A Powerful Memory
"Madame Gertrude's is hardly an education," Hermione said impatiently, looking at Jonah with an expression that implied he was a lunatic. "It's more like a finishing school!"
"Well, maybe that's what she needs, she spends all day playing with boys. And she's such a tomboy herself, she—"
"There is nothing wrong with that. Besides, then we'd have to hire her a private tutor for things like astronomy and potions, this Gertrude woman doesn't even teach those subjects at her school."
In a much lower tone of voice, Jonah said, "I don't think we could afford both a tutor and a school programme."
"Which is exactly my point, dear. She needs to go to a fully staffed school with qualified teachers for all the appropriate subjects."
"I suppose I'm not to raise the question of whether or not potions and that kind of thing are all that appropriate for a young lady."
Now Hermione's look was absolutely scathing. "Jonah, don't even start that with me. It's one thing for your mother to disapprove of my role in politics, and still another for her to disapprove of my advanced education, but her opinions will not hold my daughter back. She has no say in how Maggie is raised! Maggie will have the best education I can get for her, not simply because she deserves it, but because she wants it. She's an academic, Jonah. She loves to learn. A place like Madame Gertrude's would drive her mad!"
Jonah sighed through his nose, a bitter sound of defeat. "She's just like you, isn't she?" There was no smile on his face, but it was there in his voice.
Hermione's mouth closed firmly, and she tempered her response. "I suppose she is, a little."
Maggie, hiding around the corner in the hall—and peering around the doorjamb to see them—heard what her mother did not say then. The real thing that had come between Hermione and Jonah, between Maggie and Jonah, all the girl's life.
She's more like her father.
Maggie had been catching these tiny glimpses, like peeking through your lashes when your eyes were supposed to be closed, her entire life. She knew only through herself and what her mother held back what her father must have been like. Oh, she knew who he was, surely enough. She knew his family, from all the holidays and visits they'd made to England. But rarely, so rarely, was Ronald Weasley mentioned by name and spoken of openly. Her mother had told her so little of him, and said she didn't want to hurt Jonah's feeling. Maggie didn't understand. Jonah could hardly be jealous of a dead person, could he?
She'd used to call Jonah her father, when she was small. But she'd realized when she was five or six that he wasn't her real father, and ever since then, she'd heard his name creeping more and more into her speech, until that was all she called him. It wasn't to hurt his feelings. It just felt more natural to call him that. She kept secret that sometimes she spoke to the single photograph she had of her real father. She would sit on her bed in the dark, when she was supposed to be sleeping, and talk to her Papa. She liked to think he would have done this with her, if she'd wanted him to, if he were still alive. That he would sit by her bed when she was tucked in for the night, and let her tell him all about her day.
"Maybe we should ask Maggie what she would like to do," Hermione suggested. "She ought to have a say in this."
"She's not even quite eleven years old. She might choose something now for reasons she'll regret when she's only a year or two older."
"Don't you see, Jonah? That's how she'll learn, it's how we all learned. About life, and everything. She has to start making her own decisions and finding out the consequences of them."
"And if her choices lead her somewhere dangerous?"
"Then she'll find out that her mother will always, always be there to save her," Hermione said in a deep, passionate voice. "Always."
"Hermione . . . you of all people know you can't make that guarantee."
"I won't let Maggie become timid, Jonah. I won't let that happen. She's a brave girl, and I want her to take risks in her life."
And there he was again, her Papa, hanging painfully between her mother and stepfather. Her brave, risk-taking father who'd died at the age of eighteen because he loved his best friend so fiercely. Her mother said she would always be there to save Maggie, but Maggie knew better. Still, Hermione was right. She could let fear stop her. Not ever. And Maggie knew what she would say when her mother asked her.
"And what about risks in your life, Hermione?" Jonah asked.
"What do you mean?"
"Albert told me you'd been in talks with U.S. wizards about working for them."
"It's only talking, Jonah."
"For now. What later?"
"I don't know yet."
"For Merlin's sake, Hermione, did you think I wasn't going to find out?"
"Of course not, it wasn't like that! I just . . . I wanted to wait and bring it up once we'd gotten Maggie's schooling settled."
"I do want to talk about it. Just one thing at a time."
"I'm not leaving Canada, and we're not going to make our son move right after he loses his big sister, do you hear me?"
"Please, Jonah! Later."
"Fine. I understand."
Hermione made a disgusted noise. "I'm going to go talk to Maggie."
Maggie had nowhere to hide herself, and she knew she looked like a pixy caught at wandpoint when her mother found her in the hall. She held her breath. Her mother just took her by the arm and led her silently toward her room, with a wink to Maggie to assure her. When they got into her room and closed the door, Maggie was shocked to see tears in her mother's eyes.
"God, you are so like him," she whispered.
Maggie didn't know what to say to that. It made her proud, and sad, and confused. She didn't know anything about him, except that he was a hero. Was it good to be like him? Was her mother happy or sad?
"Every time I look at you, you look a little more like your dad's family. Every time I turn around, you're saying something or doing something that's exactly how he would have done."
"That's why I have to go, Mama. To Hogwarts."
Hermione's hand stroked through Maggie's riotous, frizzy red curls, the ones she hated so. "Are you sure, baby? It's so far away."
"It's the only place that seems right, though. You and he both went there, and Uncle Harry and Aunt Ginny, and even Grandma and Grandpa Weasley. I want to go where you all were. You're all so smart and special, Mama. I want to be like you. I want to go to school at Hogwarts."
"Okay," Hermione said with a watery smile. "If that's what you really want, then that's what we'll do."
Maggie relaxed in the sudden, tight embrace her mother gave her. It was far away, it was maybe a little dangerous . . . and it was the only thing she wanted in the world.
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
"Do you really have to go, Maggie?" he asked softly, laying his head on her shoulder.
She pushed him. "You're too old to sleep in my bed, J.J."
He made a face. "Then I'm too old for you to call me J.J."
She sighed and let him settle back down. Her brother was only eight, she supposed it was normal for him to want to come for her room if he had a nightmare. He didn't want to bother Mama and Jonah.
Sleepy and yawning, she patted his dark hair to comfort him. They didn't look much alike, for a brother and sister. He looked like his father, and she like hers. She was miles taller than he was, and too thin, and covered in freckles, and he was just small and square and dark like Jonah was. Maggie wondered what her mother had even liked about Jonah if she had been in love with a tall redhead before.
"I don't want you to go so far away."
"I have to, J.J. I have to go see all those places my father used to live."
"Do you miss him, Maggie?" he murmured drowsily.
"How can I? I never knew him."
"But you miss having a dad, don't you? I mean, a real dad, like me."
Maggie didn't say anything.
"Maggie, are you asleep?"
"No, because you won't shut up."
"I'm sorry," he said in a tiny voice. "I'll be quiet."
Her eyes closed but her brain too much of a mess to sleep, Maggie said, "No, it's okay. I'm not sleepy."
It was a lie, but not entirely. Sleepy and weary and emotionally wrung out, but unable to make that last surrender to dreams. And she loved her brother very much. She would miss him terribly, just as she would miss her mother and Jonah and her friends Beth and Donna. But Jean-Luc was right. She did miss having a dad. And if Hogwarts was the closest she could come to him, then to Howarts she must go.
"It's not just him, though," she murmured, her words the slightest bit slurred. "I think Hogwarts will be very cool. It's such a beautiful castle, and there's so much history there. Think of how much I could learn just from the ghosts. The professors are supposed to be excellent as well, so I should learn a lot from them—"
"Maggie," Jean-Luc moaned.
Maggie grinned, and pulled his head against her shoulder, and finally let herself go to sleep.
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
"Oh, good, there's Jean-Luc."
"Uhhh," Maggie replied, trying to open her eyes.
Jean-Luc snorted in his sleep as Hermione lifted him up out of Maggie's bed.
"Come on, little one, let your poor sister get some rest."
"Mama?" he muttered.
"That's right, it's just me."
Maggie was awake again, now. She cracked her eyes and looked at her window. The edges around the closed curtain were tinged with blue, so it must be nearly dawn.
"Mama, what is it?"
"Sorry, baby. I went to check on your brother and he wasn't in his bed, so I got worried. I'm just going to tuck him back in."
"Okay," she whispered, turning her face back to the pillow.
"Mama, why is Maggie leaving?" Jean-Luc asked, and Maggie raised her head again.
"She's not leaving yet, of course. The term doesn't start for several months, still."
"I know, but then we'll hardly ever see her. It's not fair."
"It doesn't have anything to do with fair, you know that," Hermione said, sitting down on the edge of Maggie's bed, and holding Jean-Luc close. "Maggie has to go to school somewhere, and Hogwarts is the best school, that's all."
"I guess. It'll be cool to go to school with cousin Matt and have Uncle Remus for a teacher, won't it, Maggie?"
Maggie smiled at him, even though she was exhausted and irritated at being woken, and her hair was a rat's nest around her face. "Yeah, J.J. It'll be really cool."
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
"Nothing's decided yet, Jonah, you know that!"
"What I know is that you care more about your career than your family!"
"That is not fair and not true, Jonah Simpson! There is no reason that you can't transfer to another hospital, and Jean-Luc has already said he would be excited about a new school, especially since Maggie is going to a new school herself! You are doing this just to test me. Why?"
"I'm not testing you. We're happy here. Why would you change all that, just for a bunch of kids you don't know?"
"Kids I don't know? Jonah, doesn't what's been happening to those children break your heart as much as it does mine? They're crying out for help, and I have a thousand ideas about how to help them. If I'm the only one who can do it, then I will be the one to do so! You're always trying to hold me back, for some ridiculous notion your mother put into your head about proper behaviour!"
"Well, can you blame me for wanting to keep you a little closer to me? You would fly to the moon if you had no ties, and the tie between us has gotten mighty thin lately. My mother is right, in some ways. You don't seem to have any common sense about your reputation, just waltzing around in a world full of old men who will think—"
"Look, Jonah, my life may not have turned out exactly how I planned it, but I'll be damned if I allow my career to be taken away from me, too!"
"What, like he was? Is that what this is about?"
"You brought him up, not me. But he never tried to hold me back."
Maggie, frozen in the hallway and horribly sick to her stomach, felt Jean-Luc walking slowly up behind her.
"What are they fighting about?" he whispered in a subdued tone.
"I don't know," she lied. Then she let go the handle on her trunk and let it thump loudly on the hallway floor. "Mama, Jonah, I'm ready!"
They both appeared in the doorway, and looked out at her and Jean-Luc with startled smiles.
"Good," Hermone said. "Your Uncle Harry will be here to pick you up any minute."
Maggie turned and gave Jean-Luc a tight hug. "You'll be okay, won't you, J.J.? You'll be good for Mama and Jonah, won't you?"
Jean-Luc stepped back with a scornful look. "Of course I will. You're the one who has to behave and make everybody proud."
Maggie rolled her eyes. "Now you sound like Mama."
Jean-Luc grinned, and jumped back into her embrace. "I'll miss you."
"I'll miss you, too. Be good."
"You be good."
Leaning close to his ear, she whispered, "They always fight. Don't let it upset you."
"I'm scared," he whispered back. "I'm really scared, Maggie. I don't think they like each other anymore."
"Don't worry, it'll work out," she whispered, then said in a normal voice, "Take care of them for me, okay?"
Jean-Luc didn't answer, and then Uncle Harry was calling out his greetings as he stepped out of the fireplace.