The next morning, as she was making her way towards her class, she reached Professor Snape.
“Professor, can I have a word please?”
Snape glared at her “You just have. What is it, the potion doesn’t taste good?”
Not letting him scare her, the young woman replied “No, but that wasn’t it. I wanted to thank you for being thoughtful enough to cut down the normal dose due to my size.”
“Drink your potion with tea and honey, it’ll taste better. Is it surprising that I take such things in consideration?”
“Thanks for the advice. Yes, it is actually. I know you’re a good guy, but you hide it very well. If you hadn’t saved me that night, I probably wouldn’t know it.”
Snape looked around, grabbed her arm, brought her to the nearest classroom and closed the door.
“Don’t talk about it with students around! There are enough rumours about me going around, and I don’t want my cover blown by an eavesdropping slytherin.”
“What cover? The evil, scary potion master who is in fact a nice guy?”
Snape raised an eyebrow “Surely Dumbledore told you?”
“Told me what? I haven’t seen him since the start of classes, apart from a glance in the hall during meals. Oh, and that night I transformed.”
Snape looked rather annoyed “I can’t believe it, what was he thinking, not telling you anything!”
“How about you do, since he’s visibly too busy for it?”
Snape looked surprised and thoughtful for a moment. “Very well. The woman whose pain you felt was a witch…”
“Was? She’s dead?”
“Will you please not interrupt me? Yes. Now let me explain. She was a witch who studied muggle magic. She had mentioned to Dumbledore she had found something that could be of interest, but unfortunately she was killed before she could tell him what it was. The men you saw that night are Death Eaters, servants of the Dark lord. They found out she was close to muggles and killed her for it.”
When he paused, Alex took the opportunity to speak “So I didn’t save her. I heard of Voldemort when I read about Harry. I thought he was gone. And why were you with them?”
“Can I speak now?” When she nodded he carried on “I spy on them for Dumbledore. The Dark Lord returned to power last year. It’s a long story and I have a class to go to. Come to my office after dinner and I’ll explain more.”
“I can’t.” Before she had the time to explain, he cut her
“Well, if you don’t want to know, don’t ask questions.”
She lost her control, then “For heaven sake! That’s not what I said! I can’t because I have a class with Professor McGonagall!”
He looked surprised at her outburst “Oh. I see. Well, come before dinner then, if that’s ok with you?” Raised eyebrow again.
“Yes, it’s fine.”
With that, he turned and walked out of the door. She just stood there for a minute, pondering what he had said. She wasn’t sure why that witch was studying muggle magic or why she had ended up in that street, but she knew enough to know that, in Voldemort’s eyes, being friendly with muggles was a major offence. Well, she’d know more tonight, finally.
The rest of the day was eventless; she went to her classes and had time to read outside by the lake. The giant squid stretched a tentacle towards her and she stroked it absent minded as she read. It had taken the habit of doing that from the first time she had come to sit by the lake and she saw it as a friendly gesture.
When the afternoon classes were over, she made her way to the dungeon and Snape’s office. He arrived a minute after her and invited her inside as he lead the way.
“Please, sit down. Tea?”
She sat on one side of the desk as he made his way to the other “Yes, please.”
He flicked his want and tea cups and teapot appeared. He served them and settled.
“Where was I this morning? Ah, yes. The Dark Lord returned because one of his followers returned to him and helped him get strong enough, whilst another came here, impersonating a man Dumbledore had recruited as a teacher. That man managed to charm the cup of the triwizard tournament into a portkey and to put Harry into the Dark Lord’s hands. Do I have to explain about the tournament?” He asked, seeing her confused look.
“No, I heard about it, but what’s a portkey?”
“It’s an object charmed to transport a person from a point to another.”
“So, it does what we did when you got me here, only it’s an object?”
“Yes. What we did was apparating.”
“Ok. So, why do I have to stay here, besides the obvious “the bad guys want to find you”?”
“Because Dumbledore believes you have something to do with what that lady found.”
“The headmaster does, but what about you?”
“Considering he is rarely wrong and you changed shape, which has never happened for a muggle, I’d say there might be a chance you’re not totally useless.”
“Great, I’m glad you think that. The way you said it, I could almost think you were trying to be nice.”
Snape raised an eyebrow again “Sarcasm? Be glad you’re not a student or I would have put you in detention.”
“Why, Professor, I’d say you want to spend more time with me. Although, I am nothing more than an almost useless muggle, aren’t I?”
Snape was trying hard to stay calm and Alex wondered whether he was angry because she was being sarcastic or because she had got a point. She didn’t get to find out however, as the potion master suddenly noticed the time.
“Enough of this conversation, it’s quite time we went to the dining hall.”
And with that, he made his way out of the room, the young woman quickly following behind.
Once again, she thought she saw Hermione casting an enquiring glance her way when she entered the Great Hall right on Snape’s heels. The thought went out of her mind once she joined McGonagall in her office.
“Professor Snape told me he explained everything he could to you. That’s really good. I would have done myself otherwise. I saw the headmaster and he suggested we do an experiment. He would like you to go Olivander’s, the wand shop in London, and see if one choose you.”
“I…Wow…That’d be great! But, how am I to go to London, Professor?”
“Professor Snape will take you there, he needs to buy some ingredients. You will go by floo. First you will need to stop in Gringotts, the bank, to get some money.” Seeing Alex’s confused look she added “Wizards use different money to muggles. Don’t worry; the headmaster opened an account for you there when you started work here.”
The young woman was utterly bewildered “That’s just…incredible!”
Professor McGonagall smiled, then, like she would to a child “Take your time to look around Diagon Alley, you will find it interesting I’m sure. Now, I am still unsure about your problem with transfiguration, so for now keep taking that potion, and practice changing back and forth when you can.”
“I will. So, does that mean we won’t do any more lessons?”
“For now at least. The headmaster and I are reading on the subject. He has collected the notes of poor Beatrice, the witch you tried to help, and is reading through them. I will keep you informed of his discoveries.”
“Thank you professor. Well, I should go to bed then. Good night.”
The first thing Alex did when reaching her room was to write to her parents to tell them about the past four days and her upcoming trip two days later. Then, before getting some well earned sleep, she practiced changing shape, to the amazement of the wizard in the portrait.