Chapter 28: Seen Death?
After the feast, the Head Master spoke again. ‘Thank you everyone! I trust you all enjoyed the festivities,’ he paused, ‘but it is time for us all to retire to our Common Rooms!’
Chatter started as students made to stand and walk out of the hall, but Dumbledore wasn’t finished.
The chatter ceased.
‘If Severus Snape,’ my heart stopped, ‘Jasmine Kilter, Demitri Fortescue, Holly Jade and Kelly Davidson could please stay behind? Thank you, that is all.’
The chatter started up again and feet pounded the floor as people rushed to avoid the crowd going up the stairs and to the dungeon. Regina, Infirmos and Archemus stayed seated. Avery leaned over the table. ‘What does he want to talk to you about?’ His eyes sparkled and his eyebrows jumped in curiosity.
‘I have no idea. You should all go back, I’ll meet you there.’
I smiled at them as they turned away and started walking towards the doors. I forced myself not to stare after them in case they turned around and I saw a scene from the battle unfold again.
I stood up too and looked around. Jasmine, Demitri and Kelly were making their way nervously to the front of the hall. Kelly and Holly had hold of Jasmine’s elbows and they stood close together, huddled. Safety in numbers I guessed. Demitri walked alone behind them.
I jogged to catch up to them and stopped abruptly in front of the owl podium just as the girls reached the same spot. I smiled at them awkwardly.
While Dumbledore had a rushed conversation with Professor McGonagall, I tried to figure out what we could have in common.
We were all from different Houses… maybe there was a project we needed to do to support school unity? Or… no… four girls and one boy meant nothing to me… ahhh… Lily’s friends. We were all close acquaintances of Lily’s. It made sense now.
Dumbledore swept his turquoise-robed self over to us. He looked very grave and serious. ‘Hello girls. Severus.’ He nodded to me. ‘I am sure you must be wondering why I asked you to stay behind… am I correct?’
Jasmine nodded eagerly, the others looked scared.
Dumbledore continued, ‘You are all aware, I am sure, that your friend, Lily Evans, is in St Mungo’s, currently suffering from memory loss. Well, we have a full update from the hospital on how she has been doing the last few weeks.’ Dumbledore cleared his throat as he pulled out a piece of parchment and started to read, ‘Shortly after Lily Evans was brought to St Mungo’s Hospital for Magical Maladies and Injuries, she suffered from what we call Hypoxic Shock –’
‘ – which, in simpler terms, means she stopped breathing.’
My heart stopped. My head spun, why was Dumbledore reading us this? Shouldn’t he just tell us?
Oh no! Lily! Lily! This isn’t possible! It just… ISN’T!
I snapped back. Professor Dumbledore was looking at me over the top of his half-moon glasses. I was on the floor.
‘Are you quite alright, Severus?’
‘Yes… yes I’m fine,’ I told him, shaking my head and getting clumsily to my feet.
Dumbledore resumed his recount, ‘Fortunately, we were able to enter her head in time and rearrange enough walls to help her remember how to breathe. At one week, she could talk again and at two weeks, she was able to distinguish between different shapes and then, shortly after, between different animals.’
Dumbledore paused. I felt faint. I swayed on my feet slightly but I steadied myself on the raised box Dumbledore always stood on and closed my eyes. Dear, sweet, clever Lily had to work hard to distinguish between different shapes. I felt like my world had been turned upside-down. When I opened my eyes again I focussed on something that wasn’t moving.
‘At three weeks, she could remember who her parents were and what they looked like. She could describe them in details that were amazing for someone so damaged.’
My heart fluttered and tears stung my eyes when he said ‘damaged’.
‘She could also remember that she was a witch, everything about the wizarding world and most of all… her friends. She wouldn’t stop talking about them. Some boy called Sev, and a few girls called Demitri, Jasmine, Holly and Kelly. She kept talking about how happy she would be when she finally saw them again. She actually wouldn’t stop talking! She gave her nurse a horrible head ache and we have had to take shifts so no one has to deal with it for too long.’
I grinned. It sounded just like Lily.
‘This is why I ask you, Dumbledore, if her friends, as previously mentioned, could come to visit her sometime soon. It would make everything just a little easier for us all.’
I actually couldn’t grin any wider. The skin of my lips was stretching dangerously, nearly splitting and burning viciously but I didn’t care. I was going to see Lily again! Nothing could compare to how happy I was.
Dumbledore waved his wand and the parchment disappeared. He leant down on his knee to get on our level (he was up on the box). ‘So what do you say? Do you want to see her?’
Jasmine squealed and threw her arms around her friends while I stood there awkwardly, still grinning from ear to ear.
Dumbledore looked into my eyes and I could tell that his eyes weren’t sparkling nearly as much as mine. ‘I’m going to take that as a yes.’ He smiled and we quietened down. ‘Tomorrow?’
This time I squealed and jumped and clapped my hands. Then, not even caring what else I did or what people thought of me, I flung my arms around the rest of Lily’s friends and jumped with them, laughing and feeling so happy.
‘Stay here after breakfast tomorrow morning and pack anything you want to take, tonight. We’ll leave shortly after we’ve eaten. Sleep well.’
I ran as fast as I could from the Great Hall into the Entrance Hall. I jumped up and clicked my heels together and then continued running towards the Slytherin dungeons, not even breaking my stride.
I could barely eat anything at breakfast the next morning. I had told my friends what was going on today and they were pleased for me.
‘Snape, you need to eat something!’ Avery exclaimed. ‘You might have to go all day without food and you’ll be starving!’
‘He’s right, Snape. You’re going to be hungry,’ Mulciber supported Archemus.
‘I know. But I don’t care,’ I said, smiling. I shivered happily as cold ran down my spine.
‘Are you feeling ok?’ Regina asked me, feigning concern.
‘I’m feeling brilliant!’ I told her truthfully.
She smiled and shook her head and then turned to the other two. ‘What are we going to do today boys?’
‘I don’t know. Just hang around I suppose,’ Archemus shrugged nonchalantly. ‘They should really let us go home early, you know. There’s no point in us staying here.’
‘I know! There are no classes or anything! I can’t believe I’m actually saying this but I would rather be doing school work than being bored for the next few days.’
‘Stop complaining!’ I smiled. “There’s only three days until the end of term. Plus, you know why Dumbledore can’t let us go early! Why go to all that effort to keep Hogwarts open when we would all just leave it until next school year. Be positive,’ I chastised, still smiling.
‘He’s right,’ Regina stated, sounding as though she couldn’t believe it. ‘But it’s easy for you to say, Severus. You’re going on a field trip for the whole day to see your friend. You aren’t going to be bored ALL day!’
‘She has a point,’ Infirmos spoke up.
‘I suppose she does,’ I shrugged. ‘But so did I.’
We chuckled happily.
‘At least take some toast or some fruit with you,’ Infirmos insisted. ‘Just looking at you makes me hungry!’
I laughed. ‘If it means that much to you, Infirmos, I suppose it could be arranged,’ I told him in my most formal voice I could muster before bursting out laughing.
People began to leave the hall and butterflies fluttered against the inside of my stomach. I smiled nervously.
‘Hey, good luck alright?’ Avery said as he stood up.
‘Yeah, good luck,’ Regina said nonchalantly.
Infirmos just smiled in a “what they said” kind of way.
I walked to the front of the hall where Dumbledore was waiting for us.
‘All set to go?’ Dumbledore asked us.
I held up my small backpack which was packed with little supplies for the trip in answer to his question.
We followed Dumbledore out of the Great Hall and then out of the Entrance Hall into the grounds. We walked for a couple of hundred yards and stopped in front of a large carriage that was near a heavily wooded area.
Dumbledore opened the carriage door for the girls but as I was about to follow them, Dumbledore stopped me by putting a hand on my shoulder. He said, ‘Severus, do you mind going over to the other side? It’s a wee bit squishy in here.’
I nodded and made my way around the front of the carriage. I turned around just in time to see Dumbledore’s robe tail disappear into the carriage. I turned back and my stomach jerked when something flapped near my face. I gasped and jumped backwards. I tripped over a large log that was behind me and landed on my bottom. The landing jolted the air from my lungs and I gasped again. Then I felt the needles sticking into my hands and I cried out and pulled them from the ground where they had been left after catching my fall. I had fallen into a rose bush. I shifted my position as I tried to pull out one of the thorns stuck in my hand. As my bottom moved on the bush, more thorns buried themselves into my pants and I howled in pain, doing my best to scramble out of the bush without hurting my hands. The log was in my way so I was left struggling and flailing, each bump sent more thorns sailing into me and tears stung my eyes. I managed to pull myself out with my elbows just as I heard a commotion from inside the carriage. A second later, the door banged open and Jasmine jumped out, looking around fearfully. When she saw me picking thorns from my hand and bottom, my back facing the carriage, her face went from alert to disappointed. She strolled over.
‘You big baby! Why did you have to scare us like that? We thought something serious had happened!’
I glanced at the rose bush resentfully as I rubbed my sore hands. ‘Well something scared me alright?’
‘What could have scared you, Snape? There’s nothing around!’
‘I don’t know…’ I turned back to the carriage and yelled at what I saw.
Two black, winged creatures were standing in front of me. Their bones stuck out and their skin was scaly and looked rough. Their black eyes were shiny and they looked at me curiously as if wondering why I was so afraid. I raised a shaking hand and pointed to the creatures.
‘That’s what scared me.’
Jasmine turned to look. She rolled her eyes. ‘It’s a carriage, Snape, everyone’s seen a carriage before.’
I ignored her and moved towards them cautiously. ‘What are these things?’ I asked no one in particular.
‘Snape what are you doing?’ Jasmine asked, sounding frightened.
‘Can’t you see them?’ I turned to look at her, cocking my head to the side in confusion.
‘See what?’ Now her face showed pure terror.
‘The things… they’re pulling the carriage.’
‘There’s nothing pulling the carriage…’
‘Yes there is.’
‘NO THERE’S NOT!’ she yelled furiously. ‘You’re insane! You’re a freak! Stay away from me!’ She turned to stalk back to the carriage but she stopped when Demitri stepped out.
‘He’s not insane, Jasmine. That was a horrible thing to say.’ Demitri’s cold blue eyes penetrated Jasmine’s light brown ones. Demitri turned and saw the creatures. She cried out and jumped backwards, tripping over the log and stumbling to keep her balance. ‘What the hell are they?’ she asked.
Her red hair waved wildly.
‘You can see them too?’ I was intrigued.
‘Of course I can see them! Clear as day! I‘m not blind, you know!’
‘You two are both crazy…’ Jasmine said, but with less conviction.
Dumbledore stepped out. ‘What is going on?’
‘What are they, Professor?’ I asked, pointing to the black, winged animals.
‘Thestrals,’ he smiled.
‘Thestrals?’ Jasmine answered, ‘You mean there is something there?’
‘Yes, yes there is something there.’
‘Then why can’t I see them?’ she cried.
‘Thestrals can only be seen by those who have seen death.’
An image of Professor Gibliry’s body flashed before my eyes and I shook my head. Then memories of the Battle and all who died in that corridor took its place.
‘So Snape has seen death, and Demitri too?’
‘What happened?’ Jasmine gawked at us, her eyes wide.
‘Let’s talk about this inside shall we?’ Dumbledore suggested, gesturing towards the carriage.
We followed him and got in, settling ourselves on the comfortable seats. The door swung shut and we were on our way.