After several minutes of quiet unease, Ron rose and headed up the stairs to the boys' dormitory. When he returned a moment later, he was carrying a large chocolate bar and his pillow.
"What?" he asked through a mouthful of chocolate. Hermione was looking at him quizzically. He offered the candy to Seamus and Parvati, explaining, "Professor Lupin seems to think this stuff cures everything. It's as good excuse as any." Thrusting the bar into Seamus's hand, Ron threw his pillow down and sprawled on his back in front of the fire. Those seated around him began passing the candy, each breaking off a large piece in turn.
"Parvati," Lavender blurted out so suddenly that Dean and Neville both jumped, "why didn't you ever tell me you were scared of mummies? We've been friends for ages, and I mean, I told you about . . . that thing that frightened me." She sounded a little hurt.
Parvati swallowed and answered slowly, "Well, it's not really something I like to think about. You never talk about that thing you're afraid of. What does it matter now though? Everyone knows."
"Why mummies, of all things though?" chimed in Dean. "I mean, they're a little goofy don't you think?"
"Oh, and a crawling hand isn't?" retorted Hermione, half-joking.
"Besides," said Parvati, "it was a nightmare, I didn't really have any choice in the matter, did I?" She noticed they were all watching her now. "Oh fine," she sighed, "shall I tell you all about it?" The question was dripping with sarcasm, but Ron rolled onto his side and said in complete seriousness, "Yeah, P'vati, it'll take our minds off our own boggarts!"
She rolled her eyes at him and, sensing that arguing would be a losing battle, agreed, "but only if someone else tells about theirs, too." Lavender and Seamus both nodded solemnly. "Fine, then," Parvati said heavily, shifting to fold her legs under her and resting her head against the couch cushion.
"I guess it started when I was little – like six or seven years old – I used to be really, really scared of my parents dying. Padma always got on really well with Mum when we were growing up, and I used to get along better with our dad. So anyway, one summer Padma and I went to the museum on a daycare field trip. Most of the tour was about Egypt 'cos I think it was a traveling exhibit that had just come to town. If you've never seen a real mummy, consider yourself lucky because they're totally creepy. We were all so short, we were eye-level with the big, um, coffins – sarcophagi – and the museum leaves them part-way open, and you can actually see the body in there. The eyes, the wrappings, everything – it was horrible." Lavender squirmed appreciatively.
"Well after the exhibit they explained how the ancient Egyptians preserved the bodies and all that. I dunno why they thought a load of school kids should hear all that, but . . . well, they told us all about it. It really was disgusting – Padma almost started crying.
"That happened in the summer, and when school started back up, I started having these recurring dreams. Yeah, it would've been just after my seventh birthday, then. I'd dream that my dad and I were walking through a forest, and it would start to rain. He would begin running to find cover, only I could never keep up with him because I was too little, my legs were too short. Every dream ended that way – he'd be running away from me and I'd be calling for him to slow down. So after having those dreams for a month or whatever, they changed a bit. I finally caught up with him one night, but . . . Well, I reached a clearing, and he was laying on a fallen tree trunk, and I was scared to go near him because he wasn't moving. So I was standing there watching, and my mum walked out from behind some trees. She was dressed all funny, and we're kind of dark-skinned y'know – she looked like one of the Egyptians from the museum. She saw me and smiled and said that dad was dead and she had to bury him. And she – she took out all these jars and bandages from under her robes and. . . ." Parvati stopped, searching for the right words. "And well, she started turning Dad into a mummy. Dean, don't laugh at me!" She hit him again on the shoulder.
"Anyway, so she wrapped him up and put all his . . . well, parts of him in jars. Ugh. And she picked him up and carried him back into the trees. I followed to see where she was going and she dropped him into a hole that had been dug back there. I dreamt that a few times. She would sometimes try to get me to help her bury him, but I never did. Eventually the dreams stopped being about me and my mum and dad, and they'd just start with me wandering around the woods by myself, carrying a bunch of flowers. I'd end up at the clearing where my dad was buried and go up to his headstone to put the flowers on it. But one night when I was kneeling there, the ground started moving. I jumped up and ran to hide behind a tree because I didn't know what was going on. My dad's grave was all shaking, and I saw his hands poke up out of the dirt. Yeah!" Neville had just made an indistinct sound to her right.
"After a few nights of waking up from fear, I slept long enough for my dad's whole . . . y'know, mummy to come out of the ground. He'd come up and start walking toward me, hiding behind that tree. When he got too close, I'd try to run, but my feet wouldn't work and I'd just be stuck there, watching this mummy coming after me. One night he finally got me. . . ." Parvati trailed off, taking another bite of chocolate before continuing.
"He grabbed me around the middle and dragged me down into the ground with him. Mum showed up above us with a shovel and began heaping dirt on top of us. I couldn't breathe 'cos the mummy was holding me too tightly and my mouth was all filled with dirt. I woke up screaming and crying . . . it was awful. Mum came running in the room all worried and made me tell her about all the dreams. I never had the nightmares again after that night."
She pressed her lips together, and the rest of the third-years stared at her in silence.
"Wow," whispered Dean finally.
"That's horrible!" exclaimed Lavender sympathetically. Parvati nodded. "Oooh, Parvati, you should tell it to Professor Trelawny! I wonder what she'd make of it!"
"I don't want to know," said Parvati resolutely. "And I don't want to talk about it anymore."
"Oh," said Lavender softly, sounding disappointed.
"I don't blame you, Parvati," said Hermione crisply, "I wouldn't tell her either."
Parvati nodded curtly. "Yeah. Well, that's my boggart. Now someone else go." She appeared very shaken. No one else seemed to want to follow her story.
"Oh, all right," sighed Seamus after a few minutes. "It's only fair, after all." Heads turned to face him, and he took a swig of pumpkin juice, apparently preparing himself for the worst.