Amelia Potter Knows Halloween is Complicated
Red like blood.
But, god, it was sweet.
So, so sticky.
Sing. Sing to me a little sweeter, darling, sweet bird of song, sing magic into my ear.
Watch it bleed, watch it burst, come closer sweet girl, come closer—
Come on, I'm so sweet aren't I, I'm so soft aren't I, come on little lamb, just a little taste—
HOW DESIRE DOES MAKE FOOLS OF US ALL, COME ON SWEET AMELIA, JUST FOLLOW MY VOICE—
Amelia woke up in a cold sweat. Her gasp was sharp. Her mouth, cottoned. Her gut, hollow.
Amelia felt her blankets damp with sweat and she shivered in disgust. Pushing them far away from here and peeling off her pajamas, she shivered in the cold, naked and alone.
Amelia had been aching with nightmares since the day she had mistakenly wandered into the third floor corridor. Weeks had past, and the nightmares had started off weakly, but they were getting stronger by the day.
Even Amelia's magic was cowering, clinging and, most terrifyingly, changing in the face of her night terrors.
Amelia reached out her hand, wrapping it in Color, holding it to her shaking body. There were no tears, no sobs, just a horrifying lowness that Amelia felt like she'd never be able to climb out of.
Her Colors, molding back into their kaleidoscopic warmth, thinned out until they wrapped her entirely, head to toe, skin bathed in a gentle buzz of orange, red and yellow. She felt her skin dry, the hair sticking to her forehead dry and when she reached out to touch her sheets and pajamas. Her magic, like a river, slipped on the sheets and burned away the cold. Amelia felt a soft sucking pull from her central magical hub, and her eyes fluttered with the revival of lethargy.
A soft smile and her Colors wrapped around her like a second skin, Amelia fell asleep. Safe and protected by her Colors, as always.
Hermione Granger had spent the month of September pouring over books.
This was by no means a strange occurrences or even unpredictable.
What was different, strange and above all wonderful was that she had not been doing it alone.
Amelia Potter was her friend.
Hermione had grown to be the age of eleven knowing the likelihood of her ever finding a peer she could have a whole, healthy and equal relationship with was in the thousandth percentile.
Then again, Hermione had also until very recently dismissed all religion, mysticism and magery off hand as imaginative tomfoolery.
But, even after having McGonagall visit her and going to Diagon Alley, even then the possibility of finding a friend seemed still less likely than finding a real chum.
But then Amelia Potter had come along.
September had past in the library, laughing and reading and theorizing together. The girls wasted no time in harassing McGonagall during their tea, asking every question imaginable in relation to magic, until the point where the Professor had chased them out of her office, hair falling out of her bun, a light sheen of sweat on her forehead and yelling at the giggling girls about paranormal trust issues.
Needless to say, they hadn't bothered with inquiring with any of the other professors.
Hermione had faced this kind of conundrum before, where there was too much information to be interpreted and not enough trusted interpreters. So the quest began, like it had when Hermione asked what purpose integrals really served or when she wondered exactly what the origin of language was.
The only difference was now she had Amelia.
Amelia was very interested in information and could gather herds and herds of it, being content with knowing the information on a simple and basic level. Hermione could interpret patterns like an ace.
They had a groove and it was completed by giggles near curfew about the moustaches of some of those old wizards and full out belly laughs about some of their adventures in academia prior to Hogwarts.
It was magical. More magical than anything else Hogwarts had offered her.
She wouldn't trade it for the world.
"What do you think of Hermione and Amelia's Excellent Escapades?"
Hermione snorted as a response.
"Ameliermione Take Your Rules and Bust 'Em Up?"
Hermione held back a laugh.
"Hermila: The Reality?"
Hermione shook with her giggling. "That sounds like a disease, Amelia!"
It was a chilly October evening, but neither girl could care less. Tucked away in the orange glow of the Hogwarts Library nook they had claimed, the raven-haired girl sighed and laid down the notebook. "I'm just saying, when you create a manifesto, I reckon we should probably name it, yknow?"
Hermione rolled her eyes. "We don't have a manifesto. We have notes. A lot of notes. An extracurricular project of notes. Which, by the way, we still haven't finished compiling. Not to mention the experiments I want to conduct, I haven't even made outlines yet—"
Amelia waved a hand. "Yeah, yeah, mad magical scientists blah di blah. Did you know Nicholas Flamel is six hundred years old? Anyway. Tell me, have you spoken to Neville yet?"
Hermione's face fell. Since Fred and George's request/war a month ago, Amelia had banded together with Hermione to try and befriend the sweet blond Gryffindor klutz.
So far, their efforts proved extremely imperfect. At first, they had started with offers of tutoring. Neville had accepted, tentatively.
But after an incident with the Weasley twins attempting to dump an unholy amount of pumpkin sauce on Amelia and hitting Neville instead…no amount of apologizing would prove to Neville that they had genuinely made a mistake.
So the boy pulled further and further away from everyone and the only person he ever bothered to seek out was Professor Sprout, for occasional use of the greenhouses after hours.
Hermione and Amelia were also busy and excited with their newfound pursuit of Truth, though they felt kind of guilty for it. Hermione, in wonderfully Hermione fashion, started a schedule between herself and Amelia to mark the times when they could split their free time between befriending the increasingly depressed Neville and researching in the library.
"I forgot," Hermione squeezed her eyes and bit her lip. "I'll go now. You pack up here and forget Nicholas Flamel! He is way too advanced for us. Let's stick to Merlin's Five Edicts."
Amelia pressed the heels of her hands into her eyes. "Sure, no problem, I'll just learn dead druidic prose while I'm at it, seeing as that's what Merlin wrote it in and maybe two people know what it actually says. Do you think we might be chewing more than we bite off?"
"That's not the idiom and no. Now, look a decent ancient language translation spell. I'll be back in a bit."
Amelia gave a grumbled uh huh sure. Hermione felt a fond bubble and she pshaw'd away.
Scanning the hallways as she exited the library, Hermione wondered where to look first.
Neville would definitely be as far away as possible from her own common room/dungeons as possible. Maybe the greenhouses? She quickly checked the time and determined it too late for even Neville. She had no idea where the Gryffindor's lived so she headed generally in the direction of the Entrance Hall.
As luck would have it, when she reached the Entrance Hall, Hermione glimpsed Neville climbing up the staircases, avoiding Peeves, about four stories above her.
"Neville!" she called. "Neville, down here!"
Neville, a hunched maudlin silhouette, glanced down for a moment but kept trudging on. Hermione huffed angrily, but began sprinting up the steps to catch up.
Panting and red-faced by the time she reached him, Hermione grabbed his elbow and yanked him to a seat.
"Hullo, Hermione," Neville said dully. His eyes were rimmed with purple bruises and his rosy complexion had a gray tinge.
"Ne—Nev—ville! Couldn't you have stopped for a second?" What she wouldn't do for a bottle of water right now.
Neville handed her one. Hermione let out a happy yeep and chugged it. "I was looking to speak with you," she finally said, wiping the corners of her lips with a thumb daintily. Now that she wasn't palpating at the speed of a jackalope, she was back to her formalities. "You haven't once accepted an invitation to the library with me or Amelia."
Neville just shrugged, for a moment something flickered behind his young blue eyes. "Can't."
"Can't or won't?" Hermione asked.
Neville just shrugged again. It made him look even more pathetically hunched.
"Why, Neville? Why won't you even speak to me, its not as if I have some plethora of friends outside of you or Amelia—"
"We aren't friends." Neville's tone was tired.
"Don't you want to be? Neville, I usually adjust well to friends either—"
"I know about Fred and George."
"Sorry?" Hermione kept her face as blank as possible.
"I know they meant well, but you gave it your best effort. Start of the school year, I would've been happy to…Anyway. You and Amelia can stop trying. Is that all?"
Hermione started, her eyes alight with confusion and suspicion. "Neville—"
"I'm awfully tired, Hermione. See you around."
And he picked up and disappeared up the stairway.
Hermione was left, her mind racing and reeling.
Neville was hiding something. Neville, possibly the most guileless human she'd ever encountered, had a secret.
His exhaustion, his apathy, reluctance…
She felt a cold calmness click into drive and wash over her like a new skin.
She would find out. She was a Slytherin, no matter what any pureblooded bigot thought.
She would reroute schedules. She would learn the Disillusionment Charm.
And she would find out what happened to Neville Longbottom to make him a tired, washed out mess of a boy.
Amelia wasn't finding much peace lately.
Bob would tell her to stop lamenting fabricated concepts of emotion, Hermione would tell her to figure it out quickly because there were more important things to be done and her Colors would just bob aggressively/affectionately as they were wont to do (she still hadn't fixed that 'excess energy' issue). Hagrid would take her on a walk probably that would end in her death in the hallows of the Forbidden Forest or he'd feed her one of his god-awful rock cakes and she'd choke and die. Dumbledore—
She had had many urges in the past few weeks to climb up the Golden Staircase and try and wrangle the truth out of her Headmaster but she knew it was useless. Amelia, despite all her wondrous curiosity and reading ability was still many, many Levels below Albus Dumbledore on the Wizard-Human Superpower and Adult Negotiations Scale.
But that left Amelia alone with her nightmares.
See, she hadn't told anyone when her twinges of fear and longing became jerks and jerks of horror became sweats of wrath. Amelia grew up, alone, always having to calm herself down in the dark of the Cupboard Under the Stairs. Hermione, as intelligent and collaborative as she was, was not exactly open, warm and fuzzy. Amelia would handle herself, as she always had and always would.
Breathing deeply as she climbed up the stairway to Ravenclaw Tower, three things were bothering Amelia.
One, she was horribly drawn whatever lurked behind the doors of the Third Floor Corridor.
Two, she was struggling, horribly and increasingly more, with her practical magic ability.
And three, Neville Longbottom was a worrisome, worrisome lad.
At this point, the selfish parts of Amelia knew very well that she wished she'd never agreed to Fred and George's request. That way, she would have become friends with Neville in her own way and whatever it was that was making him antisocial right now wouldn't bother her because she'd have no obligation! She'd just take a metaphorical lap. Come again next year. Give him space.
But instead she had a deep churning bet. Duty. Obligation. And, Sky Above, Neville could never know about that! That was horrible. It would make him feel horrible—even more so, that is.
And Wanda. Don't even get her started on Wanda.
Forty days of classes, three letters to Ollivanders and the best reaction she could get out of the stick was when she beat it aggressively against a desk. All her Professors looked at her, extremely disappointed and always stopped Hermione, who was annoyingly amazing at everything, to make sure to tutor Amelia. Hermione, at first confused because she didn't understand, later realized that the Professors of the castle thought Amelia Potter was dumb. Also, lazy. Potentially useless.
Hermione's adult-trust fell a little further that day.
What they didn't know what that Amelia Potter was not stupid, nor lazy, nor magically lacking in any capacity. Her magic was there, her magic was beautiful and wonderful and fantastic, but Wanda was not cooperating. Amelia had tried everything! From talking to energizing (Hermione recommended "positive vibes" while snorting wildly) to even use her left hand! Her left hand! Amelia hated her left hand. Not that there was anything wrong with left hands in general, but Amelia Dorea Potter, left-handed wand user? Her ring finger wasn't even the same length as her forefinger on her left hand! It was an atrocity! A crime of sensibilities! A travesty—
But who would believe her? Wands chose the wizards and then they were cooperative. Stupid wandlore didn't even know that Wands were semi-sentient. Bloody wizards didn't even realize that wands had feelings and were people too, Gordon Gremlin damnit— and don't even get her started on her weird Red Pull of Might and Nightmares—
God, she was going batty from the stress.
More so, that is.
(Completely, if you really wanted to know.)
This was what happened when Amelia Potter was left alone, Bob-less and Hermione-less.
And for what? To climb the steps towards that stupidly beautiful, probably cruciverbalist statue.
And underneath it all, underneath all her feelings of confusion and frustration, she just want some sense of herself in this world of extreme tradition and utter regularity. But how could that be possible, when Amelia was…Amelia?
Even in a world of magic, of punning shopping alleys and giant door-guarding gargoyles, Amelia didn't fit in. Little orphan Amelia, Girl Who Lived, girl who vanquished the Dark Lord, what a load of crock.
Finally, the barreling train of thought (read, blasting rocketship of oblivion) ended.
Amelia looked up to see she had reached the Blue Lady. She cocked her head.
"Any chance I can just get a freebie? I'm having a fiesta of the hellscape in my brain right now."
The statue pursed her perfect lips and simply replied, "What aches in moonlight but begs in sun? What begets but was never begotten? What is the eye of the mind and the smile of the skies?"
Could she not.
"You're making these harder. On purpose. Definitely making these more difficult on purpose."
The statue just gave her a little-too-feral smirk.
"C'mon. Don't make this hard on both of us. I might not be great at the crucibles you present but we both know I can confuse and frustrate like no other."
Rowena just looked nonchalantly smug, looking at her nails.
"War is never done, then? That's how you want to play this, oh so wise Founder of mine House? Fine. Fine!" Amelia mumbled under her breath angrily, rifling through her backpack until she finally found what she was looking for.
Giving the statue a feral grin of her own, she cleared her throat obnoxiously before she began.
"Greek and Roman Ideology: A Complete Guide to Idioms Future Past. Written by Merinda Lux, how nice."
A slow look of horror grew across her stone face.
"From the egg to the apple, may we all—"
Horror fully grown but somehow still intensifying. Maybe she should write that down in her notepad?
"—Draw but a line in the sand! Line but a—"
The statue at this point had her eyes squeezed shut and anguish was replacing horror on her visage.
"—keep me as the apple of thine eye! Hide me—"
"Please stop," came a whisper.
"—everything in moderation, including moderation—"
"You are butchering wisdom." Could statues pass out? It looked like she was going to pass out. "You are butchering wisdom. How are you doing this? Why are you doing this?"
"—THE ONLY THING I KNOW IS THAT I KNOW NOT—"
The unearthly wail of Rowena Ravenclaw was heard throughout the entirety of Hogwarts Castle.
Wednesday October 16 1991.
Operation Greco-Roman Ideology as Default Password: inconclusive success.
Have rendered R. Ravenclaw's magical statue into a state of hysteria.
Additional positive: maybe fear of my verbose wrath will allow me free access?
Consequence: Flitwick's gonna be mad.
It turned out Flitwick wasn't the only one who was mad.
Everyone was mad.
The Ravenclaw House had deemed Amelia Person Non Grata because once the statue lost her marbles she may or may not have locked up all accessibility in or out of the Tower. So a few (read: most) of the Ravenclaws had to be flown down by broomstick from the windows. And then all of the Ravenclaws had to sleep on the rock floor of the Great Hall.
Amelia thought it could be nice, a character and group building exercise.
Penelope Clearwater thought it was a "disgusting display of mediocrity that was below any Ravenclaw". Amelia thought spiritually destroying an ancient magical statue was extraordinarily not mediocre, thank you very much.
Penelope didn't like that at all.
Amelia was thereby sentenced to death by detention by a few dozen people, including but not limited to Flitwick, McGonagall, Dumbledore, Hagrid, Penelope and Fred and George (they were taking the mickey, the monsters). It would probably end up being with Quirrell because Dumbledore was a sick man.
At breakfast a few mornings later, huddled into her porridge with Mandy Brocklehurst sneering at her extra glowingly, Amelia just groaned. Groaned and groaned and tried to groan out her messes in life.
Hermione, who was sat with her very rarely at meals, was to her left in a show of friendship solidarity and to chastise her incessantly.
"You and your bloody ventures," she said, while somehow angrily pouring her cereal. "I swear to Merlin, Amelia, you could argue with the sun!"
Her eyes sparked. "No! That is not a compliment! Amelia, you need to focus on fixing your wand and not on driving statues into madness. You need to focus on our study of magic, which by the way, still hasn't made any sense and you need to focus on not causing insanity everywhere you go!"
For a moment, everyone, even the rest of the table, was silent. Hermione was blushing and blustering and honestly looked like she could take on an army of dragons singlehandedly.
Then everyone went back to their business and Amelia said, "Uh, sure. Yeah, sure. Whatever you want. Wand. Focus. No more statues. Got it."
Hermione nodded curtly.
Just then, an owl swooped down and dropped a letter into Amelia's lap and on to a sleeping Bob's head.
"Can a snake not get ssome ssleep around here?" He blinked, bleary eyed. Bob had been spending odd hours of the night disappearing.
Amelia pet his head as she picked up her mail and used a butter knife to cut it open. It was, finally, a letter from Ollivander (his last two attempts were sorely lacking as one said, "Who is this?" and the other said, "Oh, Miss Potter, hello!").
Laying the letter down on the table and nudging Hermione to read it too, it said:
To Miss Amelia Dorea Potter,
I do apologize for the complications with our mail, I do hope this does not arrive too late.
It appears to me that your wand has not bonded with your magical core, as most wands that choose their witches and wizards do.
This is not surprising as it was the first wand my family tailored personally for a customer since 1692. Making wands is a tricky business and your business is trickier still.
Remember, it is the wand that chooses the wizard, Miss Potter, even when the wand was made for the wizard.
I have enclosed a guide to a few short wand exercises for you to try. Also, I would highly recommend consulting with Poppy Pomfrey about your cursed scar and your snake about the venom.
"I love it when people use my full name," Amelia sighed.
Hermione quickly slipped out the sheet with the exercises on it. It was rather interesting, meditational types more energy reviving than magic using.
"This actually looks really promising," Hermione said.
"Mmm," Amelia hummed around her bagel. "Ollivander saves the day. A month late, but still."
Hermione rolled her eyes. "What's this about Madam Pomfrey? And why would you consult your snake, is he loony?"
Amelia just snorted. "No can do. And of course he is, have you met him?"
"Ollivander is crazy?"
"No, the other thing." Hermione furrowed her brows.
"I'm not going to go see her."
Hermione looked affronted. "But why?"
Amelia didn't feel the need to respond.
"Madam Pomfrey and Headmaster Dumbledore are perfectly busy."
"Nobody was talking about Dumbledore, Amelia."
Amelia scoffed. "Everyone is always talking about Dumbledore whenever they reference anyone in this school. It's a bloody police state isn't it? And Dumbledore is Vladimir Lenin."
Hermione just looked annoyingly concerned now. "I don't know why you're being like this."
"Being like what?"
"So aggressively reluctant. You're acting a bit—"
"I'm going to go now," Amelia stood up abruptly, Bob falling to the floor hissing. "I'll do the exercises during Charms. Its not as if I can do anything else in that class anyway. I already know the theoretical material up to third year. And stop fussing over Pomfrey. Ollivander is just being bonkers, my scar isn't cursed."
As Amelia gathered her things and rushed away, even Hermione could swear she smelt cigarettes and citrus.
Soft October wind ruffled her already-ruffled hair.
Despite the growing chill and wet ground, Amelia sat curled up to the Whomping Willow.
She hadn't gone to Charms. Or Flying Lessons. Or any other class that day.
The tree had caught her attention in Defense Against the Dark Arts, where she sat as far away from the front (and the teacher) as possible. Staring out the window, completely ignoring Quirrell and staying utterly still so he wouldn't pick on her for question, the giant magical mangler standing there, beastly and beautiful. Amelia had never felt such sentience in botany, ever.
A few afternoons later, she stood a solid ten feet away from its whomp range. A few reaches of her Colors, a tickle here and a caress there and she and the Willow were best buds. Amelia would sit curled into a particularly comfy hollow at its base and scratch some of its itchy spots. The tree would entertain her by swatting many sparrows out of the sky, until Amelia explained that she found that rather unsavory.
The truth was Amelia was not enjoying Hogwarts as much as she hoped she would.
Not with the stress of falling so severely behind in actually performing any magic.
Not with the stress of these horrid nightmares.
And not with the stress of not being able to make a friend outside of the library. Hermione was wonderful and all, but they didn't really do much except read together and even book lovers like themselves knew they was supposed to be more to friendship than research and sometimes sitting together in class or at dinner.
Everyone in Ravenclaw hated her, or at least was inconvenienced by her, and even Neville Longbottom didn't want to be her friend.
"I can ssmell your misery from the cassstle. Didn't your egg-mother teach you that sself-pity is pathetic?"
Bob. Always a breath of sunshine.
Amelia turned towards the voice and saw the blue snake slithering towards her. In the past two months, Bob had grown quite an amount. He was now just a little smaller than arm's length and thicker too. Amelia smiled when she saw him and stroked the Willow gently in warning so it wouldn't turn him into a blue pancake.
"A little self-pity is good for the soul," muttered Amelia as she cuddled up to the warm tree again.
Bob snorted. "Like Coca Cola is good for the digestive track, yess."
Amelia frowned. "You know what Coke is?"
"There was a horrible incident when I was a hatchling with a bottle of that poison, a burnt shoe and a brat human named Sal. Do not inquire."
Amelia giggled but didn't ask. She gathered Bob to her chest and gave him an indulgent petting.
Bob preened happily but tried to look smug. "You are learning. My training appears to be working."
Amelia swatted his head. Bob tried to bit her but he hadn't grown any fangs yet so it was just gummy saliva.
"Amelia, is tha' you?"
Hagrid's booming voice echoed a little across the grounds. He stood on the pathway to the Forest, some thirty feet from Amelia. "What're ye doing here, instead o' class?"
Amelia didn't even have the energy to make up something. "Wallowing."
Hagrid gestured for her to come to him. She gestured for him to come to her. He jabbed his thumb at the Whomping Willow. Ah, right.
She slung Bob over her shoulder and trudged over. Next to Hagrid, she remembered just how tiny she really was.
"Lass, what're ye doing skivving lessons? I thought there'd be a few years 'til ye started doin' that! Must be those Weasley twins you hang around— little demons, they are."
Amelia shook her head. "I just…couldn't. And I like the Willow. And no one would look for me there."
Hagrid patted her head affectionately. "Yer right they wouldn't. Only ye could tame that beast of a tree."
"It's itchy. I scratch it," she shrugged.
He laughed. "C'mon then, have some tea with me. And I won't tell yer Professors."
Amelia nodded and they began walking down to Hagrid's Hut together in a companionable silence. Amelia glanced at the brown thing slung over his giant shoulder.
Hagrid grimaced. "Just food fer a pest in the castle."
"Third Floor pest?"
Hagrid waggled a finger at her. "Don't ye start."
Amelia gave a genuine half grin.
"Ye haven' come down fer tea since the beginning of the year! You and that Hermione Granger. Just like yer ol' mum, always in the library with a Slytherin!" he chortled to himself.
Amelia's eyebrows went up. "My mum was friends with a Slytherin?"
"Kindest lass I ever met, tha' Lily Evans. Muggleborn herself, as ye know, but ne'er said a word against a pureblood even though they had plenty o' words to say to her," he scoffed darkly. "I can' quite who it was though, so could be a half-blood."
Amelia hummed, jumping from rock to rock as they made their way down the mossy hill. "Or a Muggleborn?"
Hagrid shook his head. "Nah. Yer mate Granger is the first Muggleborn ever sorted in to Slytherin. To tell ye the truth, gives me a bit of the willies to wonder wha' that girl is capable of."
Amelia frowned at Hagrid's uncharacteristic prejudice, stopping on one of her rocks. "Hermione is nice."
Hagrid had the heart to at least look a little shamefaced. "I don' doubt it. But Slytherin is a scary house fer a lot of folk, Amelia. It's unusual." They had reached his door and Hagrid held it open as he said, "And if yer to know anything about wizards, Amelia Potter, it's this: they don' like the unusual, same as any other folk."
Amelia snorted. "Kind of ironic, considering they're wizards."
Hagrid agreed. "It is. Bloody barmy, pardon my French, but I've yet ter meet a man or woman who isn'."
Amelia pat Fang on the head. Bob hissed viciously, as didn't like this close proximity to the huge but docile dog. He didn't like any animal other than himself.
Hagrid laid down the huge brown skin over the hearth and went about setting the tea. He glanced over his shoulder at Bob, as he hissed, saying, "Getting big, isn't he?"
Amelia shrugged. "His brain is still the same size."
Hagrid laughed and reached out a hand to gently pet Bob's nose. Meanwhile Amelia got a sharp tail-swat across the nose.
"Ye haven' told anyone about yer…ye know…"
He nodded. Amelia shook her head. "No, not even Hermione."
"Good, good…better tha' way."
Hagrid brought the tea kettle to the table and Amelia wondered what a picture they made, tiny girl and Giant Man squeezed into the small hut with a gentle black hound and a sarcastic blue snake.
Hagrid took a gulp of his tea. "Now. Tell me what's been bothering ya."
Amelia took a dainty sip and pretended to nibble at a rock cake Hagrid had set out. She took a deep breath, looking around the small dark wood room Hagrid called his home and let candlelight warm her cold cheeks. Then pulled off her goggles and opened her eyes to look at Hagrid.
His Colors, as normal, were simmering at a low burn, still dark green and burgundy. His face held utmost concern and warmth.
Why shouldn't Amelia confide in him?
Because she couldn't.
"Is it anyone from school bothering ya? Because I'll have a word with them, I know I'm only groundskeeper but—"
Amelia felt herself choke up and melt at the same time. "No, no…nothing like that," though Mandy Brocklehurst deserved a scare, "I'm just…there's just…"
Hagrid waited patiently.
It was as if the words were lodged in her throat. Amelia, who had shared her deepest secret with the kind man on their very first meeting, who had been shown an entire world by Hagrid, had somehow developed a glitch so intense she couldn't even speak of her own volition.
"I don't think I can talk about it," she finally settled on.
Hagrid looked even more concerned. "Amelia—"
"Why do you love Dumbledore so much?"
The question burst out of her.
Hagrid looked startled. "Professor Dumbledore? Well…he's always been kind te me. I was a right menace as a child but he ne'er let me feel strange or ashamed. Gave me this job too when no one else would take me."
Amelia nodded, mulling over this. Dumbledore did seem kind, despite his deep-set superiority and façades. "What else?"
Hagrid furrowed his brow. "Why're ye askin', lass? I thought ye'd get along swimmingly with Dumbledore—"
Amelia resented that. She never wanted to ever be anything like Dumbledore.
"—tell me what's really botherin' ye now."
Amelia sighed deeply and looked up at Hagrid. Their eyes met and Hagrid couldn't help a small shudder at the eerie green. Amelia couldn't help notice that and have a small bit of her heart break.
"I'm just feeling a bit overwhelmed," she finally came up with. It wasn't a total lie. "Just two months ago, Hagrid…I was someone completely different…then a whole world came out and I have this strange ability even within my already strange abilities and it's just…"
Hagrid patted her hand. He seemed to believe her platitudes. "Like me, Amelia, yer a strange one. A different one. But tha' doesn't mean for one second that ye don't belong at Hogwarts. And don' let anyone tell ye any different. Like I told ye, wizards hate difference even more than Muggles. They ne'er had to adapt, ne'er had to change their ways. So when someone like you comes along, a genius in yer own right, they do their best to change ye."
A small smile, worth thousands, warmed Hagrid's ruddy face. "But yer a gem, Amelia Potter, exactly as ye are. I know ye've got enough potential in ya to make yer own mark, not because of yer scar, not because of You-Know-Who, but because yer so smart and ye see so much. Whatever doubts yer havin', whatever problems yer facin', ye've got a brain like a treasure chest. There are gon' be people who see that and love ye fer it, just like I do. And ye'll need nothin' more."
Hagrid's speech ended with his hand, some three times the size of her own, clasping hers tightly and Amelia felt relief, surprise and warmth course through her like a sunrise. Despite not sharing, despite not knowing, Hagrid had said exactly what she needed to hear.
She felt her eyes sting and tears threaten to leak but Hagrid just gave her another smile infused with his deep burgundy magic and pretended not to notice.
And Hagrid was right.
Amelia knew then that she would figure out her wand and the dreams and the Dumbledore.
As long as she had people who smiled at her like Hagrid did, she'd truly need nothing more.
Halloween edged closer and closer and Amelia and Hermione began taking breaks from their library expeditions and doing things like wandering the castle and actually discussing the things they had been reading.
Hermione's eidetic memory was a goldmine for these conversation and Amelia felt smarter just being around the Slytherin girl.
"So…what do you think magic is?" she asked one day before Halloween, before either girl had the go to class, lounging near a window on the fifth floor. They were laid down, side to side but opposite, heads next to each other and feet apart. Books and book bags were strewn around them.
"You mean, just my subjective opinion and stuff?"
Hermione nodded. This was unusual because Hermione did not really like subjective things.
"I think Magic is whatever everything else is," Amelia said simply. "The books we've read all talk about magical vicissitude. And newer theories discuss stuff like magi-quantum fields. And thousands of other theories, but eventually all of them, including mine, run into the Ultimate Block of the Universe. Our own humanity. I look at you and I see your magic just as clearly as I see your skin. Maybe I can't touch it, like I can poke your arm, but it can touch me, can't it? There are a lot of levels of touch too, and I mean touch in a really metaphorical sense, so why invalidate one for another? Besides we're only humans. We can't perceive everything despite how much we want to. Dogs can hear sounds we can't. Fish can see color we can't. Magic is…whatever is in between us. I don't know. Does that make any sense?"
Hermione turned her face towards Amelia and smiled a small smile full of intelligence, humor and heartfelt respect. "Not really, but you've taught me that that doesn't make something any less true."
Amelia smiled back. "Really? I taught you something?"
Hermione flicked her wrist but kept smiling. "I used to think everything made sense. I would have never let you saying anything you just said now, I would have pushed it away as wishy-washy, prosaicism nonsense. Everything could be pulled apart, put back together and categorized. Fact. Empiricism. But since coming Hogwarts…I don't know. I had to face my greatest scientific fear the moment McGonagall walked into my house. That there will be some thing that just are and I won't be able to explain them away."
"That's pretty brave."
"Is it? I thought Slytherins weren't supposed to be brave.
Amelia rolled her eyes. "I'm eleven years old and even I can tell you that the House system here at Hoggytwartin is a mess of typecasting."
Hermione laughed. "Yes, I guess so. I think the Hat is pretty smart though. I think it places in the House that will bring out our best potential."
Amelia nodded and checked her watch. "We should get going. I have Potions, you?"
"Alright, I'll see you at dinner and we'll see if we can steal the Hat from those Golden Gargoyle of Doom and—"
Hermione suddenly hugged Amelia.
Amelia was confused but hesitantly hugged back. Hermione wasn't really one for physical affection…ever.
Hermione just gave her a shy grin and shrugged. "You're still whacky but you're my friend."
Amelia grinned back and said, "Your magic still looked like the Graphing Paper Anvil of Vengeance but yeah I guess I like you."
Hermione laughed. Amelia felt like someone had cooked warm soup in her belly.
Glancing at her watch again, she quickly said goodbye and ran off to Potions. Nothing killed a happy-friend mood like a grumpy Professor Vampire.
She arrived in Potions, just as Snape stood up. He gave her a dirty look, but remarkably said nothing. Could be because, despite near failing her every other class, Amelia was doing decently well in Potions.
Sitting next to Nott, she settled into their established routine. Nott said nothing to her, she talked sometimes, and they made potions like a well functioned machine. The only weird thing was whenever Bob was with Amelia during a Potions lessons, Nott would stand as far away from her as possible and adopt an underlying expression of anger and horror.
That day's class was on practicing the imbuing of spells into Potions. They were working on a basic neutral broth and were supposed to entrance a simple Engorgio into the liquid.
Suffice to say, Amelia was not pleased by this development.
Nott took over the spell work though, which Amelia was glad for.
But then Snape came to hover over them like a bat and demanded, "Potter, do the spell this time."
They were supposed to brew three batches and Nott had done the spell both times.
Amelia gulped. "Y-yes, sir."
Snape watched her impassively as she prepared herself with the wand movement and Nott spruced up a cauldron of the foundation. Amelia felt a faint sweat break out on the back of her neck. She glanced up at her Professor, the only one who didn't look at her all sad and disappointed (which, according to Fred and George, was blasphemy). She met his eyes for a moment, and saw that same flash of emotion in his Colors as she always did, a faint weakening before they went back to their barb-y selves.
Nott finished up and gestured Amelia forward. Amelia took a deep breath.
She flicked her wand in a straight upwards motion. "Engorgio."
Please Wanda. Please Wanda. Please Wanda.
Wanda, all twelve inches of her in her purple-y glory, vaguely burped out a spluttering version of the spell on to the clear gray liquid.
Snape's lip curled.
Amelia squeezed her eyes shut.
But...Snape said nothing.
He just emptied the cauldron, told them to start over and walked away.
Even Nott looked flabbergasted. Amelia took this as a sign of grace and just whipped up the potion base before Snape could see and furiously whispered to Nott, "Do the spell!"
He did. And they had three perfect brews.
And Severus Snape had been lenient with them.
A Potter. And a non-Slytherin Nott.
Class finished after that and Nott gave her his typical nod goodbye before turning to put their brews on the front desk.
At that exact moment, Neville Longbottom hurried into the classroom.
The path to the front desk and the path into the classroom had one very special cross section.
It was at that very spot that Neville crashed into Nott.
All three bottles went flying.
Snape looked up and his emotions of revulsion were so immediate and strong, his Colors even curled up.
"Longbottom." His tone was flat. "Tell me you did not lumber into this classroom and ruin all of Mr. Nott's work."
"Of course. Accidents of buffoonery. Ten points from Gryffindor now go sit down for your Remedial tutoring."
Snape's dark face turned to Nott and Amelia. "I will have to give you a zero. Your marks are acceptable enough that this will not be too detrimental."
"Yes, sir," they both chimed.
Theodore looked murderous. Amelia tried edging towards Neville to talk to him, but Theodore got there first.
"—pathetic excuse for a pureblood wizard and even a stain on Gryffindor," Nott's voice and magic was thrumming with an extreme and (in Amelia's opinion) excessive anger. Moreso, it was sapping from Neville's aura.
Amelia watched, dumbfounded.
His magic was sucking on Neville's magic like a leech.
It made it official.
Theodore Nott and his Dark Glow were an enigma and Amelia had to unravel them.
Neville's weak frame hunched lower as Nott stormed away dramatically, his Colors leaving an acidic trail behind him.
"Neville, it's okay—"
"Save it, Amelia." Neville looked so pained in this moment, so on the verge of breaking down, Amelia's Colors reached out with her hand to try and touch the fragile boy.
But he flinched away.
Snape called from the front of the room. "Potter, unless you are planning on joining the likes of Longbottom, get out of my classroom."
Amelia felt stuck. She genuinely felt if she left Neville now, he would fall apart, too far away for her to ever touch.
Snape made her decision for her. He snapped his wand and the dungeon door banged open, jolting her out of her emotions.
Gathering her things, leaving Neville behind, Amelia felt every step away push her further and further away from ever being Neville Longbottom's friend.
The Halloween Feast was decadent.
Amelia couldn't care less.
Not only was this the anniversary of her parents' murder, but Amelia herself was suffering from a too-deep depression for someone who had just discovered a magical world.
Neville had gone missing. No one had seen him since his encounter with Amelia and Nott in the dungeons.
Nott tried his best to hide it, but it had severely unnerved him too. His Colors had gone from a Dark Glow to a Dark Frenzy. It was achingly obvious that he was worried every mealtime when he craned his neck look from table to table, hoping to see Neville's blonde head.
So, despite the thousands of candles, the spooky décor, the dancing skeletons and pumpkin paraphernalia, Amelia wished she could curl up in a tent alone, maybe in the isolated plains of Iceland, somewhere no one would talk to her to wish her Happy Hallow's Eve or even the very respectful (read: intrusive) My condolences for you.
Apparently it was also technically Amelia Potter Day. At least, according to an Official Ministry Calendar as Fred and George had used in their latest prank attempt. Which was truly and honestly the last thing Amelia ever wanted, expected or needed. To be celebrated on the day her family was viciously torn to shreds.
Wizards. Not the most sensitive bunch.
Amelia was sitting at the Slytherin table with Bob wrapped around her skull, feeding him bits of chicken parmesan because it was a holiday and he had been good lately. Everyone around her was dressed up and cheery while she wore an all black cape and looked vaguely like the Grim Reaper. It was a Dark Holiday full of Darkness after all, or didn't this Scottish school know Samhain signified the being of the darker half of the year? She sipped slowly on a goblet of pumpkin and cherry juice. Hermione sat next to her, aware of Amelia's maudlin but not questioning it (the angel, who was actually dressed up like one too). She just occasionally spouted out some Halloween fact.
"Did you know that Samhain, later known as Halloween, was a Gaelic festival originally? The Founders were around when it began being celebrated and that's why Hogwarts celebrates it."
Amelia hummed noncommittally, chewing on some dreadful candy gum.
"Technically, Hogwarts doesn't even recognize Christmas, simply the winter solstice and Jesus wasn't even born in winter so its all really a societal conundrum—"
Suddenly, the doors of the Great Hall banged open and silence overtook the hall as Quirrell stood there, decked out in plum, and said with his high pitched stutter:
"Troll! In the dungeon. Thought you ought to know."
And then passed out.
It was the worst performance Amelia had seen since watching Dudley's school play.
The entire Hogwarts population felt differently because they all jumped up and started screaming.
Only Dumbledore, herself and Severus Snape remained calm.
The Headmaster rose. "Prefects, escort your Houses to your dormitories. Head Girl, Head Boy, staff: with me. Go!"
All said and done, in times of crisis, Dumbleydore sure knew how to strike an authoritative figure.
Hermione rose to join the Slytherins when a horrifying thought struck Amelia. She quickly dropped Bob to the ground to allow him to slither away.
She then grabbed her only friend's elbow tightly and gasped, "Neville."
Hermione's eyes met hers and tension passed between them. Going against orders? Defying the Headmaster himself? For a boy no one had seen in days?
It was the moment to separate old Hermione from new Hermione.
Then she nodded.
Amelia felt a breath of relief come out of her.
Across the tables, just in that moment, she caught someone else's eye.
His face said it all, even as his magic seemed to set him on fire.
He nodded and Amelia exhaled and Hermione moved.
It was like they were one person.
One moment three first years existed in the calamity of the Great Hall, and the next they stood, hidden out of sight in a nook on the second floor.
"Where could he be?"
"This is all my fault—"
"We need a plan."
They all fell silent.
Hermione turned to Amelia. "Do you think you could find him?"
Amelia was flattered but confused. "How could I? I haven't seen him, same as you."
"No, Amelia, I mean with your magic!"
Oh. "I've never…I mean, I haven't…"
Theodore observed silently.
"Try now," Hermione ordered. "Without your goggles. Quickly, Amelia."
Amelia felt her heart beating a thousand miles a minutes. Adrenaline was pumping through her veins like a head rush.
Yanking down her black chunky eyewear, Amelia felt like the adrenaline was definitely addling her view right now.
It was like she could see, taste, smell and hear at the same time. As if every sense was one sense and every emission as clean, clear and fast as cars down a highway.
"I…I can…everything…oh god. Okay. Yes, Hermione, I know. Focus."
Sensation was blowing in. Faster and faster and faster, exponentially rising and Amelia was going to drown in it when—
"I can't understand what's happening. But we need to start moving now."
Then, out of the corner of her eyes so deeply imbued into the walls of the castle, she could have missed it if her eyes were angled just three degrees left or right, was a shadow.
Molded into the candlelight, barely a flicker of a silhouette.
But Amelia caught it and Amelia latched on to it.
Something about the shadow was…it was…gesturing to her?
It was now or never.
She surrendered to her senses until somehow there was nothing but that shadow. All other stimuli were static.
She clasped Theo and Hermione's hands.
And, she wasn't sure if it was just her biased powers of perception, but she could swear their eyes saw it too.
Then they were flying through the hallways.
They arrived in an ancient unused bathroom.
There was a skylight window, hundreds of stalls and enough dust to choke a small bear. Ancient interior, high ceilings, a giant circular sink with regal faucets and green and blue trimmings. The whole thing could be four hundred, maybe five hundred years old. It looked like it hadn't been used in at least three hundred and fifty of those years.
Looking around the room, Hermione gestured for Amelia to search the west side and Theo the east.
What was that thing? Who was that thing? It was so subtle, almost weaved into the very fabric of the castle itself—
Focus. She had to focus. Find Neville and escape wandering Troll, then contemplate potential demons of guidance in the castle later.
Just as she opened her thirty-something-ith stall, Hermione's voice echoed through the toilets.
Theo and Amelia rushed to her side. There, sitting on a lumpy and disgusting old mattress, with a bowl on the closed toilet and his hair oily and face dusty, was Neville.
"Neville, we found you!" Amelia surged forward as if to hug him but stopped short at his expression. "C'mon, get up, we have to go."
"Neville, you don't understand—"
"I want you to go away."
"Longbottom, this is not a discussion—"
"Neville." Hermione barked. "There is a troll loose in this castle. You have been living in toilet stall. You are going to listen to me, get upand get yourself to Professor McGonagall. Now."
Even Amelia felt herself twitch in the direction of McGonagall at Hermione's command.
Neville's face crumpled.
"I c-can't, I have to stay here, I can't go back there, I can't…I can't. I can't—"
"We do not have time for this," Theodore stated. "Granger, get out your wand. I cast the spell on his legs, you do his torso."
Hermione nodded curtly and Neville's whimpering became wailing and Amelia had to think, what was happening—
And then they heard it.
Thump. Thump. Thump.
There was a silent moment of total back-shivering fear.
All four children skidded into the stall and closed it.
"Neville, listen to me very, very carefully." Hermione hand was outstretched but frozen. In their small 4x5 bathroom stall huddle, Amelia could feel the sweat break out on her back. "Do not look around. Do not make a sound. And do not move."
Neville Longbottom's dusty and tear-tracked face paled.
"We'll get you out of this," Theo whispered, his eyes bloodshot from stress. Amelia thought it was maybe the first time she'd heard him use a contraction. "But you have to listen. Please, Longbottom—"
The clomp and thump behind them became louder.
Hermione shushed the Hufflepuff violently.
The footsteps, lumbering giant steps really, heaved a heavy drumbeat in their direction.
Despite their best attempt at silence, Hermione's gulp of fear was audible to all three of her partners.
Finally, they heard the entrance of the bathroom shatter.
Neville's heartbeat was a loud tattoo, manifesting in his Colors.
Theo's magic surged and even Amelia felt the slight suck on her person.
Hermione was so still, her magic so statuesque, she could have been made of marble.
There were no more footsteps.
The door of their stall creaked open.
It came into view.
Twelve feet tall, skin like lumpy cement and magic that manifested in the smell of onions and old sweat, the troll's face was actually remarkably human.
It let out a low groan, dragging its club on the floor.
Neville, despite all consequences, squeaked.
The troll stopped, observing the odd, motionless quartet with its head turning in slow motions to see the small humans. Its eyes were wet, runny and black. It let out a question gurgh?
For a moment, no one moved.
Then Neville began sprinted in the completely wrong direction, Theo began cursing every deity he could think up and Hermione let out a truly disarming, skin-curdling scream.
Impeccably timed, Amelia finally had an idea.
The troll let out a deep roar and swung its Amelia-sized bat forward. Stalls went down like dominoes.
Amelia grabbed Neville's arm and dragged him to the other side of the room. Hermione and Theo were dodging debris and zigzagging through the fallen stalls, soaking wet because Mr. Troll had also busted a pipe.
"WHAT DO WE DO?" Amelia heard Hermione yell.
The troll swung again and narrowly missed Theo, busting a hole in the wall instead.
"I DON'T BLOODY WELL KNOW, POTTER DO SOMETHING!"
Amelia turned to Neville. "Stay here."
He nodded frantically, curling up smaller against the wall.
Amelia rushed forward, front and center and pulled out her wand.
"Okay, Wanda…okay, let's do this…we can do this…"
Hermione and Theo were still being a helpful duo and distracting the troll by weaving through the destructed bathroom like gymnasts.
"AMELIA PUT AWAY YOUR WAND RIGHT NOW, WE NEED THIS SITUATION TO BE BETTER NOT WORSE!" Hermione voice echoed so much it sounds like there were four of her harassing Amelia.
"I've got it! I've got it!" Amelia began reviewing the movements.
"AMELIA THIS IS NOT THE TIME TO BE DOING WAND EXERCISES—"
Faster and faster Amelia waved her wand.
Finally, when the magic was vibrating through the greenheart conductor, Amelia yelled, "HEY UGLY!"
The troll stopped.
"YEAH YOU, UGLY FACED MCUGLYISON!"
"—Oh god, she's going to die, she's going to die and we're all going to die, oh god—"
Thanks for the vote of confidence, Neville.
Amelia closed her eyes and prayed to heaven above that this would work.
She wrapped her Colors around herself and screamed, "ENGORGIO!"
Theodore dropped the grey cement brick he was holding and shouted, "What in seven fucking hells are you doing—"
Just at that moment, the troll's bat grew. And grew. And grew until it was bigger than he was.
Hermione was on the verge of a panic attack from her corner of the toilet demolition zone. "AMELIA YOU JUST GAVE IT A BIGGER WEAPON, OH MY GOD WE'RE GOING TO DIE BUT I'M GOING TO KILL YOU FIRST—"
Please work. Please work. Please work.
Then the troll, with a goopy stupid grin on its face, lifted his arm to try and swing its bat again and fell over because it was too heavy.
Hermione, Theo and Neville all took a moment to stare at the momentarily felled monsters, but Amelia wasn't having it. "WE HAVE TO KEEP GOING! Theodore, Hermione, come here!"
They sprinted and leapt like gazelles over to the Amelia and Neville corner.
"Levitation spell! Levitation spell on the bat! Both of you!" Amelia said frantically.
She stowed Wanda away because betting twice on a wild horse wasn't sensible, even for Queen Impractical Potter.
Thankfully, Hermione and Theo kicked into gear and simultaneously brandished their wands in a superior swish-and-flick and cried, "WINGARDIUM LEVIOSA!"
The two-tonne battering ram that had previously been the troll's bat lifted into the air and the slowly stumbling troll looked at it in joy for a moment, as if it were a long lost puppy come home.
Then Amelia screamed, "NOW!" and it hit its solar plexus with a deafening CRACK.
"Drop it on him! Drop it on him!"
This command from Sergeant Longbottom was unnecessary because the power needed to lift the monstrous thing had sapped all the energy from both Hermione and Theodore. Both fell to their knees, panting, and the Baseball Bat from Hell fell with them.
The Professors found four hysterically laughing, soaking wet first years and a paralyzed, wailing troll trapped beneath a behemoth beater's bat in an utterly demolished restroom.
Not one of them questioned that it had all been Amelia Potter's idea.
This chapter WOULD NOT HAPPEN. And then when it did, IT WOULD NOT STOP. So 9k words because I enjoy being inconsistent! Enjoy and review too! (PS: the title is finalized! I promise it won't be changing and you will understand it by the end of the fic.) -dndtd