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Chapter 6 : Hidden Treasures
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~amazing image by chiQs09~
What could possibly be interesting a about dusty box? Well – this one had her name on it.
Chapter 6 – Hidden Treasurers
Nyah set her bath things on the floor and carefully made her way to the little box. Abandoned in the back of the room, the box had sat, possibly for years, waiting for her to find it.
She reached out and touched the name on the box, still not believing that it was labeled just for her. Nothing in this house ever had her name on it, as she was reminded often, because it all belonged to Mother and Father.
Nyah lifted the small box as though it was something precious or fragile. She turned back and went to her room. Listening at the door for the possibility of unwanted visitors, she was happily greeted with silence.
The bed creaked in welcome as she sat and examined the box. Her name was written rather sloppily on one small end of the box … Pricilla … ugh, she really hated that name.
Nyah reached into the little stand next to her bed and grabbed the scissors out of the drawer. Taking a deep breath, she began to cut into the layers of tape surrounding the box. As each layer fell away, Nyah became painfully aware of the magic building up inside of her. Rarely was her magic triggered by an emotion other than fear or anger … this was pure excitement … and Nyah worked hard to contain it.
Her fingers shook a bit as she lifted the lid. Funny, it simply looked black inside, but as Nyah reached in, her fingers fell upon something soft. She pulled out a small, dark, knitted blanket. It was quite tattered and seemingly well-loved by someone … but whom … Nyah? She couldn’t remember ever having a tatty old blanket, but there was very little that Nyah could remember. She gingerly examined the threads, carefully knitted together and her mind started to tickle … like it was reaching for something … but nothing came. Nyah sighed … there was a hole, burnt right in the middle of the blanket. Around it, she could make out something knitted in red … a letter perhaps. She turned the blanket on end and her eyes popped wide … it was the letter ‘N’, or what was left of it. Nyah hugged the blanket close to her. Certain this was hers … she wished she could remember where it came from, and who loved her enough to knit her a blanket by hand.
Nyah looked to the box again. There, stuffed in the bottom looked to be an old bag. With some coaxing, the bag was freed from its tight quarters. Although not very heavy, Nyah could feel something shifting around inside when she shook it. It was a rather plain-looking bag, deep red, with a rather odd charm hanging from one of the straps; a silver ball with wings. How silly – why would a ball have wings? Nyah wondered.
With a shrug, Nyah turned the bag over and allowed the contents to spill out onto her bed. Her head began to throb again, as the excitement continued to build. She trembled as she reached out to pick up what she recognized at once to be the tip of a wand.
Nyah’s thoughts were racing, I bet this was mine. It looks just like Mrs. Cleary’s.
She grabbed the small pointed end and gently tugged it from the rubble. Her excitement faded to sadness as she realized the wand was broken. The small piece she had, though, was beautiful … it was a very dark brown, nearly black piece that felt firm, but not heavy, in her hand. There was a delicate, intricate, twisting design ending in what looked to be a small ledge … and then … nothing. The rest was gone. Nyah quickly looked through the rest of the bags contents hoping to locate the handle of the wand, but none was found.
This must have been my nappy bag ... Nyah thought, but why would Mother keep this? And why did she break my wand?
Placing the piece of wand behind her ear, she rummaged through the rest of the contents. There were some nappies and wipes, which Nyah just wrinkled her nose at, “Gross.”
There was a rolled piece of parchment, bound with a ribbon. Nyah carefully unrolled the sheet, but was disappointed to see it blank. She was sure she would find something amazing … spells or secrets … or maybe a clue about where all of this stuff came from. Irritated, Nyah threw the parchment aside and kept looking. Aside from more nappies, the only thing left were a couple of photos.
Nyah smiled at the first picture she saw; it was of herself at probably one or two years old. Nyah had never seen a picture of herself at this age and she laughed. Her black hair was even more wild then, and her bright brown eyes sparkled with mischief. Nyah yelled and dropped the photo on the bed as she realized that the child in the picture was actually moving! After watching the picture version of herself smile and clap over-and-over, Nyah decided it was safe to pick it back up. She looked beyond the cute little baby to the background of the photo hoping it would spark a memory. There was a large fireplace, a couple of chairs, and some toys thrown about including her favorite snowy owl! Nothing else seemed familiar though, and it certainly didn’t look like this house. And then, Nyah saw something pop into the corner of the picture… just a glimpse … of hair … red hair. Her heart fluttered as she reached out to the picture … ‘Mum’.
Nyah’s thoughts were interrupted by the sound of footsteps on the stairs. She sprang from the bed, scooping her precious things back into the red bag along with the piece of wand from her hair. She stashed the bag next to the baby blanket under her comforter. The key was in the lock! She grabbed the box and had just set it behind the bed, when the door flew open.
“Nyah … quick … get your things together, dear!” Mrs. Cleary’s strained voice rang out.
Seeing the shocked look on Nyah’s face, Mrs. Cleary stopped. “What’s the matter? Come on, now …” she continued, sorting through Nyah’s clothes. “We’ve got to get your showered, dressed, and ready. It’s half past one already, and by what your mother says, they’re due here at any time.”
“Who?” Nyah asked, having completely lost herself in the secrets of the box.
The housekeeper continued to mumble to herself as she picked out clothes for Nyah’s meeting, “School officials … coming here … and on a Thursday. Can’t let it wait till Monday when the child goes back … always in such a rush … Where is that jumper? I know I hung it here.”
“Jumper, jumper … oh, I … I have the jumper!” Nyah stuttered, coming out of her shock.
She had expected to see Mother, or worse, Alexander, when the door opened. As her shock gave way to relief, Nyah rushed over to the hole in the wall to retrieve her bath items and good clothes from the east room.
“Mrs. Cleary, I found a box over here … just a little bit ago … and ...” Nyah began, but was cut off.
“Yes, yes ... that’s lovely dear, now hurry!” and Mrs. Cleary rushed her out of the attic room, straight to the bathroom.
The grandfather clock in the downstairs hall chimed the 2 o’clock hour. Nyah was upstairs, freshly showered and dressed and Mrs. Cleary had just set in on her hair, determined to make it presentable. It was pulled up in such a tight ponytail that Nyah felt she’d never smile properly again.
Mrs. Cleary seemed more nervous than Nyah about this meeting. She kept reminding Nyah of what to say and what not to say should they ask about her recent absence from school.
“More than not, dear,” Mrs. Cleary said, half-dragging Nyah down the steps, “they probably just want to see for themselves that you’re alright.”
“Now,” she whispered, looking around all the corners, “I’m going to put a little spell on your scars so they appear less … vivid … alright dear?”
“Will it hurt?” Nyah asked, frowning a bit.
Mrs. Cleary chuckled, “Oh no, Nyah, magic doesn’t need to hurt to work. Yes, there, now just close your eyes.”
Nyah saw Mrs. Cleary pull the wand from her hair as she took another look around the rooms and down the hall. Once Nyah’s eyes were closed, she heard Mrs. Cleary mutter and Nyah’s face felt very warm, like she was standing quite close to the large fireplace in Father’s office.
“Nyah, you look wonderful …”
Nyah eyes opened to see Anna smiling down on her from the stairs.
“Anna!” Nyah exclaimed.
The girls ran to meet each other, happy to be together outside of the little attic. They sat on the stairs enjoying the sun that was pouring in through the front windows. Nyah chatted with her big sister, catching up on everything that was going on with school and the birthday party this weekend … mostly Anna talked. Nyah had so much she wanted to tell her sister, but knew that, for now, she couldn’t.
Nearly an hour had passed, and the girls were content on the stairs, while Mrs. Cleary ran from room to room, straightening, restraightening, moving things from here to there, and generally fussing over everything. She had finally reached her breaking point, and in a voice higher than either of the girls had ever heard her speak, she said, “Where are they? Your mother said they were on their way!”
The girls exchanged glances, and muffled giggles.
“Where is that blasted letter?” she demanded of Nyah.
“It’s in my room; I’ll run and get it.” Nyah said as she ran towards the attic.
A few moments later, Nyah ran panting to Mrs. Cleary, letter in hand. Mrs. Cleary’s eyes quickly scanned the front of the letter as her hand went absentmindedly to her mouth. She turned the letter over in her hand … there, sealed in wax on the back … a letter ‘H’. Mrs. Cleary turned to Nyah and Anna, all of the color in her face nearly gone.
“Nyah … this … this is the letter from the school officials?” she quietly asked.
Nyah nodded her head and glanced at her sister.
“Nyah … this is not from the school officials at your grammar school,” she said with a broad smile, “this … this is from …”
Mrs. Cleary stood up straight as the doorbell rang. She pushed the letter into Nyah’s hands and walked hurriedly away. Nyah and Anna walked behind, as the housekeeper practically ran to the door. She paused for a moment to smooth out her uniform, and opened the door.
There, standing in the doorway, were two of the most unusual-looking school officials Nyah and Anna had ever seen. Tall and thin, the officials silently demanded respect by the mere sight of them. The girls took a couple of steps towards the door to get a better look. One was chatting with Mrs. Cleary, while the other hung back a little, studying the house.
They were dressed in black robes, which fell all the way to the floor. One might think they had just come from a costume party.
They had their hair pulled back, and Nyah was sure they were both women. One looked very old; her hair was nearly all grey and her face was full of wrinkles. Just then, she looked at Nyah, and her eyes burst with a smile that Nyah felt all the way to her heart. At that moment, Nyah didn’t care how old this woman was … she instantly liked her and returned the smile.
The women stepped into the entry hall, still chatting and smiling with Mrs. Cleary. She motioned the two women to the sitting room, and called for Nyah to come along.
“Anna, your mother will, unfortunately, be required to sit in on this meeting. Will you go and fetch her, please?” asked Mrs. Cleary.
Anna reluctantly went to find Mother. She was not looking forward to Mother’s reaction at the news, not to mention how she would react when she met the unusual ‘school officials’. Thinking on that again, Anna laughed to herself, quietly imaging the look on Mother’s face.
Nyah took a seat on the small white sofa in the stuffy sitting room, her eyes never leaving the two women. She was able to get a quick look at the younger woman who was sitting very tall in her seat, looking around, analyzing every detail of the room … including Nyah. Her face was soft, but her eyes, determined. Although pulled back, Nyah saw her hair was brown and curly, as a few strands refused to stay imprisoned in the bun. Nyah was happy to see that someone else had hair that misbehaved like her own. Their eyes met for a moment, and Nyah saw a quick smile before Mrs. Cleary appeared with a tray of biscuits and tea.
“Where are my manners?” Mrs. Cleary exclaimed, calling the occupants out of their silence. “Nyah, I’d like to you meet Headmistress McGonagall and Professor Weasley. They’re from one of the schools I mentioned to you … it’s called Hogwarts.” she explained as she patted Nyah’s shoulder.
“Nyah? I thought the girl’s name was … oh, where is it … ah, yes,” said Headmistress McGonagall as Professor Weasley handed her a sheet of aged brown paper, “Pricilla Stewart.”
“Um … I – I’m Pricilla, but everyone calls me Nyah, please … ma’am.” Nyah’s face burnt with embarrassment. She silently scolded herself for stammering.
“Nyah,” smiled Professor Weasley, as she wrote on the sheet of parchment.
She has a nice voice, thought Nyah.
“Well, Nyah then, do you have the letter that was delivered earlier?” Headmistress McGonagall asked, addressing the young girl.
“Yes, just here,” Nyah said, pulling the envelope from her pocket. She went to hand it to the Headmistress, but the woman instead, told her she could open it.
Nyah carefully opened the envelope, as the Headmistress explained that the majority of the time, muggle-born children are quite surprised to learn they are a witch or wizard, so hearing it directly from the school officials made it a bit easier to understand and that opening the letter early would be somewhat confusing.
The envelope contained a short letter from the Headmistress inviting Nyah to attend the Hogwarts School for witchcraft and wizardry. There was also a list of items to bring, most of which Nyah was completely befuddled at; robes, books, cauldron … and she was able to bring an owl, a cat, or a toad … what an interesting concept … pets.
As the women chatted, Nyah’s head began to throb, again feeling her magic building and building. There had been so much happen today … the box … the letter … the arrivals of two witches to the house to see Nyah …
Nyah’s hand went to her head, as if holding back the pain in her head. She heard Mrs. Cleary’s voice … medicine … yes … medicine. Nyah felt hot tears on her face as she held back the magic … it was going to burst out again and Nyah knew if that happened, her chance at belonging in either world was in jeopardy. “Breathe Nyah …” she heard someone say. Cool air was blowing on her and Nyah felt her body and mind relax.
Mrs. Cleary appeared with Nyah’s medicine, which Nyah took without complaint.
When she was able to open her eyes, she saw the women staring at her, and Mrs. Cleary was even blotting her eyes.
“I’m sorry … I just … I …” Nyah hung her head and started to cry again. “Please let me come with you. I just don’t know how much longer I can stop it and it hurts so badly.” She looked at the women … “Please.”
The younger witch came and sat next to Nyah on the sofa, and placed her arm around Nyah’s shoulders, glancing once at the headmistress. “Nyah, can you tell me why it hurts?”
Nyah thought about it. She wasn’t sure if the pain started before the magic, or after. “I think the pain and magic work at the same time, and the harder I try to hold it in … the worse it is.” she admitted to the Professor. “I accidently turned my brother into a donkey yesterday, and while it was happening, the magic felt so good and so powerful … more than the headache … but once I stopped … the pain took over. I ... I don’t remember much after that.” Nyah looked to Mrs. Cleary.
“This is something we will have to monitor, but it’s still early in the year. Term doesn’t start until September, so we’ll have you stop into St. Mungo’s as soon as you can.” the Headmistress explained with a smile. “And of course, you are going to come to Hogwarts … as long as we have your parent’s permission.”
She pulled from her robe a long piece of parchment, which she laid out on the table with a curious looking pen.
“That’s a quill and parchment,” Professor Weasley explained. “You’ll use them in your studies at Hogwarts.”
“What kinds of things will I be studying? And what is a St. Mungo’s?” Nyah quietly asked, filled with curiosity.
Professor Weasley smiled, but before she could answer, Mother’s voice came trailing through the house. The hairs on Nyah’s arms stood on end. Mother was clearly irate to be called away from the party planning … and she hadn’t even laid eyes on the women in her sitting room …
Author's notes: I'd love to know what you think of the story so far... you can leave me a message in the box below - and don't forget to come back and look, as I always reply to the reviews! Thanks!
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