March 27th, 2004, 7:03 pm
It seems a little strange to be posting this when the story is finished, but i thought since it is now so long, i would post a summary for people who are starting out new.
Basically, the story revolves around a character I have created called Aisa Galbraith who has an interesting past which is slowly revealed.
it starts off as a flashback to her past, but modern day Harry in his sixth year is the focus for most of the story. Also some theories on Snape's turn back to the order in the first war.
I've never tried writing a summary before...it's quite difficult, sin't it? suddenly i have a lot of respect for those people who write the insides of book jackets!
Feedback, btw, is here (http://www.cosforums.com/showthread.php?p=847778#post847778)
Disclaimer: I own, nor have rights to, any of the world that J.K. Rowling created for the Harry Potter series. No copyright infringement on either Character or Idea is intended.
Chapter One - The Letter Arrives
“It is paramount that she is allowed to decide for herself. If we force her to choose to side with us, then we will have meddled in destiny; the consequences of that…I shudder to think”. Professor Dumbledore sank back in his chair, a faint look of helplessness crossing his face.
“But Albus…you know the prophecy. She is instrumental – whichever side she chooses will - ”
“I am well aware of the prophecy, Minerva. And I know what will happen should she choose as she did last time. We can only hope that this time, she chooses differently.” Professor McGonnagol’s brow furrowed in frustration,
“Then it is completely out of our control…” Dumbledore nodded,
“Yes, it is. It is something we must just accept, and keep a close eye on. At the moment, she is allied to neither side; she is neither a danger, nor an aid.”
“Aisa! Aisa! AISA! AISA GALBRAITH! WAKE UP!” The calls drifted up the stairs, under the door, and into the sleepy brain of an 11 year old girl, who stirred only briefly, before rolling over and falling fast asleep again. Downstairs, her mother sighed, and trudged up the stairs. “Then I suppose you don’t want this letter?” she said, pushing open the door. “It’s got a lovely big crest on the seal, and do you know? I think it could be from Hogwarts.”
No sooner had the ‘H’ left her lips, than her daughter leapt out of bed and snatched the letter from her grasp. The girl’s mother grinned,
“I had a feeling that might get you out of bed.” Aisa grinned back, ripping the letter open.
“Mum! This is it! I’m going to Hogwarts! Look, it says right here!” The girl bounced around on the bed, her violet eyes bright with excitement.
“Calm down,” said Mrs. Galbraith, laughing, “Come downstairs, breakfast is ready.” Aisa pulled on her clothes as fast as she could, dragging a comb through her hair, black as a raven, as she dashed down stairs, pausing only to scowl at her pale complexion in the mirror at the bottom of the stairs.
Her brother, Felix, was already at the table, and greeted his sister with a mouthful of scrambled eggs,
“Morning Sis! Hear you got in then?” Felix heaved a huge mock-sigh, and spoke dramatically, hand across his brow, “Thus endeth my solitude.”
Aisa stuck out her tongue, trying not to grin, “Oh, shut up Felix,” she said, scooting him along the bench at their table, “Pass us the eggs!”
Felix was three years older than Aisa, and was going into the fourth year in September. Aisa had watched him jealously get on the scarlet express train at platform 9 ¾ last September, and the September before that and the September before that. Now, it was going to be her turn. Every time she thought about it, she let out a little giggle of excitement. She wolfed down her breakfast in seconds flat, then began bombarding her mother with questions:
“Mum, can we go to Diagon Alley today to get my stuff? Will I get to go on the Express like Felix and when do I go? Mum, what will I do until I go? I can’t wait! Can I go now?” Aisa’s mother laughed,
“No, yes, September 1st like your letter says, I don’t know, too bad, and no again!” Her mother’s quick replies to all her questions silenced Aisa. She blushed and mumbled ‘Sorry, Mum’.
“That’s quite alright. Actually, we could go to Diagon Alley this afternoon, then meet your father from work and go and have dinner – would you two like that?” Aisa and Felix looked at each other and cried ‘YES!’ in unison. Augustus Galbraith worked for the Department for Magical Law Enforcement, and was in the office for very long hours; as such, his children didn’t see him all that often. “Very well, we’ll go in a couple of hours. Aisa, make sure you have your Hogwarts' list!”
Two hours later, Aisa bounded down the stairs, list in hand, coat on and ready to go. Her mother smiled,
“Excited, by any chance? Felix is just getting his shoes on, then we’ll go.” A few seconds later, Felix skidded into the living room, with a copy of ‘Which Broomstick?’ His mother grinned; Felix had wanted to be on the Quidditch team since he joined Hogwarts, and last year finally got his lucky break when the Ravenclaw seeker was injured in the match against Hufflepuff and Felix was picked to replace her in the game against Gryffindor. He had been dropping less-than-subtle hints about the new Cleansweep since school broke up at the beginning of the Summer. “Right, Felix, you go first, then Aisa, and I’ll come last, ok? And don't-” Her children finished her sentence in unison; droning along,
"You dare wander off! It's far too dangerous!"
"Yes, Mum, we know! We'll be careful!" Said Felix. He sounded impatient, but gave his mother an understanding look.
"Ok, children. I know I fuss, but it is dangerous out there..." Mrs. Galbraith walked over to the fire, and reached into the small bowl of powder sitting by the grate. She threw the powder into the fire, which turned a bright green. Clutching his magazine, Felix stepped into the fire, and spoke clearly,
“Diagon Alley!” With a whoosh, he disappeared.
“Ok Aisa, your turn now.” Aisa stepped into the fire, and said “Diagon Alley” like her brother. With a whoosh, she too disappeared, shooting through the Floo network. She stumbled out the other end into Flourish and Blotts’, and looked for Felix. She grinned – he was over in the Magical Sports section, drooling over ‘Snitches and Sneaks – How to become the Ultimate Seeker’. Aisa crept up behind her brother, then pounced on him,
“Boo!” Felix jumped, the book he was holding falling on his toe,
“Aisa! Ow! Don’t DO that!” Felix glared at her, then looked up, seeing his mother striding towards them.”
“Honestly, you two, I leave you alone for five minutes, and look what happens!” She removed the book from Felix’s clutches, and seized them both by the shoulders, steering them to the Spell books’ section. “Come on, we have to get your Hogwarts’ books first, then we’ve got to get Aisa’s wand and robes. Quickly!”
Half an hour later, the Gordon’s staggered out of Flourish and Blotts’, laden with spell books and text books, and a cauldron for Aisa that came free with her copy of ‘Magical Drafts and Potions’. Mrs. Galbraith was looking at it skeptically.
“It doesn’t look that hard-wearing to me, just a cheap old freebie. We’ll get a proper one later. Wands next!” Aisa grinned; she’d been looking forward to getting a wand for as long as she could remember. Felix saw her grin, and whispered in her ear,
“Wait until you meet old Ollivander. You won’t be smiling so big then!” Aisa scowled at her brother,
“Yeah, whatever Felix.” She shrugged and stalked off after their mother.
Once in the shop though, Aisa began to see what her brother meant. The shop was old and dusty; it looked like it hadn’t been cleaned for decades. Its owner, Mr. Ollivander, wasn’t much different. He had the same dustiness about him, as if he’d never left the shop and had taken on its character. He spoke in a very soft voice that was rather disarming.
“Good evening, how can I help you all?” Felix and Aisa stood there in silence, staring quietly at the shop and Mr. Ollivander. Their mother broke the stillness with her clear voice,
“We’re here to get young Aisa her wand.” Mr. Ollivander nodded,
“Very well, which is your wand arm?” Aisa stuck out her right arm, and Mr. Ollivander set his tape measure to work, while he rummaged around in the boxes that lined the shelves along all the walls of the shop. “Right,” he said, tossing the measure aside, “Let’s try this one first.” Aisa waved the wand, which emitted a few sparks, but nothing else. Mr. Ollivander whisked it away, and gave her another, then another, then another – all of them producing the same effect. Finally, he gave her a long, thin wand, made of a pale wood.
“Apple wood, 14 inches, springy. Give it a wave.” Aisa did, and finally felt something other than sparks. Red and green sparks flew out instead, and a warmth spread down her arm to her shoulder. “Mmmm, interesting, interesting, young Miss Aisa. Do you know what is in the core of this wand?” Aisa shook her head, her face blank. How could she know, she thought furiously, he hadn’t told her! “It is a hair from the mane of a Kelpie. Very unpredictable wands they make, very few people can control them. I wonder what this says about you…I wonder.” Mr. Ollivander’s pale eyes looked at her face searchingly for almost a full minute, until Aisa got so uncomfortable she broke the gaze, and turned to look to her mother for help.
“Well, Mr. Ollivander, how much do we owe you?” Mr. Ollivander seemed to snap out of his trance, and payment was dealt with. Aisa, however, was left feeling very strange – as if she was missing something very important, as if the world was keeping some secret from her. She looked at Felix, who gave her an ‘I told you so’ look. As they left the shop, Aisa turned to have one last look at Ollivander, and saw that he was still staring at her – leaving her with a very uncomfortable feeling in the pit of her stomach; what did her wand say about her?
March 28th, 2004, 8:04 pm
sorry this is so long...but it kind of had to be. in case anyone is confused, i changed the Gordon's name to Galbraith because i like it better :)
The rest of the summer past in a blur for Aisa; she devoured her new textbooks, reading each day, her excitement growing. Her wand, however, remained in its box in the corner of the room. She had barely looked at it since they had returned from London back in June. When Felix hadn’t been looking, she’d sneaked into his room and borrowed his copy of <I> ‘Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them’</I> and looked up Kelpies. What she had read hadn’t allayed her discomfort at her wand’s core originating from one; they sounded like vicious creatures and Aisa didn’t like it one bit.
“Aisa, it’s time to go – are you ready?” Her mother’s voice floated up the stairs and through the door. Aisa barely heard her, staring at her wand.
“Aisa, come on, it’s time to go!” Felix burst into her room, “What are you doing just standing there?” Aisa snapped out of her trance and snatched up her wand.
“Nothing,” she said with a start, “I’m just coming, here, help me get this shut will you?” She threw the wand onto the top of the trunk and pulled the lid over the bulging contents. “You sit on it and I’ll snap it shut.” Together they got the trunk closed (just) and dragged it down the stairs where their mother was waiting.
“Ok, put it in the boot with Felix’s, then we’ll get a move on.” Unlike a lot of wizarding families, the Galbraith’s owned a car as Mrs. Galbraith was muggle-born and had learnt to drive as a teenager. Ten minutes of heaving later, the trunks were both safely in the boot, and the weighed down car was making its way to London.
“Right, Aisa, after you.” The family was at King’s Cross, about to go through the barrier, when Aisa suddenly squealed with delight,
“Look! It’s Dad, he’s come to say good-bye!” Indeed, a tall man with Aisa’s dark hair and pale complexion was striding down the platform, a smile on his face. He scooped up his daughter in a big hug.
“Of course I have! You don’t think I’d miss my little girl’s first time on the Hogwarts’ Express, do you?” Aisa pretended to squirm,
“Dad, put me down, someone might see!” She couldn’t hide her pleasure at her father’s arrival, however, and she didn’t really mind him hugging her. She looked at her mother,
“Please can we go through now? I don’t think I can wait much longer!” Cynthia Galbraith smiled,
“Alright, you and Felix go together now.” Felix grinned at her,
“Race you!” he shouted over his shoulder, as he raced toward the Magical barrier.
“Hey! That’s not fair, you got a head start!” She chased after her brother full pelt, crashing through the barrier at speed, skidding to a halt when she saw the enormous scarlet Engine. It seemed bigger, somehow, than she remembered it, her excitement magnifying the impressiveness of the vehicle. She stood there, mouth opened slightly in awe, a little nervous anticipation building in her stomach.
“Wake up, Aisie, or you’ll be standing there all day!” She turned around; her father and mother had arrived, and were smiling at her. “It always looks most impressive the day you realize you’re going on it,” said her father, in a misty kind of voice. There was a far off look in his eyes; his wife smiled at him.
“Come back to us, Augustus.” She waved a hand in front of her face, “Wake up, or you’ll be standing there all day!” She winked at Aisa, who grinned back. She grabbed hold of her father’s hand,
“Come on, Dad, help me put my stuff in the carriage! Where’s Felix? Do you think he’ll let me sit with him?” She started dragging her father along, pushing the trolley in front of her.
Felix had deposited his trunk on the train, and was coming back to find his parents. His mother gave him a meaningful look, and he sighed,
“Aisa, do you want to sit with me and my friends?” His mother looked at him sharply, Felix rolled his eyes, “You’re more than welcome too.” Aisa seemed not to notice Felix’s unenthusiastic tone at having to sit with his kid sister on the train, and threw her arms about him in a big hug,
“Thanks Felix, that would be so cool!” Felix hugged her back, trying to keep up his sullen demeanor, but failing; his sister’s happiness and excitement seemed to be contagious.
“It’s ok, but just…don’t talk too much, ok? I don’t want you embarrassing me.” He trying to look severe, but couldn’t quite suppress a grin.
“Right then, you two, on the train with you! Give your mother a kiss, Felix.” His son dutifully did so, and Mr. Galbraith shook his hand, “Make sure you behave yourself, and look after that broomstick!” Felix pretended to roll his eyes, and jumped onto the train. Mrs. Galbraith hugged her daughter,
“Good luck this year sweetie, be sure to write to us tomorrow morning and tell us how your first evening was!”
“I will, Mum!” She kissed her father, “See you soon, Dad – don’t work too hard!” He kissed her back,
“I’ll try not to, but make sure you do!” He gave her a little tickle as he hugged her. “Ok, on the train with you.” Aisa gave them both a last hug, and jumped on the train, just as the whistle blew. She rolled down the window and leant out of it.
“Bye Mum, bye Dad! See you at Christmas!” The train began to pull away from the Station, and Aisa watched as the waving figures of her parents began to get smaller. She waved back for a bit, then ducked back inside the window, and turned to go to the compartment Felix and his friends were in. She wandered down the carriage, and pulled open the door she thought was theirs’.
“Oops, sorry, wrong compartment,” she mumbled. She had opened the wrong door, and saw a group of older students, already dressed in their robes, looking rather angrily at her, she thought.
“What do you want?” One of the girls was looking at her rather distastefully.
“Uh, nothing. I was just looking for my brother and his friends…he must have told me the wrong compartment. I’ll just go no-” The girl cut her off.
“That would seem to be the case.” Aisa looked at the rest of the compartment’s occupants; they looked an unpleasant lot. There wasn’t a welcoming expression anywhere on their faces. In fact, they all seemed to be trying to repel her from the compartment with dirty looks; but Aisa didn’t seem to be able to move. She felt very uncomfortable standing there in the doorway, and her feet didn’t want to step back. “And are you still standing here for any particular reason?” Aisa felt her pale cheeks turning crimson, and replied falteringly,
“Uh, no, I just, I, um, I was just…” She trailed off, as the girl started laughing, full of malicious mirth. Aisa still couldn’t seem to move, and would probably have stayed there indefinitely, had her brother not suddenly come by.
“What’s going on here?” Aisa turned around, relief flooding into her.
“Oh Felix!” He grabbed her by the shoulders,
“What on earth are you doing in here? With them?” He spoke venomously, shooting the occupants in the compartment a very dirty look.
“I don’t know – I thought this was your compartment, but it wasn’t and they were here and…” The laughter in the compartment had stopped now, and the girl cut into the conversation in a silky, dangerous tone.
“Your sister thought she’d pay us a little visit, it would seem, Galbraith.”
“Yeah? Well she’s leaving now.” Felix slammed the door shut, and steered Aisa to the next compartment along. There were three other people in the compartment, two boys and a girl; all of them looked up expectantly when Felix shut the door behind him.
“What was it?” asked the petite, blonde girl sitting by the window, “What was all the noise?” Aisa sat down, still a little shaky.
“Bellatrix and her gang are all next door – Aisa here,” Felix jerked his thumb behind him at his sister, “walked in there by mistake.” One of the boys rolled his eyes,
“Honestly, they’re so…” he shook his head, as if unable to find words to adequately describe them.
“What do you expect, they’re Slytherins.” He was sitting next to Aisa, and turned to her, sticking out a freckled hand, “I’m Thomas Huntington, this is my brother, Daniel,” he gestured to the older boy sitting across the carriage, “and that’s Elise Pevensey.” The blonde girl gave her a little wave,
“I wouldn’t worry about the Slytherins, you know. They’re a beastly lot, but they generally keep themselves to themselves. If you stay out of their way, they’ll leave you alone.” Felix snorted in disgust,
“Leave them alone? Not bloody likely, they’re all Voldemort supporters, each and every one of them. Deserve every jinx they get!” Elise rolled her eyes,
“I’m sure they’re not all Voldemort supporters, Felix.”
“That’s probably true, but it’s still fun jinxing them,” grinned Thomas, “Bunch of creepy, miserable old things. That little ‘over-enthusiastic’ Cheering Charm I gave old Nott at the end of last term did him a power of good!” He winked at Aisa, who grinned, feeling much better with every minute.
The rest of the journey was uneventful. Aisa got Felix and his friends to tell her everything about Hogwarts. They were all in the same house, Ravenclaw, and told Aisa they were sure she would be too. When the food trolley came around, they loaded themselves up with all sorts of treats, and the train speeding further north all the while. Thomas’ older brother was in his Fifth year, and a prefect, and when he disappeared off to the special prefect’s compartment, the others decided to change into their robes. Aisa felt a tingle of excitement shoot around her body as the black material fell down to her feet. She really and truly was a Hogwarts’ student and she could hardly wait to get to the castle.
They finally pulled into the dark station, feeling slightly sick due to the large amount of Chocolate Frogs consumed (and Thomas thought his might be due to the odd flavoured Bertie Bott’s beans he kept eating), and Aisa gasped at the horseless carriages and made to go and inspect closer.
“Hold it there, Aisa, you’re going that way!” Felix pointed her in the opposite direction, to where a huge man, whom to Aisa seemed to consist mainly of hair and beard and very little else, who was calling for ‘Firs’ Years!’ Felix laughed at the terrified expression on his sister’s face, “Don’t look so scared, Aisa, it’s only Hagrid! He’s an old softy. Go on, you get to go on the little boats over the lake – it’s tradition. Just watch out for the Giant Squid!” Aisa stuck her tongue out at her brother, determined not to look any more stupid in front of him today, and stalked off to join the other First Years with Hagrid.
“All righ’ Firs’ Years, off we go then, follow me!” The little group of children followed the huge man down a steep slope, slipping and sliding in the pitch black. They skidded around a corner, and Aisa gasped in wonderment. She wasn’t the only one either, for stretched out in front of them was the Lake and high on the mountain in front of them was Hogwarts itself. It was a huge castle, imposing with it’s many turrets and towers, but also friendly looking due to the warm orange glow of candlelight coming from almost every window.
“Four in a boat!” called Hagrid, and the First Years scrambled into their vessels. The boats glided across the lake, and Aisa stared up at the Castle. She thought it was the most beautiful thing she had ever seen. After a little time, the boats glided into an underground harbour, and the children all hopped out (some more skillfully than others) and plodded up the passage way after Hagrid. They tramped up to the Castle along the lawn, until they reached the castle doors, upon which Hagrid knock three times with his massive fist. The doors swung open, and a tall, black-haired witch greeted them.
“Good Evening, Hagrid” Hagrid nodded his head in a little bow,
“Evenin’ Professor McGonagall. Got the firs’-years here for you.”
“Thank you, Hagrid. I will take them from here.” She turned around swiftly, and the gaggle of first years followed her quickly. She walked swiftly through the huge Entrance Hall, and opened a door to a smaller, empty chamber.
“Welcome to Hogwarts. The rest of the school is in the Great Hall for the start-of-term banquet, but first there is the little tradition we have here called the Sorting. This ceremony is very important, as it will put you all into the houses in which you will stay for the duration of your time here at Hogwarts.
“There are four houses, Ravenclaw, Gryffindor, Hufflepuff and Slytherin.” There was a quiet hissing at Slytherin’s name – obviously other people had been told similar things to Aisa about the house. Professor McGonagall looked at them sternly, “All the houses have their own noble history and have produced equally outstanding young wizards and witches. During your time here, you will earn points for your house for your triumphs, while misdemeanors will lose you points. The house with the most points is awarded the House Cup at the end of the school year. I am sure you will all be a credit to whichever house becomes yours.
“The ceremony will take place in a few minutes in front of the rest of the school. I shall return momentarily.” She turned and swept out of the chamber. Aisa gazed around at the chamber, taking in the gentle orange glow of the torches hanging on the walls. Her fellow students were whispering quietly, talking about the different houses. Aisa wasn’t worried; Felix and his friends had convinced her that she belonged in Ravenclaw, like the rest of her family had for generations. She smiled to herself, thrilled at finally being here and began talking to the girl standing next to her who whispered a greeting.
Soon enough, Professor McGonagall returned, and ushered them all into the Great Hall. There were gasped of amazement, as the First Years gazed up at the enchanted ceiling. They were led up to the front of the hall, and stood quietly in line, as Professor McGonagall retrieved a very long roll of parchment. Aisa looked over to the Ravenclaw table, smiling slightly at Felix who was waving at her. She could barely contain the excitement that was bubbling inside her, she felt like she was going to burst. Soon, her name was called out,
“Galbraith, Aisa.” Feeling slightly nervous, she walked up to the stool and sat down, the Sorting Hat dropping over her eyes. A little voice began to speak in her ear,
“Mmmm, very intelligent, yes. And brave, oh brave indeed…ambition too, I see. Where you put you?” Aisa sat there silently, waiting for the hat to make up its mind. She hadn’t expected it to take so long. “I see your intelligence and quick wit, but I don’t think that that is all there is to your character. There is something else in there, something you must discover that perhaps only one house will help you to do. I think SLYTHERIN!”
The hat shouted the last word to the whole hall, and the Slytherin table cheered. Aisa just sat there in total shock, the hat still over her head. She probably would have sat there all evening, had Professor McGonagall not come over and lifted it off her, gently nudging her toward the Slytherin table. The young girl stood up with difficultly, her pale face devoid of any colour it had previously possessed. Her eyes were shining with horror, and her legs felt numb from disbelief; it seemed to take an age to walk over to the green and silver table, hardly daring to look over at Felix. She sat gingerly down on the end of the bench, feeling as though she was isolated in a little bubble. A voice in her head was muttering ‘no, this can’t be true, there must be a mistake’.
She looked around at her fellow students, none of who seemed to be expressing a particular interest in this tiny First year that didn’t look too pleased to be sitting at their table. The girl from the train caught her eye, and, seeing Aisa’s distress at the decision, smiled malevolently at her. With a sinking heart, she watched the rest of the sorting, and then forced herself to eat something when the food appeared on the plate. Every bite was torture, like her throat was made of sandpaper. She wasn’t a Slytherin, she told herself furiously; the hat must have made a mistake. Everything Felix and his friends had said about the Slytherins came flooding back to her. They were hated by everyone – would Felix hate her now? She looked up carefully at the Ravenclaw table, and saw her brother sitting there, looking slightly pale. Then a horrible thought sprang to the front of her mind - What would her parents say? With difficulty, she finished her meal, not tasting anything that passed her lips. As she followed the Slytherin prefect out of the Hall, she saw Felix and tried to catch his eye. He looked at her with a painful expression in his eyes, like he’d been wounded, then turned and marched off with Thomas and Elise.
Aisa didn’t sleep well at all that night and awoke early next morning. She got up straight away, and wrote a torturous letter which only yesterday – was it really only yesterday? – previously she had expecting to have been writing from the Ravenclaw dormitories. Instead, she was telling her parents with a dull ache in the pit of her stomach, that she had been sorted into Slytherin from the dark Common Room of that house. With a heavy heart she went back to her Dormitory. Everyone else was up by now, and getting dressed. Aisa dressed very slowly, waiting until all her fellow students had left the room; she really didn’t want to have to speak to anyone. She didn’t belong here. She was half-heartedly eating some toast, when Great Hall suddenly filled with owls, bringing the morning post. Under different circumstances, Aisa would have been entranced by the sight, but as it was, she remained indifferent until a letter for her landed on the table. She recognised the handwriting on the front as her mother’s, and with shaking hands, she broke the seal and unfurled the parchment; obviously Felix had written to their parents last night. Aisa read the letter slowly; terrified of what it might say, but it was not the angry diatribe she had half been expecting. The tone was, however, definitely strained; her parents’ disappointment was obvious, their horror only just veiled behind tense sympathy. Aisa bit her lip to stop the tears that were welling in her throat rolling down her cheeks.
In a bedroom in west London, a much older Aisa Galbraith suddenly awoke, her lip bleeding slightly from where she had bitten it, her cheeks streaked with the evidence of tears. She sighed and wiped her eyes. The past was the past…when would she learn?
March 29th, 2004, 1:30 pm
A little earlier than i expected to be finished. thought i would post it anyway, but most likely i will make changes as i spot things i missed...hope you enjoy it nethertheless :)
With a sigh, Aisa rolled over and looked at the time, blinking at her in digital glory from her radio-alarm. Six o’clock. She threw back her quilt, thinking she might as well get up; she was never going to get back to sleep.
She suppressed the yawn that her body brought defiantly forth, swung her legs out of bed and went over to open the curtains. A clear sky greeted her, and feeling slightly better she shuffled out of her bedroom, along the windowless hall. Aisa lived in a flat on the ground floor of an old, falling-to-pieces town house in the middle of a terrace. As she opened her door, she heard the ‘chink’ of glass outside the main front door of the house, which meant the milk was being delivered. Aisa gave a wry smile – the past few weeks of disturbed sleep had its upside. Before, her milk had always been nicked by other people – at least being up this early meant she got there first. She opened the front door, a crisp, clean chill on the air that you get on British summer mornings, when the air hasn’t quite warmed up yet swept the sleepiness out of her head. She picked up her pint and turned back into the house, kicked the door closed with her foot and deftly scooped up the post from her pigeonhole with her spare hand.
Back inside her flat, she had just settled into her paper and a cup of tea when there was a tapping noise at the window. Aisa jumped a little, then rolled her eyes at herself.
“I swear, I’ll never get used to this again,” she muttered as she stood up and went over to the window. On the ledge outside, ruffling its feathers, was a small owl carrying a rather large paper. Aisa reached up and unlocked the window, then with a heave, slid it upwards. The owl hopped inside onto the sill and dropped the paper, then with a gentle hoot, hopped out again and flew off. Aisa closed the window halfway and went back to her kitchen table. She put the Daily Prophet on the table, sat down, and opened it over her Telegraph.
She hadn’t always received a copy of the Prophet – in fact, until a Monday morning three weeks ago, she hadn’t even seen a copy of the paper for almost 16 years. She had been sitting quietly reading her normal paper, when, like today, an owl had tapped on her window. Aisa had almost choked on her coffee.
At first, she had thought there must be some mistake; she certainly hadn’t subscribed to the Wizarding paper. The owl, however, was adamant that she take it and eventually, possibly tiring of their staring competition, just dropped it on the floor and flew off. Aisa had stayed at the table, almost paralysed with – well, with what? Fear? It was a sort of fear, a horrible, gnawing fear that, if she touched that paper, if she picked it up and read it, there would be no turning back. It would suck her back into the world she had left behind, and with it bring back all the memories she had worked so hard to forget. She had been half-right, of course; it had brought all the memories back, that was why she couldn’t sleep properly. That paper was a symbol of an invasion back into her life of something she didn’t want. Hadn’t wanted. Did she want it now?
It had sat there, on the floor where the owl had dropped it, until late that evening. Aisa had watched the news, and went into the kitchen to make herself a cup of tea to take to bed with her; and there it was. She realised she couldn’t leave it there, an ominous object that would cast a shadow over her house. She would pick it up and throw it straight in the bin. She stood there, staring at it for a minute, then quickly grabbed it and opened the lid of the bin. But something stopped her dropping it in and she started reading it, right there and then, on the floor of her kitchen. She sat there for several hours, completely absorbed, reading it from cover to cover and then again. As she read, a numb horror spread through her body until her fingertips were tingling and shaking. The paper was full of almost no other news but that of his return. He was back. Voldemort was back. When she had read the whole thing again, just to convince herself that it was real, she dropped it like a brick, and stood up in a daze, dragging herself off to bed.
When she awoke the next morning, the horror had turned into more of a resolution. That paper had been sent to her for a reason, as if to tell her that she couldn’t hide anymore. That was her world, not this one, and that world was in danger. To shun it now in its hour of need was to cut it off completely and, Aisa became conscious of the fact that, even though this is what she had been trying to do for over a decade, it wasn’t what she really wanted. For some (most, she thought) news that the most evil wizard the world had ever seen had returned to the world would be enough to make them pack their bags and run off into the sunset. Not Aisa, she had, she decided, spent enough time running. Now as the time to face up to it and go back. She didn’t know how, but she would.
The Daily Prophet had appeared again the next day, and the day after that and then again. Aisa had begun to scour the classifieds, but everything seemed too…real. It was all very well saying she would go back, but to actually do it – find a job and re-join the Wizarding community was going to be very, very difficult. Then, just as she was beginning to feel the situation was hopeless, she saw it; on page 34, right at the bottom in the corner:
“New Defence Against the Dark Arts professor required at Hogwarts’ School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.
Applicants should address their replies directly to Albus Dumbledore by o later than the end of this Month.”
It jumped out hat her as if it had been waiting for her eyes to fall upon it. Aisa’s face had lit up – this was perfect! She was a teacher at the moment any way in a Muggle school and Hogwarts was perfect for a sheltered re-introduction into the Wizarding community, where almost all were young and would know nothing of her.
She had sent off her application that day – yesterday had been the end of the month, so she thought she’d probably be hearing soon. As if to answer her thoughts, there was a sudden ‘buzz’ of her doorbell. Aisa went over to the intercom, slightly puzzled who would be calling at (she glanced at her watch) seven o’clock in the morning. She pressed the button to unlock the main door and opened the one to her flat. The person she saw walk through the door was possibly the last person in the world she expected.
A tall, thin man with a long white beard and hair to match swept into her tiny flat. Aisa could only stand there in shock. Professor Albus Dumbledore closed the door behind himself, his blue eyes twinkling behind half-moon spectacles.
“Hello, Aisa.” Dumbledore put out his hand. Aisa took it in hers and shook it, dazedly.
“Professor! Hello! What are you doing here?”
“I’ve come to see you, why else?” Spying her empty mug on the table, he went on, “Shall we have a cup of tea?” Inside, Aisa’s brain was buzzing with questions and comments, but it seemed to be unable to connect with her tongue in an intelligent manner.
“What? Tea? Oh, yes! Tea! Of course, no problem, the kettle’s just over here, I’ll just put it on now.” Cursing her ineloquence, Aisa crossed over to the kettle, filled it up with water and flipped it on. She stared at the wall for a bit, hands on the worktop, trying to regain her composure. Dumbledore spoke gently,
“Come and sit down, Aisa. The kettle will boil on it’s own.” Aisa turned around and pulled out a chair. She hesitated,
“Professor, you must excuse me. This has all come as a bit of a shock; you are the first person from our world that I have spoken to for years.” Dumbledore nodded, and motioned for her to take her seat. Aisa did so.
“I realise that, Aisa, and I’m sorry if I gave you a shock. However, I had to come here in person.” Dumbledore reached into his cloak and pulled out a piece of paper; it was Aisa’s application letter. “I received this from you, three weeks ago, and I thought that, before I offered anyone the job, I should come and see you about your application. I want to know why.” Aisa, who had been playing with the tablecloth, looked up,
“Why, Professor? I’m afraid I don’t quite understand.”
“The question is simple, my dear – although perhaps a little vague. Sometimes simplicity can be a little too simple, can it not?” His eyes twinkled again, and Aisa struggled to produce a small, confused smile. “Anyway, as I was saying, ‘why?’. Why did you decide to apply? As you said to me just now, you have cut yourself off from the Wizarding world for almost sixteen years; why have you decided to return now?” Aisa took a deep breath, then began to explain.
“I got a Daily Prophet delivered to me earlier this month. I put off reading it, all day it sat in that corner,” Aisa pointed to the corner by the window, “until I had to do something about it. And I read it; I read the whole thing and found it was full of stories about Voldemort’s return. I felt absolutely horrified by what I was reading, and a sadness crept through me, a sadness at what was happening to my world. When I woke up the next morning, I realised; I couldn’t stay away any more. I had to redeem myself somehow, or I would never really be at peace. I found that, no matter what I’d been telling myself all these years, I still felt connected to that world, and when I read what was happening to it, I couldn’t just sit there and pretend I didn’t know, I had to go back, but I didn’t know how. Then I saw it, that advert from Hogwarts. That, it seemed to me, would be a perfect way to repay my debt to wizard-kind, to correct all the wrongs I had caused. Teach young wizards and witches what had always failed to help me; true defense against the dark arts.” The kettle had been whistling to a climax with Aisa’s story, and came off the boil with a ‘ping’ of the switch as she finished. She stood up rather hastily, and poured out the hot water into the teapot, her hands shaking slightly. Behind her, Dumbledore leant back in his chair and folded his hands in his lap.
“You have changed, you know, Aisa. I remember you at school, a quiet, supremely intelligent, but very troubled young girl. I knew you had changed sixteen years ago when you turned away from all that was evil in your life, even if the trust of others was broken, but I am amazed, and impressed, by how much. You have grown into a strong woman, worthy of the respect that I am told you have in your life here. If you can bear to leave that behind, and will accept it, the job is yours.” The light rushed back into Aisa’s eyes and she whipped around. Dumbledore held up his hand. “However, there is one small, shall we say, condition?” Aisa felt her heart sink immediately; she dreaded to think what the condition was. Dumbledore smiled slightly, “Don’t look so dismayed, my dear. The condition is simple enough. You, of course, know of Harry Potter?” Aisa nodded; of course she knew him! “Well, I need you to give him some special tuition. It has been prophesised that he alone can defeat Lord Voldemort, and he is going to need all the help he can. As his Defense Against the Dark Arts professor, I would like you to help him in whatever way you see fit.” Aisa nodded. “You can meet him, if you like, next week. He is arriving at the Headquarters for the Order of the Phoenix on Wednesday.” Aisa looked blankly at Dumbledore,
“Sorry, Sir, Order of the what?” The elderly wizard smiled again, and drew another envelope from within his cloak.
“This,” he said, holding it in his hand as he spoke, “is your acceptance letter for the post of Professor for Defence Against the Dark Arts. There is also a letter from myself, explaining everything in a little more detail. Shall we all see you on Wednesday week?” He passed the letter over to Aisa. She took it, and replied uncertainly,
“I suppose so? But I don’t know where-” Dumbledore cut her off,
“It’s all in the letter. See you soon!” With that, her disappeared with a crack. Aisa jumped; she hadn’t quite been expecting him to disapparte. She turned the envelope over in her hands, and broke the wax seal. She smoothed out the parchment and bent over it.
I am very pleased to offer you the position of Professor of Defence Against the Dark Arts at Hogwarts’ School of Witchcraft and Wizardry this coming September.
I also wish to tender another offer toward you. This offer is of membership to the Order of the Phoenix. We are a group of people who came together to fight against Voldemort last time he rose to power and, now he is rising once again, we have found each other once again.
Your skills as a witch would be greatly appreciated amongst us, and we look forward to your presence.
The headquarters for the Order of the Phoenix can be found at number 12, Grimmauld Place.
See you on Wednesday,
As she read the directions for the headquarters, Aisa’s eyes widened; the words were dissolving before her eyes. She sat back in her chair – the Order of the Phoenix? She had heard of them, last time around and would be proud to join them this time. The question was, and this question was nagging at the back of her mind regarding everything about her re-entry into the Wizarding world, would they take her? Suddenly everything was beginning to seem very real and frightening.
Aisa awoke on the following Wednesday, her stomach a mass of nerves. She couldn’t recall the last time she had felt so nervous. Well, she could recall one, but that was different, that time she had at least had a certain element of control. This time, she had none.
She put some bread in the toaster and dressed quickly, grabbing the toast on her way out. She slung her coat on, locked the door and double-checked the location of Grimmauld Place in her A-Z. She saw the bus go past as she left the house and dashed down the street after it, jumping on just as the doors were closing.
“Morning!” she gasped and flashed her travel card at the driver. As she sat down, something poked her in the ribs. She felt inside her coat pocket and realised it was her wand, which she had put there the previous night to make sure she didn’t forget it. Her discovery brought back into a rather uncomfortably sharp focus the reason why she was on the bus and her nerves, which she had forgotten in the rush to get ready, flooded back to her, making her fingers tingle and hands shaky. Five minutes later, Aisa hopped off the bus and descended into the bowels of London. The Underground was already stiflingly hot, though the weather outside was not especially nice, and this particular station seemed particularly old, dusty and badly ventilated. It had that lonely, empty feeling that Underground stations have out of the rush out and apart from a couple of kids attempting to remove a bench and a third molesting the chocolate machine, Aisa was completely alone on the platform. She spent her time waiting for the train resisting the urge to curse the young delinquents in some way, and suppressing a nervous giggle as she relished in the idea of using magic again.
Soon enough, the train trundled out of the tunnel and clattered into the station, almost completely empty. Aisa got on and sat down, glancing quickly up at the map, just to make sure she had the right line. The train seemed to take forever through the tunnels, and with every jerk, jolt and stop, Aisa’s nerves screeched up a gear until by the time she got off, she could barely get her ticket through the barrier her hands were shaking so much. She felt as if she was in a little bubble; the world was there, all around her, but she didn’t feel as though she was part of it. She trudged up the hill in a sort of daze, then turned off the main road and made her way to Grimmauld Place.
When she finally found herself standing in the square, she thought she was going to be physically sick. Mentally, she slapped herself, cursing herself quietly. She went into the little garden at the centre of the square and perched on one of the rickety, graffitied, old benches and leant forward with her head in her hands.
“Professor Dumbledore said I might find you here.” Aisa looked up and saw a thin, pale boy with dark messy hair and emerald green eyes. He was wearing old, scruffy jeans that had an odd, warped look to them, as though they had belonged to someone much to large for them. The boy walked over to her, and held out his hand. “I’m Harry.”
March 31st, 2004, 4:29 pm
I can't seem to get this to post, and i suspect it is because of the lenght, so it's in two parts :)
Some hours previously, down in Surrey (or Little Whinging, to be more precise) a sixteen-year-old boy had lain spread-eagled on his bed, staring at the ceiling. A trunk lay open on the floor at the foot of his bed, with all sorts of books, clothes and what appeared to be a broomstick sticking out at all manner of odd angles. The sky outside was still fighting with the last remnants of night time darkness as Harry Potter checked his watch. It was only 4am, but he’d given up all pretence of trying to sleep about an hour ago. He had got used to it by now – he’d spent most of his summer disturbed by nightmares. The daytimes weren’t so bad; the reception they had received at Kings’ Cross at the end of last term seemed to have scared the Dursleys into mildly civil behaviour toward Harry, and so he was able to find things to do other than wander the streets. He had, for once, been able to do his schoolwork during the day, sometimes reading his textbooks out in the garden. Then, of course, was his contact with Ron, Hermione and others in the Order. Most often though, his days simply drifted from one to the next, just waiting for some sort of outside contact to take his mind off things. None of it was particularly informative, but it was something regular that Harry could latch onto; anyway, he didn’t seem to have much of an interest any more in the activities of the Order. A long, lonely month had left him feeling very apathetic towards…pretty much anything, and no matter how busy he tried to keep himself, his thoughts would inevitably fall back to the events of last year and, it would seem, all the thoughts he had in the world couldn’t fill the hole in his soul from where Sirius had been ripped so cruelly and abruptly.
Sirius filled his almost every waking moment, the dull ache in Harry’s heart ever present, continually reminding him that his God-father was gone. He filled his dreams, too; horrible, tangled dreams, full of confusion and terrifying images of red, snake-like eyes, ghostly forms of his parents and Cedric and Sirius, falling backwards lifelessly through that curtain again and again and again. Harry would wake up, tangled in his bed sheets, drenched in sweat and breathing heavily, too terrified of going back to sleep for fear of what he might see. He realised that it was driving him crazy, being cooped up here in Privet Drive with all these thoughts swarming around his brain, which is why he had been very, very glad to get a letter from Hermione and Ron on Sunday, telling him that he going to be able to leave Surrey on Wednesday morning. He had thought of nothing else since Sunday, until it occurred to him that returning to Grimmauld Place, without Sirius there, would probably be even worse than being at Privet Drive. To go back amongst his friends and the wizarding world would also mean facing up to what he had been pushing to the back of his mind since June; that he must kill, or be killed. Harry felt his stomach flip flop. When Dumbledore had told him that, he had been so overwrought with grief, that he hadn’t really taken it in. Over the past month, it had slowly, but surely, dripped into his consciousness, invading his dreams then his day. Harry was beginning to wonder, frankly, how much more he could take. He looked at his watch again, seven o’clock; he must have drifted off. Lupin was coming at eight, so he thought he had better get up and dressed. He pulled on a pair of old jeans were even baggier than usual, and a large, green t-shirt. Stifling a yawn, Harry picked up the book he had been reading and dropped it into his trunk, then checked around the room for anything else – only Hedwig’s cage, and she should be back soon; he’d put her under strict instructions. Harry decided that everything was in there, and closed the lid. The trunk was full to bursting, and it took all of his minimal weight to force it shut. Panting heavily, Harry sat on the floor, leaning against the trunk and closed his eyes.
He was flying over London on a motorbike. He could see the city stretched out below him, the lights twinkling merrily. Then the bike turned into a dragon, and Harry was falling through the sky. He summoned his broom, but it didn’t come. He fell through the air at great speed – he was going to crash! Just before he hit the ground, someone caught him, a huge hand. ‘Hagger. Grawp want Hagger.’ Then the giant’s face warped to have bright red eyes and slit-like nostrils, and the hand began to close, and Harry saw Sirius and his parents, waving at him from somewhere in the distance, calling to him. ‘Harry, Harry…’
“Harry!” Harry awoke with a start – someone was calling him. “Harry! Get down these stairs immediately!” The voice was getting closer, and Harry could hear his Uncle stomping up the stairs. Harry stood slowly, still trembling a little from the dream. “Harry Potter!” His Uncle crashed through the door. “There is a…a man downstairs. One of your lot, come to get you.” Uncle Vernon was speaking with tightly clenched teeth, hissing and spitting the words out. “You didn’t tell us that one of your lot was going to be coming here.” Harry shrugged. He didn’t really care what his Uncle thought. Turning his back on the figure, who was almost apoplectic with rage, he picked up his trunk and the cage with Hedwig (who had returned during his sleep), and strode – as well as you can stride with a heavy suitcase and birdcage – out of the room, making sure to thump the trunk down every stair.
Remus Lupin was standing at the bottom of the stairs, smiling up at him; Aunt Petunia and Dudley were standing, looking rather scared, to one side. Dudley was trying to hide behind his mother, which leant itself to a rather amusing sight, as Dudley was roughly the width of a small car, while his mother resembled a beanpole. Harry couldn’t quite help but crack a wry grin back at Lupin.
“Hello, Harry.” As Harry came further down the stairs, Lupin’s smile faded slightly as concern flooded onto it. “Good grief…you look-” Lupin cut himself off, but Harry knew what he was going to say. He had to admit, he agreed – he had lost a lot of weight, and was pale from lack of sleep, with huge bags around his eyes. “Molly will have a fit!”
“Hi, Professor,” said Harry, as he thumped down the last two stairs. “Can we go now?” Lupin looked him over carefully, and nodded.
“Yes, we’re going by Portkey.” He withdrew an old newspaper from the inside of his cloak, and put it on the floor. “The Ministry are being much more co-operative of late.” Harry turned to his Aunt and cousin,
“Bye, I’ll see you next year, I guess.” Aunt Petunia nodded very quickly. “Oh, bye,” said Harry, as Uncle Vernon clunked down the stairs. Uncle Vernon grunted,
“Still here, are you?” Harry rolled his eyes,
“I’m just leaving.” Lupin took out his wand, at which Dudley gasped and edged further back into the wall, one hand on his generous backside, the other over his mouth. The older wizard pointed his wand at the paper, and muttered ‘Porto’.
“Ok, Harry – ready?” Harry nodded, “Ok then, after three. One, two, three!” Harry reached down and touched the newspaper, instantly feeling the now familiar jerk somewhere in the region of his navel. Number 4, Privet Drive disappeared in a whirl of colour, and seconds later the hallway of Grimmauld Place materialised.
If he hadn’t known where they were going, Harry wouldn’t have recognised it. The once-dingy hallway had been painted a clean, bright white and the curtains had been replaced, letting the daylight stream in. Down the hallway he could see the kitchen, which seemed to have been painted yellow, and breakfast-type smells seemed to be emanating from it. The creator of the smells became immediately obvious, as Molly Weasley bustled through the doorway and enveloped Harry in an enormous hug. She pulled back,
“Let me have a look at you.” Her smile fade slightly, as Lupin’s had done, when she saw the state he was in. She tried to keep the lightness in her voice, but Harry could here it faltering, “Goodness! We shall have to feed you up a bit, Harry. Can’t have you looking so-” Exactly what Harry couldn’t look so of was never said, as at that minute, Ron, Hermione and Ginny all clattered down the stairs.
March 31st, 2004, 4:33 pm
“Harry! You’re here!” Hermione got there first, and launched herself at him, followed by Ginny. Both of them practically knocked him over with the force of their hugs and Harry grinned in spite of himself.
“Hey, Harry,” said Ron, beaming. Harry fought his way out of Hermione and Ginny and gave Ron a (what he liked to think of as being) more manly embrace.
“Hey, Ron,” he turned to the other, “Hi you two. Did you do all this?” He gestured around at the newly painted hall. The three of them beamed.
“Yup!” piped up Ginny, “We got sick of the grey!”
“And Lupin finally managed to get Mrs. Black to shut up,” chimed in Ron. Harry turned and saw that though the curtains had flown open, and Mrs. Black was gesticulating wildly, not a sound was issued forth from her mouth. “He used…some spell or other.”
“He used an advanced Quietus spell, Ron,” said Hermione, sternly. Ron rolled his eyes,
“Anyway, how are you? Were the Muggles better behaved?” Harry nodded,
“Yeah, loads better,” he looked around again, “This really does look great, guys. Sirius would have loved it.” As soon as he said it, he knew it was a mistake. He felt his stomach churn and a lump rise in his throat. Mrs. Weasley must have noticed his distress (or maybe she was still preoccupied with his unhealthy appearance) and broke into the conversation.
“Harry, I’ve got bacon and eggs cooking in the kitchen. Come on, we’ll go and have something to eat – did you have any breakfast?” Harry barely registered what was being said to him, and allowed himself to be lead to the kitchen, sat at the table and generous helpings of bacon and eggs ladled onto his plate. He picked at it, totally unaware of his surroundings, his mind flooding full of thoughts of his Godfather. Suddenly, however, something caught his attention. Mrs. Weasley was still speaking,
“We’ll have to get you smartened up, of course. Got to look nice for the Headmaster!” Harry snapped back into the real world,
“Dumbledore? He’s coming here?” Mrs Weasley, who was doing the washing up, looked over her shoulder.
“Professor Dumbledore, Harry. And yes, he should be here any minute, in fact; asked us to let him know the minute you arrive.” The food on Harry’s plate had never looked less inviting. His feelings to the Headmaster were mixed, to say the least. He had spent most of last year feeling angry with Dumbledore for not telling him anything that was going on. When finally he had been told, he had been too distraught at the loss of Sirius to be angry any more. Now, he could only associate Dumbledore with that awful, weighty burden that was lurking at the back of his mind; the horrible reality of the prophecy. Mrs Weasley, seeing his expression, softened her tone slightly, “Come now, Harry, he wants to see you. Go upstairs and have a wash; you’ll feel better after that.” Harry doubted that a bit of water could wash away the terrible stench of despair that seemed to be growing on him by the minute, but he nodded slowly and got up and went upstairs. The Ron, Hermione and Ginny cleaning squad obviously hadn’t quite progressed to the bathroom, because it was still grimy and horrid. Harry stared at his reflection in the rust-spotted mirror, and tried to flatten his hair. Snorting in disgust, he splashed water in his face, and made to go downstairs; just as he got to the top of the stair, however, he heard the door shut and voices in the hallway. Moving very carefully, so as not to make the floorboards squeak, Harry sat down on the stair and listened.
“Morning, Professor. Harry’s just upstairs.”
“How is he?” Harry’s grip on the banister rail tightened as he heard Dumbledore’s voice.
“Not good. He’s lost a lot of weight, looks like he hasn’t slept in, well, forever. I’m worried about him, Albus.” That was Lupin’s voice, Harry half-smiled at the concern in his tone. Dumbledore spoke next, his tone brisk.
“Very well. Shall I wait in here?” Mrs. Weasley must have nodded, because Harry heard a door open and close, and the voices grew fainter as they went inside. Then he heard footsteps coming up the stairs. Harry stood up, and pretended he was just coming down.
“Oh, Harry, there you are. Professor Dumbledore is here; he wants to see you.” Harry nodded, and followed Mrs. Weasley down the stairs. They stopped outside the sitting room door, and Molly looked him over quickly, smoothing his hair and flicking a bit of lint of his t-shirt. “Right then, off you go.”
Harry pushed the door open cautiously; Dumbledore was standing over by the window. He was looking older, Harry thought. He looked very tired, very weary.
“Hello, Harry.” Dumbledore turned around and smiled at Harry. “Shall we sit down?” Harry closed the door slowly behind him, and sat down on one of the sofas. Dumbledore sat opposite him, looked at him closely, then spoke, gently. “You don’t look well, Harry. You look like you haven’t eaten or slept since you left Hogwarts.” Harry stared straight ahead – what did Dumbledore expect? That Harry would be happy and carefree, in fine spirits; after everything that had happened? He shrugged,
“I’m ok, I guess.” Dumbledore paused for a second, then sighed.
“I blame myself, you know. I wish, oh goodness how I wish, that there had been some other way; but we cannot escape our destiny, Harry.”
“No, we can’t,” agreed Harry, bitterly. Dumbledore leant forward and looked into Harry’s eyes.
“I know this is hard for you, and it will continue to be hard for a long time. You have had no chance to talk to anyone about it; perhaps you have not wanted to. Maybe you just weren’t able to think about it, with everything else that went on. But Harry, I want you to know, that I have every faith in you. As I said to you at the end of last term, you have already done more at sixteen than many wizards do in a lifetime. You are stronger than you give yourself credit for. Even if you think you cannot measure up to this, destiny has said you can.
“However, destiny may need a little help.” Harry bit his lip nervously; was Dumbledore going to offer him a way out of this nightmare? As if sensing what Harry was thinking, Dumbledore shook his head, “Harry, I am not offering you an easy way out; it is important that you face up to this. If you hide from it, it will only come and find you and you will be unprepared. What I am offering you is a way to increase your skill and ability as a wizard; a way of preparing. There is a lady, a witch by the name of Aisa Galbraith, who I think could help you. She has agreed to help you however she can, and I can think of no one more highly qualified to do so than her. I have asked her to come here today to meet you, and see what she thinks. If I’m not much mistaken, she’s outside in the square right now.” Harry looked at Dumbledore in disbelief; did he think that telling him that someone was going to teach him a few tricks would allay his fears? Dumbledore seemed impervious to any scepticism Harry might have been emanating. “Why don’t you go outside and see her?” Harry mumbled something in the affirmative, and stood up. As he was about to open the door, he felt he should say something else.
“Um…bye Professor. Thanks…”
“Bye, Harry. I’ll see you soon, I hope. Aisa should be in the garden by now.” Harry closed the sitting room door behind him and leant against it.
“How’d it go?” Ron and Hermione were sitting at the foot of the stairs, waiting for him.
“Fine, I guess. He didn’t really say much; just wanted to check I was alive, I think. I, um…I think I’m going to go for a walk, ok?” Ron and Hermione looked at each other; Harry had a feeling they’d had a discussion about him while he’d been in. Hermione nodded,
“Ok, we’ll see you later?” Harry nodded, and let himself out the front door. He looked around the square, and sure enough, there was a figure sitting in the park on one of the benches. Harry walked slowly down the steps and across the road, into the park.
He opened the gate and paused, looking at the woman. She seemed to be in her mid-thirties, with dark hair and pale skin. Her head was in her hands, and she looked like she was fighting an impulse to turn and run. Harry hesitated for a moment, then spoke,
“Professor Dumbledore said I might find you here”. The woman looked up, and Harry saw her take in his appearance. He walked over to her and held out his hand, “I’m Harry.”
The woman smiled slightly, and took his hand,
“I’m Aisa.” She shifted up along the bench, and Harry sat down. There was an awkward silence, and Aisa spoke again. “What did Professor Dumbledore say about me?” Harry stopped playing with his thumbs and looked up.
“He said…he said you’d be able to help me to…to fulfil the prophecy.” Aisa sighed,
“Ah yes…the prophecy. Amazing how much harm can come from something the speaker doesn’t even remember saying.” She turned and looked at Harry closely. “Have you ever…lost control, Harry?” Harry thought back to his tempers of last year, and blushed.
“Well, I did quite a bit last year…shouted and stuff.”
“No, you misunderstand me – or rather, I didn’t fully explain myself properly. Have you ever lost control magically?” Harry blushed an even deeper shade of crimson.
“Er, yes. Lots when I was little, but not really since I started at Hogwarts.” Aisa looked slightly disappointed, but Harry misread it as her not believing him to be telling the whole truth. “Well, um, there was one time, a couple of years ago. I, uh…I blew up my aunt.” Aisa brightened slightly.
“You did? What happened, what did you do?” Harry faltered, confused – this wasn’t the normal reaction he got to news that he had broken wizarding law.
“Um, well, I did a couple of things, actually. You see, I really hate Aunt Marge. Well, she’s not really even my aunt, she’s my cousin’s aunt. Anyway, she’s a hideous woman, and she was saying horrible things at dinner, and I broke her wineglass. She said she did it, but I knew it was me. Then, the next night, she was saying horrible, awful things about my parents, and I blew her up. She just got bigger and bigger and bigger,” Harry choked back a chuckle at the memory, “Sorry,” he apologised, “it’s not really funny.”
Aisa wasn’t laughing, but she did have an odd, pleased look on her face. Harry frowned, “Um, look, I don’t mean to be rude, but most people are very disapproving when they hear this.” Aisa seemed to snap out of her daze.
“Oh, sorry, Harry; let me explain. You know how, when you were little, whenever you wanted something to happen, if you thought about it hard enough, sometimes it would?” Harry nodded, remembering the time when he made his hair all grow back. “Well, this is what we call ‘unfocused magic’. When young wizards and witches go to school, they learn to focus this magic, using a wand. Wandless magic, you see, is very hard to control, as you found with your Aunt. You didn’t necessarily want to ‘blow her up’, as you put it, you just were angry, and her blowing up was a magical by-product of this anger. Some wizards, however, are able to focus this. It is a very rare gift, and not something that can really be taught, beyond the basic principles. Would you like to learn?” Harry stared at her. Wandless magic? It sounded impossible to him. “You look like you need convincing, Harry. Do me a favour, watch that flower over there.” Harry looked over to where Aisa was pointing. Before his eyes, the flower began to grow, first taller, then it began to thicken, and before long it was a small tree. Harry opened his mouth, then closed it again. He turned in his seat to face Aisa.
“You must have had a wand. How can you do that?” Aisa smiled.
“It’s all about learning to focus your magic through your mind, rather than your wand. Some people can do it, some can’t. So, now you believe me, would you like to learn?”
“Well, yeah, but…”
“Well, how do you know I’ll be able to do it? You said people either can or can’t. How do you know I can?”
“Well, you blew up your aunt for a start. Once people begin to use a wand, the ability to do magic without it leaves them. I don’t really know if they forget how to do it, or if focusing through their wand makes them lose the ability to focus through their mind. Either way, the fact that since you have begun using a wand, you have performed a feat of wandless magic bodes well.” Aisa stared at the tree and shrank it back down to a flower. “And it is a weapon that Voldemort does not have.” Enlightenment rained down on Harry, and, for the first time in months, a small glimmer of hope formed on the horizon.
“You mean, it’s a way of defeating him?” Aisa nodded.
“Oh yes, it is something has always wanted to be able to do, but has never learnt. And now…now it is too late.” Harry didn’t bother to ask why it was too late – his heart felt lighter than it had in weeks. Aisa glanced at her watch, “It’s almost lunch time, shall we go in?” Harry beamed at her,
“Yeah, let’s! I bet Mrs Weasley’s made something great!” Not only was his heart lighter, but his stomach empty – for the first time in ages, Harry felt hungry. He smiled to himself as he and Aisa walked together back to the house; perhaps things weren’t so bad after all.
April 4th, 2004, 10:47 pm
Sorry this has taken a while, have been super-busy. hope this is ok for you all, let me know if it is.isn't here (http://www.cosforums.com/showthread.php?t=24550) :) hope you enjoy this little flashback. sorry it's a little shorter than normal, but i dont' quite like the ending, so i may be toying with it still
“Impedimenta!” Aisa Galbraith felt her feet jerk to a standstill beneath her robes. She flung her arms out at saver her balance and twisted around to see who sent the jinx. Standing behind a corner, giggling madly, were a couple of Gryffindor third years. Aisa rolled her eyes and muttered the counter-hex and began to pick up all the books she had dropped.
“What’s the matter, too scared to fight back?” Aisa ignored their calls, and put her books slowly back into her bag- she didn’t like to get involved in this stuff. Normally, they pretty much left her alone, so fighting back wasn’t too much of an issue. For one of the Gryffindors, however, pacifism was a concept unknown. The boy had come around the corner and walk walking toward her, wand outstretched threateningly.
“Cat got your tongue? Or has your master told you not to talk to us lowlifes?” It took Aisa a moment to work out what the boy meant, then she felt her face flush with anger.
“He is not my master,” she said quietly, biting back the rage. “Why can’t you just leave me alone?”
“Why? Because you’re a Slytherin! You all support him! Why should we leave you alone?” Aisa glared at him, her wand clenched in her sit at her sides. “No, you don’t deserve to be left alone.” The boy flung another hex at her, but Aisa was quicker and put up a shield charm.
“I don’t support him!” She could feel the tears pricking her eyelids and she fought them back, “Please, just leave me alone! I don’t want to fight you!” The boy sneered, and looked around at the others who had joined him.
“Shall we leave her alone? Or shall we teach this nasty little Slytherin a lesson?” The others readied their wands. “Expelliarmus!” The Gryffindor caught Aisa off guard, and her wand flew out of her hand.
“JUST GO AWAY!” screamed Aisa, pointing down the corridor. The sound of her scream echoed around the hallway’s high ceilings, and Aisa stood stock-still, arm still outstretched, all the colour draining from her face. On the opposite end of the corridor, the three Gryffindors were rubbing their heads from where they had just hit the wall with some force.
“What just happened? What did you do?” They stood up, and looked very warily at Aisa; they looked scared now. When she didn’t answer, they stared at her with a strange mix of fear and curiosity, then walked rather quickly back around the corner and out of sight.
Aisa’s arm dropped to her side, but her feet seemed to think they were still under the impediment jinx. What on earth had just happened? She had just shouted at them to go away and then…they had, after a fashion. The three of them flying across the hall and crashing into the wall probably wasn’t the most effective way of leaving, but still – had she caused that to happen? How? They had taken her wand. She bent down and picked it up – could she somehow use her wand from a distance or something? She tucked her wand into her robes, slung her satchel over her shoulder and began to continue on her way back to the Common Room.
As she walked down to the basement level of the school, she brooded on the situation she found herself in. She was now in her second year at Hogwarts and was not happy there at all. She was in the most hated and loathed house in the school; a house that everyone accused (and Aisa knew) to be full of Voldemort supporters or, at the very least, sympathisers. She didn’t like the people in her house, she didn’t feel as though she fit in there; as a result, while the rest of the school hated her for being a Slytherin, members of her own house disliked her and taunted her because she didn’t act like a Slytherin. Her home life was not much better; her parents had tried to be supportive, but they could not hide their disappointment at their daughter’s placing. Aisa also detected a certain amount of fear; she knew they were wondering why she had been put in Slytherin – what were they expecting, her to murder them in their beds one night?
Cut off from pretty much everyone, Aisa was a very lonely, introverted child, and spent a lot of time on her studies. She was intelligent, and the huge amount of effort she put into her work ensured that she was top of almost every subject, but this gave her very little happiness. She did not live, but simply existed from one day to the next, slowly isolating herself from everyone and everything.
Aisa looked up, and realised that she had come to the bare, damp patch of wall that was the door of the Slytherin Common Room.
“Purusque Fidus” The secret doorway slid open, and Aisa walked through into the long room over to a corner that she had claimed as her own space. She sat down against the wall, and pulled several books out of her bag and began reading through the background she thought she’d need for her Potions essay. The Common Room was quiet, with just the crackling of the fire providing a background noise. The huge fire was the only real light in the room, other than the dim green lights that hung from the low ceiling, and it threw ghostly, flickering shadows around the walls, lending an almost sinister atmosphere to the common room.
Aisa had been pouring over her books for a couple of hours, immersing herself, as always, into her studies to forget where she was, who she was and, in the case of today, what she had done. She wasn’t to be left alone for long, however, and eventually, the flickering light from the fire was blotted out as a shadow fell across her page.
“Hiding again are we, Galbraith?” Aisa looked up to see one of her usual tormenters towering over her.
“I’m just reading, Bellatrix. It’s not a crime.”
“No, it’s not a crime,” the older girl replied softly, “It’s not a crime at all.” Aisa waited, then glowered impatiently at Bellatrix.
“Is there something you actually wanted, Bella, or are you going to stand in my light all evening?” Bellatrix Black narrowed her gaze.
“Actually, yes, there is something I wanted. Accio book!” The book Aisa was reading flew out of her hands into Bellatrix’s outstretched palms. Aisa rolled her eyes.
“Oh, that’s really mature, Bellatrix.” She picked up a different book, and opened that to the marker. “Are you going to summon all the books I’m reading, or will you perhaps go to the library yourself?” Aisa’s refusal to be intimidated or upset began to anger Bellatrix, and she put the book down.
“Don’t you come over all haughty with me, Aisa Galbraith,” she hissed, “You have nothing to be proud about in here, nothing; do I make myself clear? You are a traitorous, stupid girl, who will get herself into serious trouble one day, if you don’t make the correct allegiance soon.” Aisa glared at her, and Bellatrix changed tack slightly. “Stop pretending to be something you’re not, Aisa. You’re one of us; why do you think you were sorted here?”
The colour drained from Aisa’s face, and she bit her lip. Sensing she had hit on the true weak spot, Bellatrix continued.
“Well, isn’t it obvious? You must be one of us, we get sorted into houses for a reason. You must be as dark and corrupted as all of us. That’s why that family of yours doesn’t speak to you anymore, why your brother ignores you in the corridor.” She smiled malevolently at Aisa, “Why don’t you just stop fighting it?”
Aisa was shaking, Bellatrix had just condensed all her worries and thoughts, everything that had been plaguing her since she arrived at Hogwarts, into one, hurtful speech.
“I will never join you,” she hissed, “Never!” Bellatrix’s expression didn’t change; the same, evil smile still played on her lips.
“Never say never, Aisa. You never know what the future may hold. No one can resist the Dark Lord forever; it would be safer to just give in now and join us.”
“Just shut up! Don’t say another word!” Aisa was pointing a shaky finger at Bellatrix. “Just stop it, and leave me alone! I didn’t ask for any of this. I didn’t want any of this, I just got stuck here. I will not join-” She stopped suddenly, and stared at Bellatrix. The rest of the common room, who had also started watching the two girls arguing, were watching her as well, for Bellatrix Black was doing something very strange. She was staring, wide eyed at Aisa, clutching her throat, her mouth opening and closing like a fish. The rest of the Slytherin’s turned their gaze from Bellatrix to Aisa, with the same, mixed stare of fear and curiosity the Gryffindors had given her earlier.
“What did you do to her?” One of the girls Bellatrix was friendly with had rushed forward, and was turning Bellatrix away, toward the door. “Come on, Bella, we’ll go see Madam Pomfrey.” Bella, on the other hand, had a different idea; she had raised her wand again, and tried to cast a spell. However, as no words came out, no spell happened. Aisa stood still, half in shock, half in amazement at what she appeared to have done. Bellatrix eventually allowed herself to be dragged out of the Common Room, still trying to hex Aisa. Once she had gone, everyone soon went back to whatever they had been doing, and left Aisa well alone. Slowly, she gathered up all her books, and went upstairs to her dormitory.
The next morning at breakfast was not really any different from usual, except that there was a rustle of whispers from the Gryffindor table as she walked in; evidently the three Gryffindors that had fallen foul of her yesterday had told the rest of her house about it. Her own house, by contrast, completely ignored her apart from a few odd looked; not much change there. With a small sigh, she sat down and picked at some toast, bitterly wondering what she had done to deserve all this. She had deliberately come down to breakfast very late, and by the time she was done picking, the Great Hall was almost empty. She pushed her plate away and was about to swing her legs around off the bench when she felt a hand touch her shoulder.
“Felix?” Her brother was standing there above her, his face harbouring an odd, closed expression.
“Come with me; we need to talk.” Obediently, Aisa got up, and followed her brother out of the Great Hall. He swept along the corridor, his robes falling elegantly on his tall, thin frame; Aisa and her shorter stature had to hurry slightly to keep up with him.
Brother and sister walked along in silence, until they got to the Library. Felix pushed open the door and held it open for her. Aisa stood in the doorway, staring at her brother, completely nonplussed.
“Just go in,” hissed Felix, “There’s something I want to show you.” Aisa shrugged and walked into the room. It was quiet in there, everyone was probably either getting ready for lessons, or already on their way too them, thought Aisa. She’d be late for Transfiguration if Felix didn’t hurry up.
Her brother was walking along one of the aisles, looking purposefully through the books.
“Here it is,” he said, pulling out a large, greying tome. He carried it over to the table. “Sit,” he instructed shortly, and Aisa did so. Her brother flipped through the pages and turned the book to face her. “Read that, and you’ll understand why I’m not longer calling you my sister. I thought that your sorting might just be a mistake, but the sorting hat never lies. Turns out you’re no better than the rest of them.” With that, he turned on his heel and strode out of the room.
Aisa turned to the book, the terrible anticipation of what might be written there melting her insides. She lifted the cover slightly, and craned her head to see the title; “An Advanced Study of Ancient Dark Magic.” She opened the book fully again to the page Felix had opened it to; it was entitled “Wandless Magic: A Manifestation of Evil” Thinking she knew what was coming, Aisa began to read:
“Like Parseltongue, the ability to perform Nonvirgadium (or Wandless Magic in colloquial terms) is a rare gift and something that cannot be taught. Also, like Parseltongue, it is something associated with Dark Wizards.
Nonvirgadium is the most pure and the most powerful form of magic that is known to Wizarding kind. All wizards and witches generally experience Nonvigardium when they are young; they often make things happen that they feel passionately about, without meaning to. This magic is, however, uncontrolled and unfocused, and usually abates with age and the acquisition of the knowledge to use a wand.
The ability to harness the magic that we possess in our bodies without a wand is something to be feared. To gain control of it in this way cannot be done without the help of Dark Forces to overcome the natural barriers our body has put in place to prevent us exploiting the gift of magic given to us in this way.”
The chapter went on to talk about various Dark Wizards who had possessed this power, but Aisa didn’t read on; she was numb with shock and confusion. Did this mean she was inherently, and inescapably, evil? Shivered involuntarily, shutting the book with a sigh, and wiping a small tear that had escaped her eye. She felt sad, but at the same time part of her was slowly filling with a strange sort of excitement. She was, according to the book, in possession of a rare, and powerful talent.
Almost immediately, however, a quick sinking feeling made her remember that this power was supposed to be evil, unnatural; she was going against - what was it? - 'natural barriers' in her body. The sorting hat had seen it, that’s why it had sorted her into Slytherin. A dark look crossed Aisa'sface; she might be evil, but she would never join them, she though vehemently. She would learn how to control this Nonvirgadium thing, but she wouldn’t sell herself to the Dark Lord. Never. Let them think she was evil; she didn’t care. She might be evil, but she was no one’s servant. Grimly, Aisa strode from the Library, the heavy, dusty old book under her arm.
April 7th, 2004, 7:47 am
this chapter is going to be quite long, so i've split it - here's the first half :) as always Feedback (http://www.cosforums.com/showthread.php?t=24550) is ever welcome ;)
“So?” Harry and Aisa had returned to the house together, Harry chattering excitedly, asking questions about his lessons and how he would be taught, but Aisa had been beckoned into the living room by Dumbledore and so Harry had returned upstairs to the room that he and Ron shared. Waiting there were Hermione, Ginny and Ron – the latter of whom had asked the question.
“So…what?” asked Harry. Hermione rolled her eyes.
“Don’t play dumb with us, Harry, you know what. What did Dumbledore want?”
“Um…” Harry suddenly realised that he’d never explained anything about the prophecy to his friends. When he had been told last term, he was too preoccupied with Sirius’ death and then, when he had started to think about it, they had already left school. Writing it in a letter – as he almost had done several times – would have made it too real, and anyway, how do you put that sort of thing in writing? However, this omission meant that now, explaining about everything was going to be a little difficult. “Uh…he just wanted to check I was ok, and everything, like I told you.” Hermione raised an eyebrow, and Ginny looked very sceptical.
“Yeah right, Harry. Come on, what did he really want?” Harry’s insides squirmed.
“Uh…nothing, really.” He looked around, and realised that Ron’s ears were slightly pink at the tip – a sure sign of either guilt, or embarrassment. “Hang on, you know, don’t you?” Ron’s ears flushed crimson, and even Hermione looked a little shifty.
“Um, know about what, Harry?” Harry tried to stay indignant, but he could feel his lips twitching slightly.
“About the prophecy. You know!” Ron’s head looked like it was about to explode. “How did you find out?” Harry had to bite his lip to stop himself laughing at Ron. An hour ago, he would have been very uncomfortable about them knowing, but that was before Aisa. Hermione answered,
“Uh, by these.” She pulled out some long, fleshy coloured string-like objects from under Ron’s pillow. Harry grinned,
“Extendable Ears?” Ginny was nodding gleefully,
“Fred and George have updated them to get over the Imperturbable Charm Mum used last summer. We were the testing group before they went on sale; and they work brilliantly!”
“We heard Dumbledore and Lupin talking about you,” continued Ron, “ About how you’d taken hearing about the Prophecy – which we’d been wondering about anyway since we saw your name on it at the Ministry. We decided that we’d confront them next time Dumbledore was here, which we did.” Ginny giggled,
“Mum was so angry! She started shouting at us for nosing into Order business, but Dumbledore made her back down.”
“He said, we’d faced the Deatheaters, and we had a right to know what it had all been for and why we’d ended up in the Hospital wing. So he told us all about the Prophecy, and about you and,” Hermione faltered, the excitement of their scheme fading from her voice, “about how you had to kill V-Voldemort.” She stopped talking, the weight of what she’d said falling heavy in the room. She looked down, then spoke quietly, “Why didn’t you tell us, Harry?” Harry felt a little squirm of guilt.
“I don’t really know…when Dumbledore told me, it was really, I don’t know, numbing, I guess. But after, afterwards all I could think about was Sirius. It was like I had this huge, empty space inside me, all I could think about was that it was my fault he died. It was so, I don’t know…consuming, I couldn’t really think about anything else. And then, every time I thought about telling you, I didn’t, because I didn’t think I’d be able to bear the looks on your faces. After term ended, and we all went home, putting it in writing; that just seemed far to real, I felt like, if I committed it to something as permanent as paper, it would be real, and unchangeable…” Harry trailed off, “Anyway, so there you go; and you know now, anyway, so it doesn’t matter.” He shrugged, his eyes downcast, fully aware that they were all staring at him intently and, judging by the small, sniffly sound, either Hermione or Ginny (or both?) were crying.
“Harry, I, I don’t know what to say…” Hermione jumped up and swept him up in a hug. “I’m so, so sorry you’ve had to deal with this all alone.”
“Yeah, me too,” mumbled Ron; Ginny nodded in agreement.
“Don’t keep this sort of thing bottled up, ok?” Hermione looked him square in the eyes. “Promise me?”
“Hermione, I-” Harry was saved from having to make a promise he didn’t feel he could keep by a knock on the door and Mrs Weasley sticking her head around it.
“Oh good, you’re all here. Lunch is ready, so if you could all wash your hands?” If she noticed the tension in the room, she didn’t say anything, and ducked straight out again.
“Come on, let’s go downstairs,” said Harry quietly. The other three nodded, and trooped after him.
The smells emanating from the kitchen could only be described, Harry felt, as wonderful and he practically drifted into the room on the scent.
“Have you washed your hands?” The four of them nodded, and Ginny held up her palms for her mother to inspect. “Very well, sit down; who wants casserole?” Ron and Harry grinned – who wouldn’t want Mrs Weasley’s casserole?
“Is Professor Lupin joining us?” asked Hermione.
“Yes, he and the headmaster both. They’re talking nextdoor at the minute, but they’ll be in shortly. Poor Remus, I try to feed him up, but he still looks half-starved.” Harry grinned even wider, as Mrs Weasley put double the portion of food on his and Lupin’s plates.
Mrs Weasley flicked her wand, and the plates floated over to the table, and with another flick, a little red bubble appeared around the plates at the empty places. “Just to keep the Professors’ food warm,” she murmured, to no one in particular.
They were well into their meal, the kitchen silent except for the clicking of knives and forks against plates, and the murmur of voices from the next room. After five minutes or so, the door opened.
“Are you sure you won’t stay for lunch, Aisa? I’m sure Molly won’t mind,” Lupin was saying.
“Oh no, I couldn’t impose, really. I’ve got so much to do at home and I-”
“Nonsense,” came Dumbledore’s voice, “I insist. You won’t regret it, Molly really is an excellent cook.” Harry grinned up at Mrs Weasley, but instead of smiling back at him, or showing signs of modesty for the compliment as she usually did, she had a rather tight, closed expression on her face. Harry’s grin waned slightly, confused at her face. “Come,” Dumbledore was speaking a little more gently, “You can meet some more of your students, as well.”
Aisa must have agreed, because the kitchen door opened, and Professors Dumbledore, Lupin and Aisa came in.
“Hello Molly; I don’t suppose I could trouble you for an extra place for lunch?”
“Of course not, Headmaster.” Mrs Weasley’s tone, however, was anything but enthusiastically. Her words were short and clipped. He looked carefully over to Aisa, and saw she looked extremely uncomfortable. Lupin was over by the stove, talking to Mrs Weasley in a whisper. She glared at him, but nodded her head; Harry heard her hiss ‘OK’, and both of them returned to the table. Harry quickly became very interested in a stray carrot as Mrs Weasley put down a plate of (a very meagre portion, Harry thought) casserole with very little grace in front of Aisa. Harry glanced sideways at Ron, who shrugged his shoulders, and looked as confused at Harry felt.
The meal continued in uncomfortable silence for a minute or two; only Dumbledore seemed at ease, devouring his meal. Once they had all finished, he cleared his throat. Everyone looked up expectantly.
“I suppose you three – Harry has already met her – are wondering who this is?” He addressed his comment to Ron, Hermione and Ginny, who nodded slowly; Hermione shot Harry her ‘why didn’t you tell us?’ look. Dumbledore’s eyes twinkled. “This is Professor Aisa Galbraith; she will be the new Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher at Hogwarts.” Harry heard a little gasp, and glanced over to see Mrs Weasley looking a little shocked. Dumbledore, however, continued regardless. “Professor Galbraith is a very gifted woman, and is the newest member of the Order of the Phoenix. She has agreed, in her capacity both as a member of the Order and as his Defence teacher, to help train Harry with new skills to aid him in his fight against Voldemort.” Harry looked at Aisa, who managed to give him a small, half-smile, but her eyes flickered to Mrs Weasley, who was still looking coldly at her and the smile disappeared. “Professor Galbraith is an excellent teacher, and I’m sure you will all learn a lot from her.” Lupin nodded in agreement and smiled at Aisa.
“I think I’d better get on the washing up, there’s a lot to do.” Mrs Weasley stood up abruptly, and made the plates zoom across the room into the washing up bowl with a clatter. She walked stiffly over to the sink and busied herself, her back to the others.
“Uh, I’d better go too, I think. Lot’s to do at home, lessons to prepare and all that.” Aisa attempted a nervous laugh, and she too stood up.
“It was, um, nice to meet you, Professor,” muttered Harry. Ron and Hermione nodded,
“Yeah, uh, see you at Hogwarts?” Ron mumbled as the four of them raced out of the room. Harry paused halfway up the stairs, and listened to the conversation below.
“You saw her, Albus; what makes you think any of the others are going to be different? What about teachers at Hogwarts?” Aisa’s voice shook slightly, “I don’t think I can do this, maybe it was a bad idea.”
“Maybe she’s right, Dumbledore, look how the parents reacted when they found out about me…” Lupin’s voice was full of concern, “Couldn’t Aisa just train Harry? Does she have to be at Hogwarts?” Dumbledore didn’t reply, but Harry heard Aisa sigh.
“No, Remus, the Headmaster is right. I have to do this, I owe those children; there is a debt to be repaid.” Aisa sighed again, and Harry heard the door open. “I’ll be here at on August 31st, so I can go to Hogwarts on the train.” There was a murmuring of goodbyes, and the sound of the door closing. Harry furrowed his brow, and went on upstairs.
“You know, I think-” Harry stopped dead when he saw the look on Hermione’s face. She was holding a envelope, staring at it transfixed. “Hermione? Are you ok?” He looked over to Ron. “Ron, what’s up with Hermione?” Ron grinned.
“They’re our O.W.L. results, that owl just dropped ’em off.” Ron jerked his head over to the owl that was drinking thirstily from Hedwig’s water bowl. “Hermione’s too scared to open them. Here, want yours?” He tossed over the heavy envelope, and Harry tore it open.
[/I]Dear Mr Potter,
Please find enclosed the results of your O.W.L. examinations; we hope they are all you expected. Please also find a list of the choices for your NEWT exams. Circle the subjects you wish to take (students can chose a maximum of six), and send by return owl*. The book list is enclosed, but DO NOT PURCHASE any new books until you have received confirmation of your NEWTs, just in case there is a problem with your chosen subjects.
See you at the start of term,
Professor M. McGonagall
*Please note that some subjects have a O.W.L. grade requirement. These are noted beside the subject.[/I]
Harry put aside the letter and the book list (which was about a foot longer than normal) and with shakier hands than he would have liked, cast his eye down his OWL results.
Candidate – Harry Potter
Astrology – A
Charms – E
Care for Magical Creatures - E
Defence Against the Dark Arts – O
Herbology – E/A
History of Magic – A/D
Potions – E
Transfiguration – E
Harry heaved a sigh of relief (and one of slight disbelief at his Potions grade). He looked up to see Ron looked expectantly at him.
“So? How’d you do?” Harry counted quickly.
“Uh, one O, three Es, one A/E, one A, one A/D and one D.”
“Divination?” Harry nodded and grinned.
“Me too. I got one O, two Es, three As and a D. How ‘bout you Hermione?” Hermione had finally opened her letter.
“Eight Os and one E.” Hermione looked slightly stricken.
“Hey, well done Hermione!” Harry smiled at her.
“Um, Hermione, you don’t look very happy…” Hermione struggled a little smile.
“No, I am…” Ron rolled his eyes.
“Hermione, stop sulking because you didn’t get all Os. I bet that E is in Arithmancy or something, which is practically the hardest OWL there is!” Hermione narrowed her eyes at him.
“No, actually. It was Astrology, and I’m not sulking, I was just remembering why that’s an E.” The change in the room’s atmosphere was so sudden, Harry could almost feel it sweep in, like a draught. The room fell silent, the tension thick and heavy.
“Well, on the bright side,” said Harry, trying to cheer everyone up, “I didn’t get an O in Potions, which means I don’t have to have Snape for lessons anymore!” A little thought suddenly twisted into the front of his brain – that meant he couldn’t become an Auror. Harry fought the thought back; he would think about that later. Ron cracked a small grin,
“Yeah! What a brilliant thought! Hermione, however, seemed to still be thinking about slightly more serious matters.
“I wonder who she is…” Harry, Ron and Ginny (who had been quiet throughout the OWL proceedings, reading her own book list), turned and stared at her.
“Uh, Hermione? Wonder who who is?” Hermione jolted,
“Oh, goodness! Sorry, did I think that aloud? I was just wondering about Professor Galbraith. You’re mother didn’t look to pleased to see her, Ron.”
“Yeah, well my mum’s an old grump sometimes.” Harry smiled, but thought that wasn’t right – Mrs Weasley was normally very welcoming to members of the Order.
“Maybe they know each other, and just don’t like each other?” he guessed.
“Perhaps,” mused Hermione. “By the way, what’s she teaching you, do you know?”
“Oh yeah! I completely forgot about that! She’s going to teach me how to do magic without a wand. Apparently it’s something Voldemort can’t do, and if I can master it, it could be a way of being stronger than him!” Ron grinned,
“Wow! That’s really cool, Harry! So you’d just, like, wave your hand and stuff would happen?” Harry nodded and started telling him about the flower-tree. Hermione, however, was frowning.
“Wandless magic? I’m sure I’ve read about that; isn’t it supposed to be a Dark Art? I thought you were supposed to just be learning how to defend yourself?” Harry looked up at her.
“A Dark Art? Are you sure?” Hermione nodded slowly,
“I think so. I can’t remember where I read it though.” The glee from Harry’s face left very quickly.
“But Professor Dumbledore wouldn’t teach Harry a Dark Art, would he? And besides, what’s a little Dark Magic? Maybe you’ve got to have some to defeat Voldemort, 'know your enemy' - literally, I guess.” suggested Ron. Hermione didn’t look convinced, but Harry nodded,
“Perhaps…” Inside, however, he felt a little sinking feeling; he wasn’t really sure he wanted to learn a Dark Art, even if it was the only way of defeating Voldemort.
April 9th, 2004, 4:11 pm
Sorry this is so short, but it's part 2 of chapter six, and if i made it longer, it would get chapter endings in the wrong place etc etc...but have three days more off work, so chapt seven should be up by monday hopefully :)
The remaining weeks at number 12 passed quickly for Harry. Ron, Hermione and Ginny (under Mrs Weasley’s scrutinising supervision) had only decorated the hall and kitchen; the rest of the house was still had the same greying, gloomy atmosphere it always had. The four of them, however, attacked it with gusto, starting with their bedrooms. As they weren’t allowed to use magic, they did it in the Muggle way, which Ron and Ginny found hysterically funny. Harry was grateful for the activity – it kept his mind off brooding about everything.
The house was always busy, with members of the Order bustling in an out. Harry had been receiving his Daily Prophet throughout the summer, and he knew from that that the Order’s existence was not widely known. According to Hermione and Ron (via Extendable Ears), the Order was continuing to work against Voldemort, passing on information to the Ministry as they obtained it. Fudge hadn’t tried to ban it, as he couldn’t seem to work out a way of doing it without appearing pro-Voldemort.
The Ministry had been slow to respond to their realisation of Voldemort’s return. The biggest challenge they had faced in the past 15 years had been Sirius’ escape, and hadn’t even managed to catch him; Voldemort was such a shock to the system that they could barely create enough bureaucracy to deal with it. The Aurors, however, were finally beginning to get on top of things; mainly due to the fact that Kingsley and Tonks had recruited the majority of them into the Order. They had replaced the Dementors at Azkaban and, so far, all captured Death Eaters remained as such.
The rest of the Wizarding community still seemed to be in shock over the news. When the four Hogwarts students went into Diagon Alley to get their Hogwarts’ books, Harry noticed the atmosphere was very subdued. Normally, the busy shopping street was full of bustling people, odd and interesting smells and noises. Although there were a lot of people still there, everyone seemed a little more furtive, as if they half expected a Death Eater to jump out and curse them all. But there had been no attacks since the invasion of the Ministry in June. No one had heard a peep from Voldemort, and it seemed the suspense was getting to a lot of people. According to Ron and Hermione (via Extendable Ear), Voldemort was laying low. He hadn’t planned on anyone knowing of his return yet, and he wasn’t ready; thanks be for small mercies was all Harry could say.
Eventually, the day came to go to Kings’ Cross. Harry awoke with the familiar butterflies of excitement he always felt when it was time to return to Hogwarts’. He rolled over and looked at Ron, who was still snoring. Harry grinned, and rolled out of bed quietly, tip toeing down the stairs. No one else seemed to be up yet, so Harry made his way quietly into the kitchen with a cup of tea in mind. To his mild surprise, there was a figure sitting at the table already, with his back to the door. Harry tried to close it quietly, so as not to give them a fright.
“Morning, Professor.” Lupin jumped slightly, and turned his head.
“Oh, good morning Harry. Excited about going back to school?” Lupin’s eyes twinkled, and harry grinned back.
“Definitely!” He went over and put the kettle on, and sat down while it boiled. There was silence for a bit, then both of them began to speak at once;
“Sorry, Professor, you go first.” Lupin smiled, then looked serious again.
“Harry, we need to have a talk about Sirius.” Harry’s face darkened immediately. Noticing it, Lupin continued rather quickly. “Don’t worry, I don’t want a huge in-depth psychological chat about it. I want to talk about his will.” Harry’s face cleared slightly.
“His…will?” Lupin nodded.
“Sirius – well, we all – made a will of sorts during the first war against Voldemort. James named Sirius as your guardian, should anything happen to him. Last year, we both updated them, just in case.” Lupin’s voice went quiet, and he unrolled the parchment that was sitting in front of him on the table, and pushed it across the table. Harry turned it to himself and read it slowly.
I, Sirius Black, do here proclaim that, in the event of my death, I would like my house, number 12, Grimmauld Place, to be continued in its present use as Headquarters for the Order of the Phoenix. I give Harry Potter, my godson, rights over occupation of the house once the Order no longer has use for it.
As sole guardian of my godson, the aforementioned Harry James Potter, in the event of my death I would like guardianship transferred jointly to both Mr and Mrs Arthur Weasley and Remus J. Lupin.
I hereby contest that this is my last will and testament.
Harry looked up, biting back the tears that were threatening to spill down his cheeks.
“So you’re, you’re my guardian?” Lupin nodded.
“Myself and Molly and Arthur. Sirius was going to make it just me, but I thought perhaps I wouldn’t be the most responsible guardian at certain times of a full moon.” Lupin winked. Harry felt a smile growing on his lips.
“That’s great!” Harry wasn’t quite sure what to do from there and stood up, his hand out to shake Lupin’s, who stood up and pulled him into an awkward hug.
“I know this has been hard for you, Harry, but it will get better, I promise.” Harry nodded, the smile still lingering on his face. “Now, what was it you wanted to ask me?”
“Uh, I…” Harry furrowed his brow. “Oh! Yeah, I remember. How come Mrs Weasley doesn’t like Professor Galbraith?” Lupin’s smile flickered, and a shadow passed across his eyes.
“Molly and Aisa don’t have a very good history. Molly isn’t very fond of her…it all happened a very long time ago, but some people find things hard to forget.” Lupin sighed, and Harry nodded.
“What happened?” Lupin shook his head.
“That is something which is not my place to tell you, Harry.” Harry opened his mouth to protest, but something in Lupin’s demeanour made him stop.
“She is a very good teacher, Harry, I promise you. You’ll learn a lot from her.” Harry nodded again, and sipped his tea thoughtfully.
Several hours later, he, Ron, Hermione and Ginny were lugging their trunks down the stairs, the butterflies returned to his stomach. He loved going back to Hogwarts, it was the best time of year, as far as he was concerned. Things were going to be a little bit strange now, with Voldemort and everything. The wizarding world seemed to be having a little trouble adjusting to the idea of his return, and their reaction to Harry was slightly reverent, and slightly frightened, as he’d noticed in Diagon Alley the other day when the four of them went with Mrs Weasley to get their new books. Harry wasn’t sure if this new attitude would be better, or worse, than when no one believed him. The four of them dumped their trunks in the hallway and made their way into the kitchen.
“Wotcher, Harry!” Tonks, complete with bright blue hair broken up by black stripes, waved from over by the cooker. Harry smiled back, and looked around at the other members of the Order. Mrs Weasley was talking to Lupin and Kingsley Shacklebolt and Mundungus Fletcher were over by the cooker with Tonks, who was chattering animatedly to them. Mr Weasley and Mad-eye Moody were sitting at the table, and Harry sat next to Hermione and Ron at the end.
“Right, are we all ready then?” Mad-eye’s magical eye zoomed around the room. “Let’s go then, shall we?” Lupin cleared his throat.
“Er, Mad-eye, aren’t you forgetting someone?” Mad-eye’s eye swivelled to fix itself on Lupin.
“Ah yes,” he replied, his voice a lower growl than usual, “Our new member. Where is she then?”
“She’s on her way, I think,” replied Lupin, a slight edge on his voice. The mood of the room had suddenly become very tense, and Harry saw several people visibly jump when the doorbell rang. “I’ll get it,” said Lupin shortly. He swept out of the room, and returned with Aisa.
“Right, now we’re all here,” Moody looked pointedly at Aisa, “shall we get a move on?” Aisa looked uncomfortable,
“Sorry I’m late, I-” Harry saw Lupin make a gesture, telling her not to bother. He looked around at the other members, and saw they were all looking at her with what he could only interpret as barely veiled dislike, mixed with – what was it? Distrust? Fear? Harry couldn’t quite put his finger on it, but it obviously wasn’t just Mrs Weasley who had a history with his new Professor.
April 20th, 2004, 7:54 pm
sorry this is so short, but it's all i've got written at the moment, and i feel that, if i don't post something again soon, i'll never post anything again...so here it is
The walk to King’s Cross had been excruciating for Aisa. It was the first time she had spent any decent amount of time with the Order, and she was already beginning to see how things were going to turn out.
Moody had led the way, talking to Mrs Weasley while Tonks, Kingsley and Mundungus joined in with the four Hogwarts’ students. Everyone, she noticed, was studiously ignoring her; she had lurked at the rear of the group by herself, until Lupin fell back and joined her.
“Are you ok, Aisa?” She nodded slowly, fighting back the urge to cry. “You’re not, I can see it.”
“Well what do you expect?” she had hissed back, through clenched teeth, “they’re treating me like…like…” she trailed off.
“Like what?” asked Lupin gently. Aisa sighed heavily.
“Like I expected them to. Exactly like what I am, and what I deserve.” She could not quite fight back the tears, and one escaped down her cheek. Lupin chose this moment to become intensely interested in the sky, and Aisa brushed the tear away fiercely. Lupin continued in a low voice.
“Aisa, you must rise above that. You knew it wouldn’t be easy, but you have chosen to come back. You have a job to do, and they know that. They will see that eventually, until then, you must be strong.” Aisa turned and looked at Lupin curiously.
“You’ve changed your tack, before you were trying to persuade Dumbledore to let me just go back home.”
“Yes, well…I realised you were more determined than I thought. And everyone deserves a chance; I got one, after all.” Aisa nodded slowly, and they continued the remainder of the walk in silence.
On the platform, they met Mr Weasley, who had come from work, and Fred and George, who rushed over to the group.
“Alright, little bro?” George asked, ruffling Ron’s hair. Aisa discreetly separated herself from the group, and wandered down the platform. She saw Harry grinning at Ron’s displeasure, and half listened to the conversation, trying to distract herself from the terror she felt mounting in her chest at the sight of the scarlet engine.
“Fine thanks,” Ron replied, trying to straighten his hair out.
“How ‘bout you, Harry?” asked Fred, “I’d ruffle your hair too, but…well, y’know.” Harry grinned wider – his hair was quite messy enough, a quiet ruffle would have very little effect.
“Who’s that?” asked George. Aisa saw him jerk his head in her direction, and quickly altered her gaze from the group to the train.
“Oh, that’s our new Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher, and” Ron lowered his voice, “the newest Order member. None too popular either, by the look of things.” Aisa stiffened, and stared hard at the train, the tears threatening once more.
“Odd one that, isn’t she?” commented Fred, shaking his head. “Oh look, Mum’s starting to fuss.” Mrs Weasley was bustling over.
“Now Ron, you will be sure to work hard? And not to get into any trouble?” She smoothed out his hair, and Ron tried to wriggle free. “Just make sure you stay in the school, no wandering off!” Ron rolled his eyes and nodded. Seemingly satisfied, Mrs Weasley turned her attentions to Harry. “Now, Harry,” Mrs Weasley’s eyes filled with the pity and love she reserved especially for him, “make sure you stay safe, ok?” Aisa felt her gaze flicker over her, “Just…be careful, Harry.”
“I will, Mrs Weasley.” The whistle for the train blew.
“Right, on the train with you all!” Aisa saw the mad scrambling out of the corner of her eye, and put one foot on the bottom step. She was about to pull herself up onto the train, when she felt someone touch her shoulder. She turned around and saw Lupin.
“Good luck, Aisa, and be careful. It’ll be hard, but you can do it. Make sure Harry’s ok on the train.” Aisa nodded slowly and turned to get on the train again. Then she stopped and looked over to Lupin, who was beginning to walk away.
“Thank you,” she whispered. Lupin gave her a little half-smile, and she returned it, and then turned around and got onto the train.
She stood by the window and watched as the engine pulled out of the station, and bit her lip as memories flooded back into her head. She had to let go of the past; this was now, and it was different. Slowly, she waved her hand and levitated her trunk, and made her way to the toilets so she could change into her robes.
Some hours later, she was wandering down the corridors, trying to find Harry’s carriage, when she stopped outside a compartment. A voice that sounded all-too familiar was talking in an unpleasant drawl.
“So, spending some time with the Muggle, are we Potter?”
“What are you talking about?” Harry’s voice filtered through the compartment door.
“Galbraith, of course. Saw her arrive with your little gang; scared you might fall off your broom again?” There was a pause. “Wonder if you’d feel so comfortable spending so much time with her if you knew what she really was.” Aisa felt her insides squirm.
“If you know something, why don’t you just say, instead of hinting?” There was another pause, then the smooth voice spoke again.
“Who said I knew anything, Potter?” Aisa put her hand against the door then heard a fumbling of movement, then laughter. “Put the wand away, you little Mudblood.” At that, she pushed open the door.
“There will be none of that language. Who are you?” The occupants of the compartment turned to look at Professor Galbraith. The blond boy who had been taunting Harry turned to face her.
“Ah, hello, um…Professor.” A dawn of recognition flooded Aisa’s face.
“You must be Lucius Malfoy’s son. I should have known…” Malfoy smirked, but it was an expression which died when he saw the dark look that had crept into the shadows of the Professor’s face. She no longer looked so mild and amiable; she looked very formidable. Malfoy opened his mouth, perhaps to keep up the taunting, but he closed it again, and turned and left, Crabbe and Goyle loping behind him.
“They know you’re here!” he yelled, from halfway down the corridor. Inside the compartment, Aisa rolled her eyes.
“Nice to see some things never change – the Malfoys are still idiots.” Aisa gathered up her robes and sat down. Hermione, Ron and Harry stared slightly at her; teachers didn’t normally come and sit (uninvited, they might add) in student’s compartments. Harry finally spoke, just to break the silence.
“Er…do you know the Malfoy’s then?” Aisa’s eyes darkened slightly.
“You could say that.” The Professor brushed her hair out of her eyes, and, with what looked like some effort, her expression brightened, “I was at school with Lucius, although he is somewhat older than myself. Never overly fond of him though, I must say.” Harry and Ron grinned at each other.
“Yeah, we’re not, um, ‘overly fond’ of Draco, either.” Aisa smiled back at them,
“How about you, Hermione?” Hermione was sitting silently at the back of the compartment, looking at Aisa with what she could only describe as apprehension. Hermione shrugged in response,
“He’s certainly not my favourite person.” Harry shot Hermione a puzzled look, but Ron didn’t seem to notice.
“Don’t believe her, Professor,” he gushed eagerly. “Once, she punched him!” Aisa fought to look stern,
“Now, I’m not sure that I should encourage violent behaviour among my students, but,” she lowered her voice, “good on you.” She winked, and Hermione smiled half-heartedly back. Aisa’s expression failed her slightly, and she stood up. “Well, um…there’s not long left now, so-” Sensing she was about to leave, Ron cut in,
“Professor, do you think you could show us some of that wandless magic you’re going to teach Harry?” Aisa looked slightly uncomfortable, and out of the corner of her eye, she saw Hermione suddenly sit up and look interested.
“Well, um, technically I’m not supposed to use it at Hogwarts in front of students-”
“Yeah, but we’re not at Hogwarts yet! Please Professor?” Aisa shook her head.
“Sorry, Ron. It’s not a fun thing for me to bring out and amuse people with. It’s a serious and powerful form of magic, not to be used lightly for entertainment. Excuse me please.” Very quickly she ducked out of the compartment, just catching a look of huge scepticism on Hermione’s face as she left. After she slid the door shut, she stood very still for a while, and listened to the conversation that went on inside.
“See, there is something suspicious about it all,” Hermione was hissing.
“Oh, be quiet Hermione, you’re being ridiculous.” That was Ron’s voice.
“Your mother doesn’t trust her. Not much of the Order seems to like her, either.”
“Yeah, well…” Ron sounded uncomfortable, as if he didn’t have an answer.
“And she’s going to be teaching Harry some pretty dodgy magic.”
“Yeah, but Dumbledore must have said it was ok…” Ron sounded doubtful. Aisa felt her stomach falling. Where was Harry? What did Harry think? As far as Aisa cared, Harry’s opinion was the only one that was truly important to her. But he didn’t say anything, and slowly, heart sinking into the frozen pit of her stomach, Aisa walked away.
April 22nd, 2004, 12:07 pm
yay, part two, and it's a bit longer! Feedback (http://www.cosforums.com/showthread.php?t=24550) , as always, is appreciated :)
“Ah, there you are Professor.” Aisa looked up as she stepped off the carriage to see Professor Dumbledore smiling at her. She returned the smile weakly.
“Hello, sir.” She swallowed the rising lump in her throat as she took in the imposing castle looming up in front of her. Suddenly, she felt very faint and closed her eyes. They opened again when she felt a hand touch on her shoulder.
“Come, Aisa, let us go to the feast.” She saw Dumbledore looking at her, his eyes soft and kind. She nodded, and followed him into the building, still feeling very numb. As they walked through the empty halls, her head flooded full of echoes of the past. Aisa shook her head violently – she was stronger than this, she told herself and, with difficulty, pulled herself out of her reverie.
Dumbledore had gone down a passageway she had never had cause to enter before and was stopped outside a door.
“Are you ready?” Aisa nodded silently, her face fighting to hide the fear from its expression, leaving her looking slightly cold and emotionless. Without another word, he pushed open the door, and stood aside for Aisa to go through. With a small gasp, she suddenly realised to where it led.
Immediately in front of her was the long table on the platform, along which sat all the teachers of the school and then in front of that; in front of that was what really made her gasp. Seated at familiar tables were hundreds of students, clad in their dark, black robes and formal hats, chattering none-too-quietly as the hall filled with more arriving pupils. They were all far too busy amongst themselves to notice the arrival of the two professors and Aisa sat down in her seat quietly. Trying to take her mind off the scream of fear that was welling up once more in her throat, she turned to the Professor next to her and introduced herself.
“Hello, um…I’m Aisa Galbraith, the new Defence Against the Dark Arts professor.” She held out her hand. Professor Sprout looked at her, but didn’t offer her hand in return.
“So I’ve heard,” the Herbology Professor replied. “Somewhat ironic, I feel.” Aisa felt the scream rise further, and dropped her hand, cheeks flushed red with embarrassment. Seated on the end of the table, she had no one else to talk to, which was probably just as well, and so she sat quietly, staring at the enchanted ceiling, waiting like everyone else, for the Feast to begin.
After what felt like forever, Dumbledore stood up, and the Great Hall fell silent.
“Greetings, and welcome to another year at Hogwarts. We return this year under the shadow of the return of Voldemort, as we did last year and in dark times it is important to try and maintain some form of celebration. Tradition is a form of celebration, so let us begin one of the greatest traditions of all; the Hogwarts Sorting.”
The door at the side of the Hall opened, and the tall figure of Professor McGonagall could be seen ushering in a group of very nervous-looking first years. Aisa smiled slightly at their excitement, but the smile vanished very quickly as an ice-cold shiver ran down her back as her own memories of her sorting flooded back to her. With difficulty, she stopped herself crying out, and tried to focus on the ceremony.
With a jolt she suddenly realised the hat had finished its song, and soon realised what had dragged her from her trance; she had the intense feeling that someone was staring at her, intently enough to drag her back into her conscious mind. She looked out of the corner of her eye, and discreetly cast a glance over the table; who it was became immediately obvious. This time, the smile that played on her lips was one of amusement, almost cruel, and it stayed there.
“So,” she thought to herself, “Dumbledore didn’t tell everyone I was coming back.” She turned back to the activity in the Great Hall. The Sorting now over, food had appeared on the long tables, and the noise levels were beginning to rise.
Down on the Gryffindor table, three students were watching the activity on the teachers’ table with interest.
“She’s a bit odd, that Professor Galbraith, isn’t she?” Ron was speaking, mouth full of mashed potatoes. Hermione grimaced, and made disapproving looks at him. Ron totally ignored her. “I mean, no one in the Order seems to like her, even though she seems pretty nice to me, but then she was all sort of strange on the train.” He shovelled some sausage into his mouth, chewed and swallowed with a momentous gulp. Hermione laid down her fork.
“You know, I think this is one of the first times we’ve ever agreed on anything outright.” Ron looked up, surprised. Hermione nodded, “I agree with you, I think there’s something fishy. I don’t trust her.” Ron quickly tried to swallow what he was chewing and almost choked in his haste.
“Wait, hang on Hermione, that’s not what I meant! I didn’t mean she was untrustworthy or anything!” Hermione shrugged.
“Make up your mind, Ron.” She turned to Harry, who was staring silently up at the teachers’ table, apparently oblivious to their conversation.
“You know,” he said, quietly, “If Snape was looking at me like that, I think I’d be worried.” Hermione and Ron looked up and followed Harry’s gaze.
“Blimey, Harry. He looks almost as angry as he does when he looks at you!” The Potions Master was indeed looking very venomously in Professor Galbraith’s direction.
“You know what’s more interesting though,” added Hermione quietly, “is the look on Professor Galbraith’s face. Look.” The other two did so, and they saw the strange smile on the Defence teacher’s face. “I’m not sure I’d be smiling like that if it was me Snape was staring at like that.” Ron and Harry nodded in silent agreement.
“Maybe you’re right, Hermione,” said Harry dully, “Maybe there is something fishy about her. Do you think she knows Snape?” Hermione shrugged,
“They would seem to. Funny how a lot of people seem to know her, but no one ever looks particularly pleased to see her.”
“Maybe they went to school together, and she turned him into a toad or something?” suggested Ron. Hermione opened her mouth to say something else, but at that moment, Dumbledore stood up to speak and the Great Hall fell silent once more.
“Welcome, again, to Hogwarts. The year ahead of us is dark, and will be difficult. It is more important than ever that we co-operate amongst ourselves and strive to remain a good harmony between each other, especially between the houses.” Aisa saw Dumbledore’s eyes flicker quickly over the Gryffindor and Slytherin tables. “Inter-house fights will not be taken lightly; I cannot stress enough how weak disunity amongst ourselves makes us. Of course, there are always those who do not want unity, those who do not want defeat of evil and I am sad to say that there are those who wish this in our school. There is very little I can do for those of you who hold these beliefs – there have been people like you for centuries before, and there will continue to be those like you for centuries after until the day comes, if it ever comes, for evil to die. I can only urge you to rethink your thoughts, to deeply consider what power at the price of great servitude truly means and to try and come back to us.” The hall had gone deathly quiet. Sensing the tension, or perhaps oblivious to it, Dumbledore paused for a little, and then carried on, in a completely different tone.
“As usual, Mr Filch would like to remind everyone that a list of forbidden objects can be found in his office, and that most of the merchandise of ‘Weasley’s Wizarding Wheezes’ can be found on it. I would like to remind everyone that the Forbidden Forest, as its name implies is Forbidden. Also, in light of recent events, no one is to leave the school buildings after sundown, unless they have supervision of a teacher. I hope I make myself clear. Now, off to your houses, I think!”
The school stood up, slightly baffled, and Harry, Hermione and Ron began to make their way to the door.
“Ah, Harry, there you are.” Harry turned to see Professor McGonagall standing behind him. “Come with me, Potter. I want to talk to you.” Harry muttered to Ron and Hermione, and followed McGonagall out of the Great Hall, wondering what on earth he could have done wrong already.
April 29th, 2004, 5:08 pm
“Sit down please, Potter.” Harry did so, still slightly confused as Professor McGonagall swept around the desk and seated herself opposite him. She bent down and rummaged around in a drawer, and withdrew a piece of parchment. “Now, your NEWT choices.” Harry looked more closely at the parchment and suddenly recognised it as his own subject sheet that he had sent back last month. He looked up at McGonagall, confused. Professor McGonagall arched an eyebrow at him. “I distinctly remember telling you, Potter, that in order to become an Auror, you would have to take Potions. While your current choices are admirable, they are flawed by the absence of Potions amongst them.”
“But you said that Professor Snape doesn’t take anyone that didn’t get an O at O.W-” Professor McGonagall cut him off.
“You also seem to forget that I said I would do whatever was in my power to make sure you became an Auror.” This didn’t really help Harry, and he frowned more deeply. “Fortunately for you, the Headmaster also thinks that for you to be able to train as an Auror would be most valuable to you.” Harry thought he saw a little flicker of – was that sympathy? – sweep quickly over McGonagall’s face. “He also thinks that a further knowledge of Potions could assist you in the future, so much to Professor Snape’s, uh, pleasure, you will be joining his NEWT class.” Harry’s gape fell wider and Professor McGonagall smiled, “Does that sound agreeable to you?” Harry struggled to find some words, and unfortunately the first thing that came out was perhaps not the most tactful.
“Wha…you mean…hang on, does this mean I still have Snape for lessons?” McGonagall’s lips twitched, as if she were fighting back a desire to laugh.
“Yes, Potter, it does. You may also require extra lessons, if Professor Snape feels you are falling behind,” Harry groaned and Professor McGonagall shot him a dark look. “However, I’m sure you will agree that, should you wish to become an Auror, it will need a lot of dedication on your part, and this is the first sacrifice.” Harry nodded glumly, half torn between joy at still being able to have a chance at becoming an Auror and the fact he would still have to see Snape. He had a feeling that he would be having a lot of extra lessons. “Very well, Potter, off you go.”
“Erm, thanks very much Professor,” Harry said awkwardly, as he was leaving, “I mean, I’m really grateful for your help and everything.” Professor McGonagall smiled kindly, and he turned and left.
Harry sped back to Gryffindor Tower, his mind whirring. The mild feelings of displeasure at the idea of having Snape teach him again, and excitement at the possibility of Auror training were very suddenly swept away by a shock of realisation at the real reason why McGonagall and Dumbledore wanted him to do this; Voldemort.
He had pushed the idea of the prophecy as far to the back of his mind as he could over the past couple of weeks, the idea of Professor Galbraith teaching him something that could help him keeping him afloat. The fact that, according to Hermione, Wandless magic was a Dark Art was, surprisingly he felt, not really affecting him. It had worried him at first, but he had thought about it and decided that if it could defeat Voldemort, it couldn’t be wholly bad, and he wanted to learn it. He hadn’t really discussed it with Ron or Hermione; every time the subject of Professor Galbraith had come up, they had had an argument and he didn’t really want Hermione trying to convince him to change his mind again.
Now, however, all his doubts were flooding back to him. He couldn’t even score highly on all his O.W.L.s; how did anyone expect him to defeat one of the most powerful wizards who had ever lived? And as for Auror training; it all seemed so pointless getting excited about that, when who even knew if he’d be alive to take it? He muttered the password, and still thinking deeply, walked straight into Hermione.
“Oh, Harry, there you are! I was just coming to find you, you’ve been ages.” Harry looked up, half of his brain still immersed in thought. “What did Professor McGonagall want?” He followed Hermione into the Common Room and sat down heavily.
“McGonagall? Oh, she wanted to see me about my timetable. I have to take Potions again this year. Dumbledore thinks the extended knowledge would do me good.” He saw Ron grimace.
“Bad luck, mate, more Snape!” Hermione, however, was smiling.
“Oh Harry! That’s great! It means you can still do Auror training.” Harry shrugged,
“Yeah, I suppose so.” Hermione frowned.
“What do you mean, ‘you suppose so’?” Harry shrugged again.
“I mean, I suppose so.” Hermione’s baffled look just infuriated him further. “I might not even be alive, Hermione, think about that?” Hermione went very pale, and Ron looked very uncomfortable.
“Don’t say things like that, Harry,” whispered Hermione faintly.
“Why not?” Harry could feel the rage at the unfairness of his situation rising up in his throat, but kept his voice low in the crowded common room. “Why shouldn’t I say things like that? It’s true. I’ve either got to kill, or be killed, Hermione.” The words spilled out of his mouth, as if a dam of all his fears and doubts was suddenly let loose and he came face to face with the thing that had been lurking, but never fully acknowledged: he could very well die. “People die all the time, it might not be fair, it might not be right, but it still happens. Just because some stupid prophecy says I have the power to defeat Voldemort, doesn’t mean I will. Those are the facts; face them.” Hermione and Ron stared at him, and Harry could bear it no longer. “I’m going to bed,” he mumbled, and raced upstairs, his mind still buzzing.
Early the next morning, Aisa lay stock still in bed, staring at the ceiling. The sun was at last beginning to peek over the horizon, and a cold, blue light was slowly filling her room. She had lain there for several hours already, unable to sleep, twisting her fingers tightly together, running over and over again in her head where she was and what she was doing there, in an effort to make it all seem more real. Eventually, she decided that she may as well get up and slowly rolled out of bed.
She wandered over to the window and, opening the window, looked out. As the cool, autumnal air caressed her cheeks, she couldn’t help but smile at the beautiful scene surrounding her. Rolling green hills that slowly grew into tall, impressive mountains; the clear, crisp blue sky that was beginning to come alive as the sun warmed the air. Slowly, and somewhat reluctantly, she got dressed. She chose a plain, black robe with dark purple edging to it, and pulled her dark hair back into a neat ponytail at the nape of her neck. She turned, and looked over her appearance in the mirror, brushing a few dark strands that had escaped from her ponytail behind her ears.
Aisa’s skin was very pale, emphasised further by her dark hair and, now, her black robes. Her eyes made her appearance no less striking, a bright blue-violet colour, with dark rims on the iris, and gleamed out from her almost translucent face. She had a pointy, petite look about her, that made her seem younger than she was, until you were to look deeply into those dark, purple eyes; if you looked closely enough, you would catch sight of something strange, almost troubled, that seemed far older than her years. She shrugged her shoulders at her reflection, and picked up the pile of textbooks she had piled on her desk, and strode out of her room.
After breakfast, which, being so early she had had almost alone, she went to the staff room to go over her notes for the first lesson of the day, her NEWT sixth years. The staff room, too, was empty, apart from Professor Binns (who had no need for breakfast) hovering in the corner. Aisa sat herself down and one of the desks that lined the walls, and opened a huge tome entitled “Basic Defence Techniques and How to Win With Them”She had been sitting there for about fifteen minutes, when a shadow fell over the parchment she had been scribbling notes over. Her hand hovered over the paper, and she waited for the person to speak.
“So,” said a silky, cold voice behind her, “you have seen it fit to return.” Aisa’s lips curled slightly, and she replied in a flippant tone, pretending to carry on reading.
“It would certainly appear so, Severus.”
“Why?” Snape’s voice was hissing through his teeth. Aisa casually turned the page, and shrugged. She could feel Snape’s annoyance radiating him in waves. Suddenly, he seized her shoulder, and pulled her around to face him. “Look at me when I ask you a question!” Aisa laughed with cold amusement, but the mirth did not extend to her eyes, which flashed dangerously.
“Do not make the mistake, Severus, of thinking I am one of your pupils. You cannot manipulate me.” Snape snatched his hand off Aisa’s shoulder, and glared at her.
“I want to know why you’re here, Aisa.” Aisa glared back, her gaze full of contempt.
“Why do you think, Severus? I want to make amends, I have a job to do.” Snape snorted.
“Don’t give me that over-emotional drivel, Aisa. You haven’t a guilty bone in your body, and you haven’t cared about anyone but yourself since you were about twelve years old.” Aisa could feel her anger bubbling under her skin, and spoke through clenched teeth, refusing to let her anger show.
“Be careful, Severus.” This time, it was Snape who laughed.
“Why, what are you going to do?” Aisa narrowed her eyes, and spoke in a soft, menacing.
“Don’t push me, you know what I’m capable of.” Snape merely laughed again, his tone full of insincere familiarity.
“Only too well, my dear, and that is precisely why I want to know what you’re here.”
“What’s the matter? Don’t you trust me?” Aisa picked up her books, and stood up. “Or more importantly, don’t you trust Dumbledore? Perhaps you’re scared of just how much I know about you. Excuse me, I have a lesson to teach, as do you.” With that, she swept past the Potions Master and out of the room.
May 1st, 2004, 4:25 pm
Aisa's first dada lesson, yay!
As she strode down the corridor, her robes billowing behind her, fuming inside. She stopped abruptly outside her classroom, and took a deep breath. Exhaling slowly, she closed her eyes and gathered her concentration. She put her hand against the door handle, and in one swift movement, she swept into the classroom, exuding an almost intimidating air of (not entirely genuine) confidence. An immediate hush fell over the classroom; Aisa had the same commanding authority in the classroom that Professors McGonagall and Snape possessed. She strode quickly to the front of the classroom and surveying the students, spoke briskly.
“Good morning class, I am Professor Galbraith,” As she spoke, a piece of chalk wrote her name on the board behind her, and underlined it with a flourish, “and I am your new Defence Against the Dark Arts Professor. Now, first things first; the register.” She rummaged through the pile of books and papers she had put down on the desk, and opened her mouth to speak, but before she could do so, she noticed a hand waving in the air. “Yes, Miss…” she glanced down at the register.
“Abbott, Professor Galbraith.”
“Very well, yes Miss Abbott?” Hannah put down her hand.
“Is it true you lived as a muggle for ten years, Professor?” Aisa’s lips tightened slightly.
“Yes, it is true; I see the gossip mill at Hogwarts has not changed. Now, if you will turn to-” Ernie Macmillan interrupted her.
“Why?!” he asked, not even attempting to hide his incredulousness. Aisa put down her quill.
“Sometimes, Mr, er…Macmillan?” Ernie nodded, “Sometimes, Mr Macmillan, we don’t have a choice over where life takes us. I’m not sure where you have all found out about my past, but I would appreciate it if you did not hold it against me. I assure you I am more than capable of teaching your NEWT. Now, if you would all be so kind as to open your books to page 13, we shall begin this lesson.” The class looked at their new Professor curiously, but accepted the note of finality in her tone. “This year’s work is going to consists of a lot of theory; please do not groan. These times are dark and dangerous and it is of the utmost importance that you understand exactly what the Dark Side is capable of. I think very few of you are able to comprehend the power in the Dark Side. You know that it is terrifying and evil, but the idea of thousands of people dying is often too abstract of a thing for people to grasp. It is power few of you, if you are fortunate, will ever experience and one that certainly most of you would never be able to harness.” Aisa was speaking in a low, clear tone, staring intently at the class and every single one of them was gazing back at her with rapt attention.
“You all know of the Unforgivable Curses and, I trust, understand the full seriousness of these terrible spells. ” The class nodded. “However, these curses are by no means the only tools which people such as Voldemort’s supporters used to inflict cruelty. My job this year is to teach you how to, basically, think like an Auror. The first step in defence is understanding and much of what we consider Dark Arts is often not ‘evil’ in itself, but simply powerful. We shall begin by learning about some basic curses, and how and why they evolved and then we shall examine why some things began to be considered evil.
“Now, here is a list of some books you may like to have a look through for some extra reading.” Aisa retrieved the piece of parchment from her pocket and performed a duplication charm on it, giving the resulting pile to the class. She then began to discuss the Invidias curse, which could make the victim feel like their heart was being squeezed with a chain, and was used as a form of torture and had been developed by a jealous lover in the 14th Century.
An hour later, the bell ran for the end of the lesson, and the Sixth years began to pack away their belongings. Aisa, sifting through her papers for the next class, called out,
“Mr Potter, if I could have five minutes?” She looked up to see Harry pause at the door.
“Of course, Professor.” He turned back into the classroom, after telling Ron and Hermione to let Professor McGonagall know where he was. Aisa was looking seriously at him.
“I was rather wondering, Mr Potter, if you had given any further thought to the lessons we discussed during the summer.”
“I had, yes.” Harry fell silent, trying to work out how to phrase what he wanted to ask. Aisa waited, then probed him gently.
“You have some…reservations?” Harry looked up, feeling slightly guilty.
“Well, er…it was just something Hermione said to me. It’s not really bothering me as such; I just wanted to know.” Aisa looked curiously at Harry.
“And what was it that you want to know?” Harry took a deep breath.
“I wanted to know why Wandless Magic was considered a Dark Art.” Aisa opened her mouth to reply, but Harry rushed on, “I mean, if that’s what it takes to defeat Voldemort, I’ll do it, but I just wanted to know why, you know, exactly what I was getting myself in for.” Aisa nodded.
“Very well, if that is what you want to know, I shall tell you. Wandless Magic, or Nonvirgadium as it is more technically known, evolved a very long time ago; it is one of the most ancient forms of magic.
“No one is really sure how wizards came into being, but we do know that the first wizards found their skill difficult to manage, similar to young wizards and witches now, before they go to school. The magic was random and unfocused. Gradually, two different schools of thought developed; there were those who spent a great deal of time and effort developing the wand, but there were others who thought that wizard kind should keep magic ‘pure’ and learn to control their ability without the aid of a wand. The wand camp, as is obvious by the way we learn magic now, won out as learning to use magic with a wand was infinitely easier than learning to control your mind.
“A small group of wizards, however, continued to study the principles of Nonvirgadium, and mastered it. In 832 b.c., a wizard named Angelo Bolle set up a school devoted to its study. However, people began to notice how powerful Nonvirgadium was; without being focused through a wand, the magic didn’t seem to lose any strength, and the wizard was less restricted in what he or she could do, because the use of spells was not required. People began to fear it, and Bolle was arrested and was eventually executed as an evil wizard. His school was closed down, and from then on, Nonvirgadium was feared and, though not illegal, anyone found practicing it found themselves in a lot of trouble.
“As a result, the only people who practised it were those who had no fear of the law; Dark Wizards. The ability to really use Nonvirgadium seems to have fallen out of a wizards ability; perhaps generations of wand usage as diluted our magical skill. Now, it seems to be only a few people who have the true talent and are able to use it to any great level of accomplishment. It has almost fallen out of general knowledge; few people have very little, if any, knowledge of this forgotten art form. Does that answer your question?”
Harry nodded slowly,
“Yeah, I think so. So it’s not a dark art?” Aisa shook her head, smiling. Harry paused again, “Do you really think I’ll be able to do it?”
“From what I have been told about you, Harry, you sound like a remarkable young wizard. If anyone is capable of harnessing this power, it is you.” Harry smiled slightly. “Now, would you like to start next Wednesday?” Harry nodded again,
“Yeah, that would be fine! Thanks very much Professor.” Aisa smiled, her dark eyes twinkling,
“You’re welcome, now you better get off to Transfiguration!”
[i]Feedback (http://www.cosforums.com/showthread.php?t=24550) is, as always, appreciated :)
May 4th, 2004, 8:28 pm
Harry woke up the following Wednesday with his heart feeling lighter than it had for a very long time. The past week hadn’t been particularly easy; things between Hermione and himself were strained due to his insistence on studying Nonvirgadium, and Ron couldn’t seem to quite decide where he sat on the issue. Harry had made up his mind, however; he was going to study this. It was all very well for them, he thought, they didn’t have a prophecy hanging over their heads. He was going to take any and every chance that presented itself to him to defeat Voldemort.
He swung his legs out of bed and saw Ron still fast asleep in bed. Harry grinned to himself and leant over Ron’s bed, shaking him none too gently. Ron merely rolled over, and grunted, so Harry moved down to the other end of the bed, and tickled a foot that had strayed away from under the duvet. This time, Ron sat bolt upright in bed, eyes blearily open.
“Wha…who…how…wazgoinon?” Harry grinned wider at Ron’s red hair, which was sticking straight up and, coupled with his bleary eyes, gave him a rather manic look.
“Time to get up, or you’re going to be late!” Ron looked rather panicked.
“Why, what time is it? McGonagall will kill me!” He leapt out of bed and grabbed his cloak and began putting it on over his pyjamas.
“It’s half past eight, and we don’t have McGonagall this morning, we have-” With a groan, Ron threw his cloak at Harry and fell back against his pillows with a thump.
“Harry, we don’t have Transfiguration first thing this morning.” Harry looked at him blankly. “I have a free period, you have Potions with Snape.” This time, it was Harry’s turn to groan, all his good mood draining out of him; he could almost feel it running out of his body and gathering in a pool at his feet. Ron looked at him sympathetically, “Sorry mate; see you later, yeah?” Harry nodded miserably, and dragged his feet down to the Great Hall to have breakfast.
Hermione was already down there, eating a piece of toast laden with jam.
“Morning, Harry,” she called to him from down the far end of the table. Harry waved glumly and made his way down the Hall. “Don’t you just look a bundle of laughs this morning!” she said as he sat down with a thud.
“You would be too, if you had double Potions first thing this morning,” replied Harry darkly.
“I have, silly, why else do you think I’m up?” Harry felt his heart lift slightly.
“You do?” Harry found himself beaming despite himself; at least it wouldn’t just be him against Snape. Hermione nodded and smiled back,
“Yup! Toast?” She nudged the plate toward him, and Harry sat himself down.
Ten minutes later, Harry was finishing off a piece of toast dripping with butter, when the post arrived and in front of him was dropped a letter. He opened it, slightly confused as to who would be writing to him. All became fairly clear almost instantly, however.
I have found a free classroom on the third floor, at the end of the second corridor that will be perfect for our classes. If you can’t make it, send me an owl back; otherwise, I shall see you there at three o’clock this afternoon.
Harry smiled, and Hermione peered over curiously,
“Oh, um, just a note from Professor Galbraith.” Hermione raised her eyebrow, and Harry shot her a warning look.
“Ok, ok, Harry, I won’t go on about it anymore. But, you know,” said Hermione, pausing her last bit of toast halfway on it’s journey to her mouth, “I still can’t work out why anyone would choose to live as a Muggle for so long, if they were a Witch. Seems really odd.” In spite of himself, Harry found himself nodding along in agreement.
“Yeah, that was really odd, the other day in Defence class. How did everyone know about that, anyway?”
“Malfoy’s been telling everyone he meets; don’t you remember what he said to us on the train? ‘Spending time with the Muggle, are we?’ He knows something. I heard Lavender and Parvati talking about it last night, they didn’t sound hostile, just confused. You know Malfoy, always trying to cause trouble.” Harry nodded. “It’s funny though, I’m sure her name sounds familiar…I wonder if there’s anything in the library.” Harry rolled his eyes and grinned.
“Hermione! It’s our second week back, you can’t be going to the library already!” Hermione wrinkled her brow and munched on the last of her breakfast. “Besides,” Harry continued, “perhaps if she hasn’t told anyone, she doesn’t want anyone to know. Maybe it’s private.” Hermione nodded, still not looking convinced.
“I guess so.” She glanced at the clock. “You know, we better hurry up, we’re not Snape’s favourite pupils and we’re going to be late at this rate!” Harry looked at the time too, and visibly increased the speed with which he was flinging the bacon and sausages he was now eating into his mouth.
Some frantic running later, Harry and Hermione were waiting with Draco Malfoy (who looked rather lost without his henchmen), a boy Harry recognised as Blaise Zabini and three Ravenclaw girls he didn’t know who were clustered around Terry Boot.
Momentarily, Snape strode past them into the classroom and the class filed into the dungeon after him, putting books, quills and parchment onto their desks. Professor Snape hadn’t changed; he still looked pale and greasy, and seemed in an even worse mood than usual.
“Well, it would appear to be the usual dismal assemblage of pupils I am landed with for my NEWT class, I see.” Snape’s black eyes surveyed the class contemptuously. “The Potions NEWT is one of the most, if not the most, demanding of all the subjects you can take. I will accept nothing less than the best, and if I feel you are falling behind standards, you will be given one chance at remedial lessons with me, and if you continue to perform badly, you are out.” Snape’s eyes flashed menacingly and Harry felt his stomach flip over with subconscious nervousness. “We have a vast amount of syllabus to cover this year, due to the idiocies conducted by you all over the past five years, so if it doesn’t inconvenience your social time, Miss Brocklehurst” Snape raised the tone of his voice, causing the two whispering Ravenclaw girls to jump and sit bolt upright, their cheeks tinted a slight pink, “we will get started.”
Snape seemed to have decided they needed a challenge for their first lesson and had set a very difficult Sleeping Potion for them to work through. As usual, Draco was amusing himself by hissing taunts at Harry, while Terry Boot seemed to be of a similar nature to Neville when it came to potions, and managed to cause a small explosion when adding his Rootweed to the blue liquid in his caldron, causing his hair to take on a rather surprised look standing upright, and leaving his face covered in soot. Hermione was trying to sort out the resulting sticky goo, while Snape was performing his usual debasing tirade. Suddenly, Harry heard a harsh whisper in his ear,
“So, still talking to that Muggle, are we Potter?” Draco had been whispering things at him all lesson, but this one caught Harry’s ear.
“What are you talking about, Malfoy?” Harry rolled his eyes, and finished dicing his shivelfig.
“Galbraith, of course. Heard you were having extra lessons; scared you might fall off your broom again?” Harry looked at him blankly, how did Malfoy know that? As if he read his mind, Malfoy drawled, “I know these things, Potter.” Harry ignored him, carefully dropping the pieces of shivelfig carefully into the potion, watching to make sure each one dissolved in a puff of smoke before he added the next. “Wonder if you’d feel so comfortable spending so much time with her if you knew what she really was.” Harry put down the last pieces of shivelfig and turned to Malfoy,
“If you know something, why don’t you just say, instead of hinting? You’ve been spreading rumours about her all week, aren’t you man enough to say it without your cronies around?” Malfoy smiled maliciously, his lips curling at the ends, knowing he’d riled Harry.
“Hmmm, I don’t know Potter, it might scare you”
“I should imagine that it can’t be much worse than being possessed by Voldemort, Malfoy. I really don’t care about whatever it is you’re going on about, so why don’t you just shut up?” Draco seemed at a loss of what to reply to that, and turned away, and went back to his own potion, leaving Harry feeling a little shaky from dredging up the memory of the summer, coupled with the dwelling curiosity that Hermione had re-ignited at breakfast now gnawing at him incessantly somewhere near his stomach.
Stay tuned for part two, and Harry's first nonvirgadium lesson :) i know this is shorter, but waiting so long between chapters (cos it take sme so long to write a whole one which is about seven pages on word)m, means that the story sinks to the bottom of the page and not so many people read it...this way, i hope, it'll stay more in your conciousnesses!
May 6th, 2004, 10:38 am
At three o’clock, Harry made his way up to the third floor, trying to walk at a normal pace along the corridor. He was excited though and his body was fighting to walk faster, resulting in a strange, stumbling walk-run. He and Hermione had settled on an uneasy truce with regard to the issue of Wandless magic. Hermione seemed to have realised, perhaps, how much the task presented by the prophecy was weighing on him and saw that he needed some form of hope. Or maybe she was just preoccupied with nosing into Professor Galbraith’s past. For the moment, Harry didn’t really care, as long as it meant she left him in peace.
He opened the door to the classroom and saw it was empty; Harry wondered for a moment if he had found the correct room. He checked the number on the door and decided Professor Galbraith must just be late. He sat down at tone of the desks and began to get out his books, as he was retrieving his quill, a plume of green smoke caught his eye. Harry’s mouth opened slightly, as the plume grew bigger and the figure of Professor Galbraith appeared within it. Aisa smiled slightly, a mischievous glint in her eye.
“Good afternoon Mr. Potter. I thought I would give you a little example of what your mind can achieve if it is not constrained by the limits of a wand.” Harry gaped.
“Nondiv, vigadvium…um, wandless magic, it lets you do that? Because you can’t apparate in Hogwarts, can you?” Harry’s brow furrowed with confusion and Aisa sat on the desk opposite him.
“No, I didn’t apparate, I have been standing there the whole time-invisible.” Harry raised his eyebrows with admiration and also a little bit of surprise.
“That’s pretty cool, Professor.” Aisa smiled,
“Thank you, Harry. Now, I think perhaps we should get started on you. Invisibility is, not unexpectly, a rather difficult aspect of Nonvirgadium to master, so I think we’ll start with something more simple.”
Aisa jumped off the desk she had been perched on, and began to move the rest of the furniture in the classroom to the walls. Harry got up and began to help and once they were finished, there was just one left in the centre of the room. Aisa hopped back on it, swinging her legs slightly, while Harry pulled up a chair.
“Now, as I explained very briefly the other day, Wandless magic is one of the hardest things a Wizard can master. It has become, rather than something anyone can learn, a very rare and precious gift, possessed by only a few. As I think I described before, for most wizards, magic conducted without a wand is unconscious, random and impossible to control. The wizard trying to harness the power within him must not only possess this gift, however, but want to focus the magic within him.
“When wizards are young, unfocused magic is fairly common; the wizard has less control over their emotions, the extremes of which can cause sudden outbursts of magic. You, however Harry, have had, as you explained to me that day in London, experiences with unfocused magic since you began your schooling. This suggests to me that there is a part of your brain fighting against being focused through wand.
“Now, you have seen what the mind can do, but I just want to explain in a little more detail how this work.” Harry nodded and Aisa stood up, and walked around to the other side of the desk. “Nonvirgadium has no restrictions. Well, it has one…it cannot block Avada Kadavra.” Aisa paused for a second, then she carried on, “Your mind can do anything you are able to conjure up, provided you have sufficient concentration and ability. You could do something like…this.” As she said ‘this’ she straightened up and made a small movement with her hand, like someone waving away an irritable fly. The desk slid across the room toward Harry, who stared at it, and suddenly realised he had better move. Before he could do so, however, Aisa held her hand up slightly and the desk came to an immediate halt. Harry raised his eyebrows.
“How did you…” Aisa blinked slightly as if coming out of a trance.
“Can you see how advantageous this form of magic is? There is no need for a wand, or to mutter spells – it is all done through mind control. Now, I think that is enough talking; the best way to learn this is through doing.” Aisa smiled grimly. “Right then. Pushing is the easiest thing to learn…let’s start with something small.” She put her wand on the floor. “Harry, I want you to focus on that wand. Start by saying a Repelling Charm aloud and use your hand to motion it away; that will help your focus.”
Harry nodded and he spent the next half hour muttering ‘repello’ while waving his hand at Aisa’s wand, and feeling increasingly stupid as nothing happened. He was beginning to think Professor Galbraith was just having a laugh at his expense when the wand unmistakably slid half a metre or so across the floor. Harry blinked in surprise and looked up to see his Professor smiling at him with shining eyes. By the time the bell for Dinner rang, Harry was exhausted, but buzzing with excitement as he could slide the wand a full two metres along the floor just by visualising the spell in his mind and making a small movement with his fingers.
“Well Harry, I think that’s quite enough for today.” Harry was just about to protest when he became aware of the weariness in his brain.
“Yes…thank you very much, Professor.” Aisa’s eyes twinkled again,
“You’re more than welcome, Harry. Same time next week?” Harry nodded, and the two set off down the corridor to the Great Hall for dinner, talking excitedly about his progress.
They parted at the entrance, and Harry made his way down the Gryffindor table, and caught sight of Hermione waving to him from the other end. He made his way over to his friend, and slid himself in along the bench beside Ron.
“How was your lesson?” asked Hermione. Harry grinned, piling extra baked beans onto his jacket potato.
“It was brilliant! Professor Galbraith is amazing!” In a low voice he told them about their Professor’s appearance in his lesson, and what he had learnt. Ron was equally enthused, and even Hermione looked more relaxed. Unable to resist, Harry spoke again, “And see, Hermione, no learning how to turn people into stone, or anything.” Hermione smiled sarcastically at Harry.
“Ha ha, Harry.” She shrugged slightly. “No, it sounds good, Harry. Learning to harness that sort of power, it should really help with…you know. I can kind of understand why people think of it as Dark Magic, that much power – limitless ability – it’s scary. And so easy to abuse…if you were that invincible, who’s to keep you in check?” Hermione’s voice drifted off; she wasn’t really talking to them, but more to herself. She snapped back into reality, eyes shining, “It’s fascinating, don’t you think?” Harry laughed as he swallowed a mouthful of potato.
“Honestly, Hermione, one minute Professor Galbraith is the next Voldemort, and now she’s fascinating!” Hermione stuck her tongue out, and the three of them finished their meal, talking between themselves as normal.
Later than night, lying in bed, Harry Potter was awake, grinning at the roof of his four-poster bed; the happiest he had since his return to Hogwarts. He hated arguing with Ron or Hermione, and he was glad that she seemed to have ended her mild rebellion against Professor Galbraith. The thought of Professor Galbraith made him smile even more; for the very first time, he really could see a way out of the hideous situation the prophecy had put him in. If he could master Nonvirgadium, he might stand a chance. Still smiling, he fell asleep, the first without nightmares for a very long time.
hope you enjoyed it :) that was so quick because i had a lot of it written from the previous time i wrote this story (watch out for stray 'anamara's, i've tried to change all of them to Aisa, but some of them may have escaped my eagle eye), but the next might be a bit longer, because i have two options over where this story can go now!
May 7th, 2004, 5:09 pm
“Look!” Harry raised his eyes from the plate of bacon and eggs he was happily consuming to see Hermione jabbing fervently at her Daily Prophet. Ron peered over her shoulder.
“What?” Hermione pointed to the article again.
“This! Look!” Ron’s eyes widened slightly.
“Blimey…here Harry,” Ron chucked him the paper, “Read this.” Harry took the paper from him, and leant over it.
DAILY PROPHET REVEALS MINISTRY COVER-UP OF DEATH EATER ACTIVITY
The Ministry of Magic has been covering up the first known attack by He Who Must Not be Named’s supporters, since the invasion of the Ministry in June, the Daily Prophet can exclusively reveal. For over almost two months, the Ministry has been hiding the fact that on the night of August 31, Death Eaters raided a block of flats in west London. It is not clear what they were doing there, but your reporter suspects the sport of Muggle torture is once again on the rise. Ministry officials report that, prior to Obliviation, the inhabitants of the flats were very distressed.
It appears they tried to break into several of the flats, including one belonging to an English teacher at the local secondary school, which was empty. On finding it to be so, they demolished the abode and began to taunt the other residents, until Ministry officials arrived. The Ministry has not adequately been able to explain how they came to be in west London, but claim to have been sent an anonymous tip-off.
Katherine Williams, the English teacher, is still thought to be missing.
Harry stared at the paper, a sick feeling in his stomach. Thoughts of the Muggle torture he had witnessed at the Quidditch World Cup flooded back into his mind’s eye and he wondered what on earth these poor Muggles were subjected to. And what off poor Katherine Williams; was she now just a lifeless corpse somewhere, eyes wide open and mortal fear in her eyes? Or was she hiding somewhere, terrified out of her wits?
“You know what this means, don’t you?” Harry looked up at Hermione, his mind half still on his thoughts. “It means the first attack on a Wizard can’t be far away.” The realisation of what Hermione was saying sunk slowly into Ron and Harry’s brains; this was the first attack, there would be others to follow.
Harry looked around, but not many other people got a Daily Prophet like Hermione, so very few people knew about it. He wondered if they’d draw the same conclusions as Hermione.
For the first time in a long time, Harry began to feel a knawing fear creep into his stomach. His lessons with Professor Galbraith were progressing well, and he had not really thought about the prophecy for a long time. Thoughts of Sirius still preoccupied his dreams, but to a lesser extent than before, partially due to the fact that somewhere deep down, he felt that learning Nonvirgadium was step to revenging his death. But now…Harry sighed. Suddenly, this attack had thrown everything into sharp relief. While the Death Eaters were inactive, the idea of facing Voldemort seemed so far away. Now, however, his seemingly inescapable fate seemed closer than ever before, and suddenly a lot more real.
“Harry? Harry? Mate, are you alright?” Harry was dragged from his reverie by Ron’s worried voice. He shook himself mentally and attempted a smile.
“Yeah. Yeah, I’m fine.” He half-heartedly attempted another mouthful of bacon, as if to prove that he really was ok. Ron and Hermione looked unconvinced.
“Are you sure? You went all pale and strange. You were about a million miles away.”
“Yeah, we thought you were going to faint!” exclaimed Ron. His expression suddenly changed from concern to fear. “It wasn’t…it wasn’t your scar was it?” Harry shook his head.
“Are you sure you don’t want to go to Madame Pomfrey?” Harry shook his head again.
“No, honestly, I’m fine! I was just thinking, that’s all. That article really shook me up. I think maybe I’m going to go back to the Common Room, I’ll see you later, ok?” Hermione and Ron shrugged at each other, and let him go.
Harry, however, did not stay in the Common Room. He had returned to Gryffindor Tower, but found that once he sat down and stopped walking, horrible thoughts flooded back into his mind. Cursing the fact that his brain seemed to be having fun torturing him, he stomped back out through the portrait hole and began to wander around the halls of the school.
He decided he quite liked weekends at school, when he was rushing around from lesson to lesson, he never really appreciated what a magnificent building he lived and worked in for so much of the year. He stopped in front of the portrait of Sir Cadogan, or rather, Sir Cadogan’s pony. The tiny knight himself was nowhere to be seen; Harry grinned despite himself as he wondered what he was up to.
He was standing there, half lost in his memories, when he became aware of snatches of a conversation drifting into his ears.
“Severus, it is not my problem that you cannot deal with your past.” Harry stepped back and looked down the atrium like space the landings in this part of the Castle made, but saw no one. Then he heard a muffled reply and realised it was coming from the floor above. He stepped back again so he was out of sight, and made towards the stairs.
“…we are connected by the same fate.” He just caught the end of Snape’s reply as he turned the corner onto the landing.
“No, Severus, we are not,” replied the other voice. “I escaped, you are still trapped there mentally, still bitter and twisted as ever. These past years have has not been easy for me either, I have spent a life time living under a shadow you have cast.”
“Don’t sit there like a little martyr. You have not come to terms with anything, you just ran and hid from them.” There was a long silence, then Snape spoke again, his voice harsh. “Why have you come back, Aisa?” With a jolt, Harry realised who the other voice was. Why was Professor Galbraith hidden up here on the fourth floor with Snape?
“Because I have a job to do.” Harry heard a scraping of chairs and realised in horror that they were about to leave. Frantically, he looked around for a hiding place. “Let me go, Severus.” From inside Filch’s broom closet, Harry heard Professor Galbraith’s voice shaking slightly. “Don’t make me hurt you.” He heard Snape mumble his reply, and then one set of footsteps hurrying down the stairs. Five minutes later, he heard a second. Ten minutes later, Harry was back, slightly red faced and panting, in Gryffindor Tower, hurriedly telling Hermione and Ron what he had heard.
It soon became clear that the rest of the school had drawn the same conclusions from the Daily Prophet article (with a little help from the paper itself, that was running such helpful little articles as ‘How to know when your family is in Danger’), and were discussing little else in the run up to Halloween. The atmosphere of tension in the school was almost electric, the fearful possibility of wizards being targeted on everyone’s lips.
Hermione, however, seemed to be further intrigued by the matter than anyone else.
“Don’t you think it’s a bit odd, though?”
“Yeah, I do…I thought Bezoars came from sheep stomachs.” Harry sucked his quill and stared at his textbook thoughtfully. Hermione stared at him, a confused expression on her face.
“What? No, not that, and they come from goats, not sheep. I meant this attack.” Ron put down his quill.
“Oh good, does this mean we can stop doing homework?” Hermione glared at him and the smile faded from his face.
“I mean,” she carried on, “Why attack there? I know V-Voldemort never exactly worried about remaining inconspicuous to Muggles, but just one random attack? There haven’t been any since the one at the Ministry, and then, suddenly, just one, lone assault on a block of flats, but nothing since. The Prophet said that happened two months ago, but we haven’t heard of anything else.” Ron shrugged,
“Maybe the Ministry are covering that up too?” Hermione shook her head.
“I don’t think so, I think it all has something to do with this missing English teacher. I don’t think she’s missing at all.” Ron looked confused, but Harry felt a small window of understanding open at the back of his mind.
“What are you driving at, Hermione?”
“What if…what if she’s here?” Ron now looked like he was about to explode.
“What do you mean, here? You mean at Hogwarts…” He trailed off, the realisation hitting him as well. “You don’t mean…?” Hermione nodded.
“But why,” interjected Harry, “would Voldemort be after her?” Hermione shrugged.
“I don’t know, I didn’t get that far. But I did wonder if it had something to do with that conversation you overheard. Maybe it’s something to do with him joining the Order, that Voldemort’s trying to get her. Maybe she helped him or something.” Harry nodded slowly,
“Yeah, I guess so.”
“Or maybe,” Ron babbled excitedly, “Maybe Snape is giving V-V-Voldemort information about her, and she found out and was angry with him?” Hermione raised an eyebrow.
“I don’t think so, Ron. How many times do we have to go through this – Snape is on our side now.” Ron shrugged rather dejectedly.
“It was just a thought.” He turned rather sulkily back to his Charms essay
“I mean, maybe V-Voldemort had been after for a while, and that’s why she lived as a Muggle for so long,” Hermione carried on.
“Yeah, but why would she carry on after he was defeated?” asked Ron, grumpily, deciding that even Hermione snubbing him was better than homework. Hermione blushed.
“I didn’t work that bit out either.” Harry frowned.
“So if Professor Galbraith is this Katherine Williams person, why have the Ministry been covering it up?”
“Well, maybe they don’t know that Professor Galbraith and Katherine Williams are the same person?” Harry nodded slowly,
“Ok, I guess that’s possible. So, for whatever reason, Voldemort has been hunting Professor Galbraith for years and so she retreats into hiding. Then, Voldemort is defeated but…she’s too scared to come back? But that doesn’t make sense, if she was too scared to come back then, why has she come back now, when he’s returned?”
“You, Harry.” Harry stared at her.
“Yeah mate! It’s you, remember?” Ron put on a high, female voice, ‘I have a job to do’. It’s you! You’re the job!” Harry felt the colour drain from his face. Not another person risking their lives to help him.
“Oh, yeah…I guess that could be it.” Hermione and Ron fell silent, and Harry saw Ron open his mouth, but Hermione motioned for him to be quiet. They finished their homework in silence.
Later than night in bed, Harry tried to sleep, but his mind, however, kept wandering back to Aisa. Why had she changed her name? Had Voldemort really been after her, like Harry, her whole life? And why had she come back now, of all times? Was it really for him? Harry felt another load of guilt settle on his shoulders, keeping Sirius and Cedric company.
Part two will be up soon :) just as soon as i work out what i want to put in it! so much needs to go in this chapter, but they're little niggly things and i don't want it to be 'bittier' than it already is!
May 10th, 2004, 6:17 pm
“Well, Aisa, do you know why you are here?” Aisa nodded miserably, she had taken it too far this time, she was sure. “You are here because, due to your actions, there are three pupils in the Hospital Wing.” Professor McGonagall looked over her glasses and pierced Aisa with a stern gaze. “Would you care to explain yourself?” Aisa twisted her fingers together uncomfortably.
“I can’t,” she answered in a small voice. The Deputy Headmistress surveyed the girl in front of her. She had taught Aisa Galbraith for almost four years now, and yet the girl was still an enigma to her. She sat at the back of every lesson, quiet, pale and slight, almost fading into the background. She hardly ever uttered a word in class, but her intelligence was almost without an equal. James Potter and Sirius Black were, of course, widely regarded as two of the brightest students in the school, but Minerva McGonagall reserved a quiet admiration for this quiet, introverted Slytherin, who quietly worked away, achieving brilliance in her own, understated fashion.
However, she also found something mildly unnerving about her. Perhaps it was those eyes, those dark violet pools or her pale skin and dark hair, or maybe something in her eerily quiet demeanour and odd, pointed emotionless face; Professor McGonagall wasn’t sure, but there was just something about her that was a little…strange.
Now, here she was, her slim form hunched over in the chair, head bowed, playing with her fingers, in this office for seemingly, and mysteriously, petrifying three students. Her sharp eyes looked over the girl searchingly.
“Why can’t you explain it, Aisa?” The girl looked up, tears shining in her eyes, her voice still a whisper,
“I just…can’t. I don’t know what happened.” A small sob caught in her throat. “Please can I go now?” Professor McGonagall shook her head.
“I’m afraid not; if you can’t tell me, this will have to go to the Headmaster.” Aisa looked up, and McGonagall thought she saw fear faintly glimmering behind the dark recesses of her eyes, but then thought she must be mistaken; her face was as expressionless as ever. She stood up, “Come with me, please.” The Deputy Headmistress swept out of the room, her green robes flowing behind her; in her wake, the diminutive figure of Aisa Galbraith.
Eventually they stopped outside the statue of the Gargoyles and Professor McGonagall uttered what Aisa assumed must be the password – although ‘Chocolate Frog’ seemed a little odd to her. The statue moved aside, however, and revealed a stone staircase. Aisa followed the professor up the stairs and waited outside the door as she was told; minutes later, McGonagall returned and ushered her in.
Aisa looked around herself and thought, if she hadn’t been quite so worried about what was going to happen, she wouldn’t have minded being in here. She vaguely realised that McGonagall was leaving, and the Headmaster was motioning her to sit down. She tried to, but the world seemed to be spinning and she could see Dumbledore talking to her, but her ears felt like she had water in them and were ringing like mad. Her vision swam, and she felt the ground rushing towards her as the world was extinguished.
“Aisa?” Her eyes opened and she saw the concerned face of Professor Dumbledore leaning over her. Slightly panicked, she jolted upright. “Careful, move slowly.”
“You fainted. Here, drink this.” The Headmaster gave her the goblet he was holding, that had smoke flowing from the top of the potion, like a bad film special effect. Aisa grimaced and sipped it cautiously, not trusting her shaking hands.
Dumbledore sat there in silence for a few minutes, allowing her to recover herself, sitting back in his chair, hands folded. Eventually, when she had drained the goblet, he leant forward on his desk and rested his chin on his hands, his penetrating blue eyes searching her depthless purple ones.
“Are you happy here, Aisa?” Aisa started slightly; it was not the question she had been expecting. She opened her mouth as if to answer, then closed it again. A look of confusion passed across her face and for a matter of seconds, her expression seemed to open; for those short seconds, Aisa almost told her Headmaster about how much she hated being in Slytherin; that the rest of the school treated them like scum, and how her own house ostracised her. How her family regarded her as something dangerous, and how she had this terrible power at her fingertips that seemed to gain more power over her the more she tried to harness it. The openness was short lived, however, and moments later all the light seemed to leave her once more.
“I suppose so, sir.” Her voice was dull and flat, and she was twisting her fingers together again. Dumbledore paused, and then looked closely at her once again.
“Sometimes, Aisa, things happen that we have no control over, and sometimes, they happen that way for a reason.” Aisa looked up.
“Sorry, sir; I don’t think I understand.”
“Perhaps, the reason you are…different; from your peers, from your family, perhaps there is a reason.” Aisa felt her heart skip a beat; did he know? Suddenly the idea of Professor Dumbledore knowing about her terrible secret was a relief; maybe he could help her. “You are a bright and intelligent girl, Aisa and you will have many choices to make in your life – as we all do. But yours…I suspect yours may hold more impact than ours.” Aisa stared at him, now utterly confused; did the man get some kind of kick from talking in riddles? She wasn’t entirely sure how to answer this and so she nodded slowly.
“May I…may I go now, Professor?” Dumbledore looked up, as if woken from a deep dream, and seemed somewhat surprised that she was still there.
“What? Oh, yes, of course.” Dumbledore seemed to sink back into his trance and Aisa escaped from the room, slightly more puzzled than when she arrived.
Back in the peace of her dormitory, Aisa lay back on her bed, staring at the ceiling of her four poster bed, her mind a whirl of thought. At the forefront was a very real worry; did Dumbledore know about her ability to do Nonvirgadium? With a slight grimace, the events of the day flooded back into her mind’s eye. Aisa bit her lip; her own power was beginning to scare her. She had started off with such resolve, to master this ability; an ability she had come to see as both a gift and a curse. However, it seemed that it was not as easy as she had thought; as she began to harness it, new, frightening levels of uncontrollable power seemed to ripple out; like a balloon, where you compress one bit, it just enlarges in another area. She was beginning to become afraid that one day it would burst entirely.
She had thought that she was beginning to finally get the upper hand, when today she lost control completely. They were taunting her, following her all morning. They were walking to lunch when it happened; shouting things out and giggling, trying to hex her. Finally, she couldn’t take it anymore, and had reached for her wand. When she looked up, she saw something that horrified her. They were there, just frozen, like statues. Aisa knew straight away that she had done it, she could just tell. What happened after that was a bit of a blur; she vaguely remembered being dragged off to McGonagall’s office, numb with shock.
Heaving a sigh that was deep with despair, Aisa rolled over and buried her face in her pillow. What would happen, she thought, if she just smothered herself now? Would anyone care? It would be hours before they found her. No, don’t be ridiculous, she told herself. You don’t want to die. Are you sure? A small voice pushed to the back of her mind. No, replied her other half, suppressing the thought, not yet, anyway. Closing her eyes to her misery of her life, Aisa shut in the tears, and willed herself to fall asleep.
“She did it again, did you hear?…Yeah, three sixth years, I heard…Slytherins though, weren’t they? No great loss, surely…my brother said she was a lunatic, last year she blasted him clear along the corridor…” Greeted with these whispers as she entered the Great Hall the next morning, Aisa fought a mad impulse to turn and run out again.
Hunching her shoulders, and employing every further tactic she knew to stay invisible, she slid into an empty place at the long table, and slowly ate some breakfast. It would seem, however, that every tactic she knew to remain as unnoticeable as possible could not defeat the natural curiosity of Hogwarts’ students, and necks craned as people nudged and pointed each other and told those ignorant enough not to have known what was going on.
As the day wore on, people followed her, but at a fearful distance. Whereas before people thought she was weird, and hated her for her house, now they feared her. She heard more than one person mutter that she supported the Dark Lord, but she shrugged it off. Things like that didn’t seem to matter anymore. Something had happened to her yesterday, and she felt so much more detached from the life that was passing by around her. She felt suffocated and trapped, but at the same time more liberated as she isolated herself further in her own little bubble, continuing to work quietly at the back of classes, absorbing information like a sponge.
As the days graduated into weeks, the injured Slytherins returned from the Hospital Wing with further dramatised versions of the attacks, and they sped into to the stuff of Hogwarts legend. Slowly embellished, and then, eventually, disappearing into the back recesses of memory; but while the event became slowly forgotten, the fear of Aisa remained.
I'm really sorry the previous chapter was so short...i really can't think how to extend it. However, there is a half-written part two to this chapter, so never fear! I may also alter/add to this part, but i'll let you know if i do :)
May 11th, 2004, 12:33 pm
It was thinking back to this traumatic episode from her past that Aisa Galbraith, now a Professor at Hogwarts, stood outside those stone gargoyles outside the Headmaster’s office.
“Pina Colada.” With difficulty, she suppressed a grin as the staircase appeared and slowly she ascended it.
Professor Dumbledore was sitting at his desk, hands folded, seemingly deep in thought. Aisa paused in the doorway, unsure whether or not to disturb him. However, he looked up as she entered.
“Good morning, Professor Galbraith.”
“Good morning, Headmaster,” she replied, sitting in the chair opposite him, her mind still half contained in the misery of her teenage years.
“Now, I believe we arranged this little meeting to discuss Harry’s progress,” Aisa nodded, and in her enthusiasm for her new pupil, failed to notice that the Headmaster clearly wished to discuss something else.
“Yes, sir. He really is an amazing child. I know that a lot is expected of him, but truly, I think that he has the capability. He has picked up the principles of Nonvirgadium so quickly. I have only been teaching him for three months, is it?” Aisa paused and counted, “No, four, and already he is beginning to grasp the elements of fire.” Her eyes were shining with the fierce pride that you find in parents, gushing about their high-achieving child. Dumbledore smiled graciously, and allowed her to continue. “You have, I know, an understanding of the principles behind this branch of magic, and so you realise what an accomplishment this is. At the moment, he is still limited to learning specific mind-patterns; he still must map out first what he plans to do, and learn the way that his mind must think in order to conjure up that specific spell, but soon I think he will be free of this method-learning and be able to simply do things, in the true nature of this art.” Dumbledore smiled back at her,
“You are very proud of your pupil, Professor, I can see.” Aisa’s pale cheeks flushed a little.
“Yes, sir. He has advanced more than I could have expected. I can only hope that my teaching will be sufficient enough for what it is preparing him for.” Dumbledore looked seriously at Aisa.
“I have no doubt that it is more than sufficient. You know perhaps better than anyone the circumstances he will face, and are the most qualified to instruct him.” Aisa smiled carefully.
“I hope so, sir. Still, he seems to have a very strong grasp of things – it took me many years to get to the point he was.” Dumbledore nodded gravely,
“Well, my dear, you did not have such good instruction, did you?” Aisa looked down at her hands.
“No, sir, I did not.” Dumbledore sighed.
“I’m afraid that was my fault. Perhaps if I had not been so foolhardy, none of this would have happened.” Aisa looked up sharply and then shook her head slowly.
“No, Professor, my choices made me what I am, and what came to pass was entirely my own doing. I doubt I would have accepted your help even if you had offered it.” Dumbledore leant back in his chair, his eyes a little misty with recollection.
“I remember that day in your Fourth year very well, you know. Over the years, I have often looked back and wondered if I had conducted that interview differently, if things could have been better. If I had paid more attention to the goings on of the school, and watched more carefully what was happening to you.” Aisa shook her head.
“There was nothing remarkable about me – why should you have watched me? And as far as intervention goes…it may have made life easier on me, but for everyone else? Perhaps it would have made what is happening now much more difficult.”
“Or, it could have caused the prophecy to be fulfilled earlier.” Aisa looked at Dumbledore sharply.
“Yes, I suppose it could have.” Her voice was more strained, her words short and clipped. Dumbledore sighed.
“It is all ‘what ifs’. What if I had realised you were more vulnerable than I thought, what if I had given you guidance then, instead of waiting 20 years, what if I had realised how special you truly were.” The old wizard sighed again. “What if, what if, what if. We cannot live our lives in what ifs, can we?” He smiled somewhat sardonically and Aisa shook her head.
“No, we cannot.” This time she sighed. “Our world hangs in the balance – we cannot sit here and dwell in the past. We must look to the future and act in the present.” She smiled slightly. “I have a lesson in ten minutes, I had better go, Professor.” Dumbledore seemed still lost in thought, and nodded her a goodbye.
“Good bye, Aisa.” She smiled again as she disappeared through the door.
Walking back through the corridors of Hogwarts, she too found herself lost in thought. What if it had all been different? But maybe it had all be so for a reason. A phrase drifted into her mind, but she could not place it – “There is something else in there, something you must discover”. Aisa stopped dead in the corridor, puzzled as to where this voice from the past had come from, whispering, tiny, in her ear; most of all, she wondered what it had meant. Something else in where? Discover what? Ideas of closets and dark, strange rooms flooded into her mind, but she dismissed them as ridiculous; they didn’t feel right in her memory.
She ran her hands over her face and looped some stray hairs behind her ears.
“Hearing voices…I must be going mad,” she muttered to herself, and giving herself a mental shake, marched along to the third year’s Defence Against the Dark Arts class.
May 17th, 2004, 2:55 pm
sorry this has been so long (or at least feels it). i've been ill and the last thing i wanted to do was stare at a screen!
as a quick recap:
Death Eaters attacked a muggle apartment block, the trio have decided that Katherine Williams, a muggle missing in the attack and Aisa are one and the same, a curious conversation with snape took place, We saw a flash from Aisa's past with Dumbledore, a modern day conversation with the Head Master and Aisa has a little voice in her head.
As Christmas approached, Hogwarts was full of joyful voices and laughter ringing through the corridors. The Great Hall was decorated with the usual Christmas trees, and enchanted snow was falling delicately from nothingness onto the branches. Real snow had been falling outside for several weeks, first dusting the statues in the courtyard and then drenching them, and everything else, in a thick blanket of white powder. It was becoming part of the Professors’ daily routines to break up snowballs fights that over-excited students were indulging in at every available opportunity.
Harry was standing at the window of a disused classroom on the third floor, staring out at the snowflakes rushing past the glass. He heard the door open and turned around, smiling.
“Something exciting happening, Harry?” Aisa was standing in the doorway, weighed down by a huge pile of books. Harry blushed slightly,
“No, Professor, just happy. I actually got an essay with a pass mark on it from Potions.” Aisa chuckles, and dropped the books down. Harry looked at her carefully.
“Are you alright, Professor?” Aisa looked up, quizzically. “It’s just…you’ve looked a little, I don’t know, depressed lately.” Aisa shook her head, looking curious.
“No…no, I’m fine.” She smiled at him, a little half-heartedly, he thought. “I just…don’t like Christmas very much.” Harry nodded,
“I didn’t used to like Christmas either, not until I came to Hogwarts. It always meant the Dursley’s relatives giving Dudley loads of presents and me coal.” Harry grimaced, and this time Aisa’s smile looked genuine.
“I know what you mean…my relations with my family were never that good either.”
“Do you still see them at Christmas now?” Aisa shook her head, a dark shadow passing across it.
“No…no, they’re all dead. Voldemort saw to that.” Harry blanched.
“Oh, Professor…I’m really…I don’t know what to…” Aisa smiled bitterly.
“It’s ok, you didn’t know.” Harry paused for a second, looking thoughtful. He quickly considered what he was about to say, and decided to take the plunge.
“Professor-” He hesitated.
“Professor…why is Voldemort after you?” Whatever she had been expecting Harry to ask, it obviously hadn’t been that, as now Aisa’s pale skin blanched even whiter that usual.
“What…what makes you think he is?” Her voice was a little shaky, and Harry knew his and Ron and Hermione’s suspicions were right. They had been discussing the problem of Katherine Williams almost incessantly since they decided she and Professor Galbraith, but so far, none of Hermione’s tricks in library searching had brought up any information, and they decided that Harry must ask her outright.
“Well…um, because of what you just said about your family…maybe?” Aisa raised an eyebrow.
“My family? No…no, Voldemort is not after me, Harry…you must be mistaken. My father was killed because he was the head of the department for Magical Law Enforcement before Bartemius Crouch.” This was news to Harry, and it almost side-tracked him for a minute. He paused once more and then continued.
“We wondered…me, Hermione and Ron, we wondered if you were the Katherine Williams they talked about in the paper, that missing Muggle.” This time Harry knew he had it right, because Aisa visibly started.
“Katherine Wil-where on earth did you get that idea?”
“Well, we knew you were living as a Muggle before you came here – you said so, in our first lesson. Everyone knew anyway, though; we thought that maybe you were hiding from him, or something. Why else would Death Eaters attack some random Muggles?” There was silence in the small room and Aisa looked as if she was trying to think of the right answer. After a long pause, she spoke:
“The Death Eaters quite often attacked random Muggles, Harry,” she was speaking very quietly, “It was one of the things that made them so atrocious. And I did not go to live as a Muggle because I was hiding from Voldemort. If anything, I was hiding for myself.” Harry opened his mouth to ask something else, but the look on Aisa’s face made him stop. It was cold, more closed and hard, in a way. He had a feeling that further questions wouldn’t be appreciated.
Aisa picked up one of the books beside her and opened it, flicking through the pages methodically, as if calming herself down. When she spoke again, her voice was considerably more measured.
“Now, you have been learning to control your mind at an astonishing rate, Mr Potter and I think you are advanced enough to move onto one of the more complex skills involved in Nonvirgadium. I understand from Professor Dumbledore that you learnt Occlumency with Professor Snape last year?” Harry nodded, scowling slightly as the unpleasant memories that surfaced with the thought. He thought he saw Professor Galbraith fighting back a smile at his reaction. “As much as you disliked your lessons, they showed you the rudiments of mind control and have no doubt assisted in your studies with me thus far.
“You may recall that Professor Snape used a technique called Legilimency to break into your mind while he was showing you how to use Occlumency.” Harry nodded again. “Legilimency is actually a technique that combines both conventional magic and Nonvirgadium – it is the closest a normal wizard will ever get to the power of wandless magic. The version of it that exists within the realms of Nonvirgadium is known as Incursocorpum and is far more powerful.
“Legilimency enables the user to break into someone else’s mind, either conspicuously, as Professor Snape did with you while you were learning Occlumency, or inconspicuously as Voldemort used to do to know whether someone was lying to him.
“Incursocorpum enables you to do all this, but it can allow you to do more. You can penetrate a person’s very being, and understand exactly what they are thinking at that precise moment in time. You can let go of your own mind and become them-”
“You want me to learn how to possess people?” Harry had been sitting there, deep in concentration, but this last sentence had brought him back into consciousness. He was slightly shocked by this idea, and it sounded almost uncomfortably dark. Aisa, however, was shaking her head.
“No, it is not possession. You do not take them over, you become them. You…” she paused, as if searching for the right words, “It is very difficult to explain, I think it would be better if we begin to learn it.” Harry stared at her, then shrugged. Aisa looked him hard in the eyes, “Trust me, Harry. You must trust me.”
“Ok, Professor. What do I do first?”
Incursocorpum seemed to involve a lot of lying down and being still, Harry discovered. It was all about ‘letting your mind go’; a little like the Muggle pastime of meditation, Aisa said. Harry felt very stupid; Aisa had him lying on the floor, eyes closed and told him to focus on nothingness, as he had been taught for Professor Snape. Half an hour later, nothing had really happened, and Harry was bored and frustrated. He sat up, frowning.
“Professor, no offence, but what exactly am I supposed to be doing?” Aisa looked back at him.
“You are supposed to be clearing your mind, Harry. You will know the feeling once you reach it. It feels like you are sinking down a deep, black hole. Almost like falling, and your mind is empty. You have control over it, but it is empty.” Harry looked at her, his face sceptical. “I see you don’t understand. It is a very hard concept to imagine if you have never been there. Muggles strive sometimes for a lifetime to achieve this state of emptiness, but many also reach it. I think we will leave it there for today – some of these books may help you.” She sifted through the huge pile of books she had brought with here, and extract three. “Read these, and practice for me over the holidays. It will get easier.” Harry nodded, looking curiously at the books, which certainly weren’t from the Hogwarts Library.”
“Thanks, Professor and, er, Merry Christmas.” Aisa smiled wanly,
“Merry Christmas to you too, Harry.” As he turned the corner and walked down to the stair, Harry felt a huge sympathy for his Professor flood into him; she just seemed so sad and…alone.
hope it was worth the wait; if it was, let me know and you might get more ;)
next update should be up soon, am sort of having a wrestle with the chronology of things. i know what needs to happen, but i'm not sure when!
May 17th, 2004, 5:27 pm
Back in the common room, Harry was still thinking over his lesson and his Professor’s attitude when Ron and Hermione bounced in.
“So, did you ask her?” Still half dazed from thought, Harry looked up, confused.
“What? Oh, that…yeah, I did. She denied it, of course.” Harry struggled to think back to the conversation he’d had with Professor Galbraith before the lesson began. Then he remembered something and turned to Hermione. “Did you know that her dad used to be Head of Magical Law Enforcement before Barty Crouch?” Hermione looked mildly surprised.
“No, no, I didn’t know that.” Harry nodded.
“He was. And her whole family were killed by Voldemort.”
“Eesh, poor Professor!” said Ron. “So what else did she say?” Harry screwed up his mind, trying to remember.
“She didn’t say anything I said was true, but she didn’t outright deny anything either. She looked really, really shocked when I suggested she was Katherine Williams. Not as if she was offended, more as if she couldn’t believe we’d worked it out.” Hermione looked thoughtful.
“Voldemort killed her whole family?” Harry looked blank for a second.
“Uh, yes, Hermione.”
“Explains why she was hiding, doesn’t it!” said Ron, playing with his quill.
“But why wasn’t she killed?” asked Hermione. Now Ron stared at her as well.
“Maybe she escaped?”
“Maybe…seems a bit odd though.” Ron shrugged.
“Why? Harry escaped.” Hermione scowled.
“Harry, as you well know, is the only person to have ever escaped Voldemort.”
“Alright, then, maybe she knew of it before hand, and couldn’t tell her family in time.” Hermione shrugged.
“You’re getting very suspicious in your old age, Hermione.” Hermione rolled her eyes and muttered something that sounded remarkably like ‘Snape’. Harry, who had thus remained silent, having learnt from past experience to let Ron and Hermione get on with it in peace, now spoke up.
“I don’t know, I think Hermione has a point. When I mentioned it, she sounded like she really didn’t want to talk about it, but it was strange. It wasn’t like a normal sadness, it was as though she was hiding something. I mean, she didn’t give me a straight answer to any questions. She could have easily said ‘I am not Katherine Williams’, but she didn’t. She just asked me where I got the idea and looked very startled when I told her what we’d been talking about, as if I hit the nail on the head. I’m beginning to think there’s something strange about her past, something she’s not telling us.” Ron shrugged.
“Maybe she just doesn’t want anyone to know.” Hermione sat up.
“That’s all very well, but what doesn’t she want us to know?”
“Perhaps it’s private.”
“Mmm, maybe.” Hermione looked thoughtful. “You know, something like a witch going off to live as a muggle must have caused quite a bit of gossip at the time…I bet there was something in the paper; at least in the gossip columns.”
“So? There probably was, but that would have been years ago!” Hermione shook her head very quickly, her eyes shining.
“Yes…but there is still a way.” She glanced swiftly at her watch. “It’s only half seven, we could still go to the library.” Ron groaned.
“Don’t you want to find out?” She looked stern and the boys meekly followed her down the quiet corridors.
“Here we go.” Once they had got to the Library, Hermione strode over to a corner the boys had never really paid attention too before, and stood in front of an old, dusty writing desk with what looked like an ancient piece of parchment stretched out over it.
“Uh, Hermione?” The boys were looking at her blankly, “What’s that?” Hermione beamed.
“It’s a Cogno-all.” The boys looked none the wiser and Hermione rolled her eyes. “It’s sort of like the muggle internet…well, actually it’s more like a micro-fiche, but people don’t seem to use those so much anymore.” They still looked puzzled and Hermione sighed. “It’s like a huge, Magical library of old newspaper articles. Look, you take this quill,” she picked up a long, purple quill that was sitting on the top of the desk, “and it’s important you use this one, or it doesn’t work. Right, you dip it in the ink, then write want you want to find out on this little line, here. So, for example, if I write ‘Harry Potter’…”she paused and the boys watched in silence as her pen scratched across the parchment. Harry’s name glistened in purple in on the line for a couple of seconds, then the little droplets of ink zoomed around the page and a list formed down the parchment. “Here,” said Hermione, pointing to a little number at the top, “Is how many different articles there have been about, or mentioning, your name over the past 300 years – that’s as far as it goes back.” Harry gaped.
“There are really,” he looked at the number to make sure, “541 articles about me?” Hermione nodded,
“It would appear so, although don’t forget, your name was in the paper quite a lot last year.”
“Yeah, I guess,” said Harry dazedly. Ron was staring at him in amazement,
“That’s so cool, Harry!”
“Anyway,” said Hermione, “That was just an example. We’re really here to find out about Professor Galbraith.” Ron and Harry nodded and watched as Hermione took out her wand and muttered ‘abstergeo’ and then wrote the word ‘Galbraith’ on the link. The page swam again and Harry suddenly realised he was holding his breath in anticipation. The search revealed thirty-four articles for the name ‘Galbraith’.
“What about that one?” said Harry, pointing to one dated about eighteen months before Voldemort’s downfall.
“Ok,” replied Hermione, and ticked the little box next to the article’s title. The ink zoomed around the page again, and an article from the Daily Prophet materialised on the parchment.
Head of Magical Law Enforcement killed in Home
The Daily Prophet has received confirmation from the Ministry today that Head of Magical Law Enforcement, Augustus Galbraith was killed yesterday evening at his home in Sussex. Cynthia, his wife and Felix, his son, who had been training to be a Healer, were also murdered by an unknown Death Eater in the same attack.
No word has been heard about Galbraith’s daughter, Aisa, who until three months ago was an Auror within the Ministry. Readers may recall that Miss Galbraith lately disappeared, seemingly without a trace; an event on which the Ministry have refused to comment. Rest assured that your Daily Prophet reporter is still investigating the matter.
Bartemius Crouch was announced yesterday to succeed Augustus Galbraith in the post of Head of Magical Law Enforcement and had this to say:
“The acts committed against my dear colleague are atrocious and shall not go unheeded. I intend to bring stricter measures in the fight against He Who Shall Not Be Named and give greater powers to the Aurors to ensure that events like this become fewer and good shall triumph against evil!”
Harry, Ron and Hermione stared at each other.
“Professor Galbraith was an Auror? Did either of you two know that?” Harry and Hermione shook their heads.
“I suppose it explains why she’s such a good teacher, but we still don’t know why she left.”
“Look, there are a couple of later articles, though,” said Harry, pointing at the parchment. “Maybe they explain some more?” Hermione picked up the quill and was about to tick the box when a silky, odious voice spoke up behind them.
“And what, pray tell, might you three be doing wandering around late at night – as if I need ask?” The three Gryffindors whipped around and saw the black, billowing figure of Professor Snape standing over them.
“Nothing, Professor. We were…just looking something up.” Snape raised an eyebrow.
“Oh really? And what was that, Miss Granger?” Harry felt the colour drain from his face; somehow he had a feeling that what they were doing would be interpreted as spying. Snape pushed Hermione aside and glanced over the still-shining Prophet article. Harry was sure he saw an expression of shock and…was that fear? flicker across Snape’s face. The Potion’s master was, however, adept at hiding his true feelings, and when he turned back to the three students, his face was as emotionless as ever.
“It is far too late for you three to be wandering around. Ten points from Gryffindor. Go back to your Common Room immediately.” Ron opened his mouth to protest, but Harry shook his head vigorously behind Snape’s back and Ron closed it again.
“You should have seen the look on his face,” said Harry, as they raced back to Gryffindor Tower, “he actually looked scared.” Hermione furrowed her brow.
“He must be involved in all this somehow…that conversation he had with Professor Galbraith, for instance. They know each other.”
“Well, they were both at Hogwarts…maybe they knew each other then? What house was Galbraith in?”
“Peppermint Pixie.” The portrait hole swung open. “I don’t know…she’s never said. But he certainly wasn’t happy to see that article. There’s more to those two than meets the eye. Just knowing her at school wouldn’t be enough for Snape to look so shocked at that article.” Hermione looked at her watch. “You know, we were there a lot longer than I thought – it’s lucky he only took ten points, it’s almost ten o’clock! See you in the morning!”
Back in his bed, Harry found his mind once again a jumble of thoughts; how did Professor Galbraith know Snape? One answer sprang to the forefront of his mind, but Harry pushed it out again very quickly; that was ridiculous.
oooo, quick update ;) i was bored this afternoon and writing (for once) seemed to come easily! If you enjoyed it, let me know! (http://www.cosforums.com/showthread.php?t=24550)
May 19th, 2004, 5:26 pm
on a bit of a roll this week! It's really nice to see the viewing figures are nearing 600 :o i figure about 30% of your are actually reading the whole story, rather than just clicking the post, so that's awesome, thanks! I'll just put you down as 'too shy to feedback' ;)
“Come on Harry!”
“Hermofy…bre-fastht!” Harry sprayed scrambled eggs over the Gryffindor Table, and Hermione rolled her eyes in disgust.
“Well hurry up – and try not to cover everyone else in it.” Ron, who was leisurely munching his way through his third bowl of cereal, laughed at Harry who was trying to eat his eggs and bacon as fast as he could while at the same time giving Hermione evil looks. “Don’t blame me, if you had woken up earlier, we wouldn’t be so late!”
“Aww, give him a break, Hermione, it’s a Saturday!” Hermione glared at Ron.
“This potion requires all day to brew,” she said, brandishing a piece of parchment at him. “It’s imperative we start it now!”
“Mmmmphkay,” Harry swallowed, “I’m ready. Let’s go Hermione.” He stood up and turned to Ron, dejectedly. “If I’m not back in an hour and a half, come rescue me, ok? We can do some more Quidditch practice.” Ron nodded and Harry trailed out of the Hall after Hermione.
“Remind me again, why are you making me do extra Potions on the weekend, Hermione?” They were trudging through the dark, dank corridors towards the dungeon-like classroom that was the Potions room.
“Because,” replied Hermione, “Professor Snape has given us all permission to practice this potion this weekend, and I think he will give us a test on it after Christmas. I want to see first hand how it works.” Harry nodded resignedly and followed Hermione into the room.
“Right,” said Hermione, pulling out a huge textbook and a piece of parchment from her bag. “This is what we need.” She put the book down, and went over to the store cupboard and took out the ingredients, writing on the parchment what she had taken as instructed by the Potions master in the previous lesson. “Looking at this, no one else has decided to do this yet.” Hermione turned around, her eyes shining. “Think how much extra knowledge we’ll have when Snape tests us!” Harry grinned.
“Honestly, Hermione – some things never change, do they?” While Hermione had been getting the potion ingredients, Harry had set up their cauldron, and everything was ready to begin.
“Ok, I think we’ve got everything. Griffin feather?” Harry nodded. “Essence of Hellebore?” Harry nodded again. Hermione went through the other ingredients and Harry checked them off for her.
“Yep, all there. Hermione?”
“Mmmm?” Hermione was carefully measuring out the Hellebore and was somewhat distracted.
“What does this potion do again?” Hermione pour the excess liquid back into the container and looked up, her face stern.
“Harry, you were supposed to have read up on this.”
“Well I did, but…I didn’t really understand it.” Harry trailed off lamely and Hermione struggled to hide a smile.
“You know as well as I do that you just read it quickly while you were waiting for Katie to give you all your pre-practice pep-talk the other day, but we’ll ignore that for now.” Hermione cleared her throat and put on her ‘textbook’ voice. “The Feather Light potion evolved from the Draught of Peace and shares many of the same ingredients.” Hermione pointed to the lists of Potions components. “The two ingredients that make the Feather Light potion different are the addition of a Griffin feather and Belladonna. The two, when reacted together, produce a pseudo-hallucinogenic effect that is said to create a startling clarity of mind for the user and some claim outer-body experiences. The potion was banned in the late 1850’s due to incompetent potion brewing resulting in deaths from Belladonna poisoning. It is now made without the belladonna, and is used in treatment of those who suffer from magical mind disorders. It is said that under the influence of the Feather Light Potion, some people regain parts of their former minds.”
“I didn’t know there was a cure for those whose minds were damaged by magic?” Hermione shook her head sadly.
“It’s not. And for some people-” Hermione paused and they both knew the other was thinking of Neville’s parents “-for some people, most people, in fact, it’s not enough. Almost as if their minds reject the idea of even more magic.” Both of them sat there silently for a while. “Shall we get on with making this?” Harry nodded, and they began to slowly and carefully follow the instructions Hermione had neatly copied from the board in the lesson.
They had been working solidly for almost half an hour and were beginning to get quite hot and sticky from the fumes and smoke when the door swung open.
“Hi Hermione, Harry. See you’re getting a start on that Potion? We thought we might too…is it ok if we join you?” Terry Boot and Sarah Clarke (one of the Ravenclaws whom Harry hadn’t known at the start of term) were standing in the doorway. Hermione was at that moment trying to execute a perfect stir and drop motion, so Harry replied.
“No, course not, we’re almost finished anyway.” Terry smiled and the two Ravenclaws began to set up their cauldron. Harry suddenly became aware of Hermione tugging excitedly at his robes.
“Harry! Look Harry! We’ve almost done it!” Harry turned to look and saw a metallic green potion glimmering at him; he had to admit that it was almost beautiful.
“Wow, Hermione, that’s really good!” Sarah was looking over Harry’s shoulder while Terry seemed to be fighting with a temperamental cauldron stand. “The Feather Light Potion is one of the hardest things at NEWT level they say, just because it’s the first one of it’s type you learn!” Hermione smiled.
“Thanks Sarah, Harry and I have been working on it all morning.”
“We would have been here earlier, but Terry had an extra lesson with Professor Galbraith,” said Sarah, rolling her eyes. “He says it’s because he needs the extra help, but I think he just fancies her.” Hearing his name, Terry looked up and grinned.
“Talking about me?” Sarah stuck her tongue out.
“Never you mind!” Terry came over.
“I think I heard the name of the lovely Professor Galbraith too.” Terry grinned wider, “She’s lovely, isn’t she Harry?” Harry started at being addressed with such a question – the thought of his Professor as being attractive hadn’t really occurred to him.
“Erm…I guess so?” Terry looked incredulous.
“Come on, Harry! She’s got that dark hair and pale skin like porcelain, and those eyes” Terry’s voice trailed off into wild rapture.
“Ugh, Terry, you’re pathetic!” Sarah gave him a little shove, her face a picture of contempt. Harry stared in bewilderment at Hermione, who, to his surprise, seemed to be trying not to laugh.
“Well, I’m sorry Sarah, but it’s true. It’s about time we had some attractive women around here anyway!” The look of outrage on Sarah’s face was too much for Hermione, and she burst out laughing, only trying to contain it when Sarah turned her wrathful looks on her. Trying to assemble her face into something more sober, she tried to apologise.
“I’m really sorry, Sarah, it’s just the idea of people fancying Professor Galbraith – it’s just so…strange!” Sarah rolled her eyes,
“Pathetic, more like. It’s not just him either,” said Sarah, jerking her thumb at Terry, who had wisely returned to fighting with the cauldron stand. “The whole lot of her are completely captivated with her. Personally, I think she’s a bit strange. I mean, she’s a good teacher and she seems to know what she’s talking about, but…I don’t know, there’s just something odd about her.”
“That’s what makes her so attractive, she’s a woman of mystery,” supplied Terry in a dreamy voice. Sarah shot him a fierce look and he shut up
“I mean, I like her and everything,” said Sarah hurriedly. “She’s an amazing teacher, I’ve never had Defence Against the Dark Arts lessons like it, but she’s just odd. Like she’s hiding something. I’ve heard so many rumours about her; some people say like Malfoy that she was living as a Muggle. Other people say she was an Auror and was working undercover for the Ministry all this time. I even heard someone say she was actually a Muggle that the Ministry were experimenting on…but that might have been Luna Lovegood.” Harry smothered a grin. “Oh well, looks like Terry’s mastered that stand at last; I’ll leave you two in peace to do your potion!” With that, she smiled and went back to the other side of the room, leaving Harry and Hermione taking it in turns to stir their metallic green concoction.
May 20th, 2004, 12:21 pm
“You wanted to see me, Severus?” Snape looked up; he was sitting at his desk, going through the methods that the sixth year students had left there along with their Feather Light Potion samples.
“Yes, Aisa, I did.” Aisa waited expectantly. “I rather wondered what you had been telling your students.” She gave him a blank look.
“Generally, about defence against the dark arts,” she replied sarcastically. Snape narrowed his eyes.
“I didn’t mean that, and you know that perfectly well. What else have you been saying?” When Aisa didn’t reply, he continued, “About us”
“I’m sorry, Severus, I think you will have to be a little more concise.”
“Don’t play dumb with me, Aisa.” His voice was soft and dangerous, but Aisa wasn’t scared; she could match it. She knew he was scared of her, even if he appeared to hide it. “You must have heard what they’re all talking about. ‘Professor was an auror’, ‘Professor used to catch evil people’”. Aisa laughed coldly.
“Are you jealous, Severus?”
“Don’t be absurd, Aisa, it doesn’t suit you. What have you been telling them about us? About you. About your past.”” Aisa stared at Severus, her face hard and jaw set firm.
“So this is what it comes down to – you are worried they might find you out.” Snape glared malevolently at Aisa. “You’re worried that if they guess things about me, they might start asking questions. Severus, I have not been telling any of my students anything other than the subject I am here to teach them. Perhaps it is natural that they will come to the conclusion I was once an Auror – Defence Against the Dark Arts teachers often are. And I somehow doubt that believing me to be an Auror is going to lead them to any skeletons that are lurking in your closest.”
“Then explain to me,” he hissed, “why I found Potter and his little gang looking for old Daily Prophet articles about you on the Cogno-all. I saw what they were looking at Aisa!” Aisa faltered for a moment, the blood draining from her face. Quickly she regained her composition.
“Perhaps they were just curious about what being an Auror entails. I know Potter has expressed an interest in taking it up as a career,” she replied calmly.
“Don’t be so naïve, Aisa. You don’t know Potter like I do; he is nosy. He will poke deeper and deeper and he will find us - you, out. But maybe you want him to? Perhaps this is your revenge?”
“Severus, I am past revenge. I wanted revenge all those years ago, but it was denied me. I am not like you, I cannot hold a grudge like that.”
“You used to. You used to be just like me.” Aisa looked at him sharply.
“People change, Severus. I have changed. I’m not the same person I was back then. I haven’t been for a long time. If they find out, then they find out.”
“You will lose your job. I will lose mine.”
“Your job is safe. No evidence points to you, your name is not mentioned; there is no way anyone can find out. As for my job…my job is not the reason why I am here. If I lose my job, then so be it.” Snape was looking at her with a strange expression on his face. It was an odd expression, and Aisa couldn’t quite figure it out. It looked as though it was fighting between admiration and contempt and…was that guilt? Her eyes wandered around the dungeon. “We used to have Potions in here, do you remember?” Snape looked at her as if she’d gone mad. “I used to sit,” she went over to the desk in the far corner, “here.” She sat down. “You used to sit over there and I used to watch you, sometimes. I thought you were strange. No doubt everyone thought the same about me.” Snape remained silent. “I sometimes wonder what would have happened if I had never been sorted into Slytherin. I wonder what it would have been like if I just went into Ravenclaw like the rest of the Galbraiths. Would I still have discovered Nonvirgadium? I don’t think I would have. The sorting hat knew, you know. It told me, it said there was something I had to discover, that only Slytherin would help me do. I think it knew I wasn’t going to fit in, and only by that alienation would I find my hidden talent. I didn’t realise that until the other day…what it said came back to me. Then suddenly everything made sense.” Snape was still staring at her when she trailed off.
The silence in the room that followed was strange – it wasn’t tense, or oppressive, as silences so often are. It was almost light, almost like a vacuum waiting to be filled.
“You’re planning something. I can tell.” It was Snape who broke the silence, looking at her curiously. “What are you going to do? No doubt something stupid.” Aisa’s expression changed in a flash and she shot him a stern look.
“Don’t speak to me like one of your pupils, Severus.” She was slightly embarrassed over having rambled for so long and was now trying to cover it up. “Did you want to see me about anything else, sir?” Snape glared at her, the barriers, which had been lowered so briefly, shot back up again.
“Good Evening, Aisa.” Without another word, the Defence Professor stalked out of the room leaving the Potions Master seething with anger, both at her and at himself. Standing outside the Potions room, hidden behind a corner, Harry Potter stood outside, with his the extra sample bottle that he and Hermione had forgotten to hand back clutched between his fingers. None too keen to see Professor Snape in what was undoubtedly a foul mood, he slowly put the small bottle (which Hermione had taken for ‘extra research’ apparently) back in his pocket and returned to Gryffindor Tower with a puzzled look on his face.
I don't like the end of this, but i feel i've fought with it enough for now. it is liable to change, but i'll let you know if i do :D
May 26th, 2004, 12:12 pm
sorry that this has been so long in updating! i've just been mucho busy! hope the order won't confuse anyone!
Professor Galbraith had been widely accepted by the students of Hogwarts as one of the best teachers they’d had for Defence Against the Dark Arts since Professor Lupin and people talked excitedly in the corridors of what they had done in their lesson that day. She had a strange presence in the classroom; although her form was so slight and almost seemed to fade into the background in normal circumstance, once in the classroom she commanded the attention of the class almost without effort. She also seemed to really know what she was talking about. Classes had asked her what she did before she was a teacher, but the Professor seemed strangely reluctant to talk to her pupils about her former life; however, most people had decided she had been an Auror – the reasons for her no longer being so were many and varying from the half-believable to the downright ludicrous.
Aisa loved teaching; it was something she always loved, ever since she first set foot in a classroom of her own for a year nine Shakespeare lesson. Teaching magic was something quite different, but rewarding in it’s own way. It had been strange and had made her think a lot, but seeing her students develop over the term had been fulfilling. Most of all, she enjoyed her lessons with Harry. She never ceased to be amazed by his ability. She had spoken to other teachers and found that he didn’t have an especially shining school record, but she could see in him his determination to do something when he felt it was important. She recalled a conversation she had had with Lupin before she came up to Hogwarts, when he told her about Harry’s determination to conquer a Patronus. This had impressed her, and she was sure she was seeing the same, powerful wizard that Remus had seen back in Harry’s third year.
His ability with Nonvirgadium had been quite astonishing. She had harboured some doubts at first, when he seemed to struggle slightly, but after the first couple of weeks he had improved by leaps and bounds, there was no doubt about it. In a way, she actually found his power quite frightening; he would get a look in his eyes that was so foreboding and far beyond his years; he was Voldemort’s true nemesis, she could see that, she only hoped she could train him to the standard he needed in time.
It was still in this rather pensive mood that Aisa wandered down the hallway to her living quarters. The school was almost completely empty, most of the pupils having departed for the Christmas holidays that morning and Aisa felt a strange sort of emptiness within herself. With no distractions of the pupils, her mind was beginning to wander onto her own problems, onto the reason she knew she was here. Ever since the words of the sorting hat had floated out of her memory the other day, she had suddenly realised that there was more to her task than simply teaching Harry. She was destined to help him, the Sorting Hat had put her into Slytherin, knowing she would be isolated and miserable and that this in turn would push her towards Nonvirgadium. But had it? Could that hat really possess so much foresight? Could it possibly have known what Harry would do, and what he was destined to become and that she would have to teach him to defeat the darkest wizard in living memory? Aisa shook her head, her mind whirling; surely that was too much for one scruffy old hat to be capable of?
She pushed open her door and took stock of her room. It was small, like all the others for the teaching staff at Hogwarts, but cosy. She waved her hand and a fire started up in the grate that was in the far wall. You would never have known that Christmas was only two weeks away; Aisa had no signs of the festive season in her room. While the rest of the Hogwarts’ Castle was glittering in every corner with tinsel and fairy lights, Aisa’s office retained an almost Spartan cleanliness. She had not been lying to Harry when she said she hated Christmas – it brought up some of the worst memories of her childhood and made her recall the loneliness she felt as a teenager.
With a heavy sigh, Aisa flung herself onto the small bed in the corner of the room and stared at the ceiling, trying to clear her mind of the jumble of thoughts that were beginning to race through it in the silence of the school. She concentrated on a small spider’s web in the corner of the room, and slowly, without realising it, her eyes began to close.
She had just got off the train rather despondently, glowering quietly at the happy families, reuniting on platform 9 3/4. Aisa was jealous; her own parents weren’t even here yet. She lugged her trunk off the train and dropped it with a thud on the ground and sat on it, glaring around moodily. Her overt hostility was only a way to stop herself bursting into tears, but it reinforced to her classmates that Aisa Galbraith was very strange, and to be avoided.
Unlike most of the children who attended Hogwarts, Aisa hated going home for the holidays. Relations in the Galbraith household had grown more and more unpleasant as time went by. When Aisa was younger, her parents had exhibited only an air of disappointment about the fate of their youngest child but, as time went on, this developed into a fear and almost loathing of her. Aisa spent her time at school isolated and lonely, and her time at home feeling an unwanted outsider among her family.
“Come on, Aisa, your father is waiting.” Aisa looked up to see her mother standing in front of her, looking a little impatient. Without a word, she stood up, and followed her mother out of the station, dragging her trunk behind her.
The car journey back to Pennington was only an hour, but it felt like a lifetime to Aisa. At least at school she could hide in the common room, buried under hundreds of books; at home, there was just her and her parents and Felix. Felix; the thought of her brother brought a strange feeling of loathing to the forefront of her emotions, followed swiftly on the heels by guilt and sadness that she should feel such a thing about her only sibling. She and Felix used to get on so well when she was younger, even though he pretended she was a pain; now…now that was all different. Aisa picked at her sweater, trying not to cry as she thought of her older brother. He was training to be a Healer now – father was so proud.
Aisa had to admit that some of her relationship with her parents was her fault. She had grown so withdrawn at school that when she got home in the holidays, she couldn’t remember how to be the bubbly, happy girl she used to be; she wasn’t even completely sure what happiness was anymore. The car crunched over the gravel up the driveway of Falcon Cottage, and Augustus jerked the handbrake on rather abruptly, causing the car to stop rather sharply. Her father got out the car without a word, slamming the door loudly. Cynthia Galbraith got out and opened the boot.
“Come and help me with your trunk please, Aisa.” Silently, Aisa picked up the other end of the case and tramped it into the house. They set it down in the hallway, and Aisa’s mother straightened up. “Take your clothes and things upstairs, then wash your face and change. Felix should be arriving from London in an hour or so, and then we’ll be having dinner.”
“I thought Felix wasn’t coming until next week?” Cynthia shook her head.
“He changed his mind.” With that, she swept out of the room, her purple cloak flowing elegantly behind her.
“Probably wanted to keep an eye on me,” muttered Aisa under her breath as she pulled her trunk up the stairs. “What does he think I’m going to do, fry them all in their sleep?” She dropped her trunk on her bedroom floor with a thud. “Who I’m kidding? He probably does…”
“Aisa, can you come down now please? Dinner is ready.” Aisa scowled at her ceiling. She had heard the previous two requests, and ignored them. She really did not want to go down there. She knew Felix was there, she had heard him arrive an hour ago. Aisa’s hatred for her brother was the most intense feeling she had ever experienced. She could almost forgive her parents, they were confused and she didn’t really help matters; but her brother, she wasn’t sure she could ever forgive him. She would never forget that day when he told her he no longer counted her as his sister. She remembered sitting there, with that huge book, reading about what an evil person she was supposed to be, with tears in her eyes. From that day on, Felix had ignored her, and treated her as badly as the rest of the school, and what was worse, had told her parents immediately and poisoned their minds towards her. When she most desperately needed help and a shoulder to cry on, he deserted her. With a sigh, she forced the bubbling emotions to subside and slowly went downstairs.
Felix and her father were already sitting at the dinner table when she went into the dining room; her mother was bustling around, zooming food through the hatch-window from the kitchen. Without a word, Aisa sat down, eyes downcast and played with her napkin; she could feel Felix’s cold, blue eyes boring into her.
“Nice of you to join us, Aisa.” She grimaced at his sarcasm, but grit her teeth and refused to rise to the bait.
“Hi, Felix,” she mumbled, not looking up. There was an uncomfortable silence, then the two men continued their conversation.
“So tell me about St Mungo’s,” Augustus was saying eagerly. Aisa felt her stomach clench at the pride she could hear oozing from her father’s tone.
“Well, we’re all spending two weeks in each department,” replied Felix pompously, “At the moment, I’m in Spell Damage, it’s a very important post, especially at the moment, what with You-Know-Who. Healer Sinclair says he thinks I’ll be able to take my exams in August – which is six months earlier than everyone else.” Augustus Galbraith looked like he was about to explode with pride.
“That’s brilliant, son. I’m glad someone is bringing honour to the family name.” Aisa wrapped her napkin tighter around her fingers in an effort to keep herself from shouting.
“Thank you, father, I feel it’s the least I can do.” She had a horrible urge to hit her brother, and bit her lips. At that moment, Cynthia Galbraith entered the room, and the tension ebbed slightly.
“This looks delicious, darling.” Cynthia smiled at her husband.
“Well, I know it’s Felix’s favourite.” Aisa rolled her eyes, and began to pick at the roast lamb on her plate; her stomach was clenched so tightly with loathing and a feeling of unfairness, she didn’t think she would be able to eat a thing.
“Actually, working at the Spell Damage department, you hear all sorts of interesting things.”
“Really, son? Important sort of place, is it?” Felix nodded,
“Oh, yes, all sorts of strange things you see there. Why, just the other day we had a very interesting case.” Aisa felt Felix look sideways at her, and busied herself with her lamb, willing herself not to look guilty, whatever he said. “The other week, we had a very concerned parent come in – they wanted to know what sort of damage wandless magic could cause their child. Apparently, some student at Hogwarts had petrified their daughter. Now I wonder who that could have been?” Aisa gripped her knife tightly, willing herself not to scream, but she could feel her mother and father staring at her, and Felix’s smugness was practically radiating from him.
“Aisa.” Her father’s voice broke the silence, no longer full of portentous paternal pride, but sharp and cold. “Aisa, look at me when I speak to you.” Slowly, Aisa put down her knife and fork and with as much dignity as she could muster, raised her head. “What did you do to that girl, you evil child?” Aisa felt her stomach clench even tighter.
“I didn’t do….anything,” she replied, fighting down the tears that were threatening to well up.
“That’s funny, it sounds just like something you would do, Aisa,” sneered Felix. Aisa turned and glared at him.
“Aisa! This is unacceptable! How could you do such a thing to a fellow student?” Augustus Galbraith was looking at his daughter in horror.
“I didn’t do it deliberately, father, I promise.” Aisa was losing the battle with the tears now, and they were beginning to spill down her cheeks.
“How can you do something like that accidentally?”
“I don’t know! I don’t understand it, but it just happened.” Felix snorted.
“Accidentally? Come now, my dear sister, don’t be ridiculous.” Aisa glared at him, her hatred beginning to bubble to the surface above her tears.
“You’re enjoying this, aren’t you?” Felix shook his head.
“No, my little sister, you have me all wrong. You think I enjoy seeing the pain you cause your family? Do you think I enjoy the shame you bring on our good name? No, you misunderstand. But I think we can cure you of this little…problem.” Aisa gaped at him, and for an instant, she considered what he was saying.
“You could…cure her, Felix?” Felix turned to his mother, who had hope shining in her eyes.
“Oh yes, mother. Ever since I have been in the Spell Damage ward, I have been researching magic addled brains, and I believe we could cure Aisa.”
“Oh Felix, that’s wonderful!” Cynthia was smiling, almost manic with relief, and Augustus had the puffed out, proud look on his face once again.
“Well done, boy!” Aisa sat quietly at the end of the table and looked at her family, and saw, for a fleeting second, how her life could be – they could be a family again. Then she looked again at Felix, at his smug face and realised the truth – this treatment wasn’t for her, it was for him. It made him look good, and most probably would just turn her into some sort of vegetable.
“And why, Felix, would I need curing?” She spoke slowly, her deep purple eyes staring at him intently.
“Because…because…because you have a problem, Aisa!” Her father and mother had turned towards her and were now staring, open-mouthed.
“There is nothing wrong with me, Felix. I am different, yes, I have different powers, there is no denying so, but there is nothing wrong with me.” Her voice was shaking slightly with anger.
“Come now, Aisa, don’t be silly. Your brother is offering you a chance to cure you of this…of this…um…”
“Why don’t you just come out and say it, father? Why don’t you just say that I am evil? That’s what you think, isn’t it? You are both terrified of me! THERE IS NOTHING WRONG WITH ME!” She glared at them both, her eyes fiery with anger. “You would ask me to undertake some risky process,” Felix opened his mouth to speak, “don’t deny it Felix, it’s risky, isn’t it? I doubt it even works, perhaps you just wanted to incapacitate me so I would no longer be an embarrassment.” Aisa knew from Felix’s face that she was near the truth. “This power is part of me! I like it being part of me! How can you ask me to give up part of my being? Just because you aren’t able to accept who your daughter is, doesn’t mean I can’t!” There was a silence in the room as mother, father and brother stared at Aisa, who was standing up, face pale and tear-streaked. Cynthia broke the silence, her voice strained.
“Accept you as who you are? Accept that you are evil? If you go down this road, you are no daughter of mine!”
“I AM NOT EVIL!” bellowed Aisa.
“YOU ARE! Why else would you deny this chance to cleanse yourself? You have been consumed!” Cynthia Galbraith was screaming now, her face slightly manic. “You evil, evil child! Get out of my sight!”
“Fine!” Aisa screamed back, and fled from the room. Ten minutes later, she reappeared in the hallway, her trunk, still unpacked, beside her, travelling cloak on. She stood there, silently staring at her family who were still sitting in the dining room. “You will never accept me for who I am, no one ever will; but I refuse to change who I am, just so that I can fit in with what I am supposed to be. Disown me, refuse to talk to me, I no longer care. You haven’t loved me for a very long time, perhaps I haven’t loved you enough, I don’t know, but I do know that you should have been here for me during this, not distancing yourselves as far as you can. Goodbye.” Concentrating her mind, Aisa closed her eyes, and slowly felt herself melting away into nothingness and willed it to work. From the gasps she heard as the world in front of her swam into oblivion, she knew she had managed to apparate out of her house using Nonvirgadium.
When Aisa awoke, she found herself very disoriented at being back at Hogwarts, no longer in the body of her fifteen year old self. She looked around at her room once again, and cursed herself for letting her mind wander so, without her control. With a sigh, she stood up and went over to a small desk on the opposite side of her room.
“Let’s hope this is good enough,” she muttered to herself, and then reached down and opened a drawer in the desk. She pulled out a large bottle which was half filled with a golden-silvery liquid that shimmered lightly when Aisa twirled the bottle. Then the Professor did something very strange: she put her index fingers to her temple and closed her eyes. Seconds later, a golden-silver thread formed between the fingers, and Aisa pulled her hands away, and slowly allowed the thread to flow into the bottle and screwed the top back on. With a sigh, she sat on her bed and put her head in her hands, thinking deeply; maybe it was time to see Dumbledore.
Feedback (http://www.cosforums.com/showthread.php?t=24550) is always appreciated :) (i thought it was a subtle hint, didn't you? ;))
June 6th, 2004, 7:36 pm
Firstly, a little explanation is required: this is NOT a new post. I added a chapter in, so the post BEFORE this one is actually the new chapter. Sorry for the confusion in posting out of sequence, i just decided it worked better this way. So below is what you have read before, the post before this is the 'update'.
Secondly, I would just like to say to any Buddhists reading this, I hope I have not offended you in any way, and any errors I may have made, please don't hesitate to correct me. I've tried to avoid delving into too much detail, because although I have done research, it is no where near as good a knowledge as those who follow the religion. The principles of Incursocorpum aren't supposed to be based on Buddhism, the 'meditation' is more a clearing of the mind, and there aren't supposed to be any illusions to the concept of enlightenment.
Just want to make that clear :) on with the story!
The question of Aisa’s true identity occupied the three Gryffindors for almost the entire last two weeks before the Christmas holidays; the conversation Harry had overheard her having with Snape had only heightened their curiosity. The Defence professor was very popular with her students; she was a good teacher and seemed to know what she was talking about and was without doubt a very powerful witch. Hermione, Ron and Harry couldn’t understand why someone who seemed so adept within the magical world would have left it for so long, when there was no threat against it.
They seemed, however, to have come up against a brick wall as far as their theories went; since their foray into the Cogno-all, they hadn’t been able to find any information. Someone seemed to have misplaced the special quill for the reference system (something, according to Hermione, that happened on a fairly regular basis), so they couldn’t look for any further news there. In the end, they had resigned themselves to it being a mystery unsolved – at least until after the Christmas holidays when, hopefully, the Cogno-all would be up and running once more.
“So you think Professor Snape and Professor Galbraith were friends at school?”
Their resignation hadn’t gone as far as stopping them from discussing the mystery on the train back to London with Neville, Luna and Ginny. The latter of these three grimaced at the idea.
“No! Professor Galbraith is way too nice to have been that grease ball’s friend!” Harry thought Ron was looking rather proudly at his sister’s description of Snape and smiled.
“Well, we don’t know for sure, but it seems likely. They certainly knew each other at some point, anyway.”
“So what we know so far is Professor Galbraith was possibly friends with Snape at school, becomes an Auror, disappears almost two years before Voldemort falls and reappears years later to teach at Hogwarts. We think she is the Katherine Williams that was mentioned in the Prophet the other day, and by all accounts there seems to be some sort of Ministry cover up regarding her past. We don’t know why she disappeared and according to the Prophet, the Ministry wouldn’t comment back then.”
“Cool!” exclaimed Ginny. Hermione looked sternly at her, “What? It is! It’s a mystery.” Ginny started making spooky noises and Hermione rolled her eyes.
“I heard,” piped up Luna, who had been staring out of the window, “that the Ministry had been experimenting on her. She’s a muggle really, you know. They wanted to see if they could make a muggle magical.” Hermione rolled her eyes again, while Harry and Ron stared at each other, trying not to laugh, biting their lips.
“I suppose that’s, um, possible, Luna,” replied Harry, through half-clenched teeth.
Seemingly oblivious to what was so funny, Neville spoke up, looking thoughtful.
“You know, and I know this sounds stupid, but I’m sure I recognise Professor Galbraith. That very first lesson we had, something about her was so familiar.” He paused again, frowning. “It must have been a very long time ago, because the memory is so dim. I can’t place it at all.” He looked up. “It can’t have been her though, can it? Because by the time I would have been old enough to remember her, she’d disappeared?” Neville looked toward Hermione and Harry, confusion on his face, as if hoping they would be able to answer him.
“Are you sure, Neville? How do you remember her?” Neville looked even more confused now.
“I don’t know, it’s really strange. I don’t really have memories of her, if you know what I mean, I just…remember her. Her face seems familiar. I know it’s odd, and I know it doesn’t fit…but I’m sure I’m not imagining it.” Harry scratched his head.
“This just gets stranger and stranger.” The rest of the group nodded and looked just as puzzled, but they were interrupted by the food trolley. Thoughts broken, the conversation drifted onto other subjects and the increasing maze of Aisa Galbraith’s past was pushed to the back of all their minds.
Mrs Weasley had been extraordinarily busy in number 12, Grimmauld Place and she had taken it upon herself before the children came back to make the house as festive as possible. On entering it all three children were greeted with twinkling lights and small, bushy Christmas trees in every conceivable corner and on every available shelf. Shining red baubles had replaced ceiling lights and tinsel was wound around the banister rail. With a small twinge, Harry remembered Sirius’ singing of carols last year, and then with a horrible jolt realised he had hardly thought of his Godfather at all in the past month or so. Guilt suddenly overwhelmed him and he felt as though he were going to be sick.
“Harry, Harry, are you ok?” Ron’s voice seemed to swim in and out of Harry’s mind and he felt himself swaying slightly.
“Yes, I’m fine,” he heard himself say.
“Quick, he’s going to be sick.” Seconds later, Harry felt his stomach well up in his throat, and explode through his mouth. Blushing a brilliant shade of puce, and feeling a little more clear headed, he looked up at the anxious faces surrounding him.
“Sorry Mrs. Weasley, pumpkin pasty I had on the train must have disagreed with me.”
Molly Weasley peered at him carefully,
“Are you sure? Do you want to go and lie down for a bit?” Harry shook his head, swallowing determinedly against the bitter taste that was threatening to rise in his throat once more.
“No, honestly Mrs Weasley, I’m fine. I feel much better now.” Molly examined him with her piercing gaze and seemed satisfied that he was telling the truth.
“Very well, dinner will be ready in half an hour. Take your trunks and things upstairs and wash up and you can come and lay the table.”
“You really ok, mate?” Harry and Ron were half way through ‘unpacking’ their trunks – an operation that mainly consisted of pulling the contents out and dumping them haphazardly in piles in the cupboards. Harry looked up, and hesitated before he answered.
“Yeah, yeah I’m fine…must just have been that pasty. Tasted a bit funny to me.” Ron examined him shrewdly.
“Fine, don’t tell me what’s really the matter.” Harry glared at Ron, angry that he had seen through him so easily.
“You asked me if I was ok, and I said I was. I am! What do you want me to do, lie?” Ron looked slightly taken aback at this small outburst, and Harry felt a bit guilty. He knew it wasn’t justified, or deserved, but he was angry at himself for forgetting so easily about Sirius, and he was taking it out on Ron.
“No, I don’t want you to lie, I want you to tell me the truth!”
“I am telling you the truth, but you don’t believe me!” Bellowed Harry, and the next second, the china pot on the dressing table exploded. Ron stared at him, apparently nonplussed by Harry’s involuntary demonstration of Nonvirgadium and seemingly unwilling to continue the argument.
“Fine,” he shrugged, “I’m going down to dinner. See you later.” With that, he stalked out of the room, shutting the door behind him. Harry sank down on the bed, feeling more and more guilt by the second – now, no only because of Sirius, but because he lost his temper; something he thought he was getting better at controlling, and took out his anger at himself on Ron.
He sighed, and buried his head in his hands. He had to get a grip over himself. Standing up, Harry decided to go downstairs to dinner and apologise to Ron; he would make amends with Sirius’ memory later.
Ron hadn’t been very communicative that evening (not that Harry could blame him) and so dinner was a short, rather sullen affair. Mr Weasley tried to lighten the atmosphere when he returned from the Ministry halfway through the meal, but even his stories of the latest stupid things that wizards tried to get away with doing to muggle objects could not relieve the tension. Lying awake in his bed, staring at the black ceiling, Harry could not sleep. His mind was a jumble of thoughts, and his stomach was frantic with guilt. He tried composing a letter to Sirius in his head, apologising for forgetting his memory – but how can you apologise for something like that? And besides, said a little, defiant voice in the back of his head, you haven’t really forgotten him, he’s always been there, you’ve just been so busy! Harry groaned, rolling over in bed, trying to block out all the thoughts. Why wouldn’t they leave him alone? Then, suddenly, it occurred to him how he could sleep – he had to clear his mind. He sat bolt upright in bed; how could he not have thought of this before? Slowly, he crept out of bed and opened his trunk as quietly as possible, freezing as the hinges creaked slightly. Carefully, he rummaged through the books sitting in the bottom, and found what he was looking for: the books Professor Galbraith had given him in his last lesson.
If Harry was completely honest with himself, he hadn’t given much attention to his Professor’s instructions to practice his meditation. Christmas had been so close and he had had a lot of work…Harry knew he was making excuses and blushed. Quickly, he pulled out the books; a lot of them were brightly coloured and Harry vaguely recognised the designs from a long distant past in Primary School R.E. lessons as Buddhist in nature, some of them were more serious in appearance and looked more academic. Harry gathered them all up and tip-toed downstairs to the lounge and began to read.
Several hours later, Harry was quite confused. A lot of the books seemed to adhere very closely to the Buddhist religion, and those that didn’t were at least loosely associated by way of yoga. None of it, he thought, seemed very much like magic. The basic idea, he decided, was to find a quiet, calm place, steady your breathing and focus on some sort of centre. Harry cleared a space on the floor among all his books, closed his eyes, and, as one of the books had instructed him too, allowed his mind to wander.
Harry sat there, breathing heavily, and focused on his brain. He had decided to focus on this, rather than anything that the books suggested because he thought it made more sense. Incursocorpum was supposed to harness the power of the mind, and so that seemed a natural place to ‘focus’, and he realised that Professor Galbraith had given him the books to guide him, not to teach him, for the two principles were as different as they were similar.
He wasn’t sure how long he sat there, but after a while, a curious thing began to happen. Harry’s thoughts had been wandering, as instructed, but he had began to mentally picture them flowing into the middle of his brain, concentrating them into one place. He began to feel lighter and quite strange and then it happened – Harry felt something leaves him, or he left himself, or…he was quite sure. All he knew was it terrified him and quickly he felt his mind grabbing at whatever it was that was trying to escape his body. Shaking and sweating, his eyes snapped open and Harry found himself breathing heavily, flat on his back, the noise of a bird singing it’s song outside the window.
Still shivering slightly with shock, he looked up at the clock on the mantelpiece – it was almost half past seven in the morning; he must have fallen asleep. With a sigh of relief, Harry realised that he must have had a nightmare. Quickly, he gathered up the books, and hurried upstairs, jumping back into bed before anyone noticed he was missing.
June 23rd, 2004, 5:01 pm
sorry, it feels light it has been about ten billion years since i last updated this story. been very busy with new job! this update has been hard to write, but after this it should be easier! to recap, harry had a bit of a bizarre run in with the wandless magic version of occlumancy, he's upset about sirius, and we saw a flashback to amina's past, which wasn't happy at all...
am thinking of changing the title of this story, to a 'Harry Potter and the.....' format, so if you have any ideas, let me know in the feedback thread (http://www.cosforums.com/showthread.php?t=24550) !
Tensions had remained somewhat strained between Ron and Harry, the former still angry at his friend’s unwarranted outburst, the latter somewhat preoccupied with his strange dream. The excitement of Christmas, however, worked much to allay hostilities, and although they did not ‘make up’, the bitter words were buried under layers of tinsel and fairy lights. In a way, Harry really wanted to talk to Ron about Sirius and his horrible feeling of guilt, but he wasn’t sure that Ron would understand. The idea of his friend simply saying ‘Don’t worry, mate, it’s not your fault’ and brushing it off so easily made Harry feel even worse.
The dream was worrying Harry, and he hadn’t attempted the mind relaxation techniques since, but the excitement in the run up to Christmas Day helped even him to forget his troubles, or at least suppress them.
“Merry Christmas, Harry!” bleary-eyed, Harry peered over his quilt. “Come on, Mum said to let you sleep, but I want to do presents!” Harry grinned sleepily, then frowned slightly.
“Let me sleep?” Harry grimaced – he had not been sleeping well since his return to Grimmauld Place, dreams haunted by Sirius and now the worrying occurrence the night of his return. “Why, What time is it?”
“12 o’clock. Come on,” a package landed on Harry’s head. With a half-hearted groan, Harry heaved himself up in bed and leant over.
“Here, I’ve got one for you too.” He pull out a thin, square package from under his bed and slid it across the floor to Ron.
“Cheers,” said he, taking it, and pulling off the paper. On his bed, Harry did similarly. “Wow, Harry! When…where, did you get this?” Ron was staring in slight disbelief at his present – an autographed photo of the Chudley Cannons, whose orange beclad members were zooming around the frame. Harry looked up from his own present, which, due to an extraordinarily large amount of cellotape holding together, he was having difficulty getting into. Grinning, he answered Ron’s question:
“It’s cool, isn’t it? There was a competition I saw in ‘Which Broomstick?’ and I entered.” Ron returned the grin.
“Cool? It’s excellent!” Noticing Harry still hadn’t opened his, he went over to the bed. “Hurry up, I want to see what you think of yours.”
“I’m trying, but the wrapping isn’t being very co-operative.” Harry pulled at the sticky tape but to little avail. Giving Ron a sly look, he continued, “The person who wrapped it obviously wanted to keep it that way!” Ron blushed slightly, and Harry gave another almighty wrench and the tape finally submitted to him. From the wrecked remains of the wrapping paper fell a book. It was handsome cherry-leather, with ‘H.J.P.’ stamped in the corner, a ribbon tying the two covers together.
“It was Hermione’s idea. It’s a joint present, from both of us.” Harry looked up and saw Ron looking rather embarrassed. “It’s a, um…diary.” Ron paused. “Hermione thought you might like a…personal space.” Harry smiled inwardly at his friend’s obvious discomfort, a little unsure of how to react to his present.
“Thanks Ron, it’s really nice.” Ron sighed with relief.
“You…you don’t think it’s too girly? Only, I was worried you would, but Hermione told me not to be silly and-” Harry smiled outwardly this time, and cut Ron off.
“No, no, it’s fine! It’s, um…really great.” In truth, Harry wasn’t quite sure what to make of his present, but he thought he had better put his friend’s mind at rest. Ron smiled, but it didn’t quite reach his eyes, which still had a look of concern that he wasn’t quite sure how to express. He opened his mouth as if to speak, but hesitated. Harry noticed and looked at him expectantly.
“Harry…if, um, if you, you know, ever want to talk about…stuff, you know you can talk to me, right? You don’t have to ever write in that book. I, me and Hermione, we’re here for you, yeah?”
Judging by Ron’s increasingly pink tinge to his cheeks, Harry had a feeling that Hermione had put him up to this, and Ron was very unhappy about having to do it. He wasn’t quite sure whether it was tiredness or if there was just no more room in his brain for further emotions, but Harry realised that he didn’t feel the anger than he used to at his friends’ probing into his life. He opened his mouth to speak, but Ron, who was obviously on a roll, ploughed on.
“It’s just, you’ve been really…quiet since the holidays started, and I know you haven’t been sleeping.” Harry stared in mild surprise at this revelation; he hadn’t realised Ron had known that. Ron paused, before continuing in a slightly cautious tone. “I’m sure Sirius doesn’t mind if you have fun.”
Harry started at his friend’s rather perceptive insight, and he realised that this was a perfect time to talk about everything that was prettying on his mind, but, somehow, Ron didn’t seem to be the right person.
“No, I know he wouldn’t. I just…I just miss him, that’s all. Being back…here...again, it’ just made me remember.” Ron looked slightly relieved that his ordeal was over.
“I know mate, I know.” He smiled wanly at Harry. “Shall we go downstairs? I can smell food!” Harry nodded.
“Yeah. Yeah, you go down, I’ll be there in a minute.” Ron nodded and bounded out of the room, leaving Harry sitting on the bed, a little confused at the conversation he’d just had.
Christmas Day passed in a green and red whirl for Harry. He still had a horrible emptiness in his stomach every time he looked around and saw things that reminded him of Sirius. However, something Ron had said made him think – Sirius probably would have wanted him to enjoy himself, and so he tried to enjoy the festive season as much as he could, in some way honouring Sirius’ memory. He even managed to push his other worry from his mind – the rather disconcerting experience he had had with Incursocorpum.
At lunch time, Mr Weasley returned from the Ministry and Fred, George and Bill all turned up on the doorstep for their Christmas dinner. It was now Christmas evening, and feeling very full, Harry and the Weasley family were sitting in the Living room, nicely decorated by Mrs Weasley (and now doxy free) around a roaring fire, trying to crack walnuts the muggle way.
“I honestly don’t know how muggles manage,” said Bill, finally giving up on the nutcracker and using his wand to open his obstinate walnut. In the corner, laughter erupted, as Fred and George tried out their latest trick on Ron: an exploding walnut. Ron tried to smooth down his surprised looking hair and stop himself laughing. His disgruntled look was, however, half-hearted and a smile broke through. Harry hugged himself internally, he thought that being with the Weasley family was probably some of the happiest moments in his life. As he looked around, he suddenly realised that there was a figure missing who he would have expected to be there.
“Where’s Professor Lupin?” he wondered aloud. Mr Weasley looked up.
“Ah…he was going to come, but he got called away on…Order business.” Harry raised an eyebrow slightly and opened his mouth to say something, but something about Mrs Weasley’s face made him close it again. Right on cue, however, a bedraggled, half drowned looking figure burst into the cosy-hued sitting room. It was Lupin.
“Meeting, urgent, from Dumbledore, now.” Without a word, Fred, George, Bill and Mr and Mrs Weasley leapt to their feet, looks of deep concern on all their faces. Harry, Ron and Ginny rose to join them, but Mrs Weasley saw them just as she was about to leave the room.
“You three, upstairs, now.” Ron threw her a dirty look. “No arguing. Now.”
June 26th, 2004, 12:26 am
much earlier than expected! amazing what writing fuel alcohol is, although no doubt it will mean i have to do much editing tomorrow!
The atmosphere in Ron and Harry’s room was tense and oppressive. The three children were sitting quietly in their room, and no one had really said anything since they had meekly obeyed Mrs Weasley’s instructions to go upstairs. Even Ron, who normally would have rebelled against his mother’s strict instructions was abnormally quiet; all three seemed to sense that something very serious had happened, and now was not the time for teenage protest.
“What do you think it is?” Ron broke the silence, asking the obvious, that needed to be asked. Harry shrugged.
“I don’t know…I suppose it must be something pretty serious.”
“Maybe…maybe someone’s…died.” Ginny voiced what they were all thinking, the reason why they had all been so quiet. Perhaps someone had died, the possibility was very real. They were embroiled in a war, after all. The three exchanged uncomfortable looks, and silence descended again.
They had been sitting there for ten minutes or so, when Ginny jumped up from her spot by the window.
“I can’t stand this anymore, I’m going to find out what’s going on.” She pulled open Ron’s bedside drawer, and pulled out the extendable ears, and marched out of the room, Harry and Ron in her wake.
As they got to the top of the stairs, however, they realised they wouldn’t need the extendable ears. The shouting was loud enough for all to hear.
“You killed her! You killed Thia! You horrible, evil child!” Ron stared at Harry.
“That sounds like my mum,” he whispered. Harry nodded, listening closely.
“Now, now, Molly, this is neither the time, nor the place. We’ve all had a terrible shock with this latest news…” A voice that sounded like Lupin’s rose above the others, then there was a sound of the kitchen door opening.
“I’m sorry about all this, sir, perhaps I had better leave. I’m obviously only raising tensions.”
“No, Aisa, I think, under the circumstances, it would be better if you stayed here.”
“Under what circumstances, sir?”
At the top of the stairs, hidden away behind the banisters, Ron, Harry and Ginny strained their ears to hear the conversation below, Dumbledore’s low tone’s slowly floating up the staircase.
“Let us just say that I don’t think it is safe for you to be at Hogwarts at the moment, Professor.” There was a pause, and then the female voice spoke again.
“Headmaster, I do…I know.” There was another pause. “I know about it, I think actually may have heard it, but not realised at the time. It was my grandmother - ” The voice broke off at a loud bang as the kitchen door was flung open again, and Mrs Weasley’s voice, sobbing now, was heard wailing above the background mutter.
“My darling, darling Thia. She killed her, I know she did! Why doesn’t anyone do anything?” Mrs Weasley was in the hallway now, and the three on the stairs moved down a bit so they could see more clearly. Harry heard Ginny gasp as she saw her mother, wand pointing at their Defence Professor’s throat. “It was all her” Molly was screaming now, and Arthur was trying to hold her back.
“Come now, Molly, it’s a little too much Christmas sherry talking, my love.” He was gently trying to pull her back into the kitchen, but his wife was resisting with surprising strength.
“Molly, I didn’t kill her, I promise you, I-” Professor Galbraith’s usually calm voice was punctuated with emotional tremors and she broke off as Molly interrupted her.
“I’m going to do what the Wizengamot should have done all those years ago, I’m going to punish you, I’m going to…I’m going to…” There was a muffled, strangled sound as Mrs Weasley, tears pouring down her face, tried to say some hex or other, while her husband restrained her. The next voice to speak was cool, smooth, dangerously calm and the last one the trio on the stairs expected to hear.
“You will not touch her, Molly.” It was Professor Snape. “She had nothing to do with it. Leave her be.” Harry and Ron stared at each other in amazement. Their Potion’s Professor was now standing between Aisa and Mrs Weasley, his black eyes glinting dangerously. Harry thought he had seen Snape at his most angry, but that had been nothing, he realised, compared to this.
Down in the hallway, Mrs Weasley backed away, feeling real fear touch her. Her eyes widened and she retreated into her husband’s arms, who pulled her back into the kitchen. Professor Snape turned to Aisa.
“Are you all right?” he asked, his voice no quite the emotional void it usually possessed.
“Yes, yes, I’m quite all right. Please, leave me alone, Severus. Like her, you are just reminding me of things I’d rather forget.”
“Some things can’t be forgotten. For all you say, you don’t seem to be able to forget. Or forgive.” There was a pregnant pause, then Aisa spoke very quietly; so much so, the trio almost contemplated retrieving the extendable ears.
“And neither can you, Severus. You will always blame me for that night; I can see in your eyes and hear in your every word that you hate me for what you did. And you know I hate you for it too. That is that way it will be. Perhaps you are right, perhaps some things cannot be forgotten.”
The conversation was broken with the kitchen door opening once again.
“Professor, Mr Weasley has agreed that it would be better that you should stay here until the end of the Christmas holidays. I will accept no response other than your compliance.” Dumbledore paused. “I’m sure that Professor Snape would agree with me.” In a friendlier voice, he leant closer to Aisa and said, “Don’t worry, Molly will come around eventually. She just doesn’t understand.” Aisa nodded and Dumbledore gave his knowing smile.
“Come, Severus, we have much work to do.” There was the noise of the front door opening and closing, and then of the rest of the order trooping out. Then there was silence.
The three at the stairs just looked at each other in bewilderment.
part two to follow soon...ie when i've written it!
August 11th, 2004, 10:55 am
sorry that this update has taken so long, as i said in the feedback thread, i'm on travels at the moment. am home for four days at the moment, so here's the update i had almost finished before i left.
Incase - understandably - you've forgotten what happened in part one, here's a quick summary:
Harry had a go at Incursocorpum, the wandless magic version of Occlumency/Legilimency, and freaked himself out.
The order had an emergency meeting, and Mrs Weasley had an argument with Professor Galbraith. Snape defended Aisa.
“Since when were you two in the Order?” After the commotion had quietened downstairs, Fred and George had made their way up to Ron and Harry’s room to fill them in on the meeting.
“Since now, little bro’. Dumbledore felt our, ahem, ‘contacts’,” George paused, and Harry thought he knew exactly where these ‘contacts’ might be found; not all the ingredients in the twin’s tricks were entirely legal, “would be useful.”
“Yeah,” added Fred, puffing his chest out with mock self-importance, “we’re in the world of espionage now!”
“Not that mum’s too pleased about it, have to say,” added George. “She seems convinced we’ll meet a sticky end.”
The twins seemed bent on keeping the trio in suspense for as long as possible, but Ron wasn’t about to allow his older brothers to get away with it.
“So, what’s going on? Has someone….have they, you know…” Fred finished the sentence for him.
“-died? No, no one’s died.” The laughter ebbed out of the twins’ eyes, however, and the three Hogwarts’ students suddenly realised that whatever it was that had happened was serious indeed.
“No, no one died,” echoed George. He paused, and Harry suddenly noticed how oppressive the atmosphere in the room had become; he felt as though it were pressing down on his shoulders. “Hogwarts was…the school was attacked. Or at least, there was an attempt.” Ron, Harry and Ginny stared at the twins, unable to speak.
“Yeah, that was our reaction too,” muttered Fred. Harry’s head whirled with thought; Hogwarts had been attacked? The one place he felt most at home in the world, the place that was supposedly impenetrable, had been attacked? He felt as if someone had punched him very hard in the stomach.
It was Ginny who found words first.
“What…what happened?” Fred sighed heavily.
“No one’s really sure, but it seems as though someone was trying to get in through the Chamber of Secrets. It would appear that section of the Castle isn’t quite as secure as the rest of it to…to a person who would know how to access it.” Everyone in the room knew exactly who Fred was referring to and a horrible feeling settled in all of their stomachs.
Swallowing the horrible feeling in his throat, Harry forced himself to speak.
“What did they want? I mean, why try to take over the school when there are no students there? You wouldn’t have much leverage over the wizarding world without all those hostages.” George shrugged.
“That’s what we were all wondering. I mean, they could try to capture Dumbledore – as if he’d let that happen, and of course, Hogwarts is a powerfully magical building in it’s own right, but no, there didn’t seem to be much point to us either.”
“We were just discussing it when all hell broke loose,” continued Fred, frowning at the memory. Ron leant forward, interestedly.
“Yeah, what was going on down there? Mum looked like she was going loopy!” Fred frowned more deeply.
“I’m not really sure…we were all talking, and no one was really paying attention. Then I think it was Moody, or someone, who said something like perhaps Voldemort was trying to rally support. He said it really pointedly, we reckon at Snape and then there was a bit of commotion – protest at Moody I think. Then, when it all died down, Mum was still going, shouting and screaming at Professor Galbraith.”
“Aisa was just…standing there. She looked a bit pale, and she wasn’t saying anything. She just looked at Dumbledore, and they went out of the room, but after a while, Mum ran out after them, and started screaming all over again….but you saw that bit.”
“So who’s ‘Thia’?” The twins shrugged.
“Not a clue. Mum didn’t seem too happy about her though, did she?” Harry furrowed his brow and buried himself in his thoughts, as the conversation began to turn to discussion of the twins’ work for the Order and their new products.
Mrs Weasley was very subdued at breakfast the next day; Harry sensed it was embarrassment rather than true remorse for what she had said, but whatever the reason, she was not her usual, bouncy self. Harry sat quietly at the table and ate his cereal quickly, feeling more than a little uncomfortable in the strained atmosphere. Ron slid onto his seat opposite Harry, raising his eyebrows, jerking his head in direction of his mother.
“I know,” Harry mouthed over the table, “just a bit uncomfy, isn’t it?” Ron rolled his eyes as he smiled.
Harry had never realised how loud the noise of cereal being crunched up was until that morning; in the dead silence of the kitchen, every little noise seemed to be amplified, including the creak of the door opening again.
The tension in the room seemed to, if it was even possible, increase further. Harry looked up to see who it was, and saw Professor Galbraith standing in the doorway. He had forgotten that she was staying at Grimmauld Place. Harry looked to Ron, who he saw was sneaking a furtive glance at his mother. Harry too turned his gaze to Mrs Weasley, and saw her eyes fixed straight ahead, her face taut but her eyes blazing. He followed the gaze back to the door, and saw Professor Galbraith staring straight back, but there was no anger in her eyes. Her face looked blank to Harry, as if she wasn’t sure what to do. How long they would have all stayed there, staring at each other he didn’t know, but it was Mr Weasley who broke the silence.
“Ah, Aisa…did you want some coffee?” Mr Weasley shot his wife a warning look and she glared at him for a moment, and then went back to her cereal. Aisa smiled a small, grateful smile at Mr Weasley.
“No, I’m alright thank you, I just came down to say thank you for letting me stay here last night.” Harry suddenly noticed she had a small attaché case in her hand. “I’m going to go and find somewhere else to stay for the remainder of the holiday. I…” she paused, her voice a little shaky, Harry thought. “I don’t want to cause more trouble.” Her eyes trailed over to Mrs Weasley, who resolutely ignored the gaze, and concentrated on her corn flakes.
“No, no Aisa, I’m afraid we can’t let you. We…I have direct orders from Dumbledore to let you stay here.” This time it was his eyes that trailed over Mrs Weasley. “No matter what some may think about the arrangement.” He smiled wanly and walked over to Aisa, putting a hand gently on her shoulder. “It’s safest, Aisa. It isn’t worth the risk.”
Harry watched as his Professor looked carefully at Mr Weasley, as if trying to make up her mind, then saw her glance at Mrs Weasley over his shoulder one last time. She nodded slowly.
“OK. I’ll stay upstairs, out of the way. Thank you, Arthur.” Mr Weasley smiled again, and Aisa turned and walked out the kitchen once again. Her departure, however, did little to alleviate the atmosphere, and Ron and Harry ate the remainder of their breakfast as fast as they could and sped upstairs to tell Ginny, who was still asleep.
“Mum really hates Professor Galbraith,” said Ron, as they closed their bedroom door behind them. “I’ve never seen her look like that, it’s scary. I wonder what’s going on there. I mean, Dad doesn’t act like that.”
“I asked Professor Lupin, back before the beginning of term, and he said that your mum and Professor Galbraith had a bit of a past that your mum found hard to forgive, or something.”
“That’s not very helpful…didn’t he even hint at this ‘past’?” asked Ginny, still in pyjamas, wrapped up in her duvet which she had dragged from her room after the boys (rather abruptly, she felt) woke her up.
“I did ask…he just said it wasn’t his place to tell, I think.”
“You don’t think that Professor Galbraith…you don’t think she did kill that person mum was shouting about last night, do you?”
“That ‘Thia’ person?” Ron frowned, “I don’t know. I don’t even know who that is. And anyway, everyone was saying she didn’t do it. Only mum seemed to be convinced. What I want to know is, why was Snape defending her?”
“Well, we already decided that they know each other somehow,” answered Harry.
“Yes,” continued Ginny, “but until now, they’ve seemed to hate each other. Why the sudden rush to help her?” Harry frowned.
“I have no idea, not the foggiest.” He shook his head, once again pushing out the little niggling thought that crept to the forefront of his mind. Ron and Ginny
“If Hermione was here, she’d know where to look,” said Ron. Harry nodded.
“Yeah, she would. Maybe there’s more in the Cogno-all, hopefully it’ll be working when we go back to school.” There was silence for a minute or so, then Harry spoke up again. “Or, I suppose, we could ask Professor Galbraith.” Ron looked at him.
“You mean, you could ask Professor Galbraith.” Harry opened his mouth to protest, but Ron carried on. “Nuh-uh, you’re the one with the special relationship. I’m not asking her something like that!” Harry sighed.
“I guess you’re right.” He paused, remembering something, and sighed again, inwardly. “Actually, I wanted to talk to her anyway…I guess I could ask her this as well.”
And so, after ten minutes of procrastinating, that was how Harry found himself standing outside his Professor’s door, hand poised to knock. He was still standing there, when the door opened and he saw his Professor silhouetted against the light from the window.
“I thought I heard someone outside,” she said, with a small smile, “Can I help you, Harry?” Harry felt the blood rushing to his cheeks, and forced himself to nod.
“I wanted…I wanted to ask you about something.” Something changed in Aisa’s expression at Harry’s worried tone, and she searched him swiftly with her eyes then motioned him in.
“Sit down, Harry,” Aisa motioned for him to sit down on an old green armchair that was in the corner of the room, while she perched on the bed. She sat quietly, and waiting for Harry to speak.
“I wanted…I wanted to ask you about something that happened.” Aisa still didn’t say anything, but looked at him with her mild eyes. Slowly, Harry explained what had happened to him the evening he returned to Grimmauld Place, and he watched as Aisa’s eyes widened. When he had finished, she folded her hands in her lap, and looked at him intently for a few moments. Harry shifted slightly uncomfortably in his seat and tried not to look at his Professor. Finally, Aisa spoke.
“That is very…interesting, Harry. You say you felt as you were floating away?” Harry nodded and bit his lip.
“Am I ok, Professor?” Aisa looked up, as if brought out of a dream.
“Ok? Harry, it is more than ok!” She paused. “You simply have no idea of what you just accomplished, do you?” Harry shook his head slowly. “Harry, you have jumped about ten steps forward in the Art of Incursocorpum. What you eventually must do is separate mind and body – you let your spirit detach from your body, and it is free then to enter other people’s minds. If you are so inclined, you can then control them.” Harry stared at Aisa, disbelief over his face.
“I can what? I thought you said this wasn’t possession?”
“It isn’t.” She seemed to read his mind, “It isn’t Possession in the way Voldemort possesses people. It is an Ancient Magic, that evolved as a way of being true with Nature. By separating mind and body, wizards were more free and able to travel with greater ease and to form a far more comprehensive knowledge of the world around them. But, it does have an important feature of being something Voldemort cannot do – and of being a way to destroy him.” Harry continued to stare, unable to break his gaze, but he felt something inside him steel himself as he realised the power he seemed to possess, and what he could do with it. He could end this war, he realised this now. His stare changed expression.
“I understand,” he said quietly. “What more do I have to do?” Aisa’s face, which had been one of slight concern, broke into a small smile.
“Now you’ve done it once, you must do it again. And again and again and again, until you can do it without passing out. Until you can feel yourself free and part of the world around you. I’m afraid you are not destined for an easy life, Harry,” she said with a wink.
Feeling a weight settle on his shoulders slightly, but also with a proud feeling inside, Harry stood up, and nodded.
“It seems that way.” He put his hand on the door handle to leave, and paused. “Professor, have you ever…possessed anyone?” Aisa shook her head.
“No, Harry, I have never had cause to.” Harry nodded again, and shut the door quietly behind him, deep in thought. It wasn’t until he was halfway down the hallway that he realised he had forgotten to ask Professor Galbraith about Mrs Weasley.
September 6th, 2004, 4:15 pm
i'm sorry this isn't either as long or as good as previous chapters. i'm a little stuck in that, i want to get moving again, but there's a little bit of 'time' i have to fill in...it's a little sluggish! i'm trying to to give too much away, but also trying to reveal bits slowly. it's very tricky! hope you enjoy this anyway!
After Harry left, Aisa sank down onto her bed, her head in her hands; the events of the past few days had been rather traumatic, in more than one aspect, and she felt it was beginning to take it’s toll. Sometimes she wondered whether she should have just stayed in her flat, and not returned. But that was silly, look at Harry, he was moving in leaps and bounds – he had progressed further than she could have ever imagined; he truly was on his way to harnessing his true power, and enabling himself to defeat Voldemort. Of course, if things went as she planned, there would be some things he would never have to do.
An icy cold flooded through Aisa’s veins, but it hardened inside into steely determination. She knew what she must do; it was something that she had only realised a few weeks ago, but she was sure it was right; it was the final key to the puzzle. Voldemort must suspect something too; she wasn’t aware that he knew about the Prophecy, but to break into the school like that, he must know something. Of course, no one was saying anything, she didn’t even know if Dumbledore knew, or at least connected the incidents. <I>Or the prophecy could have been resolved earlier</I> The old wizard’s voice floated up from her memory – maybe he did know. Aisa remembered that conversation and his comment had surprised her. She was unsure what Dumbledore was referring too, not sure if he was blaming her, or trying to get a message to her without her knowing. She had tried to talk to him about it last night, but he had brushed her off. Aisa knotted her fingers together and sighed. What she did, she decided, would be up to her. Dumbledore had a way of finding things out anyway, without asking.
Aisa lay back on her bed and stared hard at the ceiling, her mind wandering away from less serious issues to the more central one of her own emotions. She had not lied when she had told Harry she hated Christmas; the season brought back some of the unhappiest memories in her life, and also brought back a lot of her many regrets. There was always a ‘what if’ surrounding Christmas. What if her parents hadn’t sent her away that Christmas? Would her life have turned out differently? There was a good chance it could have done, but would that have benefited the rest of the world. If she hadn’t be forced alone like that, would she had discovered all she had, and been in a position to be teaching Harry now? Aisa closed her eyes, feeling tiredness from a night of little sleep overcoming her.
Aisa was sitting by the fire in the dark, empty Slytherin Common Room, trying to read a book. However, less was being read and more being thought than she would have liked. Since she had apparated from her house earlier that evening, her mind had been a whirl of emotion; pride at her accomplishment of apparation, but there was also an acidic hatred burning away in her stomach, so violent that it was beginning to scare her. Trying to calm herself down, Aisa concentrated her energies on extinguishing and relighting the fire in front her.
It was while she was entertaining herself with this that she heard a noise behind her, then a silky, sneering voice spoke.
“Interesting little magic trick you’ve got there, Galbraith.”
The patronising tone was the last straw and Aisa felt hatred flash through her like a blinding, white-hot light. Without even turning round, she focussed all the anger bubbling around in her mind on Snape, and the slight, strangled scream of surprise she heard told her that she had been successful. She stood up and turned around, and her lips curled into a smile as she saw Snape pinned against the wall, four feet in the air.
“What do you want, Snape?” The pale, greasy boy stared at her furiously from his temporary prison against the wall, but if he was scared, his voice didn’t show it.
“Put me down, Aisa.” The hate and resentment that had been brewing within her all day seemed to have suddenly exploded within her, something, somewhere seemed to have snapped. Whereas once, she would never have dreamed of doing this (not deliberately, anyway), now she found herself feeling a certain pleasure at the power she had. She felt that she wanted to punish Snape for everything wrong in her life – she knew he was not to blame, but at that precise moment this small fact did not seem to concern her. Aisa felt a small thrill go through her as she realised that, for the first time, she didn’t care what was right or wrong.
“Why?” Her reply was lazy, drawing out the vowels. “Are you going to make me? What exactly are you going to do, from all the way up there?” Her voice was taunting him; she was making this last as long as possible. Snape’s face was contorted with anger and he was practically spitting as he replied; but his voice was still as smooth and threatening as ever.
“You know I will make your life hell if you don’t, I’ll curse you from every corner-”
“As if that’s a new experience for me?” She turned her back on him, and let her mind relax. “You’re boring me, Snape.” She heard the sliding as he fell down from the wall. The vindictiveness of only a few seconds ago had boiled out of her, and she suddenly felt very weak and unsteady. She heard Snape’s curse and blocked it, only just in time; almost sub-consciously. “Why can’t everyone just leave me alone?” She thought it more than said it, and the words left her lips without her consent.
“Because you are a Slytherin.” Aisa turned to Snape and stared at him.
“And just what,” she spat out, “does being a Slytherin mean? Because all it has meant for me is misery.” Snape drew his skinny, pallid form up straight and for the first time, Aisa saw what an imposing young man he could become.
“I am proud to be a Slytherin. Why would I want to be a stupid Hufflepuff, or a know-it-all Ravenclaw? Or worse of all, an arrogant Gryffindor? No, I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else than the noblest, purest house of all.” Snape’s eyes were glinting with an almost mad pride, but Aisa shook her head.
“All I see in Slytherin is cruelty and evil. The school hates us and my own house despises me for not being like them. How can I feel any affinity with something so awful?”
“Perhaps your house despise you because they see your disgust for them? Perhaps they feel no loyalty for someone who has no pride in being in their house?”
“But I don’t belong here! I’m not like you!” Aisa could feel the tears rising within her and angrily she fought them back. “I’m not! I’m not cruel, I’m not…I’m not evil!” Feeling herself about to dissolve into a mass of bitter tears, she sat down and fixed her gaze on the wall, trying to calm herself down.
Snape sat opposite her, piercing her with his depthless black eyes.
“But you are, Aisa.” She snapped her gaze back to him. Without letting her interrupt, he carried on. “I saw it in your eyes this very evening. You enjoyed scaring me, you wanted to take it further.” His voice was soft and calculating and very, very persuasive. “You may pretend, you may try to suppress it, but you are no different to all of us in this house. You are lying to yourself, Aisa. Why hide any more? You were put in this house for a reason; the sorting hat can see things that you can hide from yourself. Slytherin could make you great, Aisa, if only you will let it.”
Aisa felt her gaze slide out of focus – Snape was right, she had enjoyed it. “You have a great gift, Aisa, a special gift. Why waste that?”
Feeling slightly uncomfortable at her own, internal, revelation, Aisa swiftly changed the subject.
“You’re teased too – Potter and his gang. Don’t they make you hate being a Slytherin? They wouldn’t do it if you weren’t.”
“Potter and Black are not worthy of my time, and anyone who treats you in the same way shouldn’t be worth yours, either.”
“You want me to shun the whole school? I thought I already did that.” Aisa rolled her eyes in contempt. “Unless you actually had something to say with a point to it, I’m going to bed. You’re no better than me, Snape. You’re not really a part of that group you hang around with, you’re a loner, like me. The rest of the school picks on us, and we must defend ourselves as well as we can. It is a our punishment for something we don’t even know we’ve done wrong.”
“You take this all too seriously, my dear.” Aisa flashed her eyes dangerously at Snape’s patronising tone. He saw the glint, and his mouth twisted into a wry smile, void of real mirth. “Goodnight.”
Over the next two weeks, Aisa found herself forced to spend more and more time with her fellow Slytherin. She was content to stare moodily into the fire and contemplate the unfair hand she appeared to have been dealt. Snape, however, would not leave her alone; rather unusually for him, she felt, for he had never appeared particularly sociable. Of course, it was not idle chit chat he indulged in; he seemed to be on some sort of mission to transform her into a model Slytherin. Aisa was too contrary to allow this to happen, but she could not help responding to him; in Snape, Aisa found an intelligent and sometimes witty companion, who undeniably had a similar home and school life to herself. The two had far too much in common to ignore each other completely.
The acquaintance grew into a friendship of sorts, and with the beginning to term, Aisa found herself being reconciled with some of her oldest enemies within her house; among them Bellatrix Black. It was all very odd to her, to suddenly have a group of people to talk to, albeit very reluctantly at first. Aisa did not really like all of them, she felt little affinity with them and their discussions of Muggle hatred; something that seemed to occupy a lot of there time. She still remained very separate from the group, keeping herself to herself, but the beginning of that friendship was to shape the rest of her life.
Harry awoke the next morning to shouting ringing up the staircase. He rubbed his eyes and sat up, groping for his glasses. Positioning them squarely on his nose, he looked over to Ron’s bed and saw his friend was missing, and the door ajar. Quietly, he crept out of the room, and saw Ron crouched on the landing, listening to the shouting match downstairs.
“What’s goin-” Ron held his finger up to his lips. Harry nodded and crouched down to listen through the banisters.
“How was I supposed to know the silly cow would run off?”
“Molly! That is not the point, your behaviour has driven her off, and we were under strict instructions from Dumbledore to make sure she stayed here.”
“Yes, but why? ‘For her safety’. That’s a load of rubbish if I ever heard it. What did she need protecting from? He never said – I think he just wanted us to keep an eye on her. Obviously Hogwarts was too big.”
“Whatever the reason may be,” bellowed Mr Weasley’s voice, “it was not up to us to question or refute! The fact of the matter is, Dumbledore wanted her to stay somewhere safe, and now, she could be anywhere! These are dangerous times, Molly, we should listen to Dumbledore!”
There was a scream of frustration, and the sound of a door slamming shut. Harry and Ron looked at each other worriedly, then strained to hear as the door was opened again, and they could hear voices floating out. Mrs Weasley was sobbing.
“You’re married to me, Arthur, why won’t you stand by me?” There was silence, just punctuated by sobs.
“You know I love you, Molly darling. But we must trust Dumbledore…I know you went through terrible things with Thia, but you must try and forget and forgive. She may not be responsible.” The door shut again, and the two friends could not hear anything further.
“Professor Galbraith was gone this morning,” whispered Ron to Harry. “She left some sort of note saying she didn’t want to make things any more difficult than they already were. Said she’d find somewhere else to stay until the beginning to term. Dad wasn’t too happy about it.” Ron stood up, and went back to their room, Harry following. “What do you think it is she has to hide from?”
“Well, I guess it was Voldemort who tried to break into Hogwarts…so I guess she has to hide from him.” Ron rolled his eyes.
“Give me some credit, I worked that much out. I mean, why was he after he to begin with? What makes her so special?” Harry frowned.
“I don’t know. Remember, I asked her just before the holidays if Voldemort was looking for her, and she said no. She said her father was just killed because of his position in the Ministry.”
“That’s what that article said, that we read with Hermione on the Cogno-all. Her mum and brother were killed too.” Ron paused. “Maybe he just wants to make a clean sweep of it? Unfinished business, y’know?” Harry shook his head.
“Voldemort has more important things on his mind, surely, than old vendettas.”
“’Cept maybe one,” replied Ron, grimacing. Harry sighed.
“Well, yes, maybe that.” He paused. “Maybe…maybe he wants to stop her helping me?” Harry felt his stomach squirm with newly falling guilt. Ron stared open mouthed at Harry.
“Yes! That must be it.” His triumphant tone was quickly changed to something more sober when he saw Harry’s downcast look. “Or…or it could be something completely different. I mean, it doesn’t have to be about you. Maybe she has some deep, hidden secret of her own.”
“Yeah…maybe. Shall we go downstairs for breakfast? Ron nodded, and followed Harry out of the room.
Three days before school started, Hermione arrived at number 12. She had barely set foot in the door and set goodbye to her parents before Harry, Ron and Ginny had dragged her upstairs and told her everything that had happened during her absence. Half an hour of onslaught later, Hermione took a deep breath and said ‘hmmm’.
“Hmmmm? HMMMM? Is that all you can say?” exploded Ron. Hermione smiled slightly.
“Ron, how much do you know about your family history?” Totally wrong-footed, Ron emitted a succession of very confused noises, leaving Ginny to answer for him.
“We know a little bit. But we don’t have many relatives…quite a few of mum’s relatives got killed by Voldemort and Deatheaters first time around. I think we have a batty old great-aunt somewhere, and I think there’s a muggle cousin. Dad doesn’t have any living relatives as far as I know…” Hermione nodded.
“Thanks Ginny. Was just wondering.”
“Hermione…not to be overly curious…but why?” asked Harry.
“Well…this ‘Thia’ person, she was obviously very dear to Mrs Weasley. I wondered if it was her sister or something. I think we’d understand a lot more about this mystery if we knew who she was. I just have a feeling…” Harry nodded.
“Well, I don’t think Ginny or Ron knows her, so I guess that rules her out being a relative? Maybe they were school friends? Is there a way of checking old pupil lists at Hogwarts?” Hermione shook her head.
“Not really, there’s no record of anyone except prefects and head girls and boys. I looked for Professor Galbraith in there. Still, it might be worth a try…although ‘Thia’ sounds like it could be a nick name, and we don’t have a last name.”
“So really, we’re still stuck at ‘we have no clue’,” said Ron.
“Well, I wouldn’t say that…but I think we’ve got a lot of finding out to do. I’d also really love to know what the deal is with Professor Galbraith and Snape is.”
“Wouldn’t we all,” replied Ron.
“Yes,” said Hermione earnestly, “but I’m sure it’s very, very important how they know each other. I’m sure it’s almost vital…”
The four of them sat there in silence for a while, each thinking over the problem facing them, but soon conversation turned to other matters, such as exams (Hermione) and Quidditch (everyone else). The tangled problem of Aisa Galbraith was laid to rest once again.
September 14th, 2004, 10:28 pm
Firstly, apologies to anyone who thought this was an update.
Secondly, furthur apologies due to the distinct lack of updates recently. It is a combination of writer's block on my part, and also being very busy as I move into my Uni halls of residence on saturday, and i am no where NEAR ready. I'm afraid i just don't have time to sit down and work out how to get rid of some of my plot holes.
Many apologies, i will try and do some soon, I promise.
October 20th, 2004, 12:11 am
what's this i see, another update :o I'm so sorry this has been ridiculously long in waiting. I can see you're all eagerly on the edge of your seats ;) anyhoo, for the loyal few, here's a bit to keep you up to date. there should be more coming...though, i'm having a bit of trouble...a lot has happened in too short a time!
Three days later, the Weasleys, Harry, Hermione and various members of the Order of the Phoenix were assembled once again on Platform 9 ¾ in front of the gleaming scarlet engine of the Hogwarts Express. There were the usual hugs and kisses of farewells, and Mrs Weasley’s insistence that they ‘all stay out of trouble’, to which her son and Harry casually agreed, fingers mentally crossed behind their backs and jumped on the train, making sure they secured a good compartment.
The train had started to move when the door to the compartment suddenly flung open, and Neville Longbottom, slightly pink-tinged to the cheek, stood silhouetted against the dim light of the corridor.
“I’ve…been…looking…for…you…all…over,” he gasped, before Hermione ushered him and sat him down. He smiled gratefully at her, and took some deep breaths.
“You all right, Neville?” asked Ron. The chubby-faced boy nodded, his cheeks still slightly flushed. Hermione closed the compartment door and sat down next to him.
“What’s wrong?” She asked, her face slightly concerned. Neville looked up, and took a deep breath.
“I realised where I recognised Professor Galbraith from.” There was a hush of silence as anticipation fell over the compartment. Neville hesitated before speaking again; the others looked patiently on (some less patiently than others; Hermione shot Ron a sharp look as he was about to interrupt). “You all know about my parents, right?” Harry, Ron and Hermione nodded; Luna and Ginny looked confused, but Hermione gave them an ‘I’ll tell you later’ look, and then they too looked on in readiness. “Well, when I went to visit them this holiday it all came back to me.” Neville paused again, then carried on. “When I was really little, my mum and dad were much worse than they are now, even, and they really couldn’t deal with me at all. But there was this lady in the ward, and she used to play with me. I remember thinking she was really fun, and not as weird as the others. She used to take me for walks around the hospital, and show me little tricks. She could create this purple fireball in her hands – I never thought it was strange that she could do it without a wand, but she must have done, because they don’t let you have wands in…in there.
“Anyway, one year, she was just gone. It was when I was about seven or eight, I guess. I asked one of the nurses, and she said I must have been dreaming; there was no one like that on this ward. I completely forgot about her, until I met Professor Galbraith. I’m sure it’s her, it makes no sense, but it has to be.”
The other five stared at Neville in mild disbelief.
“You mean…you mean Professor Galbraith was in St Mungo’s? Are you sure?” asked Ron. Neville nodded,
“I could barely believe it myself when it came to me, but she’s barely changed. It’s got to be her. She never seemed…she wasn’t very…mad, you know.” Harry, who until this point had been very quiet, frowned.
“Ok, so what we know so far is that according to that article we read, Professor Galbraith disappeared about a year and half before Voldemort’s downfall, and according to your memories, she reappeared in St Mungo’s at the most four years after that. What happened to her in the intervening time? What could have happened to her to tip her over the edge? And then why did she go and live as a muggle after she left the hospital?” Everyone shrugged.
“I’m sure losing your family is enough to send anyone a little crazy,” suggested Ginny.
“Yeah, I guess so,” conceded her brother, “But why did she leave our world?”
“Our world killed her family…or at least an evil product of it did,” said Hermione. “Maybe she just wanted to get away from it all?”
“Sounds simple enough to me,” agreed Ron, nodding. “Maybe there is no mystery after all.” Harry shook his head.
“What about the attack on the school? Someone is out to get her…I don’t think it’s as simple as all that.”
“She’s a powerful witch, why wouldn’t someone want to kill her?” Everyone turned around at Luna’s words, who, up until now had been staring out of the window, apparently counting trees.
“You think they were after her, Luna?” Luna turned to Harry.
“Well, doesn’t it make sense? Professor Dumbledore seemed very anxious that she was safe, and her alone. There are other teachers at Hogwarts.” Harry opened his mouth to speak, but then as if thinking better of it, closed it.
“Why didn’t we think of that?” exclaimed Ron, slumping against the seat.
“Yes, but it still doesn’t make sense,” said Ginny, interrupting. “The woman’s family is killed, she spends the best part of ten years in St Mungo’s then lives as a Muggle. What did she do that is murder-worthy?”
“She was an auror, don’t forget,” said Hermione, “She might have killed any number of Deatheaters.” Everyone nodded again, as if reaching consensus. Harry was counting on his fingers, however.
“But she can’t have been that old. She must have barely qualified when she disappeared; if, as we’re assuming, she was in Snape and my dad’s year at school.” Hermione frowned, slightly miffed that she had been corrected.
“Well, I don’t know then. Maybe we should just hope the Cogno-all is working again when we get back to school; perhaps there will be something on there.”
That wasn’t the end of it, however, and the debate was thrashed on for most of the speeding journey north.
When the train pulled into Hogsmede, the thoughts were still raging, the beautiful snowy landscape before them not abating it. As they all got off the train, Malfoy stepped off the door next to them, and the conversation stopped immediately.
“Oh, don’t stop on my account,” said the boy, his pale eyes gleaming, “You’ve been having such a nice conversation.” Everyone glanced at each other, worried expressions fleeting across their faces – how much had Malfoy heard? As if reading their thoughts, Malfoy’s grin extended across his face. “Oh, don’t worry, I didn’t hear much muffled conversation. I heard it all thanks to this little gadget.” Out of his pocket, Malfoy pulled what looked like a tiny little glass thimble. “It’s a Magnifier, got it for Christmas. Lovely little things, just put it in your ear, and everything becomes so clear.” There was a noise of six stomachs falling into their owner’s shoes. He’d heard everything. “I must say, I’m rather surprised you lot haven’t worked it out yet, especially with your ‘special’ relationship Potter. But then again, if you knew the truth, I’m sure you wouldn’t be so eager to know the rest. Interesting past, has our dear Professor.” Hermione caught the back of Harry’s robes to stop him launching himself at Malfoy. “Anyway, I’d love to chat, but I’ve got a carriage waiting. Come on you two.” With that, he swept away into the snow, Crabbe and Goyle lolloping after him like two young trolls.
November 18th, 2004, 12:57 am
“The Headmaster is in his office Remus, I’ll take you up there now.” Lupin straightened his robes and smiled at Professor McGonagall, and followed her down the dark corridor to the secret entrance to Dumbledore’s office. He had arrived very quietly, while the pupils of the school were at the Feast, in response to an owl from Dumbledore which had very much given him hope that he may at last get some answers.
Slowly, thinking to himself, he made his way up the stairs. Dumbledore was sitting at his desk, his head resting on his hands, eyes closed. Lupin stood still in the door way, and was trying to decide whether to say something, when the Headmaster opened his eyes, and smiled.
“Ah, Remus, you’re here. Take a seat.” Lupin did as he was told, and waited for Dumbledore to continue. “I want to talk to you about Aisa.”
“Yes, I rather suspected that all this had something to do with her. It was Aisa that Bellatrix was after during the holidays, isn’t it?” Dumbledore nodded. Lupin opened his mouth to speak, but thought again and closed it.
“I know you are suspicious of her, Remus.” Lupin grimaced slightly.
“It’s not that I don’t trust her, it’s just that I don’t…trust her.” He smiled wanly. “I thought, when I first met her, that she would do a lot of good for Harry – you spoke to me about what you thought she could do for him. I felt sorry for her too – she felt she would never be accepted, that people would never trust her. There was something about her that made me give sympathy to her in a way I never have Snape, and yet their pasts are so similar.” He trailed off, not sure how to word what he was trying to say. He looked up to Dumbledore, who was looking at him with his piercing blue eyes.
“Yes,” Dumbledore’s eyes wandered, “yes, they are very similar. Do you remember Aisa at school, Remus?”
Lupin frowned, his mind casting back.
“Yes, I do, sort of. She was one of those…very quiet pupils. I remember her getting excellent grades. James and Sirius of course, were quite the brightest in our year, but I’m sure Aisa was up there too…but she never broadcast in the same way as them.” Lupin paused again. “I didn’t really know her well – she was a Slytherin of course, and you know how things were back then.” Dumbledore smiled wryly,
“Very much the same as they are now, unfortunately.” Lupin nodded.
“Yes, yes, very much. Similar times once again, I suppose. I remember she went off to be an Auror – it said that much in the Leaving Letter – and I was surprised by that, House prejudice…
“There was one incident I recall with great clarity, however – it really made me sit up and notice her. It was in our last year – I was patrolling the halls as we prefects had to back then, and in the Trophy room, I heard a noise. Very, very quietly, I went to the door, to hear if I was correct. I saw Aisa, practicing her own, special brand of magic. There were all sorts of stories about her, of course, but I had never really believed them; people made up many wild and outlandish tales about the Slytherins. I saw her, though, that night. She was flitting in and out of visibility, seemingly apparating around the room, levitating objects…all sorts of things. But she wasn’t saying a single thing. Not a sound, no spells, no wand. The sight of that – it shook me, and I left her there. If I speak truthfully, the power I saw there scared me. When…all the stories came out, I must confessed, I wasn’t surprised. I was surprised, however, when you told me that you had recruited her.”
“Yes, yes, I saw that in your eyes then.” Dumbledore rested his chin on his hands again. “Shall I tell you why I recruited her? I think it is now time.” He sat up straight. “You are well aware, of course, of the prophecy concerning Harry. This fight between ourselves and Voldemort seems, however, to be revolving on prophecies.
“Not long before his untimely death, Augustus came to me, most concerned, to tell me of a prophecy made when Aisa was very small by her Grandmother. Apparently over Christmas dinner.” The headmaster’s eyes twinkled. “Quite spoiled the occasion, I hear. The wording of the prophecy went along the lines that ‘the power to defeat the Lord who will come will rest in the choices of another, one who sits here on this very day. The choices they make will determine the fate of all who live to see the days of the Darkness’. Augustus, painfully aware, of course, of his daughter’s powers, was convinced that the one to whom these choices referred were Aisa’s. I myself was not so assured – the prophecy was made more than a decade previously, and perhaps was not even true; Augustus was most biased where his daughter was concerned. However, after Harry weakened Voldemort, I began to think again. It was obvious that he would not die in the conventional sense – a mere curse would not seem to suffice, and I began to research other ways of destroying him. Nonvirgadium is something that Voldemort never learnt to understand – not that he didn’t try, he just didn’t have the aptitude. Quite shocking for one of the greatest wizards to ever live, really. I came to the conclusion, however, that the prophecy referred to Aisa. I could perhaps have taught Harry myself, but it is clear that the prophecy did not refer to me and the threat did not seem close; he seemed so young. As I said to him myself last year, I was hiding from the truth, I did not want to burden him. It also proved immensely difficult to tract Miss Galbraith down – you are aware, of course, that she was living under a pseudonym in the Muggle world.
“However, Voldemort’s return made me search more intensely, and finally, at the beginning of last summer, I found her. It was important that she made the choice to return of her own volition – the prophecy of course is all about choice, to force her would be to void the future.” Remus was staring in mild surprise, then spoke.
“So the only reason Bellatrix was here was to stop her teaching Harry? Do they know of the prophecy?” Dumbledore shook his head.
“No, I have taken great care to keep this one from Voldemort’s spies. No, they were after her because they too know of her skill, and it is a skill that Voldemort wishes to possess from her. For now, this has become his all-consuming need, and he must not succeed!” Remus nodded in grave agreement.
“And Aisa? I assume she knows what’s going on?”
“Yes. Yes, she knows. She is all too aware of it, I think. Don’t be suspicious of her, Remus. Forget the past, look to the future. I fear Aisa may do a very brave, and perhaps very foolish thing soon – it would be terrible if she did so out of a desperation to prove herself.” Lupin looked at Dumbledore blankly, but sensed it was the end of the conversation. He stood up to leave.
“I shall see you at Grimmauld Place, sir. Goodnight.” The headmaster smiled.
“Goodnight, Remus. Think about what I have said.”
Ug, i'm not sure i like this perfectly, but it's been ages since an update, so i feel i should give you something!
November 26th, 2004, 12:13 am
it's very short, i'm afraid, and i'm worried that writing like this is going to become very incoherent. i know where it's going, and i have a good bit written, but i have to write the bit that gets to it, and i just don't have much time to sit and write anymore - alas and alack. however, i thought i would post this bit, because it may interest you...it may not. you'll get the trio's reactions at a later date. now, sleep calls me
“Ooo, he makes me so angry!”
The weeks after Christmas had past slowly, but that evening in the Common Room, Hermione Granger was not very happy, and was venting her frustration in a rather loud voice. Ron looked up from the new Weasleys’ Wizarding Wheezes brochure.
“So, you’ve said. Several times. Over and over, in fact.” Hermione shot him a glaring look. Malfoy’s smugness had not abated since his unhelpful additions to their investigation, and it seemed to be winding Hermione up more than anyone else. Her mood hadn’t been helped by the fact that the Cogno-all still wasn’t working when she went to the library before dinner and had been in such a state since they came back to school.
“He’s just so smug, always sneering. And he knows something, he does. I thought he was just trying to wind us up before, but now I think he really does know the story, or at least part of it.”
“Oh give over, Hermione. I never thought Draco ‘smug git’ Malfoy would get the better of you of all people!” Hermione glared even more dangerously at Ron, but he carried on, seemingly unperturbed. “I mean, honestly, he really is probably just making it up, don’t you think, Harry? Harry!”
Harry was oblivious to all, his nose buried deep in a very large book, secreted from the Restricted Section by Professor Galbraith.
“Harry, for goodness sake answer him, or he’ll never shut up,” said Hermione, turning back to her own large tome. “And don’t pretend to be reading, because I haven’t seen you turn a page once yet.”
Startled, Harry looked up, slightly dazed.
“Sorry? What? Um…yes, Ron, whatever you say.”
“See!” said Ron, “I told you!” Hermione just rolled her eyes and turned to Harry.
“Are you ok? You’ve been a little distant this evening. Something on your mind?”
He paused for a minute, as if deciding what to say.
“It’s Professor Galbraith. She’s acting very…very strange.”
“Strange? What sort of strange?” Harry’s brow furrowed.
“I don’t know…just strange. I haven’t really noticed it in our Defence classes, but when she’s alone, just with me…she seems odd. I’ve caught her…looking at me oddly. And she says strange things, sort of prophetical. I get this impression she’s planning something, but isn’t going to tell anyone.” Harry paused. “I was wondering if…well, you know what Neville said about her. Maybe all the stress of coming back to the Wizarding world has sent her a bit doolally. She left for a reason, right?”
“Yeah, but I thought we decided that it was because of her parents?” Ron shrugged.
“Maybe this is bringing it all back. So you think she’s gone a bit loopy? Maybe that’s why Dumbledore wanted her to stay with us over Christmas, cheer her up a bit?”
Hermione snorted sarcastically.
“The way your mum treats her? Hardly likely to make her festive season, is it?” Ron blushed. “And maybe, but what about the break in? And the history with your mum? And don’t forget stupid Malfoy. There’s something more to this than just a batty old ex-Auror. I wish the **** Cogno-all was working!”
“There’s something else, too. She’s teaching me differently too. She’s almost stopped altogether with Incursocorpum. Got all deep into the theory of it, the history…like she’s desperate for me to understand, or something. But I don’t know why she’s stopped the Incursocorpum,” Harry’s voice trailed off, muttering as if to himself, “it seemed so important before, and now she barely talks about it…I get the impression she’s scared of something.” His voice trailed right off, then suddenly he stood up. “I think I’m going to bed. Night.”
Ron and Hermione didn’t have time for more than a ‘night’ in return before he’d disappeared to the boy’s dormitory.
The weeks drifted past and the snow began to melt around Hogwarts Castle. The Quidditch Cup came and went with Gryffindor’s name still on the Trophy. Work began to pile up as preparations for mock exams drew near and all in all, no one thought much about anything important, including Ron, Harry and Hermione who somehow managed to push the questions regarding their Professor out of their mind for a while.
That was, until a month before the holidays. Harry came into the Great Hall at lunch time to see a very tense looking Hermione catch his eye, jump up, and walk very quickly over to him, ushering him back out.
“It can wait. Come on, we haven’t got long, Ron’s guarding it.”
“Shush, someone might here.” She looked around furtively, and pulled him along in the direction of the library, whispering furiously as they went. “I was in the library today, and the Cogno-all was working. I decided to look up something I didn’t think it would be able to find, but it did, and I found something I wasn’t really expecting to find. I’m not sure I like it, but come on.”
Harry looked at her, completely bemused, but did as he was told. The library was fairly deserted as most people were at lunch, apart from Ron, who was hovering near the Cogno-all, looking decidedly shifty.
“You took your time!”
“It’s not my fault,” hissed Hermione. “Read this, Harry.” She pointed to the parchment, and Harry bent over to read it closely. As his eyes skimmed down the words, his eyes opened wider and wider.
Trial at the Court of the most Honourable Wizengamot, under the Offences Against the Wizarding Community Act, 1567.
The Defendant, Aisa Eloise Galbraith, is charged with conspiracy to murder her family; the deceased Augustus Gethin Galbraith, Cynthia Jane Galbraith and Felix Jonathon Galbraith.
The defendant is also charged with treason, circumstance alliance with the Dark Lord.
Prosecuting, the Department for Magical Law Enforcement, Bartemius Crouch.
Text of the trial now follows, and it is noted that this was a closed Court:
Crouch: The defendant, Aisa Galbraith is charged with the heinous crime of not only allying herself with the most wicked and evil wizards of our time, but of killing her own family. Who knows how many more she may have killed during her service with him. A life time in Azkaban is the only place for her. Will you please bring out the culprit.
[the defendant is brought into the chamber. A cross examination of the defendant thus followed, however, she did not seem in a fit mental state]
State your name for the Court.
Galbraith: Aisa. My name…my name is Aisa.
Crouch: Do you admit to the charges brought against you, Miss Galbraith?
Galbraith: They’re gone, you know. Did you know that? He took them from me. I begged him not to. Gone…gone and I never said sorry. I never explained.
Crouch: Do you admit to the charges, Miss Galbraith? Answer the questions when you are given them. You have breached the trust of this Court – you were an employee of your Ministry, and you betrayed it in the worst way. What have you to say to it, Galbraith?
Galbraith: Charges? What charges? I entered into it of my own accord. Did they tell you that? I turned up one day and told him I’d work for him. Silly…silly thing to do. Didn’t even give me any flowers, and I did it for him.
Crouch: Did what for whom, Galbraith? Are you suggesting you did work for the Dark Lord?
Galbraith: I never, I never meant anything. Never…
Crouch: Will you answer the questions given to you? This is a court of law and your impudence will not assist you!
[From this point on, the defendant did not seem to be able to hear Mr Crouch, and stared into space, apparently humming softly to herself. The Wizengamot ruled that Miss Galbraith was incapable of proper communication, and should be detained in St Mungo’s until such a time as she seemed fit to come to trial in a meaningful manner. The Court was adjourned with a reminder that this was a secret Ministry matter and was not to be broadcast].
December 3rd, 2004, 3:16 pm
chapter nineteen part two, to confuse you further :)
Harry scrolled back up through the document and scanned it again, then looked up very slowly.
“Is this…is this real?” Hermione nodded slowly.
“It must be. But I don’t understand how it got there – I didn’t think you could get transcripts of trials that easily, and this one certainly looks like it’s confidential. I mean, if it’s saying what…what I think it’s saying, I suppose for an Auror to have been under these accusations. It would be a serious threat to public stability. There’s no date though, so I don’t know when all this happened.”
“But…what this means. It means…” He looked up again, his eyes wide.
“Yes…I know what it means. Or could mean,” she added hastily.
“Do you really think…do you two really think that Professor Galbraith worked,” Ron swallowed hard, “Worked for V-v-voldemort?”
Hermione shook her head.
“I don’t know, it certainly looks that way. I mean, it all adds up – how she would know Snape, why people seem so distrustful of her. It would certainly account for why Malfoy knows so much. But if she was in league with Voldemort, why is she here? Why isn’t she locked up in Azkaban? Dumbledore isn’t just going to let her waltz in and start teaching.”
“He let Snape.”
Hermione rolled her eyes,
“We still don’t know the whole story behind that. All we know is Snape proved himself to Dumbledore somehow.”
“Yeah, but did Professor Galbraith do that?” asked Ron. “I mean, by the looks of things, she was completely out of it when this trial happened. And if Neville saw her in St Mungo’s, she definitely had to be there for some time after Harry did Vol-vol…him in. And, bloody hell, if she was in that ward, she must have been stark raving bonkers.”
“Or perhaps they just wanted to keep her in a secure ward, under surveillance,” suggested Hermione.
“But why has she suddenly stopped with teaching me properly? Maybe she’s reacquainted herself with her old chums. Maybe she let them in over Christmas. Perhaps she doesn’t want me to succeed anymore!”
Hermione and Ron stared at Harry.
“Let’s not be too paranoid, shall we? Dumbledore trusts her…so for now, I guess we need to accept that. But maybe a letter to Lupin about the change in teaching wouldn’t go amiss?”
Harry nodded his head.
“Can we have lunch now?” asked Ron. “I’m bloody starving!”
Nonvirgadium lessons became uncomfortable for Harry, he found he couldn’t quite look his instructor in the eye and this led to him, for once, listening to Hermione’s advice and wrote to Lupin, asking if they could speak. Lupin wrote back immediately, telling him he would be in the Gryffindor fireplace at midnight on Thursday night.
The day rolled on tortuously for Harry, and he sat impatiently waiting for the Common Room to empty, listlessly trying to work. Eventually, everyone went to bed and at midnight on the dot, the fire glowed, and Remus’ head appeared, a look of concern on his face.
“Evening Harry, what’s troubling you? You were very…brief in your letter.”
“I…I wanted to talk to you about Professor Galbraith.”
Lupin raised his eyebrows.
“That wasn’t quite what I was expecting. What about her?”
Harry swallowed; it had all seemed so easy in his head, but now he couldn’t work out how to say it. He had a nagging feeling he shouldn’t have read that report.
“Um…she’s just being a bit…strange.”
Lupin looked even more puzzled.
Harry nodded hopelessly.
“Yes, strange. She…she’s teaching me differently. She doesn’t seem to want to focus on Incursocorpum anymore, and I thought that’s what I needed to learn to defeat Voldemort.”
The furrows in Lupin’s brow deepened further.
“Really? Is she ok?”
“Professor Galbraith? How should I know?” exclaimed Harry. And why should he care? he continued in his head.
“Of course you wouldn’t… She doesn’t seem…does she seem preoccupied? You don’t think she’s planning something?”
Harry’s eyes widened.
“Planning something? Like what? You don’t think she could be getting back with Bellatrix and that lot?”
This time it was Lupin’s turn to exclaim.
“Bellatrix? Why on earth would you think that?”
Harry blushed a deep red.
“I read…I read the transcript of her trial. Why didn’t anyone tell me Professor Galbraith was tried as a Death Eater?”
Lupin gave Harry a look of great surprise.
“A Death Eater? Harry…she was found to be innocent, and cleared of all charges. Didn’t you read that?”
Harry frowned; that wasn’t what he had read, he was sure. Was there another trial? He knitted his brows further, something didn’t quite seem right to him. It had made so much sense; if she had been cleared, why did everyone seem to dislike her so much? He kept his thoughts to himself, however and simply shrugged.
“Guess I must have missed a page or so.”
“Harry, if Ais-Professor Galbraith doesn’t stop acting strange, will you let me know? It’s important that she…just let me know, ok?”
“Um…of course I will.” Feeling slightly disgruntled, and very confused, he gave a huge, false yawn. “Well, it’s late, I think I’m going to go off to bed. Night, Remus.”
“Good night, Harry. Don’t forget to tell me.”
Harry leant back on his heels and watched as the flames died out in the hearth, his brain even more puzzled than usual. The trial, he thought, had explained so much. It hadn’t heartened him, but at least there seemed to be some closure. Now, it appeared to have only confused things. And why was Lupin so concerned about Professor Galbraith anyway? Or was he wary too, and the concern was for his, Harry’s, safety? Harry swallowed hard, to him, the idea of his once-beloved teacher having been in league with the likes of Snape made him feel physically ill.
Heavy of heart, he forced himself to his feet and dragged himself off to his bed, for a sleepless night.
Just in case you wanted to tell me how wonderful (or not) you thought my story was ;) feedback is here! (http://www.cosforums.com/showthread.php?p=847778#post847778)
December 9th, 2004, 9:15 pm
So i'm naughty...but my textbooks seem really really dull this evening! Good for you guys though, another update, with a little insight into Snape and Aisa's friendship. This is only part one...part two will most likely be a littel shorter, but stick around and you may see some more familiar faces :) you may, also, in this chapter recognise something which you may, or may not, find significant ;)
Aisa Galbraith was troubled. Her lessons with Harry and what she could teach him meant the world to her, but recently, he seemed very withdrawn and not very willing to learn. Their lessons had lost the ‘fun’ atmosphere and she was beginning to wonder whether the reason for why the lessons existed in the first place was starting to bear down more heavily on Harry. She debated with herself whether or not to confront him with it and see if she could alleviate his anxiousness. She longed to tell him that everything would be all right and perhaps much easier than he feared, but she could not do that without giving herself away. That was much to high a thing to sacrifice.
She decided instead that they would learn something fun this week – it would be useful, but more exciting for him. In fact, she herself was so pepped up about it that she found herself in their teaching room fifteen minutes too early.
Harry was late – this was a pattern that had continually worsened throughout the term. She got the distinct impression he did not want to be there. She smiled brightly at him as he closed the door behind him in an attempt to cheer him up.
“Afternoon, Harry. You can put those away,” she beamed, pointing to the pile of textbooks he had brought with him. “Academics are out the window today. I thought we might do something a little more active and fun.” Harry smiled half-heartedly and Aisa rolled her eyes. “Well, don’t look too enthused. How would you feel about learning to apparate?”
Despite himself, Harry’s face seemed to become more animated by this idea. Then a frown swept across his face.
“How, though? You can’t apparate in Hogwarts. How are you going to teach something you can’t properly practice?”
Aisa grinned slightly mischievously.
“That, Harry, is the beauty of practising a form of magic that is relatively unknown and not practiced – people don’t build safeguards against it.” Suddenly she disappeared, and reappeared on the other side of the room. “Apparating within Hogwarts, or in and out of the grounds is perfectly easy if you do it using Nonvirgadium.
“Now, it will be a bit harder than anything else you’ve done…apparating with Nonvirgadium is not much easier than without. Now, close your eyes.” Harry did as he was told. “Now, imagine yourself melting away. That’s the best way I can describe it. Try to picture yourself as a pencil drawing being rubbed out. Then visualise the place you want to end up – let’s try for the other side of the room for the time being.”
Harry screwed up his face, feeling very, very silly. Five minutes later he opened his eyes with an exasperated sigh.
“This is silly, Professor. How am I supposed to just ‘do’ it?”
“The same way you have ‘done’ everything so far that I’ve challenged you with,” replied Aisa with a small smile. “This is very hard, Harry, but I think you can do it. Use the relaxation techniques you have learnt then try again. You know how Nonvirgadium works – there are no boundaries but your own disbelief.”
With another sigh, Harry closed his eyes again and tried to concentrate on what Professor Galbraith was telling him. This time, he felt a tingling sensation run through his body, and snapped his eyes open quickly. He saw Professor Galbraith grinning at him broadly.
“Harry, that was amazing! On your second time! Now, if you can hold it and think where you want to go you-”
“Did I do something?” interrupted Harry, a look of confusion on his face. “I just felt all tingly and thought I was doing something wrong.”
Professor Galbraith shook her head.
“No, Harry, that tingling sensation is what happens when your body starts to disband for apparating! You broke your concentration too quickly though, so it all came back together. But I could see you flickering in and out of visibility!” Harry swayed slightly, his eyes a little unfocused. Aisa jumped forward and pulled a chair up behind him. “I think you’d better sit down Harry, apparating this way can be very draining on the mind!” Harry nodded and sat down and Aisa went over to the desk and began to pack away the books she had brought. “Perhaps we’ll call it a day for now, eh? We’ll try some more next week.”
Harry sat still on the chair, a thoughtful expression on his face.
“Professor?” Aisa looked up at Harry as she forced the last book into her bag. “Professor…how do you know Professor Snape?”
Aisa stood up and arched one thin, black eyebrow, pausing for a second before answering in a careful voice.
“I knew him at school…he was in my year. Why do you ask?”
“I…he was in your year?” A realisation seemed to hit Harry, and he seemed to forget his original question. “Then you were at Hogwarts with my mum and dad, and Sirius?”
“Yes…” Aisa’s face clouded slightly, “Yes, I knew them at Hogwarts.”
His original line of questioning now completely forgotten, Harry looked animatedly at Aisa, who by contrast looked supremely uncomfortable.
“Did you know them well?”
“No,” Aisa shook her head, “not that well. We were in different houses. As it is now, the different houses didn’t mix much. I knew them in passing…everyone knew your father and Sirius, they were the most brilliant students in the school, and very popular with a lot of the girls.”
“Professor Snape didn’t like them very much,” said Harry, still with a smile on his lips. Professor Galbraith didn’t seem to share his mirth.
“No…no they didn’t like each other much at all.”
“What about you, Professor?”
“About me?” Aisa frowned. “You mean did I like them? I…I didn’t know them very well, Harry. I was a Slytherin – I don’t know if you knew that? – and the relationship between Gryffindor and Slytherin was no better then than it is now. In fact, it was probably worse. It was generally better just to stay out of the way of the other houses.
“I have great admiration for your parents, though, Harry. They worked, and died, for a very noble cause. You should be very proud of them.” She smiled at Harry, but it didn’t quite reach her eyes – they seemed to have shadows of some sort of sadness lurking behind them. Suddenly, Harry found he couldn’t quite grill her for information about Snape. He had known that she was a Slytherin for some time, of course, but he had never really appreciated what that may have meant for her.
“Thank you, Professor. I’ll see you next week.” Quietly, he left the room and Aisa to her thoughts.
“If Potter does that one more time, I swear I’ll curse him to the bottom of the Lake!”
Severus Snape was in a foul mood and was making it known to whoever was listening – mainly Aisa Galbraith, who was sitting quietly in a corner of the Slytherin Common Room, several large books open beside her; a position she could normally be trusted to be found in. Once Snape had finished throwing his books around, she spoke, without looking up from one of the many books she was reading.
“I don’t know why you don’t, if it will make you feel better.”
Snape rolled his eyes and grumpily got out one of the now quite battered books from his bag. He and Aisa had a strange friendship, started out of a mutual feeling of not quite fitting in, but it wasn’t a friendship by conventional standards. Aisa would have to admit that, while she found Snape by himself to be an interesting and intelligent individual, he was often very abrasive and extraordinarily difficult to talk to. She had to admit, of course, that she wasn’t always the most approachable of characters either, of course.
“Don’t be ridiculous, Aisa,” replied Snape curtly, dipping his quill into his inkwell. “I would get expelled.”
Aisa suppressed a grin.
“I would suggest then, Severus, that if you want them to leave you alone you should stop demonstrating your interest in the Dark Arts quite so overtly, especially if you have no intention of using them.”
While Aisa did not necessarily agree with Severus’ overly involved (in her opinion) interest in the Dark Arts, there was not any particular love lost between herself and his tormentors either. Aisa had learnt early on at Hogwarts how to make herself less obvious to other – an art she perfected to even greater levels when she had been in her fourth and fifth years when her control over her ability of Nonvirgadium seemed to be getting away from her and several ‘incidents’ occurred which brought her into the public eye. Most had forgotten about this, but Black and Potter seemed to have better memories than most. They also had begun to notice that she spent a lot of time with Snape, and so became, in their eyes, a legitimate target. Her ability at Nonvirgadium meant, of course, that she could easily deflect their hexes, and she took more care than Severus (who, she personally thought, enjoyed the confrontations) to avoid them. Sometimes, with the lesser hexes, she did let them have their way – just so they didn’t get suspicious – but all her ability at avoiding them didn’t mean that she didn’t resent them for targeting her in such a discriminatory way.
The two continued working in silence, until Snape broke the silence.
“Have you done your potions yet?”
“Mmmhmmm,” replied Aisa, sucking her quill, “why?” She looked up.
“I’m stuck on question five.”
Aisa picked up a sheaf of parchment that was sitting in a pile next to her and began rifling through it.
“Hang on,” she said, flicking sheets aside, her voice slightly muffled as her quill was now between her teeth. “Ah, found it!” She pulled a long roll of parchment out of the pile and scanned it quickly. “Here you go, question five. Oh yeah, I remember that…it was quite hard. You have to remember that Belladonna has hallucinogenic properties.”
Snape took the sheet from her and scanned through it, reading her answers.
“It seems daft, to me, that they don’t use this potion anymore. I reckon it would still work without the Belladonna.”
“It was just a drug though…people used it to get high. And people were dying, they couldn’t very well keep it legal.” Aisa started writing again. “Stop it, Severus. I can tell what you’re thinking.”
“Oh, so you can read minds now, as well as making things explode involuntarily?”
“Maybe,” Aisa smirked. “But I definitely know this time. Stop working out how you can get hold of Belladonna so you can poison Potter.” Snape’s pale cheeks flushed slightly, and he mumbled ‘I wasn’t’ without much conviction.
Several hours of quill scratching later, Aisa snapped her textbook shut with a thud. The dark common room was empty apart from herself and Severus.
“Well, I’m off to bed.” She scooped up her papers and bag and stood up. “Night, Severus, see you tomorrow.”
Severus looked up,
“Night, Aisa. Um…thanks for the help with the Potions.” Aisa smiled – gratitude did not come easily from Severus (nor any emotion, now she thought about it).
“You’re welcome, night!” With that, she strode down the stairs to the girls dormitories, leaving Snape alone in the common room.
December 11th, 2004, 1:31 am
just a little bit extra...this chapter has proved very easy to write - i like doing the flashbacks. I think i may add a little on to the end of this, it hasnt' ended very well...but i'll let you know :D And i apologise in advance to people who like James and Sirius...but they didn't turn out quite how i expected either.
“Morning, Snivellus. Lovely day, isn’t it? Wouldn’t you agree, Padfoot?” Snape and Aisa were sitting down by the Lake, revising for their sixth year exams, when a familiar voice, followed by another, floated down the bank.
“Indeed, Prongs my man, I would.” Aisa looked at Snape out of the corner of her eye – his cheeks had flushed an angry pink, but he was resolutely concentrating on his book. The throwaway comment – it had been a joke, really – she had said a few weeks ago seemed to have really taken affect. Snape actually appeared to be trying to ignore Potter and Black.
“And what’s this here, Padfoot? Snivellus, you’ve got a girlfriend. How much did you have to pay her?”
This time it was Aisa who felt her cheeks flush. She too resolutely focused on her book, hoping the two boys would go away.
“I reckon it must have been quite a lot, James…Oh, but wait a second, look who it is! They probably have lovely evenings by the fire, trading curses, don’t you, Galbraith?”
Aisa swallowed hard, trying to control the anger that was beginning to bubble under her skin.
“Why don’t you just leave us alone, Potter?”
Aisa looked up, to see Severus speaking as calmly as he could through clenched teeth. Potter shook his head.
“No, no…I think it would be far more fun to stay here with you two, don’t you, Sirius old chum?”
The two of them sat down beside Aisa and Snape, and Sirius picked up one of the books piled up next to Snape.
“Why, Snivellus, I’m amazed – this book isn’t about the Dark Arts; are you feeling ok?” Snape looked up briefly from his book and shot Black a murderous look, but Sirius carried on regardless. “Or maybe you’re trying to impress you’re girlfriend with your ‘sensitive side’?”
“I wouldn’t bet on it,” guffawed James, “Don’t forget who we’re talking about, Padfoot. This is little miss ‘petrify people with my mind and blow up corridors’.
“Oh, that’s right! How could I forget!” Sirius grinned broadly. “So, are you two planning on taking over the world? I suppose we’d better confiscate these books then, don’t want you inflicting Dark Arts on the good people of Hogwarts.”
Sirius whipped out his wand, and with a flick of his wrist deftly levitated the two neat piles of books into the air. This was too much for Snape, and he jumped up to retrieve his books. Laughing, Sirius kept raising them up to just out of his reach. The anger that had been bubbling under Aisa’s skin began to boil out of control. Her eyes flashing, she jumped up, wand pointed at James and Sirius.
“Stop it, both of you, now!”
The two boys looked over at her, but were not frightened by her angry appearance.
“Heh heh, look Snivellus, your girlfriend is trying to protect you!”
“She’s – not – my – girlfriend,” wheezed Snape, pulling out his wand too and pointing it at the two marauders.
Quick as a flash, the two Gryffindors pulled theirs out and the four students stood on the bank of the lake, menacing looks on their faces.
“Well, it would appear we’re at deadlock boys,” said Aisa softly, breaking the silence. “I wonder who has the advantage?”
No sooner had she spoken, however, than a torrent of flashing lights erupted from the other three wands. Either Potter or Black seemed to have been quickest – Snape now lay on the ground in a full body bind, while they lay on the ground helpless with laughter.
“It would appear,” she continued, “that I have the advantage.” Her violet eyes still flashing, she dropped her wand and cast her own body bind spell, then released Snape from his afflictions. “Shall we go, Severus?” Scooping up her books, she stalked past Potter and Black, whose eyes were filled with surprise. “I wouldn’t do that again, if I were you, ok?”
As she could have predicted, Severus was furious at her intervention. Apparently, he could have dealt with it herself, and Aisa pointing out that he was locked in a full body bind didn’t seem to help matters.
Her actions didn’t seem to have gone down too well with Potter and Black either – it was the first time she’d really retaliated and they didn’t seem to like being taken down by a girl and were now actively stalking her.
Personally, she found it rather tiresome and simply employed all her skills to avoid them – or become invisible, a new skill she had mastered – when they were around. She had decided a long time ago, what other people thought of her wasn’t going to change what she was and so learnt to live within herself, not letting others affect her.
January 7th, 2005, 10:14 am
Whoo-hoo! We're nearing completion! This is just a little snippet...the rest is just being organised :)
“I’m not sure I really feel comfortable about grilling her, Ron.”
Harry had returned to Gryffindor Tower after his lesson with Professor Galbraith, and was in a somewhat pensive mood. He had never really thought about his teachers’ school experiences, beyond what he had seen of his father and Snape in the pensieve last year, but it had not occurred to him what Hogwarts might have been like if one were a Slytherin at that time; perhaps it would become like that again soon.
“Don’t be so soft, mate! I thought you were up for this? Don’t you want to know the truth?”
“I dunno, Ron,” Harry sighed, “Maybe it’s not our business after all.”
“But what about what we read in the Cogno-all? What that said? Someone could be missing something important. What if she is supporting Voldemort?”
Harry shrugged in reply.
“Dumbledore has his spies, I’m sure Snape would tell.”
“Oh, yeah, right; Snape.” Ron rolled his eyes. “That model of purity. What makes you think they’re not in this together?”
“But they hate each other,” muttered Harry, his tone more uncertain. All this had seemed a lot less complicated when he was sat with his Professor in the classroom. “I’ve heard them arguing.”
“Maybe it’s a cover?”
“Maybe…anyway,” snapped Harry, coming out of his reverie, “why are you so suspicious all of a sudden?” Before Ron could answer, Hermione swept into the Common Room, arms full of books, with the solution.
“Harry, you’ve got to see this; I’ve already shown Ron.” She sat down with a ‘thud’ and opened one of the large, dusty books – Harry suddenly recognised it as ‘Moste Potente Potions’. “Read this, look!” Harry peered over her shoulder and read the small, closely-set print with his eyes squinting to focus.
The Feather-Light Potion
This potion was once made using belladonna until it’s ban in 1937 due to the alarming numbers of deaths resulting from bad potion preparation. However, in recent years, studies were carried out into other methods of making the potion, without the belladonna. A breakthrough was discovered in the early eighties by Severus Snape, the Potions Master at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardary, who successfully adapted the potion for use in healing some patients whose brains were left addled by magic.
Harry’s jaw dropped open.
“Snape invented that potion?”
“It would seem so,” replied Hermione, nodding gravely. “But there’s more, look.” She pulled out a long piece of parchment from her pocket. “This is a print-off from the Cogno-all. You can access records of medical trials there, and I found the trials for the Featherlight Potion. Look who was the first recipient.” She pointed to the first name on the list. Harry screwed up his mind with concentration – he recognised it, who was it? He looked up at Hermione.
“But that…isn’t that…” Hermione nodded in reply. The name on the list was Katherine Williams.
“Now why on earth was she in St Mungo’s under a false name – one that she continued to live under when she was a muggle. And do you not find it the tiniest bit suspicious that Snape suddenly went into research – something he’s not particularly renowned for – when she was in hospital? This potion, it frees the mind. Harry, I don’t know exactly how Nonvirgadium works, but I’d put money on this potion assisting the rehabilitation of the gift if one were to have lost it through ‘mind addlement’. Snape was helping her, Harry, he must have been. But why? She must have been a death eater – why on earth would he have helped an auror? They must have a close relationship somewhere, even if they don’t have one now.”
“But Lupin says she was found innocent! He didn’t know anything about the trial we read.”
“I think that trial was the real one, though. Think about it: a ministry official - a dark wizard hunter no less – is arrested on suspicion of being a death eater. Not only is she an auror, but the daughter of the Head of the Department of Magical Law Enforcement; can you imagine the panic if that got out? My guess is, they bundled her off to St Mungo’s under a false name then made her live as a muggle so she was out of harms way.”
“No, sorry,” Harry shook his head, “I don’t want to be any part of this anymore. Professor Galbraith has been nothing but nice to me. She is helping me with something incredibly important and I’ve learnt so much!”
“She’s stopped teaching you Incursocorpum though, hasn’t she?” said Hermione, quietly.
“What?” Harry looked at her incredulously. “What do you mean? What’s that got to do with it?”
“She’s stopped teaching you, hasn’t she? Before Christmas, she was telling you how important it was, and now…no more. She’s just stopped; why is that?”
“I don’t know!” cried Harry, exasperatedly. “Perhaps there are other things I need to learn. What are you suggesting, Hermione?”
“I don’t know,” she shrugged. “I’m not sure what it means, but I think we should find out. I don’t trust her anymore, Harry. The more we find out about her, the more suspicious she seems. That trial would seem to indicate that she was a death eater, and now suddenly she’s stopped teaching you what would seem to be the most important part of Nonvirgadium; and it all happened since Christmas. What if the death eaters who broke in over Christmas were helped by her, Harry? What if she made contact again? Maybe that’s why she’s stopped.”
Harry stared at her, aghast.
“I don’t want to hear this, Hermione!” He turned on his heel and stormed upstairs to the dormitory, his mind – not for the first time this year – a jumble of confused thoughts.
“Good evening, Professor Galbraith.” Aisa looked up, and swept her hair out of her eyes, laying down her quill, trying to suppress the look of surprise she felt sure must be on her face. “Sorry for barging in, but I’ve been knocking for some time, and I thought I would just check you weren’t in. I hope I’m not interrupting?”
“No, no Remus, you’re not,” Aisa smiled slightly. “No, sorry, I was working,” she gestured at the piles of books in front of her, “I didn’t hear you I’m afraid. Come in, take a seat.”
“Working on anything in particular?” asked Lupin, as he sat down in a over-stuffed armchair by the fire in Aisa’s study.
“Uh, no, nothing much,” replied Aisa, “just some lesson plans for tomorrow.” She shunted a couple of the books around her desk, however, seeming slightly ill at ease. She flicked her wand at the kettle and came and sat down opposite Lupin. “Was there something particular you wanted to see me about, Remus? It’s not like you to pay me a social call.”
“Well, actually,” Lupin blushed, “this was a social call of sorts.” He paused. “You are…you are…ok, aren’t you, Aisa?”
“OK?” Aisa frowned. “Whatever do you mean?”
“I just…I don’t know. It’s a shame we weren’t friends at school, you know, Aisa. We were both misfits, really. I kept mine more secret, of course; you didn’t have that luxury. I know what it’s like now, though, to be seen as dark and dangerous, when you are not. In a way, I know what you are going through, with Moody and that lot.” Aisa raised her eyebrow, but remained silent. Remus carried on, “I just…feel that perhaps you needed a…um…friend. There hasn’t really been anyone for you to talk to and…” Aisa held up a hand, and he stopped, smiling wanly. “Sorry, I was just muttering rubbish.” She smiled.
“Why have you really come, Remus?” He looked a little confused, so she elaborated. “Do you feel guilty, or something? I know you lost faith in me after our Christmas break-in,” she supplied to his startled expression. “I could see it in the way you looked at me, how you spoke to me. You thought Bellatrix was trying to make contact with me, didn’t you?” Speechless at her accuracy, Remus found himself shaking his head in denial. “It’s ok, I don’t really blame you. My history is against me, really.”
“I’m sorry,” muttered Remus, in a small voice. “We need trust, but even now, so early on, it’s beginning to feel like last time; not knowing who to trust, turning on people who you have known for years.”
“But you haven’t known me for years. I was friends with your worst enemy at school, and I’m sure I was put into the same category of detestability. And, as I said before, my history works against me.”
“Yes…I don’t understand what you mean by that,” said Remus, frowning. “You were cleared of all charges; I’ve seen the transcript.”
“You’ve…you’ve seen the transcript?” Aisa looked shocked. “What transcript?” Then a dawning realisation came over her face. “You mean that one. Oh no…you don’t know, do you?”
This time, Lupin frowned even harder.
“I don’t know what? What don’t I know, Aisa?”
“The transcript you’ve read,” sighed Aisa, the words leaving her mouth were dull and heavy, “is not the real transcript. It is the one that has been left on records to save the face of the Ministry. Can’t have the real truth about an auror floating around, can we? Would have thrown the public into chaos.”
“Not the real transcript?” Remus’ frown had now knitted his eyebrows together. His eyes were downcast and he was speaking more to himself than to Aisa. “Then that’s what Harry must have-”
“Harry?” Aisa cut him off from his thoughts, and Lupin looked up.
“Yes, Harry. He spoke to me about…about a transcript he read of a trial. Your trial…” Lupin trailed off; Aisa had suddenly turned very pale.
“Harry,” she whispered, “has read that transcript? Harry…knows?”
Lupin looked at her sadly and when he spoke, his voice was flat, full of hopeful disbelief.
“It was true, Aisa? It was true what Harry read?”
Aisa looked up, her eyes shining with tears that were just held back by sheer determination, and nodded silently. Lupin just stared at her, unable to decide his reaction. Aisa stood up and moved over to the window, staring out into the darkness that had shrouded Hogwarts.
“It doesn’t matter now, I suppose, that he knows, I mean. I have taught him all he really needs to know, and that is enough, it is enough for him to complete his task.” She turned to face Lupin, her eyes still shining, but now with a mother’s pride. “He will be great, you know. He will defeat him, he will defeat him.” She spoke almost vehemently. “I will not allowed Voldemort to win,” her eyes were beginning to smoulder, “he cannot win again…he must not win. I can’t allow it.” Her gaze became distant, and she was almost speaking to herself. “He will not…he must not…he can’t…won’t let him destroy…” angry tears splashed onto her robes, her teeth gritted together. Lupin sat, slightly disturbed by her quick changes in mood. He stood up, and moved over quietly to her, taking her in his arms.
“Come, Aisa, lie down.” He gently shuffled her over to the small bed in the corner, and helped her lie on it. She was still shaking slightly, beads of sweat glistening on her forehead. Her eyes closed, however, into feverish sleep and quietly, Lupin got up and closing the door behind him, set off to Dumbledore’s office, his mind most concerned by what he had heard.
January 8th, 2005, 12:16 am
This is very long, so don't know if it will make one post, but i'll try! I've had this written for a very long time, it was the starting point almost for the whole story, so it's a relief in a way to get it posted. It's also quite a wrench, because it's so crucial, it has to be right, and I'm not sure it is now. bother. *l*
“So, are you going to do it?” Aisa leant back in her seat, as the Hogwarts’ Express sped south; for Aisa and Snape it was for the very last time they would make such a journey.
“Do what?” Snape rolled his eyes.
“You know very well what. Join.”
“Maybe.” Aisa shrugged and looked out the window, her tone supremely indifferent. Snape raised his eyebrows.
“You’re going to back out, aren’t you?”
“No, I’m not going to ‘back out’,” she replied, shaking her head, “There is nothing to ‘back out’ from; I have never agreed to anything.” She turned and faced Snape, her face almost regally defiant. “You know me, Severus, and the idea of bowing and scraping to anyone has never really appealed to me.”
“But you would be in the servitude of the greatest sorcerer to have ever lived!” Snape’s eyes were shining in blind admiration. Aisa shrugged again, her face not able to completely hide her contempt.
“Perhaps. But I will not follow blindly after anyone, kow-towing to their every whim and desire. If I ever join with him, it shall be on my own terms.” Snape shook his head in disbelief.
“How can you speak of the Dark Lord in such a manner? I don’t understand you, Aisa. You could be so great, yet you cut yourself off from everything. You could assist the Dark Lord in ways very few others will ever be able to do. You could be his most important servant. And yet you shun it all, for sake of – well what? Pride? Perverse obstinace? Sheer bloody-mindedness?” Snape’s voice was rising now, tinted with barely restrained anger.
“Why do you care what I decide to do, Severus? What is it to you whether I join or not? I have good prospects; I’ve been accepted on the Auror fast-track, I could make something of myself, rather than spend the rest of my life grovelling to some power-deranged wizard”
“You do realise,” Snape hissed, “That in becoming an Auror, you will be fighting against your friends. Against me. You’re doing this for your family, I can tell, I know you, Aisa. Even after all these years, when they have deserted you, rejected you for what you are, you still try to placate them, to do what they expect of you. They will never take you back, Aisa, can’t you see? They are ashamed of you and that will never change, not even if you were to become Minister for Magic! You don’t even know who you are; which side are you on, Aisa?”
Aisa’s face almost visibly closed up. She looked empty and emotionless, like a blank canvas ready to be brought to life. Inside, she her heart was screaming – Snape had hit a very sore nerve. But she wouldn’t show it. She had spent years hiding her true feelings and emotions; her distress didn’t even register on her face.
“Don’t you dare speak to me like that.” Snape glared back at her.
“Why not? It’s the truth, Aisa. You belong with us, you are one of us.”
“What I do is up to me Severus, I will not have my life dictated to me! Not by you, not by the Dark Lord, not by anyone.” With that, she stood up and stormed out of the compartment. She strode down the corridor, her eyes blazing, anger coursing through her veins like electricity. Five minutes later, however, she had calmed down, and what Snape had said was settling uncomfortably in her consciousness. ‘You belong with us’; the words were reverberating around her brain. Did she? Where did she belong? Aisa gave the appearance of absolute self-confidence, exuding self-assurance and not just a little nonchalance at the world around her. She had realised that a tough exterior was the only way she was going to survive long ago; but inside, she was still a confused young girl. She certainly was not shying away from what would be expected of her if she were to join the Dark Lord, but there was a conflict with this desperate desire to still try and conform with what her family expected of her. Aisa sighed deeply, and fought to restrain the tears that were threatening to spill down her cheeks. Aisa Galbraith did not cry.
She wandered around the train for an hour or so, her thoughts meandering unhappily in her mind, until she found herself outside the compartment once again. With a deep breath, she slid open the door. Snape looked up briefly and then went back to his reading. Aisa sat down, somewhat awkwardly, and pulled out a book of her own. The rest of the journey continued in complete silence.
When the train finally pulled into Kings’ Cross, the two dark-haired teenagers gathered their belongings. As he was about to get off the train, Snape turned to Aisa, and pressed a piece of parchment in her hand.
“Be there, two weeks time. I’m meeting Bella and Rodolphus there.” Aisa took it without a word, and folded it up without looking at it. Snape pushed open the platform-side door and stepped out.
“Goodbye, Severus,” her voice had a slight tint of regret; Snape looked back very briefly, then strode off down the platform. There was a strange air of finality about the whole thing.
Aisa sat quietly in the carriage until the platform was almost empty. She had no one to meet her and didn’t feel the need to be constantly reminded of the fact. Slowly, she pulled her trunk out onto a trolley, and walked through the magical barrier into the Muggle world. She lost herself immediately in the crowds of people waving off relatives, leaving the trolley at the station exit and dragging it on it’s wheels behind her to the bus stop.
She finally got off the bus on a busy little high street in west London and, still lugging her trunk behind her, set off down the road. She turned down a residential street, crowded with run down old houses. Aisa stopped outside number 6, pulled her trunk up the stairs and rummaged in her pocket for her keys.
Aisa lived on the top floor of the house, in a tiny little bedsit, the stairs to which did not best lend themselves to carrying a heavy trunk. It worked well, because she shared with a Muggle girl who was at University in London, but went home to Birmingham during the holidays. It was the perfect arrangement, meaning Aisa did not have to pay full rent. The piece of paper was laid to rest under a pile of electricity and gas bills and various letters from the council. The muggle girl obviously didn’t keep up with the post, thought Aisa, rolling her eyes and sitting down to write to her father, telling him of her acceptance onto the Auror scheme.
The next week passed monotonously as Aisa set up the flat to how she liked it, and passed with very little incident, until she received a letter back from her father. She opened it with slightly shaking fingers, her excitement bubbling inside her. Eventually, she ripped open the obstinant Ministry seal, and scanned the text. Her smile quickly faded, however, as the contents became clear.
26 July – London
It is not our usual custom to send letters of personal congratulations to new auror trainees. The Head of Magical Law Enforcement asks that you do not contact him again.
Secretary to the Head of Magical Law Enforcement
Aisa dropped the letter with a scream of frustration, her eyes glinting dangerously, but behind them a huge sadness weighed down on her. For the next few days she paced around her flat like a caged animal, until finally she came across the piece of parchment Snape had given her on the train. She made a decision there and then. It was obvious the way things were going to be. She read it once again and, with a grim look of determination on her face, folded it up and put it back in the back pocket of her jeans. As the door of her dingy little flat slammed shut behind her, she felt a little shudder of…well, what? Fear, excitement – she wasn’t quite sure. She felt strangely calm, self-assured. Catching sight of herself in the window of the bus as it pulled into the bus stop, she smiled inwardly. There she was, skinny (that was the only word for it, ‘slender’ was too attractive a word for her she felt) and pale with dark shadows under her eyes, eyes that shone over-bright with a nervous energy. Her dark hair was pulled back into an untidy, hasty ponytail with strands escaping and falling around her face. She looked like a perfectly normal teenage girl; slightly young for her age, perhaps, her skinniness giving her an elfin quality that belied her eighteen years. In her faded jeans and t-shirt, she was barely noticeable – none of these people on the bus would remember her, and that was how she wanted it. She was good at making herself disappear; she had had plenty of practice at it; she had spent what felt like a lifetime making herself forgettable and, perhaps, it was time for that to change.
Getting off the bus, she saw the café that she was looking for, and quietly slipped in. Sure enough, there in the corner were Bellatrix and Rodolphus; and there too, looking slightly ill at ease, was Severus. With a wry smile and resisting the urge to go over to speak to Snape, she sat down at a small booth opposite them, behind a pillar and out of their sight, but with a good view of the door so she could follow them when they left. She ordered a cup of tea, got out her book, and waited. For fifteen minutes, she kept vigil out of the corner of her eye, and then, finally, she saw them leave. She put some coins on the table, and quietly stole out after them.
The three figures soon dived down a side street, weaving their way down the dark alleys and byways of the East End. Soon, they came to a dead-end, and Bellatrix got out her wand. Aisa realised she was going to need to hear what was said, and mustering up all her strength, she concentrated her mind and gradually felt herself melt away and crept up, invisible, behind them. She missed the spell that Bellatrix uttered, but had a better idea and keeping her concentration, followed them through the passageway that had materialised in the brick wall.
The corridor was long and dark, with torches hanging from brackets on the walls, emitting a low, flickering and ominous light. Standing around in a circle were about twenty cloaked figures, and ominous mass of swirling black. It was obvious that the meeting was finishing, and Bellatrix and Rodolphus were coming late for a reason. The other Death Eaters turned as they entered. Suddenly, Aisa saw a figure standing at the head of the circle – tall, painfully thin, with flaming red eyes. He was a formidable figure, but she still felt calm. She must keep her concentration.
“Ah, my recruiting officers,” Voldemort spoke with slight amusement in his voice. “You have someone to present to me?” Rodolphus nodded, and pushed Snape forward. “I am impressed, little one.” He spoke directly to Bellatrix, whose regal features blushed, Aisa noticed with a sly smile that Rodolphus looked distinctly put out. “What is your name, minion?” This time he was speaking to Snape, who was trying to look imposing, and failing.
“Severus Snape, my Lord.” His voice shook slightly.
“Snape…yes, I’ve heard about you. What makes you think you are worthy of my service?”
“I will be loyal – I will do whatever you ask me, sir.” Snape’s voice still sounded very unstable and he wasn’t looking at Voldemort.
“Would you kill for me, boy?” At this, Snape’s eyes snapped up. “Would you torture and cause chaos?”
“Yes, sir, yes, I would.” Aisa saw a conviction in his eyes that she had not seen before.
“Roll up your sleeve, boy.” Snape looked sideways to Bellatrix, who motioned for him to do as he was told, so, hesitantly, he did. “Well,” continued Voldemort, tracing a long, bony finger on Snape’s pallid arm, “so another joins the fold. Morsmordre.” The word came out of Voldemort’s mouth like a snake’s hiss, and at the same time, he pressed his finger hard onto Snape’s arm. Snape muffled a yelp in pain, but, Aisa was almost proud to see, recovered immediately from the shock and maintained a look of dignity. “That, my boy, is the dark mark; it marks you as one of us, forever. When it burns black, you are to apparate to my side. The mark will guide you.” Voldemort turned to the rest of the Death Eaters, who were looking on in mild amusment. “What are you waiting for, you are dismissed.”
The Death Eaters began to turn to go, and Aisa, realising this was her cue, moved into the middle of the circle, and let go her concentration, allowing her to appear. Those who noticed immediately hushed; Voldemort merely stared at her. Aisa felt her face drain of blood, and a trickle of sweat slide down her back. The Death Eaters at the door had fallen silent now too, and Aisa saw Bellatrix, incredulously at her. Snape, she just had time to notice, merely looked satisfied, as though he had just had confirmed what he had known all along.
“And who, spy, might you be?” Aisa steadied her nerves, and stared back at the tall, thin man, holding his red eyes in her gaze.
“I am not a spy.” It crossed her mind how absurd this scene must look to an outsider. She, tiny, dressed in normal Muggle clothes, surrounded by fifty cloaked and imposing Death Eaters, standing in front the most powerful Wizards in living memory. The high voice continued, the tone almost amused; but there was no genuine mirth in the amusement – it was a cruel, hard edge to the voice.
“If you are not a spy, what do you want? By what insolence do you steal into this, the most secret of places? Perhaps you need to be taught some respect.” Aisa held her head high.
“I wish to join with you.” The tall man laughed a horrible, malicious laugh.
“Oh really? And what makes you think you deserve that honour?” Aisa stared steely-eyed at Voldemort, her jaw set firm.
“I do not grovel, sir. If you accept me, it will be on my own merits, but I will not cower down before you.” Voldemort laughed again,
“You will not bow down to me? Come now, it’s not that hard.” He was twirling his wand in long, slender fingers. Quick as a flash, he pointed it at Aisa, “Imperio!” It was so fast, Aisa barely had time to gather her concentration. She heard a little voice in her ear – “Bow down, go on, bow”. Focussing intently, she made her mind blank and closed it, pushing the thought out like toothpaste from a tube. She stared up at Voldemort, her eyes glassy and blank. Aisa thought she saw a glimmer of curiosity in those fiery red eyes, but if it was there, it vanished in an instant.
“You are stubborn, but I will not waste my time any further on stupid little girl. If you will not obey through words, you will obey through fear. Lucius,” Voldemort waved one long finger at a hooded figure to his right, “please will you deal with this impudent creature.” The hooded figure bowed his head low.
“With pleasure, my Lord.” He drew his wand out from inside his cloak, and raised it. He turned to Aisa, “It is time you learned to respect the Dark Lord.” Aisa closed her eyes, and in the split second focused her energies. By the time the curse was cast, she had opened her eyes again, palms outstretched and Lucius Malfoy was writhing on the ground, screaming in agony, his fallen hood revealing eyes wide with terror and surprise. This time, there was no mistaking the surprise and mild interest in Voldemort’s expression. Aisa turned to the circle of Death Eaters, who had all stepped back slightly.
“Would anyone else like to teach me some respect, or was that demonstration enough?” There was a deathly silence, then Voldemort’s high tone filled the void.
“Why have you come here?” Aisa turned and locked him in her gaze.
“Because I can.”
Feedback (http://www.cosforums.com/showthread.php?t=24550), of course, is always most welcome :) ;)
January 25th, 2005, 3:25 pm
The memories swirling around in Aisa’s mind were doing nothing to ease her anxious state, and by the time Dumbledore burst into her room, she was in a very bad state indeed. He sat at the end of her bed, and shook her awake gently.
“Aisa,” he spoke her name quietly as her eyes snapped open with a start. Quickly, they darted around the room, as if to check where she was. Dumbledore was looking at her carefully, his face a picture of concern. “Aisa, are you alright?” With a sigh, Aisa shifted her weight up onto her hands and sat up in bed.
“Yes, Albus. I was just…reliving some unhappy memories.” She smiled weakly at him, but his look of concern did not abate itself.
“What is on your mind, Aisa? I think it is time you told me.” If Harry had been in the room, he would have recognised the look well – it was the look Dumbledore often gave him when Harry was hiding something.
“There’s…nothing on my mind, sir.” Aisa’s voice faltered over the words, and Dumbledore looked mildly disbelieving.
“You know I am not one to pry, but I – and others – have noticed you seem a little more delicate lately and - ”
“You think I’m going mad again, don’t you?” Aisa had sat bolt upright now. “You all think the stress is sending me loopy. Well, it’s not, Albus. I’m saner than I’ve ever been, I’m seeing things more clearly than I have ever done. For the first time in this world (Dumbledore noticed she stressed the ‘this’) I know exactly where I stand, and where I’m headed. Believe me, Albus, I am perfectly alright.”
Dumbledore barely even blinked at this outburst, but still looked just as intently at Aisa.
“I do not think you are going mad, Aisa. I am simply worried about you – I don’t want you to feel you have to make any decisions on your own.” The words were said very meaningfully and Aisa looked at him carefully – what was he driving at? What did he know?
“I have no decision to make, Albus.” She spoke slowly in measured tones. “I have one job to do, and that is to get Harry to a position where he is a credible threat to Voldemort. He is almost there – my job is almost done.”
“And what of when your job is done, Aisa? Are you to leave us again? I would very much like you to stay; you are a powerful witch and would be of great help to the Order.”
“I shall cross that bridge when I come to it,” she replied, smiling; it did not reach her eyes, however, which still held a distant expression.
“Well,” said Dumbledore, standing up, “I better leave you to rest.” Quietly, he left the room and closed the door gently. Remus was standing outside, waiting.
“So? What did she say?”
“Nothing very much, I am afraid.”
“Professor,” Lupin hesitated, “I…I have to ask you something – the stories, the rumours, they were true weren’t they?” Dumbledore looked at Lupin curiously.
“Well, that depends entirely on what stories you mean, Remus.” Lupin blushed slightly. “Why were you here tonight?”
“I…I’m not really sure, sir. I spoke to Harry a few weeks ago – he said that he had found a transcript of Aisa’s trial that showed her being found guilty. This confused me slightly, as although the rumours abounded about her, the official line was always that she was innocent. I assumed that Harry had just read the wrong thing, but today…she confirmed it. I had really come to apologise, I suppose, for being suspicious, but then this…” He looked up at Dumbledore, his face looking older and more tired than normal. The Headmaster sighed.
“Harry knows?” Lupin nodded.
“I did tell him he was wrong, but I don’t know if he believed me.”
“It is true, Remus. Aisa was a Death Eater…but like Severus it is more complicated than that. It is not my place to explain further – you must trust her. And I think it would be best if Harry came to see me.”
“What’s going on? Minerva said Aisa was ill?” Snape had just swept along the corridor; Dumbledore stopped speaking abruptly, and turned to him.
“No, Severus, she is not ill. I think she has just had a bit of a shock.” Snape looked at Dumbledore, frowning.
“A shock?” He looked to Lupin and, snarling slightly, continued. “What are you doing here? What have you done?”
“Remus has done nothing. I think Aisa has brought this on herself. Her mind appears to be a jumble of memories…something is worrying her terribly.”
“Worrying her?” Snape looked confused. “What would be worrying her so much that she has collapsed?” Dumbledore shrugged his shoulders.
“That, Severus, I do not know. Now, if you’ll excuse me gentlemen?” With that, Dumbledore carried on down the corridor, his face thoughtful. As soon as he was gone, Snape rounded on Lupin.
“What happened, Lupin?” His voice was slightly strangled.
“Severus, I honestly don’t know. We were talking about Harry one minute and then…then she collapsed and started muttering. I really don’t know what happened. I’m sorry. I have to go now too…I shouldn’t really be here at all.”
Snape waiting until Lupin disappeared around the corner, then turned back on himself to Aisa’s quarters. He knocked on the door, but did not wait for a reply.
Aisa was sitting at her window, staring out at the Hogwarts grounds. The spring flowers were starting to appear, and it looked very beautiful. Crisp, young – full of hope. She turned, slightly startled at Snape’s loud entrance.
“I don’t know, what happened?” Snape merely glared at her and shut the door.
“You know what I mean. Dumbledore thinks you’re worried about something. What are you worried about?” Snape’s tone was soft and more than a little threatening. Aisa raised her eyebrow.
“Worried? I am not worried, Severus.” A sudden realisation dawned on her. “You think this is about you, don’t you?” She laughed harshly. “No, Severus, I am not agonising over you.”
“I was more concerned that you were contemplating…revealing certain things.”
“My dear, I’m sure very few people have any interest in your sordid past, and I certainly have more important things to concern myself over.” She got up and opened the door. “Now, if you don’t mind, I have things to do.” She gestured toward the door, but Snape was standing stock still, staring at her desk. Aisa felt her stomach freeze inside. Snape looked up at her, the expression indecipherable between shock and distrust.
“What are you planning, Aisa?”
“Get out, Severus.” She spoke slowly and deliberately. Snape leant close to her, speaking quietly, his nose almost touching hers.
“Be very careful, Aisa. I will be watching you.”
“Out.” She refused to be intimidated by him. “Get. Out.”
“Very well. But don’t forget.” With that he swept out, cloaks billowing. Aisa sat down on her chair again – she was going to have to be swift in her plans if she was to complete them without interference.
Part two will be on its way soon - it needs some careful editing for continuity. Just to let you know, we're actually almost done, only three more chapters I reckon.
Oh, and probably long-lost feedback thread is here (http://www.cosforums.com/showthread.php?p=847778#post847778)
February 4th, 2005, 2:59 pm
sorry for the abysmally long delay. Here is the short conclusion to chapter twenty two.
There were, Aisa had soon realised, only a few weeks left until the Easter Holidays – that was only a very short time to complete Harry’s training. Not long at all, in fact. The increased intensity she had hoped to achieve in lessons was, however, impeded by the fact that Harry seemed once again to be unhappy with her. She was having difficultly understanding his moods at the moment; one minute he was fine, then next looking at her with what she felt sure was almost loathing. It saddened her greatly, for she had become attached to him, but also worried her, as she felt he was not concentrating on his studies enough.
The last lesson of term was finishing in as tense an atmosphere as one could possibly hope for if one wished to suffocate, when there was a distraction. It could have been welcome, had it not been Severus Snape.
“Aisa, we need to talk. Now.” He cheeks were flushed and lips pursed, eyes purposeful.
Professor Galbraith raised her eyebrows – he had burst into her lesson with Harry, unannounced; she was not amused.
“I am teaching, Professor Snape. You will have to wait.” She turned back to Harry, who was staring down at his textbook, seemingly ignoring her, as he had been all lesson. It had become a very one-sided lecture. “So, if you want to follow someone when you are apparating, you must concentrate even harder than usual. If you do not concentrate on their apparation trail alone, you will start picking up on others – and who knows where you’ll end up!” She attempted a small smile at Harry, who continued to stare stonily down at the pages. “Is that clearer?”
“Yes, Professor.” He answered in monotones, then looked sideways at Snape, who was waiting at the side of the room impatiently. He picked up his books and shoved them into his bag. “See you next term.”
“Have a good holiday, Harry.” Her final attempt at joviality fell on deaf ears, and she shot a highly irritated look at Snape, who was looking slightly smug at the exchange taking place. The door closed with a click as Harry left and Aisa turned to Snape with her arms folded.
“What do you want, Severus?”
Snape swooped over to her, his black robes billowing around him. He was a formidable figure, but Aisa not so much as flinched. He put his hands onto the desk in front of her and stared at her.
“I want to know why you have contacted him, Aisa.” He was snarling, his teeth clenched, dark eyes almost apoplectic with rage. Aisa merely pursed her lips and raised her eyebrow again.
“You may have to be more specific than that, Severus; ‘him’ is quite an overarching term.”
“You know who I mean!” Snape’s lips were white around the edges, and he was now standing upright, wand drawn.
“Do put that away, Severus. You surely don’t imagine you could harm me with it?” Her unruffled tone was infuriating him, she knew it.
“Why – have – you – been – contacting – him?” Snape’s voice was building more, and he was speaking through clenched teeth, his patience obviously teetering in the balance.
“Are you accusing me of something, Severus?” Aisa’s voice was soft and dangerous, her violet eyes glittering threateningly. “Because if you are, I think perhaps you had better say so. I am not fond of wild accusations.”
“May I remind you, Aisa, that I am the contact for Dumbledore. I know you have been contacting the…Dark Lord.”
“Voldemort, Severus. Really, I think you should be able to say his name; we’re quite grown up now.”
“Show some respect!” Snape was shouting now and he had leapt over the desk, his wand at Aisa’s throat.
“Some respect? For Lord Voldemort? He is unworthy of my respect. I am not contacting him, Severus. How dare you.” Aisa spoke, her voice still quiet, but shaking now. “How dare you suggest such a thing; when you know…you know it all, Severus.” She pushed the wand away with her index finger.
“What are you plotting, Aisa? What are you planning? You are up to something, I know you too well, don’t forget. What are you doing?” Aisa had hold of his wand, and he was looking at her with a particularly poisonous look.
“For the last time, Severus, I am NOT planning anything!” Aisa’s voice was beginning to wobble out of control. “I am not in Lord Voldemort’s servitude; is that what you suspect? It is more likely to be you than I, don’t you think? He is responsible for the death of my family!”
“A family you hated, may I remind you.”
“You may remind me of NOTHING!” Aisa’s temper had flared into its full, terrifying zenith and it had flung Snape clear across the room. “How dare you speak of my family in front of me!” Her porcelain cheeks were flushed with their rage, Snape’s paler than usual. Few things genuinely frightened him, but he knew well Aisa’s power, and he knew he had overstepped the line. He continued, unabated however.
“You consort with him! I will speak my mind! I will-” Suddenly the door opened and Harry Potter took in the scene before him; Snape on the floor by the desk, Aisa standing over him, her face thunderous with anger and malevolence. He stood stock still in the doorway, his mouth agape.
“Potter! GET OUT!” yelled Snape. Harry backed out of the room, his eyes still wide, and closed the door. Aisa had turned very white, and was still staring at the doorway when Harry had left.
“Oh dear.” Snape smiled maliciously. “Looks like Potter has had a bit of a shock about his hero. He doesn’t pick them very well, you know. You have a great number of notorious forerunners.”
The jibe brought Aisa out of her shock, and mild terror, and she turned her face back to Snape.
“I will not stand here and listen to this anymore, Snape.” Her lips were bright pink where she had bitten them in her anger, and her face was almost transparent, the blood drained from it. Her mind was in utter turmoil. How much had Harry heard? What would he think? What should she do – should she talk to him? She took out her anxiety and shock on Snape. “You know nothing of me, Snape. You destroyed my life, and will never, ever forgive you. And while you play your little spy games, I have more important things to do.” She spat the words at him, the colour flushing back into her cheeks as she vented her anger. “Now get…out…of…my…sight.” Her eyes flashed dangerously, and Snape scrambled to his feet. He swept towards the door, and paused as he turned the handle.
“I will find out, Aisa. I urge you caution.” Aisa merely glared at him and with that final threat settling in the room like a blanket, he left, robes billowing, maintaining an astonishing level of dignity.
February 18th, 2005, 11:57 pm
OOOOO, look! It's an update :D See snorkack? Ask, and (sometimes) you will receive :D
Harry stormed into Gryffindor Tower, his face a picture of fury. Hermione and Ron were sitting by the fire and gave each other a disconcerted look when they caught sight of Harry. He threw himself into a chair and glared around the room.
“Er…Harry?” began Ron tentatively.
“She’s betrayed me.” He spoke through gritted teeth, his eyes glowering down at his feet. “She’s betrayed all of us. They all accepted her, Dumbledore trusted her. I trusted her.”
“Harry…who is ‘her’?” Hermione put her hand gently on Harry’s arm, and he looked up at her, his eyes still fiery.
“Professor Galbraith.” He related quickly what he had overheard; Hermione’s mouth opened slightly, while Ron’s cheeks flushed.
“But Harry…you don’t think?” Hermione trailed off.
“I do think,” he replied sternly.
“Shows we were wrong about old Snape though, doesn’t it?” said Ron. “Seems like he was on our side after all.”
“I don’t think…I don’t think we should jump to conclusions.” Hermione spoke carefully, well aware that it would not be a popular statement.
“You what?” exclaimed Harry. “After everything we’ve found out, you don’t think this is suspicious? Especially coming from Snape? He IS the spy! And if he thinks someone’s up to no good, judged by his standards they must be up to something fishy in the extreme! Just the other day you were drawing ‘conclusions’ from her medical records – why the sudden change of heart, Hermione?”
“But, you’re saying that…Professor Galbraith is a Death Eater, aren’t you, Harry?”
Harry fixed her with a glare.
“Yes, Hermione, I am,” he replied, sternly. “Why is that so difficult to understand? We have had suspicions all year! We know she was tried before! What about the attack on the school at Christmas? Maybe that’s when they made contact, who knows? But we know that Snape is the Order’s spy – he has nothing to gain by falsely accusing Professor Galbraith.”
“Ok, so suppose Professor Galbraith is a Death Eater-”
“There is no ‘suppose’,” interjected Harry, “She is, I heard it myself, Hermione.” Hermione pursed her lips and continued.
“Suppose Professor Galbraith is a Death Eater, what do you propose we do about it? Snape will tell Dumbledore, and he’ll sort it out – it’s none of our business, Harry. I know you feel betrayed, but we might be missing something, that’s all, something just doesn’t seem right-”
“SOMETHING DOESN’T SEEM RIGHT?” Harry exploded, his face red. “Of course something isn’t right! THE WOMAN I TRUSTED IS WORKING FOR THE WIZARD I AM TRYING TO DEFEAT! I have spent all year, Hermione, trying to learn techniques to help me defeat Voldemort – a task countless people seem to be depending on me to accomplish – and the very woman who is supposed to be helping me has probably been feeding me false information! That is a whole year wasted! I want to see her locked up in Azkaban, for the rest of her life!”
Ron and Hermione looked a little shocked – it was some time since they had seen Harry have an outburst like this, and the venom that was accompanying it was something they were very unused to.
“Harry…Harry, I think Hermione’s right,” said Ron, tentatively breaking the silence. “I mean, I think you’re right too, she probably is a Death Eater, but I think we should just leave everyone else to deal with it. I mean, what are we going to do about it?”
Harry glared at them. In his heart, he knew they were right – and there was a little nagging voice at the back of his head reminding him what happened last time he jumped in the deep end without waiting for the help of those older and wiser than himself. But he was also hurt and betrayed, and these emotions were pulling on him much more strongly. He wanted to hurt Professor Galbraith, he wanted to shout at her and curse her and demand to know why she had lied to him like this. He stood up sharply, his voice strained.
“You’re right,” he said. “You’re right, Ron.”
“I am?” replied Ron, raising his eyebrows.
“Yes, yes you are. We should leave it to Dumbledore. I’m…I’m just going to go for a walk, I need to have some time to myself.”
“Uh…ok, Harry. We’ll, um, see you later.” Hermione was speaking uncertainly, and looking at Harry in a very sceptical manner.
“Yeah, ok…right.” Harry backed out of the room, and pushed through some first years who were excitedly coming back to the Common Room to collect their things to go to the Station. Harry had forgotten today was the last day of term.
A walk, was of course, not what Harry had in mind at all – unless the fast, anger-fuelled walk to Professor Galbraith’s office counted. He didn’t bother to knock, but threw the door open with as loud a bang as possible.
Professor Galbraith seemed rather surprised to see him, and the scene which presented itself to Harry wasn’t quite what he was expecting and struck him dumb for a second. There was nothing in Professor Galbraith’s office – everything was packed away in trunks, which were lined up along one wall. The Professor herself was seated at the desk, scribbling the last words on a long roll of parchment.
“Just give me one second, Harry. I just need to send this owl.” Aisa pulled out a large envelope, shoved the pile of parchment into it and gave it to the large Barn Owl which was sitting on her window sill. “Not until later though, ay girl?” She ruffled the bird’s feathers, and it took off. The sight of the owl flying off seemed to remind Harry why he was here.
“Where was that going? Voldemort?”
“Harry, I need to explain to you, Severus – Professor Snape – he -”
But Harry did not want to hear explanations.
“I know what I heard, Professor! Why would Snape lie? Why would he make it up?”
“He did not make anything up, Harry. He has simply misconstrued some information.” Aisa spoke firmly, looking steadily at Harry in the eyes.
“Misconstrued? How? How can you ‘misconstrue’ something like that? Do you deny that you were in contact with Voldemort?”
Aisa looked uncomfortable, as if uncertain how best to answer. She hesitated; Harry glared at her, his green eyes stony and cold.
“No. No, Harry, I do not deny it.”
“Then it’s true!” exploded Harry. “You have betrayed everyone! When did it start? Before you met me, or at Christmas when Bellatrix came to find you? Or have you ever even been out of contact with him? Where you still following him faithfully while you were in St Mungo’s?”
“St. Mungo’s?” Aisa looked shocked, “How did you know…?” Harry grinned viciously.
“I think you’d be surprised what we know about you, Professor. I know you were a Death Eater, I know you were found guilty at your trial. I know that Professor Snape helped cure you while you were in St Mungo’s and I know that you are a traitor!” Aisa seemed to still be in shock, so Harry continued. “And now…now, where are you going?” He waved his arm vaguely in the direction of the trunks against the wall. “Running away, are you? Trying to escape?”
“Don’t even think about it, Harry.” The shock was not enough to divert Aisa’s attention from Harry’s hand, which was almost inside his robes, clutched around his wand. Her eyes were steely now, and her face determined. “Now, listen to me. I am not doing anything remotely wrong, or traitorous. There are some things that perhaps you are just too young to understand, Harry. Perhaps one day someone else can explain all this to you.
“And now, yes, I am leaving. I wish you luck with your studies – you will be a very great wizard one day, Harry.” Her eyes seemed to soften slightly and she stepped away from him. “Now, I bid you goodbye.”
A small puff of smoke began to appear around Aisa, and Harry stood, slightly mesmerised. With a small yelp, however, he realised what she was doing – she was disapparating! Furious, he jumped up, but she was gone.
Then he realised – he could follow her! For a split second, his conscience kicked in, and suggested maybe he go and find Dumbledore, but then his righteousness took over; he couldn’t allow her to escape, and if he left it, the trail would be cold. That settled it, he would follow her.
Harry closed his eyes, and concentrated hard, and slowly, he too disapparated out of the room, following the trail left before him by his Professor.
February 19th, 2005, 3:24 pm
aaaaaaaaaaaaaand part two :)
“Harry! What are you doing here?” Harry had materialised in what appeared to be a muggle kitchen. Professor Galbraith, who had been sitting at the kitchen table, was now standing bolt upright, her face drained of all colour. “Harry,” her voice was shaky, “Harry, it’s not safe for you to be here, go back to Hog - ”
“You betrayed Dumbledore, you’ve betrayed the Order. Did you really think that I would let you escape?” Harry cut her off, his voice also shaking, but from anger, not fear. “I have trusted you – I even felt pity for you when you told me about your parents. Killed by Voldemort, you said. What really happened? Did you kill them?” Aisa’s faced blanched to an even further transparent shade, but she walked over to Harry and touched his shoulder with a trembling hand.
“Harry, please. I cannot stress how dangerous it is for you to be here. You must go back to Hogwarts. Please Harry. I know you are hurt, but one day you will understand, I promise.”
Harry, however, flinched at the contact and took a step back, pulling his wand out in one swift movement.
“Explain now, then. We have time.”
The scene was ridiculous, Harry knew that really. With one small thought process, the professor could probably destroy him, and here he was, threatening her with his wand. To his amazement, however, Aisa stepped back and sank into a chair.
“Harry, life is more complicated than I think, despite all you have been through so far, you appreciate. It is not cut into simply good and bad, there are many more shades than that. I was once a Death Eater, yes, you were correct in discovering that. My reasons for becoming so are long and uninteresting to young ears. I soon realised that my place was not with these people, however, and I tried to rectify my mistakes. Alas, that time around, it proved impossible.” Aisa was speaking very quickly, almost nervously, as if trying to say a lot in a very short space of time.
“My mind was damaged and I did spend time in St. Mungo’s. I don’t know if you realised this yesterday, but I had no idea Professor Snape was behind the treatment which helped me regain my mind. Thank him for me when you see him.
“I hid from the Wizarding world for many, many years. The scars I bear from my time in it were not something I wished to have reopened, and so I pretended the experiences had never existed. But when Voldemort returned, I was reminded of something – I realised I owed a debt to the world I had deserted. I could help you Harry, I could help you destroy the man who is trying to destroy all of us.
“You may not believe me, and you may not understand, but that is the truth.”
Harry stood still, his wand still outstretched.
“No, I don’t believe you. I think you hid in the Muggle world so you could escape Azkaban. I don’t know why you weren’t reported as soon as you returned. I think you have been spying on us all year, and now you are rejoining Voldemort! That sounds much more plausible to me!”
“Yes,” Aisa sighed. “Yes, it does sound a lot more plausible, but it is not - ”
What it was not, however, was never said, as another figure apparated into the flat. Aisa had stopped speaking, and was staring at Harry, ashen faced.
“Go! Go now!” she hissed, desperately. Harry, however, was staring open-mouthed at the figure, his cheeks flushing with anger.
“It was true!” he shouted. “It was all true! How could you? How could - ” Harry’s mouth continued to move, but no sound came out.
“Silence, Mr. Potter. Did your parents never tell you a child should be seen and not heard? Oh, no…of course they didn’t.” The voice was malicious and hissed slightly over the ‘s’s. Harry was still looking on, both shocked and angry, but unable to speak. Professor Galbraith had stood up, and bowed towards the man.
“My lord, thank you for responding so quickly to my invitation.”
“Yes, my little Aisa. It has been a long time, has it not? However,” Voldemort gestured to Harry, “I do not believe that Mr Potter was scheduled to be here as well?”
“No, my lord, he was not. He rather unfortunately saw fit to follow me here. He was, uh, a little upset at discovering where I was going.” Aisa raised an eyebrow in callous amusement.
“Very well, we shall deal with him later. Sit on that chair, Potter. You can witness a beautiful rebirthing.”
Harry, the prophecy rocketing around in his head, did as he was told. ‘One must die at the hands of the other’ – was this it? Should he try to kill Voldemort? But he wasn’t ready. Struggling, he focused his attention on the scene in front of him. Aisa was kneeling down before Lord Voldemort, her left arm outstretch, the sleeve of her robe rolled up to her shoulder. He could see, glaring black on her pale skin, the Dark Mark – the sign of servitude.
“You see, Harry,” Voldemort had turned to him now, “Aisa was once a little like you, head strong and foolish. A brilliant witch, yes, but not always sensible in her choices. She made some bad choices, Harry, but she is choosing to redeem herself now. She is choosing to give herself back to me, where she belongs. She, unlike you, knows the importance of power. I said to you once, that it is not a question of right and wrong, or good and evil, but simply power, and those too weak to take it? You have proved yourself weak, Harry, your Professor here is showing herself to be strong. When I have finished with her, perhaps you would like to rethink your position, perhaps you would like to be strong as well?”
Harry glared at Voldemort, his green eyes aflame, but he did not reply. Voldemort’s lips curved into a mirthless smile, and he turned back to Aisa. Taking her hand in his, he spoke again in his hissing tones.
“Do you swear allegiance to me once more, Aisa?”
“I do, my lord.” Aisa’s voice was small and quiet, as she knelt there, her eyes focused on the floor. Harry couldn’t quite believe that his self-assured teacher was the same person as this meek and servile creature. To his eyes, she was no better than the grovelling Wormtail.
“Then it is here that we rekindle the magical bond between us, of master and servant.” Voldemort muttered an incantation under his breath. “You see, Harry, even your noble Professor has seen the light. The only way is to follow me.”
Harry’s shock had now boiled into a slow burning anger, Voldemort’s comments sinking into him. He stood up, wand outstretched.
“Your way is not the only way, Voldemort. It is a way of misery and torture, a selfish quest for power, and I don’t want that. I just want to destroy you and everything evil that you create.” He raised his wand to curse Voldemort, but before he got a chance there was a flash of white light from between the Dark Lord and Aisa. He screwed up his eyes, furiously trying to regain his sight and saw his Professor now standing, Voldemort with a slight look of surprise on his face.
“Get back, Harry!”
He stared at Professor Galbraith, who had a small, strange smile on her face.
“You…you - ” Voldemort looked more angry than Harry had ever seen him. “What will you do if I hurt the boy, I wonder?” Harry didn’t understand what was going on, but suddenly felt pain, a horribly familiar shoot through him.
“Leave Harry alone!” Through the pain, he heard Professor Galbraith speak in forbidding tones, replied with only a distorted cackle from Voldemort. The world was fading, and memories of the night in the grave yard were flooding back. He was going to die, he knew it. Then, as suddenly as it started, the pain vanished, leaving Harry feeling weak and shaky. He had, he realised as his mind unclouded collapsed. Struggling to push himself up from the floor, he looked up to see what was going on; what he saw was not what he expected.
Voldemort and Aisa were standing face to face in the middle of the living room, absolutely motionless; Voldemort had what Harry could only describe as a look of absolute terror.
“Let me go, you traitorous child!” He hissed through clenched teeth. Harry pulled himself along the floor so he could see Aisa’s face. It was calm and serene, her eyes closed, her mouth, silently seemed to be uttering incantation after incantation, ceaselessly. “What are you doing? I demand that you stop!” Voldemort seemed unable to move. Harry lay still, mesmerised. What was Professor Galbraith doing? Suddenly, there was another flash of light, and Aisa’s body crumpled to the floor. Voldemort cackled - he clearly thought that he had won. Then, however, he screamed the most unearthly sound Harry had ever heard. He clutched at his body, he throat, his face full of fear. He looked over to Harry, and glared at him, then, his face contorted with concentration, there was a small ‘crack’, he was gone.
February 19th, 2005, 6:58 pm
Snorkack, I seem to have lost my original prophecy, and I can't remember the wording. As you got an advance copy of this chapter, would you be so kind as to owl it to me...I don't seem to have it written down anywhere which is most remiss of me.
Everyone else - we're almost there :D And you get some explanations at last!
Harry stared in horror at Aisa’s body, lying so still and lifeless, a scream dying in his throat. Suddenly, a figure pushed past him and hurried over to the body. Harry was rather startled to see Professor Snape kneeling on the ground, cradling the limp figure in his lap.
“I’m sorry, Aisa, I’m so, so sorry.” For once, his usual hard, emotionless voice seemed to have deserted him, and he was speaking in a voice that was full of sorrow. Harry gaped, his body numb from shock and, now, amazement. After a couple of seconds, he took some tentative steps toward the Potions Master.
“Professor…would you…do you…uh…” Without looking up, Snape cut him off.
“Potter, go back to Hogwarts and tell Professor Dumbledore what has happened.” He was speaking very quietly, his voice monotonic. “I will bring Professor Galbraith back with me shortly.” Harry nodded, not really hearing and screwing up his concentration. With immense effort, he focused his mind and apparated to Hogwarts. His mind not entirely on the apparation, however, he apparated beside the Lake, and ran as fast as he could up to the Castle.
Ten minutes later, hot and sticky, gasping for breath, he stood shaking outside the Gargoyles that guarded Professor Dumbledore’s office, banging feebly on the door. He stood there, futilely trying to get in, when Professor McGonagall came up behind him.
“Potter? Mr. Potter, are you ok?”
Tear-stained, he turned to McGonagall.
“Dead…she’s dead. I’ve got to tell Professor Dumbledore. Can’t get in.”
“Dead? Who’s dead?”
“P-professor Galbraith…please, Dumbledore.” Harry swayed a little on the spot, and Professor McGonagall mutter the password immediately, ushering Harry up the stairs. She knocked on the Headmaster’s door, and opened it for Harry.
Dumbledore looked up, concern quickly sweeping over his face at the sorry state Harry was in.
“Thank you, Minerva. I know what this is about. Could I please have a moment with Harry in private?”
Slightly taken aback, Professor opened her mouth as if to protest, but on second thoughts, closed it and nodded.
“Of…of course, Headmaster. I’ll see you later, Harry.” With that, she swept out of the room, closing the door gently behind her.
“Sir…sir I don’t think you do know what’s happened, Professor Gal-”
“She is dead. I know.” Harry raised his eyebrows in amazement, but didn’t say anything. “I also know you went to see her today. I keep a very close eye on everything that goes on in this castle, Harry. I think I have an idea what happened as well. Voldemort found you both, didn’t he?”
Harry nodded miserably.
“Professor Snape came to see me this afternoon, he had information that Voldemort was going to pay Professor Galbraith a visit and he was concerned, although for the wrong reasons. When I heard this, I naturally was very worried, not only for her, but especially for you. I sent Professor Snape there; we hadn’t received any panic signals – the Order members have ways of calling for assistance – so I just sent him to check that you were all ok…I take it he didn’t get there in time?”
“No, he didn’t…he got there just too late,” replied Harry shaking his head. He felt a sob choke in his throat and stopped talking abruptly. Dumbledore looked at him sympathetically.
“While I was sitting here, however, waiting for Professor Snape’s return, I received an Owl, and in the letter was something I had hoped not to read, but that I had worried about for a long time.
“Professor Galbraith was a most brilliant witch, a highly intelligent and skilled one. Her skills in the field of Nonvirgadium are surpassed by no one; I would hazard she was probably the most gifted practitioner of the art that has ever lived. I spoke to her a few weeks ago. I think she had been planning on seeing me earlier, but Voldemort’s Christmas foray interfered with that.
“She didn’t tell me very much, Harry – in that respect you and she are more alike than perhaps you realise – but from what she said, I became more worried than I was before. I had suspected for some time that she had realised a way to help you, and that way was not going to be beneficial to her. But it was not my place to criticise her choices.”
“What!” Harry exclaimed at this point. “You mean, you knew? You [/I]knew[/I] she was going to do this?” He blushed slightly when he realise that he had interrupted the Headmaster. Dumbledore, however, did not seem perturbed by this and merely nodded.
“Not so much knew, but I did suspect. But Harry, I could not do anything…it was, in fact, imperative that I did not interfere. I have often said to you, Harry, that our choices make us what we are. That is no less important for Professor Galbraith than anyone else. In fact, perhaps it was more important for her than anyone I have ever met – her choices could have affected all of us to a degree that you maybe cannot imagine.”
Harry was about to ask a question when Snape crashed through the door. He looked very dishevelled and, to Harry’s eyes at least, and emotional wreck. He was pale and his eyes bloodshot.
“Professor…I have,” Snape took a deep breath, “Aisa’s bo-” he stumbled over the word, “Professor Galbraith is in hospital wing.” He collapsed into a chair. Harry was quite shocked, he had never seen his Potions Master in quite such a state. He had seen him monumentally angry, but never like this, never as such a broken man. Snape had barely seemed to even notice that Harry was there.
“Severus, you should be in the hospital wing…Poppy will see to you-”
“No, no,” Snape cut the Professor off, shaking his head vehemently. “I want to know what she said, Dumbledore. I know she spoke to you.” Snape fixed Dumbledore with an almost malevolent glare. “She must have spoken to you.” He swallowed deeply, as though gulping air. Dumbledore looked at him with a sorrowful gaze and nodded slowly.
“Yes, I spoke to her, Severus. But, as I was telling Harry, she told me very little. I did, however, receive an owl earlier this afternoon, not long after you left, and there was a letter for you. Perhaps you should read it now?” The headmaster held out a piece of parchment to Snape, who leant over and took it in shaking hands.
Harry sat quietly, feeling very awkward as Professor Snape read the letter once and then again, before folding it up, and putting it in his cloak.
“So you’re going to tell him then,” Snape jerked his head toward Harry as he spoke.
“Aisa wanted me to tell him the truth.” Snape sighed heavily. “All right, then I shall continue, Harry. As I was saying, our choices are all very important, they make us who we are; but Professor Galbraith’s choices shaped our future. Like you, Harry, her life was begun with a prophecy. When she was seven years old, her grandmother made a prophecy that the choice’s Aisa made would shape the wizarding world, that she would have the power to ‘change the lives of those who lived in the days of darkness’. The full wording, as her father was, um, kind enough to tell me, was that 'There is born into this family a girl who has the power to change the lives of all those who live in the days of darkness. Her choices will shape their lives and choose the patterns of the world. The power of the dark one rests in her hands.' As you seem to have worked out, Professor Galbraith was once a Death Eater. It was for a very short time, and then some rather tragic events passed that changed her life for her. I had thought, once, that the choice she made as a teenager not much older than you to join Voldemort had maybe ruined the chances of truly creating his downfall, that perhaps her choices were the reason why the Avada Kedavra curse did not kill Voldemort. But I thought about it carefully and I came to the conclusion that the two prophecies concerning you both were inter-linked; Aisa’s power to change concerned, I was sure, passing on the knowledge of her particular skills to you, to teach you a method to defeat Voldemort so you could fulfil your prophecy.
“But after Aisa spoke to me, I began to think that maybe she had interpreted it another way. I had not been aware that Aisa had even the vaguest knowledge of the prophecy concerning her, and I felt it was of paramount importance that she decide to return to the Wizarding World of her own accord – which she did. If any choices were made for her, it could have been disastrous. But Aisa was aware, she did know about the prophecy – and I think that part of that was why she returned. This time, she was going to fulfil it.
“Harry, I don’t truly understand what happened tonight, and I need you to explain it to me.” Dumbledore looked searchingly at Harry, his blue eyes not sparkling with the merry twinkle they so normally possessed. “I know it’s hard, Harry. But please, try.”
“Well,” Harry took a deep breath, “I saw Professor Galbraith leave, and I learnt how to follow apparation trails with her, so I followed her to her house. She wasn’t very happy to see me – I guess really it was because she was worried?” Harry choked back a small sob. “And, I confronted her with what I knew…I was just yelling at her, that I’d trusted her and why had she not told me she was a Death Eater. She was trying to get me to leave, I just thought she was trying to get rid of me because she didn’t want to hear what I was saying, and that made me angrier. Then she said that it was because Voldemort was coming, and I just exploded. I said horrible things…the last thing she will remember of me was those accusations, Professor.” Harry was fighting hard against the tears.
“You stupid boy,” said Snape softly, his voice contemptuous. “You stupid, arrogant boy.”
“How was I supposed to know?” Harry rounded on Snape, his anger at his own behaviour pouring out onto the Potions Master. “No one tells me anything! Everyone keeps things secret!”
“You should not be so arrogant to presume that everything is your business!” Snape roared back.
“Silence!” Dumbledore’s voice soared above the din, and the two ceased arguing immediately. “You have both suffered a loss today. Harry, I am sorry that once again you felt you were in the dark, but I’m afraid that this time Professor Snape is right, it was not our place to tell you of Professor Galbraith’s past. And Severus, you will not blame Harry for Aisa’s death; it was not his fault.” Dumbledore pierced both of them with a stern glare. “Now, Harry, please will you continue with tonight’s events.”
“Sorry, sir,” mumbled Harry, blushing. “I didn’t mean-”
Dumbledore held up a finger to stop him.
“No more. Please tell me what happened when Voldemort arrived at Professor Galbraith’s flat.”
Harry nodded and continued.
“Well, Voldemort apparated into the flat and then he started some sort of ceremony. Then there was this flash of light, and he started shouting that Professor Galbraith was a traitor. He put the Crucio Curse on me,” Harry shuddered slightly, “but then it suddenly stopped and when I looked up, they were just sort of…standing there. Professor Galbraith was muttering - I’ve never seen Voldemort look scared, but he did. I don’t know if he understood what was happening, but Professor Galbraith’s body went all limp, and at first he laughed. I think he though he’d won, but then he screamed; he screamed like no one else I’ve ever heard.” At this, Professor Dumbledore made a sound of enlightenment; Snape looked at him curiously, but Dumbledore held up a finger – wait. “He seemed to go limp, and then…disappeared; did he apparate?”
“I should think so,” nodded Dumbledore, “but I suspect it took every last bit of strength he possessed.” He looked mildly triumphant. “Professor Galbraith has done something very special tonight…very special indeed.” Snape and Harry looked at Dumbledore in bewilderment. Seeing their looks, the Headmaster continued. “Harry, when your mother died, she left on you a protection, her love. This was enough to protect you, but it was not enough to help you defeat Voldemort. From the way you describe it, it sounds as though Professor Galbraith has used an Ancient Magic of her own to give you the advantage over Voldemort.” Neither Harry nor Snape looked any the wiser. “I told you earlier of the prophecy concerning Aisa. The choices she made were to be instrumental to us – she could either join us and help you, Harry, or she could side once again with Lord Voldemort. She chose to help you – but that, in itself was not enough, I feel; and it was something that Aisa too had realised. She wrote in her letter to me, and to Professor Snape, that she was taking the only choice she could; she was going to sacrifice herself.” Harry drew in his breath sharply, feeling a weight settle around him – why did people always seem to have to die to help him succeed? Dumbledore must have seen the desperation in his eyes, and laid his hand on Harry’s shoulder. “Harry, this is no longer just about you – Professor Galbraith died to help the whole of the wizarding world. She taught you about Incursocorpum, I know. Do you remember that night in Grimmauld Place, where you felt yourself leave your body?” Harry looked up, shocked.
“How did you know - ” Dumbledore smiled.
“Aisa told me as soon as she knew. Originally, she thought it was going to be her job to teach you how to separate body and soul, to do as she has done tonight, but I think she realised that she could save your life, and still achieve the same aim – in investing her soul in Voldemort (for that is what she has done) she has insured a level of protection over you and has permanently weakened Voldemort. A possessed body is like a parasite, draining power from a wizard – I suspect, should he not fight her off, the next time we encounter Lord Voldemort, he will be a much weaker wizard. She has taken his fate in her hands.”
“Aisa has…possessed the Dark Lord?” It was now Snape’s turn to look incredulous.
“So she is not truly dead?”
Dumbledore smiled sadly.
“Severus, you know as well as I do that a spirit divorced from it’s body is, in all essence, dead.”
A silence descended on Dumbledore’s office – it was Harry who broke it.
“Professor Dumbledore, sir…I suppose this isn’t really important now…but why did you trust Professor Galbraith?”
“That, Harry, is a very long, and very complicated story and I think the person best left to tell you, is Professor Galbraith herself.”
“Sir?” Harry looked at the headmaster, confused. Dumbledore reached into his desk and pulled out the large envelope which Harry had seen Aisa attach to the owl only hours earlier.
“Aisa felt, Harry, that you had a right to know exactly what happened, and why it did. She has created her own way of telling you, which she explains in this letter. She wanted me to give it to you when I felt you were ready. As I have said many times before, you have proven yourself to be mature beyond your years time and time again; I feel you are ready to understand this. I must ask Professor Snape, however,” Dumbledore turned to face the Potions Master, “if he will consent to the release of Professor Galbraith’s memories, as they do concern him in rather great detail.”
Professor Snape looked as though he was struggling with this thought, when eventually he sighed.
“No, he can see them. I have wronged Aisa many times in the past, I cannot do it again to her in death. Her truth deserves to be known.” Dumbledore smiled seriously.
“Thank you, Severus. Very well, Harry,” Dumbledore handed over the envelope, which was, to Harry’s surprise, very heavy. He thought he could feel a bottle, and the slightly movement of liquid. “I would suggest you go and find a quiet place to read that, and be careful, it’s very fragile.” Harry looked confused, but sensed it was time to go.
“Thank you, Professor,” he replied, and standing up, made for the door, the curious envelope clutched in his hands.
February 23rd, 2005, 11:26 pm
Ok, so this is very very short. But it's getting to the point where there isn't much left to update, so I thought i'd be mean and string it out...even though I have most of it written *evil grin*.
Just in case the reason there are no replies because no one saw it (and not because you don't care *sob*), it's getting to the last chance to submit any requests you might like for any of Aisa's memories that you'd like to see included.
Anyhoo, on with the little snippet :) Next bit will be up perhaps at the weekend :angel:
Madame Pomfrey met Harry at the bottom of the stairs from Dumbledore’s Office; it would appear that once again he was to spend some time in the Hospital Wing. She would not listen to Harry’s excuses that he was fine, and insisted he remain under observation for at least one night in case he suffered ill effects from the Crucio Curse. Biting back a wry grin, Harry wondered who had told her he looked a little shaky.
Once Madame Pomfrey had left Harry alone in bed in the Hospital Wing, he crept over to the pile of clothes on the chair at the end of his bed and pulled the envelope and his wand out of his robes. As he was climbing back into bed, he realised that at the end of the room there was a bed with the curtain pulled around it. With a horrible sinking feeling, he suddenly understood that it was Professor Galbraith's body that was enclosed within.
With a strange sense of determination, he pulled the covers over himself and gently, trying not to rip the parchment, he prised open the envelope, which was addressed to him in delicate writing in purple ink. Onto his bed rolled an elegant glass bottle, and a bundle of parchment. He put the bottle onto his bedside table and opened up the parchment.
If you are reading this…well, then I should think Professor Dumbledore has told you a lot already. I don’t know when you are reading this – I asked Albus to give it to you when he thought you were ready. Perhaps it has been years and you hate me more than I dare think.
Where do I begin? This letter is so hard to write – there are so many things that I think you must know, and this is my last chance to tell you. I made many mistakes in my life, Harry. I, like you, was prophesised to change things; unlike you, I did not rise to the challenge. I can place the fault many different people, but really, I have only myself to blame. You can judge for yourself, I suppose.
I never quite fitted in at school. My gift scared people and they thought it was a dark art. I was abandoned by my family; sinking into the Dark Arts wasn’t a very far way to fall, as most people thought I was there already. As I think you have worked out, Professor Snape and myself were friends at school – we were two misfits, in the same year and the same house. I think it was inevitable that we find each other at one point, and that our lives track astonishingly similar paths.
When I left school, I was accepted onto the Auror Fast Track scheme (in those days, such was the need for those fighting Voldemort, that the selection process was somewhat less rigorous). I felt that this might be the one thing that would make my family accept me again. But it did not, they still rejected me, I even found out later that my father had actually fought very hard against my appointment in the first place.
I admit that I joined Voldemort of my own free will – I was convinced that if the rest of the wizarding world had rejected me, then this must be the only place that I belonged. I used my privileged position to spy for him. I shudder now to think how many deaths are on my conscience from information I provided.
But I wasn’t the same as them. I realised I wasn’t when something was asked of me that I just couldn’t do. It became clear that, while I would provide information that I knew would result in deaths, I could not kill anyone myself; much less my family.
Why am I telling you all this? I do not wish to paint myself some tragic picture, Harry. I don’t want your sympathy, or your pity; but I know that for you, people whom you place your trust in, who you open yourself up to…all too often they have proven false, or been stolen from you.
I wanted to show you, Harry, the truth about myself, so you won’t (I hope) feel betrayed. I want to make you understand that I haven’t deserted you, but I hope that what I have done will aid you, and I will be there with you every time you fight Voldemort in the future. I will be there, helping you, watching you with pride. You will defeat him, Harry, I know you will. I know that this year hasn’t been easy for you – I have pushed you quite hard, but you have improved beyond my wildest dreams.
I knew that this moment was coming, that explanation would be needed and planned a little accordingly. You will find enclosed a small bottle – it is similar to a Penseive, a device with which I know you are familiar. If you drink the potion inside – do it just before you go to sleep – you will relive the memories I have enclosed for you. I hope it gives you some understanding of my past, and then perhaps you can forgive me. No doubt you may have more questions than the answers you receive here, but I think that all that remains can be explained by Professor Dumbledore. He had a better way with words than I.
All that is left now is to thank you once again, Harry; I am forever in your debt for the chance you have given me,
Harry lay down the parchment, a strange feeling of finality and sadness in his stomach, and picked up the bottle. It was heavy in his hands, the liquid inside sparkling silver as the moonlight which was streaming through the window touched it. He stared at it for some time, then prised the cork out of it. He had to know. He wanted to understand; no, more than that. He needed to understand, for Aisa's sake, if nothing else. Taking a deep breath, Harry swallowed the liquid in one go.
February 26th, 2005, 12:47 am
This is a very, very long chapter. I might break it at some point, although on here, it really doesn't matter, as it's all posts. Anyhoo, enjoy. And, for once, I have joined the club of many authors on here, and left you with (a very minor, since you already kind of know what happened) cliff hanger.
The feeling was different to a Pensieve. He found himself feeling as though he was falling, with an immense wind rushing past his ears. Then, as suddenly as it had disappeared, the world around him swam back into focus. The experience was different to a Pensieve as well as the feeling – he wasn’t ‘there’ in the memory, but it was more like watching a film on a Muggle movie screen…but somehow more detached. He watched silently as he sped through memories of Aisa’s school days, how she became friends with Snape. He cringed slightly as he saw the conflict with his father and Sirius, and then again when she gave herself over to Voldemort.
Slowly, the dark cellar room of the Death Eater meeting melted away and a new room materialised. This time, it was a small studio apartment. Harry looked at the grimy kitchen and the shabby sofa, wondering who it belonged to. Then he heard voices, and a key turning in the lock.
“I can’t do it, Severus, they’re my family.” The door swung open and Harry took in the sight of Professor Galbraith, her cheeks flushed and slightly tear stained, a mildly hysterical note to her voice.
“No, Aisa, we are your family now. Your loyalty to the Dark Lord should be stronger than any other. You had no choice over your family, you have chosen to be with the Dark Lord. You must do as he asks of you!” Snape shut the door and turned to face Aisa, his face stern.
Aisa shook her head, bitter, angry tears beginning to spill down her face.
“No, I can’t!”
“If you don’t do it, someone else will; Felix and your father are too important to let go.”
Harry watched curiously – this must be the thing Professor Galbraith had been talking about, that made her realise ‘she wasn’t one of them’. What had Voldemort asked of her?
Aisa shook violently.
“I…I know that. But Severus, how can I? How can I stand there and kill them in cold blood. I’ve never k-killed anyone.”
Harry gaped, the realisation hitting him; Voldemort had asked her to kill her own family. His guess that afternoon had been closer to the mark than he had realised.
Snape nodded coldly.
“And that is precisely why the Dark Lord has set you this task, he feels you still must prove your…devotion.” Aisa looked despairingly at Snape, but was met with a hard, indifferent stare. “You need to decide where your loyalties lie, Aisa, and I advise you to decide very soon.” With that, he turned and left. Harry suddenly felt a very strange sensation, a pull around his ears. Suddenly, he was engulfed by a huge feeling of loneliness. Then he found his mind filled with feelings of death and destruction, and he realised that he was in Aisa’s mind, seeing her thoughts.
Aisa’s thoughts ripped her apart for days – although Harry had a strangely distorted fast-forwarded version of the events - she must, she thought, have been responsible for dozens of deaths, but the thought of performing one herself – on her own family, no less – was more than she could deal with.
Her whole body shaking with her sobs, she thrashed through this seemingly impossible situation. There were only two ways out; either she must kill her brother and her father, or she must be killed. Yet, what purpose would the latter serve? As Snape had said, the Dark Lord would only send someone else to do it. Then, suddenly, a thought struck her. She was boiling the kettle, staring out the window, when it hit her. There was another way.
Harry felt the scenery around him disappearing again and, still inside Aisa’s mind, felt himself materialise in another memory.
“I need to speak to my father, please.” Harry blinked as he found himself in an official looking office, a toady-faced woman sitting behind the desk in front of him. He wouldn’t know it, but the Secretary of the Department of Magical Law Enforcement was known throughout the Ministry a force to be reckoned with, and crossing her was something you did only if you had a death wish. Harry had, however, encountered her before, and with a slight gasp he realised who the eighteen-odd-years-younger version of a woman he was looking at.
Aisa didn’t wish for death; she wanted to prevent it. She glared at the woman, who was smiling at her in a smug and infuriating manner. “I need to see him, now.”
“You can’t, he’s refusing all appointments today.”
“Let me see him.” Aisa was trying to keep her voice level, but it was fighting to shout.
“No, Mr Galbraith doesn’t want to see anyone. Especially you.” Aisa felt her face flush.
“He said that, specifically, did he?” she growled, through gritted teeth. Miss Umbridge’s smile grew wider with more smug glee.
“Oh yes, Miss Galbraith, especially you.” Aisa’s eyes blazed, her anger barely in check.
“I’m asking you one last time, Miss Umbridge, let me in now.” The secretary leant back in her chair and folded her podgy little arms across her chest, still with a superior grin on her face.
“No.” Harry felt something in Aisa snap and an out of control feeling engulf him. Dolores Umbridge suddenly found herself immobile in her seat.
“I asked you nicely, Miss Umbridge.” The grin was gone from the fat lady’s face, and her eyes were wide with fear at this terrifying young woman, who was performing magic on her without a wand. Harry couldn't help but let his lips twitch as the terror on her face, mingled with a slight shock at how cold and hard Aisa looked. “I’m going in now, Miss Umbridge. Don’t worry, this spell is only temporary.” Eyes blazing, she swept past the secretary’s desk, and into her father’s office without knocking. Harry felt himself being pulled around the ears once more, and discovered that he was once again observing as a removed body, rather from within Aisa’s mind. He watched as the man at the desk looked up, surprise on his face.
“What the-? I told Dolores I wasn’t having visitors today,” his eyes darkened with recognition, “And you are never allowed in.” Aisa looked fiercely at her father, her eyes dark and forbidding.
“Well, it would appear you are having visitors. Now be quiet and listen to me.” Aisa spoke with great authority in her voice, but with more confidence than she felt; to her great surprise, however, her father actually obeyed what she said. With a slightly shocked expression on his face, Augustus Galbraith stared at the woman his little girl had become – he barely recognised her. She was thinner, but she had lost that way she used to have of disappearing into the background. She had presence, there was no doubt about that, and there was something about her eyes. Those dark, purple orbs which used to sparkle so when she was a little girl on his knee, they seemed to smoulder now. Harry watched as these thoughts caused a frown to develop on his face, which was already lined with age. It was in contrast to Aisa, who looked calm and determined.
Aisa sat down in one of the seats, and began in her low, clear voice.
“You, and Felix, are being targeted by the Dark Lord’s supporters. The Dark Lord wants you both dead and, by and large, what he wants he gets. You must do something to protect yourselves.” Her father stared at her.
“How do you know this? None of our spies have told us this. Naturally, I am well protected already, but our spies have not informed me of a further plot. Why would they want Felix?” Aisa cast her eyes down to the ground.
“Don’t be ridiculous, you know as well as I do that Felix’s job as a Healer is just a cover. He’s a spy for you, and everything else is true, father. The Death Eaters have a better idea of what protects this Ministry and it’s officials than I think you realise.” She could feel her father’s gaze burning into her. He spoke in a very quiet, strangled tone.
“How do you know this? Aisa, tell me. How do you know?” Harry saw Aisa’s control of the situation falling away slightly, her eyes shining slightly with uncried tears. As her two worlds crashed into each other, her loyalties tearing at each other, she began to come apart inside. Very, very quietly, she spoke.
“I know, because I told them. I know, because I am one of them. I know, because I am the one they asked to kill you.” She raised her head saw what she had done to her father.
Augustus Galbraith stared at this woman, his little girl, and felt for the first time in years, a small stab of guilt. Was it because of him, the way he had behaved toward her that she had turned out like this?
“No…no, Aisa, that can’t be true, please tell me it isn’t.” Aisa shook her head miserably.
“I won’t do it but if I don’t, someone will. I had to warn you, I had to.” Her father was looking at her like she was a ghost.
“Have you…would…other people, would you?” Aisa realised what he was trying to ask.
“No…no, I haven’t. I don’t think I could. I’ve just been a spy. Father, there is no escape for me; I don’t want to be there any more. I thought I could block it all out, I thought I could be as inhuman as the rest of them, but I can’t. I can’t do it anymore. I…I’m turning myself in.”
Harry grimaced slightly, a powerful feeling spreading through him that he really should not be watching this. The man spoke again in a small croak.
“You were my daughter once; such a happy, sweet child you were. I barely recognise you now. But this…I suppose I should have known, should have suspected.” Aisa felt a small lump rising in her stomach, and the tears were threatening. Her father was getting a hold over himself now, however, and his voice was now voided of all emotion; hard and cold.
Harry watched in shock as he saw Aisa’s own father flick his wand, and small ropes writhe out of the chair, strapping his daughter down tight. She could have stopped it in an instant, Harry knew, but that obviously wasn’t what she wanted; instead, she sat and quietly listened to what her father was saying.
“I have watched you, all your life. I loved you so much when you were a little girl; you used to smile all the time and call me Daddy. Then you went to that school, and everything changed. You became so silent and withdrawn – you looked almost haunted. You terrified your mother and I; we had no idea what to make of you. Then Felix told us about…about the Dark Magic you were practising, and we knew all was lost. I fought hard against your appointment as an Auror, but somehow you got through.” Augustus Galbraith glared at his daughter with distaste. Unable to speak through the gag that her father had conjured, Aisa gasped at this news; she had never known he was actively blocking her. Harry felt a lump rise to his own throat as he saw a tear escape from her eye and trickle down her cheek. “I knew, I just knew you would corrupt it somehow; and yet, another part of me was hoping you would pull through and turn out to be the daughter I had always wanted. You have failed me for the last time Aisa.” At this, the door opened, and several of Aisa’s former colleagues arrived. They stopped stock still in the doorway at the sight of Aisa, tear streaked and shaking silently, bound to the chair, with her father standing over her. A short, rotund man was the first to speak.
“Er, you rang for us sir? Is…is everything alright?”
“Take Miss Galbraith down to the dungeons, please, Longbottom. You make take her confession from her in a couple of hours.” Frank and the other two aurors exchanged confused looks, but did as Augustus said. Carefully, they levitated Aisa, and took her down to the ninth floor.
March 1st, 2005, 12:12 am
Well, this is proving to be a very long chapter indeed...but slowly it is winding to a conclusion. I hope some questions are being answered for you :)
Harry felt the memory fading but when he felt himself materialise in the next one, he could see nothing. He strained his eyes then saw a flash of light down what appeared to be a corridor and with a start, realised what he was looking at. In front of him were bars of a very primitive prison cell, and curled up in the corner was Professor Galbraith, her expression blank.
Harry turned back to the light and realised that he could hear voices. It was, apparently, some hours later since Aisa’s confrontation with her father and in the interim she appeared to have been interrogated.
“We can’t get any sense out of her, Augustus. Are you sure she said all that to you?” Harry heard the sound of a fist meeting with the cold stone wall of the corridor.
“******, man! I know what happened! I didn’t dream it! Or perhaps you are suggesting I have lost my mind?” Frank looked rather shocked and worried.
“No! No, sir, not at all! It’s just, we can’t get a straight answer out of her. In fact, we can’t get any sort of answer out of her.” There was an awkward silence for a moment, then Frank spoke again. “You do realise, even if she was telling the truth – this can’t go public.” Augustus glared at him, but Frank rushed on. “Just think what it would do to the Ministry! The public would go into total panic, the idea of a Ministry official – an Auror, no less – being a Death Eater! We have to keep this quiet, sir.” Augustus sighed heavily.
“Yes, yes, Longbottom, I suppose you’re right. She must have a trial, however. Just keep it quiet, I suppose.”
“Sir, we can’t hold her here. There’s no evidence against her - ” There was a yell of frustration. “Sir, we can’t. Our law forbids it, we’ll have to let her go. And I must say, sir, I would vouch for Aisa’s innocence. She is a brilliant Auror and - ”
“Fine, Longbottom,” Augustus’ voice cut of Frank’s protestations, “just…let her go. But don’t let her out of your sight. And that,” he continued, overriding Frank’s reproach, “is a direct order.” There was the sound of irritated feet stamping up the stairs, then the figure of Frank Longbottom appeared in front of Aisa’s cell.
Harry looked at him with curiosity – this was, of course, Neville’s father. The man had the same short, slight chubbiness that Neville did along with the young innocence around the eyes. There was something else there, though – perhaps the responsibility of being an Auror in such difficult times was beginning to weigh down on him.
Frank put his face up to the bars of the cells.
“Aisa.” He called to her, waving his hand to try and snap her out of her reverie. Taking out his wand, he muttered a spell to unlock the door. “Aisa, you’re free to go.” He opened the door and walked over to Aisa, who still hadn’t moved. He reached down and touched her shoulder. With a slightly glazed look, Aisa turned her head to look at him.
“Letting me go?” she asked, dazedly. “If he’s letting me go, he doesn’t believe me, does he? Frank,” she grasped his wrist and now stared at him straight in the eyes; the desperation in her expression, thought Harry, was really quite disarming, “Frank, you have to make sure he’s safe. Please, Frank, you have to save him…”
The voices began to fade out, and Harry became aware of the scenery shifting around him. He could hear the shouting before the new world fully settled.
“You killed them!” Harry recognised the shrieking voice as his Professor and soon enough, he saw her; but it was his Professor as he had never seen her before. Her face was flushed and tear stained, her eyes wild. She looked completely deranged, her wand out, arms flailing as she launched herself at the other person in the room. “You killed them, Snape! How could you?”
Harry watched as Professor Snape tried to fend her off; Aisa, hysterically, seemed to have lost the use of her reason and abandoned magic in exchange for pummelling Snape with her small fists.
“STUPEFY!” Snape had managed to wrench one of his hands free to roar the incantation at Aisa. Harry stared in mild horror as her fragile body was flung clear across the room. Snape’s face was pale, except for two angry spots of red flushed into his cheeks. Lowering his wand, Snape went over to the crumpled figure that was bent at an odd angle over the arm of the sofa. For a sickening moment, Harry thought she was dead, but in the next instance realised that of course she couldn’t be – this was a memory. He then further realised that the small body was not lifelessly still, but shaking slightly with uncontrollable sobs.
“You are being ridiculous, Aisa. This had to be done, you know it did. It wasn't as if you cared for them; they abandoned you when you were 15 years old!” Snape’s voice was cold, his eyes hard. Harry thought he detected a slight hint that Snape was trying to convince himself with what he was saying as well as Aisa.
As the shadow of her old school friend loomed over her, his short, harsh words drifting into her consciousness, Aisa lifted her face, turning it up to Snape. Her eyes were red and ugly, the rims standing out against her porcelain skin, the tears she had cried leaving stains on her face and clumping her eyelashes together.
“How can you speak like this? You have just killed my family, Severus!” Her voice was rising to an only-just-contained shriek. “My only family, killed by one of the few people I thought cared about me!” She spat the words out, her eyes glinting with mad hatred at Snape.
“It had to be done, Aisa! The Dark Lord cannot be argued with!”
“No?” At this, Aisa pulled herself upright and Snape raised his wand again. “I seemed to have managed, I have not killed, Severus.”
“That is because you are weak,” spat back the dark-haired young man, his black eyes glinting just as dangerously. “You were not strong enough to do what was asked of you by your master.”
“Weak? Me?” Aisa laughed joylessly. “Don’t be a fool, Severus. I am not the one kow-towing to Voldemort.” She shot the word vehemently at Snape, who paled with anger at the name. “It is you who adopts the terrified stance you take now, when you hear his name mentioned, not I. And for your weakness, you have destroyed my family. I should kill you now.”
The hysteria had all but vanished from Aisa’s voice – she was speaking coldly now, the words biting at the tension in the small, grimy sitting room. Harry recognised the chilling expression of hatred and fury on her face from the previous evening from when he had burst in on Snape and Aisa’s confrontation in the Defence Against the Dark Arts Classroom, and it sent the same shivers down his spine; more so, this time, because although her voice was calmer, there was still a mildly deranged look in her eyes. For the first time, Harry truly understood how powerful his Professor was.
“I will always hate you, Severus, for what you have done; I will always remember this pathetic attempt to ‘prove’ yourself, which has cost me my family. I will hold it against you until the day I die, I will never, ever forgive you.”
Snape’s wand was trembling in his hand – it would appear that he too was uncomfortably aware of the power his old friend possessed. Harry waited for him to respond in usual snide, Snape fashion, but he did not. He remained silent. Then Harry saw what Aisa, in her fury, appeared to have missed. Snape was listening to something else entirely – something outside the room. It was the very slight sound of footsteps on the stairs up to the third floor. Harry felt a pool of panic well up in his throat.
The noise suddenly became much louder and, with a malevolent grin, Snape spoke again.
“Traitors of the Dark Lord deserve only one fate, my old friend. I hope you will have plenty of time in Azkaban to mull over your hatred, Aisa. Good bye.”
What happened next all occurred in a blur of movement that even Harry, with his advantageous position as a removed spectator, found difficult to follow. With a small ‘pop’ Snape had disapparated, as Aisa leapt forward with a roar of anger. Simultaneously, the door of the bed-sit burst open, through which streamed several jets of red light followed by three figures, wands out. One of the jets hit Aisa square in the back, and Harry could only watch helplessly as she sank to the floor as if her legs had been hit out from beneath her, another, more wild, scream emitting from her lips as she collapsed.
As her consciousness failed, Harry felt the memory slipping away, through the dimming vision, just seeing the Aurors (one of whom looked suspiciously like Moody) conjuring ropes around her.
The next memory was of Aisa’s trial, and, had Harry not known the transcript and what resulted, he would have been very confused indeed. It would appear that Aisa’s muddled state which he had witnessed in the case report on the Cogno-All had transferred to the memory and it was not clear at all.
The feeling of confusion permeated into the next scene Harry found himself in, which was standing beside a hospital bed which he clearly recognised as the Ward for Spell Damage in St Mungo’s. He looked down at the bed and saw, very obviously unconscious, the form of his Professor. She looked even paler than usual, a grey tint to her skin which took a darker shade in the hollows that were her cheeks and eyes. Her breathing was shallow, and there were small beads of sweat on her forehead. Under her breath, she was muttering almost incessantly.
As he stood there, Harry vaguely wondered why this memory had been included at all – was Aisa looking for pity? He received his answer in a matter of seconds, however, when the movement of a healer caught his eye. He turned and saw the plump woman ushering a two men down the corridor one of whom, with his long white beard tucked into his belt, was unmistakably Albus Dumbledore.
“It’s very good of you to come, Professors,” she was gushing under her breath. “She’s still unconscious, though. You won’t get much response.”
The younger man nodded curtly in acknowledgement.
“We are not here, Healer Strout, to pay a social visit.” His brusque tones were just shy of being downright rude, and the Healer’s amiable face fell slightly. The older man, however, spoke next in a far calmer and less abrasive tone.
“What my colleague is, I believe, attempting to say, my dear, is that we realise that Miss Williams is not in any state to receive visitors. We wish to obtain copies of her medical reports.”
This did not seem to go down any better with the Healer.
“This is highly irregular, sir. I can’t just go releasing our patient’s medical details - ”
“Ah,” said Dumbledore, holding up one long finger, “of course. One moment.” His hand dived into his robes and retrieved a rolled up piece of parchment. “I believe this will suffice.” He passed the parchment to the Healer, who unrolled it, scanned it quickly and then with a brisk nod bustled off back down the corridor.
The younger man was not really paying attention to the activity going on, but had let his eyes wander to the distressed figure lying in the bed. Harry looked into the black eyes of Professor Snape and saw something there that he was not sure he had ever seen before, a combination of something resembling guilt and, even more unlikely, compassion. As quickly as it had appeared, however, it disappeared and was replaced with something with which Harry was far more familiar: dislike.
Harry had to confess, he was confused as to why Snape was here at all, much less with Dumbledore; only moments before, after all, he had seen Aisa swearing to kill him for murdering her family. He wasn't quite sure of the time frame now, whether this was before or after Voldemort's downfall, but he supposed that Snape was now (for whatever reason) spying for the Order of the Phoenix. Before he had much time to wonder further, however, the plump healer bustled back down the corridor, a file in her hand.
“Well, here it is, Professor Dumbledore. Very sad case, you know,” she whispered in a manner which suggested she was privy to special information, a position of which she was obviously very proud. Leaning closer to Dumbledore, she continued, “Her parents were murdered by Death Eaters, apparently. The grief sent her over the edge – something in her mind seems to have snapped. She seems to have lost herself in her mind – we haven’t been able to raise her out of this state since she got here and collapsed.” She shook her head, sadly. “Terrible thing to happen to such a young thing.” Snape, Harry noticed, was standing poker straight, his lips drawn into a very tight line, his face giving nothing away. What was he feeling inside, Harry wondered? “Do you really think you’ll be able to do anything for her, Professor?”
“That I truly do not know, my dear,” replied Dumbledore, his blue eyes heavy and sad. “Professor Snape here is an excellent Potion maker, so we can only hope.” Potions. Suddenly, Harry remembered – the Featherlight Potion; Snape had developed it. When they had discovered the news, Hermione, Harry and Ron had seen it as a sure sign of some sort of collusion between Snape and Aisa, but in light of what he had seen tonight, he couldn’t say that this was true. In fact, the exact opposite seemed to be the case – they hated each other, as they did now in the present day. What had happened to change Snape’s position so much?
“I wish you the best of luck, sir,” said the Healer, handing the green file over to Dumbledore, “and you, Professor Snape. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m afraid I have to see to some other patients.” With a sad smile, the Healer made her way further down between the beds, leaving Dumbledore and Snape standing by Aisa’s bed.
March 10th, 2005, 6:55 pm
Ok, this is the second-to-last installment EVER :o I'm just cleaning up the final chapter, but I thought I'd post this as you have to wait an hour before you can post up the next bit.
Then again, I might make you wait two weeks, and post the last bit on the anniversary of the story - I can't believe I've been writing this for a whole year! 174 pages of rubbish - can you beleive they let me out? ;)
Harry felt the memory jerk and turn, but when it settled again, the scenery hadn’t changed. He looked around at the ward, and realised that it was a different day – apparently it was Christmas time. The beds had been stripped of their former clinical chic by being swathed in bright tinsel that was merrily changing colours every ten seconds, baubles hung off every available hook and from somewhere carols were floating into the ward. Harry looked around for Aisa, and saw her sitting on her bed, staring out of the window, not looking remotely festive. On her bed was a small suitcase – it would appear today was the day that ‘Katherine Williams’ was leaving St Mungo’s Hospital for Magical Maladies and Injuries.
Harry took a good look at Aisa. She seemed to be a lot healthier than she had in the last memory; her face was not so drawn and she even seemed to have some slight colour in her cheeks. She had a strange look in her face, however. She didn’t look happy, but nor did she look sad – in fact, she looked downright nervous. She kept glancing toward the door, as if she were expecting someone. Suddenly, it became apparent to Harry what, as a blur rushed down the aisle.
“Merry Christmas!” squealed the little boy, as he raced past. He skidded to a halt beside two beds further down the room. Harry looked back and saw an older lady sweeping down the aisle after him; with a jolt he suddenly realised who the little boy was – Neville Longbottom.
Several minutes later, Neville’s younger self appeared at the end of Aisa’s bed, waiting until she noticed him.
“Hi Katherine.” In his little hands he held out a bright red envelope, which Aisa took with a smile. Harry watched as the younger boy took in the sight of the suitcase, and the coat and hat she was wearing. “Are you going somewhere today?” ‘Katherine’ nodded. “Where you goin’?” Neville scrambled up onto her bed.
“I don’t know. Just away. They’ve said I can go.” She glanced out the window again – Harry thought he detected a glimmer of fear in those purple pools.
“You mean you don’t have anywhere to live?” asked little Neville, his small, chubby face frowning slightly.
“No, I do,” replied Aisa in a distracted tone, “I hope.”
“Oh,” said Neville, a trifle downcast, “that’s a shame, ‘cos otherwise you could’ve come with me and Gran.” Aisa smiled at him,
“Thanks, Neville, but I’ll be ok. Anyway, I got this for you.” She reached into her pocket and pulled out a big green marble. It was a very fine marble, and Harry grinned at Neville’s delight as he clapped at the sight of it.
“Wow! Thanks Kaf’erine. That’s the biggest, bestest marble ever!” The little boy’s eyes were round with excitement. Harry watched as Aisa smiled back, her eyes banishing the fear that had been there before; then he saw it return briefly, as her glance flickered towards the door. Harry followed her gaze and saw a Healer trying to get her attention.
“Well, I’ve got to go, Neville.” She stood up, and ruffled his hair. “Have a great Christmas, and look after your mum and dad for me? They’re very special people.”
Neville smiled up at her, then a thoughtful look passed across his face.
“Does this mean I won’t see you anymore?”
“I don’t know, Neville. I don’t know.”
The little boy jumped off the bed and hugged her leg tightly. He seemed to understand that this was an important goodbye.
“Bye Katherine.” The young woman scooped him up and gave him a hug, then set him down.
“Go on, your grandma will be wondering where you’ve got to.”
With a last wave, Neville scampered back up the corridor. Aisa stood up, and picked up her suitcase which was, Harry thought, rather small to be all the possessions she was taking with her. As she walked down the corridor, he watched as some of the other patients waved goodbye, while others looked very interested, and some mildly confused, as to where she was going.
At the door of the ward, the Healer took her suitcase and, with one last look at Neville, who was sitting quietly with his grandmother and his parents, Harry dashed out the door after them.
“Well, Katherine, this is it! Are you excited?” The Healer was making small talk as the two made their way through the corridors of the Hospital to the outside world.
“Mmm.” Aisa nodded her head, her eyes looking down to the floor. “I am…I’m nervous though, Millicent. I’ve been here so long…the world has changed.” She looked up, and Harry saw the fear back in her eyes; she was making no attempt to hide it now.
“Well, it will be hard at first, Healer Jacobs has been through this with you. But you know the support will be there for you, dear. You’ll get a job and everything will begin to fall back into place.”
“I suppose so.” Aisa nodded again, but Harry didn’t think she seemed convinced. “I’m not sure I can go back…back to what I used to do.” Millicent patted her on the shoulder.
“Don’t worry, you just get yourself settled and see how things turn out. Don’t forget to pop in next week for your check up.” The woman smiled, but her eyes were serious. “We are here for you, Katherine, we will do all we can to help you.”
‘Katherine’ managed a small smile and looked out of the window by the door. London looked cold and forbidden this afternoon, the pale sun was fighting to get through, but it’s winter weariness instead only bathing everything in a depressing, milky light. The Healer opened the small, street-side door and Aisa flinched as the cold air from outside rushed around her ankles. This was It.
“Good luck, Katherine.” On impulse, the older woman gave her a quick hug; Aisa smiled, a little embarrassed and unsure of how to react.
“Thanks,” she mumbled into her scarf, giving another valiant attempt at a smile. Harry watched her visibly take a deep breath and she turned and walked out the door. As the memory began to fade, she disappeared down to the Underground, out of view and out of the Wizarding World.
March 14th, 2005, 11:48 pm
well, the final chapter. all questions are answered, i hope. i might post a (very short) epilogue, perhaps, next week sometime, as this ends on a sort of...odd note. i might just edit the ending. i'm so decisive :D
sorry for the delay, the last scene took some writing. I wanted to have a little confrontation, but one of the characters wasn't really the 'opening up to harry' sort. you'll see what i mean :D
Harry felt the memory world go very dark and dense then, slowly, he began to feel himself fade upwards. The potion must have contained some sort of sleeping draft, he thought, as the world began to lighten around him and he felt a curious sensation, as if he was returning to his body. Suddenly, blinking, he found himself awake, curled up under the crisp white covers of his bed in the Hospital Wing.
Putting his hands against the mattress, he struggled to push himself up. Judging by the light streaming in through the window, it was morning. Out of the corner of his eye, he caught sight of the drawn curtain around one of the beds. With a start, he realised that it must hold the body of Professor Galbraith and with a wince all of the memories of last night flooded back to him.
“Good morning, Mr Potter. I trust you are feeling better after a night in Poppy’s capable hands?”
Tearing his eyes away from the curtained bed, Harry turned to see Dumbledore walking over to his bed from where he had apparently been looking out of the window.
“I…I suppose so, sir.” Harry chewed his cheek slightly – he could not honestly say he had had a completely restful slumber; indeed, his mind was still whirling with what he had seen. He watched as Dumbledore’s eyes fell on the letter and the now-empty bottle which were lying on Harry’s beside table.
“I see you discovered Professor Galbraith’s potion? It was not her best subject, but I trust that it worked correctly?” Dumbledore had taken a seat next to Harry’s bed by this time and Harry shifted his position to face him.
“Yes, sir…I think so. She…she said she wanted to explain. She wanted me to understand why she has done what she did.”
“And do you, Harry?” Dumbledore’s face was grave, his eyes steely grey as they looked into Harry’s. Harry paused before answering.
“I…I think so, sir. She had to fulfil the prophecy,” he sighed, “She had no choice. Just like me.” Harry hunched his shoulders and looked down at his hands which were twisting the sheet between his fingers.
“No, Harry. I am afraid, astute as your deductions usually are, this time you are incorrect.” Harry looked up abruptly. “Aisa did have a choice. I have often said to you that it is our choices who make us what we are – I believe I said it to you last night. Aisa had a choice of what to do with her gift; last time, she chose to help evil. This time, she chose to work against that, and she chose to do what she thought was right and necessary. To her, Harry, it was the right choice which was the only choice.
“I don’t know what she showed you in her bottle, but perhaps you would like to keep it private - ”
“No, sir.” Harry cut Dumbledore off emphatically. Blushing slightly at his abruptness, he expanded on his comment. “No…I think I need to talk about it with someone.” Dumbledore smiled gently. “She…she showed me her past, lots of memories of her life. I think…I think I understand now why she went to Voldemort. She felt alone and…and trapped, that no one understood her. But what I don’t understand is why was she in Slytherin in the first place though?”
“Circumstances, Harry, sometimes exist to put us in difficult places, to test us, to help us discover things about ourselves we never would have dreamt existed. Consider your first year; would you have ever thought yourself capable of achieving such things as you did then? Or in the Chamber of Secrets? The Sorting Hat is a clever instrument, more than I think we sometimes realise, and it saw that Aisa had something special that even she did not know existed; had she been placed in another house, where undoubtedly she would have fitted in excellently, she would not have perhaps discovered her amazing gift for Nonvirgadium. I hazard only a guess, of course.” He smiled at Harry, who knew full well that the Headmaster was far more intelligent than he modestly portrayed himself.
There was silence for a moment and Harry mulled over his thoughts, as they drifted slowly to Voldemort. Suddenly, he found himself fighting down an angry impulse at the Dark Lord. He had ruined so many lives, it seemed to Harry that almost everyone from his parents’ generation had been hurt, had their lives damaged in some way. He looked up at the headmaster, his cheeks flushed. “I want to win this, sir. I will defeat Voldemort, I promise you.”
“I think, Harry,” replied Dumbledore, smiling at the determined young man before him, “that Professor Galbraith has just completed her training of you. She would be very, very proud to hear you say that.” The angry flush in Harry’s cheeks was joined by one of mild embarrassment. The Headmaster stood to leave, when something else came back to him.
“Sir - ” Dumbledore paused and looked at Harry expectantly, who paused, unsure of how to go on. “Sir, I still have a few questions though, things that Professor Galbraith didn’t answer.” The Headmaster sat down again, smoothing his beard into his belt. Harry paused. “Can I ask you about them?”
“Yes, you can,” replied Dumbledore, nodding seriously. “I was actually expecting you to ask this earlier. You may remember that you were not the only one who received a letter from Aisa and in mine she warned me that you may have more questions than she had answered. Ask away, Harry.”
“Well, one of the memories that Professor Galbraith put into the bottle…it was of her getting arrested for being a Death Eater. Why didn’t she go to Azkaban after her trial? She was supposed to have a retrial, wasn’t she – but I saw her leave St Mungo’s under a false name and she was here this year under her real name and no one came to get her…” Harry trailed off, his incoherent thoughts jumbling out of his mouth at break neck speed. Dumbledore merely smiled and waited for the flow to ebb.
“Ah yes…I’m rather afraid I had something to do with that. You see, after Aisa’s warnings about the threat to her father’s life, she became suspect number one. They had a tip off as to where she might be, and arrested her. Unfortunately, as you may have noticed, the circumstances of her family’s death unbalanced her somewhat and she ended up in St Mungo’s. In the intervening time, the principle reason for the aurors’ suspicion of her was shown not to be quite so untrustworthy and the case against her collapsed.”
“The principle reason…” Harry trailed off, his eyes widening. “Professor Snape!” Harry suddenly fully remembered the memory. “Professor Snape killed Professor Galbraith’s family, didn’t he sir?” Dumbledore nodded sadly. “And you got him off! You swore to the Wizengamot that he wasn’t a Death Eater!” Dumbledore nodded again. Harry was confused – how could Dumbledore look so calm? He had denied Aisa full justice for something that had clearly destroyed her so much; to protect Snape.
“Harry, when Professor Snape came to me, I knew full well that he had been a Death Eater, and I knew full well, as did you when you first discovered the information, that this role must have entailed him doing terrible things. What you must understand, Harry, is why I trusted Professor Snape. Can you not see, Harry?” Harry shook his head. Dumbledore sighed slightly, his eyes saddening at the memory. “When Professor Snape came to me, he was a wreck. Despite himself, he had cared very much for Aisa and seeing her so distraught at what he had done to her was more than he could take. It was this that made him join the Order, Harry, and why I trust him. It is our choices that make us what we are, and Severus’ choice to betray the one person whom he truly cared for made him realise the reality of what he was doing. There is nothing stronger than a sense of deep regret for your behaviour and a will to reform – that is why I trust Professor Snape, Harry.”
“But,” replied Harry, his brow furrowed, “Professor Galbraith…I mean, how could she forgive him for doing something like that?”
“She couldn’t. She found it very difficult to come back to Hogwarts, and seeing Professor Snape was one of those reasons. He brought back a lot of memories. Severus has never really forgiven himself either, I don’t think,” said Dumbledore, almost musing to himself, “and seeing her kept bringing back what he had done.”
A conversation floated that he had heard a long time ago, back in November, suddenly floated back into Harry’s mind:
“…we are connected by the same fate.”
“No, Severus, we are not, I escaped, you are still trapped there mentally, still bitter and twisted as ever. These past years have has not been easy for me either, I have spent a life time living under a shadow you have cast.”
Suddenly, the snippets of conversation he had heard over the past year were beginning to make more sense. Blinking, he suddenly realised that Dumbledore was now speaking directly to him again.
“Professor Snape, as you may have seen in the memories, did all he could to repay his debt. Of course, my testimony that he was not a Death Eater meant that his word that Aisa did not kill her family took more weight and she was thus pronounced innocent. But he also did work himself – he advanced research into a potion I believe you have learnt to make to help Aisa regain her health. She did not know, you may be interested to find out, of this until she began to loosen her mind to find the memories to make for you. I think that is part of what she wrote in his letter; I believe she wanted to thank him. The night that he killed Augustus, Cynthia and Felix will stay sore for a long time in several people’s pasts, but perhaps this will go some way to heal the wounds of the two most closely connected.” Suddenly, something else clicked in Harry’s mind.
“Yes, Harry, that was Professor Galbraith’s mother.” Harry turned this information over quickly in his mind.
“How did Mrs Weasley know Professor Galbraith’s mother?” Harry blushed at the inquisitive look he received, and he realised that the connection of his question was not, perhaps, immediately obvious. “We…uh…we overheard the…conversation in the hallway at Christmas.” Harry was sure he saw Dumbledore suppressing a smile, but it did not reach his eyes.
“I said that there were many people affected by the Galbraiths’ deaths. You must remember that Aisa was an auror when they were killed and Voldemort was still powerful. The news of someone from the Ministry being involved with Death Eaters was not something they wished…publicised. However, there were those within the Ministry who knew what happened. Alastor Moody was very close with Augustus and has never quite forgiven Aisa for what he believes she did, and Molly Weasley found out from Arthur, of course. Aisa’s mother was muggle-born and I believe Mrs Weasley has a cousin who is an accountant. Cynthia used to spend holidays at the Weasleys often, as I understand it, and Molly regarded her as a sister. She too, has never truly believed Aisa’s innocence and nor has she forgiven her.” Suddenly Snape’s protection of Aisa during that argument at Christmas was making a lot more sense to Harry. He wasn’t really sure what to say next, however. “Is there anything more you wanted to know, Harry?”
“No, sir.” Harry shook his head. “No, that’s everything. Thank you for filling in the gaps.” Dumbledore smiled.
“You’re welcome – she wanted you to know, I think she hoped it would help you with your own situation.” He smiled sadly at Harry, who lay back down in his bed, and left the room with a little nod to Madame Pomfrey.
Harry of course filled Hermione and Ron in on the details of what had happened, and what he had been told. Hermione was shocked at how much they had got wrong, while Ron was wildly whooping that he had been right all along that Snape was, in fact, ‘a total evil *******’. Harry, however, felt quite empty. Although he understood why it had happened this time, once again someone who he had respected and cared for had left him. Alone. Again. He also couldn’t quite get out of his head that the perhaps the last things Professor Galbraith had heard from him were his shouting words of hatred.
That evening, he made his excuses and stole down to the Hospital Wing. After pleading with Madame Pomfrey, he walked slowly down to the end of the room, and pulled back the curtain where the body of his Professor lay.
It wasn’t what he expected; she did not look dead. Her skin was still as pale as ever, but did not have the plastic, ill look of a dead woman, but merely looked as if she were sleeping. A little unsure of exactly why he was here, Harry pulled over the visitor’s chair and sat in it awkwardly.
“I…I just wanted to say thank you, I guess, Professor. I,” he stuttered over the words – this felt very strange and he was quite conscious of the fact that (if she had not been as diplomatic as Harry omitted to credit her for) Madame Pomfrey might be listening. “This prophecy, about me – at the beginning of the year, I couldn’t really handle it, I wanted it to be someone else, why did it have to be me? This year, you helped me come to terms with so much, I think without you even realising it. You helped me get over Sirius’ death, to deal with the prophecy. I understand that even more now, I see that I must defeat Voldemort. It’s not just for other people; it’s for me, too. He has destroyed so much; he’s got to be stopped.” Harry sighed, he didn’t really know how to express what he wanted to say. He knew she couldn’t hear him, he knew it wouldn’t really make a difference what he said. At least, no difference except for him.
“I suppose what I really want to say, is that I’m sorry. I’m sorry I ever doubted you, or suspected you and I’m really, really sorry for the things I said to you just before…just before,” Harry choked on the words, tears pricking the back of his eyes, “before he came and, before Voldemort came.” Angrily he wiped the tears which were threatening to overspill the boundaries of his eyes with the sleeve of his robe.
“Your memory potion really helped, you know. It did help me understand exactly what happened back then, why people might have done what they did. Even people I never thought I’d understand - ” Harry stopped abruptly, as he heard the sound of the door opening and closing, followed by footsteps. Quickly, he stood up, trying desperately to think of a reason for his presence that did not sound like a bad muggle soap opera. He failed to do so in time.
“Potter?” The voice was that of Professor Snape but it did not sound angry; more surprised than anything. “What are you doing here?” In fact, Snape sounded completely thrown of kilter. Harry felt himself blushing and turned around slowly to face his Professor.
“I…I just wanted to…see Professor Galbraith,” he stammered, uncertainly, his natural instinct to be rude to Snape suppressed by both his own discomfort at the situation and also by Snape’s tone.
The older man did not comment, but moved past Harry to stand over Aisa’s body. Harry took a few steps back, wanting to leave now, but unable to work out how to do it.
“I suppose she told you everything?” Snape’s question broke the silence and snapped Harry out of his thoughts as to how to excuse himself. Harry maintained his silence, completely nonplussed as to how to answer. He didn’t really know what to make of his Potions Master now. Only the evening before, he had seen him a broken man, distraught with grief over Aisa’s death. Then, in memories deep from the deceased woman’s mind, he had seen him as a vulnerable teenager, a cold-hearted young man, a murderer and a grieved man attempting compassion for the first time in his life. How on earth was he supposed to answer the question of ‘everything’ – ‘everything’ did not fit into the Professor Snape he knew and loathed? He was becoming far too uncomfortably human.
“She died for you, Potter,” Snape was continuing, his tones tight and clipped, but not full of his usual malice. “Remember that. She died so that you might succeed – do not squander it.” He turned and pierced Harry with a fierce glare. “As your mother did before her, she has sacrificed her life so that you might be saved.” Harry felt his stomach twisting – he wanted badly to shout at Snape, but he could find no excuse to do so. For once, the man actually sounded genuine. He was not being spiteful nor malevolent or even condescending. Harry knew he spoke the truth and he also understood exactly why he was saying it. Snape had lost someone that he had cared about – the thought was hard to comprehend, but it appeared to be true – and must surely be feeling as he, Harry, had done last year over Sirius. Suddenly, he realised that he should leave the Professor alone to his thoughts. He could hear the emotion catching at the sides of his voice; well hidden, but not well enough. Snape, the blank slate, the man of mysterious past was suddenly a lot clearer in Harry’s mind; and the thought was not easy to come to terms with!
“Yes, sir,” he muttered. “I…I better go now.” Snape broke the glare and turned around to face the bed. Slowly, Harry turned to leave the room.
“Potter.” Harry stopped; neither of them turned around. “I will send you the times that you are to see for your continued lessons in Nonvirgadium.”
Without another word, Harry walked out of the Hospital Wing and down into the bright sunshine of the Hogwarts grounds, where Ron and Hermione were revising for exams.
It was strange how so little could change around him, while his life was one of such upheaval. All around, oblivious to such things as disembodied spirits and disturbing visions of people's pasts and his own future, other students gossiped around the lake in the cool Spring air. Far away from Hogwarts, many others were at home for the Holidays, safe and away from the troubles that seemed to plague him.
Everyone had their lot in life - his experience over the past few days had taught him that. Everyone had their part to play. Aisa had known her's and he, Harry, knew his; she had made her choice, now Harry was making his.
Catching his eye, he saw Hermione waving at him to come over. Smiling slightly, he walked over to join her and Ron, his mind feeling surprisingly clear and purposeful. His future may be set, but there was no reason why he could not enjoy the present.