Headology 101 - Chapter 10 - I Ate'nt Dead (Part 2 of 2)
Looking back up at Dumbledore and Voldemort and then to the crumpled heap that was Professor Weatherwax he started at her in the hope of seeing some movement but there was none. With Snape’s body lying close by, Dumbledore and Voldemort continued to stare each other down, the hatred between them palpable.
‘Get ready, old man,’ sneered Voldemort. ‘You are about to witness what real power feels like.’
‘There are many things that scare me in this world, Tom,’ said Dumbledore evenly. ‘But you are not one of them.’
‘Then prepare to die!’ shouted Voldemort. His wizened arm raised, ready to deliver the killing curse that he inadvertently killed Snape with moments before, but the curse was interrupted by the sound of crashing underbrush.
Erupting from the Forbidden Forest sprang a unicorn, its powerful muscles working underneath its shimmering exterior, and on its back sat Ron Weasley. Distracted by this odd sight, Voldemort did not have time to block the stunning spell that Dumbledore fired at him, and as the sickening realisation that he was rooted to the spot hit home the unicorn lowered its head.
‘Nooo!’ screamed Voldemort, as the unicorn covered the last few metres in seconds before plunging its milk white horn deep into the heart of The Dark Lord. Rearing up on its hind legs, Ron fell off the back of the beast as Voldemort was lifted bodily into the air, splashes of red appearing on the silvery hide of the unicorn. The high pitched scream coming from Lord Voldemort changed to a throaty gurgling sound as the unicorn shook his dying body free of its horn, his limp figure landing wetly on the ground, a spreading pool of red appearing around his middle.
Tom Riddle was dead.
So was Professor Snape, as well as Professor Weatherwax from what Harry could see. He looked at the piece of paper again before he became aware of footsteps behind him. Turning round, he saw Hermione running towards Ron, still with tears in her eyes.
‘Oh Ron I was so afraid something had happened to you,’ she burbled in between heaving gasps of tears. ‘I’m so sorry I thought that vile creature was you.’
‘It’s okay Hermione,’ said Ron meekly as he comforted his distraught girlfriend.
‘How on earth did you find that unicorn though?’ she asked, as the tears began to subside.
‘I didn't, it found me,’ said Ron, watching as the unicorn trotted away back into the forest.
‘Well I couldn’t very well use you, could I boy?’ said a voice that made everyone jump. ‘I’ve seen more meat on a butcher’s pencil.’ Professor Weatherwax sat up slowly and took in a trio of slack jawed faces, all except for Dumbledore who was smiling.
‘Professor? You’re…’ sputtered Harry.
‘In need of a nice cup of tea and a biscuit, yes,’ said Professor Weatherwax.
‘But… how…I saw you…’ babbled Harry, as he tried to maintain his already tenuous grip on reality.
‘You saw me what?’ asked Professor Weatherwax as she got to her feet.
‘Die, Professor. I saw you die.’
‘What did that piece of paper I gave you say, Harry?’
‘It said “I Ate’nt Dead”, Professor.’
‘Well there you are then.’ Without another word Professor Weatherwax walked off briskly in the direction of Hagrid’s cabin and at first only Dumbledore followed.
‘Well done, Esme,’ he said with a smile. ‘Never could get the hang of Borrowing myself.’
‘Yes well, it ain’t for everyone,’ she said as she stopped in front of the looming mass that was Hagrid. ‘Would you mind? I think I’ve done enough magic for one day.’
‘Certainly.’ With a wave of his hand, Dumbledore brought Hagrid round and as the giant started to stir, Fang came out of his hiding place and nuzzled at his massive owner.
‘Oh, Professors,’ he said, getting to his feet somewhat unsteadily. ‘I tried to stop ‘im, but…’
‘It’s quite alright, Hagrid,’ said Dumbledore kindly. ‘It has all been taken care of. The Dark Lord is defeated.’
‘Good on yer sir,’ boomed Hagrid. ‘Like I always says, there’s no match for Albus Dumbledore.’
‘Actually Hagrid, it was Professor Weatherwax who saved the day.’
‘Well, I always knew it were a fool’s errand to mess with the likes of Mistress Weatherwax.’
‘How about a nice cup of tea, Hagrid?’ said Professor Weatherwax with Fang nuzzling gently at her leg.
‘Comin’ right up,’ said the giant heartily.
* * *
Three bodies were buried in the aftermath of the battle; Severus Snape was given a hero’s funeral by the staff of Hogwarts and The Order of The Phoenix, Lucius Malfoy was buried in the family plot in a quiet, private affair, and Tom Marvolo Riddle was laid to rest opposite his parents grave in the Muggle cemetery near the house where he grew up. All was as it should be.
‘But you still haven’t explained what actually happened,’ said Harry as Professor Weatherwax packed up her belongings.
‘If you must know,’ said Granny Weatherwax. ‘It was Borrowing.’
‘But what’s that?’
‘You ask almost as many questions as that Granger girl, do you know that?’ Her expression softened slightly when she saw the dejected look on Harry’s face. ‘Oh very well, but make yourself useful, I’ll have a cup of tea and a biscuit, and make it sweet.’ Harry smiled and busied himself with making some tea.
‘So what is Borrowing?’ he asked over his shoulder.
‘It’s when you send your mind out searchin’ for another body to…use for a while.’
‘You can do that?’ asked Harry, the tea almost forgotten.
‘I bloody well hope so, I’ve been at it long enough, and mind you don’t fill that kettle too full.’
‘Sorry,’ said Harry, returning at least half his attention to making the tea.
‘Anyway, as nasty a little blighter as little Tom Riddle was, I weren’t about to go flinging hexes and whatnot like you lot seem to spend half your lives doing here. I knew Albus couldn’t bring himself to use that killing curse again and you weren’t much use. So I let him think he’d beaten me while I sent my mind out looking for something a bit more suitable.’
‘Actually first I found that brother of Hagrid’s,’ she said with a haughty sniff.
‘Yeah, big bugger like that, perfect I thought, but have you ever been inside a giant’s mind? No, ‘course you haven’t. Well take it from me you ain’t missin’ much. Minds like treacle, the lot of ‘em. Oh don’t look so shocked, I don’t mean Hagrid, he’s only half giant, but those purebred buggers are thick as the day is long.’
‘So you decided on the unicorn instead?’ asked Harry as he set her tea and biscuit down in front of her.
‘No, then I found your friend, Ron. Well I knew straight away that a skinny lad like that weren’t no use to no one, but he needed saving all the same and then the unicorn came trotting by.’
‘But what made you choose it?’
‘Well, they’re fast buggers for one thing,’ said Granny Weatherwax, munching on her biscuit. ‘And I remember Albus telling me how Riddle was surviving on unicorn blood when he first tried to come back to life, so I thought if one of these fancy looking horses can keep an evil sod like him alive then surely they can kill him too.’
‘I never thought of that,’ said Harry.
‘Well, that and the bloody sharp thing they’ve got on top of their heads,’ said Granny, smiling before taking another sip of tea.
‘Oh,’ said Harry, sounding almost disappointed.
‘Look Harry, the right answer doesn’t always have to be the most fancy, or the most magical, it just has to be right. That’s Headology.’
‘I guess so.’
‘And now it really is time I was going.’ Granny Weatherwax drained the last few drops of tea from her cup and took it along with the saucer over to the sink.
‘Will I ever see you again?’ asked Harry, turning in his chair.
‘Don’t know,’ said Granny with her back to Harry. ‘Depends, don’t it?’
‘On what?’ Granny didn’t answer; she just picked up her things and smiled at Harry.
‘Goodbye Harry, you’re a clever lad and I’m sure you’ll do fine.’ Waiting a moment or two in silence, Harry decided to follow Granny out of the castle to see her off, and when he came out of the main doors she was already talking with Dumbledore.
‘It was lovely to see you again, Esme,’ said Dumbledore warmly.
‘You too, Albus, but I really have to go. If that bloody cat’s been in my garden again I’ll skin it alive.’ Dumbledore chuckled.
‘Give my best to Gytha,’ he said.
‘Will do,’ said Granny, preparing herself for the short run that was required to start her broomstick. ‘You know why all this happened, don’t you?’ she said as she fixed her flying goggles in place.
‘Because I forgot to bless this place when I arrived, I swear my memory needs a good kicking sometimes.’
‘Goodbye Esme,’ said Dumbledore, smiling.
‘Goodbye Albus.’ Granny Weatherwax took off at a run and after several yards she was airborne, returning to her life in the small village of Bad Ass in the kingdom of Lancre.
‘Will she ever come back, Professor?’ asked Harry, as he walked up beside Dumbledore.
‘I don’t know, Harry,’ said Dumbledore, still looking out over the horizon that she had disappeared over. ‘I certainly hope so.’
‘Who’s Granny is she?’ asked Harry, joining Dumbledore in looking out on the horizon.
‘It’s just that she told me to call her Granny Weatherwax and I was wondering if this means she has a family somewhere.’
‘She permitted you to call her Granny?’ Dumbledore sounded impressed.
‘Harry, it is very rare for Esmerelda Weatherwax to allow someone who has not known her for many years to call her Granny. It is quite an honour, you should be very proud.’
And he was.
* * *
It was several weeks after Voldemort’s defeat and Granny Weatherwax’s leaving Hogwarts and Harry was pleased to discover that Sirius still came to visit him in his dreams sometimes. The visits were less frequent but Sirius seemed to save up his strength so he could stay for longer, which Harry thought was a fair trade off. He still didn’t know how Sirius was able to do what he did but he didn’t much care, he was able to see his godfather and that was all that mattered.