Part 7: February-March 1992
Friday, 7th February 1992
Just outside the Potions classroom, right before lunchtime.
“I hate Potions,” said Ron, looking at the angry red burns on his hands and forearms. “I know I’ve said it before, but I keep finding new ways I hate it.”
“You need to be more careful,” Hermione admonished. “Come on, let’s get you to the hospital wing. Madam Pomfrey’ll have something that’ll take care of those burns.”
Harry was about to follow them down the corridor when he heard a voice behind him. “Hey, Potter.”
He turned to see who had spoken, and to his surprise Tracey Davis was coming up to him.
Tracey was one of the Slytherins who hadn’t made much of an impression on him. She wasn’t insufferable like Malfoy, arrogant and vain like Blaise or a mysterious loner like Nott. She wasn’t catty and mean like Pansy, physical and violent like Milicent, or weird like Daphne. She was just… a girl. He couldn’t remember having exchanged more than a couple of words with her.
“Yes, Tracey?” he said.
“Oh, we’re on a first name basis,” said Tracey. “All right. Harry, then. I was just wondering about that honey you gave everyone for Christmas.”
Harry stifled a sigh. Here it came. He’d gone through this with most of the Hufflepuff girls and a couple of the Slytherin girls. The Gryffindor girls had been all right, and the Ravenclaw girls had thankfully left him alone, but he was quite done with Hannah’s nervous attempts at finding out if she liked her, Leanne’s giggling, Susan’s subtle hints, Pansy’s loud declarations that he was the last person she wanted presents from, or Daphne’s incessant questions about the “House of Harry” and whether it had a thatched roof or not. Why did girls have to make such a big deal out of a couple of Christmas presents?
“What about the honey?” he said, bracing himself.
“You wouldn’t happen to have any more, would you?”
He blinked. That was a new one. “Er. No. It’s all gone, I’m afraid.”
“I was afraid of that,” she sighed. “Oh well. No harm in asking, right?”
“If you liked it that much, I could give you the name of the beekeeper I got it from,” he offered.
She shook her head. “No. It wouldn’t be the same.”
“I don’t know if you’re aware,” came Snape’s sour voice from behind them, “but this is a corridor, not a lounge. If you insist on having your little discussions, kindly do it somewhere people are not trying to walk.”
“Oops.” Tracey moved aside. “Sorry, Professor Snape.”
Snape moved past them. He glowered at Harry, and then looked at Tracey with noticeably less disdain. “Tracey, I would advise you not to feed Potter’s ego too much. If his head swells much more, there won’t be room for it in this castle, let alone this corridor.” With that, he walked on, and without looking back.
“Snape is so silly,” said Daphne, who had shown up out of nowhere and was suddenly standing next to Tracey.
“Where did you —” Harry began, and then pause. “You think Snape is silly?!”
“Well, yes. Nobody’s going to take him seriously as a teacher if he keeps making jokes like that.”.
“Jokes,” Harry repeated. “You know what, never mind. Ron, Hermione, wait up!”
He hurried after his friends, leaving Tracey and Daphne behind. He’d never understand Slytherins.
Monday, 17th February 1992
Hogwarts Great Hall, breakfast time.
“Parvati, there you are.” Padma came rushing up to her twin sister, dragging a somewhat reluctant Michael along with her. “Where have you been?”
“Hospital wing,” said Parvati. “I’ve run out of potions, so I had to go ask Madam Pomfrey for some more.”
“Oh,” said Padma. “I thought you didn’t need those potions anymore. You were fine without them over the holidays.”
“I don’t need them every night,” said Parvati. “I’m a lot better than I was, but some nights…”
“Er,” said Michael. “Padma, I think this may be a bad time. We can ask your sister about this later. I don’t know what this potions business is, but ifl it’s some girl thing I shouldn’t know about —”
“Sleeping potions, Michael,” said Padma impatiently. “Parvati suffers from insomnia.”
“Anyway, Parvati, will you talk to this idiot?” Padma shoved Michael in front of her. “He’s been going on about that stupid honey for weeks now. It was amusing at first, but now he really needs to learn to let things go”
“Honey?” said Parvati. “Oh, you mean Harry’s Christmas presents? Are you telling me you Ravenclaws are still on about that?”
“Some of us are. The list of theories is ten feet long! Terry refused to add any more to it because he was getting writing cramps! Will you tell him what you told me, Parvati?”
Parvati looked at Michael, stifling the urge to giggle. Poor Padma… conspiracy theorists probably wouldn’t be nearly as funny if you had to actually live with them. “Sorry, Michael,” she said. “Like I told Padma, Harry just wanted to do something nice for all the first-years and he knew a Squib beekeeper in Tinworth. That’s where the honey comes from. And the ‘House of Harry’ part was just a joke. You could have asked Harry yourself, you know.”
“And admit we didn’t get the message?” said Michael. “I know there’s something more to this!” He lowered his voice. “I had a theory… you remember the rumours about how Potter was asking about the Fae during the welcoming feast? Everyone knows the Fae like honey, right? What if —?”
“Oh, shut up, Michael!” the Patil twins chorused.
“Seriously,” Padma added. “This is ridiculous enough if you’re not going to bring the Fae into this.”
“Don’t just dismiss the theory straight away,” said Michael. “Potter never talks about his life before Hogwarts, right? Everyone says he went to live with the Muggles, but what if that was just a cover-up story?”
“Michael, you’re insane — ow! Watch it, will you?” Parvati turned to look at the person who had bumped into her.
Crabbe scowled back at her. Without a word, or even any sort of apologetic look, he lumbered off towards the Slytherin table.
“Rude,” said Parvati. “Michael, if you really want to waste your time on silly theories, how about trying to figure out why that Crabbe bloke never talks?”
“I know he has a voice,” said Padma, “I’ve heard him grunt, and he laughed quite loudly when Neville fell over that one time. It could be some kind of selective mutism. Or… Is it possible he just doesn’t speak English?”
“Now that’s a mystery worthy of a Ravenclaw!” This time, Parvati didn’t bother to suppress her giggle.
Michael groaned. “Why am I getting the feeling you two aren’t taking this seriously?”
“Probably because we’re not,” said Parvati. “Can I go now? I’d like to get some lunch.”
Thursday, 20th February 1992
Random Hogwarts corridor, early evening.
“Well, well, well. Longbottom. Fancy running into you here.”
Neville gulped. He’d just stepped out of the library and almost collided with Draco Malfoy and how two cronies, who were standing there and blocking his way.
“Er… hi,” he said, trying to keep his voice steady as he clutched the book on rare magical plants to his chest. “Er, could, could you maybe let me past? I was just, um. S-someone’s waiting for me back in the Gryffindor common room, so I kind of have to hurry —”
“Someone waiting? For you? Pull the other one.“ Malfoy stood right in front of Neville and looked down his nose at him. He wasn’t that much taller than Neville, but when he was flanked by Crabbe and Goyle he looked all the more menacing. “We’d like a word with you,” he said.
“I really don’t have the time,” Neville tried. “S-someone really is waiting for me!”
“Who, that slimy toad of yours?” said Malfoy. “He can wait. We want a word, Longbottom. It’s about Potter.”
Neville glanced at the door behind him. He could rush back into the library. Surely Malfoy and his friends wouldn’t dare follow him, not with Madam Pince sitting at her desk and glaring suspiciously at everyone who entered…
Just as he’d finished the thought, he found himself grabbed by two very powerful hands. Goyle had picked him up as if it was nothing- Neville tried to kick out, but Goyle just swung him around and pushed him against the wall.
“Good work, Goyle,” said Malfoy.. “Keep him there, will you?”
As Goyle still held Neville against the wall, Malfoy reached down into his robe pocket and pulled out a small jar, which he held up in front of Neville’s face. “Know what this is, Longbottom?”
“H-honey?” Neville squeaked.
“Well, yes, obviously it’s honey,” said Malfoy impatiently. “But you recognize the jar, right? You must have got one too! Potter’s curious Christmas gifts?”
“Oh, er, yes,” said Neville. He tried to squirm, but Goyle’s grip on him was too tight. “I-I’m not actually that fond of honey, but Gran quite likes it in her tea, so…”
“Do I look like I care about your grandmother’s tea?” Malfoy snapped. “I want to know what Potter’s deal is! Crabbe here overheard a couple of interesting things the other day…” He pocketed the jar of honey again and nodded to Goyle, who let go of Neville.
Neville almost fell to the floor, but managed to stay upright.
“Answer me this, Longbottom,” said Malfoy in an almost drawling tone. “Do you think Potter has any connections to the Fae?”
“What?!” said Neville, genuinely shocked. “Why would Harry… I mean, just because he gave you honey? That doesn’t make sense! Lots of people like honey, not just the Fae!”
“Oh, but it does make sense,” said Malfoy. “It makes so much sense. The honey was just one piece in the puzzle. Think, for once in your life. Potter survived a Killing Curse when he was a baby, and the Dark Lord conveniently vanished, but Potter escaped only with that scar of his… isn’t that suspicious?”
“Er… doesn’t mean he’s got anything to do with the Fae…”
“No, but then there’s the fact that he’s always hanging out with Ron Weasley. You know the Weasleys are Fae-lovers, don’t you?”
“Ron’s… nice,” Neville squeaked.
“And what about that Granger who’s practically been joined at their hip since Halloween? A Mudblood who’s that brainy? I don’t think so.”
“M-Muggle-borns are just as —”
“Please don’t quote that hare-brained Mudblood propaganda to me! No… Something is going on here, and I want to know exactly what.” Malfoy leaned in close. “And guess who’s the lucky soul that’s going to help us find out? Give you three guesses. His name starts with an L.”
“You… you want me to spy on Harry and Ron and Hermione?” said Neville.
“Oh, ‘spy’ is such a nasty word,” said Malfoy. “So yes, that’s exactly what I want you to do. Well done, Longbottom.”
“I —” Neville gulped. He took several deep breaths. “I won’t do it.”
Malfoy smiled. It wasn’t a nice smile. “I beg your pardon, I didn’t quite catch that?” he said.
“I won’t do it!” Neville repeated. “You can’t make me! Leave Harry alone! Leave Ron and Hermione alone! Wha-what’s it to you if they’re tied to the Fair Folk, anyway?”
Malfoy paused. Then he lowered his voice. “Longbottom, do you know why my mother never gets any Christmas cards from her family?”
Neville blinked. “What?!”
“It’s because she doesn’t have any family left,” said Draco. “Well, there’s a sister who got herself disowned for marrying a Mudblood, and a cousin who went to Azkaban for mass murder, but they’re not going to send her any cards, are they? And apart from those two, my mother’s the only one left of her family. Do you know why?”
Neville shook his head.
“The Fae, that’s why. More precisely, the Spring Court. They decided that my mother’s family hadn’t treated their house-elves well enough or something.” Malfoy sneered. “The House of Black was one of the oldest Pureblood families in Britain, but do you think that mattered to those Fae? Of course it didn’t! Every single member of the House of Black… well, the ones who hadn’t been disowned, anyway… gone. Without a trace. Only Mother and that cousin of hers, Sirius, were left. And they were only spared because they were at Hogwarts at the time. And even a major Court like the Spring Court won’t attack Hogwarts; that would really be breaking the treaty. And even a major Court like the Spring Court won’t attack Hogwarts; that would really be breaking the treaty.”
Neville couldn’t think of anything to say. He seemed to vaguely recall Gran once having said something about the House of Black, a family that had once been numerous but nowadays barely existed anymore… but Gran had made it sound like their numbers had dwindled because they kept disowning anyone who wasn’t bigoted enough. If she’d said something about the Fae being involved, Neville certainly didn’t remember.
“So,” said Malfoy. “Does that answer your question?”
“Er… I-I don’t know…” said Neville. “I’ve forgotten what I asked about.”
Malfoy groaned. “God, Longbottom, did you oversleep on the day they handed out brains or something? I swear, if I didn’t need you for this, I’d cast a Leg-Locker Curse on you and let you hop all the way back to your common room.”
Crabbe and Goyle both sniggered at this.
“Let me make this easy for you,” said Malfoy. “I want you to find out whether or not Potter really is tied to the Fae… and if so, which Court he’s tied to. If it’s one of the minor Courts, or the Autumn Court, or even the Summer Court like the Weasleys… fine. Then he’s just a filthy Fae-lover like them. If it’s the Winter Court…” he paused. “Let’s be real, it’s not the Winter Court. But if Potter is tied to the Spring Court, like I suspect he is…””
Neville swallowed. “What’ll you do then?”
Malfoy stepped back, composing himself. “That’s my business, isn’t it? I’ll tell you what your business is: what I’ll do to you if you don’t agree to help me. Or rather, what Crabbe and Goyle will do to you.”
Crabbe and Goyle cracked their knuckles and grinned menacingly.
Thursday, 20th February 1992
Gryffindor common room, early evening.
“Snape’s going to be the referee in the next Quidditch match?!” Hermione turned away from the chess board (Ron had been beating her quite thoroughly anyway) to give Harry a horrified look. “Harry, you can’t play!”
“Yeah, I don’t care what Hagrid says, you can’t trust that slimy git!” said Ron. “Say you’re ill or something.”
“Or pretend to break your leg,” said Hermione.
“Or really break your leg,” said Ron.
“Guys, I have to play,” said Harry. “If I’m out, Gryffindor doesn’t have a Seeker.”
“Er… Harry?” Neville was suddenly standing next to them, holding a book about plants and looking even more timid and nervous than usual.
“Hello, Neville,” said Hermione. “I thought you were down at the library.”
“I was,” said Neville, fidgeting with his book. “Er. I’m back now. Well. Er. Obviously I’m back now, I mean, you can see that I’m back, so I don’t even know why I said that. I just. Um. Harry. There was something.”
“Yes?” said Harry.
“Actually, it was nothing,” said Neville. “It’s. Er. I think I’m just going to go to bed. Yeah. It’s late.”
“It’s not even seven o’clock yet,” said Hermione.
“Well, no, er… not here, but… but in India it’s already past midnight!”
“India?” said Ron. “What the hell are you talking about? What’s India got to do with anything?”
“Er, well, my Great Uncle Algie went there once. He said it’s a very nice country. He really liked the food.”
“What, your great uncle likes vindaloo and so you randomly decide to follow the Indian time zone?” said Ron. “Neville, are you okay?”
“Fine!” said Neville. “Just going to bed. Yeah. Er, goodnight!” With that, he hurried over to the staircase and ran up the stairs. Most of the Gryffindors turned to stare at him.
“What was that about?” said Harry. “India?” He glanced over at Parvati, who was sitting on one of the couches and talking to Lavender.
She glanced back at him and rolled her eyes. “Don’t look at me,” she said. “I’ve lived in Birmingham all my life.”
Saturday, 22nd February 1992
Empty Classroom, early evening.
Harry made certain the door was closed and that Peeves wasn’t around before turning to Ron and Hermione. “I overheard Snape and Quirrell arguing,” he said.
“Quirrell had the guts to argue with Snape?” said Ron, looking impressed. “Wow, good on him!”
“No, listen,” said Harry. “I was putting away my broomstick after the game, and I happened to see Snape sneaking off. I followed him towards the Forest… he didn’t enter it, but he was really close to the edge. And there he met Quirrell, and they were arguing.”
“What about?” said Hermione.
“I didn’t hear everything,” said Harry. “I didn’t have my Invisibility Cloak so I had to keep my distance or they would have seen me. But I did hear Snape mention the Philosopher’s Stone! And he asked Quirrell whether he’d found out how to get past that beast of Hagrid’s yet!”
Hermione gasped. “Does that mean Quirrell and Snape are working together?”
“I don’t think so,” said Harry. “Snape was threatening Quirrell. Saying things like ‘you don’t want me as your enemy’ and telling him to sort out where his loyalties were. I think — I think Quirrell is trying to protect the Philosopher’s Stone from Snape, and Snape is threatening him.”
“So the Stone’s only safe as long as Quirrell keeps standing up to Snape,” said Hermione.
“That won’t be long,” said Ron.
“But that’s not the only thing,” said Harry. “When I was following Snape, I think I saw Neville trying to follow me!”
“Neville?” Ron and Hermione chorused.
“He couldn’t keep up with me and I don’t know where he went, but yes. I’m certain it was Neville, and that he was trying to follow me.”
“He’s been acting weird the last few days, hasn’t he?” said Ron. “Do you know, just before the match started he came up to Hermione and me and asked me if we knew which season you liked best — summer or spring or autumn.”
“I told him we had no idea and asked him why he wanted to know, but then he just started stuttering. And then Malfoy showed up and started insulting everyone, and then the match began so we all got busy watching,” said Ron. “Really great game, by the way.”
“Thanks,” said Harry. “But, to sum up. Dumbledore and Hagrid have hidden the Philosopher’s Stone here at Hogwarts. Snape is trying to steal the Stone — I’m pretty sure he was the one who broke into Gringotts last summer — while Quirrell is trying to protect the Stone. And now Neville is acting weird. Well, nobody can say we don’t have secrets or mysteries at this school.” He paused. “And I still haven’t found out who that Fae girl is either… but since Snape mentioned her, she must be involved in all this somehow too!“
“Aren’t you jumping to conclusions here?” said Hermione. “Just because Snape mentioned this Fae girl doesn’t mean she has to be involved in anything. He mentions you all the time… usually to complain about you. This Fae girl, whoever she is, may not have anything to do with the Philosopher’s Stone.”
“Maybe…” said Harry dubiously. “I’m pretty sure Dumbledore knows who she is, but he wouldn’t tell me.”
“You talked to the Headmaster about the Fae girl!?!” said Hermione, eyes wide.
“Er… yeah. Briefly. Er, he said that it wasn’t his secret to tell and that the girl would tell me when she was ready.”
“Well, that sounds like excellent advice!” said Hermione. “I think we should focus on the Philosopher’s Stone. Especially if Professor Dumbledore says to leave the Fae girl alone. The question is, what should we do about Snape and Quirrell? And Neville, what about him? Should we talk to Professor McGonagall?”
“She won’t believe us,” said Ron. “If even Hagrid wouldn’t believe us about Snape, there’s no way McGonagall will.”
“We can try!” said Hermione. “Look, how about this: I’ll go talk to Professor McGonagall. I won’t mention any names, I’ll just say I know about the Philosopher’s Stone and that I’m afraid someone’s going to steal it. At least she’ll be alerted this way. You two…” she looked at them. “Why don’t you go join the party in the common room, I’m sure everyone is wondering where you are. It’s your party, after all, Harry; you won us the Quidditch match.”
As she left the room and hurried down the corridor, Harry and Ron looked at each other.
“She knows something,” said Harry. “She knows something about the Fae girl that she isn’t telling us. Either she is the Fae girl, or…”
He paused, thinking about it. Hermione was still his main suspect for the Fae girl. But if it wasn’t her, who could it be? Lavender? Parvati? Padma? (Was it possible for a Fae girl to have a non-Fae twin?) Hannah or Susan or Leanne from Hufflepuff? One of the girls from Ravenclaw he could never remember the names of? Or… Tracey or Daphne from Slytherin? Surely it wasn’t Pansy. Oh, please, don’t let it be Pansy.
“I just wish she’d talk to us,” he finished. “She has to know by now that we wouldn’t judge her, or whoever else it is, for being Fae. Right?”
“To be fair, it’s not like we’re telling her everything,” said Ron. “Maybe she’s waiting for us to make the first move.”
“Tell her about Yellow, Magenta and Cyan, you mean?” said Harry.
Ron shrugged. “I think she’d be all right with them,” he said. “‘Course, we’d have to clear it with them first. And with Hagrid, since it’ll have to be in his hut. But… yeah, if they say it’s all right, I think we should. It’s getting weird having secrets from her, when we’re all trying to figure out all these mysteries together. I think we could focus better on Snape and Quirrell and all that without having to worry about what we can and can’t tell Hermione.”
“It would be nice to visit Hagrid without either having to leave Hermione behind, or making sure the flitlings aren’t there…” said Harry. “Besides, you’re right! If she sees we trust her with our secret, she may trust us with hers! All right! Let’s say that tomorrow, you distract her by challenging her to a chess match, while I go down to Hagrid’s and explain the situation. We’ll see if we can get the flitlings on board.”
“We’ve got a plan!” said Ron. “C’mon, let’s go join the party. Maybe there’s still some cake left.”
Wednesday, 25th March 1992 ,
Forbidden Forest, midnight.
There are many ways of summoning a Fae, but among the most common ones are finding a fairy ring (a circle of mushrooms or flowers found on the forest floor) and wait until midnight. It helps if the circle is close to an oak, an ash or a hawthorn, since these trees have of old been associated with Faerie.
Most people — at least those who have had a lot to do with the Fae in the past — will tell you that summoning a Fae isn’t really such a good idea to begin with. The Fae are proud and often dangerous creatures who don’t appreciate being ordered about, and might take a horrible revenge if you get even the slightest thing wrong. But the methods still work… if you have enough patience and willpower. And are willing to accept that it might take a few tries before you actually get a response.
Even being a rather powerful wizard who has a long personal history with the Fae you’re trying to summon doesn’t guarantee that she’ll answer you the first time you call on her. Or the second or third, for that matter. Especially if she has reason to believe that what you really want to talk to her about is how you don’t approve of her recent actions, she’ll probably be hesitant to answer.
Albus Dumbledore. He carefully placed the cloth back with his offerings in the circle and stepped back, glancing at his pocket-watch. A couple more minutes until midnight.
“I’m here! I’m here!” cried Yellow, who came flying into the clearing at top speed. “I’m not too late, right? I didn’t miss the summoning?”
“Ah, hello, Yellow,” said Albus, nodding in greeting. “Where are Magenta and Cyan tonight?”
“Hagrid’s,” said Yellow, coming to a rest and hovering next to him. “They’re arguing again. Which of Harry’s classmates should be told about us and which of them shouldn’t. Magenta doesn’t want to tell anyone, Cyan wants to tell everyone, Hagrid wants to wait and see who can be trusted and who can’t.”
“I see,” said Albus. “I myself would probably agree with Hagrid, at least for now. But where do you fall in this debate, pray?”
“Honestly, I don’t care what we do, long as we actually do it,” said Yellow. “I’m tired of arguing. But you’re going to try and call for Mistress again, right?”
“That is the plan, yes,” said Albus, looking at his pocket-watch again. “I know she hasn’t been very responsive… even when Hagrid tried to call on her, she didn’t answer. But my hope is that eventually she’ll deign to answer me. She and I have quite a few things to discuss, after all.”
“Well, I’m staying to watch,” said Yellow. “If she does answer this time, I’ll be the first one to welcome her! Then she’ll see I’m the one who missed her the most.”
Despite himself, Albus had to smile. “Feel free. And… midnight has arrived.” He slipped the watch back into his pocket and raised his wand, drawing a glowing blue circle in the air.
“Lady Vidia of the Spring Court of Faerie,” he called, as the blue circle turned and hovered over the circle of mushrooms, slowly lowering itself towards the ground. “Albus Dumbledore has come to bring you a gift. If you accept, please show yourself.”
The blue circle touched the ground and dissolved. For a moment, nothing happened. Then, all of a sudden — a glowing green light formed in the middle of the faerie ring, bringing with it the rustle of leaves and the unmistakable scent of wild honey and spring flowers. The cloth bag vanished into the light and vanished, but a figure manifested in the light: a shapely and feminine figure with long hair…
With very little warning, Albus found himself being hugged by a young woman with slightly pointed ears and light blonde hair that reached almost down to her ankles.
“Jenny?” he said, not bothering to hide his surprise.
“Jenny?” said Yellow.
“That’s right,” she said. “Hello, Uncle Albus! It’s been ages!”
“It has,” he agreed, deciding to return the hug. “Summer of 1969, unless I’m much mistaken… The Woodstock festival in Bethel, New York.”
“Oh yes! That was a fun time… even with all those dreadful cars and the traffic jams,” said Jenny. “Did you know they named a cartoon bird after that festival, by the way? Weird. Oh, hello,” she added as she spotted Yellow hovering next to them. “You must be one of my mother’s new flitlings. Yellow, am I right?”
Yellow blinked. “How did you know that?”
“Not being colour-blind helped.” Jenny let go of Albus. “I know it wasn’t me you were expecting, but you’ve been calling Mum every midnight for weeks now. I decided that if she wasn’t going to answer, I might as well. Besides, I’ve kept promising Hagrid I’d come for a visit.“ She looked around. “So this is the famous Forbidden Forest. Doesn’t look very forbidding.”
“It’s mainly forbidden to students,” said Albus. “I will admit that I didn’t expect you, but as surprises go, this was a pleasant one. You haven’t aged a day.”
“You have,” she answered. “More than a day, too. But you carry it well.”
“You are most kind.” Albus smiled. “Yellow… I don’t believe you have been formally introduced. This is Lady Jenivah of the Spring Court of Faerie, daughter of Lady Vidia — ‘Jenny’ to most people.”
“Oh!” Yellow chirped. “You’re that Jenny! Mistress’s daughter! I’ve been wanting to meet you — Wait! Don’t go anywhere. I’m going to fetch Magenta and Cyan, they’ll want to meet you too! Oh, and Hagrid, I’m going to fetch Hagrid! And Harry! No, wait, midnight on a Wednesday, that means Harry has Astronomy class right now, I’m not allowed at the castle and he’s not allowed in the Forest. Forget Harry! No, don’t forget Harry, just don’t expect him to come here.”
And before Albus or Jenny could say anything more, she sped off and vanished between the trees.
“I see she’s adjusting well to being a flitling,” said Jenny. “Do you know what she was like when she was human?”
“I’m afraid I never met any of the Dursleys in person before their change,” said Albus. “It was one of the things I was planning on talking to your mother about… though I suspect that is a major reason why she is conveniently busy. How is she doing, by the way?”
“About the same as ever,” said Jenny. “She has some kind of plan with this entire Harry Potter deal, but for the life of me I can’t figure out what that plan is. It probably has something to with that girl, though…”
“Yes… I forget her name.”
“It wouldn’t be the same girl whose name suddenly showed up in the Book of Admittance mere weeks before the school year started, would it?” said Albus. “I did suspect your mother was behind that. You don’t happen to know where she found that girl, by any chance? Or why he sent her here to Hogwarts?”
Jenny shook her head. “Mum doesn’t tell me everything. She barely tells me anything, really. ‘Don’t worry about it, Jenny, Mummy has everything under control,’ she says. As if I was still five years old. Maybe you can get more out of her. My guess is that she’s got some sort of matchmaking thing going on, but who knows?”
“Who knows, indeed,” said Albus. “She did appear to Harry in the Mirror of Erised. Or at least he claims that she did, and I see no reason not to believe him.”
“That old thing? It’s still around?” Jenny paused. “And Harry saw my mother in it. That’s actually kind of cute. He’s all Fae-touched and he has his first budding schoolkid crush. And really… who among us can truly say they weren’t infatuated with some glamorous older woman at that age?”
”Well, me, for one,” said Albus. “My first infatuation was… at a somewhat older age. And not with a woman.”
“All right, but you know what I mean.” Jenny made a vague gesture. “My mother’s… grand. Beautiful. Enchanting. Almost a goddess. Not a patch on some of the other Ladies in the Spring Court, but I can’t blame the boy for being, well, fascinated, especially with the air of mystery surrounding her. It’s part of the Fae thing, you know. But I doubt it’ll last. Show him the Mirror again in a few years and he’ll see whatever boy or girl he’s hoping to date.”
“I hope you are right,” said Albus. “But I suspect there is more going on than mere infatuation. With all that has happened, Harry’s fate is as tied to Lady Vidia as it is to Voldemort. That they both have plans for him is obvious… though Lady Vidia’s plans won’t be anywhere near as malicious. They are, at least, far less likely to involve murder.”
“Probably a given. She’s not much for murder. Matchmaking, on the other hand… I’d keep an eye on Harry and that girl if I were you.”
“Quite aside from the fact that they are rather young for that sort of thing yet,” said Dumbledore, “at the moment I am honestly more concerned with keeping the boy alive and, if possible, reasonably happy. He already has so much on his plate… and some of the blame for that falls on me. I will not be so arrogant as to claim the blame for all of it, but still…” He shook his head. “But, enough of an old man’s concerns for now. How long are you planning on staying in the mortal realm?”
“I wasn’t really planning on anything,” she said. “You called, I came, and here I am.”.
“Well, Hagrid will be pleased to see you… no doubt Yellow is dragging him here as we speak. I assume you’ll want to see Fluffy as well while you’re here?”
“Oh yes!” she brightened. “How is he doing?”
“Playing his part quite well,” said Albus. “I had almost forgotten how good he is at acting the vicious monster. Plenty of curious students have tried to sneak up to his corridor, only to be chased off… none have tried to go there more than once.” He chuckled. “To tell you the truth, I think he even frightens a few of the teachers”
“I guess he was right, those acting classes did pay off!” said Jenny.
“He will no doubt be happy to see you as well. You’re welcome to stay here in the Forest as long as you like… or if you prefer, I could set you up with a room in Hogsmeade…” Albus paused. “If you wanted to see Aberforth.”
“Oh… yes.” Jenny’s face fell slightly. “He lives in Hogsmeade, doesn’t he? I’d almost forgotten… Mum never wants to talk about him, but… How is he? Does he still own that inn? The Pig’s Head?”
“Hog’s Head. Yes, he does.” Albus smiled wistfully. “And he’s well enough, in his own fashion. My brother and I don’t really get along these days… too much history, too many things unsaid between us… or maybe too many things said. What little we keep in touch these days is mainly through Hagrid.”
“So Hagrid still sees him?”
“Oh yes. He goes down to the Hog’s Head for a drink almost every Saturday. Aberforth doesn’t seem to mind his company. And I’m quite certain he would be happy to see you.”
She cocked her head. “You really think so?”
“Of course! You shouldn’t let everything that happened between him and your mother stop you from seeing him again, if you wanted to. I’m certain he feels the same way. You are still his daughter.”
“I’ll… think about it,” said Jenny.