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Hold your Breath

Chapter Text

Amy remembered the day she lost her voice.  

When she was seven, the Dursley’s went to the beach, and unlike all those other times, there was no babysitter available and she had to come  - not that this usually deterred the Dursleys, but Aunt Petunia had a brand-new oven delivered and didn’t trust that Amy wouldn’t use it for something nefarious, never mind that she had never used one before.  

She had never seen the sea before, and was hard pressed to hide how happy she was. The Dursley’s were allergic to Amy’s happiness, after all.  

There was a lot of sand, a lot of people and the water stretched as far as the eye could see. It was beautiful and she wanted to see everything. Other children played in the sand, making sand castles and Amy loved having playmates that didn’t know she was a freak.   

Except, Amy forgot. She forgot that Dudley  was still there .  

Half-way to the first day of the vacation, Dudley took up Amy-Hunting again. This time, she wasn’t in her home turf and she didn’t know the best hiding spots. This time, there was no library that was practically Dudley-repellent.  

But.  

There was the sea.  

There was the sea, full of water. And Dudley didn’t know how to swim.  

Faced with Dudley’s fists and the sea, Amy took the sea…then she forgot that she couldn’t swim too.  

When she was seven, Amaranth Lilian Potter drowned.  

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She didn’t expect to wake up.  

She was in the water, deep and tossed to and fro by the current.  

She was  breathing .  

Her mouth opened in shock and she gurgled in further shock when she realized that the saltwater didn’t burn her throat and that she could, in fact, speak.  

Human throats weren’t meant to vocalize underwater, and if Amy were any older, she could have recognized the change.  

But Amy was very young, and the only thing she did was try to find her way back to the shore, where the  Dursley’s  didn’t even notice their young charge missing.  

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Then, she surfaced.   

An d she couldn’t speak.  

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Amy doesn’t remember much after she and everyone else realized this, except that there was a lot of doctors.  

Aunt Petunia seemed terrified about it and couldn’t stop demanding things, scre aming  at  the  doctors and asking what was wrong.  

Amy couldn’t tell her.   

Every breath that passed her throat burned and any attempt at speech resulted in a high-pitch, glass breaking screeching sound.  

Breathing air didn’t hurt, exactly. It’s just that air felt  too much . It felt like gulping in too much oxygen, like she was drowning in dry land.  

The air brushed against her eye lashes, brushing her face, and she was reminded somehow of the waves brushing her face under the water.  

Finally, when the tests all said inconclusive, a nurse took her aside and gave her a pamphlet. It was a school for British Sign Language, a cheap one near Surrey.  

Thank you, Amy tried to say with her smile.  

The nurse understood and patted her on the back.  

Behind her, Aunt Petunia didn’t scream anymore. She started crying, the sound startling.   

In all her life, she had never seen her aunt cry and she understood, for the first time since entering the hospital, the gravity of her situation.  

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Aunt Petunia was harder on her, after that.   

There was a lot of teachers, and Amy could sign things. But there were very few people who bothered to learn BSL and most times, she tried signing, only for the other person to look confused.  

So. Amy took to carrying note cards. Some things got repeated and she took it into her head to have notecards. Some, like, “Hello, Nice to meet you.” Got wrinkled from constant use.   

After someone tried to bully her only for Amy to somehow end up on the rooftop with no idea how it happened, she resolved to never have mean words in her notecards. It would be too easy for people to punch her when she couldn’t cry out for help.  

The screeches she made were painful to hear and the last time Amy resorted to it, her bully ran away with bleeding ears.  

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When Amy turned nine, she remembered one more thing from her drowning.   

That she could, in fact, breathe underwater. Breathe water, and even speak in it.  

Children’s memories were fickle things and the fact that she could remember it spoke much about the moment.  

So the moment when the  Dursleys  were away for more than a day and Amy was left to her own devices, she filled up the bathtub to the brim and, as an afterthought, added some salt.  

The discovery that her memories were, in fact, real and not a drowning dream, made her cry out in surprise.  

And further shock, because what came out of her throat was not a screech but a gentle and melodic, “Ah.”  

Amy flushed in pleasure. And then dread, because this just solidified the fact that Amy was a freak.  

The dread was there, but so was the glee. It was so  cool.  

Amy was a mermaid.  

She couldn’t tell anyone, but that was okay. It was her own secret and that made it more precious, a pearl that she had to keep safe.  

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When Amy turned eleven, a giant knocked on her door and told her she was magic.  

Chapter Text

On Hagrid’s part, he had never met somebody who handed him a worn paper card with the words, “Hello. Nice to meet you!” instead of saying it. 

But he handled it with a smile and gentle hand on her shoulder, looking into her eyes. “What’s this now?” he asked quietly, none of the loud booming that had announced his entrance into the cottage. “Ah, I see.”  

Something in Amy recognized Hagrid as a kindred spirit and simply basked in his kindness.  

“I’m a witch?” she asked, handing him her notebook.  

He nodded, seating himself on the worn sofa with a thump. Behind her, Dudley let out a whimper and a guilty, secret part of Amy was pleased. She pushed that back down. Just because Dudley was a bully didn’t mean she was one too.  

“Just like your mom and dad, and everyone in your family!” he said, looking pleased for her. “Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, where generations of your family have learned for years.”  

Amy wanted to ask badly whether mermaids existed since witches did too. But Amy had spent too long hiding things to ask a stranger that, however kind the stranger was.  

“We’re going shopping for school supplies?” she asked, passing him her notebook. In the back of her mind, it irritated her. What was the point of learning BSL when everyone else and their mother didn’t learn it as well?  

“Tomorrow, lassie,” he grunted, squinting at her letters. “I have to take a rest. Having to come to the middle of nowhere, journeying from Scotland, is a bit of a longer walk than I expected.”  

Amy worried for a moment on what to feed Hagrid, because Uncle Vernon didn’t give everyone the time to pack things properly when he went mad. Then Hagrid reached into his coat pockets and let out a tea pot, of all things, as well as skillet and a while string of sausages.  

Magic, she thought, delighted.  

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Diagon  Alley, Amy mused, was the kind of place one could get lost in.  

Hagrid seemed to have a preternatural sensing ability when it came to quiet people and never lost her, not for a moment. His giant hands were gentle as he tugged her away from windows and steered her to where they were supposed to go.  

If it had been Aunt Petunia, she could have slipped away ages ago.   

Amy was equal parts annoyed and delighted. She had Hagrid’s complete attention, even when he wasn’t looking at her. For the first time in her life, she didn’t have to tug at someone’s shirt for it.  

“Look, it’s solid gold!” she wrote, gesturing to the golden cauldron.  

Hagrid laughed. “You won’t get to that stage yet,” he explained with a smile. “All beginners start with pewter. More stable.  Dunno  what gold does to potions.”  

“It’s pretty,” Amy insisted, caressing the rounded bottom.  

Hagrid understood and let her admire it for a couple more minutes, before nudging her in the direction of a jewelry store.  

Which was definitely a good idea. They had seashell hair clips and starfish earrings. Amy was so happy, she wanted to sing.  

“Can I?” she asked, dumping the notebook in his outstretched hand.  

“Have fun,” he said. “I’ll be back in a moment.  

Amy kitted herself out with anything sea-related. She was an undercover mermaid. Nobody would ever guess!  

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Hagrid came back with an owl.  

Snowy white, haughty demeanor. She loved her, even if Hedwig was likely a predator. That beak spoke to her and made her want to grow claws of her own.  

“I’m calling her Hedwig,” Amy wrote. “Thank you, Hagrid.”  

He blushed into his soup. “It’s nothing. Happy Birthday, Amy.”  

Aside from learning that her parents were murdered and not actually in a car accident, it was the best birthday of Amy’s life.  

It reached all the way to top ten, almost trumping the moment she discovered she could breathe water.  

“Can I stay here?” she asked. “I don’t want to think what my relatives would do to me if I go back.”  

His eyes spoke volumes of sympathy. Somehow, she knew that Hagrid understood bullying on a personal level.  

“It’s alright. You just  gotta  make sure to keep safe, alright, Amy?” he said gruffly.  

She nodded enthusiastically.  

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On September, Amy boarded the train and met the most important person of her life.  

Her name was Hermione Granger.  

Chapter Text

Hermione Granger somehow understood that Amy couldn’t really speak understandable words when the redhead handed her a pristine, unused notecard going, “My name is Amaranth Potter. Please call me Amy.”  

Hermione nods, recalling old lessons in BSL once when a tutor tried catching her attention.  

“My name is Hermione,” Hermione said, fingerspelling the letters slowly, not really noticing Amy’s eyes growing larger in delight.  

In a flurry, Amy’s hands were signing away, almost blurring.  

Hermione flailed a little. “No, wait, I can’t. That’s too fast! I only know fingerspelling,” she said, accidentally forgetting that she’d initially thought that Amy was deaf too.  

Amy slowed down, going back to the basics. “I’m so happy that you can speak!” she  fingerspelled . “Are you excited to be going to Hogwarts? Did you know you were a witch?”  

Hermione blinked, realizing that Amy could hear. “Oh!” she said. Then she signed, “I never knew I was a witch! I was very surprised. I read all the books I could.”  

Amy laughed at Hermione’s enthusiasm, a quiet laugh that was only a barely heard huff.  

Both of them knew they were going to be friends.  

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Draco ignored her at Madam  Malkins , because the Girl-Who-Lived couldn’t be mute, except of course she was.   

He felt oddly betrayed.  

She was supposed to be perfect, the dashing hero that managed to defeat trolls and giants with a swipe of her wand. The girl who was so powerful, she vanquished Voldemort as a baby.  

She wasn’t supposed to be a smiling, friendly mute girl with a penchant for pouting if no one understood her hand signs.  

She wasn’t. She wasn’t a hero.   

She was just. She was just a girl.  

Amy had pretty red hair and she had green eyes and she laughed with quiet huffs.  

She smiled at Draco without guile and he felt hexes squirming in his stomach.  

He couldn’t understand her.  

Draco wanted to die.  

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“Bravery,” the Sorting Hat said. “You have the courage to be kind and to be curious. That’s a different sort of bravery than standing up for yourself.”  

Amy blinked up at the hat covering her eyes.  

“Gryffindor it is!” the hat roared.  

Amy laughed at the thunderous clapping from the table in red and gold, quiet huffs that made no sound.  

“We’re in the same house!” Hermione exclaimed, budging over and making space for her. “This is great.”  

“Everything’s so big!” Amy signed, hand signs a bit sloppy in excitement.  

Her hand signs catch the attention of the prefect.  

“Oh, is she deaf-mute?” the redhead prefect asked.  

Hermione scowled. “She’s not deaf, she just can’t speak,” she said. “Don’t ignore her.”  

The prefect startled, looking at Amy who had lost all signs of excitement and was looking down at her food.  

“I beg your pardon for my poor manners, Ms. Potter,” the prefect said, contrite. “I’m Percy  Weasley . I’m a prefect and responsible for guiding you and your friend in the morning to classes.”  

Amy brightened up and signed, “She’s Hermione! Call me Amy. Thanks for understanding, Mr.  Weasley .”  

Hermione translated when Percy’s eyebrows furrowed and he smiled in thanks at the both of them.  

“It’s my pleasure, Amy.”  

He wrote something on a piece of parchment, muttering about BSL lessons.  

Amy felt warm.  

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Lavander  Brown and  Parvati   Patil , their other roommates, adjust to a mute roommate with aplomb.  

“So like, you can hear but you can’t speak,”  Lavander  asked.   

There’s a decided lack of tact that initially surprised Amy, but after a moment of staring, she realized that it’s not done meanly.  Lavander  was just that blunt.  

Amy nodded, signing “Yes.”   

Parvati’s  eyes tracked it, hand following the movement.  

Amy’s delight at the attempt made  Parvati  smile back.  

“Have you tried asking Madam  Pomfrey ?”  Parvati  asked. She had a bit more tact than  Lavander , but she was still a young girl. “Maybe she could help?”  

Amy thought back to moments of privacy in the bath tub when she was sure the  Dursleys  were out of the house for a while. Under the water, breathing in liquid and watching the surface break the fluorescent lights into strange shapes.  

If the matron examined her, what would she find?  

Amy shook her head urgently. No. Nu-uh.  

Being mute was small price to pay for the beauty of swimming underwater.  

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And then, in the morning, she’s called to Professor McGonagall’s office.  

So  it’s true,” the old witch said with a sad sigh. “You are mute. Oh,  you  poor child. Most spells are verbal. It takes a skilled witch to master non-verbal spells.  I’m afraid you’ll have a hard time with schoolwork.  

Amy, who had initially grinned brightly at the professor, felt the smile slide off her face. She wasn’t to be pitied.  

If she needed something, she would do it.  

“I can do it,” she wrote in her notebook. “Just give me a list of things to study beforehand.”  

McGonagall read it and nodded. “A syllabus for all subjects that need spells then. You’re a good child, Ms. Potter.”  

Amy smiled, baring a bit too many teeth for it to be called a smile. The challenge made her burn.  

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Amy loved notebooks and anyone who contested that will get hexed.  

And she could hex now. She mastered the knockback jinx after Malfoy kept pulling her hair. The result was spectacular.  She’s pretty sure she heard Professor McGonagall snort before she took points.  

“Amy,” Hermione asked, “Do you think I could try non-verbal spells too?”  

Amy nodded. It wasn’t difficult, per se. It just. Took a lot more effort than she thought spells needed. There was a lot of notes on the books about  visualization  and  imagery  

She couldn’t very well imagine something when she doesn’t even know how the spell would look like. Hermione had to explain a few details before she could cast a knockback jinx.  Some of those spell descriptions were  wordy.  

Now. If only  Wingardium   Leviosa  was just as easy.  

Something about the idea of floating in midair just made her queasy. Floating should be done in water, not air.  Also, high-up, there was too much air flowing and it distracted her. Flying lessons were a disaster of hyperventilation.  

“It takes...feelings,” Amy signed. Hermione had finally graduated from fingerspelling to basic signs and that speeded up communications considerably. “I was angry at Malfoy and I learned the knockback jinx. Finding the appropriate feelings for things is the hard part.”  

Hermione looked bemused.  

“Amy, normal wizards just need the visualization to be able to cast non-verbal spells,” Hermione said.  

But Amy wasn’t exactly a normal wizard or witch either.  

Chapter Text

The Great Lake of Hogwarts had attracted Amy the first time she’d seen it.  

Something inside her  ached  to get under there and swim. Bathtubs were fine but they lacked the depth she could feel from the lake.  

Aside from that first time in the beach, she hadn’t swum in any waters that were deeper than a foot. She wanted. She wanted so badly  it made her want to cry.  

Around their first month in Hogwarts, she signed to Hermione, “I think I’m a m - e - r - m - a - i - d,”  fingerpselling the last word.  

To Hermione’s credit, she wasn’t disbelieving. “You think?” she asked. Her eyebrows were going up her forehead.  Her eyes caught on the starfish hairpins on Amy’s hair seemingly against her will.  

“I drowned but I didn’t drown. I could breath,” Amy signed.  

Hermione rubbed her eyes. “Sign that again, I think I saw that wrong.”  

Amy laughed, signing it again, slower and more deliberately. “I drowned some time ago. Then I swam? I was breathing water. Then I got out and I couldn’t speak.”  

Hermione’s face went slack. “Oh. Of course. You can speak, I heard you screech at Malfoy. You were speaking  Mermish . Not English. I need to go to the Library.”  

Amy wasn’t disappointed. When Hermione got back, she had the instructions on how to make the bubblehead charm.   

“I wasn’t going to let you go by yourself. It might take a while, because I need to practice it. While you swim, I’m going to wait for you.”  

Amy threw herself at Hermione and hugged her tight.   

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“She’s a nightmare!” Ron said loudly. “No wonder she only has Potter as a friend, she can’t say a thing.”  

Normally, Hermione would run away and cry in a bathroom because she didn’t want people to see her cry.  

Normally, Amy would start hexing first, and then cry  privately .  

Now, Ron had insulted the both of them at the same time.  

Hermione, in defen s e of her friend, punched Ron in the mouth.  

Amy, at the same time, casted a knockback jinx and sent him flying.  

Both girls went on their merry way, holding each other's hands and heads held high and no tears in sight.  

“You might be a nightmare,” Amy signed clumsily. “But you’re mine. My friend.”  

“And you’re mine,” Hermione signed back.  

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Ron  Weasley  became a friend when he saw her signing, and asked his family for a notebook.  

“Here,” he thrust at her. “So you stop buying those muggle notebooks. It’s enchanted.”  

It was an apology. She saw it in the way he hunched his shoulders. He was embarrassed and apologetic.  

“It’s okay,” she wrote. “I forgive you.”  

She thrust her ratty notebook at him and examined the new one he offered.  

“It won’t run out of paper,” he explained. “And you can use your wand to write things. I asked Percy for that spell. So you don’t need to keep using pens.”  

It was certainly a cleaner way to communicate, if faster.  

Amy’s face nearly split with her smile, her delight shining through.  

“Thank you! Teach me that spell?”  

His smile was crooked and he taught her the spell clumsily. But it was the first friend she’d made outside of Hermione.  

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Hermione and Ron meeting after that fight reminded her of cats and dogs.  

Amy’s smile was bemused as she watched her friend nearly hiss at Ron.  

But Ron stayed.  

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The first time Amy swam in the Great Lake, she had two people waiting for her in the shore with towels, blankets and hot chocolate in a thermos.  

Hermione had several books spread out around her and Ron was writing several letters for home. But both of them glanced to the still water periodically.  

On Amy’s side, she tactically avoided the clumps of seaweed since she’d learned that  Grindylows  preferred tangling their prey there.  

Once she got into the Lake proper, something in her relaxed and she swam with glee.  

Technically, she still didn’t know how to swim, but kicking her legs was instinct and when her eyes adjusted, she could see everything.  

Normal humans couldn’t see in the dark, but Amy could see far enough to spot the lakebed.   

Of course, when she spotted the lakebed, she also spotted the  merpeople  living there.  

They also saw her and approached, sharp spears and pointy teeth.  

What caught her attention were their tails, dark and slightly green, blending incredibly well with the dark water.  

Something in her  yearned.  She didn’t have a tail.  

“Identify yourself,” the nearest one said, the sharp spear in his grasp looking incredibly threatening.  

“I’m  Am y Potter,” she greeted, thrilled to be able to have normal conversation with  someone.  “Your tails are beautiful.”  

There’s a silence, then, “You can  speak . You are...”  

They looked at her in wonder. Amy didn’t mind. She was in water and she was talking to someone. She didn’t mind waiting for other people’s hang-ups.  

“Your voice is beautiful,” one of the mermaids said, swimming near her with a flick of her tail. “You must not use it often.”  

Amy blushed, then laughed. “I live in land. When I speak, they don’t understand me. I don’t use my voice at all.”  

There was a flurry of activity around her. “It is beautiful. We will teach you how to sing.”  

“Teach me to swim first,” she pleaded. “I have some beautiful hairpins for your hair.”  

“It’s a bargain!”  

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When Amy surfaced, Hermione toweled her dry, gave her a blanket and fed her the hot chocolate.  

Ron held the blanket while Hermione held the towel, both of them giving her cover as she changed her wet clothes.  

“It was amazing,” Amy gushed, signs quick and jerky but still understandable. “There are so many  merpeople  in there and they want to teach me how to swim and sing.”  

“Hold up,” Hermione said, speaking for Ron who was still a bit slow on the signing comprehension. “You didn’t know how to swim and you dived under there?”  

Amy giggled, still riding on the high of being that deep in water. “Well, it’s not like I can drown.”  

Hermione made an incomprehensible noise of frustration. Ron wordlessly patted her on the back.  

Chapter Text

Professor Snape was the only teacher who didn’t adjust to Amy’s disability, given that he pretended she didn’t exist.  

The  Gryffindors , who had adopted her, tended to hex people who insulted her with extreme prejudice.  

Naturally, this would cause an explosion. In the literal fashion, because Neville was loyal but a bit of a klutz with potions.  

Amy got very  very  good at dodging  exploding potions.  

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There was an unexpected side-effect in being adopted by a pack of feral  Gryffindors .  

People couldn’t really bad mouth her in the vicinity of said pack of feral  Gryffindors  without some repercussions.  

Except.  

Everyone seemed to forget that Hermione was a Gryffindor.    

And one unfortunate  Ravenclaw  said in Hermione’s hearing, “Why can’t Potter find a spell to use for her mouth. I can’t understand her!”  

The  Ravenclaw’s  friends spotted Hermione and frantically tapped on her friends shoulder, but the  Ravenclaw  continued obliviously, “It’s not even attractive to look at!”  

Hermione’s hair got bushier the  ever , almost sparking with magic.   

“Excuse me,” Hermione said with a nice smile, making the speaker jump in surprise and everyone else around them freeze. “What were you saying about my friend?”  

They looked at Hermione’s Gryffindor tie and seemed to want to melt to the ground.  

“Because honestly, that you can’t understand my friend is not on her,  it’s on you ,” Hermione said, still smiling. It looked less like smiling and more like a baring of teeth.  Her front teeth, which had seemed a bit big at a first glance, looked incredibly sharp and perfect for tearing out throats.  “She’s speaking a different language, and if you want to understand her, you can learn the it yourself.”  

Ron, who had already received that lecture from Percy, nodded sternly.  

And y ou call yourself Ravenclaws,” Ron added blithely.  

All  Ravenclaws  listening in stiffened, House loyalty making them all outraged.  

The two friends swept off, not noticing that they’d left a near riot behind them.  

Within a week, Amy was delighted to discover that she could talk to a lot more people than before.  

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Professor Flitwick and Professor McGonagall were her favorites and the reason was that both of them stayed after hours to help her with her  spellwork .  

She had finally understood what emotion was needed for Charms  - which was wonder , but Transfiguration tended to go with whatever object she needed to transfigure.  

“It’s difficult, but I think I got it now, Professor,” Amy signed. Both of them had learned basic signing just for the efficiency in communications. Privately, she thought Flitwick just liked the challenge.  He was such a Ravenclaw that way.  

“You’re learning this faster than your mother, Ms. Potter,” Professor Flitwick said , beaming at her . “She could speak, but she had the same problems with emotions needed in spells like you.”  

Which was weird, but maybe it was a bloodline thing? Amy wanted to know, but she couldn’t possibly ask anyone but Aunt Petunia...never mind.  

“Thanks Professor!” she signed happily.  

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Hagrid  invited her over to tea and Amy was pleased to ask if she could also invite Hermione and Ron.  

The two people who were her first friends, who made her stay in Hogwarts the best thing in the world and made it  home .  

“You settling in okay?”  Hagrid  asked.   

Hermione and Ron had squeaked and stiffened in terror when they saw him in daylight. Then they saw his smile through his bushy beard and the kindness in his eyes  and unwound.  

“She says she’s fine,” Ron translated. “But  spells are hard.”  

“Aye, your mother had the same problem,” Hagrid nodded, repeating what Professor Flitwick had said. “She could cast charms like Merlin himself, but let her try out Transfiguration, and she’d turn red as her hair.”  

“How does that happen?” Hermione asked. “Because I’ve never heard anyone else having this problem.”  

Ron looked uncomfortable. Hagrid exchanged a glance with him and said, “Well, usually wizards who have that problem have a .. .  mix, somewhere in their  bloodline.”  

Amy already knew she was a mermaid, but she had never considered the implications of  why  that was.  Somewhere among her ancestors, someone had the bright idea of sleeping with a mermaid.  

“Is that common?” she asked.  

“It’s more common than you think,” Ron told her. “If you look really closely, you can sort of tell. But your blood must be really strong.”  

The mermaid thing was unsaid in front of Hagrid. Some secrets were still too new to be said around other people.  

“Don’t let anyone ever tell you you’re a freak,” Hagrid told her sternly. “I figure someone’s been telling you stuff like that. But no, you’re not a freak, Amy. You’re precious and wonderful.”  

Amy hugged Hagrid extra tight when they left and the man’s hands were gentle on her shoulders.  

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Amy received her first Christmas presents, and among them was an invisibility cloak that made Ron look incredibly shocked.  

“It must be an  heirloom,  it looks incredibly old. And that’s expensive, because they don’t last that long,” Ron explained.  “I’ve never seen one in that good of a condition before.”  

An invisibility cloak!  

All of a sudden, the entirety of Hogwarts lay before them for exploration.  

Wanna  go anywhere?” she signed, looking excited.    

Ron’s smile reminded her that yes, he was related to the Weasley Twins.  

“Let’s visit abandoned classrooms and see if they got anything interesting?” he asked.  

They had a week more of Christmas break.  

Amy was incredibly interested in what all those other classrooms had that got them abandoned in the first place.  

And with that, both of them stumbled on the Mirror of Erised on the second night of exploration.  

Chapter Text

Amy and Ron quickly discovered that wandering around under an invisibility cloak in pairs only worked if one of you could quickly hiss out which way you wanted to go. Which Amy obviously  couldn’t .  

Ron found a work around, letting Amy tap his hand. One tap for left, two taps for right.  

It worked. They wandered and Amy forgave Ron for sometimes bodily manhandling her to staying still  since Amy  was sometimes too excitable and didn’t hear Filch or any of the prefects wandering around.  

Ron, trained to be cautious by having Fred, George and Ginny  as siblings , was much more alert of them.  

Still, on the second night, Ron heard Snape and  Quirrel  having a heated, angry discussion. Snape turned to the exact spot where both of them quivered under the  invisibility cloak.  

Amy made to bolt to the left, Ron made to bolt to the right.  

Both of them realized what they were doing a second too late and Amy tumbled out of their hiding place, the invisible cloth caught on Ron’s tall head.  

Ron, in a burst of inspired quick thinking, covered her with the cloak and allowed himself to be caught just as Snape rounded the corner.  

Amy wanted to go after him, but Ron managed to sign, “I’m  gonna  be fine, get back to bed,” before Snape had him by the collar.  

.  


 

.  

Amy wanted to get back to bed, the idea of exploration doused by the cold reality that she can’t enjoy anything when Ron is now probably in detention and losing points because she can’t  speak .  

She was lost though.  

In a fit of pique, she entered another empty classroom and found a mirror.  

And was almost let loose a piercing scream in mermish.  

There, on the mirror, was a reflection of Amy, hugged by a redheaded woman and a man with a smile like hers.  

Her parents were in the mirror and she wanted to go inside too.  

“I miss you,” she signed. “Can I come in?”  

Lily’s eyes filled with tears. “No, sweetheart,” she signed back. “You need to stay there.”  

James curled up with her reflection, kissing her forehead. Somehow, Amy could feel it – that phantom kiss.  

Amy squatted on the floor and tried not to cry. She wanted a hug  so bad .  

.  


 

.  

She found herself back in the Common Room with no idea how , stumbling on tired feet and cold to her bones.  

It was almost morning and Percy was on the couch, writing a letter, probably to his parents.  

Amy was in so much emotional distress that she didn’t care that she really didn’t know Percy that well. He was a prefect, he was practically obliged to hug people.  

So she crawled into the sofa next to him, ignoring his startled squeak, then curled up on his lap and hugged him.  

“Amy, what happened?” Percy asked her, quintessential big brother and prefect, the responsible one. “Can I help?”  He didn’t even hesitate and hugged her back, all warm and comforting.  

She didn’t know how to  start . She couldn’t tell him about a magical mirror. Could she? Did Percy even know hand signs? She rummaged in her pajama pants for a spare notebook and a  her wand .  

“I saw my parents in a mirror,” she wrote shakily. “They were in there. They told me not to go in there too.”  

All at once, cuddly Percy turned stiff with alarm. “Amy, tell me, what were the markings on the mirror? How did it look like?”  

“There were words,” she wrote, noting his alarm and trying not to start crying again. “It looked backwards.”  

He patted her on the head, trying to urge her to remember.  

“I don’t remember much but there was...erised?” she wrote slowly.  

Percy almost slumped in relief. “Oh, Merlin’s pants, you scared me. Amy, some magical mirrors are malevolent and do try to drag a person inside. One such wizard got trapped inside and died when the mirror shattered.”  

“Was it dangerous?” Amy asked, tears leaking out of her eyes again.  

Percy handed her a handkerchief. “Not in the way you’re thinking. You saw the mirror of Erised. Anyone who stands in front of it sees their hearts most desperate desire,” he answered. “And many a witch and wizard starved to death in front of that mirror, unable to look away.”  

He took the handkerchief from her, wiping away at her red eyes with all the efficiency of an elder brother. “You are very strong, to be able to look away,” he told her solemnly. “If I was in front of that mirror, I don’t think I could have.”  

No, no one really knows until they’re in front of it.  

“Do you want to see?” she asked. “I think I  remember  where it is.”  

Percy was thoughtful. “It’s a wonderful offer, but I think I’ll have to decline. I don’t think I can manage life-shattering revelations when O.W.L.’s  are  next year.”  

Amy went still. “Percy, speaking of life-shattering revelations, I got Ron in detention.”  

Instead of the roar of rage that Amy was expecting, Percy slumped. “Damn, I lost that bet ,” he sighed.  

Amy had no idea what he meant and was just happy he didn’t yell at her for not being caught too.  

.  


 

.  

Ron wasn’t angry at her when they caught up for breakfast.  

Technically , students could wander around during Christmas, but curfew was still curfew and Ron got in trouble for that, getting three days of writing lines once Christmas break was over instead of the usual week  if it had been school days.  

Instead, Ron interrogated her about the mirror, looking incredibly interested and just as concerned as Percy about her health.  

“Look, the magical world makes some pretty crazy mirrors,” Ron explained to her. “Dad tells us sometimes. He confiscates them at work, you see. Someone even got a mirror that sucked out someone’s blood. Crazy thing it was too. Mum yelled at him for making us have nightmares about it.”  

“You don’t have mirrors in your house?” she asked.  

Ron laughed. “Yes, we have mirrors. But here’s the general rule: If you see an unknown mirror, let someone else look into it first, alright?”  

Sensible advice, if a bit morbid.  

“Hermione’s going to be so jealous when she gets back,” Ron snickered into his porridge. “You’ll let me look into it, won’t you?”  

Percy’s talk with her about magical mirrors made a bit more sense. Except, she wasn’t sure she had the strength to pull away twice.  

“I can bring you there, but I’m not looking into it again. Once was enough for me,” she signed.  

Ron occasionally had tact and did not mention her pale face.  

.  


 

.  

In her visit to the mermaids under the Great Lake of Hogwarts, the leader who had introduced himself with a sound that translated as ‘Sunlight-passing-through-Sharp-Corals’ told her about dead unicorn bodies being dumped into the lake.  

“It troubles all of us, especially,” here, another musical note that translated as ‘Large-Creature-that-has-too-many-arms'. “He does not appreciate it. Something that pure is tainting the waters with  its  blood.”  

Amy swam awkwardly after him. He viewed her progress critically, occasionally straightening her arm or her head.   

“Isn’t Unicorn blood...bad?” she asked, glorying in being able to speak what she wanted. “Professor  Quirrel  called it a great and terrible thing, beautiful and deadly.”  

He nodded. “Yes, so it is. Something that pure is bleeding into the water. It will damage us irrevocably if nothing is changed. Luckily, the ‘Large-Creature’ it quick to throw it away before the taint can spread further. But there are many more unicorns it can toss in.”  

“I’ll help and do what I can,” Amy promised solemnly.  

Chapter Text

Hermione’s reaction to the news that dead Unicorns were being thrown and discarded into the Great Lake was outrage.  

Ron’s was disgust ed , so much that he turned green.  

When Amy looked to him in inquiry, he shook his head. “I can’t describe it. It’s like.  Killing babies. Drowning kneazles. Kicking Hagrid. But ten times worse.”  

This lit a fire in Amy and both girls ended up dragging Ron to the Library. The uses of unicorn blood was the first thing that Hermione pulled out.  

Hermione read faster than all of them and turned as green as Ron.  

“Yeah, that’s bad,” Amy signed, looking pale and wan. “What do we do?”  

They couldn’t very well ask a teacher. While swimming in the Great Lake wasn’t prohibited, Amy was still an undercover mermaid. Telling people other than her friends that she wasn’t entirely human didn’t make her comfortable.  

But...her discomfort took a backseat to having an entire eco-system poisoned by unicorn blood.  

“We can tell Hagrid,” Hermione said. “He’s good with all sorts of magical creatures.”  

Unsaid was that if it was more serious than dead unicorns, he could tell Professor Dumbledore.  

“Yeah!” Ron agreed, calming down. “And I’m going to ask Charlie and Bill. They’ll know what to do.”  

.  


 

.  

Classes continued on despite Amy’s earth-shattering realization that there was something of a murderer walking around Hogwarts.  

It made going from different classrooms a tense affair.  

Hermione and Ron flanked her, all of their eyes watching ,  alert and cautious.  

There was, after all, only one thing evil enough in the whole world to go after unicorns and there was an entire castle full of them.  

“Hagrid didn’t know,” Hermione said, hair looking incredibly bushy, making her look flustered. “He looked shocked. He said he’s the Caretaker of Hogwarts Grounds and he’s supposed to know how everyone’s doing.”  

Amy digested that. Keeper of Keys and Grounds at Hogwarts, Hagrid had told her was his official title. She didn’t realize that Keeper of Grounds meant everyone outside of the Castle was under his protection. She wondered what Keeper of Keys meant.  

“Is he doing anything about it?” Ron asked, skeptical. “Because Charlie told me that the merfolk in the Lake are in a contract with the Headmaster. In return for residing there, they would keep it clean and watch out for dangerous creatures that would harm the children. The headmasters are bound to protect them in return.”  

There wasn’t much reciprocation at the rate everything was going.  

“Did your brother Bill have any suggestions? He’s a  cursebreaker , right? He might have some wards to prevent things from being tossed in the lake,” Hermione asked.  

Ron shook his head.  

“Let’s wait for Hagrid to tell Professor Dumbledore,” Amy signed decisively. “If nothing happens in three days, we’ll write your brother again.”  

.  


 

.  

The next day, the Lake was cordoned off with glowing ropes and if you approached it, the sign “ Lake being cleaned of Contaminants, come back later ,” rose up from the earth and shoved itself on your face.  

“Well it’s all good for the merfolk and Himself,” Hermione grouched, referring to the Giant Squid. “But someone is still going around murdering innocent unicorns for their blood. Do you think they’ve solved that?”  

“Well, we can’t exactly know, can we?” Ron said testily. He was short tempered form lack of sleep, waiting for Bill’s owl. “Unless you want to go to McGonagall and ask her, ‘Hey Professor, seen any murderous bastards recently?’”  

Hermione eyed him, scowling. “I just want to  know ,” she sighed. “It’s so interesting.”  

“We can ask the Twins if they know something,” Amy volunteered, trying to keep them from arguing. “I heard they know this castle better than Professor Dumbledore.”  

Ron made a face. “That’s just a rumor they made so they can look cool in front of Ginny,” he muttered. “Ugh.”  

But since he followed them to the Common Room, Amy let that go. Grumpy Ron was not a good person to be around since he tended to pick fights with anything moving. Especially Hermione, who’s temper was even worse than Ron’s once goaded.  

.  


 

.  

“You haven’t seen anyone suspicious?” Ron asked. “Because there’s a murderous pedophile going around the castle. It’s the reason why the Lake’s closed off.”  

Hermione stifled a giggle into her fist hastily.  

Amy’s eyebrows were going up. “Pedophile?” she signed to Hermione.  

Hermione laughed harder.  

Fred and George were staring at Ron.  

“Ronniekins,” Fred said. “How much sleep have you gotten? Because that was positively snarky.”  

George looked around, spotted Percy and signed, pointing to Ron. BSL was really making its rounds to everyone ever since Amy arrived.  

Percy took one look at Ron’s face and bundled him to the sofa with a conjured blanket and then  sat on him . Ron was out like a light. All this took about three minutes.  

Amy’s eyes were wide with wonder.  

“What was that about a pedophile?” Fred continued as though nothing happened.  

This made Hermione laugh again.  

Amy sighed and took over, signing, “There was someone killing unicorns, draining their blood and then throwing the dead bodies in the Lake. That’s why the Lake’s closed.”  

George dug around for a piece of parchment. “I don’t know exactly about murderous bastards, but there has been a suspicious person here.”  

George spread the parchment and Fred cast a spell that made everyone’s eyes turn away. Amy admired the silent spellcasting before realizing that the parchment had ink that was  moving.  

Both of you don’t tell Ron or I’ll make your lives miserable,” Fred said sternly. “This is the Marauder’s Map. We nicked it from  Filch’s  office in our first year. We figured out the password in our second year.”  

“It lets you see everything in Hogwarts,” George explained with a flourish. “Including people. And it hasn’t lied yet.”  

Hermione’s eyes were wide and Amy was sure hers were no different.  

“And there has been a suspicious bastard wandering around the castle,” Fred added. “Look at the Defense Classroom.”  

Both of them automatically found the classroom, having been trying to figure out everything. And there, where Quirrell’s name was supposed to be, was a blur.  

“Is that...like a smudge?” Hermione asked.   

“We have no idea,” George said, frank and without hesitation. “No one else has that. No one.”  

“Not even Snape,” Fred continued.  

Amy and Hermione exchanged glances. Finally, a clue!  

Chapter Text

Amy asked the twins to watch out for Quirrell, which didn’t take much because after being told that he might be the one killing unicorns, Fred and George went awfully quiet, a sharp glint in their eyes that gave Amy shivers.  

“It would be no bother to watch him,” Fred said.  

“No bother at all,” George echoed. Both of them smiled. It was a smile filled with grim promise.  

Ron, after recovering from sleep-deprivation, looked a bit shocked at her gal l  to ask the twins to do something.  

“Only mum could do that,” Ron said in tones of awe. “And even that has some risk. Bill would have more success to ask them to do anything.”  

Amy giggled at the  thought.   

“So that’s  Quirrel  watched,” Hermione mused. “But Unicorn Blood sustains you even if you’re an inch from death. Does that mean he’s...injured?”  

“Injured enough to endure a cursed life?” Amy asked, signing jerkily with disgust. “Because I don’t think it’s worth it.”  

“Some people don’t care,” Ron said. “But that’s a good point, Hermione. He can’t keep drinking unicorn blood. You’re supposed to drink it only once for it to work. Repeated doses are just. Too much.”  

Both of them didn’t argue with him. Ron knew weirdly specific details about things. Like Dragon eggs and Unicorn’s.  

So  it’s a repeated injury?” Amy asked, just to be sure she was getting it. “Because he keeps drinking it?”  

“That,” Ron nodded. “Or he’s possessed and he needs the strength to even keep walking.”  

This was the Wizarding World. That there was possession wasn’t the question.   

“Wait,” Hermione said. “Possessed people...die?”  

Ron finally noticed the stares he was getting and said a bit defensively, “Bill did his Charms Project on the exorcism of ghosts! He ended up telling everyone about what he found out in his research  Ginny and I had nightmares about it for weeks .”  

“We’re not doubting you, Ron,” Amy signed, patting him on the arm soothingly. “It’s just. Really weirdly specific, even for you.”  

“Tell us all about it,” Hermione said with the air of someone who wouldn’t hesitate to pry out the answers from Ron’s brain if she had to.  

Ron wrinkled his nose and sighed. “If you’re possessed,” he said. “You wouldn’t notice at first. And then you get tired  real  quickly. And then that tiredness doesn’t go away. Until even getting up from bed in the morning would tire you out.”  

It sounded awful. Amy covered her mouth with her hands and wanted to shut her eyes. Hermione gripped her hands tightly.  

“And you start to eat a lot. And hear their voice in your head. When that happens, you have a day, then you die,” Ron finished.  

Amy gagged.  

“He must be desperate,” Hermione said, looking enlightened. “But why doesn’t he just  exorcise  himself?”  

“It’ll kill you,” Ron said. “Immediately.”  

It was all theory and conjecture, but it sounded frighteningly plausible.  

The look they exchanged was grim.   

.  


 

.  

Fred and George stopped by them during breakfast a couple of days later.   

“I’m sure you’re all busy little bees,” George said.   

“But we found something interesting,” Fred added.  

“See, your P.O.I. is loitering in the third floor,” George finished with a flourish, signing “Turban man”.  

Amy  fingerspelled  back, “P-O-I?” in confusion.  

“Person  Of  Interest,” Hermione whispered to her quietly.  

“Isn’t that the place Dumbledore told us to avoid unless we wanted to die?” Ron asked.  

Ron should not have sounded as excited in that moment. Amy would worry that she’s rubbing off him, except Ron had always been like this.  

Hermione on the other hand...  

“We should find out what’s in there,” Hermione said.   

The twins looked at the three of them with bemusement.  

“You know what Fred, I feel old all of a sudden,” George said.  

“Yeah, George. All these young’uns breaking rules right in front of us,” Fred said.  

“And they’re not even asking us for help!” George exclaimed.  

Ron waved them away and Amy signed, “Half the fun is finding out!”  

.  


 

.  

There was a huge three headed dog behind the door.  

When the three of them finally shut the door with panicked fumbling, Hermione had to sit down in a hurry.  

“Let’s go,” Ron whispered urgently, just as pale as Hermione but still able to stand. “We don’t know if they’ve placed alarms on the door in case someone touches it.”  

That got Amy to help Hermione walk and the three of them ran down the stairs.  

“Hagrid?” Amy signed when she was sure her hands wouldn’t shake.  

“Hagrid,” Hermione agreed breathlessly.  

They exchanged a look before bursting into helpless giggles.  

.  


 

.  

Hagrid was an information goldmine.  

“Oh, you mean Fluffy!” he exclaimed, affection and fondness coloring his voice for that large, three headed  thing  with sharp teeth. Amy hesitates to call it monster, but...  

“I  got him from an Irish fellow last year and I leant him to Dumbledore to guard the  , ” Hagrid c uts off with a muffled curse.  

“Yes?” Hermione and Ron asked in unison, Ron doing his smile with the dimples that got him out of trouble when he did it.  

Hagrid groaned. “Darn. Look. What ever it is about  Fluffy is between Professor Dumbledore and Nicholas Flamel!”  

While Hagrid looked appalled beside them, the three of them exchanged grins.  

“Thanks Hagrid!” Ron said, Amy signing the same thing half a second behind him.  

.


 

.  

Ron didn’t want to ask Percy, but Amy had a better idea.  

“We can ask Neville,” she s igned . “He’s a pureblood too, isn’t he?”  

Amy had somehow gotten the strange idea that pureblood's knew obscure and usually unknown facts. Ron wondered why.

Hermione dropped a large book between them, narrowly trapping Ron’s fingers. Both of them glared at each other before relenting at Amy’s sigh.  

“I found him,” Hermione declared. “He’s famous for alchemy.”  

Amy, who loved anything mythical due to being part mermaid, perked up and signed eagerly, “You mean, that legendary Philosopher’s Stone?”  

“Oh!” Ron exclaimed, eyebrows going up to his forehead. “That’s not legendary. Well, it’s legendary, but it’s real too.”  

Hermione got the implications first. “Do you mean to say that the Philosopher’s Stone is here? In Hogwarts?”  

“It’s a trapped quest!” Amy signed, practically sparkling. “I mean, after a series of challenges, the challenger gets the reward, only to die at the end because there’s no way out.”  

Hermione huffed and said, “Amy, you don’t mean to sound like that when there’s somebody that’s going to die at the end of it!”  

When Amy only seemed to  vibrate  in her chair, Hermione made a wordless sound of frustration and Ron was torn between laughing and pinching the bridge of his nose.  

.


 

.  

“What do you mean you want to watch?” Ron asked.  

It was just the two of them looking at Hermione make a small localized hurricane as she hurried back and forth to consult books. Everyone else gave her a wide berth, sensing her manic energy and wanting nothing to do with it.  

“I want to see how Quirrell is going to do his quest,” Amy signed discreetly.  

“Amy, you said it yourself,” Ron said, using that reasonable tone he had that drove Hermione crazy. “It’s a trapped quest. If we follow Quirrell, we’ll be as trapped as him.”  

“But don’t you want to try the rest of it?” Amy signed, her body language coaxing and sly. “It’s not just Fluffy there. It’s like an adventure, not knowing what’s going to happen next.”  

“It’s an adventure,” Ron signed back, being discreet because Madam Pince had craned her neck to look at the three of them beadily. “But I don’t want to die either way.”  

Amy pouted and that was that.  

.  

.  

Except, it was not.  

Amy woke up with a hand over her mouth and the scent of fire.