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MAGIC & TIME

Chapter 10

Haunted Tears

Mika ran through the dark castle not knowing nor caring where she ended up – anything to get away from the pain and confusion she felt she always seemed to leave in her wake. Finally, she came to a stop up in the clock tower where she stood looking out of the huge windows onto the courtyard below. The mystical light of the moon caused the newly fallen snow to glow with an eerie luminescence. For a moment she feared that the moon was full, but squinting through her tears and the frosted glass she could tell that it was only three quarters full. It would not be long before it was full and Remus would go through his monthly torture yet again.

This thought set off another round of tears.

“Dear Lady, why do you weep so?” came a gentle voice from behind her. Mika whirled around, startled to find one of the resident ghosts, Sir Nicholas de Mimsy-Porpington, hovering there in the darkness. The children called him Nearly Headless Nick on account of the botched beheading by which he came to join the realm of the spirits.

Mika quickly wiped at her tears with the voluminous sleeve of her witches’ robes. She was embarrassed to have been caught crying even by a ghost. “Oh, Sir Nicholas. I’m sorry, I…”

“No need to apologise my lady. Actually…” he hesitated. “I couldn’t help but overhear yours and Professor Snape’s conversation.” If a ghost could blush, Sir Nick managed it. “If I may say so, Lady Mika, he had it coming to him.”

Mika smiled wanly. She supposed it saved her from having to explain herself. Still she wasn’t used to the idea of ghosts wandering around poking their noses into everyone’s affairs. “Please, Sir Nicholas, I would appreciate it if this remained our secret. Especially from Professor Lupin,” she said softly.

“But of course, m’lady. I shan’t breathe a word. But, is there anything I can do to help? I do so hate to see a sweet lady like yourself so distressed.”

The timelady shook her head. “I don’t think there’s a cure for either of them really,” she said at last. “Why does he have to be so nasty? What’s Remus ever done to him?”

Sir Nicholas sighed. “Severus and Remus were at school together, along with Sirius Black and James Potter.” Mika looked at him, realisation beginning to dawn. Sir Nick nodded. “Yes. The Potter Gang often picked on Severus – only they called him Snivellus then. While Remus never actually gave the lad any grief, neither did he stop his friends from doing what he knew to be wrong. So desperate was he to have friends. By the same token, Severus was desperate for friends too but no one wanted to befriend him. His parents gave him no notice and were always at odds with each other. He grew from a sad, lonely little boy into a sad, lonely, bitter and vindictive man. I know it’s not an excuse, but I thought you needed to know a little of his background to understand why he is how he is.”

Mika thought about this for several minutes. It all made perfect sense. The reason he picked on Harry, hated know-it-alls and didn’t care for groups of friends nor the old gang who used to pick on him. Still, he was an adult and should know better. But some things are very hard to overcome.

“Thank you, Sir Nicholas. That does help and I do feel better,” she smiled.

“You are most welcome, dear Lady. I only wish I could do more,” he sighed.

Somehow, Sir Nick’s chivalrous offer of help only served to sadden her more. Kind and noble as he was, he was, after all, dead.

“May I ask you a question?” she asked gently. “How did you come to … die?”

The ghost of Sir de Mimsy-Porpington scratched his head causing it to wobble slightly on its stump of a neck. “I’m not really sure, to be honest, m’lady. I know I was executed for something, but I can’t for the death of me remember exactly why.”

“How very odd,” Mika said. “You would think that would be something you would definitely remember.”

“It’s almost as if someone has erased my memory. I remember my life clearly up until near the end. Then it all goes a bit fuzzy. But I do remember some children, and a lovely lady, and a flashing light…”

It was Mika’s turn to scratch her head. “Hmmm, I wonder…”

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