A/N: This chapter and the next few kind of glaze over Winona and the others' first few years at Hogwarts, showing snapshots throughout. Not much can happen while they're only eleven (they aren't, after all, part of the Golden Trio). Still, a lot of important information comes out in here about Winona, her past and how her years are going to go, and I hope you keep with me until we get to the good stuff!
Also, last chapter was a little smaller, but you can expect more chapters from now on to be around this length instead. Enjoy!
Winona's first few weeks at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry were as amazing as they were terrifying.
It was amazing, more so than she had ever could have dreamed.
The castle was simply breathtaking, and she spent every spare moment she had sketching it from every angle she could get to. But when she wasn't sketching – which, if she was honest, was a rarity – she was in her classes.
She adored Astronomy, but found Charms the most useful class of them all. She loathed Transfiguration and Potions, the former because it was almost entirely theory, and the latter because the professor was a dickhead. Professor Snape was a prick; she didn't like his class, she didn't like his attitude, and she didn't like the obvious favouritism of his own house.
He was a bully, and after her first lesson she went back to her dorm and drew him in caricature, emphasising his hooked nose and greasy hair, which made her feel loads better about having to put up with him for the next seven years.
She also loved flying, which she hadn't really expected. When Alicia found out she adored being on a broom, she'd immediately babbled on about how they could be on the team together next year. Winona didn't say anything against this, but she knew the last thing she wanted to do was join the Quidditch team. Sports had never been her thing.
Fred and George had become somewhat infamous just within the first few days of arriving at the castle. They were known as notorious pranksters. They did everything from setting dungbombs off in class to switching out the Slytherins' breakfast goblets for nose-biting teacups.
Thankfully, Winona had, as of yet, been able to avoid being the butt of one of their (admittedly quite amusing) jokes.
Sharing a dorm with the other girls in her year was better than she'd thought it would be. She'd never had any girl friends her age before, and every night was sort of like a giant sleepover. The girls would gather on one of the beds and gossip, or take turns trying different Bertie Bott's Every Flavour Beans. They would talk about the day or do their homework together. It was easy in a way she hadn't expected.
And they were all very interested in Winona's art, something she'd never really encountered before. They all had a strange obsession with getting her to draw them. They would perch themselves on the end of her bed – the one by the window, which Winona had already grown very attached to – and sit perfectly still while she sketched them, getting every detail right before handing it over. The girls pored over the drawings with happy smiles, thanking her for making them look so pretty.
She was closest to Alicia, being that they'd shared a compartment on the train ride in. Winona found her to be the easiest to get along with – kind, fun to be around, supportive. It was nice to spend time with someone and feel like they enjoyed spending time with her as well.
The boys in their year were a little harder to get to know, even despite Fred and George's proclamation that they were to be best friends. They didn't spend very much time in the Tower, and Winona sometimes wondered where it was they went all the time. But she was friendly with them so far, and they haven't given her any reason to despise them yet.
And so everything was going absolutely fine. She was loving her friends, the castle, and her classes (for the most part). Then, just when she was actually starting to believe things could be good for once in the shit-show that was her life, she blacked out.
She'd been sitting on the steps leading to the Astronomy tower, leant back against the stone wall as she absentmindedly sketched the hilly horizon she could see out the window.
The darkness hit her like a slap in the face. It had been months since she'd last had an episode, she'd almost forgotten they even happened at all.
Occasionally this would happen – she tried not to think about it too much, to be honest – but every now and again Winona would lose awareness. It was always when she was drawing, and the world around her, the very ground beneath her feet, would disappear into nothing. And when she woke up there was a sketch on her page that she couldn't remember drawing.
This time everything was black and there were flashes, images she couldn't comprehend, let alone remember. It was like she were in a whirlpool, being sucked down to the bottom, skin going numb from the cold. She couldn't feel anything, couldn't see a thing, but from somewhere she recognised the sound of uncontrollable laughter.
When she finally came to, the page in her lap was filled with charcoal lines, depicting something surprising.
It was a piece of parchment, with a wand held over it like someone was spelling it to do something. Words had spilled across the page like ink drops, but none of them made any clear sense.
Messrs. Moony, Wormtail, Padfoot and Prongs present the Marauder's Map.
She didn't know what most of those words meant individually, let alone all put together. And then below that, it read;
I solemnly swear that I am up to no good.
She had an undeniably shaky feeling in her stomach, a sort of weight that hadn't been there before. Why couldn't she remember drawing it? Where had she come up with the weird words? She knew there was something different about this particular sketch, but a group of giggling Ravenclaws scurried past, breaking her from her thoughts.
Glancing up at the sky, she realised that the sun had set and dinner had already begun.
She scrambled to get her things together, shoving her charcoal sticks and pencils into a bag that was exceptionally heavy, considering she actually had very little schoolbooks filling it.
"Where've you been?" Alicia asked her when she finally slid into her usual spot beside her at the Gryffindor table.
"Sketching," was all she had to say, and with an amused roll of her eyes Alicia turned back to her conversation with Lee and Hope – something about the first Quidditch match of the year.
She was ready to put it behind her and forget about the strange incident altogether, but then the very next day, it happened again. She was in Potions, sitting next to Hope and barely paying attention to Snape as she absent-mindedly scribbled cartoon stars on the edge of her parchment, when suddenly everything went dark, there were a few flashes of bright, colourful images that she couldn't remember, and when she came to, Snape was standing over her, a sneer on his thin lips.
"Miss Andrews!" he snapped, and clearly not for the first time.
Blinking back to awareness, Winona peered up at the evil teacher uncomfortably. "Sorry, Professor," she murmured, wondering how long she'd been spaced out for this time. Spaced-out; it was such an innocuous way to say she'd literally disappeared from the world, floating in another where time and space didn't quite seem to exist.
"Is doodling on your parchment more interesting than learning the potion to cure boils?" Snape asked her tightly, cold eyes just daring her to say yes. Well, far be it from her to back down from a dare.
"Yes," she said bluntly, blinking up at him with faux innocence.
Startled giggles echoed throughout the dungeon, joined by the twins' loud guffaws. Snape's expression slackened for a moment, clearly not having been expecting her to retaliate. His eyes went narrow and his lips formed an ugly scowl.
"Ten points from Gryffindor," he sneered, and a frustrated sigh echoed around the room. Winona met his stare unflinchingly. Snape didn't like the lack of reaction, and his eyes flashed dangerously at her nonchalance. "And you can serve detention tonight to remind you to stopper the attitude."
"Dick," she muttered almost silently as he walked away, making Alicia startle so much she nearly tumbled out of her chair. Grinning, she watched as Snape moved off obliviously, and decided, if there was one authority figure in this entire school she was going to piss off the most, it was going to be Snape.
As soon as he was gone and things had calmed down, Winona turned to look at her page only to be surprised by what she found there. A boy in Gryffindor robes was falling down the stairs in the common room, the dreadlocks clearly scribbled on the parchment making it obvious the boy was meant to be Lee.
Slightly frightened by the episode – the second in as many days – Winona shoved the drawing into her bag and turned back to her work, as though keeping it out of sight might keep it out of mind.
It was scary, losing control like that and waking up to find strange things scribbled on paper before her. But she was very much the kind of person who would rather ignore a problem and just hope it eventually went away.
The day slipped through her fingers much too quickly, and before she knew it she was standing outside Snape's classroom, a displeased scowl on her lips as she procrastinated knocking on the door, knowing it would mean having to see the slimy old git's face.
"Fancy seeing you here," a voice piped up from behind her. She whipped around to attack – her first instinct in most situations – only it wasn't a Slytherin or anyone malicious. It was just one of the twins. The redheaded boy stood idle by the far wall, an impish grin on his boyish features.
"What'd you do this time, brew a heavy-duty shampoo instead of boil treatment and then offer it to Snape to use for his chronic oily-hair condition?" she asked wryly, surprised when she heard the twin chortle from where he stood.
"No, but that's a brilliant idea!" he replied enthusiastically, a wide grin on his face. "I let a box of cockroaches loose in the Great Hall," he added seriously, a sombre look appearing on his face, as though this were the peak of wrongdoing, and despite herself she snorted, the mental image amusing.
She and the pair of identical redheads were friends, but they hadn't spent much time with one another. They were too caught up in the whirlwind of school to bother searching one another out. She'd never really had friends before – how many was someone supposed to have? She already called Alicia and Angelina her friends. Hope too, kind of, but she got the feeling the girl didn't think very much of her. They were very different kinds of people; and that was okay.
"What were you drawing in class today?" he asked her, seeming intent on making conversation.
"Just sketching," she lied with a halfhearted shrug.
She could feel his stare on the side of her face. "You seemed pretty out of it," he commented, and she grimaced.
"It happens sometimes," she told him dismissively, crossing her arms over her chest just as the Potion Master's door swung open, revealing the dungeon bat himself, draped in heavy black robes.
"You'll be cleaning cauldrons tonight," he said in lieu of a polite greeting, his voice droning and ugly, looking down his hooked nose at them with his trademark sneer. "You are not to leave until every last one is spotless," he continued once they were in the room, gesturing to a pile of cauldrons that was unfortunately large. "And you are not to use magic."
With that he swept from the room, not bothering to glance back at the pair as the door slammed shut behind him.
"What a pleasant bloke," Fred muttered sarcastically, and Winona couldn't have stopped the snigger from escaping her lips if she'd tried. Fred looked surprised by the sound, and so she pressed her lips together and got on with the task before her.
The silence was deafening to Winona, and she struggled with the urge to start conversation. Silence could be nice, sometimes necessary for her work, but she wasn't working now, and she felt the desire to speak up, perhaps expand her friend group to more than just Angelina and Alicia. "This is the first time I've seen you without your brother," she finally said, then silently chastised herself for breaking so easily.
"Two boils on a witch's nose, we are," he replied cheerfully.
Not used to the strange saying, she laughed, shaking her head at the difference in Muggle and Wizarding sayings. "Right," she murmured, rolling her eyes as she scrubbed extra hard at a stubborn flaky residue on the side of a cauldron.
"You got any siblings?" he asked curiously, lazily running his brush over the cauldron edge, not bothering to complete the task properly.
Clearly he didn't remember having this conversation before – the day they'd met on the train. But they'd been so busy since then, she couldn't quite blame him. "Nope. Just me."
"Can't imagine being an only child," he said, mostly to himself.
"It's not all it's cracked up to be."
"Neither is having five brothers," he grinned, mostly joking. She was content to let them fall back into silence again, only to be surprised when he started talking again, this time telling her a funny story about the time his older brother Charlie let a gnome loose in the house, leaving their mum racing around after it all day.
Winona found herself chuckling at his short story, wondering what it was like to grow up surrounded by such things as gnomes.
Unfortunately Snape popped his head in to check up on them, a thunderous scowl appearing on his severe features when he found them laughing as they absent-mindedly scrubbed at their cauldrons. He had a few choice words to say about that, and then ended up staying in the room with them, forcing any semblance of fun far from the dungeon.
Finally, at an extremely late and completely unfair hour, he reluctantly let them go, and they all but ran from the classroom lest the evil, dungeon-dwelling hell-beast change his mind.
As they began to move from the dungeons, heading up through the school with only the candlelight to guide them, Winona found that she felt comfortable with Fred Weasley. The silence wasn't awkward, but rather easy, and she didn't feel any pressure to maintain a polite disposition. She could just be herself. It was the same instinct she'd had ever since they met, all those weeks ago on the train.
"I'm going to try that shampoo gag," he said suddenly when they were moving up the staircases, leaping off of one just in time before it changed. "That's golden material, that is."
"You'll just get another detention, Fred," she rolled her eyes, unable to help the small smile that appeared on her lips.
"That's not a good enough reason not to do it," he argued in good spirits, smirking across the hallway at her.
She rolled her eyes again, getting the sense it was something she was going to be doing a lot in the coming years.
"So what's with all the drawing?" he asked suddenly, only for Winona's foot to slip through the trick step. She squeaked, feeling her stomach drop as she tripped. Fred grasped her arm, helping her back to her feet then letting go and continuing to lead the way up the stairs towards Gryffindor Tower.
"What do you mean?" she asked once she was able to breathe normally again.
"You're always drawing," he pointed out as though she somehow hadn't noticed. "I think you might have permanent ink stains on your hands."
She glanced down at the skin of her hands, blinking in surprise. Self-consciously she shoved her stained hands into her pockets, knowing they made her look dirty. She never gave much thought to it, and as she did now, she wondered how to explain it. "Sketching to me, is pranking to you," she told him, hoping it would help him understand.
And it did. Understanding appeared on his face and he nodded, eyes bright as he considered her. "Fair enough," he said as they came to a stop at the Fat Lady's portrait. "Wiggenweld," he said to the woman in the painting, who had been dozing.
She peeked open one eye and glared, but still allowed them access through the portrait hole.
Before they could even fully pull themselves into the common room, there was a shout as someone tumbled down the steps leading to the boy's dormitory. The scene was familiar in a way Winona hadn't thought possible. She watched with wide eyes as Lee tripped, crying out as he stumbled to the bottom of the stairs, landing in a rather undignified heap on the floor.
Her eyes widened and she couldn't help the gasp that escaped her lips. It was exactly like the picture she'd drawn only that morning in Potions, right down to the candlelight flickering at the edges of her vision.
"Whoa, Lee," Fred said, moving forwards to help his friend to his feet. "You alright there, mate?"
"I'll live," the dreadlocked boy responded with a cheerful grin that greatly contrasted the fall he'd just had. He scrambled into a standing position, dusting himself off before smiling once more and moving over to the table in the corner, swiping a book from its surface. "Just came to get my book. How was detention?"
Fred looked back at Winona with a smile, but the blonde witch couldn't find it within herself to smile back, still reeling in shock from what had played out before her. "Better than I thought it would be," Fred told him once it was clear Winona wasn't going to answer.
"Well, I'll be off to bed," Lee said, heading back up the stairs, much more carefully than before. "Coming, mate?"
"Right behind you!" he responded. Lee nodded, waving at Winona before disappearing around the corner. "You're not so bad, Andrews," Fred told her suddenly as they paused at the feet of their respective stairs.
"Glad you've figured that out, Weasley," she responded with just a tiny smirk, forcing herself not to panic at her new revelation, trying to hold off a reaction until she was alone.
He barked a laugh. "I think this is the start of a fantastic friendship." She beamed in response, nodding her head at him before beginning up the stairs to her dormitory. "Hey, Winona?" She paused before turning the corner, glancing back over her shoulder at the taller first year. "How'd you know I was Fred? I never told you."
She hesitated, lost for how to answer. She decided that as odd as the truth sounded, it was better than fabricating a lie. "Sometimes I just know things," she admitted with a helpless little shrug, knowing this to be true now more than ever before.
Fred was intrigued, wondering what she could possibly mean, but before he could ask, she smiled politely, told him she'd see him tomorrow, and continued up to her dorm.
Once Winona was in her room, she sighed, glancing around at all of the beds. Angelina was snoring lightly from her bed next to the bathroom, Alicia was dozing silently and Hope's curtains were drawn shut.
Finally allowing herself a moment of panic, Winona sucked in a deep breath, all but running to her bed. She kicked off her shoes and stripped down, quickly pulling on a nightgown before climbing onto her mattress and drawing her own curtains, just in case one of the other girls woke up.
She had three sketchbooks laying before her, and she dove for the first one, knowing she was looking for a particular piece. She flickered through the book, desperately searching for the picture she hoped she'd merely imagined drawing.
Finally, she froze, stormy eyes landing on the sketch she'd made what seemed like an eternity ago, in another life; which, in a way, it had been.
A man stood, purple wizard robes draping his form, little half-moon spectacles sitting on his nose, hiding bright blue, twinkling eyes. His beard was long and wiry, nearly reaching the floor, and there was a phoenix sitting on a perch beside him, and a familiar hat with a split brim hanging to his left.
She swallowed thickly, glancing at the date and signature that she marked all of her work with. She was right. She'd drawn the piece a full year before she turned eleven.
She'd drawn Professor Dumbledore and the sorting hat over an entire year before she even knew they existed.
She was as terrified as she was intrigued. What did this mean, exactly? That she could, what? Tell the future? Was this a common ability in the Wizarding world? She was torn between the desperate need to tell someone and the instinct not to let anyone know, ever, lest they lock her up to do experiments on, or something equally as nefarious.
She leant towards her instincts, and shoved her old sketchbooks down into the bottom of her trunk, sinking back into her bed and forcing herself into an uneasy, unrestful slumber.
Defence Against the Dark Arts wasn't her favourite class, but it may have been one of her best. There wasn't a whole lot of theory, just mainly practical work, which she tended to excel at.
She got the wand-lighting charm on her first try, and was able to shoot the brightest red sparks out of the whole class. That was all relatively passive magic, however, so when she was told they would be learning the Knockback Jinx only a few weeks before Christmas holidays, she was somewhat apprehensive.
Professor Burbank, a short and stocky fellow with a receding hairline and glasses so thick that his eyes looked three times bigger, was kind if not slightly oblivious towards his students. He was a lot like Professor Binns, their History of Magic teacher, in the way that he taught the lesson, paying very little attention to what anyone was actually doing.
This wasn't a fantastic teaching method when dealing with dangerous offensive spells, so Winona was a little nervous when he paired her up with one of the twins, barely blinking at them before moving on to the next pair.
"And which one am I, then?" the twin partnered with her asked playfully.
"Why, have you forgotten?" she quipped, twirling her wand in one hand and using her other one to brush her blonde hair out of her eyes.
It was somewhat of a game the three of them would play. Since her detention with Fred, the twins had become closer friends with her, often partnering with her in Herbology (which they soon discovered was a mistake; she was terrible at Herbology) or more often, Charms.
They would always ask her which was which, doing all in their power to try and trick her. She'd gotten good at telling them apart, not so much because she could see a physical difference, but because she could tell, deep in her gut, who was who.
She figured this was a side effect of the new 'talent' she'd recently discovered.
The things she drew came true.
Not everything she drew, but sometimes she would black out, and when she came to, there was a prediction scribbled on the paper before her. Still afraid of people's reaction, she said nothing, assuming it was merely a magical trait some witches had, and keeping it to herself.
Again, she was really just a big fan of ignoring a problem until it (hopefully) went away.
So far the worst thing she'd predicted was a food fight breaking out in the Great Hall, so she didn't feel too guilty about hiding this particular ability from her fellow magical-folk.
"Well?" the twin beside her prompted impatiently, and she blinked back to herself.
"Okay, George," she said clearly, grinning when disappointment showed on his face. "Give me your best shot."
It was her last class on a Friday, so after knocking George off his feet three times (he got her three times too, but she still maintained that he cheated that last time), she had nothing to do until dinner, and decided to go secure a spot in the Great Hall, pulling out her sketchbook and beginning to draw, letting her mind wander as her hand moved effortlessly across the page.
"Seen the twins?" a familiar voice asked. She glanced up from her rough sketch of a tawny owl, raising an eyebrow at Lee.
"We just had DADA with them," she replied. "How could you have lost them already?"
"They're not as easy to find as you might assume."
"Maybe they don't want to be found."
"Which can only mean that we should all start running," the dreadlocked boy jested, and Winona couldn't help but give a tiny smile. "Have you finished the essay on the twelve uses of dragon blood?" he asked curiously, pulling out a roll of parchment and eyeing it with a thoughtful frown.
"It isn't due for another three days," she shrugged, going back to her sketch, absently running her pencil along the paper.
She could feel Lee's incredulous stare on the side of her head. "Are you saying you haven't even started it yet?" he asked, lips twitching up in amusement.
She looked up at him blankly. "It'll get done in time."
"By leaving it to the last minute?"
"I do all my best work under pressure," she shot him a sly grin.
Lee rolled his eyes. "You're hopeless."
"What're you two up to?" the familiar voice of one of the twins spoke up. She felt someone slide into place beside her, and looked up to see one twin to her left, the other opposite her next to Lee.
"Lee's trying to tell me my study habits are bad form," she smirked, glancing to her side and rolling her eyes at Fred playfully.
"I've been looking for you two," Lee said, leaning across the table to whisper to Fred. "Is operation: bubble-bath, underway?"
"Oh Merlin," Winona muttered, slamming her sketchbook shut and giving the trio her full attention. "What're you up to now?"
"We're not sure-"
"That you can be trusted-"
"With such sensitive information-"
"Who knows who you'll go blabbing to?" The twins must have had one mind, it was the only possible way they could have done that so flawlessly. That or they practised every night before bed.
"So little faith," she murmured mostly to herself, turning to the side, bringing on leg up onto the bench and curling it under her as she faced Fred. "Have I ever given you boys a reason not to trust me?"
The twins glanced at each other thoughtfully. "She has a point there, Freddie," George pointed out.
"She has been awfully loyal so far-"
"And we could use an extra set of eyes for this one-"
"It's decided then-"
"Meet us in the common room at eight."
Winona's jaw dropped open in surprise as she stared at the twins incredulously. "I said I wanted to know what you were doing, not that I was volunteering my services for your next scheme," she hissed seriously, though not unkindly.
They grinned widely, her sharp words as ineffective as water off a duck's back.
"Relax, Andrews," Fred drawled around a smirk. "We only need a lookout."
"Oh," she murmured back sarcastically. "Is that all?"
"C'mon," George goaded, leaning closer and wagging his eyebrows at her. "What could possibly go wrong?"
She sent him a flat, unimpressed look. "Everything, now that you've gone ahead and jinxed it," she countered dryly, and Fred rolled his eyes before shooting her a pleading expression. His brother quickly caught on, copying the look and turning it onto her on full force. Winona grit her teeth as she sighed. "Fine," she grumbled, less than pleased. "What do you need me to do?"
Turns out, it was a lot easier than she thought it would be. All that was required of her was to stand outside the prefect's bathroom casually ("try not to look suspicious, Winona, otherwise it'll ruin the whole thing") and cough really loudly if a teacher walked by. They were in there for at least five minutes before she began to get get restless.
With a huff she sank to the ground, pulling out her sketchbook and a fresh pencil, beginning to run the graphite across the paper in long, confident and practised strokes. She hummed quietly to herself, deciding that it was much less suspicious to be sitting there sketching instead of just standing pointlessly.
She'd just finished a rough outline of Peeves (the poltergeist that terrorised the school; rotten little thing, but interesting to try and recreate on paper) when Fred stumbled out of the bathroom, wet hair plastered to his forehead and clothes covered in soapy bubbles.
Alarmed, Winona shoved her things into the safety of her bag and climbed to her feet, staring at him with wide eyes. "What the bloody hell...?" she trailed off, crease appearing between her arched brows.
He grinned, a large smile that bunched up his cheeks, showed all of his teeth and made his eyes sparkle in a way she would never be able to replicate with a pencil. She almost had the urge to smile with him, but controlled herself, her wariness taking precedence.
She glanced to the right to see Lee trip from the depths of the bathroom, covered in bubbles. George followed not a second later, giggling to himself as his feet slipped on the slippery marble floor.
"Unless you want to get wet, I suggest you run," Fred told her, something like pride in his eyes. Winona's eyes widened in alarm. Her sketches couldn't get wet, the colours would run!
She scooped up her bag just as a wall of bubbles pushed its way out of the prefect bathroom. "Oh Merlin," she muttered, turning around and making a dash for the stairs, hoping they wouldn't be powerful enough to follow her up there; but who knew? They were magical bubbles, after all.
The twins and Lee followed her, cackling all the way as they tried to stay ahead of the rapidly building wall of pink bubbles. She finally made it to the stairs leading to a tower she hadn't been to yet, taking them two at a time in an effort to stay dry.
A hand grabbed her arm and gently pulled her to a stop. She spun around to look at Fred and the others. They'd all stopped running, pausing halfway up the stairs and grinning down at the sea of bubbles below that – thankfully – seemed to have stopped rising.
Now that the immediate danger of her work getting ruined was eliminated, she peered down at the lake of pink bubbles, recognising the scent of bubblegum as it wafted up to her. A smile began on her lips, and she couldn't have stopped the grin from escaping if she'd tried.
"Impressed?" Fred asked with a wide smirk, flipping his red hair out of his eyes and leaning back against the stone of the wall behind him in a show of cool nonchalance.
"Beyond impressed," she admitted, staring down at the bubbles with a grin. "How'd you even do that?"
"Zonko's," George answered like it was obvious. She didn't know what that was, but she nodded anyway. "Charlie got them for us a few years back, and we've been saving them for the perfect occasion."
"We had to modify the product a little, of course, but I think it worked out rather well," Fred added with the largest grin on his face that Winona had ever seen.
"Is it dangerous?" she asked suddenly, considering the fact that there might have been some students on that floor.
"'Course not," George sniffed like she'd offended them by asking. "I mean, anyone on the floor will smell like bubblegum for at least the next month, but apart from that it's harmless."
"Right," she murmured, lips lifted in amusement. "And how, exactly, did you plan on getting down?"
All three boys' smirks fell as they considered the predicament. They were on the steps to the tower; the only place to go from there was up, lest they want to wade into the sea of pink bubbles. "Oh," both twins murmured at the same time, brows furrowed. Clearly they hadn't thought that far ahead.
Rolling her eyes, still smirking in delight, she chuckled at them. "You really should always have an escape plan."
They still looked completely lost. They hadn't learnt any vanishing or cleaning charms yet, so they were at a loss for what to do.
"Okay," Winona took pity on the trio. "Look, no doubt the teachers know about this already, they'll come clean it up any minute now. If we stay stuck up here and spin a big story when they find us about how we thought we'd be trapped for ages, they won't think it was us. We'll be in the clear."
They were all silent for a long, long moment, until finally they broke out into large, goofy grins. "You're a genius, you are," George told her brightly.
"We should hire you," Fred added just as emphatically. "You can be our official...manager!"
Winona's nose crinkled at the sound of it. "I don't want to be your manager," she told them flatly, but they completely ignored her words.
"Oh, it'll be brilliant!" George continued. "She can come up with excuses all the time-"
"And cover for us when we're scheming-"
"And watch our backs during missions!"
"Guys, I actually really don't want to," she tried to say, frowning as she tugged at a loose thread on her old bag.
"And she can help us come up with ideas-"
"Really more of an assistant than a manager-"
"But still valuable all the same-"
"Boys," she snapped, and they turned to look at her, beaming smiles fixed firmly into place. She sighed, rubbing her temples in an action far beyond that of an eleven-year-old. "This is another one of those thing that I don't actually have a choice with, isn't it?" she asked tiredly, already knowing the answer.
They grinned wider, moving up a step to throw their arms over her shoulders. "Welcome aboard, Win!" they chimed together, squeezing her tightly, and though she was vaguely annoyed, she couldn't help but also feel oddly content; like she finally felt accepted, like she had finally found where she belonged.
"What's the wand movement for the mice-to-snuffbox again?" George asked from where he sat by the fire, end of his quill tapping his chin.
"Why were we even given homework?" Winona complained with a sour frown from the couch, voice muffled by the book laying open on her face. "Where's McGonagall's Christmas spirit?"
"Christmas was over two weeks ago," Lee told her flatly from the armchair to the left.
"So two weeks before Christmas, you can have Christmas spirit, but two weeks after all bets are off?" she demanded, annoyed by the social rule. Fred and George laughed from where they sat.
"That's how it works," Lee said, rolling his eyes with a hint of a fond smile visible at the corners of his lips.
Winona huffed in displeasure and Fred leaned over to pull the book from her head, revealing her scrunched up face. "Come on," he said suddenly, glancing over his shoulder to make sure nobody was paying them any attention before continuing. "We need to talk about Operation: Idiot-Buzzer."
All the members of the newly formed quartet had gone home for the holidays – except for Winona. It wasn't like she even had a welcoming home to go back to.
She lived with foster parents – her ninth set since she'd been orphaned. They weren't terrible – she'd had plenty of worse ones in the past – but they certainly wouldn't be winning any foster-parent-of-the-year awards any time soon. Suffice to say, she preferred a near-empty Hogwarts to a tiny bedroom with paper-thin walls and screaming foster parents any day.
She'd stayed at Hogwarts, spending all of her time sketching and playing in the snow. Only about five other students in the whole school stayed too, and none of them in Gryffindor, so she was left blessedly alone.
After so many months of near-constant interacting, it was nice to have a week to herself, revelling in the rare quiet and enjoying the cold weather.
She was kind of worried that separating would weaken the newfound friendship she'd found in the twins and Lee, but once they were back together again, it was as though they'd never left. It was strange having friends – people who cared about you, actually wanted to spend time with you. It wasn't anything she'd ever been used to before.
She was still close with the girls, Alicia especially, but there was something about the twins that drew her in. They made her laugh, more than she ever had before. They could have her in stitches with little more than a glance.
"What about it?" she asked Fred, trying to mask how eager she sounded. She was warming to the process of pranking; in fact, she was really beginning to love it. She didn't have the same passion for it that Fred and George did, but it was kind of like having a fight. She got to inflict damage, but instead of people hating her for it, it made them laugh. Kind of the perfect balance, really.
"Well, Carroll will be suspicious if any of us blokes come up to him," Fred began, keeping his voice low so as to not attract attention. She pictured the fourth-year Slytherin with his hairy arms and alarming sweat problem, and shuddered at the thought of getting close to him. "But if Win, say, trips in front of him and slips the buzzer into his pocket, he'll be none the wiser."
George said something in response, but Winona was momentarily dumbfounded by the nickname Fred had given her. It wasn't one she'd ever really come across before, everyone simply called her Winona, or Winnie for short. However, she found herself not minding the new nickname so much – in fact she might have even liked it.
As the moment of surprise wore off, she realised they were all looking at her.
"Huh?" she asked bluntly, blinking in shock, trying to figure out what she'd missed.
"I said: you think you can handle it, Win?" George repeated slowly, and she didn't miss his casual use of her new nickname either.
"Of course," she replied instantly, shrugging off her momentary stumble. "Pretend to trip, slip the buzzer into his pocket and go on my merry way," she listed, checking over her shoulder to make sure nobody was paying her any attention. "Easy as cake."
It turned out it wasn't going to be as easy as cake.
Later that day, when she found herself preparing for the prank, she had a sinking feeling in her gut, like some part of her knew that everything was going to go horribly, terribly wrong. "You'll be all right," Lee told her encouragingly before rather unceremoniously shoving her out from around the corner she was hiding behind.
With a grunt she stumbled out into the open, and stopping herself from turning to glare at Lee, she trudged forwards. Fred and George were waiting in the Great Hall, preparing to set off the buzzer when Carroll came in for dinner.
She sucked in a deep breath and moved towards the large group of Slytherins. She did just as she'd been told to, faking a trip and stumbling into John Carroll's side, inconspicuously slipping the small red, magical buzzer into the pocket of his robes.
She wasn't expecting him to shove her back roughly, sending her sprawled across the dirty stone ground of the courtyard and blinking up at the grey sky in shock. "Beat it, dirty half-blood," Carroll snapped while his Slytherin buddies howled with laughter. "Bloody first years."
The shock from the encounter faded away, replaced by a hot fury. All she could remember was all the times she'd been struck in the past, always by older, more privileged people who knew it was a fight they could easily win. Gritting her teeth, Winona stood to her feet, hands already balled into fists.
"Hey, Dung-For-Brains!" she snapped, and the cackling Slytherins all turned to look at her in surprise. "Touch me again and I'll dislocate your dick from your body," she hissed.
Carroll's eyes went wide before narrowing dangerously. "Tough words from a first year," he sneered. "You really think you can hurt me?"
"I think so," she snarled, taking a step closer and preparing to hit him.
Just as suddenly two arms wrapped around her middle, hefting her up and dragging her forcefully backwards. "Just kidding!" Lee called to the group of Slytherins, adding in a nervous laugh for show. "She's kidding! She does that a lot, kidding around! Have a nice day!"
Winona struggled against Lee's hold, but he didn't put her down until they were back inside the castle, away from Slytherin eyes. "Why'd you do that?" she complained, trying very hard not to stamp her foot like a petulant child. "I could've taken him."
Lee snorted. "Yeah," he said patronisingly. "Maybe if he was deaf, blind, and tied up."
"You've never seen me fight," she argued even as they turned to head back to the Great Hall.
"I've seen you in general," he replied. "You can't weigh more than twenty-five kilos soaking wet."
"Keep it up and I'll dislocate your dick from your body," Winona muttered grumpily.
"You okay?" he suddenly asked her, and she turned to look at him in confusion. He nodded warily to her hand. When she glanced down she had to stifle a gasp. There was a large scrape on her palm, just below her thumb, and it was bleeding bright crimson blood that smeared wetly across her skin. Now that she knew it was there, it began to sting like a mother.
She cussed, holding the injury closer to her body.
"How did you not feel that sooner?" asked Lee in sheer bewilderment.
She just lifted her shoulders in a lame shrug. "Damn," she muttered as she experimentally stretched her sore hand, dodging a group of seventh years as they made their way towards the Great Hall where the twins were waiting.
"Come on," her friend said in an uncharacteristically stern tone. "Hospital Wing for you, missy."
Fear gripped her instantly and she froze where she stood in the hallway, making the third year walking behind her nearly run into her back. "I'm fine," she assured Lee, eyes wide and panicked. She struggled to rein in her reaction, but it was proving to be difficult. "I know some healing spells, I'll be fine," she told him unconvincingly.
"What? Winnie, don't be ridiculous. Come on, it's this way."
"No, Lee," she said firmly, gritting her teeth and staring up at him flatly. "I'm not going."
It was clear her friend didn't want to relent, but in the end he did, knowing that Winona could be incredibly stubborn under the right, or maybe wrong, circumstances. "Fine," he said with narrowed eyes. "Are we going to dinner or what?" he asked suddenly, a smile in his voice.
Although suspicious of his change of demeanour, she followed him, shoving her hand deep into the pocket of her robes and watching him closely. It would be fine until she got back to the dorms, then she could wash it or something. For now, she just had to deal with the pain.
The Great Hall was only half full when they arrived, but Fred and George had reserved the seats opposite them anyway. The two friends slid into their spots, and Lee began to fill his plate with chicken while Winona merely smiled at the boys, using her uninjured hand to take a drink of pumpkin juice.
"How'd it go?" the twins asked eagerly, leaning forwards so they wouldn't be overheard, excited grins on their faces.
"Fine," she lied.
"Winona hurt her hand," Lee said bluntly, not even looking up at her as he spoke.
She whipped around to glare at him. "You traitor!" she hissed, feeling like if her good hand didn't hurt so much, she'd slap him clean across his stupid face.
"What?" Fred and George asked, their usually bright expressions dimming in worry. "What happened?"
"Carroll pushed her over," he told them with a frown, mouth full of chicken, clearly starving. "Then she threatened to dislocate his dick – and I don't even know if that's even anatomically possible-"
"Ooh, that's big word for someone who pronounces the 'g' in lasagna," she muttered snidely, but he paid her no attention.
"So I had to pull her out of there kicking and screaming before she got into even more trouble than usual."
The twins stared at her, seemingly at a loss for words.
Winona scowled at him. "You're the worst, Lee," she growled, but the dreadlocked boy was unbothered, happy to just keep stuffing his face with food. "Screw you," she added venomously. Lee did nothing but shoot her a grin around his full mouth.
Fred eyed the hand he could see and frowned once he determined it was healthy. "Show me," he ordered her sternly, holding out his own hand expectantly.
She wanted to say no, but he had a steely look in his blue eyes that she hadn't seen on him before. This was what friends did, right? They helped one another when they were hurt?
With an unwilling huff, she withdrew the hand from her pocket, placing it in his and keeping her eyes on the enchanted ceiling above them. "Gulping gargoyles!" Fred exclaimed, eyeing the deep graze and the blood smeared across her broken skin. "You need to go to the Hospital Wing!"
"No!" she cried, much louder than she'd meant to. "No," she repeated, much softer and drawing far less attention. "I'm fine."
"Are you kidding?" George asked, having stopped eating to study the injured hand in his brother's with concern. "That looks nasty. It needsto be cleaned and healed."
Seeing no way out of it, she nodded her head. "You're right," she said as absolutely straight-faced as she could, standing to her feet and shooting them a tight smile. "I'll go right now."
Without so much as another word she turned and headed for the doors, walking at a slow speed so she didn't arouse suspicion. It sucked that she had to go without dinner, but that was an affordable price to pay if it meant getting out of visiting the Hospital Wing; she shuddered at the mere thought.
She was fairly certain she was in the clear, halfway to Gryffindor tower, when a voice from behind her made her stop dead.
"The Hospital Wing's in the other direction."
Silently cursing her bad luck, she turned around to face Fred, forcing a perplexed expression onto her face. "Oh, is it?" she asked, blinking up at him innocently.
Fred looked like he wanted to roll his eyes. "Come on," he said, stepping closer to her and wrapping his larger hand around her small wrist, pulling her along. "You have to see Madam Pomfrey."
"Fred," she said, pulling frantically in the opposite direction. "Please, please don't make me go!" she all but begged.
He stopped, turning to look down at her with a mixture of confusion and concern. "Why won't you go?" he asked, blue eyes studying her like she was one of the perplexing plants down in the greenhouses. She looked vulnerable – and that was something he could say, in the whole five months he'd known her, she'd never once looked.
She answered him reluctantly, knowing he wouldn't give up until he had the truth.
"What was that?" he asked after she spoke, and she realised she'd mumbled her words so quietly that they were unintelligible.
She took a deep breath, glaring at him in annoyance. "I said, I have a fear of hospitals, okay?" she hissed, realising he was still holding her wrist and ripping it from his grip.
He was bewildered by her confession. "Why?" he finally asked.
There was a reason, of course there was, but they'd been friends for a few months at best, she didn't want to burden him with her slightly-tragic backstory, so instead she merely shrugged, eyes moving to the floor as she lied. "I dunno, they've just always freaked me out."
"Well, then what do you do when you're sick?"
"I dunno," she said lamely. "I guess I just hope I get better."
She'd never had a foster family who'd cared enough to send her to a doctor – not that she'd even go if they tried.
He seemed to consider her words for awhile, pursing his lips thoughtfully before eventually a wide smile (a much more in-character expression, thank Merlin) appeared on his face. "This way, then," he prompted her, herding her in the other direction.
A wave of terror crashed through her insides. "No, Fred-"
"Relax," he told her with an easy grin that made the storm of fear in her gut calm. He led her down the corridor and into another hallway where he gently nudged her in the direction of a bathroom. It was the girl's room, but Fred couldn't seem to care less, leading her over to the sinks. "You have to at least wash it," he ordered her softly, turning the handle and letting the water run.
She was reluctant to do as he said, but knew it was either that or the Hospital Wing, and option one was looking far more attractive than option two.
She shuffled over to his side, reluctantly giving him her hand. He gently took her bloody hand, moving it under the warm water. Winona hissed when it made contact with her wound, flinching in pain but forcing herself not to escape Fred's grasp. "Merlin, you got a lot of gravel in here, that's why it hurts so much," he told her apologetically, "but we have to get it out."
She closed her eyes, deciding she couldn't watch as his deft fingers ran over her injury, cleaning the gravel and dirt from it. After a few moments the pain faded, and while it still stung, the feeling of the water running over it began to feel soothing.
Much too soon for her liking, the tap shut off and Fred let go of her hand. She hesitantly peeked open her eyes, watching the twin as he opened his robes to reveal an old grey t-shirt with black stains on the front that she didn't even want to consider the origin of.
To Winona's surprise, he grasped the bottom and ripped, tearing a large strip off the fabric and holding it up for her to see. "You didn't have to do that," she told him with a concerned frown. Would his mother be angry that he did that for her?
"It's nothing," he insisted with a smile, picking up her throbbing hand and gently wrapping the fabric around her wound.
"How do you know all this stuff?" she asked him curiously, trying to distract herself from the pain in her hand.
He snorted, clearly finding amusement in the question. "Imagine George and I at the age of five."
She couldn't help but snigger quietly. "Enough said."
"Yeah," he chuckled. "It was either fix it ourselves or admit the trouble we'd gotten into to Mum." With a simple flourish of his hands he tied the fabric, securing it in place around her palm. "There we are, Win," he told her with a smile. "All patched up. You'll be good as new in a few days." She wanted to say thank you, but he continued before she got the chance. "Now we need to talk about revenge tactics for Carroll. I'm thinking a nice dung-bomb in the book bag, or maybe we could read up on hexes and test new ones on him on the way to class..."
Winona knew she was beyond lucky to have a friend like Fred, and as she smiled up at him, all she could think about was how grateful she was that she took after her parents' magical abilities, and how grateful she was to be at Hogwarts at the same time as all her friends.
She suddenly couldn't imagine a world without any of them. And she didn't want to.
Winona was humming to herself distractedly from where she sat at the Gryffindor table, absent-mindedly munching on an apple for breakfast and using her free hand to sketch a simple horizon, considering the colour palate she would use in the back of her mind.
"I'm telling you, Filch is definitely part troll," one of the twins was saying as the pair wandered up to the table, taking their seats on the bench opposite a distracted Winona.
"It's a brilliant theory, but we're gonna need some form of proof," the other one responded as though they were simply talking about writing an essay for Transfiguration.
"Get detention," Winona told them distractedly, eyes on her work as she added more shadows to the mountains.
The twins were silent for a beat. "Oh," they murmured together.
"We'll get detention from him," George said suddenly with a large grin – as though it had all been his idea, and Winona finally looked up at them, rolling her eyes. "He'll take us to his broom-closet of an office and we can rifle through his things; he's bound to have something incriminating buried deep in his drawers."
"Brilliant! Now, how shall we go about earning this detention?" Fred mused, pressing a finger to the dimple in his chin.
"You could go for the classic 'out past curfew' method," Winona suggested. "It never fails."
"But it's too easy," he complained with a pout.
"We feed off of challenges," George added brightly.
"I'm sure you two will come up with something brilliant," she told them honestly before growing bored of the conversation and turning back to her work.
She wasn't expecting to black out at all, and certainly not so suddenly. She sucked in a gasp as everything went dark, then images flickered across her vision, so quick that she couldn't even begin to process them. She felt like she was floating, not connected to her body in any way.
Then suddenly she was falling, wind rushing past her ears as she plummeted towards the ground, body humming with a dark kind of electricity that made her feel ill and her heart race. She was going to die, she was sure of it. Or, was she already dead? All she knew was she was falling, down and down and down, her body weightless and how far was the ground and oh God it would never end and-
She wasn't sure how long had passed, but some time later her vision came back with a small stab of pain to her head, the bright lights of the Great Hall making her eyes ache.
She looked up in shock, eyes wide as she stared across the table at the alarmed looking Weasley twins. "Huh?" she asked dumbly, words escaping her, body still humming from the force of the terrifying episode.
They stared at her in concern. "We've been trying to get your attention but you were out of it for a good few minutes," Fred told her with furrowed brows.
"Thought we were gonna have to cart you off to Saint Mungo's to get your sanity, tested," George added with a teasing grin. Winona recovered just enough to roll her eyes in exasperation.
"Sorry," she apologised halfheartedly, glancing down at the new drawing on the page before her.
Her breath caught in her throat. There, in the grey shades of her led pencil, was the shape of Professor Dumbledore, dead on the ground, eyes staring unseeingly up at the dark sky, the pavement cracked around him as though he'd hit it hard enough to kill him.
She slammed her sketchbook shut and with wide eyes clamoured up from the Gryffindor table. "I have to go," she told her friends hurriedly, already shoving her belongings into her thready satchel.
"What?" they asked in unison, staring up at her in bewilderment.
"Something – it's important...gotta go now..." she stammered, too thrown to put together a coherent sentence. "I'll see you at supper."
She was fleeing from the table before either brother could so much as utter a word.
Ideally, she'd have gone directly to the Headmaster himself, the only problem was she didn't know where his office was. She did, however, know where Professor McGonagall's office was, and so she sprinted down the hallways, darting past a surprised Professor Sprout who yelled after her not to run in the corridors.
She thanked her lucky stars that her Head of House was in her office, attention focused on the essay she was marking.
"Professor!" Winona blurted, tumbling into the room clumsily.
"Miss Andrews?" McGonagall asked with wide eyes, startled by the usually calm student's abrupt, dishevelled appearance.
"I have to speak with the Headmaster, immediately," she managed to get out in between her exhausted puffs.
McGonagall eyed her thoughtfully. "May I enquire as to why?" she asked coolly, remaining calm despite the nervous desperation Winona was exuding.
"It's-" she cut herself off, realising that she couldn't very well tell the truth, even by wizarding standards sketching the future wasn't commonplace – of that she was sure. "It's personal," she said before she could think of a better excuse.
The Transfiguration teacher narrowed her eyes suspiciously. "Between you and-"
"Professor Dumbledore, yes," she nodded her head, eyeing the older woman hopefully. McGonagall sighed and Winona knew her chances were growing slimmer by the heartbeat. "Please, Professor," she pleaded, because she wasn't above begging.
She stared at her teacher imploringly, desperate for her to understand how dire the situation was. She contemplated telling her it was life or death, but decided she didn't want to come off as melodramatic.
"Very well," McGonagall eventually relented, and Winona struggled not to slump with relief and murmured her sincere thanks. The teacher stood to her feet, sweeping from the room, dark green robes trailing along the stone floor behind her.
Winona hurried to keep up with her, letting the older witch lead her through corridors and up stairs until finally they came to a stop outside of a large, looming gargoyle.
She'd never been to this part of the castle before, and she watched in awe as McGonagall murmured, "Cockroach Clusters," and the gargoyle leapt aside, revealing a winding stone staircase that moved when they stepped onto it.
They ended up at a pair of large double doors. The Transfiguration teacher knocked on it thrice and a moment later a voice that she hadn't heard since the start of year feast called out for them to enter.
McGonagall swept into the room, but Winona hesitated, reconsidering her plan. Was telling the Headmaster really the best plan of action? What if he considered the drawing a threat? Worse, what if he thought she was just batshit crazy and locked her in some kind of Wizard-madhouse?
"Miss Andrews?" McGonagall prompted her, snapping her out of her spiral of doubt.
She didn't really have a choice. If this sketch was going to come to pass, she had to warn him. She wasn't sure whether her predictions could be changed or avoided, but she'd heard amazing things about Dumbledore, and if anyone could help her, it would be him.
Forcing her head up high and, calling on the Gryffindor courage that she supposed had to be hiding somewhere within her, she slipped into the room.
She was momentarily distracted by the brilliance of the Headmaster's office. It was massive and round, with all sorts of gadgets and instruments sitting on every available bench space, whirring away, doing whatever they were designed to do. The walls were covered in beautifully painted portraits of older men and women who she assumed could only be previous Headmasters and Headmistresses of the school.
Dumbledore was sitting behind a magnificent and regal looking desk, hands folded calmly on the face as he peered over his half-moon spectacles at her curiously, blue eyes twinkling in the candlelight.
"Hello, Miss Andrews," he greeted her. She was surprised that he knew her name before realising that McGonagall had only said it moments previous and he'd no doubt overheard.
"Good evening, Professor," she considered curtsying, but figured it would be a tad overkill.
"Miss Andrews said she had an urgent and personal matter to discuss with you," McGonagall said slowly, making her skepticism clear.
"Take a seat, my dear," the Headmaster offered, gesturing to the grand and comfortable looking chair sitting opposite him at his desk. She hesitated again, and McGonagall nudged her forwards. "Thank you, Minerva," he said to his colleague in kind dismissal once Winona had taken a seat in the cushioned chair, looking over the desk at him warily.
She didn't look back, but heard the door close behind her teacher as she left the room.
Winona said nothing, staring at the professor cautiously, mostly because she had no idea how to begin. Dumbledore suddenly smiled at her. "Lemon drop?" he asked pleasantly, gently pushing the little silver bowl in her direction.
She took one with a murmured 'thank you', but only so she had something to do with her hands. Her fingers shook as she reached out for it, and she moved faster, hoping the Headmaster hadn't noticed. She popped it directly into her mouth, pleasantly surprised by how she enjoyed the sour taste on her tongue.
She figured you could probably chew these sweets, but she was desperate to stall for more time, putting off the inevitable, and so she sucked on it, letting her eyes roam around the room in an attempt to get out of meeting his eyes.
Dumbledore was silent, his intelligent, twinkling eyes focused on her intently. She wondered what he must have been thinking, wondered how she was going to tell him about her ability, wondered how he might react. Finally, when the lemon drop was all gone, he spoke up. "Are you all right, miss Andrews?" he asked gently, blue eyes watching her closely.
"I can draw the future."
Okay, so she panicked.
To his credit, Dumbledore didn't seem to react, expression staying steady, eyes not even widening in surprise. She convinced herself that he thought she was insane, and her muscles coiled in preparation to run. "Perhaps the best place to begin, would be the beginning," the Headmaster told her calmly, a hint of intrigue in his ancient gaze.
"Sometimes I black out," she spoke so softly that she was worried he wouldn't hear, but she couldn't make her voice any louder. "Everything goes dark, and there are these flashes. They go by too fast for me to see them, and I forget them by the time I wake up. And when I do – wake up, that is – there's a new sketch in my book that I don't remember drawing, and sooner or later, I see the exact same scene happening in real life. Nothing too bad so far, I mean, I drew you before I even knew I was a witch, and things like people falling down stairs, or food fights in the Great Hall. But then, today, I drew something bad."
She couldn't have stopped herself from talking if she'd wanted to. Once she'd started it was like the floodgates were open and she couldn't stop, she was so relieved to be telling someone. Dumbledore might haveseemed a little shady and mysterious in general, but if she couldn't trust the Headmaster of her school, then really, who could she trust?
She was expecting silence, or maybe incredulity, but instead he merely stared back at her with intrigued eyes. "What did you draw?"
She hesitated again, not wanting to say it. She met his eyes, and he levelled her with a stern look that was both terrifying and comforting; somehow she knew he could handle it. "I drew you, sir," she admitted reluctantly, swallowing the thick ball in her throat. "I drew you dead."
This time he was silent, though he didn't appear shocked. He seemed to consider her admission, gaze turning thoughtful as he contemplated her words. "May I see this drawing?" he asked politely, and with unsteady hands – not totally sure he wasn't going to call her crazy – she dug her book from her bag, shakily flipping to the most recently used page.
She swallowed thickly once more, placing it on top of the desk and sliding it across the smooth wood until it sat under Dumbledore's chin. He stared down at it through his half-moon spectacles, silent for a long time as he studied the sketch.
Winona shifted nervously in the comfortable chair, paint-stained hands twisting anxiously in her lap.
"Hm," the Headmaster hummed after the longest time, leaning back in his chair and turning his gaze to Winona, appraising her carefully. "What else have you drawn that has come true?"
"Nothing that I haven't told you," she said, then paused, wondering if she should continue. "But, there are some things I've blacked out and drawn, but they haven't happened yet, and I don't know what they mean."
"May I see?" he inquired gently, once more folding his hands on his desk and staring across at her patiently.
She wasn't sure why he wasn't freaking out (she'd just predicted his death, after all), but still she complied, pulling her book back to her and flipping through the pages. She'd marked the corner of each 'black-out-sketch', as she'd dubbed them, with a small star. She moved to the next one in the book, holding it up for the Professor to see.
"There aren't heaps of them," she told him, showing him the picture of the old, regal looking locket she'd blacked out and sketched only days before. "It doesn't happen often, though occasionally it will happen in front of somebody; that's always fun to explain," she added, a tiny bit bitter.
She turned to the next one once he'd nodded his head, showing him the last picture, this one a large, extremely detailed one that she'd been out for a good hour drawing.
It was that boy, the one she'd drawn that first day, the first time she'd ever blacked out. It wasn't the only time he'd appeared, unbidden, in her sketches. Out of all the 'predictions' she'd made, the majority of them were of him.
It was strange; there didn't seem to be anything special about him, and he wasn't ever doing anything interesting. In one he was merely standing at a train station, another he was stroking the back of a snowy owl. His wild black hair and pair of strange-but-suitable circular glasses over those striking emerald green eyes had become familiar to her. The most distinctive thing about the young boy was the lightening bolt scar that sat clear as day on his forehead.
"I draw him a lot," she divulged, tone quiet as she reached out to brush a hand down the image. "He keeps appearing. But I have no idea who he is," she said, gentle as she flipped to yet another sketch of the stranger, this one of him holding a wand up in the air, a halo of light around his head.
This, more than anything else, seemed to evoke a reaction from the Headmaster. He blinked in surprise, leaning over the desk to examine the series of sketches more closely.
"Harry Potter," he murmured, more to himself than to her, and hope so soared in Winona's chest. He knew who this was? Did he have the answers she'd spent so many months contemplating and contemplating, until her head began to ache?
"Who's Harry Potter?" she asked curiously, leaning around the book to peek at the sketch herself. Every time she looked at it, there was a spark of something in her chest. Like she knew him already, like he was familiar in more than just appearance. "You know who that is, Professor?" she asked the old wizard breathlessly, looking away from the sketch to see his eyes full of a hundred thousand thoughts more complicated than she was likely to ever understand.
Dumbledore seemed to mull over his next words for a long few moments, and she clung onto the hope that he would give her the answers she craved.
Dumbledore nodded to himself, then after a beat, opened his mouth and began to tell her the tale of Harry Potter. Winona knew who He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named was, of course – she wasn't entirely oblivious. She knew he was an incredibly evil wizard who had started a war in the Wizarding world back when she was a baby. She knew he was defeated, but she didn't know that it was by a little boy who'd survived a deadly spell she wasn't sure she ever wanted to learn about. This little boy had in turn destroyed You-Know-Who, and then left the wizarding world to grow up in peace.
"But how do you know this is him, Sir?" she asked with a confused frown, staring at the picture she'd drawn, wondering why she'd drawn him, of all people. What did he have to do with her?
"That scar is legendary," Dumbledore told her in an even voice. "As is the boy who bears it."
She was dying to ask the most pressing question, the only one she really cared about. "Why did I draw him, sir?" she asked, quiet but insistent.
"Because he has a destiny greater than either of us can imagine."
She frowned again, feeling as though getting a straight answer was going to be potentially problematic. She decided to set aside thoughts of Harry Potter for the time being, focusing her attention on the bigger picture.
"What I mean is, why am I drawing these things at all, Professor?" she asked him, confusion knitting at her young brow. "Why am I blacking out and waking up with drawings that come true? Is there something wrong with me?" she questioned, fear like a black hole in her gut, sucking at her insides unpleasantly.
The Headmaster observed her for a long minute, fingers steepled under his chin. His unwavering stare unnerved her, and she tried not to audibly gulp in reaction to its intensity. "I believe, miss Andrews, that you may be what we call a Seer," he finally told her, and she just stopped breathing altogether, "and, judging by these, a very powerful one, at that."
"A Seer?" she echoed incredulously. She thought back to the sorting all those months ago. "The hat!" she exclaimed, turning where she sat to point an accusing finger at the sorting hat which sat, idle and silent, on a shelf in the corner. "It said I was a Seer, back when it sorted me. How'd it know?"
"It's almost dinner time," Dumbledore told her abruptly, voice cheerful and flippant. She nearly got whiplash from the sudden change of demeanour. "Why don't I escort you down to the Great Hall?"
Panic gripped her; she needed answers! "But Professor-"
"Come along," he cut her off airily, pushing himself to his feet, golden robes brushing the floor as he walked around his extravagant desk and wandered over to the doors.
Not willing to let the matter drop, she hastily shoved her sketchbook back into her bag and scurried after him. "Sir, I have so many questions," she told him desperately as they made their way down the stairs, Winona's head tilted right back so she could attempt to meet his eyes, though he kept his on the path ahead of them.
The corridors were empty, everybody already in the Great Hall for supper. "I assure you, Miss Andrews, that I have just as many," he told her with that same, misty smile. "There's somebody I believe you should speak with."
"Oh?" she asked, breath hitching, hoping it wasn't a doctor of any sort.
"Professor Trelawney is Hogwarts' Divination teacher," he told her matter-of-factly. "She, more than anyone, is qualified to assess your ability in this matter," he said, fingers clasped in front of his golden robes as they walked towards the Great Hall. His hands were old and gnarled, large rings sitting like golden vines over the weathered roots that were his fingers. She ached to sketch them, then chastised herself for getting so distracted.
"There's a class on this stuff?" she asked him instead, hope tinging her voice.
A hint of a smile appeared on his lips from behind his magnificent, wiry beard. "It's only available for students in third year or above," he told her casually. "But I believe that, circumstances being as miraculous as they are, we may be able to make an exception."
Her eyes widened again, this time in horror as a terrible thought came to her mind, one that made her blood turn to ice. "I don't want to do anything differently to anyone else," she insisted immediately, heart jumping in her throat at the thought of anyone finding out about her and her…peculiar talent.
How would her friends react? Would they treat her like a freak? Would she be an outcast, losing all those she already held so dear? She didn't know what she'd do if the twins shunned her for being a freak amongst freaks – not to mention Lee or the girls.
"Not to worry, my dear," the Headmaster said gently, finally looking down to meet her stormy grey eyes. "You won't be treated any differently to the other students," he paused, seeming to consider his next words carefully, perhaps understanding the weight of them in her mind. "However, these gifts can be...delicate. They have to be nurtured; you must learn to control it, lest it control you."
It was the same thing McGonagall had said when she'd shown up at the her door in March, and Winona wondered if it was a staple statement they told all new witches and wizards to scare them into conformity.
It certainly sounded terrifying enough to work.
"But the other students don't need to know, do they?" she pressed with just a hint of anxious wariness, gripping at the fabric of her robes.
"Of course not," he calmed her fears immediately, voice regaining that flippancy it had held before. "This stays strictly between the faculty. In fact, I think it would be prudent not to tell anyone of this ability for at least the foreseeable future," he said, and she briefly wondered if that were some kind of terrible attempt at a pun. She couldn't manage a laugh, even if it was.
Nevertheless, she agreed to his words with a nod, and they continued on their way.
Silence stretched on as they moved down the staircase beside one another. "Aren't you scared, Sir?" she asked gently once she couldn't take it any longer, crossing her arms uncomfortably over her chest, hoping she wasn't overstepping. "I drew you...I drew you dead," she said, as though he might need reminding.
Professor Dumbledore didn't answer her. He merely turned his head so he was looking down at her, an odd and mysterious expression creasing his already lined face. "I must ask you a favour, Winona," he began as they came to a stop just outside the doors to the Great Hall, and her eyes widened in surprise at the use of her first name. She hadn't even known he knew it.
"Yes, Professor?" she asked, delicate brows furrowed as she craned her neck up to watch him.
"Any time you have one of these..." he didn't seem to know what to call it, but he finally decided on, "...visions, I want you to come and show me what you draw – particularly if it involves Harry Potter."
She wanted to say no, but she got the feeling that this was incredibly important – particularly by the serious way the Headmaster said so, a steely glint to his electric blue eyes. "Okay," she nodded, reluctant but compliant.
He seemed pleased by her response, bowing his head gratefully. "It is my hope that these classes with Professor Trelawney will allow you to learn how to harness these abilities," he told her quietly, an encouraging note to his voice.
"What do you mean?"
"Well, with time and training, you may not have to 'black out', as you say, to predict things," he told her with a trace of a smile.
Her shoulders sagged, both from exhaustion and relief. She couldn't wait to go up to the dormitories and take a long, scolding hot shower. "That would be brilliant, Professor," she told him sincerely. Just thinking about her visions was exhausting enough, let alone actually having them. "In all honesty, it can be quite scary," she revealed, voice quiet and thoughtful as she tried not to allow herself to grow too overwhelmed by the thought of it.
"I can only imagine," he replied, nodding gently before abruptly turning to face the doors of the Great Hall. Winona hadn't even realised they'd arrived until he came to a sudden stop. She blinked at the towering, intricately carved doors, tugging absent-mindedly at the sleeves of her robes. "Well, come now, fill that belly and get some good rest, you meet with your new tutor tomorrow evening," Dumbledore said the words brightly, then flicked his wrist in a casual move. The double doors creaked open, the sound of chatter from inside hitting them suddenly, like a wave.
A few people closest to the doors turned to look at them in curiosity, but mostly they were just ignored.
"I'll owl you with the details of the meeting," he told her softly, ensuring they wouldn't be overheard as he smiled comfortingly. "Pleasant evening," he finished airily before turning and striding through the tables, heading for the teachers sitting together at the end of the massive hall.
She blinked, left feeling somewhat shellshocked from the many events that had taken place in such a short amount of time. It was like everything had changed in only a matter of minutes. Suddenly someone knew her secret; and that person was Dumbledore. All she could do was hope she wasn't making a huge mistake and try to move on in this brave new world she'd forged for herself. She waited a few moments, taking the time to collect herself before walking through the doors after the Headmaster.
Everyone was too involved in their conversations to look up at her, and she was relieved that nobody seemed to notice her approach. She scurried right over to the spot between Lee and Angelina, opposite the twins, slipping onto the seat with a sigh of relief.
"Did you just come in with Dumbledore?" Fred asked with wide eyes, and Winona winced, apparently not as in the clear as she'd assumed.
"Ran into each other in the hall," she lied without only a minor twinge of guilt, using the excuse of reaching for the potatoes to avoid his eyes.
"Where were you all afternoon?" Angelina asked curiously once she'd swallowed a mouthful of pumpkin juice. "I needed help on my Astronomy homework."
"Sorry," Winona apologised halfheartedly as she spooned herself some carrots. "I was with a friend." There was a long moment of silence that hovered over the group. She looked up in surprise, eyebrows raising when she realised the whole lot of them were staring at her. "What?" she asked self-consciously, hand moving to her cheek as though something might be smudged there. Wouldn't surprise her – she'd been working with watercolours just that morning.
"Winona," Lee began patronisingly, "all of your friends are sitting in this group."
Playing offended, she scoffed at him indignantly. "I have other friends."
"No you don't."
"I don't even think you know anybody else's name."
Winona glared at her friends, though the expression lacked severity. "Shove a cauldron cake in your gobs," she muttered unhappily. Alicia trilled a laugh while George threw a spoonful of peas in her direction.
So maybe she didn't have a lot of friends, she thought idly, but the ones she did have were pretty damn great.
A/N: Hope you guys enjoyed!
I know you probably have a lot of questions about Winona's past, but it'll all come out in time. Also, I'll admit, I've struggled with writing in the voice of an eleven-year-old. It might be one of the biggest challenges I've faced writing this story. In the end I decided not to sacrifice my narrative voice for the sake of it. If Winona sound a bit too-grown up for her age, I'd say she's just very mature for a pre-teen.
If you're still unconvinced, I can give you a list of child characters with the same level of maturity – starting with one Hermione Granger ;)
And remember, while she's mature in wit, she's very immature when it comes to emotion, something that will drive the story forwards, and get her into quite a lot of trouble, later on. I really hope you like it so far, and feel free to send me any thoughts or questions you might have.
See you next time!