Nudity, love triangles, pregnancies and death, coupled with Quidditch, deceit, injustice, adventure and mystery. Sounds like another tranquil year at Hogwarts. Join me for Hogwarts Too Exposed - A ...
Too Young to Die
What is it Severus?" Harry asked as soon as the door closed. "Is there something you need us to do to help with the injured?" Harry held Hermione's hand tightly. He didn't like at all the look of desperation on the Headmaster's face.
Hermione's eyes were already filling up with tears as if she could read the Severus' mind.
"I'm deeply sorry," Severus said, as Harry flung his arms around Hermione to comfort her. "It's one of your girls. I'm truly sad, but we've lost Jamie Zacherley."
Hermione didn't speak, but rather buried her head in Harry's shoulder, crying too copiously to even consider conversation.
Harry too was on the verge of tears, but managed somehow to ask Severus what had happened.
"I don't have all the details," Severus said, gently. "The ministry promised to pass on additional information as soon as available." He bit his lip, trying to suppress his own sorrow. "They don't think she suffered at all. Her injuries were such that... she was gone... before young Mr. Ward was even able to reach her."
"H... How is... Alex?" Harry asked, no longer able to hold back his tears.
"Neither he nor Mr. Ollivander were more than scratched physically, but Alex was taken to St. Mungo's to be treated for shock. He should be returned here by Portkey sometime before dinner."
"Severus, I'm... going to take Hermione... to our quarters," Harry said, each word an effort to speak. "Please apprise me of any developments."
Harry and Hermione turned and slowly departed by a rear entrance that would enable them to reach the staff quarters without encountering any students.
"Harry, the girls!" Hermione sobbed. "What about the girls?"
"I'll contact Ron as soon as we get to our quarters," he assured Hermione. "The two of us will find them."
"Not much left of the Three Broomsticks, is there?" Ron commented sadly to Harry as they approached the smoldering ruins of the building.
"No, it's amazing no one was killed," Harry replied, the word 'killed' pounding in his ears.
Harry couldn't accept the fact that Jamie was gone. "It's not right Ron, those bastards setting off bombs for a lark, maiming and killing innocent people just to create fear. They get away with no clue as to their identity while they leave all this pain and suffering behind."
Ron nodded sorrowfully in accord as Harry and he walked among the injured that were being treated by the many volunteers. Many of the injured were Hogwarts students who, up until an hour ago, were enjoying a carefree Hogsmeade weekend.
"There's Madam Pomfrey," Harry said, noticing the school nurse busily helping mend wounds. "Let's ask her if she's seen the girls."
Harry didn't even have to open his mouth. As soon as Madam Pomfrey spied him, she pointed to a makeshift tent that had been hastily erected. "Go easy on them, Harry," she said. "They've been a tremendous help."
Ron and Harry turned and walked toward the tent, wavering before entering. Kim and Emily were busy tending to victims trying to make them comfortable until Caitlin or one of the healers could get to them.
Harry watched in quiet amazement as Caitlin treated an injured student that, despite all the blood, he could recognize as Doris Burke, the Slytherin Quidditch captain. He didn't know what other injuries she might have sustained, but a deep gash on her face was extremely evident. A Muggle receiving the same injury would have a permanent and hideous scar.
Caitlin held Doris' hand as she calmly talked to the older girl, trying to reassure her. Then Caitlin placed her hand on the wound and concentrated. As Harry watched, a cut appeared on Caitlin's cheek; it bled momentarily and then healed and disappeared. As Caitlin's wound vanished, so did the one on Doris. Emily handed Caitlin a damp cloth with which she wiped Doris' face. There was not the slightest evidence of a cut having ever existed. Caitlin gave Doris a hug and got up to move to her next patient. As she did, she noticed Harry.
Caitlin remarked to Kim and Emily and all three girls looked apprehensively in Harry's direction.
"What can we do to help?" Harry asked.
They remained until the injured had all been treated and then started walking quietly back toward the castle.
"I imagine we're in big trouble," Emily said, breaking the silence.
"You could say that," Harry answered. "Tell me. Why didn't you guys stay under the Invisibility Cloak and run back to the castle?"
"We couldn't do that," Caitlin cried. "There were people hurt, many of them our friends. We had to stay and help."
"You did the right thing," Harry said, making no further comment.
Ron glanced at Harry questioningly, but Harry shook his head, no.
The walk back to the castle was quiet, the events of the day seeming to catch up with the girls.
Once they were inside the castle, Kim made to head for the Slytherin dungeons, but Harry asked her to accompany them to the family's quarters. Emily, Caitlin and Kim exchanged glances. They knew they were going to be reprimanded.
The girls didn't think anything of finding Sam in their residence when they got there, but seemed confused when Sam said that Hermione had cried herself to sleep. Sam and Ron went to the kitchen as Harry asked the girls to come sit on the chesterfield with him.
"Can we get out of our clothes first," Emily pleaded.
Harry nodded his head dejectedly and waited for the girls to rejoin him. Kim and Caitlin hurried and sat down on either side of Harry. Emily dejectedly went to sit on the chair, but Harry patted his leg. Emily smiled and readily crawled up on his lap.
"What happened today in Hogsmeade... was... appalling," Harry said, searching for words. "You saw first hand how horrifying terrorism and war can be. It can hurt and cripple people we love. Sometimes... sometimes it even takes ones we love from us. Hermione, Professor Weasley and I all lost our parents in the wars against Voldemort."
The girls all listened attentively.
Harry gulped, tears by now imminent. "There were two attacks today. At the precise time the Three Broomsticks was bombed, there was also a bombing in Diagon Alley. Ollivander's Wand shop was destroyed."
Emily body became stiff, as she looked in terror at Harry.
"Alex and Jamie were going to Ollivander's today," she said fearfully.
Harry couldn't hold back the tears. "We've... lost her," he said, mournfully. "Jamie's joined your parents."
"No... NOOOO!!!," Emily cried hysterically, as she buried her head in Harry's chest.
Caitlin, who was also uncontrollably crying sank her head into Harry's side as Kim moved to comfort her two distraught best friends. Sam and Ron, who had purposely left Harry alone, now entered the room. Ron just stood in the doorway, feeling totally helpless, as Sam, herself again in tears, went to offer comfort and support to the girls.
As Severus had indicated, Alex returned to the castle by portkey, just prior to dinner. He graciously accepted the Potters' offer to dine with them and then spend the night in their quarters rather than sleeping in the dorm. Amanda, having been Jamie's closest friend was also invited, but declined amiably. Amanda insisted that she didn't want to intrude on the family, but the truth was she just wanted to remain in the dorm alone where she could bury her head in a pillow and cry her heart out.
Ron and Sam had departed for their home and Kim had return to the Slytherin dorms by the time they sat down for dinner. Hermione had joined the others, but couldn't bring herself to eat. Everyone sat solemnly around the table, not speaking, but all with the same nagging thought in their mind. Why?
"Alex," Harry finally said, softly. "Do you feel up to telling us exactly what happened?
The boy stared grimly at his professor and then nodded his head, his voice cracking as he began.
"The train... was late pulling into the station... and then the journey to Diagon Alley took rather longer than we had planned," Alex said slowly. "Jamie and I were both apprehensive that we might not get back to the station on time to catch the return train. Neither of us was prepared for the possibility of having to spend the night together in London."
Normally such a remark would have raised eyebrows and drawn a quick biting response from either Emily or Caitlin, but not tonight - not under these circumstances. They both sat quietly gazing at their plates, their minds adrift, and their hearts distraught.
"When we entered the shop, it appeared empty," Alex continued. "At first, I thought perhaps Mr. Ollivander had forgotten to lock up when he went to lunch, but then he stuck his head out of the backroom.
"If only he had been at lunch..." Alex said, his voice breaking, "we... we would have left the shop... and she'd be alive now."
Hermione, who was sitting next to Alex, reached over and grasped his hand; holding it tightly. "I lo- loved her so much," Alex wept.
Hermione nodded her head as she continued to hold Alex's hand tightly. "We know."
"Jamie roamed around the shop while Mr. Ollivander had me try out a few wands. He had just taken the second wand from me and gone to get another when I heard the clock outside begin to chime the noon hour. I looked nervously for Jamie, realizing our time was growing short. She was near the back of the store, smiling and shaking her head; I suppose at the dirt and total disorder.
"The next thing I knew, I was lying on the floor. The pressure from the explosion had knocked me off my feet. Mr. Ollivander had been thrown against the counter, knocking it over. He appeared to be okay, but when I looked to the back of the shop where Jamie had been standing, I saw nothing but a haze of dust over a pile of rubble."
Alex glanced from face to face around the table. "I tried desperately to get to her," he moaned, as if begging them to believe that he had done everything possible. He began openly crying, unable to any longer hold back the tears. "I... prayed... that what my eyes told me... was false."
Alex took a deep breath. "A ceiling pipe had p- pier- pierced her chest. There was nothing I could do but caress her face and close her beautiful eyes for the last time. If only I could have at least said good-bye and told her one more time how much I loved her."
Emily jumped for her chair and ran to her room, tears streaming down her cheeks. Caitlin, running after her, also was in tears. Hermione started to follow, but Harry stopped her.
"They need some time alone to just let it all out," Harry said. "Give them tonight to cry. Nothing we say now can take away the hurt they feel at this moment."
Hermione nodded her agreement and returned to her chair.
"Gryffindor House will never be the same without her," Lisa said, as she, Susan and Mandy tried to comfort Amanda.
"Professor Snape announced at dinner tonight that a memorial service will be held for her on Monday," Mandy said, knowing that Amanda had missed the evening meal.
"She's going to be buried on the Hogwarts grounds," Susan added, tears filling her eyes. "In the war memorial cemetery overlooking the Quidditch Pitch."
Amanda eyes were red and swollen; she'd been crying almost constantly since receiving the news of Jamie's death. "She'd like that," Amanda said, trying unsuccessfully to suppress her tears. "Jamie always loved Quidditch."
"Jamie loved everything and everybody," Susan said mournfully. "I never heard her murmur a cruel word about anyone, not even that Bancroft git."
"As smart as she was," Lisa added, "she never learned how to be cruel or hate. I think that's why everyone loved her so."
"I'll never forget that Halloween," Mandy said, "when Jamie's robes got stuck in the portrait opening. She was just so cool and confident."
Jamie stood there as if time had frozen between two seconds as she tried to figure out what had just happened. The portrait had closed on her robes as she had lingered at the opening. When she leaped away from the spider she had practically jumped out of them. All of her body that remained covered was a shoulder and one arm. The robes' hem and sash remained firmly trapped between the portrait and the opening.
Jamie had always felt at ease naked. Just recently she had told Caitlin that she would be comfortable being naked in the Great Hall even if the balance of the student body was there and fully clothed. However, this was only Gryffindor House and she was frightened.
It didn't make sense. She'd been at parties where most of the participants were clothed and she wasn't embarrassed. The only difference was that she wasn't the only person nude and the clothed people had been warned ahead of time.
Suddenly Jamie realized she wasn't embarrassed. She didn't care about anyone seeing her nude. That wasn't the problem. She was frightened of losing her friends. She was afraid that like Caitlin they would think she was weird. In Caitlin's case she was able to sit and explain naturism and Caitlin had accepted her. Six of the people in this room had accepted her life style. There was no way she could explain this to the other sixty-three, but she had to try.
Jamie left the robe slip off her other arm as Alex turned off the music. The atmosphere in the room was quite strange compared to what one would normally have expected under the present circumstances. No one was giggling or laughing. No one was making catcalls or yelling obscene comments. There was quiet conversation. Most of it was about Jamie's body and how gorgeous it was. Some were, of course, wondering why she was naked under her robes. The first, second and third years all seemed to be staring in awe. The girls were dreaming and hoping. The boys were looking at a living breathing Playwizard Centerfold.
"Now that I have your attention." Jamie said. There was a mixture of giggles and out right laughs. "There is something I should have shared with you before and because I didn't I'm sure some of you are quite embarrassed by what you see right now. I'm sorry if my being nude causes any of you to feel weird or be offended. I didn't intend for my robes to get caught in the portrait hole. Since they did and since you've seen all of me it is only fair that you also know all about me.
"The reason that I'm not crying and running to my room is because I'm not the least bit embarrassed to be standing in front of you like this; nude. Honestly this is the most comfortable I have ever been in the Common Room.
"I'm a naturist; some people call us nudists. My parents were nudists and I've lived as one my entire life. When I'm at home I never wear clothes; neither do my sister or parents. To me being naked is as natural as wearing clothes is to you.
"Up until today, I've had six secret keepers. My dorm mates are quite cleaver witches and early in our first year figured out that I was a naturist. They have been very understanding and supportive by allowing me to be nude in our dorm."
As Jamie had been talking Alex got her robes from the portrait hole. "I love you all. I always will. Please, don't treat me now like I have a disease. I'm just like you. I just feel more comfortable without clothes. Again, I'm sorry for embarrassing you and ruining the party." Jamie walked through the silent room and then to her dorm
"My Dad once told me that a person never truly dies as long as someone loves and remembers them," Amanada said softly.
"If that's true, then Jamie will be walking the halls of Hogwarts for many years to come," Mandy offered.
"I wonder if she'll be in her robes or naked?" Susan asked.
"Definitely naked," Amanda said, a tiny smile breaking through the tears. "I'm sure where she's gone they don't discriminate against nudists."
"Do you remember when we first discovered she was a naturist?" Lisa asked.
"I remember saying 'A what?'" Mandy answered. "I had no idea what a naturist was."
"I had doubts about going along with the idea of her being nude in the dorm, but she was so nice that I figured, why not," Susan said. "I figured she grow out of it once her body started to develop. I was certainly wrong about that, but I've never regretted the decision."
"It seems like such a waste," Mandy said. "She had the potential to be someone who could make a difference in the world, and now she's gone and, with her, all that promise."
"Alex, Harry and I have to meet with the interment director tomorrow to discuss the final arrangements," Hermione said sorrowfully, after she had magically cleared the table of their barely touched meal. "Would you like to accompany us?"
"Me?" Alex questioned, stunned by the query.
"You most definitely should have a say in the planning," Harry agreed. "You were much more than a boyfriend to Jamie, you were her chosen."
Alex slumped his shoulders. "Just a few hours ago, Jamie and I were discussing when we would get married," he said forlornly. "I feel now like everything I was living for has suddenly been torn from my heart."
"Harry and I can empathize with you," Hermione said, nodding her head. "We've both gone through periods in our lives when we thought we had lost the other. When you feel that you've lost the person that completes you - that makes you a whole - you wonder how you can continue to survive. Actually, you wonder if you even want to try..."
"That's exactly how I feel," Alex replied, bursting into tears. "I don't want to live without her."
"Hermione and I feel that way about each other," Harry added, putting a comforting hand on Alex's shoulder. "We pray that when our time comes, we'll be taken together so that neither must face the agony of being permanently torn from the one we love most."
"But things don't always work out like we want," Hermione cautioned. "You have a long life ahead of you, sadly without the one you loved dearly. Somehow for the sake of your well-being and in her memory, you must find the strength to go on. Jamie loved you; wherever she is, she still loves you and always will. She'd want you to remember her, but in a positive way by making the most of your life."
At the moment Alex couldn't visualize a future without Jamie by his side. It seemed like she'd been there forever, and until now, he thought she always would be. His mind wondered back to the day Jamie had first shown her ultimate trust in him.
Alex slowing opened the door, not knowing quite what to expect. A girl wrapped in a towel greeted him. It was a quite small towel that barely covered all it had to cover. "Thank you Alex. I don't know what I would have done without you. Can you get out one of those for me?"
Alex carefully opened the box and then hesitated. "What color do you want; purple, green or yellow?"
Jamie was now the hesitant one. "They come in different colors?"
Alex studied the box. "If this helps any, green is super, yellow is regular and purple is lites."
Jamie's whole body had a red glow. "I don't know what I'm doing Alex. Mum sent me those is case I got my period while at Hogwarts, but she didn't explain exactly what do with them. Give me a green one, I guess."
Alex handed one of the green printed Tampax to Jamie. He seemed to be being quite careful that it didn't bite him. Jamie just looked at it with sort of a 'now what' expression on her face.
As brilliant as Jamie was, obviously no one had ever shown her how to use one of these things. Alex had no idea either, but knew he had to help her. He removed another one from the box and after studying it removed the wrapper. He handled it a few minutes before discovering the secret. His face turned a bright red as he showed Jamie how it worked.
Without saying a word Jamie handed the wrapped Tampax to Alex and took the open one with her to the nearest stall. A few moments later she exited and after washing her hands came over any gave Alex a kiss on the cheek. "Thank you. If you hadn't been here, I would have put it in wrapper and all. Alex, please sit down. I have to talk to you."
Alex sat down on a bench and Jamie seated herself on one about four feet directly across from him. As Jamie sat down, Alex struggled to keep eye contact. He couldn't see how it would be possible for her to sit in that towel without something showing.
"Alex, you and I are best friends. In ways we are even closer than Amanda and I are and yet she knows things about me that you don't. Things you should know. Things that I haven't told you simply because you're a boy and that's wrong."
Alex sat there in bewildered silence as Jamie told him about her parents and how they had meet in one of Voldemort's prison camps and fallen in love. She told him how her parents had realized they had so much in common, one thing being that they were both nudists. Alex just sat and shook his head as he was told that she never wore clothes at home and that if it were allowed she would always be naked, even here at Hogwarts except when extremely cold weather prohibited it.
He sat there a few moments before asking, "If you were at home you wouldn't be wrapped in a towel? If I came to your house you would greet me at the door naked?"
"No and yes." Suddenly, Jamie broke into a huge smile. "Alex is it that you don't believe me or that you've never seen a naked girl; you haven't, have you?"
Alex hesitated. " No, I've only seen just pictures."
Jamie stood up. "Well, I can guarantee those pictures had a lot more than I do." She yanked off the towel and threw it on the bench.
Alex didn't know whether to turn his head or stare. He stared as Jamie sat down and then he turned away.
"Alex, you can look all you want. As I told you before, I'm quite comfortable being nude. It's natural for a boy who has never seen a girl to want to stare. It doesn't bother me if you look."
They sat and talked for nearly two hours. During that conversation he found out why Jamie's knickers would always be "in the wash." Alex was surprised that after a time he actually got used to Jamie's nudity. It almost seemed weird when she dressed to return to the castle.
Deep inside Alex realized that the words Hermione spoke were true. He could best honor Jamie's memory and her love by making her proud of him, not by sulking his life away.
"Have it be a closed casket ceremony," Alex blurted out shuddering between tears. "Let people remember her as she was, vibrant and full of life and love. Don't let them see her as an empty shell. What's left is only a body. The soul that made her that beautiful person we loved is gone forever."
By now both Harry and Hermione were trembling, their eyes filled with tears. Hermione felt more drained then she had even when her own parents were killed at the end of the war.
Alex looked at them almost pleadingly. "And please bury her nude," he said.
Alex pretended he was going to smack Jamie's butt.
"Naughty, naughty. Remember the first rule when dealing with a nudist. Never touch normally covered body parts. Now you, however, are fair territory." Jamie slapped Alex on the butt.
"Oh! Its war you want." Alex went to grab Jamie, but she was too fast for him. Suddenly the race was on as Jamie ran around lockers and jumped over benches finally running out of the locker room and through the team meeting room to the front door.
"Now I've got you," Alex declared. Jamie had her back to the exit door. "You have no place to go. Prepare to be tickled."
"Don't bet on it, the world is at my door." Jamie opened the door and ran outside.
Momentarily, Alex was frozen in place. That was the exit door. She just ran outside starkers. Alex was out the door. He couldn't believe his eyes. He expected Jamie to be huddled by the door, but instead she was running toward the deserted Quidditch pitch. Alex took off after her, but she was a faster runner. She is mad, absolutely mad.
As Jamie ran, she thought 'I must be mad. I can't believe I'm actually doing this. One lap just let me run one lap around the pitch. This is heaven. Why can't I always run like this?'
Alex ran his hardest, but Jamie was headed back toward the changing room by the time he completed the lap.
She was standing in the middle of the room when he finally entered and threw his arms around her naked body. "Are you nutters? Are you trying to get yourself expelled? What if you had been seen?"
He held her tight in his arms realizing how much he would miss her if she were forced to leave school.
"Alex, you can't imagine how wonderful that felt. Every morning I wish I could exercise and run like that. I have to do that again and soon."
Suddenly Jamie realized Alex was hugging her tightly to his body. She was naked. He had never hugged her naked before.
"She loved playing Quidditch; maybe you could place her uniform next to her. And she adored the dress you purchased for her to wear to the Yule Ball last year; maybe you could put that in the casket. But Jamie was born nude and her happiest times on this earth were when she was allowed to be unclothed. Let her leave as she came and as she enjoyed life most."
Harry and Hermione both nodded in agreement, wondering, but not really caring what the director would think of this request.
"Is there anything else you'd like to bury with her?" Hermione asked uncertainly. "Something special, that you've shared, a ring, a letter?"
"No," Alex whispered softly. "She's already taking my heart with her."
"We were always so close, but these last few months we didn't get to spend nearly as much time together. I can't even remember the last time I told her that I loved her," Emily said, hugging her tear soaked pillow as she and Caitlin lay on their separate beds. "Now I'll never have the chance again."
"I know you wish you had put it into actual words," Caitlin said reassuringly, "but Jamie knew how you felt about her."
"I feel all alone in the world," Emily sobbed. "First my parents are taken from me and now, less than a year later, my sister. My family is completely gone."
"I know the feeling," Caitlin said. "The worst years of my life were spent in that orphanage. Not that they were cruel in any way to me, because they weren't, but I was just a number; unloved and unwanted. My life only started when I met Jamie."
Jamie escorted the girls up the spiral staircase and into their dormitory, staying to help them get settled in. She was about to depart when a timid voice called her name. "Jamie, may I speak with you?"
Jamie went over and sat on the edge of the girl's four-poster bed. "What is the problem?" she tenderly inquired.
"Jamie, I'm frightened to close my eyes and go to sleep. I have these dreadful dreams and I sometimes wake up screaming. The other girls will think I'm peculiar and not want to be my friend."
Jamie looked at the desperation in the little girl's heartbreaking, but beautiful face. Suddenly she had an inspiration. "I think I know someone who can be of aid in helping you sleep well again and feel safer. Put on your slippers and come downstairs to my dormitory, and I'll introduce you to him."
"Him? How can some boy help me sleep better?" The girl questioned. "Shouldn't I get dressed? What's a boy doing in your dormitory?"
Jamie held back a giggle as she smiled. "I don't have a boy in the dormitory. It's not that sort of he. You'll understand when you see him."
They entered the empty room and went over to Jamie's bed, which was on the far wall next to the window. "Pureheart, I'd like you to meet someone," Jamie said.
There lying at the end of Jamie's bed was a tiny unicorn about the size of a small dog. "Oh! He's beautiful. Is he real? May I touch him?" Caitlin implored.
Jamie whispered in Caitlin's ear. "He's not real, but he thinks he is. Pureheart is a toy stuffed Unicorn that has been charmed to life. He has all the qualities of a real unicorn. As for whether you can touch him or not that is a decision unicorns make based on your purity. You'll have to let him approach you and see."
Caitlin looked nervously at Jamie and then at Pureheart. Will a unicorn consider me pure after what happened this summer? What will Jamie think of me if Pureheart doesn't let me touch him? She'll think I'm some tart that had underage sex.
Pureheart was pawing at Jamie's pillow as if encouraging her to come to bed. "Where did you get him?" Caitlin asked.
"My dad bought Pureheart for me the year before I started Hogwarts. I was having bad dreams about a revolting guy who attacked me after a Quidditch game. If it hadn't been for my Knight in shining armor, he would have in all probability, raped and killed me."
Caitlin looked at Jamie as tears came to her eyes. Someone I can finally talk to about what happened. Someone who will understand how it felt. "I wish a Knight had been there for me," Caitlin whispered quietly.
Jamie's jaw dropped in shook. "Caitlin, were you raped?"
"Technically I suppose some people wouldn't consider what happened to me rape, but it wounded me just as much and the nightmares are just as dreadful."
Jamie held Caitlin's hand as she was told the entire story of what had happen during the summer. The only detail left out was the perpetrators name. Jamie gasped in horror as Caitlin told her about how she was tied up and left to die.
"I pleaded for her to stop, but she wouldn't listen. I couldn't do anything," Caitlin told her, reliving the horrible ordeal as she did.
They sat there silently for a few minute; Jamie with her arms tightly around Caitlin. "Do you think Pureheart will let me touch him or am I soiled because of what happened?" Caitlin asked, tears still filling her eyes.
"I don't know how Pureheart will react, but you certainly aren't soiled. We can only hope. Come sit on the bed so he can decide."
As soon as Caitlin sat down Pureheart approached her and titled his head, as if he were examining Caitlin closely. The tiny unicorn had a strange questioning look on his face. He took a few steps closer and sniffed the air, as if he was trying to work out something. His tiny head lifted after a second and when Caitlin looked at him, she could see tears falling from his eyes. Pureheart licked Caitlin's cheek and then curled up on her lap.
Jamie smiled. "Would you like Pureheart to keep you company for a while?"
Caitlin looked at Jamie. "Could he, you'd really let him stay with me?"
"Pureheart knows where he's needed. He'll keep those nightmares away. Just bring him to visit me occasionally." Pureheart jumped to the floor as Caitlin threw her arms around Jamie's neck.
Jamie walked Caitlin back to her dorm and tucked her in bed while Pureheart took his accustomed position at the foot of the bed. Jamie knew she would miss the tiny unicorn, but right now Caitlin required him a good deal more than she did.
"What will we ever do if anything happens to Harry and Hermione?" Emily asked with a panic stricken tone.
"I don't know," Caitlin answered, the mere thought giving her the chills. . "It doesn't seem possible that a person could grow to love someone in a year's time as much as I love them. They are my Mum and Dad, and I couldn't love them more if they were my actual birth parents."
"They both love you a lot," Emily said.
"Not any more than they do you!" Caitlin argued. "Actually sometimes I think you're Dad's favorite."
"I love it when he holds me on his lap," Emily confessed. "Caitlin, do you think I might be gay?"
"Why would you ask that?" Caitlin asked disbelievingly.
"Because I like it when you hold me, " Emily admitted. "I feel all warm and loved."
"It makes me feel good, too," Caitlin agreed as she moved from her bed to Emily's and they hugged each other, "But it has nothing to do with being gay. When I have dreams at night, it's not you I see doing things to me. Did Jamie ever tell you that I once thought she was gay?"
"Jamie its Caitlin. Can Pureheart and I come visit?" Caitlin called through the door.
Jamie and Amanda looked at each other.
"Sure come on in." Jamie reached for her robe, but Caitlin opened the door before she had it completely on and closed.
Jamie could tell by how quick Caitlin's face turned red that she was embarrassed. But when she noticed the first year start looking back and forth between herself and Amanda, Jamie started to worry about what conclusion Caitlin was jumping to, especially considering her revelations the night before.
"Oh, I'm sorry. I didn't know you.... I'm sorry, I'll come back later."
"No, please Caitlin don't go. Come in. Its not what you think." Jamie rush to the door and grabbed Caitlin's hand. "Please, let me explain. I wouldn't lie to you. Please don't go."
Initially Caitlin tried to slip out of Jamie's grasp, but then she stopped. 'Jamie's been so nice to me. I have to trust her. I have to.' She slowly waked into the room and sat next to Jamie on the bed. "Are you gay, Jamie?" Caitlin asked.
Amanda looked at Jamie as if to say now what? Jamie bit her lip and looked at Amanda. "Amanda, can I talk to Caitlin alone for a little bit?"
Amanda rose from her bed, grabbed her nightclothes and headed to the bathroom. Once she had closed the door behind her, Jamie turned to Caitlin wondering just what to tell her. She didn't want to lie to the young girl, but apart from Alex, only her dorm mates knew of her lifestyle. The last thing she wanted was for it to scare Caitlin away. Suddenly her father's words, telling her to trust her instincts came back to her. In the end she decided to trust them, hoping that they didn't let her down for the first time.
"Caitlin, I am not gay," Jamie proclaimed. "I have gay friends, but I am 100% heterosexual. Do you know what a naturist is?"
"No, not really," Caitlin answered. "Does it have something to do with nature?"
"Caitlin, I'm a nudist." Caitlin's jaw dropped slightly and she hung her head realizing she had just call Jamie weird. Jamie continued. "I've been a naturist or nudist, take you pick, ever since I can remember. At home my parents and sister never wear clothes. We find it more comfortable, more natural. When I first came to Hogwarts I was miserable here because I had to wear clothing all the time, even to sleep. Fortunately my dorm mates discovered my secret and found it in their hearts to allow me to be nude in the dorm."
"So you and Amanda aren't lesbians? You were just sitting talking. She had clothes on, but you were more comfortable naked?"
"That's correct," Jamie acknowledged.
"If one of your dorm mates had walked in, you would have just kept talking, correct? Why did you cover up for me?"
"Most people have difficulty accepting our life style. Even though we're the ones without clothes they become all disturbed and uncomfortable. I didn't want to embarrass you, so I put my robes on, but you got in the door a little too swiftly"
Caitlin hadn't been able to take her eyes off Jamie's breasts. "They're beautiful. Do you think I'll ever have breasts as full and beautiful as yours?" She looked down at her chest. "I'm as flat as a board."
"I want to show you something," Jamie said as she walked over to her dresser and opened the second drawer. She removed a picture and brought it back to the bed. "This is a picture of my family taken at Cap D'agde the summer before I started Hogwarts. I'm the skinny 'flat as a board' one on the left. As far as you are concerned, you're beautiful already and will become more beautiful every year." Jamie put her hand on her breast. "You don't want breasts this big, they have a tendency to get in the way."
Caitlin smiled as she looked at 10-year-old Jamie waving to her from the picture.
"Jamie, gay? Emily said in disbelief. "She could be a poster girl for heterosexuals." She hesitated and then said sadly, "Could have been..."
"I know that now," Caitlin said, "but the first time I walked in on her nude when she was alone with Amanda, I sort of jumped to conclusions."
"Yeah, I guess if anyone saw us they might jump to the same conclusion," Emily sighed. "Did you know they were planning on making love for the first time on Valentine's Day?"
"Jamie and Alex?" Caitlin questioned.
"Yeah! Now instead she is being buried. I don't think Alex will ever be the same," Emily commented.
"I don't think any of us ever will be the same without her," Caitlin added. "Jamie always left a lasting effect on people whose lives she touched."
Monday, February 14, 2005 10:00 A.M.
"How are the girls doing?" Harry asked, as Hermione slipped back into their bedroom and closed the door.
"For the moment they seem to be holding together, but I doubt any of us will be able to last long once the choir starts singing," Hermione said.
"What about Alex?" Harry inquired.
"I don't think he's stopped crying for more than ten minutes at a time," Hermione answered. "He's dressed and ready for the ceremony, but just keeps sitting on the bed, clutching Jamie's pillow and staring at her picture."
"I did a lot of that last winter when you were kidnapped," Harry said understandingly, "but I at least had hope you'd make it back to me. His hope is lost and about to be buried."
"Professor Granger, Professor Potter, may I speak please?" the mirror asked, tentatively.
"Certainly, Mirror," Hermione answered. "You should know by now that it isn't necessary for you to ask permission. We consider you part of the family."
"Thank you," the mirror responded. "It is pleasing to know that I am consider more than a possession. It is just that I am troubled. This time is not as it should be."
"We feel the same way," Harry said with a sigh. "No one so young should have their life ended so needlessly."
"No, but... yes," the mirror said, sounding confused and at the same time confusing Harry and Hermione.
"I agree that human death is a tragedy, especially when the victim is a child or not much more than one," the mirror answered. "Tragedy, however, is a part of the human world and inevitable. The current situation, however, is simply wrong."
"I don't understand," Hermione said, first looking at Harry and then staring into the mirror awaiting an explanation.
"Although I can see many different possible futures," the mirror attempted to explained, "I have no way of telling which one will actually become reality, but once the future becomes the present, I know it was meant to be - or not meant to be. The thread of time you are now living is wrong. Jamie Zacherley was not supposed to die on Saturday."
"But she did die," Harry said, tears threatening to burst from his eyes. Both angered and confused, his voice shook. "Are you saying... that someone deliberately went back in time... and altered the events of that day... and caused Jamie's death? Who would do such a thing?"
"That is one possibility," the mirror admitted. "The other would be that someone failed to prevent the tragedy."
"That makes no sense, Mirror," Harry said pointedly.
"Yes it does," Hermione said fearfully. "You and I have done it; we've prevented tragedy. In our third year we went back in time and saved both Buckbeak and Sirius."
"Yes, but we had a Timer Turner then," Harry said impatiently. "If we had one at our disposal on Saturday we could have gone back and prevented Jamie death, but we didn't."
"But what if we did, and didn't use it!" Hermione said horrified, bursting into tears. "Harry, I think I'm responsible for Jamie dying."
Harry stared at Hermione incredulously as she dashed to their walk-in wardrobe and started throwing things all over the place.
Finally, she found the object of her search buried behind some shoes and books. She looked at the box nervously as she thought back to her wedding night.
"Harry, what's the matter? What happened? Are you all right?" Hermione asked with concern.
"Just me being stupid. I should know better than to walk around barefoot in the dark. I stubbed my toe on this big box in the walk-in wardrobe. What's in it anyway? It's been here for months."
"I'm not completely sure. What with the kids and the wedding, I've not finished going through it completely. Minerva gave it to me before she left in February after filling in - said they were things she no longer had use for, but that I might find handy now that I'm teaching.
"If you hurry up and get in bed I'll kiss your toe and make it better."
Hermione hurried to the bed and dumped the contents of the box. There it was, a tiny, sparkling hourglass attached to a very long, very fine gold chain.
Hermione threw herself on the bed and began bawling uncontrollably.
"Hermione, don't cry," Harry begged. "We can make it right. I can go back."
Hermione shook her head, as she tried to regain a smidgen of self-control.
"It's too late," she wailed. "I had the power to save Jamie in my possession and didn't use it. Time Turners are only supposed to be used for a few hours. It's now nearly forty-eight!"
"We can still try," Harry insisted.
"You don't understand," Hermione tried to explain between sobs. "It's different. When I had my Time Turner in third year, I read that the further back you go, the more careful you have to be. A few hours is fairly safe, but beyond that, you really have to mind what you are doing. A perceivably insignificant act can theoretically create a cascading effect that could cease your existence. Even if we were able to prevent her death and manage to not wipe ourselves out, we'd be drastically affecting time; time we've actually lived. We'd be changing something that happened two days ago and certainly wiping out our present."
"I have to try," Harry said. "We can't correct an error by doing nothing."
"You're right," Hermione agreed, "but it's me that's going back in time, not you. Minerva gave me the turner, and I left it unpacked. I as good as killed Jamie."
"You forget," Harry said, compellingly, "that you and I made a pledge to each other that we wouldn't run off and get killed alone. Whatever we do, we're doing it together."
"We should tell someone," Hermione urged, "in case something does go horribly wrong."
"That's not going to happen," Harry said, his words more confident than he felt. "I was going to suggest we tell Alex what we were doing, but if there is a chance that we could just disappear, the girls should know."
"I'm not sure how they'll take it," Hermione said concernedly. "They've just lost Jamie. I doubt they'll be pleased at the possibility of losing us as well."
"They're not going to lose us. I'll get them," Harry said assuredly, checking his watch. "We have to do this before others start arriving to attend the ceremony with us."
Hermione nodded and started changing as Harry rushed off to get Alex, Emily and Caitlin.
"Are you wearing that to the ceremony?" Caitlin questioned as she entered her parents' bedroom and was surprised at seeing Hermione no longer dressed for the service.
"Harry and I aren't going to the ceremony," Hermione stated resolutely. "If all goes correctly, neither will you."
"But..." Emily started to say before being interrupted by Harry.
"Hermione and I have come into possession of a Time Turner," Harry announced. "We intend to go back in time forty-eight hours and prevent Jamie's death."
"Isn't that verging on dark magic?" Emily inquired.
Hermione nodded her head. "Usually yes, but not in this case. The mirror informs us that Jamie should not have died. This current timeline should not exist. Either someone went back in time and caused Jamie's death or someone who was supposed to prevent it failed to do so. We intend to make time exist as it should, but what we propose to do is not without risk. A Time Turner is not intended for use over such a long period of time, plus we are changing the thread of time.from which we exist. We could be lost in time, neither a part of this thread or the one we hope to create. We could conceivably cease to exist."
"Then don't do it," Emily pleaded. "I love Jamie. I'd give almost anything for her not to have died, but I can't bare to lose you both, too"
"Neither can I," Caitlin begged. "We both love you."
"Let me go instead," Alex beseeched. "The girls need you and without Jamie, my life isn't worth living."
Harry shook his head no. "You're our student," Harry said. "We couldn't allow you to take such a risk. Besides, there are many who place great value on your life."
Harry then looked lovingly at his daughters. "Your Mum and I would never leave you on purpose. We feel there is a good chance of succeeding, or we wouldn't be attempting this."
Hermione gathered the girls to her and gave them both a hug, followed by a kiss. "There is always the chance that something could go wrong. We didn't want to risk the possibility of just disappearing and you never knowing what happened."
"Will we remember this conversation?" Caitlin asked apprehensively. "Hopefully, no," Hermione answered. "From what I have read - in theory at least - if we succeed, this timeline will cease to exist and everything will be back to noon on Saturday for you. You shouldn't remember us talking to you now because you never lived it.
If we fail to change the timeline, however, you probably will, unfortunately, remember this conversation. In the worst-case scenario, we cease to exist and will seem to just disappear before your eyes. You will be aware of what happened and your lives will continue. You'll bury Jamie, and Ron and Sam will take care of you. But we intend to be as careful as possible so that does not happen. Should we fail but manage to make it back here anyway, we will simply seem to return a few minutes from now.
Harry and Hermione both kissed the girls and hugged Alex.
Hermione, then fumbled with the neck of her robes, and pulled from beneath them the very long gold chain. She threw the chain around Harry's neck too and then turned over the sparkling hourglass hanging from it forty-eight times as Harry counted.
The room was then empty. It was eleven o'clock on the previous Saturday.
"It looks like we made it back to Saturday," Harry said, relieved.
"Yes," Hermione said sighing. "Now I wish we had given ourselves a little more time, but forty-eight hours already seemed extremely long."
"Our first course of action is to get to Diagon Alley," Harry said. "Should we fly off Hogwarts grounds and then Apparate, or would you prefer I create at Portkey."
"Considering my current situation, I'd prefer a train ride," Hermione said, "but I imagine that's not an option. I don't feel at ease Apparating under my present condition. Could you fashion a Portkey? It also most likely affords us the best chance of not being seen"
"That's probably our best option," Harry said. "Besides we'd be wasting valuable time flying off grounds in order to Apparate.
Harry walked over to the rubbish bin and gave it a slight tap with his wand, causing it to immediately regurgitate a dented beverage can. "Should we Portkey directly to Diagon Alley?" Harry asked.
"We don't have much choice," she murmured. "Since the girls have our Invisibility Cloak. We'd better get as close to our destination as possible. I just hope we aren't seen."
Harry laid the can on the kitchen counter, pointed his wand at it and muttered, "Portus." The can glowed blue and trembled noisily for a few seconds and then became still.
"Are you ready," Harry said.
"We're ready," Hermione said, placing one hand on her pregnant belly and the other on the can that Harry was already clutching.
"On three then," Harry said placing his free arm tightly around Hermione's waist. "One...two...three..."
It happened immediately: Hermione felt she would be sick as what seemed like a invisible hook pulled from behind her navel and jerked her irresistibly forward. As her feet left the ground, she could feel Harry griping her tightly around the waist; they were speeding forward in a howl of wind and swirling color. They were being pulled onward as if being magnetically sucked toward a target and then-
Her feet touched the ground as Harry released his grip. "Nice landing, Mr. Potter," Hermione said, before quickly surveying their arrival point.
Harry had deposited them directly in front of Ollivanders. They both looked around to see if anyone had noticed their arrival. Fortunately, this end of the street was sparsely occupied, and their arrival had apparently gone unnoticed. Harry and Hermione held each other tightly as they stared at the display window of the shop, much like a young couple window-shopping for engagement rings.
"Do you see any sign of them yet?" Hermione asked.
"No," Harry answered. "I think we have a few minutes yet. We better get away from the shop."
"Over there," Hermione said, indicating a narrow passageway between two shops on the other side of the street. "We should be able to observe from there undetected."
They waited until no one was nearby and then crossed over to the unobtrusive passageway.
"Have you given any thought as to how we'll stop them from entering the shop? Hermione asked.
"I was in charge of transportation," Harry said, clutching Hermione's hand. "I was leaving that up to you."
"Well," Hermione said with a little thought. "Didn't Alex say that Mr. Ollivander was about to go to lunch? I could do a locking charm and conjure an 'out to lunch' sign for the door just prior to Jamie and Alex arriving."
"That should do the trick," Harry said confidentially. "If we can keep them out of the shop until after the clock has sounded twelve, the timeline will have been changed."
Hermione looked apprehensively into Harry's green eyes. "And then we'll find out what happens to us."
"Are you having second thought?" Harry asked.
"No " Hermione said, certainly. "I'm still worried about us altering time this far back, but whatever the consequences; I'm ready to take them."
"Here they come," Harry said interrupting Hermione. "Will you look at the two of them? Have you ever seen two people so obviously in love."
"Not since I last glanced at you and me in a mirror," Hermione said, grasping Harry tightly as with her other hand she drew out her wand. She first performed a locking charm and then magically changed the wording on the window sign from 'OPEN' to 'OUT TO LUNCH.'
"I love you Harry," she said, looking nervously into his eyes. "No matter what happens, never forget that I love you and always will."
Harry held Hermione tightly, wondering if he should be more concerned. Was there something she hadn't told him? They clutched each other tightly as they watched Jamie and Alex approach the door and notice the sign but still try to gain entry..
Alex checked his watch and then after shaking his head in frustration, grabbed Jamie's hand and led her down a sheltered path that went by the side of the shop.
"All we have to do now is wait for the clock to chime," Hermione said, her body quaking.
"I wish there was a way we could have prevented the destruction of Mr. Ollivander's shop," Harry sighed, "but without the Invisibility Cloak, there was simply too much chance of being seen."
"Mr. Ollivander!" Hermione shouted in panic as the clock began to chime twelve. "Alex said he was in the backroom when they came into the shop. With them not entering the shop, he's had no reason to leave it. Harry, by saving Jamie we've killed Mr. Ollivander!"
Harry didn't hesitate. He released his grasp on Hermione and began to dart toward the shop.
"NO! HARRY!," she screamed, lunging for him, but instead of grabbing him and stopping his progress, her arm passed through his body as if he were a ghost. Hermione found herself lying in the street watching helplessly as Harry, still running toward the shop, faded out of existence.
She reach out and squeezed her wrist tightly; it unquestionably felt solid. WHY! Why if Harry had faded out of existence was she still here. Whatever the consequences of their action, they were supposed to be together.
End of Chapter 21
Thank you to Amber, Paul and Peter for their beta work on this chapter. Also thank you to everyone that reviewed chapter 20. I didn't count, but I believe chapter 20 recieved the most reviews of any chapter I have written. I guess that means I have to kill off more people.
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