AN: Sorry for the delay! The holidays kind of snuck up on me and the last couple of weeks have just been jam-packed with schoolwork and birthdays and parties and whatnot. Anyway, here's the next chapter... Bit of a filler, but I'm already working on the next chapter! Get excited and happy holidays!
Dedication: Happy belated birthday to my mom, Caroline, Michelle, Yiota, and Mia!
Disclaimer: I did not received Harry Potter for Christmas, thus I don't own Harry Potter.
With the crack of sunlight through their windows, students blearily pulled themselves from the warm confines of their bed. They sat there for a moment, blinking as sun streamed into the rooms before blindly shuffling towards their clothes and bathroom to get ready for the day. It was a regular day, just like the one before, and just like the next one, and there was absolutely nothing for them to be excited for. It was just another day full of classes with teachers and peers that they really couldn't stand, all the while wishing that they were back in bed.
It was with that mindset that the students of Hogwarts set out on their day, some rubbing sleep from their eyes, some doing last minute assignments. They were expecting a normal day, with the teachers they all had seen the day before, which is why each and every student that walked into the Charms classroom that day stopped short upon seeing Professor Wyman seated at her desk. They would stand there for a moment, watching the witch as she scribbled notes on papers and brushed her hair behind her ear in irritation, and after a moment or so, the students would wander off to their desks in confusion. Once seated, they twisted around in their seats to whisper to their peers, demanding to know when exactly their professor had returned.
Since returning from their winter break, the Charms classes at Hogwarts had been taught by a substitute teacher. They had been told by the administration that Professor Wyman had to return to the states for an extended break due to health issues in her family. It was rather odd for her to be gone for so long, but few of the students took notice as their other teachers began to pile the work on. Yet, it was still shocking to see the young teacher back in her seat after weeks of dealing with an old, haggard substitute. Nice, but still shocking.
Hermione Granger was the first to get over her shock of seeing the professor back, and she was the first to say something to the teacher as well.
"Professor Wyman!" Hermione proclaimed, dropping her books onto her desk with a thud. "You're back!" Amy looked up at the cry, and a bright smile broke out on her face. She had, of course, heard the students come into her class, but she also knew that she couldn't get distracted or she wouldn't get anything done.
"It would appear so!" Amy agreed cheerful. She set down her quill and clasped her hands on top of the desk. The witch looked across the room at the students who were already there, and she felt her smile grow even larger. She was like a kid on the first day of school; she was so excited to be back and she couldn't wait to see all of her students again. "Did you miss me?"
There was a loud chorus of 'yes!' from each student, and they nodded earnestly at the teacher. Amy laughed a bit, at their eager faces. Another strand of hair fell into her face, and she brushed it away once more, not even caring because she was just so glad to be back.
"Well good," Amy said brightly. She stood as the bell rang and the last students milled into the room. She leaned over her desk and smiled at the students. "Because I missed you too."
To say that Amy was thrilled to be back at Hogwarts was an understatement. As word spread of her arrival throughout the school, Amy found herself being hunted down by her students during the passing periods and breaks. For the most part, the students were thrilled to have her back and couldn't wait to have her positive attitude back in the classroom – it didn't hurt that Amy actually knew what she was doing in the classroom, unlike their substitute.
So throughout the day, Amy was greeted and shouted at by her students, and even knowing that her return meant staying up late to finish grading and dealing with teenage hormones, not to mention being away from Charlie, Amy was still thrilled to be back at Hogwarts. Back to the freedom of the grounds and back to doing the thing she loved.
If there was one thing she did not love, however, it was being forced to attend the Apparation lessons at night when she could be grading papers or sleeping. It was on Saturdays too! It would've been okay if she was actually doing something, but she wasn't. She spent the entire evening hidden away in a corner of the Great Hall watching as student after student spun around in ridiculous circles. Amy understood that this was the only way for them to learn, but did she really have to give up her evening to watch them be taught by another teacher?
The only thing she even did on the first night was shush noisy students and help the other teachers heal a young Hufflepuff that Splinched herself. The other students had watched in horror as the professors set to work on reattaching the girl's leg, but Amy had certainly seen worse, especially in the last few weeks, and especially in her nightmares.
The witch had been right that sleeping alone at night would only strengthen the dreams, and nothing she did seemed to help with them either. She was sure she was starting to get shadows and bags under her eyes due to the lack of sleep, and she wouldn't be surprised if her students had noticed it too. Amy hoped that they would think it was because of stress over her work or family, but Amy also knew that there was a small group of students who knew that she hadn't been gone because of her family but because she had been kidnapped. It was almost impossible to miss the looks of concern she was receiving from Ron, Ginny, and Harry, not to mention Hermione's look. Even though the younger witch hadn't been at the Burrow for the past holidays, it didn't surprise Amy that she knew about the events that had transpired anyway. Even with her and Ron arguing, Hermione still found a way to know everything that was going on.
There were several nights, of course, that the nightmares refused to subside and Amy found herself sitting up the entire night, swaddled in blankets and burrowed in her pillows. She couldn't even use this time for work because the nightmares made her so paranoid that she was unable to focus because she jumped at every creak. It was maddening, and even the breaking light through her window as the sun rose did little to calm the witch's frayed nerves. She had thought about going to Madam Pomfrey or Slughorn and requesting a dreamless sleep potion, but Amy knew that word would somehow get out, and the last thing she wanted was for the entire school to know she was having nightmares. She was a teacher. She was supposed to be strong, invincible. It would do her no good to appear weak and after all she had been through, the witch refused to let any more weakness shine through the cracks in her armor.
So, Amy tried to carry on each day as though nothing was wrong. She dismissed every thought that popped into her head that was unrelated to schoolwork and detentions. She hoped that her ignorance would bring her bliss, but if anything, the dreams only got worse and Amy found her eyes growing darker and darker with each passing night.
Almost a month after her return to Hogwarts, March arrived on a rainy weekend. There had been a Hogsmeade trip planned for that day, but the administration had decided it would be best to cancel the trip, despite the complaints they received from the student body. Amy, however, was glad for the cancelation because it gave her the opportunity to sleep in. Even with the dreams harassing her throughout the night, Amy still craved sleep, and she took every chance she could to sleep in, no matter how fitful it was.
The witch loved sleep, and she loved sleeping in, but one thing she didn't like was being awoken by pounding on her door and shouts in the hall. It wasn't the first time it had happened, and for some reason, the witch doubted it would be the last.
Amy shot up from her twisted and skewed blankets, blinking blearily as she was thrust into consciousness. The pounding on her door was thunderous and seemed to echo around her room, creating a cacophony of sound. Amy wobbled to her feet, grabbing her glasses from her desk and she shuffled as quickly to the door as she could. She didn't care that she was still in her pajamas and she didn't care that she probably looked a mess. At the moment, all Amy cared about was shutting whoever it was up and crawling back into bed.
Alas, the second she opened the door, someone grabbed Amy by her shoulders and pulled her into the hall. It took her a moment to gather her senses, but when she finally did, Amy found herself looking blearily down at Professor Slughorn who was speaking very quickly and motioning for her to follow him. Amy's mind was still having trouble keeping up with her ears, and it took her a few moments longer to comprehend what it was the Potion's master was saying.
"- collapsed… Harry and Ralph! A bezoar and – "
"Horace! Horace!" Amy cried loudly. The witch held up her hands to silence the wizard who immediately fell quiet though he continued to shuffle anxiously, and his mustache seemed to twitch with nerves. "Slow down! What's happened?"
The wizard took a deep breath and looked Amy in the eye.
"A student's been poisoned!" he said breathily.
Amy felt her heart skip a beat as his words sunk into her brain. She took a step back and blinked rapidly as she finally comprehended what it was the wizard had been trying to tell her, and the instant she had, Amy turned around, grabbed her robe from the chair just inside the doorway. The witch shut the door to her room with a snap before turning and taking off down the hall. Slughorn followed after her, huffing and puffing, as she raced towards his office. The halls were mostly empty this early in the morning, and those that were in the halls, quickly moved out of the way as Amy sped passed them. All thoughts of going back to sleep were gone, and she was finally beginning to piece together the puzzle. A student had been poisoned, though Amy wasn't entirely sure how, and from what Slughorn had said, the only student Amy could think of was Harry, and if it wasn't Harry then there was really only one other student it could be. One who, even before meeting him, Amy had been warned was a magnet for trouble and dogged almost each and every one of Harry's steps…
The witch turned the final corner of the hall, Slughorn's private room coming into sight. Amy could still hear the wizard wheezing behind her, but she gave no notice as she charged towards the door. She thrust her hands out and pushed the heavy door open. She stopped in the doorway, her eyes moving from one thing to another; an opened chest with different bottles, knocked over glasses, and chair that had been pushed out of the way, before something caught her gaze and she felt her gut clench tightly at the sight before her.
The witch swallowed hard and gripped the doorframe tightly to keep her balance. Her eyes went wide as she took everything, her heart pounding beneath her chest and her mind racing.
Harry was hovering over the prone figure of his best friend, Ron, who was lying unconscious on the plush carpeting of the room. Harry looked up quickly as Amy burst into the room, Slughorn following after her. The teen had a frazzled look across his face, and it appeared as though there were stray tears in his eyes, though upon catching sight of the witch, still in her pajamas with nothing more than a flimsy robe covering her, Harry's eyes filled with evident relief.
"Professor Wyman," he breathed. "Please, you have to help!" Amy swallowed before moving quickly around the furniture and falling to her knees beside the unconscious student. She could feel Harry's stare on her as he tried to explain what had happened. Amy pulled her wand from the sleeve of her robe, and she heard Horace mutter something from the doorway, but she paid neither Harry nor Horace any attention. Instead, Amy waved her wand over Ron several times, her forehead furrowed in concentration as she put whatever limited energy she had into the spell she was casting. She wasn't a Healer and she didn't know the darndest thing about Healing spells for critical patients, but she did know that she couldn't simply sit here and wait for Pomfrey. There may not be much she could do, because she had no idea what had happened to Ron, but she could at least ensure that he would feel no pain, and she could do her best to remove the toxins from his body. She wouldn't be able to remove all of them - they would need Madam Pomfrey to do that – but she could at least do her best to make Ron as comfortable as possible until Pomfrey got there.
After several minutes of waving her wand back and forth over the unconscious teen, Ron heaved a quiet sigh and Amy paused in her movements. Both she and Harry watched as Ron fidgeted slightly, a cold sheen of sweat blossoming over his skin and he shivered in the drafty room before falling still. Amy sat back on her heels and watched the teen for any signs that he may be waking up, but there was none.
Amy looked up at Harry now, her eyes searching his face for any answers, but she found none. Harry was simply staring at Ron, his face split between shock and fear as he began to comprehend everything that had just happened and everything that could have happened.
"Harry," Amy said softly, pulling him from his stupor. "Harry, I need you to tell me what happened. Can you do that? Can you tell me what happened? It could be important." The teen was silent for a moment more as he looked down at Ron before up at his professor. The boy's bright green eyes were filled with fear and shock. He still couldn't believe what had just happened; it didn't make any sense to him and quite frankly it didn't make any sense to Amy either. Who on earth would want to poison Ron Weasley? Sure, he could be a bit of a git sometimes but he was a teenage boy! All boys at his age were stupid and insensitive. It was a way of life, not a reason to kill someone.
"He ate a, uh, batch of Chocolate Cauldrons that were laced with love potion," Harry started quietly. "They must have been really strong because he was going on and on about some girl in our house. Anyway, I took him to Professor Slughorn because I couldn't let him wander the castle like that and I was hoping Slughorn would be able to come up with a quick remedy, which he did, but afterwards, Slughorn went to make a toast or something, and Ron collapsed."
"A toast?" Amy asked. Her eyebrows furrowed together a bit. "Why was he making a toast?"
Harry smiled softly. "It's Ron's birthday. Ron thought the Chocolate Cauldrons were a birthday gift, but they had actually been given to me awhile back. Slughorn gave us all something to drink and it was during his toast that I noticed Ron had already finished his drink, and then he was on the ground, twitching and shuddering uncontrollably." Harry shivered unconsciously, as though he was visualizing his best friend having spasms on the carpet.
Amy looked away from Harry now and back at Ron. He was still unconscious and the only thing truly keeping her calm was that she could see his chest rise and fall with his deep breaths. Slowly, the witch leaned forward and gently brushed a few stray hairs off of Ron's forehead. She rested the palm of her hand on his cool face with her lips pursed together. He was much paler than usual, which was saying a lot actually, and the skin around his eyes was swollen and red. For a moment, Amy almost thought it was Charlie laying here and not Ron, and she felt her heart squeeze together so tightly she thought it would crack.
The witch was pulled from these thoughts as Slughorn came bursting back into the room, followed now by McGonagall and Pomfrey. The older witches stared wide eyed at the room and its inhabitants, before swooping down on Ron and Harry. Amy stood up to make room as McGonagall pulled out her wand, conjuring a stretcher from thin air. Pomfrey took Amy's spot next the Ron, and she began to cast healing spells of her own. Harry watched worriedly as the professors said nothing to him; instead they focused all of their attention onto Ron, peering at the teen with worried looks. They were muttering under their breaths to each other, and Amy could see that their murmuring was not helping Harry at all. He had just seen his best friend shake and writhe on the floor, most likely because he was poisoned, and now all he could do was sit back and hope everything was alright. There was nothing he could do, literally nothing, and that feeling of helplessness must have been driving the boy crazy. Harry had spent his entire life doing something, anything to help those around him, and now he was being forced to sit there and do nothing. Amy knew she would've been driven crazy by now but Harry merely stood there, watching the scene unfold quietly.
Carefully, Amy made her way around McGonagall and Pomfrey so that she was standing next to the teen. She wrapped an arm around his shoulder, and the boy looked at her. She realized with a jolt that he was in fact taller than her, although she was sure that at the start of the year he had been shorter. Nevertheless, Amy squeezed his shoulders and smiled softly at him.
"What a way to spend a birthday," she said quietly. Harry looked at his professor again before back at Ron, who had now been moved onto a stretcher. The student and professor watched as Pomfrey raised her wand, and the stretcher and student rose off the ground. Quickly, the Healer led Ron out of the room, leaving Harry, Amy, Slughorn, and McGonagall alone.
In a flash, McGonagall had turned and was facing Harry fiercely, though Amy could see the anxiety in her eyes.
"Well Potter," McGonagall said after a moment of silence. "Explain yourself!"
Harry looked at Amy once more, before taking a deep breath and turning to his head of house, his story already spilling from his lips.
AN: Happy Holidays!