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Chapter 4 : Memories
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“Merry Christmas Peeves,” I laugh. I learnt pretty quickly that unless you want to be summoning the Bloody Baron every five seconds, it’s best to humour Peeves as much as you can. Getting cross only encourages him, and ignoring him tends to make him more determined. But if you play along a bit, he will usually leave you alone. In this case, he blew another Raspberry at me and then floated off down the hallway, cackling and singing his twisted versions of Christmas carols.
Less than a week, I remind myself as I close the door and make my way to the front of the classroom. There are only three days of classes left until the end of term and I, for one, am very much looking forward to the break. I’m going home to Swansea to visit my parents like I do every Christmas, which doesn’t sound terribly exciting, but it will be nice to see my family again. My brother Owen and his wife Natalie are coming over from France with their two children Charlotte and Jack, and there will no doubt be a few aunties, uncles and cousins to catch up with.
Of course, Mum will tell me I’m too skinny and need fattening up, or too fat and need to lay off the pudding (it varies, she can’t seem to make up her mind), whilst Dad reminds me how to use various muggle items as though I’m an amnesia patient who is also a little bit thick (he once spent ten minutes reminding me how to dial the telephone when I offered to call up for a pizza delivery!). My parents can be a bit overbearing at times, and they’ve never fully embraced magic, but I imagine that’s normal for the parents of muggle born witches and wizards.
My brother and his beautiful French wife are the only members of my family who know about my ‘abilities’ and don’t have a problem with them. Owen was rather jealous of me when I got my Hogwarts letter, although he is four years older than me, so he soon got over it. It probably helped that I wasn’t allowed to use magic out of school. It’s a bit like that old saying, ‘what the eye can’t see, the heart can’t grieve for.’
“Ok, settle down,” I say to the room of fourth year Slytherins and Ravenclaws; whilst not my favourite class, this particular group aren’t too awful. Slytherin classes aren’t always the best, and you usually have to keep your wits about you, although it isn’t lost on me that not only are there less Slytherins than there were when I was a student, the green and silver bedecked students are also certainly less outspoken than I remember my Slytherin contemporaries being. Ravenclaws are a bit of a double-edged sword in the classroom; on the one hand they are generally very studious, grasp things quickly and rarely give me cause to chase down missing homework, but on the other hand, they sometimes pick things up faster than expected (more than once I’ve had a class of Ravenclaws who finished the entire week’s worth of exercises in one lesson, leaving me scrambling to find lessons I hadn’t yet planned), and it’s not uncommon to get a couple of ‘know-it-all’s’ who take great pleasure in correcting every mistake I make.
They take a little longer than usual to stop talking and turn their focus to me, but since they were just out in the corridor being serenaded by our resident delinquent poltergeist, and it’s only a few days until holidays, I can understand their restlessness.
“I was very pleased with most of your essays on part-isolation transfiguration,” I begin, waving my wand so that the rolls of neatly graded parchment float gently to their owners. “Most of you have shown a good understanding of the theory behind transfiguring only part of an object, although some of you may want to think a little more about appropriate practical application. I can promise you that turning your own toes into chocolate éclairs will not come up a whole lot, Mr. Newitt,” I raise my eyebrows at a cheeky looking Slytherin in the back row and the whole class giggles. Andrew Newitt is a surprisingly sweet kid for a Slytherin, and ever since I laughed at one of his jokes in my third week as a Hogwarts teacher, he has put something ridiculous in every piece of homework he has done for me, just for my amusement.
“But you never know, Professor Morgan,” He beams, pointing a finger at me, and the whole class laughs again.
“You never know,” I nod with a smile and continue my instructions. “Today, we are going to begin attempting some part-isolation transfiguration, but please be aware that it can be tricky, so don’t get discouraged if you struggle to isolate the part of an object you want to transfigure.”
I hold up a teapot and demonstrate transfiguring the spout into different things, first a ribbon, then a stick of liquorice and finally a sprig of holly, just for something festive. I quickly multiply more teapots and hand them out for students to try turning their own spouts into liquorice since it’s the least complicated of the three. It isn’t long until the room is full of muttered incantations and wand flicking, interspersed with the occasional groan of frustration or cheer of success.
“Professor, look!” I hear after about fifteen minutes, and look over my shoulder to see that Andrew Newitt is beckoning to me. “I know it’s not the spout, but it’s still part-isolation transfiguration!” I reach the table he is sharing with fellow Slytherin, Jason Cleese, and notice that he hasn’t transfigured the spout but the handle of his teapot. A very human looking ear is now in the place where one would pick up the teapot, and I fold my arms across my chest, trying not to look too amused.
“That’s very impressive Mr. Newitt, but I am interested to know why you are transfiguring body parts on to crockery.” I raise one eyebrow at him.
“Well I already did the liquorice thing, see?” He says, and with a quick demonstration, his spout is replaced with a stick of the black sweet. “So I thought I’d be a bit more creative. Plus, I like the idea of transfiguring body parts.”
“Why am I not surprised by that revelation, Andrew?” I ask rhetorically, before turning and moving away to help some Ravenclaw girls near the front of the classroom.
“I thought it might be fun to transfigure my own nose into a bright red one for Christmas, Professor, see?” I hear the words but it takes a second for their implications to register. I spin around on the ball of my foot, but by this point, his wand is already pointed at his own face.
“Andrew! No!” I exclaim, reaching for my own wand, but I’m too late. With a loud crack, a spell that is far too strong and too unstable explodes out of Andrew’s wand and hits him square in the face. His face registers shock as the spell hits and he is thrown from his chair and against the wall behind him. Gasps of shock echo around the room as I dart towards the back row of tables, my mind already searching for an appropriate spell. I round the edge of the table where Jason is staring at the floor in surprise, and am struck by what I see.
Andrew is crumpled on the floor, his left shoulder partially pushed up against the wall. His legs are bent slightly and his right arm is splayed out to the side. He is unconscious, but there is no blood and none of his joints seem to be bending at unnatural angles so I should be relieved; a serious crisis seems to have been averted and I should be able to fix this.
Except that when I look down at Andrew’s body, my blood runs cold and my legs suddenly feel like they’re going to give way. Andrew’s body, lying on the cold stone floor of the Transfiguration classroom fades away, and is replaced by another body, of a boy a few years older. He is covered in sweat and dirt, his light brown hair a tangled mess. He is lying on the cold grass of the Quidditch pitch where a huge maze has been grown. A younger boy is bent over his body, a large, glimmering trophy cup dropped carelessly on the ground next to them. The younger boy seems to be crying, but the older boy is not moving, his open eyes glassy and lifeless. Fear bubbles up in my throat and bursts out as a scream.
“Cedric! No!” I hear the shout echo around the room as my legs give way and my knees hit the hard stone floor. Sobs overtake me and my body begins shaking with grief. I’m oblivious to my surroundings, trapped by the horrific image before me of my friend lying dead on the grass. Occasionally I hear voices, but they are muffled, as though they are coming from people several rooms away.
“Emily?” The voice in my ear is warm and gentle, and I drag my eyes away from the image of Cedric’s body to look into the face of the headmistress. “Emily, can you hear me?” I stare at her for a moment, and then fall against her shoulder, weeping like a child.
I wake up sometime later in a room I don’t instantly recognise. There is late afternoon sunlight streaming through the high windows, and I’m vaguely aware that I’m lying on a bed, covered with a soft blanket. I move my head around, ignoring the stiffness in my neck and take in my surroundings. There’s a cabinet next to my bed with a jug of water next to an empty glass. My wand has been placed there too. A plain wooden chair sits next to the bed and a privacy screen has been pulled around the bed, blocking my view from the rest of the room. This is enough information however, for me to deduce that I am in the hospital wing.
My mouth is dry and my head is pounding, but otherwise I seem to be unharmed. Pushing myself up into a sitting position, I reach over and pour myself a glass of water, enjoying the relief it gives to my dry throat. I try to remember what happened before I woke up here, but it’s a bit patchy. I close my eyes and try to focus; my memory is a blur of colour, myself screaming at Andrew Newitt, a flash of green grass, my knees hitting the floor, McGonagall saying my name and a pair of lifeless, glassy eyes. I gasp and my eyes fly open again.
“Emily?” Madam Pomfrey, the school healer, appears around one of the privacy screens. “Good, you’re awake. How are you feeling dear?”
“I…I don’t know,” I stammer, my voice sounding gravelly. “What happened?”
Madam Pomfrey frowns and lets out a small sigh. “I think you had better discuss that with Minerva,” She says. “I’ll let her know you’re awake, and you really should eat something.” She disappears again, leaving me feeling somewhat confused and a little bit frightened. I pull my knees up to my chest and hug my legs while I wait for Madam Pomfrey to return.
However, it’s McGonagall who appears in my small, makeshift hospital room a few minutes later, her face arranged into its usual stern expression; only her eyes give away her concern and compassion. She sits in the wooden chair next to my bed and watches me for a moment before she speaks.
“How are you feeling Emily?” She asks, her voice surprisingly soft.
“Incredibly confused,” I admit honestly. She nods at this as though to indicate she is not at all surprised.
“How much do you remember?” She prompts. I sigh and press my eyes closed again for a second; I open them and speak slowly.
“I was teaching the fourth years,” I begin. “Andrew Newitt tried to transfigure his own nose,” I pause, my eyes flicking to McGonagall in panic. Am I going to get in trouble for not stopping him? A good teacher would never let her students accidentally stun themselves in class, right?
“That sounds like Mr. Newitt,” McGonagall says, giving me a wry smile that tells me I’m not in trouble.
“Is he ok?” I ask suddenly, remembering the force with which his body had hit the wall.
“He’s going to be just fine,” She replies. “Just a little bump on the head, he’ll be back to making trouble by tomorrow.”
“Good,” I nod, staring at a small scratch on the foot of my bed.
“What happened after Mr. Newitt fell?” McGonagall prompts me. I continue to stare at the foot of the bed while I speak.
“He…he was lying on the floor, and then suddenly it wasn’t him anymore.” I say, feeling rather stupid. “It was someone else.”
“Who was it?” McGonagall’s voice is so soft, and yet incredibly clear, like she’s whispering right into my ear.
“Cedric,” I practically choke the word out, and I feel the tears welling up again. I squeeze my eyes shut tightly to stop them, but as soon as I do, the image of Cedric appears.
“Cedric Diggory?” McGonagall sounds surprised, and I open my eyes before nodding.
“I…I don’t know what happened professor,” I whisper, and it’s a credit to McGonagall’s sense of empathy that she doesn’t correct me for using the old idiom. “It was like I was there again, at the triwizard tournament.” The tears are pouring down my cheeks now and I can barely get the words out through the sobs that are fighting to resurface. The headmistress conjures up a handkerchief and passes it to me, waiting silently while I wipe away the tears and try to compose myself. I don’t know what’s wrong with me, I’m turning in to a complete mess.
“I…I can’t really remember what happened after that,” I finally manage to say. “It’s all fuzzy. I remember seeing you and then I woke up in here.”
“Emily, I’m not entirely sure what happened either,” McGonagall admits, and even though it’s childish to think so, I’m slightly stunned that there’s something she doesn’t know; Minerva McGonagall is the smartest witch I’ve ever met. “From what you have told me, and the accounts of your students, it sounds as though Mr. Newitt’s accident invoked a rather painful memory, causing you to have some sort of emotional reaction.”
Madam Pomfrey appears at that moment, carrying a tray. She places it on a small, wheeled table in the corner and pushes it towards the bed. There is a covered plate, a glass of pumpkin juice and a tall, thin vial of a purplish liquid. The healer picks up the vial and passes it to me.
“Calming draught,” She explains. “It will help you to rest.” I don’t think twice before swallowing the entire vial. “Make sure she eats something.” Pomfrey says to McGonagall, before leaving us alone again.
“You need rest,” McGonagall says to me. “You seem to be fine, although understandably shaken up by the whole ordeal. I want you to take the rest of the week off, leave early for your Christmas holiday, and we’ll see how you feel when you get back.”
“What about my classes?” I ask.
“Well it’s been a few years, but I have been known to teach the odd Transfiguration class myself, you know.” McGonagall raises an eyebrow and I can’t help but smile.
“Thankyou Minerva,” is all I can say.
“Now, you had better eat something or Poppy will have my wand.” She pushes the table closer to the bed so that I can reach it. I lay my legs flat again and pull the table so that the top of it stretches across my lap. I’m suddenly famished, and when I lift the cover to reveal a plate full of roast pork, vegetables and gravy, I almost start drooling. McGonagall stays until I have taken a few bites, then leaves without a word, just a gentle nod in my direction.
My small suitcase is deceptively heavy as I make my way down the Hogwarts driveway the next afternoon. After sleeping for a good fourteen hours, Pomfrey deemed me well enough to leave the hospital wing, and I didn’t lose any time in packing my bag. At her request, I stopped in to see McGonagall in her office before I left, promising her I would be fine to apparate, and that I would be in contact over the break. She, in turn, promised to look after my classes, although I didn’t let on that I hadn’t given my classes a second thought all day, except to decide that I’d slip out of the castle unnoticed when the students were in afternoon classes. I felt a small stab of guilt about that, but let it pass.
Once I’m outside the school boundaries, I am free to apparate to Wales. Even though I’ve been apparating for years now, I’m still not terribly comfortable with long distances and Hogsmeade to Swansea isn’t exactly your run of the mill pop down to the village. However, since I’m apparating to my parent’s house – my childhood home – which probably ranks second only to Hogwarts in terms of familiarity, and it’s a trip I’ve made more than once before, I’m not too worried about the journey. With one last look at the castle gates, I focus on the tool shed in Mum and Dad’s garden, grip my suitcase tightly in my hand and turn on the spot.
What apparition lacks in comfort, it certainly makes up for in convenience, and it’s only seconds later that I appear with a loud ‘pop’ in the middle of the dusty old garden shed. I find the door and push it open, stepping out into a perfectly maintained garden. It’s noticeably warmer here, and I’ve removed my gloves before I even get to the house. The back door is unlocked, and as I make my way through the boot room, the smell of delicious Christmas baking reaches me. The large, country-style kitchen is empty when I walk in, although there are mince pies in the oven, so I know my parents can’t be far away.
“Mum?” I call out. “Dad? Anyone home?”
“Emily?” I hear my father’s muffled voice coming from the next room, followed by footsteps and then the swinging door that leads to the dining room opening. My father looks the same as always, although he perhaps has a little more grey hair on his head. “Baby girl!” He exclaims, moving forward to wrap me up in a bear hug. I drop my suitcase on the floor and hug him back, enjoying the feeling of the familiar arms around me.
“Hi Dad,” I say, although the words are muffled against his shoulder.
“Charles? Who are you talking t…” I heard Mum’s voice behind me. Dad lets me go so I can turn towards the entrance to the hallway, where my mother is standing, feather duster in hand. “Emily! What are you doing here? You’re not due until tomorrow.” She says.
“Nice to see you too Mum,” I laugh. “The headmistress gave me permission to come home early, she thought I could use a break,” I answer, talking quickly. It’s not exactly a lie, but I’m not entirely comfortable sharing the whole story with my parents just yet.
“Well it’s lovely to see you dear,” Mum gives me a warm smile and steps forward to kiss me on the cheek. “You look well,” She adds, and I wait, knowing there’s a ‘but’ coming. “I suppose you don’t get a lot of sun up at that school of yours, do you?”
“You mean in Northern Scotland during the winter, where there’s only six hours of daylight? No mum, not a whole lot of sun.” I can’t help but smile; at least she’s not going on about my weight or my height (yes, she has been known to suggest I’m too short – like I have some sort of say in the matter!).
“Well we’ll just have to get some colour into you while you’re home,” Mum pats my cheek before turning to the oven to check her baking. “We’re having a very mild season this year.”
“I think I’ll just go upstairs and unpack,” I say, picking up my suitcase again.
“Emily?” Mum’s call stops me as I’m about to leave the room. I turn around, wondering what request or instruction she has for me.
“It’s lovely to see you dear.” She says, before opening the oven to remove a tray of pies.
AN: Ok, super quick update, I know, but I probably won't get a chance to update again for at least a week, so I thought I'd treat you all to a new chapter :)
Thanks to everyone who is reading and reviewing, it means a lot. See that little grey box down there? It's hungry, please feed it with reviews! Ta!
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