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My Not-So-Imaginary Fiend by The Quiet Girl
Chapter 15 : XV: Must, Must, Must Make This Work!
 
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XV: Must, Must, Must Make This Work!

I had five minutes to get to Arithmancy and a ten minute run ahead of me. Those were my thoughts as I jumped away from the table, thanked Professor Trelawney half a dozen times for her knowledge, and dropped my bag down the trap door before sliding down the railing of the ladder and out of the North Tower.

“Oi, watch it,” Seamus’s voice called from below. With a quick glance over my shoulder, I saw my book bag had landed just two inches from where he had been standing.

“Sorry, Seam- yikes!” I should remember never to look over my shoulder while sliding down a ladder. I got to the bottom too fast and lost my balance. I toppled into Dean, nearly crashing the two of us onto the floor.

“You came back here for lunch today?” Dean asked, pushing me at the shoulders to help me stand properly again. “You? Sally-Anne? Here, with Professor Trelawney?”

“Yes, yes, yes, and yes.” I grabbed my book bag’s strap. Hauled it over my shoulder. Ran towards the stairs. “Can’t talk. Gotta run. Bye!” I squeezed past the gap left between Hermione on my right side and Harry and Ron on my left. Odd, Benjamin wasn’t following Hermione anymore?

No, don’t think. Run. Down the stairs. Through a hall. Down a secret passage that’s not as secret as the name would lead one to think. Down a few thousand more stairs. Realized that I was probably exaggerating about how many stairs I jumped over. Realized again that I must have overestimated how long it would take to get from the North Tower to the Arithmancy classroom.

“Made it!” I wheezed, stumbling to my seat at the front of the room. I looked back to Megan. “If I happen to have a heart attack and die from running around the school, will you at least search my bag and turn in my Arithmancy homework? I don’t want to have wasted my last few weeks of life for nothing.”

Megan did as she normally did. She smiled, chuckled to herself, and turned her focus back to reviewing her notes. She was the only person in this class that paid attention to me and found my wit just a little bit funny, so I took whatever attention I could get.

I didn’t die. At least, not from the run. And about ten seconds before the bell rang, Hermione dashed into the classroom with Benjamin following in her tracks.

“A bit close today,” I commented. Shoot, I didn’t have my Arithmancy books. Parvati packed my bag for me this morning. At least all my homework was here, so today’s lesson wouldn’t be a complete loss.

Hermione sat down without acknowledging my comment. Wait. I saw her standing with every other Gryffindor in the North Tower just five minutes ago. Oh well, she must have changed her mind and decided to attend Arithmancy instead of Divination.

“Everything okay?” I asked, making it sound like I was talking to Hermione.

“Fine, fine,” Hermione said, pulling out her homework and books.

For a moment, I thought she was going to Divination, but she doubled back before reaching the stairs,” Benjamin said. He knelt down in front of Hermione’s desk. He probably would have gotten a reaction from her if she knew she was being watched. As it was, she didn’t do anything. “Now don’t bother me. I don’t want to miss anything that she does.

The bell rang just as Professor Vector started collecting our homework. She then started talking about our next topic.

But I couldn’t bother myself with trivial little things like abstract numbers. Professor Trelawney’s words were still fresh in my mind. And despite the fact that I didn’t write down anything that she said on parchment, I remembered it all. I kept replaying her words in my head, over and over again, around and around . . .

Sally-Anne! Sally-Anne, wake up! Class is over and you- you didn’t take any notes?!

Benjamin’s shouts shook me out of my dazed state. Looking around, many of my classmates were putting their notes away and heading off to their next class. Wow, I might as well have not showed up at all.

I looked back up at Benjamin. He still stood directly in front of my desk, but his gaze had shifted from me to the now-empty seat next to me. “What the- no! Crap! Where the hell did that Mudblood go?!” And without another glance to me, Benjamin spun and darted out the door, running through two Slytherins without hesitation.

“Uh . . . okay . . .” I looked around, but I was again the last person in the classroom. I didn’t know what surprised me more. Benjamin’s language, the way he referred to Hermione, or the fact that I completely ignored a lesson of my favorite class.

As soon as I thought that, my mind thought returned to Trelawney’s words. And all the work that I would have to do. And the only real person whom I could share it all with.

I might have been the last person to leave Arithmancy, but thanks to all the other Gryffindors having to walk from the North Tower, I was the first to arrive at Defense Against the Dark Arts.

I burst into the room to see Professor Lupin wiping clean the blackboard. For a moment, I wondered if those were messages from Benjamin, but then I remembered that he just had another class before ours. I forced myself to remember that the professors’ schedules had changed a bit with the new term just as us students’ scheduled had changed.

“Pro- professor,” I gasped, walking towards my desk.

Lupin turned, a neutral expression on his face. His eyes widened when he saw me panting. “Sally-Anne, what happened? Is it Benjamin?” He dropped the eraser as he quickly approached my desk.

“No. But I- I-” I collapsed into my seat and took a few slow, deep breaths.

“Do you need to visit Madam Pomfrey?” Lupin asked. When he reached my desk, he withdrew his wand and knelt by my side.

I shook my head. “I’m fine. I had all my trainers confiscated by my dad during the Christmas holiday, so I didn’t have a chance to stretch my legs for two weeks. Doing two mad dashes in one day is practically killing me.” I kicked my chair back onto two legs so my own legs could dangle freely. Ah, that felt better. “If my heart explodes and I die from today’s exercise, can you make sure the rest of my homework finds the professors who asked for them? Thanks.” I then arched my head back and closed my eyes. Only my right hand, placed on the desk behind me, kept me from falling forward onto all four chair legs or slipping back and cracking open my skull.

Lupin let out a long sigh. “You’re the first one here, Sally-Anne. Why did you need to run here? For that matter, you shouldn’t be running in the halls.”

Why did I run here again? Oh yeah! My eyes snapped open and I looked up at my professor, who had just stood up and was pocketing his wand. “I spoke with Professor Trelawney at lunch,” I said, struggling not to blurt out everything in a jumble of words. “I now know exactly what we need to do to get that lost information regarding Benjamin’s counter-curse. What information I need to know, what state of mind I should be in to channel Pontem’s memories, how the spell should be performed-”

“Is it safe?”

Lupin’s question, asked in a soft voice, stopped me from jabbering on.

“That’s an odd question. What do you mean?”

“I mean-” Lupin looked behind me and took a step back. “We can talk later,” he said. “What I’ve uncovered during the holiday wasn’t very reassuring.” He then turned back to the front of the room, picked up the fallen eraser, and finished clearing the blackboard. Lupin finished just as my classmates had taken their seats. When he turned back to face the room, he called for everyone to get out their homework assignments.

Our conversation, for the moment anyway, was over.

“Hey, are you okay?” Parvati asked once she got her roll of parchment out. “You’re looking a bit pale.”

“Fine,” I lied. “I’m perfectly fine.”

Of course, I wasn’t fine. Was this plan safe? Of course not. Trelawney stressed how disastrous this procedure could be if performed incorrectly. In fact, half of our lunch discussion was spent on the side effects of witches and wizards who had lost their minds in their search for lost information of their family past.

One of the key principles that Trelawney stressed was having all the facts known and perfectly memorized. And that included the chart that told me what fraction of my blood came from Marta Pontem. Figuring that Lupin would understand, I ignored another lesson. By the time the bell rang, signaling the end of class, I had finally gotten to the last number.

As Lupin wrote our homework on the board, I felt a little guilty about mentally missing two classes in a row. But I knew he would understand.

I had hoped to continue my conversation with Lupin at the end of class, but when Harry moved to the front of the room, I figured that this discussion could wait for another day. Besides, Parvati and Lavender were waiting for me at the door and insisted that we walk to dinner together. I quickly packed up my list, blank parchment that was intended to be today’s notes, and returned homework from before the Christmas holiday before rushing out of the room to catch up with my friends.

“Are you all right?” Parvati asked as soon as we got out of earshot of Ron, who still stood outside the classroom door. Dean, Seamus, and Neville were further down the hallway, approaching the stairs. Hermione had most likely headed towards the library again. Parvati continued, “It’s not like you to not pay attention in class.”

“At least not without you doodling all over your notes,” Lavender added.

“I’m fine,” I insisted, though I felt a bit irritated about Parvati always asking me how I was doing. “But you heard what Professor Trelawney said at lunch. It’s a lot for me to absorb.”

“But we’re only third years,” Parvati said. “Today in class, we started palmistry. We’re nowhere near the level we’d need to be at to attempt that sort of thing.”

“Well, I’ll let you in on a little secret,” I said, hushing my voice to sound ominous as we descended the stairs. “I’m actually a Department of Mysteries agent, and I’ve been sent here as an undercover student. That’s why I’m the tallest girl in our class. I’m actually thirty-two years old.”

Neither Lavender nor Parvati laughed at my attempted joke.

“We just worry about you,” Parvati said. “Whatever you’re up to, be careful.”

“Girls, it sounds like you expect me to try something tonight,” I said, forcing myself to laugh. I hoped I was convincing enough to them. “Maybe someday, when I have the skills I need to do that sort of complicated magic. But that’s not going to happen right this minute.” I led the three of us into the Great Hall. “What we really need to worry about is where we’re going to sit. I’m famished. No offense to Trelawney, but her tower is not going to beat the Great Hall in food preparation.”

After dinner, I told my friends that I needed to get my Arithmancy notes from Hermione. It wasn’t that hard to get her to let me copy them. She had a mountain of books in front of her. When I went into the story of how Dad took away all my trainers during the holiday and how lazy I must have gotten without being able to go anywhere, Hermione gladly tossed my her notes. At least, I think she was glad to pass them to me. It got me to stop telling that story for the millionth time.

She’s going to do something eventually,” Benjamin muttered, standing over her left shoulder and looking down at what she was writing. “She has to slip up. Eventually, I’ll see something.

I wanted to tell Benjamin to take his time. But I didn’t. I copied Hermione’s notes as quickly as I could, then took out my family chart and checked my numbers. With Benjamin’s focus only on Hermione, this was a perfect opportunity that I couldn’t resist.

In fact, I started spending every waking moment pouring over the list. After checking it three more times for errors, I started memorizing the numbers and associating each number with a name. I would look over the list as soon as I woke up in the morning. I kept it with me over breakfast. I had the chart resting under my regular notes in class. I tested myself during lunch. I rushed through my homework assignments so I could spend more time memorizing more numbers in the evenings. And once or twice, I woke up to find myself sleeping on the list, having fallen asleep while memorizing more names and numbers late into the night, my wand still aglow at my side.

“Sally-Anne, are you even listening?!”

“I can listen to questions.” Placing my thumb next to the row for my ancestor twenty-four generations back, I looked across Gryffindor table to Lavender on Friday morning. “It’s weird on how we can pick out questions from general conversations, isn’t it? I mean, we raise our voices a little at the end to indicate a question, right? Ah! See? Right there! And again? And again! And again? And again!”

“Sally-Anne, please.” Parvati reached across the table and placed her hand over my list. Her tone of voice didn’t rise up even a little, so that wasn’t a question.

“What’s wrong?” I asked them. “I’m just having breakfast. I wasn’t doing anything!”

“That’s what’s worrying us,” Lavender said. “You haven’t been yourself all week. You’re always hunched over that parchment-” Her eyes darted to the list in front of me. “-and you’re not taking notes like you usually do.”

“You’ve stopped doodling,” Parvati said. “It’s like you’re physically here, but you’re not mentally with us.” Parvati pulled her hand back to her side of the table. “Maybe we shouldn’t have brought you to see Trelawney-”

“What, no! I’m glad you brought me to her, it’s answered a lot of questions-”

“We’re not talking about Monday’s lunch,” Lavender cut me off. “Back in September. We brought you with us to meet Trelawney. And ever since that card reading, you’ve . . . changed.”

My jaw nearly dropped. They regretted introducing me to Trelawney? If it wasn’t for that fateful day, I wouldn’t have become curious about my birth family. I would never have tracked down my birth mother, Professor Lupin might not have sent me my maternal family tree, and I would still follow Benjamin’s advice like a blind fool. And even if I discovered the curse later on, time wouldn’t be on my side.

“Sally-Anne, say something,” Parvati coaxed.

“Fine.” Frowning, I took my family chart and shoved it into the book bag at my feet. “I can actually do one better than saying something. I can do something.” I stood from the table. Looking down at my friends’ stunned faces, I continued hotly, “If either of you needed space to sort things out, I would have respected that request. I’m sorry if I can’t be weird and outgoing and perky all the time! I shouldn’t have expected either of you to understand-”

“We would understand if you just told us,” Parvati interrupted.

“You wouldn’t believe me if I told you!” I hissed, doing my best to keep my voice down and avoid making a scene. “In fact, I know you wouldn’t, because I have told you! I’m trying to make sure I don’t end up like my birth mother. And my birth father-” My stomach churned. Even the thought of him made me sick. Why hadn’t anyone caught him yet? “I don’t want to die like them!”

Pulling my book bag over my shoulder, I turned away from my friends and stalked out of the Great Hall, doing my best not to break down in tears.

I only got half way down the hallway when I stopped to catch my breath. Part of my agreed with Parvati and Lavender. I wasn’t acting like I normally did. I was hardly pretending like everything was still the same. Because it wasn’t. So many thoughts whirled around my mind like a tornado lately. In my attempts to keep school and this curse in control, I had let my friendships slip and then blow away.

Footsteps approaching from behind caught my attention. I did my best to pat my eyes dry with the sleeve of my robes before turning around to see who it was.

“Dean?” I didn’t expect to see him.

“Sally-Anne.” Dean came to a stop just a few steps away from me. He glanced over his shoulder once, back towards the Great Hall, before looking back at me. “What do you want me to tell them?”

“Uh . . .” Of all the possible things anyone could say or ask me right now, that question wasn’t even a consideration.

Dean returned his gaze onto me and waited, not saying a word.

Okay, this was starting to feel just a bit uncomfortable.

“Tell who what?” I was still a little confused about the question itself.

“What do you want me to tell Parvati and Lavender for you?” he clarified. “I agree with them, though, that you’ve been acting odd, especially since we got back from Christmas holiday.”

“Wait, you weren’t sitting with us at breakfast today.”

“But I saw you storm out of the Great Hall just now. You’ve been missing out on a lot of conversations lately. You don’t even realize that you were the main topic of discussion over dinner Wednesday night, do you?”

“You were talking about me while I was there?” Why didn’t I notice?

“You’ve been studying that list of numbers practically non-stop, like it’s the key to unlocking the secrets of the universe or something.”

I shrugged a shoulder. To me, it was exactly that.

“And I know that bothering you about it will only make you take longer to get over whatever you’re doing. We’re only worried about you because we care about you.” Dean looked away from me at that point, deciding to study the stonework behind me. “I don’t want to bother you. But what can I tell the others so they’ll leave you alone and you’ll return to normal sooner?”

I smiled, for the first time in what felt like years. I couldn’t tell Dean the truth, but I could tell him just enough. “Let’s just say that I don’t want to end up like my birth parents. And it’s important that I act now, while I’m still young and in school, so that I can change my fate.”

“Hence the Divination,” Dean said, nodding. “Not really an answer, but it’s acceptable.” He took a few steps back, though he still faced me. “If you need help, or someone to talk to, I can keep an ear open for you.”

“Just one ear? I’d expect your complete and undivided attention.” I checked my watch. “Thanks, Dean. Um, I’ve got to make a stop somewhere before class. I’ll see you at lunch, at least.”

“See you, Sally-Anne.” Dean turned away and towards the Great Hall while I turned and dashed towards the Defense Against the Dark Arts classroom.

“He’d better be here,” I muttered to myself, letting myself into the unlocked classroom and heading for his office. “He wasn’t at breakfast.”

What do you think you’re doing here?

Benjamin appeared in front of Professor Lupin’s office door, arms crossed and a frown on his face.

“Checking to make sure I’m not failing a critical class?” I reached forward and rapped my knuckles on the door, knocking on the left side of Benjamin’s head.

The door opened almost immediately. Lupin looked down at me. His eyebrows were crinkled, forming lines on his forehead that expressed worry and apprehension. “Please tell me you can guarantee your plan’s safety.”

What plan? Safety? What is the werewolf teacher talking about?” Benjamin leaned against the doorframe and continued to watch me as I entered the office.

“Shouldn’t you be watching Hermione to find out her secret?” I asked back.

Benjamin shrugged a shoulder. “I saw her do her trick on Tuesday. I tried telling you about it over dinner, but lately you’ve been as good a listener as your mother.” Benjamin shook his head back and forth, closing his eyes. “Merlin, Marta was an annoying one to be around. Thank god she’s gone.

A cold chill ran up my spine. No, don’t focus on Benjamin’s words. He was created out of evilness and jealousy and spite. Nothing would change that unless I succeed in my plan.

“Sorry, Professor, I came here to see you, not argue with Benjamin.” I pressed my palms against the sides of my head for a moment, if only to momentarily squeeze any negative thoughts out of my mind. “I know I didn’t have a chance to tell you everything I learned on Monday-”

Wait, what did you learn on Monday?

“But first, is there anywhere we can go where Benjamin can’t follow us?” I looked over my shoulder to my imaginary friend, wishing he would take the not-so-subtle hint to go away.

Lupin had moved to sit behind his desk and was taking something out of a bottom drawer. When he heard my question, a small hint of a smile tugged at the corner of his lips. “Your mother told me that she took up Quidditch as her only way to escape Benjamin. In fact, whenever she seemed stressed, I knew I could always find her flying around the hoops.”

I looked past Lupin and out the window behind him. The sky was grey and ominous, and the grounds were covered in at least a foot of freezing white snow. The trees swayed with every gust of winter wind.

“Did she have another warmer or easier escape?” I half joked.

But the smile I thought I saw had vanished from Lupin’s face. He straightened up in his chair, placing a folder filled with a stack of parchment and newspaper clippings in the middle of his desk, just between a tower of homework scrolls on one side and a stack of blank parchment and spare quills on the other side.

“What’s that?” I asked, taking a seat across from him.

“Evidence that whatever it is that you’re planning to do, it’s most likely not safe.” Lupin opened the folder. “These are all the articles and studies I could find that relate to anyone who tried to visit the past.”

“But I don’t want to visit the past, I want to channel the consciousness of Marta Pontem that’s still part of me.” I took out the chart from my bag. “Sure, only one part out of 140,737,488,355,328 parts of me belong to her, but still . . .” I pointed to Benjamin, still standing in the doorway. “If Benjamin exists within me after all these generations, then so does Pontem.”

“Did you say one hundred forty trillion?” Lupin echoed. He waved at me to pass him the list. After I gave it to him to examine, his eyebrows shot up into his graying hair. “Sally-Anne, these numbers are incredibly small. If you want to ‘channel’ your ancestor, chances are mathematically small that anything resembling her-”

“No, that’s the thing about Divination,” I interrupted, sitting forward in my seat. “According to Professor Trelawney, numbers like these are only to act as guideposts.” I felt my heart beating faster in my chest. “I had lunch with her the other day-”

When did you see that horrible woman?! I thought you swore never to return to her!

“-and she told me about a method that can help me see what my ancestors saw. Something along the lines of a Pensive, but it only works on events that occurred before she gave birth to her descendants.”

“And since all of your ancestors died moments after giving birth, all knowledge your family obtained will be preserved . . .” Lupin realized. His jaw slackened just a bit as he thought about what I just said.

“And there’s no way that Benjamin could have destroyed that evidence.” I turned in my seat to look over at him. “What do you have to say to that? Did Diana or Marta ever come up with that idea?”

Benjamin remained silent for a moment. But just a moment. When he moved, his actions confused me. He returned my gaze and smirked at me. “I’m not worried.

And as he spoke, a quill picked itself up off Lupin’s desk, dipped itself in a nearby ink bottle, and wrote the same message. It appeared upside down to me, but upside right for Lupin.

“Huh?” Honestly, was this ‘Let’s Confused Sally-Anne Day’ or something? Because I was getting tired of this holiday.

I’m not worried because your plan is impossible.” Benjamin uncrossed his arms and moved into the office. He circled around the desk until he was standing beside Lupin. His eyes glanced over his second written message.

“But you haven’t even heard the full plan yet,” I argued.

I’ve been around for nearly a thousand years. Do you think there’s any trace of magic that I don’t know about? Ha!” Benjamin brushed his hands over Lupin’s collection of articles. As the bits of parchment moved off to either side, Professor Lupin frowned and looked in the direction of Benjamin but otherwise remained motionless.

Really, this is all the werewolf could dig up? Pathetic. It’s like he hardly cares about your problem. Ooh, interesting side effects, time turners.” Benjamin looked up and grinned at me. “Ever hear of them?

“Time turners? Can’t say I have.”

Further proof that you’re even better at ignoring things than your idiot mother. But I don’t know why this werewolf bothered copying any articles about time turner accidents. Five hours is the maximum time limit anyone can go back without killing themselves. If you planned on using one of these, you’d have to go back eight million, four hundred eighty eight thousand, one hundred eighteen hours just to see-

“8,488,118,” I echoed, grabbing a quill of Professor Lupin’s desk. I dipped the point into a nearby ink bottle, then wrote the numbers on my left forearm. I then blew at the ink, hoping to make it dry faster.

“Got it,” Lupin reported, taking the last unused quill off his desk and writing the numbers at the bottom of my chart. “I’m also adding the current time, so we can make adjustments for when you put your plan into motion.”

“Good thinking. I don’t want to be a few days off when I go down Memory Lane.”

Now it was Benjamin’s turn this morning to look confused. His eyebrows furrowed as he looked between me, Lupin, and then me again. “What just happened?

“I should be thanking you, Benjamin,” I said boastfully, sitting up straight in my seat and grinning from ear to ear. “Thanks to you, I know which moment of Pontem’s life I should examine and look for clues as to what kind of magic you cursed my ancestors with. And, as you’ve pointed out before, I’m a smart girl. When I’m ready, I’ll see what you did and be one step closer to destroying you for real.”

I . . . I . . .” And for the first time in my life, Benjamin seemed completely stunned.

I decided not to tell Benjamin that Lupin had left me a note on my returned homework on Monday instructing me to meet with him before class today. He didn’t deserve such information. But something was still bothering me. “Professor, how did you know he would give us the exact hour?” I looked at the numbers written on my skin. I was grateful that the ink wasn’t bleeding together, though I hoped that it would wash off eventually.

Lupin handed my list back to me. He actually looked really pleased with himself. I couldn’t think of a time that I’d seen him, or any adult for that matter, look so happy before. He looked up towards Benjamin standing beside him, but from where his eyes seemed to be focusing, Lupin was actually staring into Benjamin’s right shoulder instead of his face. “I know Benjamin has a massive ego. Why else create a manifestation of the curse in his own image? And he’s always boasting about how much more he knows than everyone else. Your curse couldn’t help himself but reveal the calculations of how long he’s been in existence.”

It was fun watching Benjamin. His face fallen, jaw dropped and eyes wide, his head barely moved as he slightly shook it back and forth. “No,” he whispered. “No. No, no one can trick me. No.

“I have never before seen him look so confused.” I leaned back in my chair. “I’m actually quite enjoying the show.”

Well, your plan will never succeed anyway!

“Do you really think saying that will work?” I questioned Benjamin.

But when I looked back to Lupin, his happiness seemed to have evaporated like a small puddle on a hot summer afternoon.

“Professor, what’s wrong?”

“This is the same reaction Benjamin gave your mother when we thought we had found a way to destroy him before.” Lupin pressed his lips together. “I just hope history isn’t repeating itself.”

“Well, I’ve still got to try something,” I said. I checked the time. “Ouch, I have Herbology in twenty minutes and some homework that I have to try to finish between now and then.” I stood. My eyes rested on all the parchment from Lupin’s file. “Are all those articles really all about people trying and failing to glimpse the past?”

Lupin nodded. “I’m afraid they are.”

“Any of them with happy endings?”

Lupin simply looked up at me, his expression neutral.

“Well, maybe I’ll be the first.” I stood up. “Excuse me, Professor. I’ll let you know when I want to go through with the plan.”

“Just make sure it’s not near the full moon. Or Thursday nights.”

“Okay.”

I saw Benjamin follow after me out of the corner of my eye as I left Lupin’s office and headed off towards Herbology. “You’re not going to make me change my mind,” I said. “As soon as I can recite this list forwards, backwards, and inside out in my sleep, I’m going to find out what you really did to poor Pontem.”

This is my final warning, Sally-Anne.

The tone of his voice made me slow to a stop from my previously brisk walk down the hallway. I turned to face him, waiting for threats or ultimatums.

Stop looking for answers that no longer exist. I don’t want to hurt you.” Benjamin reached forward and placed his hands on my shoulders. I expected a death-grip, but instead it felt like he was using me to steady himself for whatever he had to say next. “I care about you Sally-Anne. You have no idea how much it pains me to even think of hurting you. You will never be rid of me.” He squeezed my shoulders lightly while his eyes searched mine, adding a silent plea to his verbal one. “I know I can’t stop you, but I can do my best to delay what you’re about to do.

Benjamin leaned forward until his nose was almost touching my nose. His green eyes looked so intense.

Please reconsider, for I have greater powers than you.

His breath felt cold against my face as he spoke. Odorless and cold, but my nose started to itch after he spoke.

Please, at least keep up with your classes. I don’t want to see you fail.

Benjamin faded away into nothingness just as the first students showed up in the hall on their way to their first class of the day. A group of Hufflepuffs parted into two smaller groups in order to get around me.

I tried to dismiss Benjamin’s final words. But when I shook my head and turned towards the nearest stairwell, the corridor seemed to go spinning. In fact the world was spinning. I stumbled towards the nearest wall and clutched it for dear life.

Before the hall could stop spinning, I realized that my nose was clogged up with mucus and that my throat hurt every time I tried to swallow. My eyeballs felt like they had caught on fire.

“Hey, are you okay?”

An older girl, a Hufflepuff prefect from the badges on her robes, stood next to me, her arm resting on my left shoulder.

“Could you get me to Madam Pomfrey please?” I asked weakly, wincing as I tried to speak through my sore throat.

“Yes, of course. Hey, tell Professor Lupin I’m going to be a little late to class. Come along, let’s go.”

As the girl led me to the Hospital Wing, I knew that my sudden illness was not a mere coincidence. But I knew deep down that I couldn’t be sick all the time.
 

 





  

A/N: Several parts of this story intersected with the main events of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by J. K. Rowling (1999).

The first instance is the line describing Harry moving to the front of the room to talk with Lupin after class about his anti-dementor lessons, which is borrowed from page 235.

The second instance is where Ron’s waiting for Harry to finish his chat with Lupin, again on page 235. (At least, I’m assuming Ron waited for Harry. They have a chat about Lupin looking ill and come across Hermione some distance away, so it only makes sense that Ron waited outside the door for Harry to finish.)

The third instance is when Lupin tells Sally-Anne that he can’t help her with her plan on Thursday nights. Lupin arranged to give Harry anti-dementor lessons on Thursday nights, the first mention of Thursday nights being (again) on page 235.

(Just erring on the side of caution.)


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