Floo Network

Misty Eyes on a Windy Day

Started by Harold Prendergast, February 11, 2021, 09:27:08 pm

Harold Prendergast

It was midsummer, Harold had been at Hogwarts a few days - long enough to find his classroom, his quarters, settle in enough to unpack, and walk the halls of the castle to remind himself of having been here in his youth. Simpler times.

One of the things he'd never done as a student was to walk the grounds by the lake, at least not for the sake of actually admiring the lake itself. In his youth there were always more important things to be doing than taking the time to simply appreciate what was around him. Recent events at the Ministry, and of course with Sylvia, had put things in a whole new light for him.

And so it was, with the sun still riding in the sky, but waning, just slowly beginning to dip over the top of the tallest trees in the Forest, Harold found himself alone on the edge of the lake, just quietly stood there, contemplating. The wind was more than a light breeze, furling the surface of the water up with a little energy, though not enough to be called fervently, as the sun left a warm hue over it.

Harold cast his mind back; to meeting Sylvia, watching her face light up with a smile not because of something outrageously funny, but simply when she was amused by something innocuous he'd done, or where they'd had a debate and both learned something from it. And her laugh, well, Harold thought of many expressions, but inwardly thought peals of angelic bells was perhaps too extravagant an expression.

He missed her. She would have loved this; if only he'd taken this posting sooner, she would have come with him, he was sure of it. They'd be walking the lakeside together, she would have insisted on it. He was sure she would have insisted on it.

The wind, while not cold, asserted its presence again with a little more force, and Harold found his gently wiping his eyes with his handkerchief. Of course, it was the breeze - everyone knows the breeze on a lakeside is more energetic than, say, amongst a forest, and everyone knows that the breeze on a midsummer's night was apt to provoke a recollection or two. Maybe a dream of things forgotten or lost. But who could say, everyone would have misty eyes on a windy day, at a lakeside.

Harold headed back towards the castle, breathing a little more heavily and his shoulders moving a little more tightly. The path back up was seemingly uneventful, at least to start with.

Grace Pemberton

February 11, 2021, 10:42:06 pm #1 Last Edit: February 11, 2021, 10:43:48 pm by Royal_Poet
"Easton!" Grace yelled at the top of her lungs. Her dog had caught the scent of something and was racing ahead, dragging Grace along with him. She was pretty strong for an 11-year-old girl about to start her first year at Hogwarts, but not quite strong enough to for the situation at hand. She tried to wrap Easton's lead around her tiny hand to gain more leverage. As she tried to do so the dog gave another tug and it was to late. The lead had slipped from her grasp and the beagle was running back towards the castle. How strange, normally Grace struggled with keeping Easton out of the Forbidden Forest.

What made matters worse was that the mutt seemed to headed for an older, terribly stuffy looking man. Grace closed her eyes, as if doing so would stop what she not considered inevitable. The beagle tried to jump up on the tweedy gentleman in front of her. She could only pray that the man wasn't one of the headmaster's friends or worse a new professor at the school. If the latter was the case she had probably just failed whatever class this man would be teaching before the term had even begun. How could she be this unlucky?!

"Easton!" she yelled again. "You get right back here. Now! Down!" The louder she yelled, the more excited Easton became. He was happily barking and wagging his tail, clearly finding the situation not nearly as distressing as Grace. With a feeling of dread Grace gathered her courage and looked at the gentleman's eyes.

"I'm sorry," she tried to say over the cheerful barking. "He's a bit excitable." She reached into the pocket of her skirt and retrieved a dog treat. "Come here, yes, come to me." Only belatedly she realised that maybe the gentleman would think she was still talking to him.

"I mean Easton of course, not you, Sir."


Harold Prendergast

Harold smiled what he hoped was a pleasant smile. He didn't think there were any students at the school yet, so this had to be a relative of one of the staff somehow, unless Dumbledore had started allowing students to stay over the summer now. But he was pretty sure that wasn't the case.

"Easton is your dog? He's magnificent. May I stroke him?" It seemed a slightly absurd question in context; the dog was clearly very excited and happy to see him. It also seemed an odd way to introduce oneself but Harold supposed that beggars couldn't be choosers and that as a new teacher, he would need all the friends he could get, for now at least.

"I'm Professor Prendergast, I'm new here at the school - my first year teaching Arithmancy. I have to admit I didn't expect to see you - or, um, anyone - out here."

Harold pondered. He'd met a few of the staff since he'd been here - and he wondered who Grace... well, might 'belong to', if put in a rather indelicate way. Then it occurred to him and he tried something that was a bit of a shot in the dark. "Do you know Miss Pemberton, the librarian?"

Grace Pemberton

February 11, 2021, 11:19:22 pm #3 Last Edit: February 11, 2021, 11:21:50 pm by Royal_Poet
Grace was greatly relieved when the tweedy gentleman wasn't angry. She didn't know exactly how she would describe his reaction, but she thought he seemed somewhat amused. Maybe she wasn't in trouble. She positively beamed when the gentleman asked her if he could pet Easton. Grace found that one couldn't go wrong with people who liked dogs or people that Easton liked. It seemed that this stranger was potentially ticking both boxes. That meant he had to be nice.

"You like dogs?" she asked hopefully. "Easton's normally pretty good, but mum always says we shouldn't reward Easton for bad behaviour," Grace made an effort at imitating her mother's tone. "Buuuut, if you ask me he would love a good belly rub. Oh, and there's a spot on his back, if you stroke there you can make his leg twitch. It's quite funny." She was still beaming at him. She loved talking about Easton.

The new professor's name was rather a mouthful. She pictured having to say it really fast ten times. Professor Prendergast, Professor Prendergast, Professor Prendergast, Professor Prenderfast, Professorgast.

When she realised that she was starting at Prendergast she dropped into a curtsy. "It's nice to meet you Professor Prendergast. My name is Grace. What's Arithmancy?" She'd heard some of the upperclassmen talk about it during the last term, but any time the subject came up it didn't make any sense of Grace. All those numbers, charts and graphs just looked very confusing to her.

"And you mean mum? Well yeah, I know her. She's my mum."

Harold Prendergast

Harold spoke half to himself and half to Grace. "Yes, I rather like dogs. They are very good friends, they know when to come and sit next to you and, well, most of them don't just shed hair everywhere. If they do shed, they generally let you brush them first."

Harold bent down a little and looked at the dog, Easton. "He's a beagle, isn't he?" Truthfully, he thought Easton was very much a healthy, happy dog. A little more excitable than other beagles he'd known but he'd been given to understand the breed could be excitable and a good companion. Looking between Grace and Easton, he wasn't sure who got the better deal really.

"Your mother is, well, probably right that we shouldn't encourage him with a good belly rub, but maybe after he's had dinner and been rather a good dog for a bit, he can have one."

Harold stretched back up, but not energetically. "Arithmancy is a complicated subject, but only for the third-years and up; we don't teach it to every year group because, well, there's enough to be learning with magic without trying to learn about arithmancy too. It's not even a subject that every third year and up has to take, only if they choose to take it."

He tried to puzzle out Grace's expression, so he thought perhaps he should instead try to waffle less. "Arithmancy is mathematics and physics, the study of how magic interacts with the world, where the energy comes from, where it goes to and how we can measure it. I know people don't think measuring magic is really useful but I have spent many years studying it and I have found it jolly well useful for making new magical spells. Though I won't be teaching how to make new spells out of nowhere except to the seventh years."

Harold realised he had waffled anyway in spite of himself and ran his hand through his hair. "It is a subject that is very complicated and many students find it boring, but I hope I'll be a little bit less, well, boring for them."

There was something he'd forgotten. One. Two. Thr-- then he remembered. He must have seemed so awkward to Grace, just as he did to her mother.

"Oh, yes, you mentioned your mother. I met her the library earlier and, well, the resemblance is rather striking - and it explains why you're here before the start of term. You have your mother's eyes and, I think, her hair."

At least he was quick enough to stop himself asking about her father, remembering what Rose had - and hadn't - said.

"Should we be getting back up to the castle, do you think?"

Grace Pemberton

"Oh," Grace uttered looking quite disappointed. "So, I won't get to take your class this term? That's sad."

She liked math, had no idea really what he meant by physics and felt a smidge of enthusiasm about measuring things. She'd helped her mom measure how much fabric to buy when sewing new skirts and dresses. That had been fun. She supposed the professor didn't mean that kind of measuring, but how different could it really be?

"You can make new spells?" Grace asked her eyes going wide as saucers. She'd read about an awful lot of spells over the summer, and they all sounded fun and interesting, but if Grace were entirely honest not that useful. Like Vera Verto - who could ever have any need to turn an animal into a cup? And wasn't that animal cruelty? Treating animals poorly was bad thing to do.

"Can you make a spell to duplicate macarons? That way, I could eat as many as I like without ever running out." She tried to look cute in case it made any difference in convincing Professor Prendergast to design this essential spell for her.

"Yeah, everyone says that," Grace commented with regards to rather looking like her mother. "Mum once said that my dad has red hair too. I think he works for the Ministry, but I wouldn't know. He's not vis..." Grace suddenly stopped talking remembering that her mum had asked her not to talk about her dad. It was rather unfair. She was curious and wanted to know more about him. Of course, Professor Prendergast was unlikely to be able to help her.

"We should get back," Grace agreed. "Do you want to come and eat dinner with us? Mum's making butter pie and pickled red cabbage. It's really good."

Harold Prendergast

"Well, I suppose it is a bit sad, I would have liked a student in the class I'd actually, well, know, I suppose, before the term started."

The air was starting to turn, and with it, Harold's glasses slid down his nose. He pushed them back up with a slightly more grandiose gesture than it deserved. "Well, magic isn't really like that, you see. Magic is like..." He paused, casting around for an appropriate analogy. "Magic is like water. The sun warms the water in the sea, it becomes clouds, then it rains and the water ends up back in the sea again. There's always the same amount of water, it's just in different places. And making new spells is like that, finding new ways to use the magic we have."

He wasn't sure if Rose had explained the finer points of Gamp's Law to Grace or not, and specifically the Exceptions. "As for macarons, unfortunately there's no spell in the world that can make more macarons out of nothing. You can make little ones that you already have bigger, but, uh, well, they won't taste as nice because there's only really rather the same amount of macaron there. But I bet your mother knows how to bake really good macarons, and I wonder if the school house-elves know a few new recipes you could try?"

"And yes, well, we should get back. I shouldn't think anyone would bother us but your mother probably wouldn't be best pleased if she thought I'd kept you out late. As for dinner, that sounds rather delicious but I rather think your mother might have an opinion on the subject as well, and perhaps we should ask her."

Grace Pemberton

Grace listened to Harold's explanation with interest. She wasn't sure where he got the idea from that there was always the same amount of water. He clearly had never frozen anything if he believed that. Actually, she wasn't too sure that if water evaporated and rained back down again it would be the same amount. But she was prepared to believe Prendergast on that. After all he had mentioned measuring things.

"Are you sure about that, Professor? When mom makes ice lollies in the kitchen they always get bigger in the mould when she casts the freezing charm on them. Or do you think it's the raspberries that get bigger rather than the water? Because in that case we do have a recipe for macarons with raspberries and honestly there is very little water in macaron batter. It's almonds and eggs mostly." 

"And making them isn't really the problem," Grace stated putting her hands on her hips. "I can bake, and we often bake on the weekends. But they're always gone too fast. We still had a batch of honey and lavender ones this morning, and I only had one of them, but when I looked this afternoon, they were all gone. Mom often takes them to the teacher's lounge - apparently Professor Dumbledore likes the ones filled with lemon custard. If you want some you better check the lounge in the mornings." 

"And my mom claims I can only eat one a day or it will rot my teeth." She made a face at that claim. "She's not right about that. I managed to pilfer a whole bag from the kitchen counter once and I had a few every day for about a week. And I still have all my teeth. Except that one." She opened her mouth to show Professor Prendergast where she was missing an incisor. "But it didn't rot. It just fell out. So, I don't think it's related to the macarons."

Not worrying too much about proprieties she picked up the end of Easton's lead and cleaned it off on her skirt. The wrapped the lead around her hand around and held the other one out to professor Prendergast.

"Well, come on. She'll say yes. We always have too much food."

Before Professor Prendergast had time to voice any objection she was on the go and marching him up to the foot of the astronomy tower where she lived with her mom.

Harold Prendergast

Harold was, momentarily, awestruck. The child before him had some delightful nuances of incisive reasoning. Failing on knowledge and detail, but admirable deductive powers in absence of that. Clearly, she could be a scientist if she so chose. He marvelled, for a moment, how like her mother she was.

He started off after her.

"Well, yes, rather... um... when water freezes, it gets slightly bigger, you see. And when it melts it gets slightly smaller again. As for macaron batter, I think you may be on to something, but water was just an example... there are, well, some limits on summoning things out of nowhere. Especially where food is concerned."

He thought it prudent not to mention that he had had macarons with Rose earlier on in their awkward tea conversation.

"As for teeth, well, um," Harold tried to think what to say. Being presented with that was a complex and - to his mind - rather unnecessary diversion. Though he appreciated the refreshing honesty of an eleven year old girl who was happy to say exactly what she thought, without agenda or concern. "I think your mother is probably right on the subject of that."

"I really do think we should ask your mother before inviting a guest round for tea." Harold wondered what Rose would possibly make of all this.

Grace Pemberton

"I guess that explains why the house elves have to cook all the food in the kitchen, rather than just creating it by magic," Grace commented. When she and her mom had first moved to Hogwarts she thought the elves were basically miracle workers, but it hadn't her taken her long to find the kitchen and realise that a lot of hard work went into the meal they prepared and that the whole process was a lot less magical than she had imagined it to be at first. In fact, the elves cooked much the same way her muggle grandmother did.

"And you can ask mom if you want," Grace replied to his uncertainty about being invited for dinner. "But she'll say yes. I can bring my friends whenever I like. And you're a friend, right?" It didn't occur to her that this grown man probably had a different idea of friendship than she did at age 11. "I mean even Easton likes you, so she can't possibly have a reason to say no. Promise you'll come. You can even talk about Arithmancy." Grace thought this was an utterly brilliant offer we would have trouble resisting.

She had to pace herself to match the professor's speed as they walked back into the castle and along the corridors. Normally, when it was just Easton and her, they ran. Professor Prendergast didn't look like much of a runner though. In fact, Grace doubted he ever did anything in much of a hurry. Adults could be so frustratingly slow at times it boggled her mind. How did they ever get anything done?

It didn't take look for the to reach the librarian's quarters were Grace and her mom stayed. Standing in front of the solid oak door Grace thrust Easton's lead into Professor Prendergast's hands. She then retrieved her key from the pocket of her skirt.

"Mom, I'm home," she called out. "Okay with you if I bring a friend for dinner?"

Harold Prendergast

Harold honestly didn't quite know what to say. Every interaction with the Pembertons of Hogwarts seemed to leave him just a little bit flummoxed and utterly inept of speech - something he would not normally, entirely, associate with himself. He was, in his estimation, one of life's ramblers, offering vastly more on any particular subject than was usually socially appropriate. Oversharing, he thought, was caring.

Having been given the dog's lead to hold, Harold immediately assumed full responsibility for the dog's behaviour and tugged it, once, firmly but not sharply. The dog looked up at him, as if confusedly asking what was going on and Harold just stared down. Had Grace seen it, he wondered what she would make of such a staring competition, but Easton broke eye contact and just sat still.

He pushed his glasses back on the bridge of his nose. Had he really just been referred to as 'a friend' by Grace? It was a wonderful, simple gesture of trust and openness - something he rather wished more people would do, but then remembered his own predilections on the subject of volunteering information and inwardly cringed at the moment of hypocrisy, no matter how slight.

He stood there, awkwardly, politely waiting to be invited over the threshold, but very much unwilling to do so on anything resembling a fraudulent basis, and so waited for Grace to do the honours - and brook whatever awkwardness there would between her and her mother.

Though he didn't volunteer asking, even though Grace seemed very much convinced this was the appropriate plan of action; the conversation in the library brought a flush to his cheeks in mild dismay.