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CHAPTER 28
WHIMSICAL MAGICAL SCHOOL LIFE

Everyone but Susan looked exhausted.

I blearily took a bite out of a piece of toast and nearly missed my mouth. Across from the table, Eloise was looking at her toast like she wasn't sure what toast really was, and Hannah nearly nodded off onto her plate.

"I told you we should have went to bed earlier so we'd be ready to go to school," Susan admonished. She took a dainty sip of her orange juice and shook her head sadly at us.

"You slept as much as we did," Hannah practically growled and stabbed a sausage angrily.

"I know. Five hours uninterrupted by a baby crying. It was wonderful," Susan sighed happily.

"Why didn't your dad just magically sound proof your room?" I asked curiously.

Susan shrugged. "I haven't seen him much this summer. He's been working on some high profile case that he can't tell us about. Most of the time he only came home to sleep."

"Mum has been gone for most of the summer too. I'm surprised she was able to take us to the concert," Hannah added in.

We finished up our breakfast quietly and started to file out of the kitchen when a bright red phone on the kitchen wall started ringing. Hannah walked over to answer it, but before her hand could reach it the ringing phone pulled itself from the wall and started to hover in the center of the room.

A bit of drywall fell to the floor.

"Hannah can you get your mother? It's Tony," a man's voice said out of the telephone receiver. The phone then turned towards Susan. "Have a good year Susie. I'm sure you'll be brilliant."

"Thanks Dad," Susan replied to the floating red phone.

Hannah didn't move, but instead opened her mouth and bellowed, "Muuuuuuuuum!"

There was a crash and Samantha barreled into the room. Her makeup looked half done and she was still wearing a bathrobe.

"What are you screaming like a banshee for?" Samantha demanded. She then saw the red floating phone and did a double take. "Tony! Has he been spotted?!"

The floating phone receiver did an odd little nod. "We've got to hurry. Get over here ASAP."

Samantha frowned and glanced at us. "I'm supposed to take the girls to the train station today. They're still in their pajamas."

The phone wiggled violently. "We might not get another lead like this!"

Hannah's dad Darren strolled into the kitchen. He was wearing a bathrobe and carrying a tea cup. His hair was somehow artfully tousled.

"Don't worry I'll take them to the station," Darren offered and took a sip of his tea cup.

"Their school trunks won't all fit in our boot without being shrunk," Samantha reminded him and looked even more harried.

Darren waved his hand in the hair. "We'll just take that magic bus."

Samantha looked even more unsure.

I'd originally assumed we'd side-along apparate there with Samantha, but (according to Hannah's mom) apparating straight onto the platform is strictly prohibited because it's too crowded. It became against the law after the twelve people splinching incident of 1962. Apparently, some poor witch in Yorkshire still has someone's pinkie finger growing out of her spleen. She can make it wave.

"One of the girls can hail it with their wand, correct? I'll take a cab back. I can call off for the day," Darren smiled and kissed his wife on the cheek. "It will work out, darling. We'll get there, won't we girls?"

I nodded along with my friends.

I'm not terribly looking forward to riding the Knight Bus again, but this seems like an emergency.

"I'll be there in thirty!" Samantha exclaimed and dashed back to her bedroom.

The phone waved back and forth as if an invisible hand was holding it and waving goodbye. Suddenly, the phone went still and fell to the floor with a clatter.

"He always forgets to put it back," Hannah grumbled as she picked up the phone and held it up to the wall. The piece of plaster zoomed back into place and the phone stuck to the wall as if there were invisible magnets holding it in place.

Hannah noticed me staring. "We deactivate it when we have Muggle company."

I shrugged.

I heard a loud crack from back in the Abbot's bedroom. Samantha must have apparated away. When she said "thirty" I suppose she meant thirty seconds?

I can't wait until I can teleport. It must be so convenient.

Darren Abbot sipped his coffee and smiled charmingly. "So, what time do you have to meet your train?"

Hannah bit her lip. "The train doesn't leave until 10. Are you sure about this Papa? The Knight Bus can get a little…" She trailed off.

"A gentleman never disappoints a lady," Darren Abbot replied with a flourish and bowed gracefully.

Hannah giggled.

Ugh, the Knight Bus… But it'll be worth it to get back to school! Back to witches and wizards and magical things! This summer has been way too serious. I've got at least another year before everyone starts to become angsty teenagers and I plan to enjoy the hell out of it.


An hour later, we dragged our trunks up the steps onto the bright purple Knight Bus. The Knight Bus was already quite full of people and a large chunk of those people appeared to be students with their parents.

In order for all of us to sit near each other and have room for our trunks, we were forced to sit on the third floor. Without magic, it took quite a bit of dragging and tugging but eventually all of us managed to settle in. Despite being in a bus full of witches and wizards, Darren was very relaxed and calm. I can't say I would be if the situation was reversed.

Susan pulled out a magazine and held it up so I could look at it too. It was a Quidditch magazine so I wasn't terribly interested, but it was a nice gesture. Four nearly ten minutes, I listened to Susan explain what the various articles were about and what exactly an American Whiperwheel feint was (it made me mildly dizzy just to look at the picture). Eventually, a glazed over look must have come over my face (I tried to keep it at bay!) and the conversation petered out.

Susan shrugged and settled in to read her magazine by herself.

I rested my head against the window sill and started to relax. Warm sunlight filtered through the window and lulled me into a comfortable trance. Maybe I could take a nap? For a Knight Bus trip this was turning out to be rather sedate. Sure, we were still going at a ridiculous speed, but we hadn't even went upside down once.

The terrain outside of the window slowly became more suburban and eventually we made an abrupt stop in some kind of gated Muggle community. All of the houses were bland neutral colors and nearly identical in shape. It looked like the kind of place where you could be fined by the Home Owner's Association for painting your house the wrong color of beige.

Harry Potter waited at the curb with his school trunk. Next to him was his godfather, Sirius Black. Sirius looked remarkably healthier than he had looked in the last Daily Prophet photos I'd seen. His face had filled out, his hair and beard were neatly trimmed, and he had on a nice pair of Muggle slacks. He looked like a completely different person.

Wait a minute… Is this Privet Drive? Did Sirius spend the summer with Harry at the Dursleys?! Wow. That's... beautiful. Even if I do nothing else in this world worthy of note, I have given Harry a summer of Sirius annoying the shit out of the Dursleys. Did he stay as himself? Did he pretend to be Harry's "stray dog" he picked up? I have so many questions!

Good God... I'm getting a little teary-eyed just thinking about it.

Beside me, Susan leaned over and cracked the window open. We both stared unabashedly at Sirius and Harry through the window.

They were both celebrities after all.

"Goodbye dear Vernon and Petunia. We shall miss you so!" Sirius called out loudly. Even though the window was only slightly open, I could still hear him clearly.

There were a few whispers throughout the bus as the other top floor passengers seem to realize the "boy who lived" was outside.

Harry nodded earnestly. "I'm related to them you know! Closely related!"

I saw a neighbor from across the street peek out of their window.

Sirius feigned shock. "No? Are you serious?"

"No, you're Sirius!" Harry exclaimed.

Sirius and Harry grinned at each other.

"Hurry up you too. The Muggles are starting to stare," someone (the bus driver?) chided below.

Sirius clapped his hand on Harry's back. "Mission accomplished."

"Please, get in the bus, sir," the bus driver begged.

Sirius and Harry boarded the bus and disappeared from view. After a few moments, the bus began to move again. Harry and Sirius must have found seats on one of the lower floors.

Huh… the two seemed happy. I wonder how different Sirius is now that he's got a chance at a normal life?

I'm sure the Dursley's weren't happy about their house guest. I can't say I feel terribly sorry for them though. I don't know if they were physically abusive to Harry, but they were definitely emotionally abusive. Regardless, none of that shit happened while Sirius was there. If Sirius spent the summer digging up their rose bushes as a dog or telling the neighbors he was an ex-convict relative fresh out of prison, then it was just a small bit of justice.

The bus continued on and I lost track of time. I must have dozed off, because I didn't see the coffee cup coming before it smacked me in the face.

I sputtered in shock and wiped the coffee from my eyes. Luckily, it was merely hot instead of scalding, but the coffee cup had hurt. My forehead throbbed.

"Terribly sorry!" A dumpy older man with wisps of white hair at the sides of his head stood up from a seat in front of us and walked over. He handed Susan a handkerchief who then passed it on to me. "The charms on here usually keep me from spilling a drop. This has never happened before!"

Then the bus tipped sideways.

I slid hard into Susan and both of us fell out of our seats and hit the side of the left aisle seats. Purses, trunks, briefcases, and what looked like a purple chicken went flying to the left of the bus. There was a loud crash and the screech of metal scraping against asphalt. Someone screamed.

And just as abruptly, the bus righted itself again.

As the bus righted itself, I felt an invisible force yank me back to my seat like a rubber band was attached to my back. I blinked and looked around in confusion. Everything appeared to be back into place including Susan.

"Stupid shoddy old bus," Susan grumbled and attempted to brush her hair back into place with her fingers. "The sticking charms aren't even reliable anymore."

"It also went SIDEWAYS," I pointed out. I didn't even bother to try fixing my hair. It was already in full-on rats nest mode and distressingly sticky.

Susan partly unplaited one of her braids and looked at me confused. "What does—"

The bus tipped to the right.

Susan slammed into me and smooshed me into the window. A man screamed. I saw sparks and asphalt outside the window. Somehow, the glass didn't crack. The screeching of metal pierced my ears painfully—

The bus righted itself again.

I felt a force slide Susan away from me. The passengers snapped back to their seats, but half of the objects didn't make it back to their original positions and were still strewn about the bus. I had a bright green and pink lollipop stuck in my hair and Susan was wearing someone's bright red pointed hat.

The bus was quiet for a moment as everyone waited to see if they'd be tipped again. After several seconds of stability the bus erupted in angry questions. I glanced over at my possessions. Luckily, my trunk was one of the objects to return to its place and I managed to hold onto my bag. Beside me, Susan sighed and got up to retrieve her trunk from the back of the bus.

As soon as she was gone, a very familiar elf in a patch work coat appeared outside the window next to me. He was hanging upside down by his feet. I jumped.

Shivy silently pointed to the tiny bus bathroom, pointed at me, and then vanished.

I grabbed my purse, tested it in my hand for a moment to see how well it could be used as a bludgeoning device, and headed to the tiny bus bathroom.

As soon I closed the door, Shivy appeared with a pop.

I heaved up my purse like a barbarian wielding a club and glared murderously at Shivy. The lollipop dangled from the end of my hair. "Got bored of trying to crash the bus? Decided to drown me in the toilet instead?!"

Shivy looked affronted. "I'm not trying to kill you! There's a mad elf on the roof!"

The bus leaned slightly to the right ominously, but didn't overturn again.

"A mad elf? What are you-" I cut off and froze.

Wait. Oh no. DOBBY.

Shivy continued on unperturbed by my threats. "He keeps screaming," Shivy affected a bad British accent, "Hehrreee Pahtterrrr most not goh to Hahgwarts!'" Shivy scowled. "Who is Harry Potter?"

I groaned and dropped my 'purse attack' stance. "He's in my class and on this bus with his guardian. You have to have heard of him. Voldemort tried to kill him as a baby and it somehow backfired and killed Voldemort instead?"

Shivy scratched his head and then his eyes widened. "Ohhh. I have heard of him. People call him The Boy that Didn't Die, yes?"

"Lived," I corrected.

The bus lurched upside down.

I put my hands in front of me and barely saved myself from a fate inflicted swirly.

The bus righted itself.

"Cazzo!" Shivy called out angrily and disappeared with a pop.

I looked down at my wet hands in horror.

I guess I have to chop my hands off now.

After a few moments of existential horror, I decided to try washing my hands first. I turned on the water in the ridiculously small sink, put my hands into the water…. And then the bus went sideways again.

Water went everywhere drenching me. I flailed wildly to turn the water off, but missed the knob. By the time the bus righted itself again, my clothes were soaked through. I finished washing my hands as quickly as I could and stumbled out of the bathroom.

I sat down next to Susan with a wet squelch.

Susan looked at me in horror. "Did… did you fall in?"

I mumbled something intelligible and tried to yank the lollipop out of my hair.

I don't know if Shivy convinced Dobby that maiming Harry wasn't a good idea, or if he tied him to the roof of the bus or what, but there were no more incidents before we reached King Cross station. The four of us plus Hannah's father stumbled out looking the worse for wear even for a Knight Bus trip. My shoes made disgusting squish sounds when I walked.

We reached the barrier between the stations. Darren paused and ran a hand through his hair. He looked surprisingly not traumatized for a Muggle who had just been put through a high speed magical blender. Although, the bus had messed up his hair. Maybe that was his version of traumatized?

"Ah, I'll let you girls go through the barrier," Daren said and then hugged Hannah. "Have a wonderful year. Don't forget to write your papa. If you forgot anything I'll just be over here at the coffee shop sitting quietly for a while until I take a normal cab home."

I glanced at the barrier dubiously. Did Dobby tamper with it? I hadn't seen Harry and Sirius anywhere in the crowd so I don't know if they'd went through yet or not.

Susan turned toward the barrier and passed easily through it.

Huh, well that's one obstacle we won't have to deal with. But I can't shake this feeling that Dobby hasn't given up yet…

I walked through the barrier and into Platform 9 ¾.

The platform was packed. Mothers, fathers, and siblings all merged together hugging and laughing and saying goodbye in one big sea of humanity. I'd gotten on the train so early last time that I hadn't really witnessed how busy the platform could be. Apparating here would have been madness.

I glanced around the crowd at the sea of red, blue, green, and yellow ties but didn't immediately recognize anyone out from the crowd.

"Come on," Susan beckoned me, Eloise, and Hannah forward. "Let's get on the train before all the cars are full up."

Susan entered the train followed by Hannah and then Eloise. I made to follow.

"Oio, Kasey!"

I turned around.

The Weasley twins walked up to me, dragging their trunks behind them. And they looked rather annoyed with me for some reason.

Eloise paused in the doorway of the train.

"Go on ahead. I'll catch up," I told Eloise and moved away from the train door so I didn't block the entrance.

"What's up?" I asked Fred and George. I then sat my trunk on the short end and leaned casually against it.

"Do you know what you've done?" Fred asked and crossed his arms over his chest.

He's going to have to be more specific, I did a lot of shit this summer.

"What did I do?"

"Because of what you said, Mum kept trying to give us 'the talk'!" Fred said exasperatedly.

I blinked. Paused. And then burst out laughing.

George cleared his throat and looked uncomfortable. "Which we didn't need, by the way!"

I cackled like a mad sea witch.

"Bringing a bloke's mum into things is a low blow!" Fred added in.

"It's a sucker punch to the jewels is what it is," George muttered.

"Merlin's balls, she had a picture book!" Fred declared.

My sides started to hurt.

"Did it…" I wheezed slightly and tried to catch my breath. "Did it have a picture of Merlin's balls too?"

Fred scowled. "Listen you banshee faced cold hearted harridan—"

I stopped laughing but not without exerting a near Herculean effort. "Did you pull out the thesaurus before coming over here?"

George treacherously mouthed 'He did' behind Fred's back.

"I have a big vocabulary!" Fred argued back.

I burst into giggles again. "And because of your mom's picture book it's now even bigger!"

Oh no. My sides hurt.

"It wouldn't be so funny if YOUR mom got the wrong idea!" Fred declared, although the corners of his mouth were twitching upward.

George clapped Fred on the back. "Hey Freddy, we came over here to call a truce, not declare eternal war."

Fred frowned. "Maybe not eternal war, but just a little one?"

George shook his head.

Fred unfolded his arms. "Alright then. We're sorry, but we can't prank you anymore. You obviously don't understand the Rules of Prank Engagement."

"Oh no," I said with mock sadness and then added incredulously, "Rules of what?"

George shrugged. "You know the Rules of Prank Engagement." He held up three fingers. "Don't do anything permanent, don't commit war crimes, and don't involve someone else's mum."

I nodded mock seriously and attempted my British accent again. "Oh course sirs. Jolly good!"

"I think your accent counts as a war crime," Fred quipped.

I picked up my trunk again. "Truce accepted. Now if you'll excuse me, I have better stuff to do then pranks." I turned around and attempted to dramatically walk away and end the conversation on my own terms.

The twins followed me.

"Why are you wet?" Fred asked from behind me.

I paused, sighed, and turned around.

"I swam here from Ireland," I deadpanned.

Fred waved his wand at me. My clothes and hair were suddenly dry.

"Whoa, what? Aren't you worried about getting a letter from the Ministry?" I asked surprised.

George shrugged. "We've done magic on the train loads of times. They can't prove it's not a seventh year."

"Oh um… Thank you," I said awkwardly.

"Truce, unless not having a truce becomes more interesting!" Fred said over his shoulder as he walked away.

"Hey, wait! I was trying to dramatically walk away from you! No fair!" I called out, but they were already gone.

I guess this round goes to the Weasley Twins.

Wait, no round. TRUCE. We're under a TRUCE. I have to remember that.

I walked down the train hallway. Eloise waved from a compartment at the end of the train. I walked down the hallway, opened the door, stored my trunk in the overhead compartment, and sat down.

The four of us settled in for the train ride and traded idle chatter back and forth as the train pulled from the station. I kept having a nagging feeling that there was something I was forgetting that had nothing to do with that crazy business with Dobby.

Eventually, the topic turned to my hair.

Eloise yanked lightly on the lollipop still stuck in my hair. Drying my hair suddenly had stuck it even more firmly to the candy. "You might have to cut it out?"

I leaned away from Eloise.

Hannah pulled on the candy too. I batted her hand away. Stop yanking it!

"We can probably get it out with magic once we are at school. Are there any magical spells to remove candy from hair?" Hannah wondered.

"There is," Susan said and looked haunted.

There was a loud groaning sound and the train jolted suddenly. I barely caught myself from falling forward into Hannah's lap.

"What was that?" Eloise asked.

It didn't feel like we were moving.

I slid open the door. A group of fifth years in the compartment in front of us were doing the same. I looked down to the end of the aisle and towards the window that connected our section of the train. Instead of the next train car down all I could see was open sky. The end of the train had been disconnected from the rest of the Hogwarts Express. The rest of the train was gone.

Oh no.

The compartment at the front across the aisle from the fifth years opened. Harry Potter and Ron Weasley looked out.

Double oh no.

It should be too early in the year for the yearly murder Harry Potter plot!

I grabbed my wand out of my purse.

Okay, no big deal. It's just Dobby being really ambitious for some reason this go around. Someone will notice we became detached and reattach it. Or come back for us?

The windows on the train suddenly became frosted. I felt a chill run down my spine. Something heavy and oppressive felt upon my shoulders like thick blanket made of ice. The colors in the room seemed to dim and become muted. Despair gripped my heart suddenly and violently like a punch in the throat. I felt like I would never be happy ever again.

No! No! No! Dementors AND Dobby?! Fuck. I'VE BROKEN THE WORLD.

Someone was screaming. I gripped my wand tightly in my hand and wracked my brain desperately. Nothing I knew would be of any use. Dementors only had one weakness didn't they? Of course, I wouldn't know anything! This was ridiculous I was only a second year! This shouldn't be happening already what had I done?!

My grip on my wand faltered. My eyelids were so heavy… Someone was crying. I forced open bleary eyes. Eloise was crying. Harry… someone needs to save Harry right? He's important… Susan and Hannah were trying to drag Eloise up. I stood as well and then stumbled. There was a gunshot far in the distance echoing in my ear drums. Something was warm and sticky. I smelled metal. Someone was whispering… There was a shocked gasp of air.

No, I needed to get up? Didn't I? A man was yelling something? The whispering grew louder…

And suddenly, as quickly as it appeared, the feeling was gone.

I collapsed on the ground panting. Eloise continued to cry. Susan and Hannah sat down. I grabbed the door frame and dragged myself up.

I have to make sure Harry is okay.

I slid open the door. In the hallway, two men stood in front of Harry Potter with their wands held up. All I could see were their backs. Ron was behind Harry holding him up.

I stepped back into the carriage and collapsed on the seat beside Eloise.

Eloise was still crying.

There was a loud series of pops. I quickly let Eloise go and held out my wand in front of me.

In front of us, stood Hannah's mother and a man with a wooden left hand that I had never seen before.

"You're okay!" Samantha exclaimed with relief. The man glanced at Susan and also looked relieved.

The man with the wooden hand walked briskly away back into the hallway barked, "Secure the perimeter!"

"I'm going to kill that bitch," Samantha muttered angrily and followed him.

Eloise was sniffling but she seemed to have gotten her crying under control. I reached out and squeezed her hand so she couldn't see that mine were shaking.

We waited in hushed silence. However, whatever the aurors were looking for they must not have found it, because eventually they rounded us all up and apparated us in pairs along with our trunks to a rustic looking street clustered with antique looking shops.

Any other time I would have gawked at my first look at Hogsmeade, but as it was I kept a tight grip on my wand and suspected every shadow of danger. After everyone had been carried over, we trudged down the street and then across the Hogwarts lawn as a group. The small group stopped at the front of the lawn where McGonagall met us looking livid.

McGonagall opened her mouth to say something, but the man with the wooden hand shook his head. McGonagall closed her mouth but her face still looked thunderous. Her brows were scrunched up and her mouth was a tight white line.

I was surprised fire didn't spew forth from her mouth when she turned towards us.

"You've missed the sorting, but we made sure to save you some food. Leave your personal belongings on the lawn and they will be taken to your rooms. Come along," McGonagall called out and then turned smartly towards the school.

We obediently followed her and made our way to the Great Hall. When we finally trudged into the Great Hall, the room erupted in whispers. Most of the eyes were turned toward Harry Potter and Ron Weasley as they walked to their seats. As soon as we sat down, our house mates erupted into questions.

I ignored them. My eyes were glued to the two new people standing on the raised teacher's platform.

Sirius Black sat at the staff stable next to Professor Dumbledore. A few seats down, Snape looked like Christmas had been canceled from now and until the end of time.

Huh.

I sat down in a numb daze and robotically began to fill my plate.

Sirius was our new Defense Against the Dark Arts Professor. That was… rather annoying actually. I go to all that trouble of getting him out of prison and he goes and gets a cursed job. At least, we'll probably learn some useful things this year.

I glanced back up at the staff table.

Snape had become a dark specter of hate and rage. The man wasn't even trying to compose himself. With the primordial level of hate he was directing towards Sirius, I'm surprised the other man didn't disintegrate on the spot. Snape was going to be PMS-ing hard this entire year wasn't he? Ugh.

And Dobby was trying to save Harry from the Malfoy plot not knowing I'd already done so. And Dementors were around… why? Were they hunting Peter Pettigrew? Had he met up with Voldemort? Would he be able to with aurors on the lookout for him? How the heck did Voldemort even go from Ghost Voldemort to horrible mutated baby Voldemort? Maybe I should make sure none of my teachers had been replaced by Barty Crouch while I was at it. Maybe ole toad faced Umbridge would hop her way into my life early somehow.

All the plots were going off at once like a loose cigarette in a fireworks factory.

Should I finally go to Dumbledore?

My heart started to race. My classmates started to blur. My hands felt numb and I nearly dropped my spoon.

I… didn't have to go tomorrow. I could still plan a little. I still had a little time to prove to Dumbledore that I can be trusted. That I'm worthy of not getting my memories taken. He didn't need to saddle me with some random adult who'd try to control my life. 'Look at all I've done!' I would say. 'Look at how useful I am!' You don't need to erase my memories.

Maybe I don't have to go to him directly? A letter could be easily traced back to me but there were other ways of getting information to him. He knew more magic than me and had more experience than me, but he wasn't omnipotent no matter the guise he liked to show. My biggest advantage was that he had no reason to suspect some random Hufflepuff girl of anything. My anonymity was my greatest strength.

It kept me safe.

I slowed my breathing. I didn't even realize I'd started to breathe quickly. My heart rate slowed to normal. I took a slow calming breath and glanced back up at the staff table.

Sirius waved cheekily at Snape.

I'd have to think up something this year.


I didn't remember what that niggling feeling back on the train had been until late that night.

I'd forgotten to seek out Luna Lovegood. Forget about trying to befriend her or somehow convince her to ask the Sorting Hat to be put her in Hufflepuff. I'd forgotten to look for her entirely.

I guess that paled in comparison to BREAKING THE WORLD.

I rolled over onto my stomach and buried my face into my pillow.

"Are you asleep?" Eloise whispered softly from her bed.

I rolled over to face her. I could barely make her out in the room. The Hufflepuff dorms were underground, but somehow it was never pitch black even with the lights off.

"Nah. Are you okay?" I whispered back and hugged my pillow.

Eloise was silent for so long I thought she might have fallen asleep.

"I… I think so…" I heard a sniffle. "I saw the day my mum died."

I grimaced and hugged my pillow tighter.

"I'm sorry," I replied awkwardly.

I've never been good at helping people with grief. I always feel like I'm on the precipice of saying something rude or dumb. I like to fix things. I like problems to solve. But you can't fix grief. You can't fix the effects of death.

The silence in the room felt heavy.

"What did you see?" Eloise asked softly.

I considered pretending like I'd fallen asleep.

But no… that would be the coward's way out.

I want to be brave.

"When I was a toddler someone broke into our house and robbed us. When my mom tried running away they shot her." I hugged my pillow tighter. "She lived… I … didn't remember any of it."

Didn't use to… Heh, I guess me and Harry have a little in common. Although, there was no grand destiny involved in mine. Just random, senseless regular violence. I was lucky that she didn't die. It definitely changed her though. I wish I could have met her before she became so afraid of everything. Before she felt like she had to grab ahold of everything close to her with an iron grip and keep it in place.

I hope I didn't suddenly disappear on my mom. I hope time stopped over there or something. I mean, I went back in time too, right? It's not impossible then? Maybe no one is missing me at all?

Guilt grabbed my heart and squeezed it painfully. Because I knew, deep down, that given the choice to go home right now… I wouldn't take it. I wouldn't give up magic.

The room was quiet except for the soft sounds of Eloise sniffling.

"No one fell apart like me," Eloise whispered.

That's not fair.

"No one had as bad of a memory as you. Even mine. I was just a baby. The memory was barely a memory. It was just… sensations. Seeing your mom die when you can remember it…" I trailed off. My memory had actually been pretty terrible, but she didn't need to know that.

"It wasn't when she died…" Eloise admitted guiltily.

"Oh?"

"I wasn't there when she passed away. It was afterwards… I heard my dad crying. He's so big and strong and I always thought he was invincible. But when I heard him in the hospital room after mum was gone he seemed so small."

I didn't know what to say so I didn't say anything at all.

I listened to the light snoring of Hannah, and tried desperately to fall asleep. But sleep wouldn't come. A thought was wheedling its' away into my cowardly little heart and it wouldn't be silent. I turned over tangling my blanket around my legs. My grip on my pillow morphed from a squeeze into a choke hold.

How dare those stupid soul sucking primordial creatures of doom take my whimsical magical school life away from me and make things all serious and shit. No. I won't stand for it! There will be whimsy damn it! Magic, friendship, and WHIMSY!

"We're going to learn the Patronus spell!" I declared loudly.

"What?" Eloise asked sleepily.

"Secure the perimeter!" Hannah yelled out and bolted upright. She looked around the room confused.

"What's the Patronus spell?" Susan asked and sat up in bed. She rubbed her eyes tiredly, but she didn't sound like she'd been asleep.

"The Patronus spell protects people from Dementors. We're going to learn it. We're going to be great at it. And then we will never let them make us feel that way again."

"Can a second year learn an advanced spell like that?" Eloise asked.

I smiled grimly.

"A second year can sure as hell try."