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Chapter 3

Never Judge a Book...

The school year progressed and Mika’s Saturday afternoon lectures became quite popular. She had to move out of Madam Trelawney’s room and into the great dining hall. They just had to make sure they were done by dinner time.

Hermione made good on her promise to treat Mika like a friend. Often they would be seen walking together on the grounds, discussing all sorts of things. Even Crookshanks took to hanging around Mika wherever she went, especially when Hermione was in class.

Even the other students had taken to the pretty time lady’s presence in the castle. The boys could be seen daydreaming about her or drawing pictures in class, the girls all wanted to be like her. For the first time in a long time she was beginning to relax and actually enjoy herself.

As time progressed, Mika spent the weekdays visiting with various Hogwart’s teachers and other staff as well as just relaxing or talking with Dumbledore. The afternoons and Saturdays were often spent fielding questions or talking with students. She was especially popular at mealtimes and everyone wanted her to sit with them at Quidditch matches. Of course she sat with students from every house for she didn’t want to seem partial to any one house.

Sundays were usually spent taking a walk in the woods or on the edges of the loch, sometimes with Minerva or Hermione, sometimes by herself. A favourite haunt was in the branches of the whomping willow with Hermione and Crookshanks. From here they could observe the comings and goings of the great, ancient castle and discuss life, the universe and girly things.

“How’d you get up there?” Harry demanded of them once on passing by. “That thing is dangerous!”

“I should say!” agreed Ron remembering the time last term when they crashed his dad’s flying car into it and it nearly destroyed them.

“Mika’s part plant, remember? She just asked Clarence if we could sit here and he let us,” Hermione answered impatiently.

“Clarence?” they both exclaimed. “Is that what you call it?”

“Him, and he said that was his name. I’m not making it up, honest!”

The evenings were growing cooler now as autumn was coming to an end and winter was fast approaching. It had been a particularly trying day with Madame Sprout wanting to practically dissect Mika during her 5th year class on plant hybrids. She had retreated to Clarence after dinner to watch the last vestiges of a beautiful October sunset.

“Mind if I join you?” came Hermione’s familiar voice from below. Mika patted Clarence gently on the branch on which she was sitting and another lowered to let Hermione climb up. “Are you ok? You seemed a bit quiet tonight at dinner.”

Mika sighed. “I don’t know. I’ve really enjoyed my time here with you and all the others. But I just, … I don’t know. I guess all in all I’m a bit lonely.” She tried to smile but it was a weak one at best.

“I’ve always wondered how you handled living for so long. I mean, doesn’t it get you down when everyone else grows old and dies while you keep on?”

Even in the dark Hermione could sense the tears welling up in her friend’s eyes.

“You’re very wise for one so young,” Mika whispered. “That’s just it. I’ve had companions travel with me, even a few lovers. I suppose I should be grateful that I’ve had any, but even so, in 3000 years…” her voice dropped off. “It’s so painful to watch everyone I’ve ever known grow old and die, or be killed, or to leave. Though I suppose in some way everyone has to endure such loss.” She sighed.

Then she laughed softly. “I’m sorry, Hermione. I just get a little down sometimes. I’ll be fine after a good mope. Thanks for listening and understanding.”

Just then, a dark figure passed beneath them. “Shhh, it’s Professor Snape. He’s not the nicest person I’ve ever met…”

Mika turned to her companion. “Now, Hermione, I know he’s not the pleasantest person in the world, but he does have his good points. You must not judge a person by his outward appearance nor his outward behaviour. Sometimes a hard, callous exterior very necessarily masks something much deeper and kinder. Remember that.”

Saying that, Mika took a small pebble she’d been fingering in her pocket and tossed it down hitting Snape right in the back of his head. Hermione and she both giggled softly as the puzzled and humourless potions teacher looked all around him, wand at the ready for whoever had thrown it.

“I know there’s someone there. You know perfectly well that students aren’t allowed out of the castle after dark,” he sneered into the darkness.

Mika put her finger to her lips as Hermione moved closer so as to be hidden from Snape’s view. “What about guests?” Mika said softly from above, startling him.

“I didn’t see you there… Mika is it?” he appeared confused. “How did you get up there and what are you doing?”

“Just thinking,” she replied quietly ignoring the first part of his question. “What are you doing out here? Can’t sleep either?”

Hermione stifled a giggle with a hand clamped over her mouth.
Snape began to say something snide, but then sensed that Mika was sincere. “I was just thinking too,” was all he said, his tone much softer.

“I know what troubles you…” Mika began.

At this Snape started. “How…”

“Don’t worry. I won’t breathe a word. I know everything. The Order was my idea you know.”

He looked genuinely frightened now. He wasn’t the nasty old Professor Snape that Hermione was used to. “I mustn’t let my thoughts become so apparent,” he said worriedly. “If he were to get even the slightest hint…”

“Shhhh, it’s all right, Severus. I won’t let anything happen to you. If you need a rest, go to my quarters. I’ve extended the TARDIS force field so that it’s impenetrable to anything in this dimension. Stepping into my room is like blinking out of existence. You can relax there and rest your mind.”

He looked up at Mika, the full moon glistening in his black eyes. Somehow, even with the pained, worried expression on his face, he seemed different; kinder, gentler. Hermione was seeing her potions master in an entirely new light.

Just then a distant howl cut through the night.

“What was that?” Mika exclaimed. The sound sent a chill down her back.

Snape changed immediately. “Oh for heaven’s sake… I must go. There’s something I must attend to.” With a flourish of his black robes he turned to go. After a few steps he turned back. “Thank you, Mika,” he whispered heartfeltly. Then he smiled. “You are a pretty girl.” With that he whirled off hurriedly as another howl split the quiet night air.

Hermione and Mika sat in silence for a few moments. “What was that all about? Is he hiding some secrets in his mind? Something that he doesn’t want You-Know-Who to find out?”

“You’re a very bright girl. But remember,” her low voice became even lower and more menacing, “You mustn’t breathe a word of this to anyone. That man is risking his life every day. His blustering and nastiness, while actually quite natural to him, is also a front for what he is doing to battle Lord Voldemort. Just keep that in mind when you think about judging someone by their outward appearance.”

“ I will remember.”

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