HP ff – Chapter 2 – Familiar Faces

The next day, with Tom’s help and with the other older witches’ and wizards’—at one point, goblins’—assistance, Alexandra managed to get money from her parents’ vaults in Gringotts. She first went to Flourish and Blotts to buy her school books. However, after completing her list, she noticed that all that was left of her money bag were a few pieces of Sickles and Knuts. So she had to go back to Gringotts again to get more money and finish her shopping. Her day still ended well though, because as she made her way back to the Leaky Cauldron, with Snuffles carrying most of her books, Mr. Florean Fortescue enthusiastically invited her to his ice cream parlour and gave her a strawberry and vanilla ice cream topped with nuts and chocolate syrup for free. Florean was very fond of Alexandra’s family because he was a very good friend of her mum.

On the following day, Alexandra brought with her the small trunk that was owned by her godfather. She thought it would be a lot easier to walk around and shop with a trunk attached to a trolley Tom had lent her. After filling her money bag with a considerable weight of noisy coins, she went on to buy the rest of her school things. She decided to go first to Madam Malkin’s Robes for All Occasions to get her uniform. She and Snuffles were greeted by a squat witch wearing a mauve robe and a kind smile on her face.

“Hogwarts, dear?” she asked. Alexandra nodded in response. “You’re an early bird, you are. First customer of the day.”

Madam Malkin led her to the back of the shop where she was made to stand on a stool. She then slipped an oversized black robe on her and started pinning the ends to get the right measurements.

“Excited to go to Hogwarts, are you?” she said kindly while pinning a considerable excess of the robes’ length that fell her past the stool Alexandra was standing on.

“Yes,” she answered, failing to suppress a smile.

“I’m sure you’ll have lots of fun there,” she said and beamed at her. When she turned, she saw that Alexandra was accompanied by Snuffles who went to the dark corner near of the room Alexandra and sat straight, behaving himself. “And is this your pet?” she asked again, staring at him.

“Yes,” Alexandra replied hesitantly. She forgot to ask for Madam Malkin’s permission first before allowing Snuffles in her shop. She was not sure if Madam Malkin was okay with having a great big wolf in her shop.

Madam Malkin eyed Snuffles briefly and said, “He’s a handsome dog, seems very loyal,” and she smiled approvingly Snuffles.

Alexandra felt relieved and smiled, yet as she was about to open her mouth to correct her about Snuffles being a wolf not a dog, they heard more than two people entered the shop. A second witch appeared to take over Alexandra’s measurements as Madam Malkin excused herself and greeted her customers.

She heard Madam Malkin ask the same question (“Hogwarts?”) and a curt reply from another woman (“Yes.”), followed by footsteps going toward where she was.

Madam Malkin led a fairly tall middle-aged woman with blonde hair fixed elegantly in a tight bun. Her dark maroon robes looked very expensive that Alexandra, for a couple of second, almost goggled at it. Behind her came a young boy who seemed just her age. He would have looked effortlessly handsome with his hair flowing elegantly on his face if he did not look so sour.

Madam Malkin placed a stool beside Alexandra and beckoned the boy to climb on it. Before he did so, he noticed that Alexandra was looking at him so he stared back at her. Feeling hot in the face, Alexandra immediately focused her gaze at Snuffles.

“I will be back,” the elegant woman said in a cold voice and left, without waiting for her son to reply.

“Hi,” said the boy as soon as his mother was out of earshot.

“Hi,” Alexandra replied, as she gave him a quick side glance.

“Wow! That’s a big one,” he uttered a bit loudly. Alexandra turned to look at him and followed his gaze; he was staring amusedly at Snuffles.

“He’s Snuffles,” she muttered and smiled.

“He’s yours?” Alexandra nodded. “I’ve never seen a wolf before, never thought they’d be that big!”

Alexandra was quite taken aback. She was quite impressed with how this boy easily distinguished a wolf from a dog. Nearly everyone she met before always thought Snuffles and Scout were dogs, just like what Madam Malkin thought Snuffles was.

“How did you know he’s a wolf?” she asked and added that what she had just thought about most people not knowing their difference.

The boy shrugged, “Read about them. How long have you had him?”

“Since he was born. His mum was our family pet.”

“Wicked!” the boy said admiringly, and he grinned widely at her, which made Alexandra blush. “You’re going to Hogwarts, too, aren’t you?”

“Yes,”

“Wish you could bring him with you,” he said, a slight trace of regret in his voice, “I think bringing a wolf like yours as a pet at Hogwarts would be very fun.”

Alexandra just smiled at him. She did not dare tell him about the special letter the Hogwarts Headmaster himself wrote so she could bring Snuffles with her to Hogwarts. The boy seemed like a nice kid, but his mother didn’t seem like the type who would be amused to have her son run around the Hogwarts castle with a gigantic wolf tailing at him.

“There you go, dear. You’re done,” said Madam Malkin, beckoning her back to the shop front. As soon as she hopped down from the footstool, Snuffles stood up and walked toward her and the boy. He started sniffing on him. The boy laughed good heartedly.

“I think he likes you,” Alexandra said, sounding amused.

The boy grinned handsomely at her and asked enthusiastically, “Can I pet him?”

Alexandra smiled and nodded. She beckoned Snuffles to get closer to the boy so he wouldn’t have to leave his footstool. The boy bent down to reach Snuffles as he walked toward him, but before he could even reach Snuffles head, a cold voice made them all jump.

“Sirius, NO!” it belonged to the boy’s mother who suddenly stormed toward them and snatched his son’s hand. She then turned to Alexandra and stared at her angrily. Alexandra, on the other hand, immediately grabbed Snuffles neck and pulled him and herself backward, almost stumbling.

“Let go!” the boy called Sirius shouted back, restraining from the tight grip of her mother’s hand.

“How dare you bring that filthy beast in shops like this?” said the woman to Alexandra, every word filled with rage.

“No, he’s not—“ Alexandra started to speak indignantly but Sirius cut her off, finally freeing himself from his mother’s grip.

“I’ll see you at Hogwarts!” he said loudly, grinning widely at her. Alexandra, clinging to her instinct that it must be his way of telling her off, turned her back to them.

Madam Malkin ushered her back to the front of the shop to hand her the robes and cloaks. Alexandra immediately handed out her payment to her. She was starting to feel guilty because she could still hear the argument that had started between that boy Sirius and his mum. She wanted to go back and apologize, but Snuffles, sensing her guilt and desire to walk back inside, started pulling her from the cuff of her shirt. As she said her thanks to Madam Malkin and turned to leave the shop, a couple of handsomely dressed father and son entered. The young boy had a striking resemblance to Sirius, although he was obviously younger and shorter than Sirius. The man was obviously the source of the striking features on his sons. They walked past Alexandra and went to the back room, ushered by Madam Malkin.

Her trips to the other shops were quite as uneventful compared to what happened at Madam Malkin’s, but they were considerable more enjoyable for Alexandra. She went on to buy the other items in her list. Her first stop was at the Amanuensis Quills right beside Madam Malkin’s where she bought her set of quills and inks and rolls of parchments. Then, she went to buy her brass scales and glass phials at the Wiseacre’s Wizarding Equipment. Next was the Apothecary which was very familiar to her. She was a frequent visitor at this shop and the owner was very friendly with her, remembering her as the young Zach. Her last stop at the North side of the Diagon Alley was Potage’s Cauldron Shop to purchase her pewter cauldron.

The last two remaining shops that Alexandra had wanted to visit that morning was on the South side of the Diagon Alley, so she had decided to bring all the stuff she had bought back to her room in the Leaky Cauldron and then head off to buy her wand and something for Snuffles. She had promised Tom that they’d be back for lunch then set off once more to Diagon Alley.

When they were nearing Florish and Blotts, Snuffles suddenly ran toward a boy with black shoulder-length hair who was about to enter the shop and nudged him with his nose. It was that boy named Sirius, and Snuffles was inviting Sirius to finally pat him on his head, which he did excitedly. After a quick pat, Snuffles ran back to her, just as soon as Sirius’s mother had looked back on her son. When she had gone inside, Sirius went back out, frantically looking around. Then, his eyes fell on Alexandra, who was standing next to Snuffles, rooted to her spot. He waved at her and smiled. Alexandra remembered feeling guilty about what had happened earlier that she responded with a small wave and mouthed “Sorry” to him. To her surprise, Sirius shook his head, winked his eye, and grinned handsomely at her. Then, he went inside the shop.

Alexandra and Snuffles went on, feeling incredibly happier than ever. She felt pleased to have made a ‘friend’ or perhaps had known a familiar face that she could look for at the start of the term at Hogwarts. When they passed by Florish and Blotts, she slowed her walk and tried to see if she could see him again from the store’s windows, but the place was packed, and it was impossible to see who’s inside, even if you stuck up your nose on the windows.

Finally, they had reached Ollivanders Wand Shop. The south part of the Alley was almost deserted, compared to the crowd that was flooding the north part of the alley. When she and Snuffles had stepped inside, a tinkling bell rang to announce their presence. From the corner of the shop came a middle-aged man with wide, pale silver eyes.

“Good morning, Alexandra Zach,” said the man in his soft voice. He walked toward them and stood in front of them.

“Good morning, sir,” greeted Alexandra as she smiled. She had known Mr. Ollivander for a long time through her father. “Oh, I’m sorry about my wolf, sir. Should I make him wait outside your shop?” she asked, worried about upsetting Mr. Ollivander.

“No, he can stay here.” he replied softly and continued staring at her. “I believe this is the wolf that broke your intruder’s wand?”

The question somehow felt like a cold blow to Alexandra because it was like all of a sudden, she was forced to remember that night—she saw it once more, Snuffles breaking one of the wands he had in his snout. She tried to clear her head and nodded in reply.

“Did you know that it was a Gregorovitch wand that your wolf had snapped?” he asked once more.

Alexandra shook her head and replied earnestly, “No, sir.”

The old face broke into a smile, “Fir, twelve inches, dragon heartstring. Snapped into two by a wolf,” he said this, looking amused while eyeing Snuffles. Then, he pulled out a tape measure from his pocket and asked her to raise her wand arm. He started taking her measurements. “Your father Ardolph Zach favoured an apple wand, thirteen inches, and dragon heartstring for a core. He almost lived up to the wand’s power, except for his early demise.”

This made Alexandra flinch, as if burned by the last statement of Mr. Ollivander. He paused from what he was doing and stared at her for a moment. Embarrassed by what had happened, Alexandra gave him a small smile. Mr. Ollivander then continued his work and his speech, “Elethea White preferred a rowan, eleven and a quarter inches, unicorn hair. A perfect match for someone like herself. But I believe she never got the chance to use it for a duel?”

“No, sir,” muttered Alexandra, who seemed to have realized that there was no way she could evade Mr. Ollivander’s questions about her family. She probably should just go on with it then. “It was my dad and my uncle who managed to duel with—that man.“

“Ah of course, your father’s cousin, Rand Zach,” Mr. Ollivander said, his silver eyes shining like the moon. “A very talented and interesting young man he was, and look at what he went home with when he was your age—a dogwood wand, twelve and three quarters inches, unicorn core. He always thanked me every time he saw me for the wand that he had. But it is the wand that chooses the wizard, of course, not me.”

Alexandra knew all about this, as she had already heard of Mr. Ollivander talk about this many times. She smiled knowingly at him, which he returned with a small smile. He went on to his shelves and started picking out boxes of wands for her.

“That is enough,” he said and the tape measure fell on the floor. Snuffles immediately picked it up and handed it to Mr. Ollivander who seemed pleased with the wolf as he said his thanks.

Alexandra had tried quite a few wands that was handed to her by Mr. Ollivander—first was the Willow and dragon heartstring which created a magnificent effect but Mr. Ollivander was not convinced. Followed by Beech-wood and unicorn hair, then Ebony and phoenix feather, Hazel and unicorn hair, Pear and phoenix feathers, and Cypress and dragon heartstring. Every wand she held either performed poorly in Mr. Ollivander’s eyes or did not look good on her because he just kept snatching the wand from her hand. On her seventh try, Mr. Ollivander handed Alexandra an English oak and phoenix feather, and as soon as Alexandra held the hand, she immediately understood what Mr. Ollivander had been talking about.

“Ah, how fascinating! It was believed that Merlin owned an English oak, but of course, nobody could confirm it. However, yours is ten inches, unyielding. How very interesting, Ms. Zach. This event is as equally curious as your family’s. Let us hope that you will surpass their achievements,” he said, as he placed Alexandra’s wand in a long thin box and accepted her payment of seven Galleons. “Please feel free to visit me while you’re here at Diagon Alley, Alexandra,” he called gently on as Alexandra opened the door. She nodded happily and waved goodbye at him.

The Magical Menagerie was also a happy shop for Alexandra, again it was one of the shops she frequently visited with her father. However, it was quite a disappointment for her to not find anything she could buy for Snuffles, except for a fang brush, which Snuffles didn’t really seem to like.

On their way back to Leaky Cauldron, they saw that the Quidditch Quality Supplies was packed with customers. There seemed to be a new broom in display. Had she and Snuffles been feeling hungry, she would have run toward it to take a peek.

Alexandra and Snuffles had decided to start packing her trunk after a hearty luncheon. It would have been a pleasant way to end a rather tiring day, but she saw something that made her feel miserable, she ended up crying for quite sometime.

A picture of her with her family fell from the big trunk that once belonged to her mother. All the faces—including hers—were beaming brightly at her, waving, his comedic of an uncle frantically waving and dancing behind. Crouching in front of them were Scout and Snuffles, while Almond stood on top of Snuffles’s head, flapping his wings. It was taken during her eleventh birthday, just five months ago.

Snuffles tried to comfort her by putting his head on her shoulder. She wiped her eyes with the back of her cuff sleeve, but they were immediately flooded with tears once more.

“I’m okay, Snuff,” she muttered to her wolf, patting him on his neck. “I just miss them … a lot.”

“I’m sure they miss you, too, love,” said a concerned voice that came from the mirror across the room.

 

The following days were spent by Alexandra and Snuffles visiting several shops to say hello to the different people she knew for years and reading her course books. She had spent considerable time with Florean because he always wanted to give her free ice cream and sundaes and would never accept a single coin from her. She was extremely pleased to be with his company because he was so much like her father. Florean would always ask her about what she had learned so far from her course books and would even lecture her about history which was easily his favourite subject.

As promised, she also went to check on Mr. Ollivander every now and then. But she did not dare enter when she saw him with customers. When she’s inside the shop, however, Mr. Ollivander would tell her of his adventures on acquiring the materials he needed for his wandmaking. She was always excited to hear about phoenixes because they were rare and hard to find. It had been Ardolph’s dream to see a phoenix or catch it and take it home as a pet.

She had also frequently visited Quidditch Quality Supplies and started at all the goods the store sold. Quidditch was one of her favourite sports, played usually with her godfather, Uncle Rand. To her opinion, her godfather was a very skilled flier. None of her parents flew very well on brooms, so these things reminded her greatly of her uncle. Instinctively, her hand held the mokeskin pouch on her side, the one created by her father which nestled her mother’s wand, a secret only she, Snuffles, and Aberforth Dumbledore knew. With this, she realized that she did not have anything from her godfather that she could bring anywhere like this pouch.

But of course, most of her godfather’s things as well as all the other belongings of her parents were in their ruined house which she was still not prepared to visit again just yet. Perhaps some other time, she told herself as she stepped off the shop, her eyes looking longingly at a Golden Snitch on the store shelf.

 

During her last week, as Alexandra and Snuffles went about on their usual daily stroll at Diagon Alley, she had planned to buy fresh rolls of parchment for school. She had already finished the first set she bought during her week because of her doodling while reading books. She also wanted to buy some art materials she could bring to Hogwarts.

After replenishing her money bag hopefully for the last time before she and Snuffles went to Hogwarts, they set off to go to Mr. Ollivander’s to say a quick hello. However, a gloved hand that held her shoulder tightly stopped her from running. She turned around to see that a fairly-aged woman who looked beautiful despite her age was eyeing her beadily.

“What is your name, child?” she said in a chiming voice.

Alexandra stared at her apprehensively and said after a few seconds, “A-Alexandra Zach, miss.” From the corner of her eye, she saw Snuffles advanced toward the lady, so she held up her hand to stop him.

The woman was still staring at her with her blue eyes. Then, she let go and let out a huge sigh and smiled at her.

“I’m sorry about that. I just thought you looked vaguely familiar,” she said casually, her eyes surveying her and Snuffles.

Alexandra did not say anything in return. She had seen this woman before, and if her memory was not betraying her, this woman was called Madam Primpernelle, the owner of the beautifying store here in Diagon Alley. She grew up hearing her mum criticising that shop. Elethea was not very fond of the potions she made, or the beautifying potions in general.

“You somehow resembled an old employee of mine who had gone away without a trace, probably eloped with some stupid man,” she said, sounding a bit irritated, her hands waving impatiently. “She’s a pretty girl, quite favoured by my male customers. But upon closer inspection, you look much more beautiful than her.”

Alexandra felt herself go red by Madam Primpernelle’s praise. She muttered an almost incomprehensible “Thank you” and kept her eyes on her shoes. The woman, however, laughed almost shrilly.

“Ah, and you’re much more modest and humble, too! That Hyde girl was quite pompous and proud. Indeed, you can’t be related to her. Perhaps just a dizzying coincidence. Well, I have to go,” she said. “Drop by Madam Primpernelle’s shop one day in case pimples start to attack your pretty face, okay? That’s a good girl.” she said, winking at her and patting her head with her gloved hand. Then she turned her heel and head off, leaving Alexandra speechless.

 

Back in her room at the Leaky Cauldron, Alexandra thought of her strange encounter with Madam Primpernelle. She wondered what would her mother say if she were alive and found out about what that woman said to her.

“I’m not sure mum would be pleased to know I was praised by Madam Primpernelle,” Alexandra said loudly to Snuffles, while staring at their family picture.

“Why wouldn’t she?” said the voice from the mirror indignantly, “I see you every day, and I have never seen such a beautiful face in my entire existence!”

“I shall tell Tom you need to be let out once in a while to see prettier sights then,” she said while laughing. Snuffles growled sleepily.

“No, you shall not. The glare would kill me,” replied the voice curtly.

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HP ff – Chapter 1 – The Tragic Ordeal

Alexandra Zach awoke with start, yet she could not help herself to sit up. Something heavy seemed to weigh on her entire body, and a stinging pain stabbed her chest that she winced in pain, her eyes tearing up. Even breathing heavily was causing her pain. She willed herself to relax and to try to remember what happened to her. Why was she in so much pain?

Then, she opened her eyes again, this time taking in her surroundings. She realized that the white walls and ceiling were not familiar to her. Or was it? She was sure she’d seen these before, but she expected to see the warm colours of her red-and-teal bedroom, not this dull and plain room. Panic started to rise inside her. Where is she? Why is she in someone else’s room?

“Oh dear. Oh dear—“ she heard an elderly female voice said from the corner of the room. “She’s awake. She’s awake. She’s awake.”

“What is that you are fussing about, Martha?” another female voice spoke who sounded stricter and calmer. “Go on, now. Go on. Go back to your ward with Dmitri. You should not be lurking in here—“ she came into Alexandra’s view, and Alexandra saw that the woman who was speaking was pointing at something that was probably beside or behind the elderly woman. Then, the woman turned to her, her speech ended abruptly, and to Alexandra’s surprise, the woman almost ran to her,

“Oh, my! You’re awake! You’re finally awake!” her voice sounded so amused and nervous, Alexandra thought the woman almost teared up. “How are you feeling, love? Do you feel sore? Are you hungry? Can I get you something?“

Alexandra felt her head spin from all the questions. She tried to shake her head to reply but she immediately felt dizzy.

“Oh, don’t force yourself to move, dear, or you might feel dizzy and weak,” the woman said shrewdly, gently patting Alexandra’s forearm.

“W-where am I?” she asked and was surprised to hear herself sounding so hoarse. Her throat felt so dry it seemed like she hadn’t spoken for so long.

The woman suddenly looked a bit horror-stricken as she placed her hand on her mouth, as if to stifle a cry. Then, she straightened herself and cleared her throat before speaking, “You’re at St. Mungo’s, love. You do know St. Mungo’s, don’t you?”

“Yes,” she answered very softly. Her eyes immediately surveyed the room once more. It just dawned on her that what she thought were white walls were actually the hospital bed curtains. And the reason why the place felt oddly familiar was because she had been there before, countless times since she was a little girl, but not as a patient, but as an observer—her mum Elethea worked here.

“W-why am I h-here? W-what happened t-to me?” she asked again. She returned her eyes to the woman and recognized the lime-green robe she was wearing; she was a Healer. Just like her mum. “My mum. S-she’s a Healer, too. Elethea Zach. I-is she here?”

This time, whatever her reason for trying to hold back her tears could not hold it in anymore. She started sobbing so much that her shoulders were shaking almost violently. She said something incomprehensible and left her side, leaving Alexandra confused with her thoughts.

What could be wrong with that woman? Was had she acted like she never expected Alexandra to wake up anytime soon? And what’s up with asking about her mum? Why did she act like something bad happened to—

Something in her brain clicked. And almost at once, the Healer returned to her room with a company three older people, two Healers and an old man she knew from somewhere, but could not yet remember where. They all looked sombre.

“W-what happened to my mum? Where is she?” she asked at once, trying to sit up again and ignoring the stabbing pains in her chest and head.

The female Healer approached her once more and gently coaxed her to stop moving, still crying. Alexandra was feeling too weak to resist, but she could not fight the urge to know what was wrong with her mother.

“Alexandra,” the older female Healer spoke, she sounded like she was forcing herself to speak clearly. “Alexandra, do you remember anything that had happened to you?”

Alexandra stared at her for a moment and considered her question. She tried to remember what she could as she closed her eyes. When was the last time she saw her mum? Her dad? Her head started to ache but ignored it. She could picture it now—their living room! She was sitting by the fire with her father and Scout, one of their two wolves, and they were holding a letter, reading it together. Then, her mum came in holding a tray of treacle tarts and mugs of steaming hot chocolate, telling them about Almond their family owl, that was probably enjoying an extended stay at the place where he was sent to deliver their reply.

“We — we were reading my Hogwarts letter,” she said weakly, her head buzzing painfully. “Then, Uncle Rand came in wearing his old Hogwarts robes, congratulating me. Snuffles was carrying a small cauldron behind him. We were … planning to visit Diagon Alley … on the 22nd to buy my, my Hogwarts things and … stay at the Leaky Cauldron until the 1st of September, so I could … g-get on the train,” she recalled slowly, pausing every now and then to clear her hoarse throat.

The first Healer who attended to her held up a glass of water in front of her and helped her drink it, which she gratefully accepted, gulping slowly and finishing the entire glass.

Although somehow occupied by while drinking, Alexandra did not fail to catch the three older people exchanged anxious glances.

“I-I see,” was all the older female Healer said, and she looked away. “Do you know … what day it is, Alexandra?”

Alexandra looked at her and frowned, “It’s August 2nd, isn’t it? We sent Almond to deliver our reply on the 31st. Mum did. Where is she anyway? Is she coming now?”

Once again, the three of them briefly looked each other tensely, with the younger Healer beside her joining in.

The old male Healer took a step forward and placed his hand on the edge of Alexandra’s bed, “You see, dear,” he said, his voice sounded more reassuring, “it’s been ten days since the 2nd of August. And you have been unconscious for those ten days, only gaining your consciousness now.”

He said it so calmly that Alexandra didn’t know how to react. She’s been sleeping for ten days? What had she drank then, a powerful sleeping potion?

“Something … happened, Alexandra,” the third old man had finally spoken. Alexandra fixed her eyes on him as she tried to remember where she saw him. “You’re house were attacked that night—”

He said it without warning that the two older Healers faced him abruptly and tried to cut him off.

“Dumbledore!”

“She’s just a child!”

“She needs to know the truth!”

“Not when she’s this weak!”

Their hissing almost drowned out Alexandra’s head. Attacked?

“Attacked, you say?” she said loudly, attracting everyone’s attention, but none of them looked at her. “What do you mean?” she tried to prop herself up on her elbows, but the stabbing pains prevented her, yet something else struck in her head, “A-are my parents hurt, too?”

The Healer beside her stifled a cry once more, turning her back to Alexandra. The pair of the older Healers hung their head, while the other old man took a hesitant step toward her and gently patted her hand.

Their odd reaction was like a poisonous confirmation. Tears started to flow from Alexandra’s eyes, yet she wanted to know whatever was there to know.

“It was … too late for them,” the old man said quietly, his blue eyes staring intently on hers. “Your wolves brought you to safety — to my bar. But one of them was badly injured …”

She did not need to hear the rest of his story. Slowly, like a flow of gushing water, Alexandra’s memory swam back to her head. She started to put piece by piece together. This old man, his silver beard and hair called Dumbledore — he’s Aberforth, and his bar was called Hog’s Head. He was one of her dad’s friends.

And the Healers. The old man was called Mauritius while the old woman was Donnatella. And the Healer beside her was Greta.

Then, she remembered what had happened that night. Her dream about attending Hogwarts and going to her Uncle Rand’s class was suddenly interrupted by a deafening explosion. Still feeling groggy, she opened her eyes and saw her wolves—old Scout and her grown pup Snuffles—were howling madly. Then, her mother burst through her bedroom door, hoisting her off the bed, lifting her on her shoulder, speaking to her and the wolves in hushed yet panic-stricken voice,

“Go! Go to safety! Stay safe,”

“M-mum,” Alexandra said, starting to feel scared, “what’s going on? — Dad!” she shouted as she saw her father’s back standing outside her bedroom door, as if blocking her view. He turned to face her and smiled, and then a blinding light and blasting sound and she saw her father’s body raised off the floor and slammed on the wall adjacent to the door. With a loud thud, his body landed heavily on the floor, the twinkle in his eyes gone.

“ARDOLPH!” it was Rand, Alexandra’s uncle. He had just reached the top of the stairs which was at the end of the hallway, the opposite end of Alexandra’s bedroom door. He looked furious and confused. He looked to his right, his wand on his hand and raised it. A bright red light flew from the end of it.

For a moment, Alexandra and her mum stood frozen on their spot. Elethea’s horror-stricken eyes were filled with tears as she stared numbly at her lifeless husband on the floor, his blank eyes staring at the ceiling, his mouth still with the trace of the kind smile he gave his daughter.

“ELETHEA, RUN NOW!” Rand’s voice thundered from the hall, as series of jet lights flew from all directions. This seemed to bring Elethea to her senses because the next second, she pulled Alexandra toward the window, which was parallel to the bedroom door. But the next second, another loud explosion shattered their small cottage, and Alexandra, for the second time that night, saw a man’s body flew off the ground and landed limply on the hallway. It belonged to her Uncle Rand.

Alexandra stood there, with her eyes and mouth wide open, staring at the lifeless bodies of her father and her godfather. She wanted to scream, to call out their names, to run toward them to shake them, wake them up, for in her head, she was sure they were just playing, but she could not move and she could not say anything.

“SCOUT! SNUFFLES! HERE!” the clear voice of her mother made her jumped. She turned to look at her, standing at the broken window pane that Elethea had just crashed with a bedroom chair. Elethea grabbed her by her shoulders and knelt in front of her, so their eyes were levelled and said, in a firm voice not betrayed by her shaking hands, “You need to go and stay safe. Scout and Snuffles will take you to safety. Stay with them and don’t ever come back — don’t even look back! Live for us, Alexa. Dad and Uncle Rand and I love you very, very much,” at this her voice quavered and tears flowed from her eyes. She hugged Alexandra tightly and kissed her on her forehead.

Then, in a swift movement, Elethea hoisted her at the back of Snuffles who was almost twice as big as Alexandra. Alexandra had meant to hold on to her mum, to pull her to safety with her, but Snuffles had suddenly propped himself on the broken window pane that Alexandra held tightly on his neck, and with a swift movement, they jumped off the window, with Scout on their tail.

A sickening whimper of pain echoed throughout the dark night, obviously coming out of the broken window. Snuffles had just jumped off the fence when Alexandra turned to look back at her bedroom window, and what she saw made her fall off from Snuffles’ back — Elethea’s lifeless body fell from the broken window.

“NOOOOOOO!” Alexandra screamed, ignoring the pain that crawled on her back as she fell on the ground, her whole body shaking with fear.

Scout had turned back to try to break Elethea’s fall on the ground, and they both landed on the soft patches of flowering shrubs.

Snuffles went back for her and started pulling her arm sleeve, as if signalling her to get on his back again. But she could not move, her arms shook badly when she tried to support herself to sit up. Then, Snuffles started to growl madly, his big fangs glistened in the moonlight. He bounced on Alexandra and crouched in front of her, as if to block her from something.

A shadow emerged from the broken window, and Alexandra saw the outline of a big man who seemed to be staring at her, a huge twisted smile on his face.

“CRUCIO!” he shouted, his wand pointed at her. But Snuffles had blocked the curse and received it for Alexandra. He howled and whimpered in pain, collapsing on the side, a couple of feet away from Alexandra.

“I can’t believe how heroic everyone in this house is!” the hoarse voice said in mock surprise. “But even heroes act stupidly, too.”

Alexandra watched him raised his wand arm once more and aimed at her. This time, with no one to block the curse, she struggled to move away. But a numbing pain in her back prevented her from moving.

“CRUCIO!” he shouted once more, and the jet red light flashed straight at her.

Alexandra let out a scream so horrible to hear as she felt excruciating pain all over her body; every inch of her body and her bones felt like on fire, like she was about to melt and explode and break apart.

She fell back on the ground, weakly, almost dying, but her eyes, after a moment, focused on the stranger who seemed to be speaking.

“… it’s a pity she didn’t have her wand with her. What a stupid witch!” he said loathingly and laughed horribly. He raised another wand with his other arm, aimed it at her. But before he could open his mouth, she saw it.

Two furry figures had stealthily found their positions to attack the unknowing stranger. One of them, the bigger one, Snuffles — who seemed to have recovered from the earlier attack — was crouching below the window, waiting. On the other hand, she saw Scout, crouching behind the man. Then, she attacked from behind, pushing the stranger off the window. Scout’s leap was too powerful that she ended up landing badly on the ground, hitting the fence. Yet, after a few seconds, she joined Snuffles in attacking the stranger, who, as the man fell, immediately bit the stranger’s wand arm after the other so hard he yelped in pain, then whimpered as he crashed on the ground painfully.

The commotion on the ground beneath the window was accompanied by sickening screams of pain and breaking bones. One of the wolves made a weird noise, and soon enough, Alexandra saw Snuffles jumping off the fence, with two sticks on his snout, one of which he intentionally broke by prodding the end with his paw. It let out a silvery smoke, and Alexandra immediately understood that that was a wand. Snuffles just broke the wand that probably belonged to the man.

Then he bounded toward her, dropped the other wand to her hand, and licked her cheek. The warm breath of Snuffles felt comforting. In a few moments, Scout joined them, limping from her injuries, and licked her on the cheek as well. Alexandra could not clearly remember how she was hoisted back to Snuffles back, whether her wolves managed to do it on their own or she was able to raise a part of her body. All she knew was the pain she was feeling was so intense, she was ready to die.

She knew that Snuffles and Scout had started to run toward the forest. But she was also aware that they stopped once in a while, perhaps to drink water or to rest. She sometimes heard Scout whimper in pain.

The next thing she knew, she was hearing incomprehensible voices, one of which — she just realised now — belonged to Aberforth. Her wolves must have brought her to Hog’s Head. It was probably the first establishment they came across with. Whatever happened after that, she could not remember anymore.

 

***

In the following days, Alexandra learned about what happened during her long stupor through her visitors’ accounts—most of which were friends of her parents and godfather from Hogsmeade, St. Mungo’s, Diagon Alley, Ministry of Magic, and Hogwarts.

She learned from the Hit Wizard friends of Uncle Rand that the ministry decided to proceed with the funeral of her parents and godfather after holding it off for five days to wait for her to wake up. To make up for this, the ministry had decided to bury them on a good spot in the moor just outside their house. It was actually made possible through the influence of these Hit Wizard fellows because they knew how much the family loved that spot, despite the fact that adjacent to that was where they met their fate.

It was also through these men that Alexandra learned about the stranger who attacked them. He was a deranged wizard who was once arrested by Uncle Rand and was punished by having his wand broken. He managed to acquire another wand and hunted down Uncle Rand. Alexandra was told that this man also caused her uncle’s injury the previous year. Her uncle, however, decided to just let him go, told him to start living clean and good. But of course, this man did not heed Uncle Rand’s advice. He was completely unhinged when he finally tracked down where Alexandra’s uncle lived.

It was Aberforth who told her that Scout had also succumbed to her injuries, a few minutes after they arrived at Hog’s Head. Hagrid — who was Uncle Rand’s co-worker at Hogwarts and was a very good friend of her dad Ardolph — was kind enough to bury Scout in a nearby part of a forest that was particularly chosen by Snuffles. Snuffles, on the other hand, only sustained minor injuries and was treated immediately by Hagrid. He was currently staying at the Leaky Cauldron, through the kind suggestion of the owner Tom.

Alexandra was frequently visited by people she knew from the places her parents and godfather had brought her. Some of them she knew so well, while the others were just familiar faces. Her favourite visitors were from the Hogwarts staff (Hagrid who updated her about Snuffles and Headmaster Albus Dumbledore who was Aberforth’s older brother) who gave her loads of wonderful get-well-soon gifts such as sweets, books, and flowers with twinkling fairy lights. She was also very fond of Madam Rosemerta, the beautiful owner of the Three Broomsticks at Hogsmeade who had always been so kind and sweet to her. She brought her loads of chocolates from Honeydukes. Mr. Florean Fortescue from Diagon Alley dropped by twice to visit her and brought her ice cream.

Her least favourite were the people from Ministry of Magic and St. Mungo’s. They were always so serious and sombre in front of her. They repeatedly assured her that she’s safe now. And that the culprit has been caught and was already in Azkaban. These words never comforted her, despite the fact that it obviously brought comfort to the adults. The Healers on the other hand kept insisting on a lot of things that Alexandra might still be experiencing that they would not even let her stand if they could help it.

During her third day of being awake, a whole bunch of important-looking people came to visit her to read the will of her parents and her godfather. She soon found out that they were from the Ministry of Magic, accompanied by the elderly Healer Mauritius (he was Elethea’s senior) and the Dumbledores. It was fairly a quick visit, but somehow, judging by the poorly-concealed tense looks on most the people’s faces—except for the Dumbledores—Alexandra had a feeling that they were holding back something else. But she decided to keep her observation for herself. Seeing the calm looks on the faces of the two Dumbledores was enough assurance for Alexandra to trust them to keep what must be concealed from her.

Her head swam from all the things one of the Ministry official read off from the list that she now owned. Firstly were the Gringotts vaults of her parents and her godfather, the keys to both vaults were handed to her. Secondly, their cottage at the moor beyond Hogsmeade forest and everything inside their cottage. Thirdly, the small house her godfather owned in a secluded area in Suffolk (he used to live there when he was still a Hit Wizard), and all the contents of his house which were mostly his books, journals, inventions. And fourthly, Almond the family owl and Scout and Snuffles the family wolves.

What would she do with all those things now that she’s an orphan? They all seemed worthless. She felt the great desire to swap everything she now owned to have her family back again. And as soon as the people exited her room, she started to cry. She was comforted by Aberforth who went back in immediately as soon as the rest of them left.

 

Four days after that, she was finally set to leave St. Mungo’s. Being stuck in the hospital for a total of seventeen days—ten of which were spent in a deep stupor—was starting to get on Alexandra’s nerves, especially now that she was feeling strong and well. The last two days were merely spent by several concerned people discussing about her temporary lodgings before she would leave for Hogwarts. It had been agreed upon by Aberforth, Headmaster Dumbledore, Madam Rosmerta, Tom of the Leaky Cauldron, and a Ministry of Magic representative that she could go back to her home in Scotland to visit her parents and godfather’s graves with adult supervision. She would stay at Hog’s Head while in Hogsmeade. However, she must be back in London by the 22nd and stay at the Leaky Cauldron until the 1st of September. Incidentally, Ardolph had already reserved and paid for rooms there a month prior to their scheduled trip. One of the Hit Wizard friends of her Uncle Rand had volunteered to take her to King’s Cross Station to board her train to Hogwarts.

 

It all happened so quickly.

Alexandra and Snuffles, accompanied by Hagrid, Aberforth, and Madam Rosmerta, arrived at the Zach Cottage in the morning of the 20th. She saw what remained of their house but did not want to enter it. Aberforth told her that her brother Albus had somehow created an enchantment around it to protect it from being looted by passersby, so the house could sit there in peace until Alexandra was ready to enter it again. She sat for a very long time by the two graves of the people who raised her. Her parents’ names were carved on one grave stone while beside it was her godfather’s. She sat there crying until she had none to shed, her eyes feeling dry and itchy. She left a flower on each of the graves and promised to come back soon.

Madam Rosmerta and Hagrid took the liberty to collect some of Alexandra’s belongings for her, particularly her clothes and two trunks, the bigger one was her mother’s and the smaller one was her godfather’s. Snuffles carried out the small cauldron he was carrying the last night Alexandra saw her family alive.

After going back to Hogsmeade, she and Snuffles went to Scout’s grave, with Hagrid following from a distance. She also left a flower on the headstone that bore Scout’s name.

Two days after that, as she and Snuffles were bound to go back to London, Aberforth handed her a brown mokeskin pouch which she recognized as one of her father’s creation and a sealed letter written by Headmaster Dumbledore. He told her that she needed to show the letter to the train guards in case they question her about Snuffles. Apparently, she was given the special permission to be accompanied by her pet wolf, Snuffles during her Hogwarts Express journey.

But there was something else, and Aberforth started acting like it was a big secret no one else should know. From his robes, he brought out a long piece of wood that Alexandra immediately recognized as her mother’s wand. He said that when they arrived at his doorstep, he noticed that despite the fact that Alexandra was unconscious, her grip on the wand never relaxed. He decided to keep it until she was ready to receive it. He advised her to put the wand in the mokeskin pouch, so she could always bring with her something that belonged to her parents.

Feeling very grateful and considerably happy for the first time since her tragic ordeal, she thanked Aberforth and gave him a hug before she stepped on the Floo Network transporting her to London.

As soon as she arrived at the Leaky Cauldron, Tom served her a special dinner and led her to the room with an elaborate brass number 7 on its door.

And for the first time since she her ten-day unconscious stupor, Alexandra Zach slept soundly in her bed, with her eyes dry and her mind serene.