible.”

Sirius’s grin got even wider. “Then I guess we’re proving that we’re more brilliant than he’s willing to give us credit for.”

“SH!” The librarian must have been around somewhere, because her shush was quite loud.

“Hurry, let’s go,” Sirius said, walking back towards the library exit. “It’s on the fifth floor.”

It? I looked up at Benjamin. He looked as confused as I was, a rare but overly satisfying sight. I shoved my books into my bag and took off after Sirius, anxious to see what he had discovered.

I was actually the first to arrive after Sirius. He opened a door on the fifth floor, revealing an unused classroom that was decorated in spider webs and layers of dust. I only took a few steps inside before I realized what classroom this was. I felt my fingers grow cold.

Interesting,” Benjamin hummed, sounding amused. “This is where Mathew Mudblood-in-my-Family dumped you. Good times. Of course, you don’t need Pureblood pretenders-

“Language!” I snapped. My left palm met Benjamin’s nose.

Not again! What is it with you and my nose? It’s a great nose! Owe!

“Let me guess,” James said, arriving in the room just behind me, “Benjamin said something offensive again.”

I shrugged, fighting the urge to deny Benjamin’s existence.

“So Sirius, let me get this straight,” Remus said, coming into the classroom and closing the door after Peter scooted inside. “You know a way to make Benjamin visible?”

“Not quite,” Sirius conceded, though he did look proud of whatever he had to share with us. “The actual Benjamin that Marta sees can only be seen by her. But I have a way to let us know what Benjamin looks and maybe even sounds like.”

As if on cue, the teacher’s desk in the front of the room rattled. Something was in there.

There was silence in the room as we all thought about this.

Benjamin was the first to speak, even though only I could hear him. He laughed. “Perceptive,” he said, grinning. “I would never have thought of that, and I’m incredibly brilliant.

“And not all that modest,” I whispered. I still didn’t get it.

But James and Remus seemed to have figured it out too. James started smiling, silently agreeing that Sirius’s idea was pure genius. Remus, on the other hand, had his doubts. “Do we really have to do this to Marta? And what if it doesn’t work?”

“Do what to me?” I echoed. Now I got worried. What were they planning to do to me?

“I still don’t get it,” Peter said.

“There’s a boggart in that desk,” Sirius said brightly.

Peter and I both let out a simultaneous shriek.

“Boggarts aren’t that scary,” Sirius said, rolling his eyes.

“Yes they are!” Peter said.

I whimpered, remembering the gigantic millipede form that my boggart had taken back in third year. And, like usual, I couldn’t get it to look like anything remotely funny. It was still embarrassing to remember failing that lesson in front of my peers.

Speaking of which, I caught everyone staring at me. I took a deep breath. “What does a boggart have to do with seeing Benjamin?”

“Simple,” Sirius said. “What are you most terrified of?”

“Millipedes. Too many legs and-”

“That was third year,” Remus said patiently. “What are you most afraid of today? What is the one thing that scares you the most?”

My boggart was something besides a millipede? What could it be? As I looked at each of the boys, expecting them to say something, my gaze rested on Benjamin. He actually looked a bit proud of himself. When our eyes made contact, he nodded once.

“Benjamin,” I whispered, my voice catching in my throat. “I’m afraid of Benjamin.”

And I’m delighted to have that honor.

“You don’t have to do this-” Remus started.

“But since you see Benjamin every day, it shouldn’t be as bad as it could be,” Sirius interrupted. “You’ve been afraid of someone finding out about Benjamin for so long, the boggart turning into Benjamin’s body double will just confirm to the rest of us that he actually exists and that you’re not crazy.”

I didn’t like the sound of this. I could easily have walked away. But Sirius was right; they wouldn’t truly believe Benjamin’s existence without actually seeing him. And besides, what harm could a second Benjamin in the room do?

I withdrew my wand. “The spell is Riddikulus, right?”

“Yeah,” James said. “And if you need help, the rest of us are right here. Crowds are better adept at handling boggarts than single people. We’ll step in when necessary.”

The boys walked around to stand behind the teacher’s desk, which had been turned around so the drawers were facing me. The student desks had also been moved against the walls, leaving a large opening in the middle of the room. Only Benjamin stood by my side in the middle of the classroom.

“Question,” I said as Sirius prepared to magic the largest drawer open. “Benjamin is standing beside me. Will the boggart pick up what frightens him too?”

“I don’t think so,” Remus said. “Since it’s only you that can sense Benjamin.”

I can’t believe I’ve never gotten around to seeing what a boggart looks like when it’s alone. Remind me to do that soon.

“Not the time to say that,” I muttered. “Riddikulus. Riddikulus. Okay, I’m ready.”

Sirius waved his wand, forcing the largest desk drawer on the right side open. The boggart emerged, and it was not a millipede.

His brown hair emerged first, followed by his fringe-covered forehead, an unbroken nose, medium lips, and a strong chin. Then his shoulders pulled out of the opening, broad but not too bulky. His strong arms helped push his torso out of the impossibly small opening from which he came. His long legs that only added to his impressive height stepped from the drawer effortlessly. Boggart-Benjamin stood tall as he leveled his cold hazel eyes on me.

“He does exist!” Peter squeaked.

Amazing,” Benjamin, the ‘real’ Benjamin, whispered. He stood next to the boggart duplicate of him, studying his features. “So this is what I still look like. I haven’t seen this face in so long.” He reached up and poked Boggart-Benjamin in the shoulder. The boggart took no notice. “Honestly, who could resist these looks?” Benjamin then closed his eyes, his head turned down. “Marta,” he added sadly.

“Marta, get him to turn around so we can see his face,” Sirius called.

But at that moment, Boggart-Benjamin decided to speak.

“You stupid girl,” Boggart-Benjamin hissed. His voice actually echoed off the walls, adding strength to his words. “Look at you. Pathetic! Sixteen years old and still learning how to use her wand. You would have failed out of school years ago if it weren’t for me doing your work for you. Hard to imagine that your mother was one of the most brilliant witches Ravenclaw had ever produced.”

I took a step back, my words of protest caught in my throat. Slowly, I started edging around the room, making Boggart-Benjamin turn as well. At the moment, the Marauders could get a decent glimpse of Benjamin’s profile. If I could get Boggart-Benjamin to face them completely, they would be happy and I wouldn’t have to endure them seeing the look of shame on my own face.

“You think you can be rid of me? Ha!” Boggart-Benjamin had even copied Benjamin’s harsh laugh. “I know everything about you. You don’t really want me gone. Every display of your ineptitude only proves how much you need me. You would be nothing without me in your life.”

I finally came to a stop, allowing the Marauders to see what Benjamin looked like. It wasn’t a moment too soon either. I didn’t want them to see how much I was trembling.

“You’re going back to St. Mungo’s, you know,” the boggart continued. “You’re crazy. Insane. And you will die there, alone and uncared for.”

I decided the Marauders had seen enough. I raised my wand, remembering the spell. “R-riddikulus.”

Nothing happened. The boggart wasn’t on the ground, curled in the fetal position with a broken nose and sucking his thumb. He remained standing tall, a smirk I had seen many times before written on his face.

“See? You’re inept. No wonder Kazik doesn’t love you. Alexander babies you. If Diana were still alive, she would be ashamed to call you her daughter.”

Riddikulus!” I couldn’t take any more!

I have a good voice too,” Benjamin continued calmly, now looking at the throat of his counterpart. “Not too deep, but confident. Do I sound like that all the time? Of course, you’ve told me my voice doesn’t echo off the walls like this boggart’s voice does. I also didn’t know boggarts could speak. Then again, most people get rid of them as soon as possible. But take your time, Marta. I’m rather enjoying myself.

“I actually look forward to your end,” Boggart-Benjamin continued. “You have no idea how boring it is, being around you day after day, watching you struggle with the simplest of tasks. When you join your ‘brilliant’ mother, I will laugh at finally being free from the likes of you!”

RIDDIKULUS!”

Boggart-Benjamin laughed.

“Here! Look here at me!” Remus jumped over the teacher’s desk and placed himself between me and Boggart-Benjamin. His left arm extended, as if shielding me from the boggart. “I’m right here!”

Boggart-Benjamin looked at Remus. Then, in a loud crack, Boggart-Benjamin was gone, replaced with a white orb floating in front of Remus’s face, as if taunting him.

Remus’s wand was already out. His grip tightened. “Riddikulus,” he called, his voice quivering slightly.

The orb only turned from while glass to a white ceramic bowl. A moment later, it returned to its perfectly round shape and glowed a bright white light on Remus’s face.

“Oi! Moony’s moon, look here!” Now Sirius got out, gathering the boggart’s attention.

This time, the boggart changed to focus on Sirius’s fear. It became a woman with long black hair and a rather unpleasant expression. Her grey eyes were identical to Sirius’s. She opened her mouth. “Disgrace! Disgrace upon the Black family name! Disgrace on your noble ancestors-”

“Disgrace that it took me so long to finally run away from home? Riddikulus.”

The woman stopped talking. A silver zipper replaced her lips. It closed. Simultaneously, her black velvet robes became a brightly colored, tie-dye sundress. Her hair became bright red and gold, and her shoes became three times as large and round at the red toes.

“Good look for you, Mum. Back in the drawer you go.” Sirius aimed his wand, forcing the boggart back into the safety of its desk drawer.

I didn’t realize that I’d been holding my breath. My legs gave way. I fell to the floor, my body exhausted and my head spinning. My mind just kept replaying all the things Benjamin had said. Was I really that worthless?

“Marta? Are you alright?” Remus knelt down beside me. He placed his right arm around my shoulders. “That was a little- intense?”

I couldn’t bring myself to look up at Remus. How could I? Boggart-Benjamin didn’t make any of that stuff up. It was all true. And the ‘real’ Benjamin had said or at least implied everything that was just spoken aloud, exposing me to the world, so to speak.

“Hey. Look at me.” Remus’s left hand reached around, tenderly cradled my jaw, and guided my face up to look at him. “Whatever Benjamin’s been saying to you, he’s lying. You’re not stupid, and you’re not inept, or anything else that you’ve been putting up with. Merlin, Marta, you’re so strong because you’ve been handling all this alone.”

I searched Remus’s eyes for any signs that he was lying, trying to make me feel better to get over the awkward situation. But all I could see was genuine concern for my well being and honesty behind each of his words. I felt the corners of my lips tug upwards.

Get your hands off my Marta, werewolf!

In the next instant, Remus was blasted away from my side. He crashed into the desk legs. His head smacked into the side of a tabletop, then toppled forward as he clutched it in a daze.

Once again, Peter and I both screamed out in unison.

“Remus!” James jumped around Peter and checked on his friend. But since Remus was still sitting up and his eyes were open, I figured he would be okay.

“Right then,” Sirius said slowly. “That was one way to end that sappy moment. That was Benjamin?”

“Certainly wasn’t me,” I said. “Potter, is Remus okay?”

“I’m fine,” Remus said weakly. That didn’t exactly reinforce his statement, sadly. “Trust me, I’ve lived through worse. Ouch! Stop poking my head, James!”

“Just checking for bruising or blood,” James said, defending his actions. “Benjamin’s got quite a bit of magic, doesn’t he?”

I shook my head. “I don’t know what to believe about him anymore.” I looked up, finding Benjamin standing in the middle of the room. His arms were crossed as he watched Remus get to his feet.

“Well,” James said slowly, “maybe I’m thinking about this the wrong way, but Boggart-Benjamin mentioned your mum quite a number of times.”

“The ‘real’ Benjamin makes the comparison every now and then,” I agreed. “I’m used to it. Some professors remember Diana, like Professor Slughorn. My grandfather says I look just like her. And they’re all too eager to say I’m like Mum in appearance alone.”

“That seems like a lot of reminding for someone you never met. She died giving birth to you, right?”

I nodded. “Yeah. But she was a curse breaker. They figured, the Healers I mean, they think there might have been a curse that affected her without her being aware of it. I was born, she named me, then she died.” I shrugged. Not having been aware of anything as a newborn, talking about my mother’s death didn’t really bother me.

Once again, I looked at Benjamin. He wasn’t bothering to hide the large smile on his face. When he saw me looking at him, he chuckled and shook his head. I looked away, not needing to see how amused Benjamin was getting.

“That sounds a bit weird,” James mused. “You would think Healers would be prepared for that sort of thing. I mean, you weren’t born at a Muggle hospital.”

I just shrugged. “Hence the curse breaker theory.”

We all pulled up some desks or chairs from around the room and started exchanging some theories about Benjamin and what Boggart-Benjamin’s comments might have meant. Actually, it was just Remus, Sirius, and James who deliberated. Peter sat closest to James, as if his presence would protect him from Benjamin. I sat the furthest from the others, not really listening.

Every now and then, one of them would ask what Benjamin thought of their latest theory. I would then report that Benjamin was laughing at their attempts, indicating that they were off track.

It was already quite late in the evening. I was getting a bit sleepy. I considered asking if I could go. I still had a little bit of Transfiguration left to finish, then I wanted to sleep on one of the couches tonight. I think James was especially grateful to me when he found out Benjamin’s prejudices against Muggle-borns.

I looked up when I heard Peter say something. He had been quiet since the Benjamin theories started going around. “What was that, Pettigrew?”

Peter took a deep breath. “I was wondering if you had anything of your mother’s.”

Remus also looked up, startled. “Your necklace.”

“Yeah.” I pulled the gold chain out from beneath my robes. The sapphire stone glinted in the light. “This used to be my mum’s. My grandfather gave it to me years ago.” I paused. “And last Christmas, Grandfather let me take this with me.” I pulled the small diary from an inside pocket. It was still locked, though I felt it was too important to just leave sitting in my book bag or my trunk.

“That is new.” Remus got up, but he stopped half way across the room. He looked around, his eyes searching for someone he couldn’t see.

“I was wondering when you’d remember,” James sighed, getting up and walking across the floor to me. “May I?”

My grip instinctively tightened on the book. I hadn’t managed to get the lock to open, even after I returned to school and had magic on my side to help me.

I looked from James to Benjamin. Benjamin was no longer laughing or smiling. He glared at the diary. He didn’t speak. He didn’t have to.

“Yeah,” I said, letting the diary leave my hand. “I think we might be onto something now. Benjamin stopped laughing. He’s starting to look pissed.” I paused, remembering. “He got annoyed whenever I tried opening it at home. I thought it was because he was bored watching me.”

“Then that means our answers are in here,” Sirius said.

“But how?” I asked. “That was my mother’s. What would she know about any of this?”

The boys proceeded to take out their wands and tried spell after spell to get it open. They tried breaking the binding, but the diary remained intact. The small lock proved tougher than any spell they tried. The covers would not tear, rip, bend, or even move to reveal just one letter. The edges of the pages remained straight and unyielding.

“Okay, the diary definitely has something to do with this,” Sirius said, shaking his head back and forth. “There’s no other explanation.” He passed it back to me, all ideas for opening the diary exhausted.

“I still don’t get it,” I argued. “So my mother was overprotective about her secrets. Being a curse breaker must have taught her ways to keep her diary private. I don’t understand what this diary or my pendant or anything else from her has to do with Benjamin.”

The lock on the diary clicked open.

Benjamin cursed softly, then turned and walked to the window. He looked up at the stars outside.

As for the rest of us, we all looked at the unlocked diary. I took a deep breath, then fingered the tiny lock. It was indeed undone. The pages were even spread a bit, as if relishing their first breath of fresh air after being bound tightly together for years.

I moved the diary a bit, opening to the first page. But when I moved it vertically, a small photograph fell, resting on my lap.

I picked up the picture and froze. It was my mother. Just her. The background suggested she was sitting in her bedroom at my grandfather’s house. Her hair was down and she wore the widest smile on her face. She waved casually at the camera. Every few seconds, she touched the tips of her fingers to her lips, then moved her fingers away from her and towards the camera, blowing silent kisses.

I flipped the picture over. “Oh my god,” I whispered.

“What?” Now all four Marauders gathered around me.

I couldn’t speak. I offered the picture to the closest one. James took the photograph. It took him a moment to realize what was odd about it.

It was dated for May of 1951. Four words were written across the middle: ‘I love you, Marta.’

“But-” James started, “how is this possible?”

I shook my head. “I don’t know. That was taken nine years before I was born, and a year before Mum met Father!” I looked down at the diary. Then back to Benjamin. He still looked pissed. Fortunately, he was staying by the window.

“What does the diary say?” Sirius asked. For once, he actually sounded worried about what we might find out. He probably finally figured that Benjamin was not a game.

“I can’t read it,” I said. I put the diary on the desk next to me. “One of you read it.”

Sirius was closest to the diary. He picked it up, flipping to the first page. There was a pause. Then, he flipped to the next page. Then the next. Finally, he fanned through the pages, as if looking for something.

“Blank,” Sirius sighed. He shook his head. “The diary’s empty.”

“What?” I took the diary back. I flipped through the pages. Neat handwriting flowed over every page. “No it’s not. It’s completely filled.” I went to the back. “There are only three blank pages in the back.” I angled the book towards them as I flipped through again. Black ink decorated every page.

But the Marauders all looked unimpressed. They couldn’t see it.

“It’s like B-Benjamin,” Peter said suddenly. “We can’t see him. We also can’t see what’s written here.”

“But why me?”

“Could you read some of it?” Remus asked. “Give us some idea as to what Diana wrote?”

I went to the front page. It only displayed ‘Diana Greengrass’ across the center. The ‘D’ and ‘G’ were both written with an exaggerated flourish.

I turned to the next page. I read the first line. “‘Dearest Marta-’” I gasped, dropping the book completely. “What the hell!”

“You’re in this book?” James asked.

“It makes sense,” Remus said, picking the diary off the floor. “Your name is written across the picture, and there was no way anyone could possibly have squeezed something into the pages. It was locked too tight.”

“I don’t want to read this then,” I said. I refused to take the diary back. “Why don’t we just forget all this?”

“You said you wanted to be rid of Benjamin,” Remus reminded me. His eyes were intense as he looked down at me. “The diary only opened at the sound of his name. Only you can see the ink, like only you can see Benjamin. There’s an obvious link, and your mother obviously wanted to help you know that.”

“But what would she know about Benjamin?!”

“We won’t know,” Remus said, putting the diary on my lap, “not until you read the diary and find out what she wrote.”

I closed my eyes. I didn’t want to do this. I didn’t. But what choice did I have? When I reopened my eyes, I took the diary. With one final look to Benjamin, who seemed to have decided to ignore everyone, I took a deep breath and started reading. . .


~*~


‘Dearest Marta,

‘Yes, I know what your name will be, daughter. If you have not already found it, I have included a photograph of myself. I hope you have noted the date and inscription. No, I am not a Seer. I cannot see the future. Instead, I have dedicated half my life to investigating the past. Hence the reason I decided on the name you have today.

‘Before I begin answering questions you will undoubtedly have for me, let me tell you a bit about myself. I am Diana Greengrass, though I do not know what my married name will be. My mother, Rhea Brown, died while giving birth to me. The Healers said she had a frail heart that couldn’t take the strain. My father raised me by himself. I have no siblings. I am a Pureblood witch.

‘Sound familiar? If I have failed, then the same thing has happened to you: I died in childbirth years ago, your father- whoever that will be- raised you alone, and you have no siblings seeing as you would have been the oldest in a potentially large family.

‘There is also another thing we both have in common. You obviously know what, or rather who, I’m talking about if you were able to get the diary open.

‘Benjamin is your imaginary friend. But he is more than that. He is a curse on our family, dating back centuries.

‘If you ever had an urge to trace your family tree, you would notice the same patter I did while still at Hogwarts. My mother died in childbirth. My mother’s mother died in childbirth. My mother’s mother’s mother died in childbirth. And so on and so forth. This is no coincidence. It is the family curse, with Benjamin ensuring that it would take hold each and every generation.

‘Benjamin is not pleased with me that I figured it out, let alone that I’m recording my experiences to share with you. His power lies in the ignorance of our family, our inability to help each other overcome him. But I want to change that. Even though I have died, I refuse to believe the curse will endure for another nine centuries. We need to stop it, to protect our descendants from knowing an evil such as Benjamin.

‘Benjamin works according to a set pattern. When a girl in our family is born, he transfers himself from the mother to the daughter under the guise of an imaginary friend, shifting himself in age to be just a year older than his newest victim. The mother dies and Healers assign a normal cause of death, sometimes unaware that the grandmother of the newborn died in the same fashion. As the girl becomes a woman, Benjamin grows with her. He may remain as a consistent companion or keep his distance until the young woman needs help and aids her, then vanishes again. But he is never really gone. Eventually, Benjamin will guide the young witch towards a Pureblood wizard, influence them to fall in love, and ultimately begin the process over again.

‘Part of his curse also promises that we will only have daughters. The curse would not work if a son were born because he would not be the one to die in childbirth. Additionally, Pureblood families are easier to trace through the male line, due to the surname being passed from father to son, whereas us daughters always change our names. That is why we have remained uncured for centuries.

‘You are probably doubting everything I am telling you. How could I know all this? Certainly Benjamin hasn’t told me. But if your father or your grandfather- my father Alexander- haven’t told you, I became a curse breaker after leaving Hogwarts. I discovered the sinister nature of Benjamin when I was fifteen, which was then reinforced by his twisted delight when we found out about a tragic murder that happened in my seventh year.

‘Obviously, my efforts to learn all about curses and how to break them weren’t enough if I also fell victim to the family curse. But, like I said before, Benjamin has had centuries of experience manipulating the women of our family and getting to his goal. Though years of asking him questions and getting cryptic clues, I have discovered only two other ancestors have figured out his true existence. Just two others in a line of over forty generations!

‘You are probably now asking yourself if a real Benjamin actually existed in reality. The answer would be yes. The original Benjamin, who was a student of the four founders of Hogwarts, is the reason that our family is cursed to begin with. And why might our family be cursed in the first place? Love. Or rather, unrequited love.

‘The real Benjamin, who is now long dead, fell in love with a witch a year his junior. She was a Pureblood, like him, and the only daughter of a respected wizard. The real Benjamin thought they would make the perfect couple, seeing how he himself was an only child. It was not just her beauty that attracted him but also how it was their duty to produce another Pureblood family. Have you already guessed her name? Yes, her name was also Marta.

‘However, our first ancestor had already fallen for another Pureblood of her own year, a wizard by the surname of Peverell. Peverell had one older brother, who was already betrothed to another Pureblood witch. So naturally, Benjamin’s logic was that he should have first choice in who he should be able to marry, since Peverell’s family name would continue through his brother while Benjamin was the only one of his family to continue their line.

‘Marta, of course, chose Peverell. I don’t know the exact details, but the real Benjamin was furious. Blinded by anger and a broken heart, he reasoned that if he couldn’t have Marta, no one else could either. He created a curse and turned it on Marta. When she had her first child, a daughter, the original Marta died in childbirth, her punishment for not choosing Benjamin.

‘And as part of the curse, Benjamin created a manifestation of himself that could only be seen by Marta’s daughter. It would then transfer to Marta’s granddaughter when the daughter died. That manifestation is the Benjamin you see before you today.

‘I know this is a lot to absorb. You might think I am mental, but I am as sane as you are. Haven’t you ever wondered how Benjamin became so intelligent? He has centuries of experience behind him. He has been an imaginary friend to someone in every Hogwarts House. He knows all the ways to enter Ravenclaw Tower, and he knows every secret passage in and out of Hogwarts.

‘Like I said earlier, only two other witches in our family have discovered Benjamin’s true nature. The first was Athena Webb, who lived in the thirteenth century. She lived twenty-seven years, which was seven years longer than the average lifespan of her ancestors. Unfortunately, Benjamin took out his anger about his discovery on Athena’s daughter, Venus Lupin, who only lived seventeen years before giving birth to her own daughter. The second was Elizabeth O’Neil, who lived in the eighteenth century. She lived twenty-nine years, but her daughter Callisto Macdonald died at the age of eighteen.

‘I’m sorry to say, but I am the third person to have discovered Benjamin’s true existence. He has probably taken out his anger at me on you, attempting to make your life miserable. It is the only way for him to get even with those of us who try to defy him. I apologize for making your life less enjoyable that it should have been. I hope you have it in year heart to forgive me.

‘While we have never met, I know you can overcome Benjamin. You have to find a way to defy his curse. I don’t know how old I will be if and when I have you. As long as you delay falling in love and having your first child, you have unlimited time to discover how to defeat Benjamin. The rest of my diary chronicles my time at Hogwarts and then my training for being a curse breaker. If anything here helps you, I wish you the best. Hopefully, we will be the last of our family to endure this curse.

‘Be wary of Benjamin Gaunt. He was a Slytherin in life, and despite what colors he wears as your imaginary friend, do not underestimate his intelligence or how much magic he can use against you.

‘I wish you all the best. Good luck. Wherever I am now, know that I will always support you, as any mother should for her daughter. No matter what happens, Marta, know that I will always be proud of you. Even if you should fail like I undoubtedly have, please help our descendents have better lives than ours.

‘I love you, Marta.

‘Forever yours, Diana Rhea Greengrass.’
 


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My Not-So-Imaginary Friend: XIV: Most Books are in the Library

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