Dumbledore did not say a word until we reached his office. He stood in front of the gargoyle and said "Pixie Puffs!" and the gargoyle moved aside to reveal a swirling staircase. "After you," he said, ushering me up the stairs and into his office. Out of all my years at Hogwarts, this was the very first time I had ever stepped foot into the Headmaster's office. My mouth was agape as I looked around at the floating orbs and intricate silvery devices. There was also a large phoenix perched behind the desk, his head under his wing as he napped. "Marilyn, please sit," Dumbledore said calmly as he walked over to his desk and picked up a gold tin. "Treacle fudge?" He asked as he popped some into his mouth. I shook my head, declining. He sat down across from me.
"I'm sorry about these robes, Dumbledore. I had no other clothes, and I was just on my way to the dungeons to change," I said quickly, pleading with him as if I were really in some sort of trouble for wearing the wrong crest. He held up his hand to silence me.
"My dear, we have far more important things to discuss other than your robes." I sunk down into my seat. I had no idea what was going on. "You spent the night in the Room of Requirement last night, correct?" My breath quickened and my palms got sweaty. This man always knew everything. I decided not to speak. I wanted to hear everything that was being accused of me before I said anything incriminating. Dumbledore chuckled. "You're not in any trouble. In fact, I wish to congratulate you on finding it. It's desperately tricky to come across." I still did not feel relaxed and I fidgeted with the seams of my garments. He leaned forward on his elbows. "I received a note this morning on my door," he said as he looked at me with intrigue in his eyes.
"A note, sir?" I said quietly. He nodded.
"I expect a little bird put it there." I was not sure if he meant that in a literal or figurative way. At this point, it could have been either. He peered at me from the top of his half-moon glasses. "It told me that I was to be expecting a student by the name of Marilyn Horsefeather, and behold, here you are." He sat back in his chair and laced his fingers together.
"I'm sorry, sir," I said quite meekly, "but I don't quite understand what you mean."
Dumbledore stood up and began to pace slowly around the room, fingering small objects here and there. "Miss Horsefeather, the Room of Requirement is a rather remarkable treasure hidden inside this castle. I always knew it had extraordinary power, but last night after you entered, it not only transformed the place inside its walls, but it transformed time." He turned around and looked at me, but my face was still showing how clueless I was. "You are no longer in your own time, Marilyn. You are in the past," he said, then gave a quizzical look. "Well, it's the present now, to me, and it is now your present also." My jaw dropped.
"Sir, if this is a joke," Dumbledore held up his hand to silence me.
"I know this sounds incredible, but it definitely is not a joke." He walked back to his desk and sat down. My mind was running wild. Dumbledore looked at me from behind his desk, patiently waiting for me to speak.
"So, what do I do now?" I said, trying to keep my hands from shaking.
"The Room of Requirement," Dumbledore continued, "has given you an astounding chance to start over completely, to make different choices. Isn't that what you wanted?"
"Yes sir, but—"
"And it appears to me that you've already made your first choice," he said admirably, gesturing to the crest on my robes.
"Sir, but the Sorting Hat—"
"It is not the Sorting Hat that tells us who we are. Who we are is reflected by the choices we make." I looked down at the lion that emblazoned my chest. It was fierce upon the red and gold background, symbolizing courage. "Now, even though I do not doubt that you possess some commendable traits of a Slytherin, I believe that deep down, your bravery triumphs. Otherwise, I do not believe you would be here." I began to blush again as I had done earlier with Sirius. I had always envied those in Gryffindor, and now that I was one, pride welled up inside me that I nearly could not contain. "On to more trivial matters then," he said as he pulled out a quill and a piece of parchment. Just then, the door opened to reveal a flustered Professor McGonagall.
"You wished to see me Headmaster? You said it was urgent," She said as she adjusted her pointed hat so that it stood perfectly erect on her head.
"Yes, Minerva. This young lady is Marilyn Horsefeather. She is new to the Gryffindor house," Dumbledore said, gesturing me to stand up and greet her.
"Very nice to meet you Marilyn," she said, not cracking a smile.
"Miss Horsefeather, I regret to say, does not have any belongings. I am giving her permission to visit Hogsmeade this morning to purchase whatever she may need." My eyes widened. He walked over to me and dropped a small velvet bag into my hand as coins inside jingled together. He lowered his voice in order to talk just to me. "I trust there is enough in there for most of the things you desire," he said with a wink. "Now, Professor, I would like to fill you in on our new student and her current situation." I stood up and thanked them both before closing the office door behind me.
My head was spinning. I felt like I was going to fall over if I was not careful. I steadied myself against the wall, and pinched myself to make sure it was really happening. This was it. I was starting over. I could finally be who I had always wanted to be since I started my life at Hogwarts. It was going to be better this time, I just knew it.
I shot out of the castle like a bullet as I ran towards Hogsmeade. I had no idea how much was in that small sack Dumbledore gave me, but I intended on using the lot of it. As I passed the Quidditch pitch, I saw the two boys I had met earlier. Sirius and James. They were whizzing through the air after each other as they practiced.
"What time are try-outs tomorrow, James?" Sirius yelled as he threw the quaffle to his friend.
"Seven sharp! Will you be there?" James called as he flew in circles.
"We'll see. I'd hate to take the spotlight from you if I actually made the team!" Sirius laughed as he corkscrewed through the air. "I'll be here for moral support, at least!" A surge of excitement powered through me. Quidditch tryouts were tomorrow and I could have a shot at making the team! I started galloping towards Hogsmeade, jiggling the change in the pocket of my robes. I hoped I would not have to steal another broom from the shed.
Upon making my way into the small village, I first entered a clothing shop and tried on numerous outfits. I settled on a few and made my way up to the counter to pay. "Twenty Galleons, please," the storewoman said. I opened the small bag of coins and reached in. It felt as though my hand had dove into a lake of coins. I peered into the bag and was astonished at all the money. 'Dumbledore must have used the undetectable extension charm.' My heart soared. I paid the woman and skipped out to visit other shops to purchase necessary school things.
After a few hours, my arms were full of bags containing quills, books, parchment, phials, and I even had a silver cauldron swinging on my arm. I was nearly headed out of the village when I spotted a beautiful object in one of the store windows. It was the newest Nimbus model and its broom handle was so shiny that I could see my reflection. If I was going to make the Quidditch team, I would need a top of the line broom. I jingled my bag of coins as I entered the shop. "How much for the Nimbus?" I asked gingerly, approaching a man who was wiping down the front counter. He did not even look up at me.
"Too much for a kid like you," he said coldly. Without saying a word, I emptied my bag of coins on the counter, making a medium sized pile of shining Galleons, Sickles, and Knuts. The man's eyes widened. "Would you like to test-fly it or have me wrap it straight away?"
With my pockets empty and my arms full of new sundries, I headed back up to Hogwarts. The sun was beginning to get lower in the sky as I entered the castle. I made it to the first flight of stairs when Professor McGonagall caught up to me.
"Hello, dear," she said, much more warmly this time than in Dumbledore's office.
"Hello, Professor. It was a beautiful day today," I said, positively beaming. My excitement was still boiling inside me. Professor McGonagall tittered.
"Yes, Miss Horsefeather, it really was. Did you buy all of the necessary things?" She said as she craned her head to eyeball the abnormally wrapped package under my arm, oddly shaped like a broom. I nodded as I struggled to keep all of the bags in my arms. "Oh, let me help you with all that!" She grabbed a few of the items from my arms and continued to walk with me up to Gryffindor tower. "I find your situation remarkable, Miss Horsefeather. I really hope you are happy as you stay with us," McGonagall said, smiling at me. I imagined that this was nearly as exciting for her as it was for me.
We arrived at the portrait of the Fat Lady moments later. "Who are you?" She questioned, sounding much ruder than I'm sure she meant.
"This is a Gryffindor student!" Professor McGonagall said, very matter-of-fact.
"Well of course dear," the portrait said, a little more humbled. "Password?"
"Fig Pie!" McGonagall said, and the portrait swung open into a room laden with red and gold tapestry and lit by a fire so bright that the light flickered and danced against the walls. It was much cozier than the Slytherin common room. There were even windows peering into the night sky. "I hope this will suit you, Miss Horsefeather." All I could do was nod. "Go get settled in your dormitory. I assume your housemates are in the Great Hall having their evening meal. You may join them if you wish." She turned around and left through the portrait hole.
I decided to go down for dinner once I had settled into my quarters. I made my way into the Great Hall and searched for a spot to sit at the Gryffindor table. Although I was painfully shy, I knew I needed to find somebody to become friends with, preferably sooner than later. As I scanned the table, I noticed someone looking at me, and I recognized that someone to be Sirius. I waved at him and he smiled and waved back. I trotted over to where he and James were sitting and sat down beside him.
"Hello, mystery woman," Sirius said slyly as he slid me a plate full of food.
"I'm hardly a mystery, Sirius," I said, taking a drink from the goblet in front of me.
"You showed up out of nowhere wearing Gryffindor robes, Dumbledore was frantically looking for you, and you have got the most dazzling eyes I have ever seen," he said as he leaned in to me, nearly whispering. "You're definitely a mystery to me, Marilyn."