School of Magic
The Philosopher's Stone
This is going to be a female-Talia story. This is inspired by a story I read earlier.
The one who survived
To quote Jean-Luc Godard: "A story should have a beginning, middle and an end, but not neccecarily in that order."
And on that note, we begin our story.
Ten years ago, Number Four Privet Drive seemed the same as it did now for the most part. The sun still rose over the neatly trimmed hedges and lit up the bronze number on the wall. Only now there was no sun, the moon was still shining brightly in the sky as the muffled sound of cleaning could be heard from the one person that didn't seem to exist in this house.
The mantelpiece showed the only signs that time has passed in the past ten years. Back then it held pictures of a pink beach ball wearing different colored bonnets. Now it held a prized pig-in-a-wig trying to ride a bike, playing computer games, riding the carousel and being hugged and kissed by his mother, this of course was Dudley Dursley. There were no pictures of the naked figure busy dusting off the mantelpiece. In truth if you didn't live in the house you wouldn't know about her, Talia Potter, the Dursley's secret.
It started to get light out so Talia moved to the kitchen, dodging the many gifts and started on the breakfast for the family, who would be waking up just after the mailman delivered the post. Talia took the last of the stale bread out of the bread bin, surprised that there was even left, and replaced it with the fresh one that just came out of the oven. She placed the bread in the cupboard under the stairs and took the bowl of liquid and dumped it outside on the petunias.
She smirked at the irony before she retreated into the house, picked up the mail, placing it on the table and went into the cupboard. Just as Talia lay down there was a rap on the door. She found it odd and in a raspy voice called out:
"Yes aunt Petunia?"
"I left some clothes for you in front of the door, get dressed and wait for me in the living room."
Talia creaked open the cupboard door and pulled the clothes in. It was some of Dudley's clothes from when he was younger. A pair of faded jeans with one of aunt Petunia's belts, heaven knows she was the only one thin enough to wear a belt. A pair of wooly socks stretched to its limits due to Dudley's wide ankles. A polo-neck shirt that still looked new, Dudley might not have been able to get it around his neck. The last item was the shoes, five sizes too big for Talia, but then you don't look a gift horse in the mouth.
Talia waited until the last set of heavy feet passed the cupboard before she made her way to the living room. She stood there too afraid to touch anything when aunt Petunia entered from the kitchen door. She ordered Talia to sit on the ground in front of the couch before she took place behind her. Talia felt aunt Petunia angrily fiddling with her hair before taking a regular rubber band and tying it around the bottom end.
"Wait here until I come to call you. Piers is coming over and he's asked Dudley too many questions so Dudley let it slip that you still lived here. You are coming to the zoo with us and you are going to smile the whole day, you will rest tonight and then tomorrow you will go back to schedule. Understood?"
"Yes aunt Petunia, thank you aunt Petunia."
When aunt Petunia left Talia spared herself a look in the mirror. Her long red hair was now in a braid down to her ankles. The way it was now one could hardly tell it was dirty. Talia lifted the shirt to glance at the red welts she received last night just to stop her from doing anything with Dudley's gifts. She didn't poke at it, it would only bleed.
The doorbell rang and Talia rushed to the original spot she stood. She didn't want to get beaten again. Half an hour later, she was sitting on the lump on the backseat making her already small frame smaller. Dudley would occasionally hit her on the right before Piers would hit her on the left.
As they drove, uncle Vernon complained, his favorite pastime. He had many things to complain about and Talia was a big part of his complains. Today however uncle Vernon left Talia and focused his aggression towards motorcycles. Talia didn't dare tell them about the dream she had about a flying motorcycle. Her current life was caused by unnatural occurrences.
It was the end of the first week of the first grade. Talia ran trying to get away from Dudley and his gang, when she was struck by a stone on her leg. She stumbled onto the ground and curled into herself wishing she could just get away when she suddenly found herself on the school roof.
The school was furious, they called the Dursleys and said Talia was climbing the buildings. It wasn't until Dudley came to her rescue that things went south. He told his parents that Talia was there one second and gone the next. Uncle Vernon went to the back yard and cut off the thorniest rose stem he could find. That night as Dudley watched TV, uncle Vernon tore the clothes from her body and beat her with the rose stem until it finally broke. He gave her two hits with his fists before locking her in the cupboard. A week later Talia was allowed to take what ever scraps of food was left in exchange for cleaning the house from top to bottom.
They stopped at the zoo's parking lot where Talia remained seated like she was told. However Piers asked them why she was staying in the car. Uncle Vernon gave her a dangerous look before telling her to get out. They walked to the entrance where each of them got an ice-cream, Talia got the cheapest they had being told it was her favorite.
Talia walked five paces behind the family, like a good slave out to. They ate lunch at the zoo's restaurant and Talia couldn't believe her luck as she got Dudley's smaller Knickerbocker Glory. After lunch they went to the reptile house. Talia laid her head against the Boa Constrictor's cage, basking in the warmth. She vaguely registered her family trying to make it move to no avail. When they got bored and left Talia turned to the snake, she gave it a sad smile.
"Sssorry about that," She whispered not wanting to draw attention, she didn't even realize she was speaking in a different language.
"No worriesss," the snake hissed back looking her in the eye and seeing the abuse she went through. "I sssee that those mugglesss are abusssing you, or elssse I would've attempted to ussse you to essscape. But I will not do ssso know. Perhapsss I could find one that could help.
Talia was pulled away before she could reply. She only barely noticed the glass crack as they left the reptile house. Piers stayed for dinner that night and Talia was given her first real meal in the house in years, not counting the side salad and Knickerbocker Glory at lunch. Piers left that night after the news. One of the head-lines was about the glass in the reptile house at the local zoo shattered with age and a few snakes escaped. Talia felt relieve that it wasn't just the one.
After Piers left Talia stripped and was thrown back into the cupboard. She had a decent night's sleep and woke in the early hours to make breakfast before returning to the cupboard for the day. The next day it was business as usual, it was Monday so Dudley would go to school have a huge tantrum giving Talia enough time to take a quick shower and clean up.
Talia opened the curtains and saw a tabby-cat sitting on the wall in the front yard. It was beautiful in her opinion and she lost track until she heard the sound of aunt Petunia's car around the corner, she rushed to reach the cupboard and feign sleep.
When everyone went to sleep Talia made her way to the front window and saw that the cat hasn't left yet, in fact she imagined it was trying to read her mind, but she wrote it of as wishful thinking before returning to her chores for the night. For some reason Talia relived her entire life throughout the night.
Just before returning to her cupboard Talia glanced out the window as she retrieved the post, the cat was still there, sitting as stiffly as it sat the previous day. When the Dursleys left the house Talia steeled a look outside as she opened the curtains, the cat was gone by now and Talia felt like she imagined the whole thing.
After a life of sorrow
Minerva McGonagall couldn't believe what she learned the previous day. A wizarding family found a large boa constrictor, and a three other snakes, in their kitchen. The smaller snakes lay in an SOS pattern while the boa lay in a lightning bolt shape. They extracted the boa's most recent memory and saw a very thin, worn looking girl lying against the class at a reptile house in Surrey. The memory was taken to Albus Dumbledore who asked McGonagall to investigate.
She found a history of neglect followed by abuse and enslavement. It seemed that fate was cruel to one Talia Potter. McGonagall gave a full report to Dumbledore. He wished to speak to the family and ask them to treat Talia better, McGonagall exploded. She was skeptic when he only left them a letter to explain circumstances and after she seen the abuse through Legilimency, a form of magic she hated, she could no longer keep her mouth.
"Albus, surely you can't expect the muggles to see reason by just talking to them." McGonagall saw the twinkle in his eye.
"I shall take matters into my own hands. I know for a fact that Talia hadn't considered Privet Drive a home since she was made a slave there, all the wards has faded." McGonagall took a deep calming breath. "If you won't save her from those muggles I will."
Dumbledore still wanted to answer, but McGonagall had already gone. Dumbledore knew she wouldn't find what she was looking for at the Ministry. He raked his mind and found McGonagall had a sound argument so he followed her.
"Minerva, you are right." Dumbledore said with a sigh. "But the ministry won't be able to assist you as Hogwarts have full authority over underage witches and wizards."
"So I can go fetch Talia?" McGonagall scowled.
"Soon but not just yet, you see there are some formalities that needs to be taken care of." Dumbledore held out his arm and McGonagall begrudgingly took it.
McGonagall appeared in a pop at sunset on the corner of Privet Drive. She clutched the papers in her hand and pulled out her wand before making her way down to Number four. Steeling herself McGonagall knocked on the door quite loudly.
"Whatever you're selling, we're not buying it." Uncle Vernon said through the crack in the door.
"I would advise you to step aside Dursley," McGonagall hissed out, "but I would prefer it if you didn't." Her wand tip glowed red and the door with uncle Vernon flew down the hall and into the kitchen where they were busy eating.
"Dear," McGonagall said at the cupboard under the stairs, "Don't be frightened I'm here to take you away."
"You will –" Uncle Vernon couldn't complete the sentence as he was silenced and McGonagall slammed the papers into his fat chest.
"Dursley," McGonagall glared at him, "I know what occurred in this house and I find myself fuming, lucky for you I may not torture you due to the muggle protection act. So it would be best if you read those papers and be quiet."
McGonagall opened the cupboard and gently ushered Talia out before vanishing in a pop. Vernon Dursley's face lost all color as he read the charges, on behalf of Talia, against him and Petunia. The sentence was a week each in the wizard jail Azkaban.
Talia felt sick and was sure that if she had eaten, she would've hurled it out at that moment. She turned to the only other person in the clearing where she found herself now and tried to place her to no avail. The closest she got was the tabby-cat on the wall.
"Talia," McGonagall spoke softly, "My name is Minerva McGonagall. I am a professor at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry."
"You know," Talia coughed from the sudden intake of fresh air. "You know my name, ma'am?"
"Yes dear and I also know what those muggles did to you. You should know that as of today, you will no longer live with them."
"But –" Talia had no words, the Dursleys made it clear that they were the only family she had.
"Stockholm Syndrome." McGonagall said under her breath before taking Talia's hand gently and moving towards the Three Broomsticks.
Madam Rosmerta only gave the small thin girl next to McGonagall a glance as they entered before scooping a plate of food for her from the buffet. By the time they sat down Madam Rosmerta placed the plate and a glass of soda in front of Talia and said it was on the house. After some coaxing Talia ate, McGonagall noticed that she had fear in her eyes, hidden behind a blank mask.
McGonagall explained the situation to Talia as best she could. She assured her that she will never return to those muggles. Talia didn't know what a muggle was, but the way McGonagall spoke she was sure she wasn't one. After a pleasant meal McGonagall led Talia up the stairs to one of the rooms. Talia looked for a cupboard but the room had none, instead it had two soft beds and a door to a bathroom of to the side.
McGonagall took Talia to the bathroom and after drawing a bath, she vanished the clothes. She noticed every healed bruise over her body. She ushered Talia in and told her to relax. McGonagall waved her hand over the water and it started to automatically clean Talia. She knew that any human contact would only tense up the little girl.
After the bath McGonagall conjured up a set of pajamas and led her to the bed. She gave Talia a glass of milk, with a mild sleeping draught. Talia drank the milk cautiously before allowing McGonagall to tuck her in. McGonagall sat at the desk in the room writing a letter when she felt a tuck of magic. It was completely untraceable, but McGonagall recognized it as the same tuck she got every time she became a cat, or another Animagus transformed in her close proximity. McGonagall walked over to the bed and noticed the little red fox curled into a cute ball. She smiled, Talia Potter survived by becoming a fox, the fur a shield against the cold.
All throughout the night McGonagall contemplated of she should tell the ministry about Talia being an Animagus. She spend a lot of time searching for any distinguishing marks but she found none, not even a patch of uneven or off colored fur. She would however get Talia a private room in Hogwarts castle. Because there is no way she's going back to the muggles.
As soon as the waitress dropped off the breakfast, McGonagall softly called Talia's name. She smiled as her cute fox ears shifted and she slowly transfigured back to her human form. She took a moment to scan her surroundings when she realized she wasn't in a cupboard and that she was actually dressed.
"A good morning to you Talia, did you sleep well?" Talia jerked her head towards the voice.
"Yes thank you ma'am," Talia answered timidly. "I was afraid it was only a dream."
McGonagall smiled sadly and offered Talia a plate. She watched as the young girl ate fast but cautiously. She transfigured the pajamas into a pair of jeans and a t-shirt. Talia, having experienced this twice before, only gave it half a mind.
As Talia finished breakfast McGonagall gave her a yellowish parchment written in green ink. Talia tried to read it, but her vision has always been blurry when it came to letters on paper.
"Talia, should you wear glasses?" McGonagall asked.
"I don't need glasses!" Talia all but shouted, than added timidly under her breath, "I need people to stop writing blurry."
McGonagall smiled as she tapped the single freckle on Talia's nose with her wand. It warmed slightly and soon a pair of reading glasses appeared. McGonagall invented this charm in her seventh year, it was untraceable advance magic. It gave the user access to a pair of glasses whenever they needed it and it was a freckle when they didn't. Being a red-head that was kept out of the sun for a long time, Talia didn't have many freckles yet. She had the one on her nose, four on her left cheek and seven on her right.
"We are heading to London today to buy your school supplies and a few other items that you might need, but first we are heading towards Hogwarts to get you settled in." McGonagall smiled. "Like I promised last night you will not return to your muggle relatives."
The journey up to the castle had Talia in silent awe. The town was beautiful and Talia could tell that every one here must at least know some magic. And then there was the castle itself. It was huge, and Talia knew she could very well get lost in it. Inside the castle they made their way up the marble stair case all the way up to the seventh floor and down a few corridors.
"Lemon Drop," McGonagall said to the statue. It began to spiral taking Talia and McGonagall to the headmaster's office, "Albus." McGonagall gave a firm nod.
"Ah Minerva and young Talia." Dumbledore was quiet when he finally saw what his actions caused.
"I don't need to be placed on her head to know she would do well in either Slytherin or Gryffindor." Talia jumped as a very frail hat spoke from one of the shelves.
"How true," Dumbledore said finally speaking again, "but alas, she won't be placed in a house dormitory. Isn't that what you wanted to request of me Minerva?"
"There is a secret room between my quarters and the Gryffindor Common Room behind Sir Nicholas's fox tapestry." McGonagall said. "With some work it could be made into a suitable home for Talia, outside of the school year that is."
Both the hat and Dumbledore agreed with McGonagall and Talia was made the first Gryffindor of her year. Dumbledore told them that he would get the room ready that night and they should enjoy the day in London. He then asked Talia what she would want the password to her room to be. She couldn't think of something so McGonagall suggested Tails.
McGonagall knew that Talia wasn't ready for the floo-network so she took her outside the school grounds and held out her wand. Seconds later a triple-decker purple bus appeared. She paid the conductor a few silver coins and found the sturdiest chain in the bus. She told Talia to hold on and soon the bus was speeding off. Seconds later the excitement got to Talia and she screamed in ecstasy like one would, riding a rollercoaster.
In London they actually drove through a wall and stopped in front of a tall white building. McGonagall thanked the conductor and ushered Talia off the bus. McGonagall told Talia that the building was the Wizard Bank and that they will get some of her money from her vault.
"That can't be right," Talia said while they were waiting for a free goblin.
"Your parents didn't leave you with nothing, the Potters were a very old wizarding family." McGonagall assured her as she handed Talia's key to the goblin.
"Just vault six-hundred-eighty-seven?" the goblin asked.
"For now, when we return we also want to exchange five hundred Galleons to pounds to use in Muggle-London." McGonagall said leaving no room for argument.
A goblin by the name of Griphook took them down to the vault, she got the same exhilarating feeling she had on the bus much to McGonagall's amusement. Griphook unlocked the door and when the green smoke dissipated Talia was pleasantly surprised. She expected to see only a single stack of Knuts, but there was a pile as high as the ceiling and three times as wide as the big fellow Talia saw on the grounds. There was a pile twice the size of that in silver Sickles and a pile four times the size of the silver in gold Galleons.
McGonagall counted off five hundred Galleons before handing Talia a small bag and told her to take some of each pile and put it in the bag. Talia took two handfuls of each pile and dumped it in the bag. She didn't know what the Pound to Galleon was, but she knew that her little bag contained more money than she ever held in her life.
They made their way out of the vaults and Talia sat down on one of the waiting chairs while McGonagall exchanged the Galleons for Pounds. When they exited the bank McGonagall took Talia to all the shops, starting with Madam Malkin's. Talia was measured and fitted for her Hogwarts robes and uniform while McGonagall went next door and got a small messenger bag.
The bag had two charms on it the first was an extension charm and the other was an orderly charm. Meaning it had much more space than what was needed and once you dropped something in it, it auto organized it according to what it was, books with books, clothes with clothes and all the witch or wizard needed to do was think what they wanted, and it would come to the opening.
Madam Malkin dropped the sets of robes into the bag and smiled at Talia before taking the money from her. She eyed McGonagall, but she only smiled, proud that Talia wasn't going to over spend her money.
As they left Madam Malkin's, McGonagall took a slight detour and bought Talia an ice cream at Florean Fortescue's Ice Cream Parlor. Talia closed her eyes as she licked the cold delight. Talia knew that there was no sun in this place but the roof had been bewitched to emit the outside weather to a T.
After the ice cream they went to Flourish and Blotts to get Talia her set books. McGonagall told Talia she could wonder the shop a bit. Sure Talia lacked some education but she could read just fine, something she always wondered about, she never stumbled over words like most her age still did. McGonagall found Talia in the transfiguration section trying to reach a book completely unaware of the age line. McGonagall read the title and decided to buy it for the girl for self study.
Potion supplies were their next stop. They reached Slug & Jiggers Apothecary and Talia was once more amazed. She paid the clerk for the standard potions kit when something caught her eye. She asked McGonagall if she could buy the advance potion set too. McGonagall studied the content and found nothing out of place, there was preserved supplies that could last her for years including but not limited to, gillyweed, bezoars, boomslang skin, lacewing flies and wolfsbane.
Amanuensis Quills was the next stop. Not only did Talia buy a self-inking quill she also bought a set of pencils and loads of parchment and paper. Before she was banished to the cupboard, Talia enjoyed drawing, something she thought she's take up again.
After getting the rest of Talia's supplies at Wiseacre's Wizarding Equipment, there was only her wand left. Talia was secretly scared of getting a wand of her own, because of uncle Vernon's regular beatings with the thorny rose stilt. McGonagall thought as much and entered Ollivander's with her, even if getting your wand was a very private thing.
"Hello!" Mr. Ollivander said startling the young girl. She stumbled back and her hand brushed over the wand in the window. It felt warm to her touch and started to emit red and gold sparks.
"How curious," Mr. Ollivander said. Personally he didn't think he'd ever sell the wand, "How very curious."
"Sorry sir, but what is curious?" Talia asked handing Mr. Ollivander the seven galleons.
"The wand chooses the witch or wizard, Miss. Potter. Your mother's wand was ten and a quarter inches long, swishy, made of willow. Nice wand for charm work." Talia wished the man would blink. "Your father wand on the other hand was eleven inches, pliable, a little more power and excellent for trans figuration."
This didn't explain the curious part one bit Talia thought but didn't say.
"What is curious is that this wand's core was given by a very proud phoenix. The phoenix only gave one other tail feather. Thirteen-and-a-half inches, yew, powerful wand, very powerful. Unfortunately it ended up in the wrong hands, He-who-must-not-be-named. I suspect we can expect great thing from you Miss Potter. Evil aside, He-who-must-not-be-named did great things."
"Thank you ever so much Mr. Ollivander," Talia said just wanting to get away from the man with his fairy kissed eyes.
They ate at The Leaky Cauldron, before venturing into Muggle-London. As they ate Talia asked the question that was on her mind since Ollivander's. With a sigh McGonagall told Talia about Voldemort and why everyone feared to say the name. This brought Talia down a bit, but only briefly.
When they walked out into the London air, McGonagall took Talia's hand and walked with her down the road. The first stop was a convenient store. McGonagall bought some supplies for herself and Talia. She was sure the young girl would like to make her own meals from time to time.
They then went to one of the clothing stores where they walked through the isles taking clothes of here and there. McGonagall noticed that Talia avoided the more girly clothes and went for baggy ones so she decided to test a theory by taking a few skirts and dresses.
Talia was in the changing room stall trying on the outfits when McGonagall handed her a skirt. Talia was greatly confused and fiddled with it trying to find the other leg. Her expression turned to fear when she couldn't find it. She just stepped into it and pulled it up, instantly regretting it as she could still feel a breeze down there. She stepped out holding the hem down as far as she could.
"I don't like this thing, ma'am." Talia said with a bright red blush.
"It's merely a skirt," McGonagall said. "For the first three years you will wear skirts as part of your uniform."
Talia didn't like that idea at all, nor did she like the fact that McGonagall took all the pants she picked out back and came back with more skirts and dresses. When they paid for the clothes, McGonagall touched it with her wand before it went into the bag.
"I placed two simple charms on it. The one would teach you how to act like a lady while casting a deep shadow if you fail to do so. The other charm repels the breeze if you're not wearing tights." McGonagall couldn't help but smirk.
Once they were done with shopping they headed back to The Leaky Cauldron where they paid one Sickle to use a port key. Tom, the bartender, checked his watch and when it was about time he took them to the roof and handed them an umbrella. Seconds later Talia felt a tuck around her stomach and the world started to spin. They landed in some soft grass just outside the Hogwarts gate. Talia made to pick up the umbrella when it suddenly vanished.
"It is a guest port key with an instant recall." McGonagall explained as they walked up to the castle.
They went up to the seventh through various short cuts until they arrived at a tapestry of Sir Nicholas and a cute little fox, probably the same fox that had him beheaded with a blunt axe leaving his head only hanging by a sinew. McGonagall said the word Tails, very loud and very clear. The fox wagged its tail and a door appeared between it and Sir Nicholas.
Talia was in awe at what she saw behind the door. They walked into a very cozy living room area with a big warm fire already burning. There were three doors leading off to the sides.
"This is your new home." McGonagall smiled. "The right-side door leads to sleeping quarters, the middle to the kitchen and the left-side leads to the bathroom. The room was barren for the longest time and only Dumbledore, Sir Nicholas and I know about this, besides you."
Talia thanked the older woman and went to her room to unpack her things. As she placed her clothes on the bed she had to jump back. It seemed that the room had a charm on that would tidy it up. Talia tested this theory by throwing a shoe into the corner, true enough, as it fell it started to hover and went into the closet.
After unpacking her clothes and uniform Talia went into the kitchen there where two large cupboards one was labeled Food the other Potion Ingredients. Talia tested if this room also had the charm on, it didn't. She put the food away and thought about it. Then it hit her, in a kitchen you place things on the tables to start cooking. Luckily the cupboards had auto arrange.
The last stop was the bathroom where Talia unpacked her toiletries and marveled at the very large, or rather swimming pool sized tub. It had a place where you placed your wand clearly marked and when Talia complied, the many taps started to fill the tub. Talia realized why McGonagall didn't buy soaps or shampoos. It magically appeared once the tub was full. Talia took a long bath and made a game in finding the plug, she couldn't. Talia picked up her wand and realized why she couldn't find it as the water simply vanished.
"I love magic," Talia said to no-one as she lay down on the comfy sofa. Minutes later McGonagall returned and she was carrying an odd bracelet.
"You are an involuntary Animagus." She said as she sat down next to Talia.
"I thought I was a witch, ma'am." Talia joked but then stopped seeing the seriousness. "What is an Animagus?"
"It is a witch or wizard that can turn into an animal. Normally there are distinct markings, but I could not find any on you in your animal form. Not even a patch of lightning shaped fur on your chest where your scar is. This bracelet will stop the transformation from happening automatically."
"How do you become an Animagus?" Talia asked making McGonagall smile.
"It is complex transfiguration magic that takes years to master, however one can also trigger the effect with accidental magic when one's body stressed. That is how you triggered it."
"Can I learn how to control it?" the thought hasn't occurred to McGonagall until just then.
"That is a good idea," she said, "All we need to do is find the trigger. What is the last thought in your mind before you fall asleep?"
"Last thought?" Talia bit her lower lip in thought. "I just don't wanna be cold, I guess."
McGonagall took out her wand and lowered the temperature in the room. Talia knew that this was to find the trigger so she let her mind wander. Then it happened, she saw a woman with beautiful red hair. She couldn't see her face, but she said one line that stuck in Talia's mind: Be safe my little one and grow strong.
Talia felt her body change. Her fingers grew stubby and shrunk down, while her palms became spongy. Her thumb and big toe moved up her arm/legs respectably. She started to shrink down and fur grew out of her entire body. Her nose and mouth protruded and her ears shifted and grew, where Talia once was now sat a cute little fox wagging its tail.
"Very good now can you turn back?" McGonagall asked. Talia cocked her head to the side and gave a cute sound before she shifted back into human form.
"I – I did it – I actually did it!" Talia beamed and for the next few minutes she was jumping around the room as either a fox or as a girl.
"Time to come down for dinner." McGonagall said with a smile.
Another mode of transport
Talia spent her free time roaming the castle as a fox, everyone left her alone for most part but around meals or when she was about to go out of bounds a very stern tabby cat would stare at her before they both changed into humans. The day after her birthday she wanted to explore the third floor on the right-hand side when McGonagall stepped in and stopped her.
"This corridor is out of bounds. Surely as a fox you can sense it." Talia whined in her fox form before turning back.
"But I haven't even seen the inside yet." Talia protested but walked up to the fourth floor anyway.
"I know you made it your mission to explore a floor a day and that you did the left side yesterday, but believe me you are better not knowing what's down that corridor until it is safe." McGonagall said sternly.
The following month Talia was tempted to go into the forbidden corridor, but didn't because she didn't want to break her promise to McGonagall. When Talia woke on the last day of August, McGonagall and Hagrid where waiting for her just outside her door.
"Talia, Hagrid is going to take you to London. Remember I told you that all students ride the Hogwarts Express."
"Is it fast?" Talia asked remembering the other ways were all fast.
"Fortunately not, however the floo network to the Diagon Ally will be."
"Diagon Ally? Weren't we already there?" Talia asked thinking what she might've forgotten.
"Yes you need to buy yourself a trunk to store your stuff for the school year in." Talia was still confused but then it donned on her.
"Will this room be locked?" she didn't want it to be locked.
"Oh no dear child," McGonagall laughed, "It will just be odd that you head here when the others in your year went the other way. So just pack your clothes and supplies for the school year."
Talia was packed in a few minutes loving that she didn't need to fold the things at all. When she returned to the front room she noticed her fireplace extended to accommodate Hagrid and that there was a new thing on her mantle piece, a flower pot with an odd colored dust.
"Talia, all you have to do with floo powder is say your destination loud and clear. Just follow Hagrid's example."
"Tha' Leaky C'uldron" Hagrid said in his best and clearest voice. A plumb of green flames spirited him away.
"Now I know that Hagrid is a very capable man, but he can be somewhat distracted from time to time, so I want you to have this." McGonagall gave Talia a little compact mirror. "These provide instant communication between connecting mirrors. I have the connected one in my quarters."
After saying their goodbyes, Talia took a handful of floo powder and said clearly The Leaky Cauldron and she smiled as she was spinning with the green flames until she landed in another fireplace.
Hagrid was busy inhaling a few pitchers of ale, Talia smiled. She understood that a big man like him wouldn't like to be squeezed down a drain like that. She went out to Diagon Ally telling him she'll buy the trunk and wait for him at Florean Fortescue's Ice Cream Parlor.
Once Talia got the rather heavy trunk she dragged it to Florean Fortescue's Ice Cream Parlor there she ordered a Strawberry Sunday and reached into her messenger thinking of a way to make the heavy trunk lighter. Her Standard Book of Spells appeared in her hand. Curious she skimmed through it and at the back of the book she found it, the Featherweight Charm and Interior Extension Charm, grade 1. Talia took out her wand and used the charms on the trunk before she started packing things in.
The trunk had three small compartments and a larger one at the back about the length of a broom. Talia placed her clothes in the left compartment, her books in the middle and her potion ingredients and other equipment on the right. Talia tested the weight and smiled at how light it is. She also smiled because the Extension Charm was the same used in her room and the messenger bag, meaning she could just throw the stuff in and it sorted itself out.
Hagrid was easy to spot in any crowd. He didn't even need to be carrying that beautiful owl. Wait – what? Why was he carrying an owl? Talia waved him over. He placed the owl in her cage on Talia's trunk and wished her a happy belayed birthday. Talia ventured into muggle London, she still had some Pounds left after their shopping trip a while ago and she was seriously craving something muggle before she finally stepped into the wizarding world.
She had a nice sleep that night and woke early the next morning, very excited. Hagrid took her to Kings Cross Station and gave her, her Hogwarts Express ticket. She took it smiling and bid the large man a farewell. And then she actually saw the ticket: Platform Nine and three quarters. Hagrid forgot to tell her how to get onto the platform.
Talia walked three quarters down and didn't know anymore. When no one was looking she took out her wand and tapped the brick wall at random intervals. Nothing happened. She was about to give up when she heard someone say the world muggle from the other side. She peered around the corner and smiled at the red haired girl doing the same from the other side.
"Silly it's this side." She said her voice angelic.
"It's my first time." Talia admitted. The girl walked around the corner and promptly sat on Talia's cart.
"Then I will show you. My brothers are all in Hogwarts already. I'm only going next year. Three months too young can you believe it? I'm Ginny and you should close your eyes now and trust me." Talia liked this game.
Talia felt herself being turned around and pushed to where she knew the wall was, but the impact never came she just kept walking. She stopped and turned to smile at Ginny.
"You could've just told me you know." Talia laughed. "Please do me a favor and don't make a scene okay." Ginny promised. "I'm Talia Potter."
Ginny's eyes darted to Talia's forehead quickly but she didn't find anything there. She had a sense of disbelieve on her face.
"It's not on my forehead, it's on my chest over my left nub." Talia whispered into Ginny's ear. The girl went beat red. Talia liked this girl.
"I just assumed –" Ginny trailed off. "Sorry, it's a tragedy what happened. If you ever need a friend –" Ginny left the offer open.
"I'll hold you to it." Talia smiled then lifted her trunk effortlessly into the train. Ginny smiled.
"You're not supposed to do magic outside Hogwarts when you are underage."
"I know but before the school year starts you are allowed to try some spells. I just did two." Talia smiled and after she placed her trunk in a compartment she hung out the window. "Where do you stay? I'll write to you."
"The Burrow in Ottery St. Catchpole in Devon," Ginny said before her mother called her.
Talia sat down in the compartment her fake smile falling. Sure she just made a friend, but how long will it be before Ginny had enough of her? Talia sighed. Everything was going her way so eventually it'll have to turn again.
"Really Ginny does she have the scar," she heard a boy ask then a satisfying slap afterwards.
"Ron you will not ask her to see it," Ginny said in a tone Talia didn't recognize. Their mother agreed.
"May I sit here?" Talia was pulled from her eaves dropping by a girl with bushy brown hair.
"Sure, it's just me in here." Talia smiled
"I'm Hermione Granger," Hermione held out her hand.
"Talia Potter," Talia took the offered hand.
"Are you now? I read about you in Modern Magical History, The Rise and Fall of the Dark Arts and Great Wizarding Events of the Twentieth Century."
"Which one says my scar is on my forehead?" Talia asked off handedly. Hermione actually thought about it.
"The Rise and Fall of the Dark Arts, mention that you survived the killing curse and it left a visible lightning bolt scar. Normally visible would mean where everyone can see it, namely the forehead, but I see its not there." Talia laughed, actually laughed.
"Thank you Hermione," Talia squeezed her hand. "That clears up more than you would know. The scar is next to my left nub. It must've jumped of my heart."
The girls hit it of from the start and after the train started moving a thin red haired boy knocked on the door of their compartment and asked them if he could sit with them. Talia scooted over to the seat where Hermione sat and invited Ron inside. Ron provided a wizarding view while Talia related more to Hermione since they both didn't know about magic until this year. Talia noticed Ron searching her body for the scar and sighed mentally. It wasn't until Hermione noticed it that he finally asked where it was.
"It's in a place only her future husband would see." Hermione snapped. Ron blushed as red as Ginny did. Talia didn't want to correct her.
Around lunch time they heard a witch outside. she stopped at every compartment and asked if they would want anything from the cart. Ron held up a bag of sandwiched that made Talia's senses dance. She bought something of everything and offered to share it with them.
"No that's okay you guys have share." Talia eyed his little bag the only reason she actually bought the lot.
"Trade you," Talia offered throwing a few chocolate frogs his way and catching the sandwiches he dropped giggling.
"You don't wan them –" Ron trailed of when Talia took a big bite out of a sandwich savoring the taste.
They all had a laugh the rest of the way even after a boy named Neville came in and asked if they seen his toad. Close to twilight Talia looked out the window and recognized it instantly.
"Ron, could you please stand outside while we get into our robes?" Talia asked sweetly. His ears turned pink but he complied.
"Oh wow!" Hermione gasped out when she saw the scar next to Talia's nipple it was rather large.
Talia blushed then dressed very quickly. Making Hermione promise not to tell anyone where the scar was. When they were done they stood outside while Ron got dressed. Not long after the whistle blew indicating the end of their journey.
On the platform Hagrid called out for the first years, Talia was still a little miffed at him for forgetting to tell her how to get onto the train. She, Hermione, Ron and Neville shared a boat right behind Hagrid. The view of the castle was spectacular in the daylight, Talia thought, but seeing it by night from the water was something else.
McGonagall met them in the entrance hall and explained what was about to happen, Talia of course knew. She also knew that the hat would be placed on her head as a formality. She would already be sorted into Gryffindor.
The ghosts made their way through the walls and she was half-glad half-sad that Sir Nicholas didn't recognize her, but then she only saw the ghost from a distance. And then it was time. McGonagall came to fetch them into the Great Hall. She unrolled the parchment and read the first name:
A pink-faced girl with blonde pigtails stumbled out of line, put on the hat, which fell right down over her eyes, and sat down. A moment's pause –
"HUFFLEPUFF!" shouted the hat.
The table on the right cheered and clapped as Hannah went to sit down at the Hufflepuff table. Talia saw the ghost of the Fat Friar waving merrily at her.
"HUFFLEPUFF!" shouted the hat again, and Susan scuttled off to sit next to Hannah.
The table second from the left clapped this time; several Raven claw students stood up to shake hands with Terry as he joined them.
"Brocklehurst, Mandy" went to Ravenclaw too, but "Brown, Lavender" became the first new Gryffindor, and the table on the far left exploded with cheers; Talia could see Ron's twin brothers cat calling.
"Bulstrode, Millicent" then became a Slytherin. Perhaps it was Talia's imagination, after all she'd heard about Slytherin, but she thought they looked like an unpleasant lot.
Sometimes, Talia noticed, the hat shouted out the House at once, but at others it took a little while to decide. "Finnegan, Sea mus," the sandy-haired boy next to Talia in the line, sat on the stool for almost a whole minute before the hat declared him a Gryffindor.
Hermione almost ran to the stool and jammed the hat eagerly on her head.
"GRYFFINDOR!" shouted the hat. Ron groaned.
When Neville Longbottom, the boy who kept losing his toad, was called, he fell over on his way to the stool. The hat took a long time to decide with Neville. When it finally shouted, "GRYFFINDOR," Neville ran off still wearing it, and had to jog back amid gales of laughter to give it to "MacDougal, Morag."
Malfoy, the boy who bothered them on the train, swaggered forward when his name was called the hat had barely touched his head when it screamed, "SLYTHERIN!"
Malfoy went to join his friends Crabbe and Goyle, looking pleased with himself.
There weren't many people left now.
"Moon" … "Nott" … "Parkinson" … then a pair of twin girls, "Patil" and "Patil" … then "Perks, Sally-Anne" – and then, at last –
As Talia stepped forward, whispers suddenly broke out like lit tle hissing fires all over the hall.
"Potter, did she say?"
"The Talia Potter?"
The last thing Talia saw before the hat dropped over her eyes was the hall full of people craning to get a good look at her. Next second she was looking at the black inside of the hat and waited.
"Well hello at last," the hat said in her ear. "Weren't you already in Gryffindor?"
"Oh you know me," Talia thought back. "I just couldn't resist putting you on, you are rather charming." Talia was sure if the hat could blush it would've.
"I see that the headmaster had indeed placed you in the right house, it's all here in your mind. But mind you, you could've also done well in Slytherin."
"Yeah, probably but it's so far from my room." Talia countered the hat laughed then shouted to the room: GRYFFINDOR!"
"We got Potter! We got Potter!" Talia sat down op posite Sir Nicholas. The ghost patted her arm and winking at her, did he just pretend not to know her? Not that it made the bucket of ice-cold water touch any hotter.
See could see the High Table properly now. At the end nearest her sat Hagrid, who caught her eye and gave her the thumbs up. Talia grinned back she couldn't stay mad at him. And there, in the center of the High Table, in a large gold chair, sat Albus Dumbledore.
And now there were only four people left to be sorted. "Thomas, Dean," a Black boy even taller than Ron, joined Talia at the Gryffindor table. "Turpin, Lisa," became a Ravenclaw and then it was Ron's turn. He was pale green by now. Talia crossed her fin gers under the table and a second later the hat had shouted, "GRYFFINDOR!"
Talia clapped loudly with the rest as Ron collapsed into the chair next to her.
"Well done, Ron, excellent," said Percy Weasley pompously across Talia as "Zabini, Blaise," was made a Slytherin. Professor McGonagall rolled up her scroll and took the Sorting Hat away.
Talia looked down at her plate. The house elves have been busy since yesterday with the start of term feast. Talia wrote a quick thank you onto her plate. It vanished and reappeared instantly with a grape. Talia scooped it up before anyone saw.
"Welcome to a new year at Hogwarts! Be fore we begin our banquet, I would like to say a few words. And here they are: Nitwit! Blubber! Oddment! Tweak! Thank you."
Talia laughed and she wasn't the only one. She turned into her seat and took a generous helping of baked potatoes and began to eat. She was starved. Dinner conversations were all over the place. Seamus was telling them he was half-and-half. Neville admitted he wasn't sure his letter would arrive.
Hermione and Percy were talking about lessons. Turns out Hermione and Talia shared a love of transfiguration. Talia's mind wondered to the High Table, she really needed to thank Hagrid for her owl. She named the snowy white creature Hedwig.
McGonagall and Dumbledore were in a rather interesting conversion about, from what Talia could tell from reading their lips, muggle sweets. Then there was a teacher with a hook nose talking to one wearing a turban. Talia and his eyes met and she felt a sting into her mind. Not sure what it was she imagined a bulldozer pushing it out. The teacher's eyes shifted slightly. Was he trying to get access to her mind? That's just sick and wrong.
The feast drew to a close and Talia felt her eyes getting heavy. Dumbledore must've sensed the growing sleepiness. He stood up and got everyone's attention to give the notices for the year.
"First years should note that the forest on the grounds is forbid den to all pupils. And a few of our older students would do well to remember that as well."
Dumbledore's twinkling eyes flashed in the direction of the Weasley twins.
"I have also been asked by Mr. Filch, the caretaker, to remind you all that no magic should be used between classes in the corri dors."
"Quidditch trials will be held in the second week of the term. Anyone interested in playing for their House teams should contact Madam Hooch."
"And finally, I must tell you that this year the third-floor corri dor on the right-hand side is out of bounds to everyone who does not wish to die a very painful death."
That must've been why McGonagall stopped her from entering the corridor. She smiled at her head of house who nodded in reply.
"And now, before we go to bed, let us sing the school song!" cried Dumbledore. Talia noticed that the other teachers' smiles had become rather fixed.
Dumbledore gave his wand a little flick, as if he was trying to get a fly off the end, and a long golden ribbon flew out of it, which raised high above the tables and twisted itself, snakelike, into words.
"Everyone pick their favorite tune," said Dumbledore, "and off we go!"
And the school bellowed:
Hogwarts, Hogwarts, Hoggy Warty Hogwarts,
Teach us something please,
Whether we be old and bald
Or young with scabby knees,
Our heads could do with filling
With some interesting stuff,
For now they're bare and full of air,
Dead flies and bits of fluff,
So teach us things worth knowing,
Bring back what we've forgot,
Just do your best, we'll do the rest,
And learn until our brains all rot.
Talia finished first having decided on an everything-in-one-breath tune. The Weasley twins however chose a slow funeral march and ended last while Dumbledore directed them. She had to admit this was more fun than everyone singing in one tune. And then they were excused, finally.
The first years followed their house prefects to their common rooms. Talia knew were each one was by heart. And she also magicked herself a map that can only seen by her. It was inscribed on her conjured glasses and as she looked at it now it was filled with hundreds of dots with names. She couldn't remember adding that though, maybe she just didn't understand the spell she found in the cupboard as much as she thought she did.
She stopped just before rounding the corner she could smell the poltergeist. Peering around the corner there he was, invisible, juggling sticks in mid air. Talia stayed behind until he blew a raspberry and flew off dropping the sticks. At the end of the corridor was the portrait of the fat lady who fancied herself an opera singer. She had a lovely voice, if only she didn't want to scream.
The portrait swung open as Percy gave the password. The first years all scrambled in, only Neville seemed to need a leg up. The common room was cozy and felt more inviting then her own front room. There were two doors leading out of the common room the right side held the boys' dormitory and the left the girls'.
Talia peered into the boys' side when Ron opened it. It had a stair case with a single spiral. When she entered the girls' side she saw at least four spirals. There was a prefect waiting for the first year girls at the bottom of the stair case.
"Evening Ladies, I'm Isabelle Richards," she introduced herself. "For those of you who might've sneaked a peak at the boys' side, firstly shame on you." She paused for the laughter.
"Anyway you might've notice a single spiral in their stair case while here are four. There is a simple reason for this. Once a boy reaches this stair case's first spiral. It turns into a slippery slide up to the third spiral. It's quite fun to slide of on if you weren't wearing a skirt." Isabelle took out her wand.
"However, when you had a late night study and don't feel like climbing up all the way just place the tip of your wand on the railing and the stair case will start moving on it's own and take you to the top. For now let's ride." Isabelle placed her wand on the rail and the girls followed her up.
"You are assigned to this dorm until you graduate. Once you do this dorm is being reassigned to the next lot of first years and so on. The reason for this is because of the trace. Once you set foot in this dorm you will be marked by it until you are of age. That's seventeen for our muggle-born friend. Enjoy your stay and if you need me, don't and go ask Percy." She paused again while the girls giggled. "Seriously though, I'm just down the hall."
Bewitching the mind
Whispers followed Talia wherever she went. Kids whispering about her asking each other where her scar was. Talia became so frustrated in the lavatory once that she almost pulled her shirt open and flashed the whispering girls.
Talia was avoiding Peeves as much as she could, unfortunately it wasn't that often. And then there was Mr. Filch and his greasy cat Mrs. Norris. The cat had lamp-like red eyes and if you even so much as set a toe out of line she would disappear down a secret passage and seconds later Filch would show up wheezing.
Even with her knowledge of the castle and the map, Talia still got lost from time to time, mostly if she was talking to Ron and Hermione left her behind. Talia would stop and scan her surroundings until she recognized something. Luckily she wasn't late for class once.
The classes themselves weren't easy either. Wednesday they had to study the night sky through their telescopes while learning the names of the stars and the movements of the planets, Talia would rather have been sleeping.
Three times a week they went out to the greenhouses for Herbology with Prof. Sprout. They learned the names of the plants and fungi and what they were used for. Prof. Sprout at least tried to make the lessons fun.
History of Magic was the most boring class around. Talia read the books and remembered pretty much everything he read in it, but Prof. Binns was a ghost with a drawling voice that could put even Hermione asleep, had she not been pinching herself often.
Prof. Flitwick, the Charms teacher, was a tiny little wizard who had to stand on a pile of books to see over his desk. At the start of their first class he took the roll call, and when he reached Talia's name he gave an excited squeak and toppled out of sight.
Prof. McGonagall was again different. She was caring outside of class. That much Talia knew. But her teaching side demanded respect. Talia liked that about her.
"Transfiguration is some of the most complex and dangerous magic you will learn at Hogwarts," she said. "Anyone messing around in my class will leave and not come back. You have been warned."
She turned her desk into a pig and then back again. Talia could see the magic happen and knew that she needed to build up her strength to reach that level. She was glad they were only turning matches into needles. The rest of the class not so much. By the end of the lesson Talia's match was the exact size and shape of a needle but it was still wooden. Hermione however had a metallic, pointed match.
Defense Against the Dark Art, had sparked a bit of an interest in Talia, but after almost a week of constant whispers she changed her mind. Was it all just speculation? Prof. Quirrell didn't help matters either. His cluttered class room smelled strongly of garlic and he didn't really teach them anything. Too sacred of the subject it seemed. Talia took to read ahead and practice on her own.
Before Talia knew it, it was Friday. She had just finished her letter to Ginny the previous night and wanted to send it that afternoon when she had of. Only mail arrived and a flock of white was seen amongst the browns grays and blacks.
The letter she dropped was from Hagrid inviting her to tea. She scribbled her reply at the back and asked Hedwig to deliver it to him then go to Ginny with the other letter. She was feeling giddy. She wanted Ginny to like her for her not some obscene idol.
At the start of term dinner, Talia felt that Prof. Snape might not have been her biggest fan. At the start of the period however it was confirmed. He started with role-call and paused at her name giving a smirk.
"Ah yes, Miss. Potter our newest – celebrity." He said before finishing up.
"You are here to learn the subtle science and exact art of potion-making," he began. He spoke in barely more than a whisper, but they caught every word.
Like Prof. McGonagall, Snape had the gift of keeping a class silent without effort.
"As there is little foolish wand-waving here, many of you will hardly believe this is magic. I don't expect you will really understand the beauty of the softly simmering cauldron with its shimmering fumes, the delicate power of liquids that creep through human veins, bewitching the mind, ensnaring the senses. I can teach you how to bottle fame, brew glory, even put a stopper in death – if you aren't as big a bunch of dunderheads as I usually have to teach."
Talia raise an eyebrow. This was a mistake as Snape instantly rounded on her.
"Potter!" said Snape suddenly. "What would I get if I added powdered root of asphodel to an infusion of wormwood?"
"The draught of living Death?" Talia asked/said. What she really wanted to add was a good night's sleep, but Snape didn't seem the type who could take what he dished.
"Lucky guess." Snape sneered. "Where will you look if I asked you to find me a bezoar?"
"The stomach of a goat, Sir." Or my room, I'm not going near a goat, gross.
Snape was determined to catch her off guard wasn't he?
"What is the difference between Monkshood and Wolfsbane?"
"They are the same plant, also known as Aconite." Talia said then mentally added. At least in the first year books they are. The difference is roots, leaves and stem.
"One point from Gryffindor for your sheer cheek Miss Potter. Well write that down." Snape yelled the last part to the class.
They were set to work making a simple cure for boils. Talia rolled her eyes when she realized that the cure, if brewed incorrectly would give you boils. She was paired with Hermione and the two of them brewed a perfect concoction. Not that Snape would comment on it. He may not have criticized their potion, but everyone else had their turn.
Then there was an explosion. Neville had somehow managed to melt Seamus's cauldron and the oozing liquid gave him angry red boils, not to mention doing a great impression of lava burning holes in people's shoes.
"Potter, why didn't you tell him not to add the quills?" Talia had enough.
"Seriously sir?" Talia shouted back. "I am sitting three benches in front of him. How on earth should I have seen what he was doing?"
Although Snape seen the error in his judgment he still took another point from Gryffindor for Talia's cheek. Hermione patted her knees. It calmed her slightly as they returned to their potion. Talia might not have liked Snape very much and the feeling was shared by him, but she liked potions almost as much as she liked transfiguration.
After lunch Talia sprinted up to the common room and got dressed casually. She was on her way down to Hagrid's when she bumped into Hermione. Thinking rather quickly Talia invited the girl down, sure she wanted to find Ron, but Hermione was as new to the magical world as she was. Tea was about as normal as you could get. Hermione accepted. When they arrived at the little hut Talia could only describe it with one word –welcoming.
There was a loud booming bark inside the hut that made Talia want to run. She had always pictured uncle Vernon as a bulldog, the way his voice barked at her. Luckily Fang was just over excited to meet the new visitors. Once inside it rested its head on Talia's lap begging the girl to scratch its ears.
They talked about everything, yet nothing. They drank large cups of delicious Earl Grey while drying to bite into the rock cakes Hagrid offered. After telling Hagrid about their week and the run in with Snape, he told them about his experiences with Filch and Mrs. Norris. They really had a good time until Talia saw the article about the Gringott's break-in.
"Hagrid does the break-in have anything to do with what's in the forbidden corridor?" she asked innocently.
"Ye – No, don't go sticking yer noses whe' they dun belong." Hagrid didn't meet their eyes as he ushered them out and up to the castle. Talia knew something was up, and she would figure it out.
I believe I can fly
The Slytherin crowd was an unpleasant lot and Talia already found an enemy within her year, Tracey Davis. Sure Pansy Parkinson was a pain, but she and Hermione bumped heads, no Tracey just didn't like Talia from the moment they spoke. Hermione and Talia were having a discussion about muggle things and she overheard. Apparently she was against everything muggle. Luckily the only class they shared was potions. That was Talia's sole mantra until she saw the notice on the board that Monday.
"Flying lessons with Slytherin? Are they mad?" she asked Ron who just shrugged.
"Yeah and when I fall on my butt Tracey would most likely have a fit of laughter, no thank you." Talia said holding her arms in an X before her.
"You won't make a fool of yourself, mate." Ron said opening the common room door.
Over the next few days Talia were overwhelmed with stories about flying, sure she wanted to experience yet another form of wizarding transport, but she had it with all the stories. By Thursday a welcome distraction came in the form of Hedwig. She had a letter from Ginny.
Thank you for the letter. It was actually a great surprise to get one. I know you said that you would write, but I thought you only said that to make me feel better. Hogwarts sounds fantastic, not like Fred and George made it sound at all.
The Burrow has been quiet without my brothers so I've taken up gardening. I'll press a flower for you once they have grown a bit. I always knew magic would be hard, but I never thought it would require so much writing. By the way how is your four foot passage coming along? I hope my brothers don't bother you too much they can be idiots from time to time.
The letter might not have been long, but it was long enough for Talia and it gave her strength to face Slytherin. Morning lessons went by in a breeze, Talia didn't even pay it much mind and when they went out to the Quidditch Pitch that afternoon not even the Slytherins could diminish her mood. Madam Hooch, their instructor walked onto the pitch not even a minute after the last student arrived.
"Good afternoon class." The woman with short gray hair and hawk-like eyes said. "Well, what are you all waiting for?" she barked. "Everyone stand by a broomstick. Come on, hurry up."
Talia liked her bluntness and stood next to a broom that looked like it was about to spontaneously burst into flames.
"Stick out your right hand over your broom," called Madam Hooch at the front, "and say Up."
There was a chorus of ups and Talia herself said it with as much gusto she could and the broom soared into her hand. She looked around and noticed that her broom was the first one up. She smiled at Ron who got hit with his broom when he said up the second time. Slowly the other brooms rose only leaving Hermione and Neville behind. When theirs lifted of the ground Madam Hooch showed them how to mount the brooms.
"Alright?" she began. "Now when I blow my whistle I want you all to push of the ground, hover and then touch back down by slightly leaning forward."
Madam Hooch counted down from three and on two Neville pushed of, probably scared that he'd be left on the ground. Talia noticed the little things about his panicked movement. Every time he lifted his legs the broom went higher. And then he lost his grip and fell down hard unto the ground.
"If I see one broom in the air while I take this boy to the hospital wing you will be expelled before you could say Quidditch." Madam Hooch warned.
"Did you see the great lump?" the voice reminded Talia of Dudley. She turned to see Malfoy picking up Neville's remembral. "Maybe if he'd given this a squeeze he would've remembered to fall on his arse."
Talia vaguely registered the others trying to either insult or defend Neville it wasn't until Malfoy took to the skies that Talia sprang into action. She only barely heard Hermione's half-hearted protest. Talia and Malfoy bickered in the air a bit then he threw the remembral as hard as he could towards the castle.
Her eyes locked onto the little ball and her body moved on its own. Talia darted after the invisible ball and just before it crashed into the castle wall Talia caught it and dove down to avoid collision spinning a few times before leveling out and flying back to the pitch. She held up the ball triumphantly before –
"Talia Potter!" it was McGonagall. "Never in all my years – Come with me Miss Potter."
Talia obediently followed. She had a great two weeks of school and the last few months were brilliant. Maybe she can still stay in her room in the castle, even if they snapped her wand like they did Hagrid's.
McGonagall had taken her around the castle opening doors looking for something. When they entered the Charms Corridor McGonagall smiled opening the door.
"Professor, may I borrow wood for a moment?" she asked unaware of the impact her words had on Talia. The girl sank into herself curling up into a tight ball. "Oliver I have found you a seeker." Her words didn't reach Talia's silent sobs.
"Where Professor?" Wood asked exited. McGonagall turned, only then realizing her error.
"It is Talia Potter, and I am afraid I might've misspoken in her presence. Do try and keep this quiet I urge you."
Oliver Wood agreed excitedly and went back into the class. McGonagall concentrated and focused on any Animagus signature, she found it in the darkest corner of the hall. She walked slowly and picked up the little shivering fox and carried her to her room on the seventh floor.
Once inside the room behind Sir Nicholas's tapestry, McGonagall put the little fox on the cushions on the floor and made her way into the kitchen to make some tea and adding a bit of calming draught in Talia's cup. She wasn't surprised that the fox was a girl again when she returned. The room had that effect on Talia.
"Will you forgive a foolish old woman?" McGonagall asked handing Talia the cup of tea. "It was tactless, and I was over excited."
McGonagall went into a lengthy discussion about Quidditch and the various Gryffindor teams. It seemed that Talia was their next hope. The team hasn't had a decent seeker in seven years the last one being Charlie Weasley, Ron and Ginny's older brother. Talia fell asleep on the cushions and McGonagall decided to leave her there for the night, leaving only a note that read:
If you wake up during the night feel free to go to your dorm in Gryffindor Tower, I however think you would find your room more comfortable.
Talia didn't wake during the night and didn't get to read the letter before it vanished at day break when Talia woke. She took a bath and went down to the Great Hall for breakfast. She vaguely registered the two arms that picked her up from behind. She trashed, but giggled.
"Congratulations on making the team." The twins said finishing each other's sentences. "Oliver told us at last night, don't be surprised when the girls get a hold of you and do watch out for Ollie he's a slave driver." They placed her don in front of the Great Hall and went in as if they didn't just carry her down four floors.
When Talia entered the Hall she smiled as Ron sat frozen, bacon half-way to his mouth. Hermione's hair seemed bushier than usual, if that was possible. She smiled at them and braced for the impact when they came running towards her.
"I only spend the night in my room," Talia whispered, "I had a flashback and my room always calms me down. I think Dumbledore placed a charm on the cushions."
It only then sunk into Ron's head.
"Wait, you live here, as in here at Hogwarts?" He asked in a whisper too, not to rouse any suspicion. Talia promised to take them both up if they kept it quiet. It was then that Tracey walked past them. She seemed – lost.
"Glad to see you are okay," Tracey said before composing herself. "I would hate it if Draco was the cause of your expulsion and not I." Talia smiled she finally got this girl.
"Looking forward to it." Talia answered. Tracey walked away.
"What was that all about?" Ron asked.
"She said sorry and I said she shouldn't worry about it." Talia supplied.
Ron started to mumble about women and returned to breakfast. Talia took a few pieces of toast and made her way down to the dungeons. She wanted to write a letter to Ginny before the potions lesson.
When Talia arrived she noticed that Tracey was already sitting there also writing on a piece of parchment. Talia took out her own parchment and wrote her letter not paying attention to the other girl in the slightest.
This week has been a bit harsher than last week, by the time your letter arrived I was about to lose it. Everyone was talking about flying and it drove me insane. Even Hermione got into it. Mind you she only had book knowledge. With your kind words it didn't even matter that we had the lesson with the Slytherins. Everything went well until Neville fell of his broom and Malfoy took his remembral. It took him getting on a broom to snap me out of a flashback to my abusive muggle cousin. I flew after him and he threw the remembral to the castle walls, I don't know how I did it but somehow I was able to catch the little thing.
PS Flying became my new favorite way of wizarding transport.
"That was heart warming," Tracey said from behind Talia.
"That was private." Talia half heartedly countered.
"In a classroom nothing is private." Tracey smiled at her. "Just for the record, I don't care about your mud – sorry muggle-born friend anymore. She's actually kind of cool, but don't tell her I said that. I still have a reputation to defend." She gave Talia's hand a squeeze before she returned to her desk.
Draco was exceedingly arrogant ever since he saw Talia at breakfast, he was sure she would be expelled. He had to do something, perhaps if –
"So when are you getting expelled? This weekend?" Draco asked at lunch.
"I'm not getting expelled. I just got a stern talking to. What's it to you anyway?" Talia put her pie down suddenly not hungry anymore. She got up to walk away.
"I was still talking to you, slag." Talia stopped.
"What do you want, Malfoy?" Talia asked tiredly.
"Wizard's Duel tonight, in the Trophy Room."
"No," Talia said not wanting to be near him.
"Is the great Talia Potter scared?" Malfoy asked.
"No idiot, I don't want to be seven floors down being caught out of bounds." Talia countered. Malfoy's face fell, Talia knew that was his idea from the start.
That afternoon, after showing her friends her private room they all went down to the lake for rest and relaxation, but not before stopping at the owlery to send Talia's mail to Ginny. Ron just couldn't understand why Talia wrote to Ginny.
It was a bit late when they went back up to the castle, just before curfew to be exact. When they got to the portrait the Fat Lady was gone. Talia remembered from her daily wonderings that the fat lady would occasionally go and visit her friend. The only problem was that her friend was way down on the second floor.
"We have to go get her," Talia sighed. "She should be with her friend downstairs probably drunk again."
"What!" asked Hermione rather loudly, "We will be caught out of bounds for sure."
"We don't have a choice," Talia countered. If we don't go get her now, we will stay here until after midnight, I've seen them at it before.
Talia turned around and nearly bumped into Neville. After some frightened words from the pudgy boy, he trailed after them. Talia kept one eye on the portraits to see if the Fat Lady was on her way back yet. The other eye she kept on the map in her classes looking out for Filch and Mrs. Norris.
They found the portly woman down the transfiguration corridor on the second floor doing a rather impressive dance. After she finished her dance Talia clapped enthusiastically. This caught her attention. After berating them for being out of bounds, which Talia countered that they wouldn't have been if she waited a bit more before going out drinking. As they turned they stared into the eyes of Mrs. Norris.
"Run," the Fat Lady suggested as she too saw the cat, "I'll meet you up there."
Talia scanned the map in her glasses and found no other way – there was a shortcut to the sixth floor in the forbidden corridor. Talia pointed the way and the rest followed her. They reached the third floor and Talia silently thanked the heavens no one realized where they were. Just as they were about to reach the tapestry that hid the secret passage Talia heard wheezing up ahead.
"We need to hide." They all huddled into the room Hermione just unlocked. Talia could smell death. She kept her gaze at the door not daring to look back. As a nervous reflex she started to hum.
When Filch passed the door chasing after Peeves, she turned around and saw the three headed dog. It was half asleep, but it still looked menacing. Talia didn't stop humming until she, and her friends where outside safe. She led them to the tapestry and they went up to the sixth floor and climbed the last flight up to the seventh and into the Gryffindor Common Room.
All Hollows Eve
The next morning at breakfast Talia walked up to the High Table to speak to McGonagall and Dumbledore.
"Ma'am, Sir?" she started they acknowledged her. "There was an incident last night. Hermione, Ron, Neville and I were locked out of the Common Room. Neville came from the hospital wing and Hermione, Ron and I were at the lake relaxing when we realized it was almost curfew. The Fat Lady wasn't in her portrait."
"We will have a talk with her." McGonagall assured her.
"Another thing," Talia hesitated. "We were caught by Mrs. Norris when we went looking for the Fat Lady on the second floor Transfiguration corridor. Mrs. Norris chased us up to the third floor directly above it." Dumbledore nodded he knew where this was going. "When Mr. Filch showed up we hid in the only room there. We weren't hurt." The next part Talia whispered, "I think my humming stopped it attacking us. I just thought you should know, we didn't mean to be there."
"Quite understandable," Dumbledore said smiling. "You will do your best not to be close to it again I presume." Talia nodded. Who cares if it was standing on a newly installed trap door that didn't lead to the second floor. "I believe ten points should be awarded to Gryffindor for your honesty."
"Thank you Sir, but it wasn't necessary." Talia said then mentally added: Seriously who would try to cross a Cerberus, for that matter who would place one inside a castle filled with children who could be its doggy treats?
There was a sparkle in Dumbledore's eye and Talia had the feeling he might've read her mind, but she brushed it of. That was impossible right? She sat down next to Hermione who for some reason was glaring at Ron.
Just before Talia left for the start of classes, Hedwig swooped down with a letter. Talia instantly recognized it was from McGonagall the letter read:
If you venture into your room today you will find your new Nimbus 2000. It is a gift from myself, a selfish gift really I want you to bring home the Quidditch cup.
When they entered Charms Prof. Flitwick announced that they would learn how to levitate objects. Talia frowned, she already knew this one. Prof. Flitwick gave each of them a feather and grouped them in pairs. In a twist of fate Ron and Hermione was paired while Talia was paired with Pavarti.
They practiced the wrist movement for about twenty minutes until everyone could do it in their sleep. Talia actually felt like sleeping at the time they finally got to the incantation. Talia let Pavarti have a go at it first as she scanned the class. No one said the incantation correctly. She eyed Ron and Hermione and resisted the urge to roll her eyes. Hermione was lecturing Ron on the spell when he finally said quite loudly that she should do it if she's so good.
"One Galleon says they end up together before the year is done." Pavarti whispered.
"They're both too stubborn I say sixth or seventh year, but I don't make bets like that. Wing-gar-dium Levi-o-sa!" flicking her wand Talia made not only the feather, but also her book, quill and parchment fly.
"Wicked," Pavarti said with a smile.
"It was one of the first spells I learned." Talia confessed.
"I didn't even bother learning spells. I thought it would be easy." Pavarti said. "Could you maybe –"
"Sure, the gar and the o should be emphasized." Talia caught her book and showed Pavarti the little changes she made during lessons and self-study. "I've always had a knack with reading, even if I only went to the first grade for about a week."
Pavarti was able to levitate the feather with ease after Talia's advice. Hermione had however gone a different route with her help, she couldn't help it her voice was naturally bossy. After class Talia went to consol Ron, but the red head was fuming.
"Seriously Talia, how can you stand that girl? She's a menace." Ron shouted for all to hear. Hermione bumped pass them and disappeared into the next corridor.
"Now look what you did. She was only trying to help you know. She can't help that she sounds bookish and bossy. She was bullied in her muggle school and never had any friends." Talia hit Ron on the arm before rushing after Hermione.
Talia didn't wish to be discovered searching for Hermione so she ducked into a cupboard and in a sincere voice called for a house elf, she politely asked the elf if it could take her books and stuff up to her dorm. The elf nodded and vanished with her bag. Talia shifted into her fox form and ran against the wall in search of her friend, stopping only when a pretty third year girl bended down to scratch her ears. Talia decided she liked the sensation.
Talia couldn't find Hermione anywhere, as she passed transfiguration McGonagall almost rounded on her, Talia conveyed with her eyes that she was looking for her friend. McGonagall gave a slight nod and continued teaching the Gryffindors how to change a goblet into a wine class, Talia and Hermione had done it last week.
Talia ducked behind a tapestry that lead to the seventh floor corridor's come and go room, the only room that one couldn't plot on a map, unless you were in it. The little fox ran in front of the door thinking: I don't want to be found, I don't want to be found, I don't want to be found. The door appeared and she popped inside. Changing back into a girl Talia conjured her glasses and smiled. Hermione was in here somewhere. Talia changed into a fox again and ran threw the cluttered room.
Hermione was sitting on a soft, cozy chair when she saw the little fox approach her. She couldn't fathom who in the castle would have a little fox but it had the cutest collar that Hermione had ever seen, it kind of reminded her of –
"Talia?" Hermione asked the fox gave her a small grin before changing into a girl again.
"You smell like spearmint and caramel. It was easier to trek you with a better nose." Talia wasn't quite ready to reveal her secret map. When they heard about her room, she said that she explored the castle and almost knew every hook and turn. She also led them into a wall once or twice on purpose.
"But why, I thought I was a menace?" Hermione turned her head down.
"Not to me." Talia bumped Hermione with her hip as she sat down. "To me you are a friend, sure you can tone down a bit, but I like you anyway."
"You're missing class." Hermione protested.
"Gladly." Talia smiled and pulled Hermione close for a hug. "You need to cry and my shoulder has been dry lately."
Hermione broke down and cried into Talia's shoulder while Talia whispered sweet nothings into her ear while rubbing her back soothingly. It was around dinner when Hermione calmed down enough to walk with Talia.
They were on their way to the main hall when they saw it, a troll. Talia positioned herself between the troll and Hermione, slowly walking backwards as soft as they could. They hit a suit of armor that fell apart getting the troll's attention.
"Hermione, I think we have to run now, yeah?" Talia said.
The girls ran down the hall, but the troll had larger steps and was slowly gaining on them. The bad news was that this corridor had no secret passages, only a toilet. Talia pushed Hermione inside while she went to lock the door. The troll was bashing to get in and Talia didn't know how long the door would hold.
It snapped about twenty minutes later. Talia didn't know much about trolls, but even she had to admit that it was odd, almost like someone was controlling it. Talia couldn't go into it too deeply though because a large club was flying at her head that very moment.
Talia couldn't distinguish the voice, but she was grateful for their savior. With the adrenaline gone, Talia took notice of the large wooden spike through her body. As the troll fell so did Talia but she was able to see her savior, Ron, before she passed out.
The next morning Talia woke in the hospital wing. Her chest hurt like hell, but she was glad to be alive. She went to get up, but couldn't something was wrong with her body. She tried to turn her head to no avail. She tried to scream in panic but her lips won't move. Her eyes darted from side to side desperately trying to find a way out.
"Calm down girl," Madam Pomfrey smiled standing closer. "You are merely in a full body bind while your spine heals up, can't have you moving." Madam Pomfrey waved her wand. A yell escaped Talia's lips. "There you will be able to speak now."
"Why am I here? Is Hermione okay? What happened to the troll? Was Ron really in the girls' toilet?" Talia asked these questions in one breath.
"It seems that you used your body as a shield for Miss Granger, who is perfectly fine except for the shock." Madam Pomfrey smiled. "After you passed out Professors Dumbledore, McGonagall, Snape and Quirrell showed up and dealt with the knocked out troll. Mr. Weasley wasn't completely inside the lavatory, he did an excellent levitation spell from the door. He was beet red from embarrassment when he realized where he was."
Talia had more to ask, exhaustion overtook her however and she welcomed the dreamless sleep.
To catch a flying Snitch
As they entered November, the weather turned very cold. The mountains around the school became icy gray and the lake like chilled steel. Every morning the ground was covered in frost. Hagrid could be seen from the upstairs windows defrost ing broomsticks on the Quidditch field, bundled up in a long moleskin overcoat, rabbit fur gloves, and enormous beaver-skin boots.
All this really meant was that Quidditch season has begun and on Saturday Talia would be playing her first match. The match was no big deal. Only that they had to win to move up to second place. Hardly anyone saw Talia at practice. Oliver helped her train separately at odd hours to be their secret weapon.
Unfortunately someone let the cat out of the bag. Like with the flying lessons, Talia felt extremely conflicted. It was just that students were either cheering for her, or telling her they'll run around under the pitch with a mattress, in case she fell.
Talia was grateful when Hermione lend her the copy of Quidditch through the ages, the book was filled with knowledge like: there were seven hundred ways of commit ting a Quidditch foul and that all of them had happened during a World Cup match in 1473; that Seekers were usually the smallest and fastest players, and that most serious Quidditch accidents seemed to happen to them; that although people rarely died play ing Quidditch, referees had been known to vanish and turn up months later in the Sahara Desert.
Hermione also became more relaxed around Ron and his quirks. It seemed like being saved from a mountain troll does make one sort out their priorities like Ron bluntly put it. In fact Talia could see them maybe getting together sooner then sixth year.
The three of them were huddled around a blue-bell flame the Friday before the match, Hermione fount the cute little flame that you could carry around in a jar on a note that fell out of a book in the library.
They tried to hide the flame as best they could when Snape walked by them. Talia was sure that he didn't see the illegal flame, but something about their guilty looking faces made him stop.
"What do you lot have there?" Snape drawled out.
"Nothing of interest sir." Talia said pulling out the first thing she found in her robes, a box of Bertie Botts.
"I'll take that – you shouldn't be eating between – classes." Talia knew this was a lie but she really didn't care. She already emptied the box of the safe beans. All that was left were the ones few people enjoyed.
As Snape walked away Talia noticed that his one leg was stiff, making him limp. Did he really try to get pass the Cerberus? Good thing he wasn't able to though. Talia shook the thought out of her mind. Tomorrow was Pass or Fail for her in the air.
The next morning was bright and cold. A combination Talia wouldn't recommend for Quidditch. Her stomach was doing flips, she was nervous and the twins didn't help matters either. In the end all she was able to consume at breakfasts was two slices of toast.
At around 11am the entire school seemed to be up in the stands. Talia gulped as she saw them from the curtain of the lockers. If she wasn't nervous before, she sure as hell was now. She closed the curtain and went to stand next to Katie. The rest of the team had just finished getting dressed. Talia was wearing Charlie Weasley's old uniform, until they could make one that actually fit her. Oliver went over their strategy, which basically just sounded like protect Talia and win the match, real heartwarming.
Out on the pitch Madam Hooch was waiting. She told them to have a clean game but Talia could see that Flint and Wood had some tension. She mounted her broom and kicked of when the whistle blew. The snitch had flown too high for her to see, but the Slytherin Seeker didn't seem too worried about it at the moment.
"And the Quaffle is taken immediately by Angelina Johnson of Gryffindor – what an excellent Chaser that girl is, and rather at tractive, too –"
"Sorry Professor," The Weasley twins' friend, Lee Jordan, was doing the commen tary for the match, closely watched by Professor McGonagall.
"And she's really belting along up there, a neat pass to Alicia Spinnet, a good find of Oliver Wood's, last year only a reserve – back to Johnson and – no, the Slytherins have taken the Quaffle, Slytherin Captain Marcus Flint gains the Quaffle and off he goes – Flint flying like an eagle up there – he's going to sc- no, stopped by an excellent move by Gryffindor Keeper Wood and the Gryffindors take the Quaffle – that's Chaser Katie Bell of Gryffindor there, nice dive around Flint, off up the field and – OUCH – that must have hurt, hit in the back of the head by a Bludger – Quaffle taken by the Slytherins – that's Adrian Pucey speeding off toward the goal posts, but he's blocked by a second Bludger – sent his way by Fred or George Weasley, can't tell which – nice play by the Gryffindor Beater, anyway, and Johnson back in possession of the Quaffle, a clear field ahead and off she goes – she's really flying – dodges a speeding Bludger – the goal posts are ahead – come on, now, Angelina – Keeper Bletch ley dives – misses – GRYFFINDOR SCORES!"
Gryffindor cheers filled the cold air, with howls and moans from the Slytherins.
"Budge up there, move along."
"Hagrid!" Ron and Hermione squeezed together to give Hagrid enough space to join them.
"Bin watchin' from me hut," said Hagrid, patting a large pair of binoculars around his neck, "But it isn't the same as bein' in the crowd, no sign of the Snitch yet, eh?"
"Nope," said Ron. "Talia hasn't had much to do yet."
"Kept outta trouble, though, that's somethin'," said Hagrid, rais ing his binoculars and peering skyward at the speck that was Talia.
Way up above them, Talia was gliding over the game, squinting about for some sign of the Snitch. This was part of his and Wood's game plan.
"Keep out of the way until you catch sight of the Snitch," Wood had said. "We don't want you attacked before you have to be."
When Angelina had scored, Talia had done a couple of loop-the-loops to let off her feelings. Now she was back to staring around for the Snitch. Once she caught sight of a flash of gold, but it was just a reflection from one of the Weasleys' wristwatches, and once a Bludger decided to come pelting her way, more like a cannonball than anything, but Talia dodged it and Fred Weasley came chas ing after it.
"All right there Talia?" he had time to yell, as he beat the Bludger furiously toward Marcus Flint.
"Slytherin in possession," Lee Jordan was saying, "Chaser Pucey ducks two Bludgers, two Weasleys, and Chaser Bell, and speeds toward the – wait a moment – was that the Snitch?"
A murmur ran through the crowd as Adrian Pucey dropped the Quaffle. Too busy looking over his shoulder at the flash of gold that had passed his left ear.
Talia saw it. In a great rush of excitement she dove downward after the streak of gold. Slytherin Seeker Terence Higgs had seen it, too. Neck and neck they hurtled toward the Snitch – all the Chasers seemed to have forgotten what they were supposed to be doing as they hung in midair to watch.
Talia was faster than Higgs – she could see the little round ball, wings fluttering, darting up ahead – she put on an extra spurt of speed –
WHAM! A roar of rage echoed from the Gryffindors below – Marcus Flint had blocked Talia on purpose, and Talia's broom spun off course, Talia holding on for dear life.
"Foul!" screamed the Gryffindors.
Madam Hooch spoke angrily to Flint and then ordered a free shot at the goal posts for Gryffindor. But in all the confusion, of course, the Golden Snitch had disappeared from sight again.
Down in the stands, Dean Thomas was yelling, "Send him off, ref, Red card!"
"What are you talking about, Dean?" said Ron.
"Red card!" said Dean furiously. "In football you get shown the red card and you're out of the game!"
"But this isn't football, Dean," Ron reminded him.
Hagrid, however, was on Dean's side.
"They oughta change the rules. Flint coulda knocked Talia outta the air."
Lee Jordan was finding it difficult not to take sides.
"So – after that obvious and disgusting bit of cheating –"
"Jordan!" growled Professor McGonagall.
"I mean, after that open and revolting foul –"
"Jordan, I'm warning you –"
"All right, all right, Flint nearly kills the Gryffindor Seeker, which could happen to anyone, I'm sure, so a penalty to Gryffindor, taken by Spinnet, who puts it away, no trouble, and we continue play, Gryffindor still in possession."
It was as Talia dodged another Bludger, which went spinning dangerously past her head when it happened. Her broom gave a sud den, frightening lurch. For a split second, she thought she was going to fall. She gripped the broom tightly with both her hands and knees. She'd never felt anything like that.
It happened again. It was as though the broom was trying to buck her off. But Nimbus Two Thousands did not suddenly de cide to buck their riders off. Talia tried to turn back toward the Gryffindor goal posts – she had half a mind to ask Wood to call time-out – and then she realized that her broom was completely out of her control. She couldn't turn it. She couldn't direct it at all. It was zigzagging through the air, and every now and then making vi olent swishing movements that almost unseated her.
Lee was still commentating.
"Slytherin in possession – Flint with the Quaffle – passes Spinnet – passes Bell – hit hard in the face by a Bludger, hope it broke his nose – only joking, Professor – Slytherins score – oh no …"
The Slytherins were cheering. No one seemed to have noticed that Talia's broom was behaving strangely. It was carrying her slowly higher, away from the game, jerking and twitching as it went.
"Dunno what Talia thinks she's doing," Hagrid mumbled. He stared through his binoculars. "If I didn' know better, I'd say she'd lost control of her broom – but she can't have …"
Suddenly, people were pointing up at Talia all over the stands. Her broom had started to roll over and over, with her only just managing to hold on. Then the whole crowd gasped. Talia's broom had given a wild jerk and Talia swung off it. She was now dangling from it, holding on with only one hand.
"Did something happen to it when Flint blocked her?" Seamus whispered.
"Can't have," Hagrid said, his voice shaking. "Can't nothing in terfere with a broomstick except powerful Dark magic – no kid could do that to a Nimbus Two Thousand."
At these words, Hermione seized Hagrid's binoculars, but in stead of looking up at Talia, she started looking frantically at the crowd.
"What are you doing?" moaned Ron, gray-faced.
"I knew it," Hermione gasped, "Snape – look."
Ron grabbed the binoculars. Snape was in the middle of the stands opposite them. He had his eyes fixed on Talia and was mut tering nonstop under his breath.
"He's doing something – jinxing the broom," said Hermione.
"What should we do?"
"Leave it to me."
Before Ron could say another word, Hermione had disappeared. Ron turned the binoculars back on Talia. Her broom was vibrat ing so hard, it was almost impossible for her to hang on much longer. The whole crowd was on its feet, watching, terrified, as the Weasleys flew up to try and pull Talia safely onto one of their brooms, but it was no good – every time they got near her, the broom would jump higher still. They dropped lower and cir cled beneath her, obviously hoping to catch her if she fell. Marcus Flint seized the Quaffle and scored five times without anyone noticing.
"Come on, Hermione," Ron muttered desperately.
Hermione had fought her way across to the stand where Snape stood, and was now racing along the row behind him; she didn't even stop to say sorry as she knocked Professor Quirrell headfirst into the row in front. Reaching Snape, she crouched down, pulled out her wand, and whispered a few, well-chosen words. Bright blue flames shot from her wand onto the hem of Snape's robes.
It took perhaps thirty seconds for Snape to realize that he was on fire. A sudden yelp told her she had done her job. Scooping the fire off him into a little jar in her pocket, she scrambled back along the row – Snape would never know what had happened.
It was enough. Up in the air, Talia was suddenly able to clam ber back on to her broom. She only barely noticed the blue flame below her. She wasn't sure what Hermione did but she was glad Hermione did it.
The next thing anyone saw was that Talia was taking a dive, almost as if her broom wanted to crash into the ground. Seconds before hitting the ground Talia leveled her broom and clasped her hand over her mouth, she had just almost swallowed the Snitch.
Talia rolled off her broom and pushed herself up on all fours. She looked like she was going to be sick. Only she coughed up the Snitch and held it high. The Weasley twins were the first on the ground. They lifted her up and started dancing around.
Saving her from the twins' handling the three chasers carried Talia into the shower. Katie had Talia's uniform off in a matter of seconds, luckily she cast the concealment charm on herself that morning. The other chasers took a side and started washing Talia under the showers, Katie chose Talia's hair. Talia didn't know what was happening, too shocked to say anything. Luckily she didn't have to. Angelina told her, after Talia was placed into the bath:
"You won the game for us and you are a girl." Angelina smiled. "We wanted to pamper you a bit."
"Um –" Talia couldn't for the words.
"Don't worry. We did it with Alicia when she scored us a win against Ravenclaw last year." Katie added also getting into the healing bath, followed by the other chasers.
"I'm so glad you aren't a boy," Alicia said. "It would make it weird for me to do this." Alicia kissed Talia on the mouth passionately. "Thank you for winning the game."
Talia was speechless again while the others laughed at her misfortune. Soon Talia's muscles relaxed and the little scratches she had healed. She stayed behind when the Chasers left just soaking in the ever heating bath. This was how Hermione found her half an hour later.
"Hagrid asked us down for tea are you coming?" Talia moaned in protest. Hermione held up a towel for the girl, who begrudgingly got out.
As Talia feared Hagrid wanted to know what happened with her broom, Talia unfortunately didn't know and couldn't answer.
"It was Snape!" Hermione supplied. "I don't know why, but we saw him muttering under his breath and he didn't break eye contact. That is required when you jinx something you know." Talia thought back there were times when her broom almost went back to normal.
"Rubbish!" Hagrid barked. "Prof. Snape is a Hogwarts teacher."
"Then why'd he try to get past the three headed dog on Halloween?" asked Ron. Talia mentally rolled her eyes.
"How do you know about Fluffy?" Hagrid asked.
"Yeah – he's mine – bought him off a Greek chappie I met in the pub las' year – I lent him to Dumbledore to guard the –"
"It's guarding something on the third floor?" Talia asked surprised, but then she shouldn't have been, Greek Mythology did say that the Cerberus guards the gates of Hades.
"Then why –" Hermione was cut of by Hagrid.
"But he –" tried Ron.
Talia just smiled not trying to say anything when Hagrid spoke
"I don' know why Talia's broom acted like that, but Snape wouldn' try an' kill a student! Now, listen to me, all three of yeh — yer meddlin' in things that don' concern yeh. It's dangerous. You forget that dog, an' you forget what it's guardin', that's between Professor Dumbledore an' Nicolas Flamel –"
Talia raised an eyebrow, what did the leading alchemist have to do with any of this. Talia filed it away for later then stood up.
"Sorry Hagrid," Talia said meekly. "We'll just go now, sorry for almost making you spill the deadly secret."
Christmas was rapidly approaching and as the ground turned white the twins got in trouble again. They were punished because they bewitched snowballs to follow Quirrell around and pelt into his turban. As the DADA teacher passed Talia at one stage she could've sworn that she heard feint curses coming from the turban but wrote it off.
No one could wait for the holidays to start. While the Gryf findor common room and the Great Hall had roaring fires, the drafty corridors had become icy and a bitter wind rattled the windows in the classrooms. Worst of all were Professor Snape's classes down in the dungeons, where their breath rose in a mist before them and they kept as close as possible to their hot caul drons.
"I do feel so sorry," said Draco Malfoy, one Potions class, "for all those people who have to stay at Hogwarts for Christmas because they're not wanted at home."
Talia didn't rise to the bait as she measured out the powdered spine of lion-fish. After their talk in the dungeons, Tracey had mellowed out. Unfortunately Malfoy was becoming a real pain, just because Talia didn't want to accept his friendship and Drop the Weasel.
Talia was just glad that the information that she now lives at Hogwarts didn't become public knowledge. Everyone still thinks she lived with her abusive relatives. Talia clutched the magical photos of both Uncle Vernon and Aunt Petunia as they exited Azkaban, no more than they deserve.
Talia was glad that she wouldn't be the only one from Gryffindor staying behind. In her last letter from Ginny, she found out that they were going to Romania to visit Charlie on the dragon reserve. She sounded very excited about it, but Talia could tell it was a way to make her feel less miserable about being home alone. When potions were done that day Talia almost ran into a fir tree with big furry feet.
"Hi Hagrid!" she called in a sing-song voice.
"Would you mind moving out of the way?" came Malfoy's cold drawl from behind them. "Are you trying to earn some extra money, Weasley? Hoping to be gamekeeper yourself when you leave Hogwarts, I suppose – that hut of Hagrid's must seem like a palace compared to what your family's used to."
Ron dived at Malfoy just as Snape came up the stairs.
Ron let go of the front of Malfoy's robes.
"He was provoked, Prof. Snape," said Hagrid, sticking his huge hairy face out from behind the tree. "Malfoy was insultin' his family."
"Be that as it may, fighting is against Hogwarts rules, Hagrid," said Snape silkily. "Five points from Gryffindor, Weasley, and be grateful it isn't more. Move along, all of you."
Malfoy, Crabbe, and Goyle pushed roughly past the tree, scat tering needles everywhere and smirking.
"I'll get him," said Ron, grinding his teeth at Malfoy's back, "one of these days, I'll get him –"
"Cheer up, it's almost Christmas." Hagrid smiled. "Tell yeh what, come with me an' see the Great Hall, looks a treat."
The three of them followed, and as Hagrid promised the Great Hall was indeed a sight to see. Festoons of holly and mistletoe hung all around the walls, and no less than twelve towering Christ mas trees stood around the room, some sparkling with tiny icicles, some glittering with hundreds of candles.
"How many days you got left until yer holidays?" Hagrid asked.
"Just one," said Hermione. "Come to think of it I think we should go to the library before lunch."
"What for?" asked Hagrid. "Not still on about Flamel are yeh?"
"Nicolas Flamel was most well known for his work in alchemy with Prof. Dumbledore." Talia supplied. "It's on Prof. Dumbledore's Chocolate Frog card."
"Oh," Hagrid realized his slip up.
"But yes we are still looking for some of his alchemy accomplishments. Just for research purposes. Flamel is a famous person after all." Hagrid squinted his eyes in disbelieve but ultimately smiled.
"A'right then," Hagrid said, "I jus' don' want yeh to get into trouble for it."
"I've been collecting chocolate frog cards for a while now, why couldn't I remember that?" Ron asked as she slumped down with a book called Modern Alchemy: A Beginner's Guide.
"Do be quiet Ron, this is a library." Hermione said from her seat, she was busy with the book Alchemy: The Art of Equivalent Exchange.
Talia rolled her eyes. She was looking at a rather old tome called Great Wizards and Their Contribution to Modern Magic. She took the book and went back to the table. As the heavy book hit the table Ron's eyes widened.
"Merlin's beard Talia," Ron said. Talia's eye twitched, Ron has been saying that line a lot and it was working on her nerves.
"Morgan's unwashed delicates Ron." Talia replied before opening the book. She inwardly smiled at the face Ron made.
Talia skimmed the pages noticing that the contents weren't alphabetical. At about a quarter of the way in, she saw it, Nicolas Flamel. The date was 1345. Talia called her friends over.
"I found something that might help us." Talia said then read the passage:
The ancient study of alchemy is concerned with mak ing the Philosopher's Stone, a legendary substance with as tonishing powers. The Stone will transform any metal into pure gold. It also produces the Elixir of Life, which will make the drinker immortal.
There have been many reports of the Philosopher's Stone over the centuries, but the only Stone currently in existence belongs to Mr. Nicolas Flamel, the noted alchemist and opera lover. Mr. Flamel, who cele brated his six hundred and sixty-fifth birthday last year, enjoys a quiet life in Devon with his wife, Perenelle (six hundred and fifty-eight).
"So Flamel made the Philosopher's Stone, that's kinda cool," Ron but Talia only gave him a look.
"It just doesn't make sense, why would Snape want the Philosopher's Stone?" Hermione asked.
"I don't know but I seriously doubt it's to make gold." Talia finally said.
With Flamel found Talia could enjoy her holiday. She was the only girl in her dormitory so she didn't ask McGonagall if she could go to her room like she originally wanted. In fact, other than the Weasley brothers there weren't any Gryffindors left in the tower.
As Talia placed her wand on the rail leading down the common room then suddenly smirked. She wanted to test the slide out, but seeing as she was wearing a skirt she thought better of it. Talia stepped onto the descending stairs and rode them to the bottom. When she entered the Common Room she saw Ron and Percy in a chess match. Judging by the broken, fallen pieces Talia really didn't want to play Wizard's Chess, even if Ron offered to teach her how to play.
On Christmas eve Talia didn't go up to her dormitory, she sat on the armchair closest to the fire cuddled up with a nice book. She had originally planned on heading up, but fell asleep. This was how Ron found her the next morning, a pile of gifts in his arms.
"Morning," Ron yawned. "Have you already opened your presents?"
"Presents?" Talia raised an eyebrow.
"Well yeah, can't tell me you never got any." Talia just remembered she never spoke about her circumstances at the Dursley's with Ron, only Hermione.
"Yeah well, I forgot what day it was for a second. I fell asleep in the chair." Talia took her book and went to the girl's dorm.
She was shocked to see the pile of presents on the foot of her bed. She took it and went downstairs, after getting dressed, of course. She scanned the cards to see who it was from. The first present was wrapped in brown paper and the card said it was from Hagrid. Talia opened it and found a hand-carved flute. She smiled and thought about the gift she sent him, a book labeled: Too many Burns: A Dragon Handler's Guide to the Dragons of the World. Hagrid told her and Hermione how he always wanted a dragon and the book came with a miniature Norwegian Ridgeback as a collectable.
Talia was surprised to find a card from her Uncle and Aunt. Apparently their stay in Azkaban had scared them and they send her twenty Pounds so that she could buy herself something. Doing a quick once over she realized this was worth four Galleons. She had sent them and Dudley some wizard candy, de-enchanted, even if she loved to imagine Dudley chasing after the hopping chocolate frogs.
The next present was wrapped in pink paper and judging by the same color in Ron's ears this was most likely from his parents. She opened it and saw a lovely green jumper with the letter T on the front. She pulled it on even if Ron insisted she didn't have to. She bought Mrs. Weasley the complete set of Gilderoy Lockhart books after Ginny let it slip that her mom liked the handsome Wizard, for Mr. Weasley she some muggle tools and a book describing how to use them.
The next present was from Ginny, it wasn't anything fancy, but Talia could tell the slightly younger girl put a lot of thought into the bracelet. Talia bought a set of two-way mirrors and sent Ginny the one with an official Holyhead Harpies uniform signed by the entire team. She took the mirror McGonagall gave her out of the compact and placed it in a pouch with the rest of her mirrors, the one for Ginny and the one for Hermione.
The next gift she opened was from Hermione. Hermione bought her a cute dress and a large box of chocolate frogs. Beside the mirror Talia sent Hermione, she also sent the girl a few spell books, and a pouch with an extension charm to keep all her books in. She also bought Hermione Lockhart's collection.
Ron gave Talia a few boxes of candy. He actually remembered her favorites. Talia also got him a candy but also a book Flying with the Cannons. She didn't care much for the team but Ron was a big fan. She actually wanted to buy him a Chudley Cannons uniform, but couldn't find one that was signed by the team.
The last parcel was from someone with loopy hand-writing. It was an invisibility cloak owned by her father. Talia had her suspicion on who send it, but she wasn't sure so when Ron asked she simply said she didn't know.
The twins came down from their dorm wearing each other's Weasley Jumper. The only way Talia could tell them apart was that Fred had five freckles above his left eye in the form of a star. George had the same five freckles below his right eye. Talia wondered if Mrs. Weasley ever noticed this. They took Talia in a group hug.
"Thanks for the new beater bats. Ours were getting a bit worn." They said completing the sentences for one another. "Glad to see you got yourself a Weasley jumper, it'll make you blend in with the rest of our family."
"Are you two thick?" Ron asked as the twins pulled his jumper over his head.
"Thick? Have you forgotten who we are, like our dear old mother? Honestly that woman keeps getting us mixed up, but we know who we are, we're Gred and Feorge." Talia laughed out loud, she really started to like these two troublemakers.
"Your welcome," Talia finally got to say. "You two can't protect me up in the sky if your bats could break any moment."
The twins dragged Ron and Percy, who was trying to slip away, down to the Great Hall, Talia followed with a skip, only ducking into the bathroom to freshen up. What she really wanted to do was see how her new bracelet affected her Animagus form. The collar she had now sported a spiraling copper band around it.
"What are you doing here?" an irritable voice asked from one of the cubicles. Talia turned back to herself.
"Sorry Myrtle, I thought you weren't here." Talia said, she met the ghost and they got along just fine some times. "How has your Christmas been so far?"
"You're the first person to ask me that, since I died forty nine years ago." Myrtle said quite surprised.
"Well normally I'm terrified of ghosts, but you are rather nice most of the time, I like you." Talia smiled meaning every word. "Would you like to come to the feast, I know you can't eat, but it's the thought that counts right?"
"No," Myrtle smiled, "I'm much more comfortable in this cubicle." Talia's stomach growled.
"Myrtle, would you tell me how you died the next time I come to visit. For now I'm just too hungry."
They shared what could be considered a hug and then Talia left the room slightly colder on the outside but warm on the inside. Not even Peeves would be able to change her mood just now.
Prof. Dumbledore welcomed the students to the feast. The rows of tables had been moved aside to make way for table at the front. The teachers sat on one side while the remaining students took the other. Wizard crackers were spaced apart every few inches and Talia marveled at them after seeing Prof. Dumbledore swap out his pointed hat for a flowery bonnet.
The first cracker Talia pulled with Fred revealed an Admiral's Hat and several live white mice. Fred scooped up the mice and told Talia to keep the hat. She laughed and promised pain if the mice ended up anywhere near her. He promised they won't he was planning something with Quirrell.
As the feast drew on, Hagrid was getting redder and redder with the amount of wine he consumed he even gave McGonagall a kiss on the check. Talia was sure the woman would've smacked him silly but she giggled instead, even blushed. Of all the treats Talia got from the crackers she liked the non-explodable, luminous balloons the most. She also had a set of eager to please Wizard's Chess pieces. She didn't want to disappoint the little guys.
They spent the day together having a great snowball fight out in the court yard. Fred and George had a wager on who would get pelted the most. Talia was actually shocked when Fred pulled her behind a wall and asked her to help him pelt George. George on the other hand had Ron make ammunition for him to pelt Fred. The fight got out of hand when Percy marched into the courtyard the twins shared a look and started attacking him and anyone else brave enough to enter the courtyard. Soon even Hagrid and Prof. Flitwick joined the fight. The little wizard used the levitating charm to throw the small projectiles at great speeds while everyone dodged the snow boulders Hagrid tossed, not always succeeding.
After dinner the Weasleys and Talia went up to the Common room, there Talia tried her hand at Wizard's Chess. She lost to Ron but her pieces were glad that she didn't make unnecessary sacrifices. Talia might not have lost, if Percy didn't try to help her. That night as Talia lay in her dorm she got a brilliant idea, while running the watery substance of her Invisibility Cloak. She slipped it on and went to wonder the halls.
Talia was curious what books were considered forbidden, so she went to the library and walked straight to the back. Seeing that it was pitch black in the library and there was no lamp in sight Talia whispered Lumos and her wand tip lit up. She scanned the rows and rows of books careful not to touch any of them. In one of the rows she thought that some of the books were whispering at her in low hisses. After going through the entire restricted section Talia's curiosity was set and she wouldn't return soon.
Just as Talia walked out of the restricted section she saw Filch. She knew she couldn't close the gates and she inched away as he got closer. When she was far enough away she started walking really fast, trying to get to the shortcut that would take her to the fourth floor. It seemed that Filch to one of his own, probably through the portrait of Morgan Le Faye. He was walking towards Snape, which Talia didn't notice until then.
"You asked me to come directly to you, Professor, if anyone was wandering around at night, and somebody's been in the library – Restricted Section." Talia heard Filch wheeze.
Her heart was caught in her throat, she had to get away. She wasn't close to any of the secret passages she knew so she ducked into a classroom around the corner. She pressed her ear to the door to hear Snape and Filch walking towards the library. Talia sighed in relieve as she removed her cloak and scanned the room. There was a rather large mirror in the one corner.
"Why would there be a mirror in an abandoned classroom?" Talia whispered to herself.
Curious as she was, Talia cautiously walked towards the mirror and read the engraving on the top: Erised stra ehru oyt ube cafru oyt on wohsi. She raised an eyebrow and sat down in the dust and wrote the inscription there. It didn't make any sense until she stole a glance in the mirror: ishow no tyo urfac ebu tyo urhe arts desirE.
"Hold on a second," Talia whispered then spaced the words differently. "I show not your face but your hearts desire. So if I looked in the mirror I would see what I really desire? That is dangerous, people can waste away looking at their desires and not do anything about it." There was clapping behind her and she turned around. It was Dumbledore.
"I would've thought you would look into the mirror and neglect the obvious, I am proud of you Talia."
"Prof. Dumbledore," Talia squeaked. "I didn't mean to be out of bound, but I just couldn't sleep –"
"And so you took a stroll through the library's restricted section and found yourself here hiding from Mr. Filch and Prof. Snape." Dumbledore said with a smile. "I do not blame you Talia, but I do advice scanning a room before removing your cloak if you wish to use it for that purpose."
"Sorry professor." Talia was glad it was half-light and the man couldn't see her blush.
"Since you know what the mirror is used for would you want to see what it is that you desire above all else? You simply need to step in front of the mirror and look beyond your reflection. I find myself sometimes peering into the mirror on my birthday and Christmas and see myself holding a pair of wooly socks. One can never have enough of those."
"I'll remember that next year, sir. Maybe I'll even get you a cozy jumper like the one Mrs. Weasley sent me." Talia knew Dumbledore wasn't entirely honest about what he saw, but she didn't put it pass him to actually see himself with wooly socks, among other things.
Talia stepped in front of the mirror and noticed them immediately, her parents. They were beaming at her, just beyond them she could see a long line of wizards that kind of looked like her father. She could also see Aunt Petunia and her deceased grandparents behind her mother. And standing next to her was Ginny and Hermione their hands interlocked with her mirror self. With Dumbledore's word on her mind she saw herself wearing a Weasley jumper and thick wooly socks.
"They do seem comfortable professor." Talia smiled then added, "The wooly socks I mean. I see myself wearing a pair."
Dumbledore gave Talia a knowing look and walked with her to Gryffindor tower. They encountered Snape and Filch along the way. Dumbledore told them that he didn't wish to walk through the halls alone to explain why Talia was with him. He even covered and said he was looking for a book on blood magic, which he held up, and just forgot to close the gate to the restricted section.
The rest of the holiday Talia actually spent in her own room going through all the potions they learned so far and brewing them without Snape looking over her shoulder like a bat. With only a day or two left until the start of term Talia decided to play a prank on the twins, by following them around as a fox. To ensure that there wouldn't be any marks that would give her away Talia removed the bracelets she wore and all her clothes.
When Talia sat behind them at breakfast she saw McGonagall wanted to scold her, but she only shook her head when she realized what Talia was doing after she followed the twins out the Great Hall. By lunch time the twins were getting slightly irritated and tried to scare her away. Whenever they did Talia would swing her tail and growled. The growl sounding like soft crackers exploding, the twins were ecstatic and decided to call her Cracker.
For the rest of the day she followed them around, barking at their antics and biting their legs when they were about to get into trouble. When Hermione returned she almost blew Talia's cover, but she laughed to herself when she realized that Talia was just having some fun for a change, real fun.
"You know that is Talia's right?" Hermione smiled when Talia finally went to her room to get dressed.
"Talia's?" the twins asked.
"Well yes," Hermione tried to find a way to say it without giving Talia away.
"She's normally outside hunting in the forest, but she's been in my room during the winter." Talia said from the door. Thankful that Hermione didn't tell them.
"How is it that Hermione knows and I don't?" Ron asked scowling.
"I can't help it if you didn't pay attention when you came to my room Ron. There is a bowel in the kitchen for her." Talia countered, she saw realization draw on Fred's face as he whispered something to George.
"You are an unregistered Animagus." Fred said when they got Talia alone outside Myrtle's bathroom.
"Whatever do you mean?" Talia said off handedly.
"Well we think its brilliant." George said. Talia raised an eyebrow.
"Off course we wanted to do it, but we didn't want to turn into monkeys, which is most likely to happen." Fred said.
"But now that we know your secret, we need you to do something for us."
"And that is?" Talia asked eying the both of them.
"Take this and use it well." They gave her a map of the school with everyone's names on it.
"I already have one of those actually." Talia said and materialized her glasses and taking them off handing it to them.
They bowed to her and declared themselves unworthy. Talia just curtsied and held out her hand knowing full well that they would take it and lick it. She counted down from ten and when she reached five they both gave her one giant lick. She yelled after them as they ran down the hall, but didn't give chase.
As the new term started, Talia had less time on her hands then she wanted. She only realized now that it might've been a bad idea to give every one on the team a gift. Wood was becoming a fanatic.
Then, during one particularly wet and muddy practice session, Wood gave the team a bit of bad news. He'd just gotten very angry with the Weasleys, who kept dive-bombing each other and pre tending to fall off their brooms.
"Will you stop messing around!" he yelled. "That's exactly the sort of thing that'll lose us the match! Snape's refereeing this time, and he'll be looking for any excuse to knock points off Gryffindor!"
George Weasley really did fall off his broom at these words.
"Snape's refereeing?" he spluttered through a mouthful of mud. "When's he ever refereed a Quidditch match? He's not going to be fair if we might overtake Slytherin."
The rest of the team landed next to George to complain, too.
"It's not my fault," said Wood. "We've just got to make sure we play a clean game, so Snape hasn't got an excuse to pick on us.
Talia suddenly felt ill. Sure she tolerated the Potions Master, but some things really don't mix, like oil and water, Gillyweed in a fire potion and Snape as a Quidditch ref. She sat down next to Ron in the common room that evening taking out her homework. She must've looked ill because Ron was feeling her head.
"Oh get off it," Talia said swatting his hand away. "I just heard Prof. Snape was refereeing the next match."
"Don't play," Hermione said instantly.
"Say you're ill," said Ron.
"Pretend to break your leg," Hermione suggested.
"Really break your leg," said Ron.
"Tempting as that sounds," Talia rolled her eyes. "I can't back away, there is no reserve seeker and we'll have forfeit."
Just then Neville came through the portrait hole. His legs were locked together. He told them that Malfoy singled him to try the spell on. Talia thought it was really low of Malfoy, she and Hermione bumped head when they bend down to un-curse Neville. Talia blushed fiercely, but assured Hermione it was because of the awkwardness. Hermione accepted the answer for now.
That night as Talia lay in the bath Hermione came to face her. Talia gathered the bubbles around her and stared at her. Hermione also stripped down and scooted in next to Talia. They were quiet for a bit more when Hermione finally spoke.
"What happened with your aunt and uncle? And don't think you can weasel out of this, I've locked the door.
"Hermione, you really don't want to know this trust me," Talia sunk a bit deeper into the warm bath.
"Yes I do." Hermione placed her hand on Talia's shoulder where she saw the welt. "I saw it when we bumped heads, is that why you're staying at Hogwarts?"
"Okay fine," Talia sighed seeing that Hermione wouldn't give up. Talia's eyes shifted into seven different shades of green before it settled back to its regular three-tone green.
"What did you just do?" Hermione asked amazed by the change.
"Mind magic," Talia said, "Tell me, before I begin, how many happy memories do you have Hermione?"
"What an odd question," Hermione said then thought about it. "I can't really say. A lot I guess."
"Fifteen," Talia looked down. "I have fifteen happy memories, the rest I locked away. Prof. McGonagall helped me with it."
Hermione moved to ask a question but thought better.
"The first memory I have is a woman with beautiful green eyes and a charming laugh. I remember her comforting me and making me laugh, my mother. Next I remember playing with the classes of a tall man with hazel eyes. His hair was messy, my father."
Talia's eyes turned bright green.
"We were happy until the man with red eyes came to our house. He was laughing as he made everything red. He was very noisy but he made beautiful colors fly everywhere. My father was yelling also made the colors fly, until the green light caught him in the chest. His eyes lost their color. The man then chased after my mother and me, calling her like she was a cat. We were in the room with the strong door and I can remember my mother tell me one thing: Be safe my little one and grow strong. The door blew through the wall making it disappear. The man with red eyes flashed the green light on my mother and she didn't stand up again. The man with the red eyes looked at me. There was a flash of green, then nothing."
"That was the day you-know-who, tried to kill you?" Hermione asked. Talia nodded her eyes three-toned again.
"Call him by his name Hermione. It irritates me more than Ron saying Merlin all the time." Talia rubbed her temples. Where was I?"
"V-Voldemort, tried to kill you." Hermione whispered the name, which Talia felt was better then not saying it.
"I woke up to find a man with a bushy beard picking me up and making sure I was breathing. He took me to a motorcycle and we flew. The wind going passed us made me sleepy. Next thing I know was a loud scream. I screamed because she hurt my ears. I was taken to the kitchen table and I was being poked by fat fingers. My voice was burning so I couldn't cry anymore. Minutes later I was thrown into the cupboard under the stairs and left there, hungry and lonely. They eventually took me out and fed me and changed my diaper before throwing me back inside. This continued for a few months until I learned that they only took me out when the fat baby was sleeping."
Hermione was crying.
"I told you there were some things you wouldn't want to know, trust me it gets worst from here."
"I – I need to know." Hermione said steeling herself. Talia's eyes turned a very light green, almost yellow.
"I've been living in the cupboard for a while and my clothes were starting to tear when I was allowed to venture into the house. It was probably a year or so later by this time. The fat toddler and I played a bit even if the man with the fuzzy lips and the woman with the long necked egged him on to hurt me, living in a cupboard being bitten by spiders generally make pokes not hurt that much. This went on for the next few years until school started." Talia smiled sadly.
"That was the best week of my life. I was reading and writing at a level no-one else could in the class. Dudley, as learned my cousin's name was, wasn't too pleased, he complained to his parents. Uncle Vernon and Aunt Petunia couldn't to anything just yet so they told him suck it up until something happened. Dudley wasn't too pleased about that either. The next day at school he and his friends started throwing stuff at me trying to get me to loose my temper in class. I didn't take the bait. Friday at break, they started to chase me with rocks. I ran as fast as my legs could carry me. A rock hit me and I just wished they would leave me alone. As I lay there crying, it felt like I was being spinning into myself and then I was on the roof. The school called Aunt Petunia and she told Uncle Vernon. When he got home he was purple with anger. Dudley then thought it would be helpful to tell them that I wasn't climbing the walls, but that I disappeared in front of their eyes. I was thrown into the cupboard and I hit my head. Everything went dark."
Talia traced the scar over her heart.
"I wish this finished me off back then," Talia said.
"Don't say that!" Hermione practically screamed. Talia was glad the room had silencing charms.
"I woke up with a meaty hand around my neck holding me up against the wall. Uncle Vernon was choking me while he tore the clothes from my body going on about freaks and that they should mind their own business. When I was naked he bent me over the stair rail holding my hand so that I couldn't shimmy down. The next thing I knew the most painful thing I ever felt stung into my back, over and over again. I felt myself drifting away I had lost a lot of blood. Then it stopped. I stole a glance and realized the rose stem broke and he was looking for something else to use. He couldn't find anything so he used his fists until I didn't move anymore. I woke up in the cupboard and couldn't get out at all."
Talia stood up and showed Hermione the welts on her lower back.
"I thought they would let me out for meals, but they didn't for at least a week, although it felt longer. They gave me the meager scraps that was left from the meal and made me clean the house. Whenever they had something important happen the next day Uncle Vernon would take the rose stem he soaked in salt water and beat me with it. The beatings were usually more intense around Christmas and birthdays. This went on until this year. Apparently one of Dudley's friends remembered I was alive and Dudley admitted it. For the first time in years I was allowed outside the cupboard and wore clothes. We went to the Zoo where a snake spoke to me. The snake escaped and found a wizarding family that told Prof. McGonagall about how I looked. Prof. McGonagall used magic that she didn't like to few my memories. She saved me from them. She discovered I was an Animagus and gave me the bracelet so that I don't turn into a fox while I was asleep. I didn't even know I was a fox when I slept in the cupboard, not that my Aunt and Uncle would ever have opened the door and found out."
Talia sank into the bath and her eyes shifted through the shades again.
"Prof. Dumbledore helped me lock away the memories and showed me how to open them, just in case I ever wanted to. And after today I don't think I ever want to again."
"You didn't tell me everything did you?" Hermione asked hugging her knees to her chest.
"I spared you from the true horrors Hermione, the ones even I don't want to wake up. As soon as I can find a Pensieve, I will cast out all my memories just like this one." Talia reached for her clothes and pulled out a small vile and said, "My worst memory."
Talia relaxed inside the bath until she noticed her fingers were shriveled up. She got out and helped Hermione out as well. The girl hasn't stopped hugging her knees. Talia offered to teach Hermione how to block out the memory, but Hermione refused.
"Just so you know I don't want pity, its worst than what my relatives could ever do to me." Talia said in her best strict voice.
"I'm sorry you had to live through that," Hermione said. "Also could you help me with some of the spells in this book?" Hermione took out a copy of Charms in and around the House. "I've tried a few but I can't find where the emphasis is to get them to work."
Talia took the book and with Hermione protesting the use of a pen took out a pencil to underline the emphasis as she read over the spells. The first spell Hermione tried was a shoe shining spell, Luceat Calceamentum, after the third try Hermione got the emphasis correct, after consulting the book a few times: Luce-at Calce-a-ment-um. She didn't ask Talia how to pronounce it though, too determined to try for herself. She beamed at Talia when the shoes were done looking like it had just been bought.
The next morning, while copying down ways to treat werewolf bites, Ron was going on about what he would do if he had the money, it wasn't until he mentioned Quidditch that Talia spoke up.
"I'm playing." She said leaving no room for argument. "If I don't, all the Slytherins will think I'm just too scared to face Snape."
"As long as we don't need t wipe you off the field." Hermione said, it seemed that their talk in the bathroom made her see things differently.
Over the next week Talia found Snape everywhere, it was like he was stalking her. In potions he was still being a jerk, but Talia loved the beauty of the shimmering cauldron too much to be bothered with him. It was in one of these lessons that Talia felt one of her mental blocks rattle. Mind magic wasn't taught to students.
Talia mentally turned into her fox form and found an intruding figure she followed it back to Snape. She made sure that she kept herself small. She wasn't prepared for what she found. Snape had a shrine in his mind to her mother. Talia retreated to her own mind and after class she lingered until the other students left. Hermione waited for her outside.
"It's rude to invade someone's mind without permission, sir." Talia said. Snape just peered down at her. "Prof. Dumbledore locked my memories away. He showed me how to open them and assured me no one could break the lock."
"You felt my presence Miss Potter? How – interesting," Snape said.
"I also followed it back to see who was trying to break into my mind. I didn't see much sir only an image of my mother." Talia said. "I'm sorry for invading your mind, sir. Maybe next time you could ask me to view my memories?"
The next day wasn't comforting to Talia at all, when Ron and Hermione left her at the lockers, it sounded like they won't see her again. Oliver took her aside and told her that they would like the game to end soon, not that there was any pressure. Talia rolled her eyes. Not even Dumbledore in the stands could comfort her.
Snape had awarded Hufflepuff two penalties for no reason. Talia knew she had to act fast. She didn't let Draco, Crabbe and Goyle pestering Ron distract her. That's when she saw it near the ground. Cedric Diggory also saw it so Talia knew it wasn't her imagination, the Snitch. Talia dived down speeding towards the ground pass Snape who seemed like he wanted to give Hufflepuff another penalty. Talia gripped the small ball and stood on the back of the broom to level her out. She raised her hand in victory. Cedric on the other hand shook his head.
"You are one crazy redhead," Cedric said when he shook her hand after the game. "I wouldn't have dived like that. You were practically on the ground."
Talia was taken away by her teammates before she could ask Ron what happened with Malfoy. Just before they reached the lockers there was a hand on her shoulder. It was Dumbledore. His eyes told her that he enjoyed the game. Talia was once again treated to a wash up from the other girls. She knew that this wasn't because of the win because they only did it once with the others.
"Seriously?" Talia asked between giggles. "What did I do this time?"
"The shortest game in Quidditch history," Alicia smiled.
"The previous short came was fifteen minutes. You caught the Snitch in five." Katie proclaimed.
Talia just rolled her eyes and enjoyed the company. Hermione came in just as Talia was rinsed of Talia could tell she was looking for the welts across her back, cleverly concealed. Talia really wanted to rest in the bath but she dried herself off anyway.
"Thanks," Talia said to the other girls, she could tell they wanted her to stay so she added. "We're going down to Hagrid's."
"Where are your scars?" Hermione asked in barely more than a whisper as they approached Ron.
"Skryt Sharmy," Talia smiled, "A simple concealment charm."
Hagrid waved them over. He was flattered that they wanted to come and visit him, but he was heading out for something stronger down in Hogsmead. Talia smiled and asked him if he could bring them each a Butter Beer. He promised and headed off.
"So we're not going to Hagrid's after all," Talia said then turned to head back to the baths only to see the chasers come out. She waved them over. "Hagrid canceled on us."
"Going down to the village?" Angelina asked then laughed, "I hope he brings you Butter Beer as an apology.
Talia couldn't answer as she was picked up by the twins coming out of the locker and carried all the way up to Gryffindor tower. She just barely noticed Quirrell walking down the path something clutched in his arm. It clicked just then, Quirrell was after the stone, but why?
Talia couldn't ponder over it for too long as she was on everyone's shoulders at some point. Since the twins picked her up her feet hasn't touched the ground once. When Talia moved over Hermione's shoulder she managed to whisper that they needed to talk. It was around midnight when Talia finally touched back down on the ground.
"You're as light as a feather," Fred whispered in her ear and went to his dorm. Talia slipped in next to Hermione.
"Snape isn't after the stone, Quirrell is." Talia said getting straight to the point.
"How can you be sure?" Ron asked "It didn't say that it could cure a stutter."
"It's an act Ron." Talia said, only then registering the feint whispers her broom made. "Hermione didn't you say you accidentally knock Quirrell over when you thought Snape was jinxing my broom?"
"Now that you mention it, I think I heard him whispering too." Hermione said straining her mind. "But I could be wrong."
"It just doesn't add up." Talia sighed. "We're missing something."
"Maybe Snape but Quirrell up to it?" Ron supplied. That was when Talia decided to share with them her finding.
"Snape isn't trying to kill me. I thought he was, but he isn't." Talia pinched her nose. "Snape was in love with my mother, I saw it in his mind when he invaded mine."
"But he's a jerk to you in potions." Ron countered.
"That's because my mother was brilliant in potions and I'm mediocre." Talia knew she was bad, but that was because of her lack of education before Hogwarts.
The following day Talia went to visit Hagrid. Ron muttered about not wanting to see him hung over and Hermione was busy with Neville. When she got to Hagrid's hut however there was a fire in the chimney. She knocked on the door and after some coaxing Hagrid opened.
"Why is it so stuffy in here?" Talia asked
"Las' night I was down in the village havin' a few drinks an' got into a game o' cards with a stranger. Won me a dragon's egg, think he was quite glad ter get rid of it ter be honest, speakin' of the village, got yeh a case o' Butt'r Beer."
"Hagrid, in Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, they say that dragon eggs are Class A Non-Tradable Goods."
"But–" Hagrid wanted to protest, but he looked into Talia's three-colored eyes. "Please don' tell them, I just want ter see it hatch."
"Then take it to Dumbledore directly?" Talia folded her arms. "I got a copy of the book I gave you for Christmas too Hagrid. You aren't allowed to use magic so you wouldn't be able to tame the baby."
"But won' brandy work? It burns just the same."
"No Hagrid it doesn't, you need to be able to breathe real fire, Draconem Ardentem."
Hagrid admitted defeat and walked with Talia up to Dumbledore's office. The headmaster was quite impressed and assured Hagrid that he could see it hatching before Charlie Weasley would come and fetch it. There was something that Talia knew she forgot to ask Hagrid after she thanked him for the Butter Beer.
"Hagrid do you still have the Norwegian Ridgeback toy I gave you with the book?" Hagrid pulled the little dragon out of one of his pockets. Talia smiled then pointed her wand at it. "Engorgio." The small dragon grew to the size of a Jack Russell. "It may not be the real thing but it has all the qualities."
Hagrid beamed and gave Talia a hug before returning to his hut.
Talia relayed the story to her friends as she entered the common room. She didn't really want to include Ron, but knew his brother would be the one to come and take the dragon away. She was afraid that Ron might try to convince Hagrid to keep the dragon.
A few days later as Talia walked to Herbology Dumbledore place a hand on her shoulder out of nowhere. She turned to him, Hermione also stopped. Ron and Neville were busy with an argument and didn't see them stopping.
"I just wanted you to know that Hagrid's dragon is hatching tonight. I'll escort you and your friends down myself. Perhaps Hagrid will let you keep the shell. It is quite useful to keep memories at bay."
Talia beamed and along with Hermione and Ron, went down to Hagrid's. Dumbledore himself asked Sprout if they could accompany him. The woman blushed redder than a tomato, but allowed it. They were only going to go over the notes they made Monday.
The three Gryffindors followed Dumbledore down to Hagrid's hut. Talia was fiddling in her bag and as they reached the hut she pulled out a leathery stuffed hide. She had ordered the Ridgeback tail when she heard Hagrid would be able to hatch the dragon.
Charlie Weasley was already there waiting for them. He smiled seeing the dragon's tail Talia pulled out. And then the waiting began. Talia placed the tail in the table and Charlie was breathing fire on the egg every few moments.
Suddenly little cracks appeared all over the shell. The soft clicks became more rapid. All at once there was a scraping noise and the egg split open. The baby dragon flopped onto the table. It wasn't exactly pretty; Harry thought it looked like a crumpled, black umbrella. Its spiny wings were huge compared to its skinny, jet body. It had a long snout with wide nostrils, the stubs of horns and bulging, orange eyes. It sneezed. A couple of sparks flew out of its snout.
"Isn't he beautiful?" Hagrid murmured. He reached out a hand to stroke the dragon's head. It snapped at his fingers, showing pointed fangs. "Bless him, look, he knows his mommy!"
It was then that the dragon noticed the tail. It breathed fire on it and Charlie replied by breathing fire on the little dragon. It sounded like the dragon gave a bark and it found the pouch in tail and crawled in. Hagrid cried when it was time for Norbert, as he christened the dragon, to go.
The first years walked with Charlie up to the astronomy tower, a place where he went to often when he was in school. There were three others waiting for him there, Talia saw one of them slap another and raised an eyebrow.
"Joel here works in a shop that sells dragon related items." He smiled. "Stupid blighter didn't even think of bringing along a dragon's tail, only this cage. I'm Jasper by the way."
Talia wished she had her broom with her when she saw the stairs down. She sighed they needed to go all the way down, then up again, since the classes were over for the day. Clearly they over looked this little detail.
They talked as they walked down when something finally dawned on Talia: who would carry a dragon's egg around anyway? It must be someone who knew about Hagrid's desire to have a dragon.
Talia suddenly stopped. They were in the forbidden corridor. Turning around she froze. Filch was there stroking Mrs. Norris, smiling evilly. He took them to McGonagall, who although furious, understood that they may have taken a wrong turn. She didn't deduct points, but she did give them a detention, a detention that would be served with Hagrid.
Over the next week however things got a little tense. Talia had the feeling that it was just because she got the detention. It was so bad that she lost interest in Quidditch. Wood had noticed this and told the others to keep their distance. They did, mostly, but Fred was determined to break Talia out of her shell.
"Detention with Hagrid is kinda fun, you get to go into the forest." He said, somehow figuring that that would cheer her up. It made things worst.
The afternoon of the detention, Friday, Talia was walking down one of the corridors when she heard a rather unusual argument. The one voice was Quirrell's, but the other was more malicious. When Quirrell darted out the room, adjusting his turban, Talia peered inside to she the other man she heard. The room was empty. Talia continued on her way to the library to study with Hermione. Once there she recounted what she heard and remarked that Quirrell wasn't stuttering.
That night at eleven the trio made their way down to the Entrance Hall, where Filch was waiting for them, with him was Tracey Davis. Talia raised an eyebrow. Tracey gestured towards Filch and rolled her eyes. Filch led them down to Hagrid's hut before returning to the castle. Hagrid led them down to the edge of the forest.
"Look there," said Hagrid, "see that stuff shinin' on the ground, silvery stuff? That's unicorn blood. There's a unicorn in there bin hurt badly by summat. This is the second time in a week. I found one dead last Wednesday. We're gonna try an' find the poor thing. We might have ter put it out of its misery."
"But what dark creature can hurt a unicorn?" Tracey asked. Hagrid didn't answer the question directly.
"There's nothin' that lives in the forest that'll hurt yeh if yer with me or Fang," he said. "An' keep ter the path. Right, now, we're gonna split inter two parties an' follow the trail in diff'rent directions. There's blood all over the place, it must've bin staggerin' around since this afternoon at least."
"Talia and I will take Fang." Tracey said plainly.
"All right, but I warn yeh, he's a coward." Hagrid said then turned to the other two and ushered them down the left path.
"Finally," Tracey breathed as she took of down the right path. "Look I only got myself in this mess to speak to you."
"Me? Why?" Talia was confused.
"It's about the professor that's trying to get past the dog on the third floor." This peaked Talia's interest.
"Prof. Quirrell?" Talia asked and Tracey visibly relaxed.
"I thought you might've thought it was Prof. Snape, glad I'm wrong." Tracey said then held up her hand before Talia spoke. "In his year off, Quirrell went to Albania. A place my parents believe You-Know-Who, retreated to when he lost his powers. My Father was, and most probably still is, a Death Eater, he's been in Albania for five years know claiming that he's searching for some kind of rare plant that blooms at irregular times."
"You don't believe him?" Talia asked.
"There were whispers that at a certain part deep in one of the forests where things just go missing. I think that Quirrell might've found him and is trying to help him recover. I don't know what is hidden under the dog, but if it can bring You-Know-Who back, then it should be destroyed."
They stumbled into a clearing and found the body of the unicorn. There was something cloaked bowed over it. Tracey froze, it donned on Talia she might not have been expecting this. Thinking quickly, Talia shot both, red and green sparks into the air. Unfortunately that was when the figure looked up and saw them.
Talia stood in front of Tracey and pointed her wand at the figure. It gave a low cackle and slowly got up. Just before it reached them it quickly retreated. A centaur had jumped between them and stood on his hind legs, spear in hand. When the figure was gone the white haired, palomino bodied, centaur turned to the girls.
"Are you alright?"
"What was that?" Talia asked shocked. She caught herself though. "Sorry, I meant we weren't hurt just scared. Nice to meet you –"
"My name is Firenze," Firenze smiled. "Can you ride? It would be quicker to get the two of you back if –" he stopped looking behind them. "No need for that I suppose. Greetings Hagrid."
"Hullo Firenze." Hagrid bowed.
"As for your question, Miss Potter, unicorn blood can give the drinker a half life, even if they are an inch from death. Can you think of no one that would want that, until they can get something more permanent?"
Talia's eyes stretched, had she just been face-to-face with Voldemort? The adrenalin left her and she fell to the ground, sobbing. Hermione rushed to her and held her tightly, Tracey was still frozen where she stood, tears also running from her eyes.
Hermione supported Talia as they made their way out the forest, Hagrid was carrying Tracey. Ron and Fang took up the rears ears strained for any sound. Talia and Hermione walked straight up to the common room and the girl's dorm. Hermione took a small kettle out to make Talia some tea, but she was already passed out on her bed. Hermione hesitated for a moment before she kissed Talia on the cheek.
Music soothes the savage Beast
Talia was an emotional wreck over the next few weeks. If it wasn't for Hermione she might not have been able to get out of bed or get to classes. In years to come Talia wouldn't be able to tell anyone how she got through the exams.
Apart from the written exams, they also had practical exams. Flitwick had them charming a pineapple to tap dance over a desk. Talia vaguely remembered that her pineapple didn't just tap dance it also tangoed with her pencil and did the rumba. Talia confessed that she wasn't sure what a tap dance was so she made it do every dance she knew about.
Prof. McGonagall had them turn a mouse into a tissue box, points was added for creativity, and taken if the box had whiskers. Talia's box was green with a line of cartoon mice around the bottom, a unicorn on the sides and three dogs playing with a ball on top.
Potions were something else each student took their exams individually. They had to brew a Forgetfulness Potion. Snape stood staring at each student as they mixed their ingredients. Talia was unnerved, she was sure she got the potion wrong, yet she hasn't seen Snape smile at her.
After examining the potion, Snape told Talia to drink it. As the liquid coursed through her veins her mind cleared she remembered things she didn't know she forgot something dawned on her just then. Did Hagrid tell a stranger in a pub about Fluffy?
Their very last exam was History of Magic. One hour of an swering questions about batty old wizards who'd invented self-stirring cauldrons and they'd be free, free for a whole wonderful week until their exam results came out. When the ghost of Profes sor Binns told them to put down their quills and roll up their parchment, Talia couldn't help cheering with the rest.
"That was easier than I thought – Talia where are you going?" Talia had no time to discuss the test with Hermione, like they did the others. She might not remember much of the stuff she did when drinking the Forgetfulness potion, but she could remember this one thing.
"Hermione, don't you think it's odd that someone with a dragon's egg just happen to find Hagrid at a pub? Let's say it was a stranger, he wouldn't know Hagrid was the gamekeeper, so he would ask Hagrid questions to see if he was worthy. He might've asked about Fluffy."
Talia ran the rest of the way to Hagrid's hut. She caught her breath briefly then asked:
"Hagrid, did the stranger that gave you Norbert's egg ask you anything about Fluffy?"
"Mighta come up let me think," said Hagrid, frowning as he tried to remem ber. "Yeah – he asked what I did, an' I told him I was gamekeeper here. He asked a bit about the sorta creatures I look after – so I told him – an' I said what I'd always really wanted was a dragon – an' then – I can' remember too well, 'cause he kept buyin' me drinks. – Let's see – yeah, then he said he had the dragon egg an' we could play cards fer it if I wanted – but he had ter be sure I could handle it, he didn' want it ter go ter any old home. So I told him, after Fluffy, a dragon would be easy. I told him, Fluffy's a piece o' cake if yeh know how to calm him down, jus' play him a bit o' music an' he'll go straight off ter sleep –"
"Tell me you didn't Hagrid." Talia lost the color in her face. She turned to Ron and Hermione. "We have got to tell Prof. Dumbledore to place a charm around Fluffy so that he can't hear just any music," Talia looked around noticing Hagrid's flute, "except flute music."
Hagrid beamed at the thought he was sure they would try and get past Fluffy themselves. Just as they wanted to run up to tell Dumbledore, Hagrid remembered something.
"I saw Prof. Dumbledore leavin' earlier, looked ter be in a great hurry." Hagrid said. The first years told Hagrid that they'd ask one of the other teachers to help them. He listed off the other teachers that protected the stone just in case.
There was really no other way around it, Talia thought. They had gone to McGonagall who assured them the stone was safe and that no one would steal it with all the protection. They had to do it that night. McGonagall was just looking out for her. Talia was sure about it.
That night as the Common Room emptied. Talia was loosing her nerves, sure she put on a brave face and had her cloak and flute handy, but they were about to break school rules, something Talia really didn't want to do. Soon it was only them and Neville in the room and he wasn't going anywhere. Talia walked to the stairs leading to the dorms after excusing herself to the loo. She slipped on her cloak and crept up to Neville.
"Petrificus Totalus!" Talia whispered causing Neville's body to lock up in his current position. "Sorry Neville, but some things are more important then house points." She kissed his cheek.
The only obstacle they encountered was Mrs. Norris. The cat heard Ron mutter about how he wanted to kick her, and was scanning for the rule breakers. They reached the Third Floor corridor and unlocked the door to Fluffy. Although there was a harp playing, Talia didn't want to risk the dog waking up. With a little help from Hermione, she was able to play a pleasant tune that sounded like owls singing.
They dropped down the trapdoor to far below the school. Something soft stopped their landing. Talia felt it crawl up her skirt and instantly moved to the side. She lit her wand and saw that the plant was Devil's Snare. Hermione was off to the other side muttering to herself.
"It's Devil's Snare!" Talia shouted, she didn't know how to deal with this plant. Hermione's eyes widened in recognition and she muttered a spell. The blue-bell flames made the Devil's Snare crawl into a corner releasing Ron.
"Thanks," Hermione said, "I couldn't place the plant."
"We should thank Neville he was tutoring me in Herbology. He'll be mad that I forgot how to deal with it though."
They walked down a slippery slope until they reached a rather large chamber. Talia noticed the door and heard a feint hum from it. She rolled her eyes as Ron used Alohamora to try and open the door. Talia scanned the room and the ceiling there were hundreds of keys up there and some brooms.
They each grabbed a broom and flew into the keys. Talia spotted the only old fashioned key and flew after it. Luckily she was the youngest seeker in a centaury for a reason. As soon as she grabbed the key they flew down, Talia smiled this was obviously Flitwick's.
The next room was a large chessboard, McGonagall. Talia knew that McGonagall was one of Hogwarts' best chess players and there was no other way past it. Talia noticed the scatters and stepped onto the board, she was a bishop, Hermione a castle and Ron was a knight.
The game was brutal, and it ended with Ron sacrificing himself to allow Talia to checkmate the king. Luckily Ron was just knocked out. Talia had a feint feeling that McGonagall was in her office on a similar chessboard not knowing that it was them.
The next room held Quirrell's protection a room filled with knocked out trolls. It was clear that he had already passed this way. Talia sighed and they walked slowly to the next room. There were bottles lined on the table and a piece of parchment, it read:
Danger lies before you, while safety lies behind,
Two of us will help you, whichever you would find,
One among us seven will let you move ahead,
Another will transport the drinker back instead,
Two among our number hold only nettle wine,
Three of us are killers, waiting hidden in line.
Choose, unless you wish to stay here forevermore,
To help you in your choice, we give you these clues four:
First, however slyly the poison tries to hide
You will always find some on nettle wine's left side;
Second, different are those who stand at either end,
But if you would move onward, neither is your friend;
Third, as you see clearly, all are different size,
Neither dwarf nor giant holds death in their insides;
Fourth, the second left and the second on the right
Are twins once you taste them, though different at first sight.
Talia frowned it was awfully nice of Snape to leave them a clue, but did it have to be that easy? Talia took the smallest vile, once in her hand the content became clear there was just enough for one of them. She gave the round bottle to Hermione.
"Go back and owl Prof. Dumbledore or find Prof Snape. I'll stall Quirrell for as long as I can."
"No," Hermione wasn't about to let Talia go it alone.
"There isn't enough potion for both of us Hermione." Talia said her eyes pleading.
"There will be if you turn into a fox and I carry you through the flames. It would be like we were one person then."
"That's not how this works Hermione." Talia pinched the bridge of her nose. "Please trust me, go and get help."
Hermione took the small vile and downed the contents, she smiled at Talia. Talia sighed and asked Hermione to put her on her head. As Talia lay on Hermione's head she waited for the right moment. She found it just as Hermione touched the black flame. Talia jumped and transformed back into her normal self, only slightly singed. Hermione was shocked, to say the least.
"That was reckless." She said in a loud whisper.
"Agreed, but Prof. Snape wouldn't be so stupid to place a loop hole in his enchantment. The magic of my transformation help me get through. I timed it just right, I might have some problems being a fox though." Talia smiled.
Hermione and Talia walked down the path hand in hand. Talia could tell Hermione was surprised when she saw Quirrell. She was up until just then still convinced it was Snape even though she played along with Talia.
"Ah Potter, I thought I'd see you here." Quirrell said. "I didn't think we'd have company though."
"You sound surprised, Quirinus." Talia said. She couldn't see him as a professor anymore. "Is that why you're not faking your stutter?"
"Formalities really," Quirrell snapped his fingers and ropes bound Talia and Hermione together. "I urge you to be quiet while I examine this interesting mirror."
"What about Voldemort is he coming out to play? Or are you the hired gun?" Talia acted braver then she felt.
"Muggle reverences, how charming." Quirrell almost laughed. "To answer that, yes I was at one point, but the Dark Lord doesn't forgive failure. He kept a closer eye on me, a very close eye in fact."
"Let me guess, you're practically attached, just like that stupid turban." Hermione tried to shush Talia.
"What are you doing?" she whispered frantically.
"I'm distracting him, Prof. McGonagall probably already contacted Dumbledore." Talia whispered back. "I do have a question though, Quirinus, how did you get past the chess board, Prof. McGonagall is one of the best."
"I never needed to win." Quirrell was tapping the mirror with his wand. "I enchanted the pieces and snuck through. Why the bloody hell can't I figure out the mirror?"
"When I saw that mirror the last time it showed me my family, it was quite nice." Talia said then mentally chanted to herself. I want Hermione to find the stone not me.
"Shut up!" Quirrell screamed then blasted Talia with a cutting jinx leaving a long scar on her face.
"We're going to die anyway, I just don't want to die quietly." Talia shouted back. Her scar was beginning to burn, and she felt the intrusion in her mind, luckily she locked her encounter with the mirror away in her trunk labeled My Worst Memory 2.
"Fine be that way." Quirrell turned to the mirror. "I can see myself presenting the stone to my master, but where is that infernal thing? Should I break the mirror?"
"Seriously Quirinus, do you really think Dumbledore would make it that easy?"
"I'll rape you and your fucking girlfriend if you don't shut up now Potter." Quirrell was clearly losing it, "Master, help me."
Talia was surprised for the first time that night as she heard the second voice from the classroom again.
"Use the girl you brain dead oaf, she has already figured out the mirror."
"Voldemort is that you? You sound lousy." Talia felt Hermione pinch her. "And yes I did figure out the mirror, but you see I too want to find the stone and use it. My friend Ron, is in the Chess Room busy dying, a single drop of the elixir would heal his wound and stop him from dying."
Talia felt her mind being invaded again she let her lie consume her thoughts. She smirked when she heard a high pitch scream of annoyance.
"Am I to spicy for you Voldemort?" Talia asked.
"Just kill them." Voldemort said, "Do it which ever way you please."
Talia gulped as their clothes were vanished and Hermione ripped away and tied to one of the pillars, gagged so she wouldn't scream. Her eyes stretched as Quirrell advanced on her. It wasn't until their bodies touched that Talia saw some hope. Where Quirrell touched her bare skin he burned.
Talia leaped up and held onto Quirrell's back burning every inch of it. She also began to unfurl the turban to look Voldemort in the eyes, and poke them. She managed about half way when she was pulled off Quirrell. In a second her clothes were back on Dumbledore had arrived. Relieved Talia let her gave into the pain and passed out.
Talia woke to find she was, once again, unable to move. She smiled she was safe, relatively speaking, in the Hospital Wing. She waited for Madam Pomfrey to unbind her and scooted up.
"Did I break more bones?" Talia asked. She felt a bit raw.
"Not this time Miss Potter, you were however moving around too much for me to treat your other wounds. Quirrell had flames all over his body from your touch and it burned you."
"Could you take my scar away too? It must've been burned just as badly." Talia eyed her hopefully.
"The first time I treated you, I tried it, but that scar is like those of werewolves. It can't be removed, until you are dead."
"I hoped it wasn't like that." Talia folded her arms when she heard a chuckle to her left. "Prof. Dumbledore!" she exclaimed pulling the blankets up to cover herself.
"Poppy, would you excuse us for a little while? I'm sure Talia has some questions for me." Madam Pomfrey left them.
"Thank you for saving us sir." Talia blushed.
"You needn't mention it." Dumbledore smiled. "I should tell you that I retrieved both your friends and the stone. The stone has been destroyed on Nicolas's authority. Miss Granger was treated for shock and Mr. Weasley was merely knocked out."
"Why did Quirinus burn when he touched me? Was it because of my mother, the reason I'm still alive?"
"Very perspective," Dumbledore smiled. "Yes, the love your mother had for you when she sacrificed herself, embedded into your skin and protected you from death."
"Why did you leave me with my relatives?" Talia had many more questions, but focused on the important ones.
"I thought you would be safe there, I realize the error I made."
"I need to learn how to block my mind completely, could you, or someone teach me sir?"
"Prof. Snape is very gifted in mind magic, but I will gift you a Pensieve, if you give me the dragon shells."
"Last question sir. I don't want to be alone in the castle, am I free to visit friends, and maybe Hogsmead?"
"Yes, I would argue that it might be better that way."
"Thank you sir, and to answer your question sir, go ahead and take some of my candy, I would never be able to finish it all, just leave the toilet seat, I think it came from Fred and George."
Dumbledore just chuckled. It was indeed Fred and George that got her the toilet seat. Dumbledore bid Talia a farewell and left. Moments later Talia was embraced by a blur of bushy hair. It was at this moment, with her friends around her, that Talia finally felt loved.
Thank you for reading my story hope you enjoyed it. I would appreciate it if you'd review, unless you just offer one-line insults. If you hated the story tell me where I can approve, if you liked it tell me what stood out. Look out for book 2 in the future, but don't pest me about it, this story took over three months to complete.