|Celandine's Chronicle (celandineb) wrote in cels_fic_haven,|
@ 2016-08-19 13:23:00
|Entry tags:||hp fic minerva, narnia fic susan|
HP/Narnia fic: Sidecar [Susan Pevensie, Minerva McGonagall, general]
Fandom: HP/Narnia crossover
Characters: Susan Pevensie, Minerva McGonagall
Length: 2229 words
Summary: Susan meets a witch.
Note: For cruisedirector, who asked for "a conversation between Minerva McGonagall and Susan Pevensie in a bar in the 1950s or 60s." This conversation at least starts in the bar, although it ends up at Susan's flat.
A witch walked into a pub and ordered a Sidecar.
That sounds like the beginning of a joke, doesn't it? It isn't. For one thing, I didn't know she was a witch then. For another, if you haven't had a Sidecar yourself, they are delicious, a combination of cognac, Grand Marnier, and lemon juice.
I was sitting in the snug that evening. I'd had a dreadful day at work, and as well it would have been Lucy's twenty-fifth birthday. I had managed to get through the day without breaking down and decided to stop at the King's Arms before going back to my flat. If William hadn't had an important case that he had to work late on—you wouldn't think that a solicitor would need to work late, but William was the most junior in the firm—I might have rung him up, but as it was a drink seemed the thing to do.
A drink or three. I had signalled for my third Pimm's (the King's Arms made them with lemonade, cucumber, and borage) when, as I say, the witch walked in.
She didn't look like a witch. I had met a witch before—and that's another long story, I can tell you—and that one was beautiful and evil through and through. This woman looked more like a schoolmistress, as I later learned she was. She ordered her Sidecar in a strong Scots accent and, though there were several empty seats, chose the one beside me.
I nodded politely and took a sip of my fresh drink. I was beginning to feel that this had better be the last one, or even the cool air walking home wouldn't be enough to revive me.
The woman gazed at me with a curious expression, as if she recognised me. She opened her mouth to speak and closed it again with a snap before looking away.
"Yes?" I inquired.
"Excuse me, but was your mother called Gladys Pevensie?"
"She was." To my dismay I found the tears springing to my eyes. I fished for my pocket handkerchief and dabbed at them, careful not to smear my make-up. "She died in a railway accident, nearly eight years ago now."
"I'm so sorry." She put her hand over mine and patted it. "You look very like her; she and my mother were friends, back when she was still Gladys Ketteridge, and I grew up seeing pictures of the two of them, but they lost touch soon after she married Jack and moved to Finchley. School friendships can be like that—wonderful, but not lasting."
I nodded. Mother had never spoken of her school years that I could remember. I had always assumed that she had had a miserable time there and preferred to forget it, but perhaps she had loved school instead and it made her sad to think back. I knew about school friendships not lasting, too. There had been half a dozen of us at St. Catherine's who had formed a tight group and promised each other to always remain friends, yet now the only one of them I still saw was Phyllis, and that only because she had taken a job at a bookseller's that happened to be one street over from the estate agent's where I worked.
"I had rather thought…" she broke off. "My name is Minerva McGonagall, by the way. And you are…?"
"Susan. Susan Pevensie, but soon Susan Clapham," I said. "I'm to be married next month."
"Congratulations," said Miss McGonagall gravely. "May you have a long and happy marriage."
"Thank you." On an impulse I added, "Would you like to come to the wedding?"
"I should be honoured. You'll want my address, I suppose?" She found a scrap of paper in her bag and jotted it down, folding the paper over before handing it to me.
I unfolded it to be sure that I could read her writing. I really did mean to send her an invitation and it would be a shame if I were unable to copy the address correctly. "Hogwarts School, Scotland? Do you teach there?"
"Yes. It's the school your mother and mine attended; did she never mention it?"
"No, never," I answered in confusion.
"I wonder… do you mind if I ask you a few questions?"
Perhaps I would have, usually, but between the day it had been, three glasses of Pimm's, and the unexpectedness of meeting someone who had if not actually known my family had still had a sort of connection, I was in an odd and reckless state. "Not at all."
She leaned forward. "Did strange things ever happen around you? Things that couldn't be explained in any usual fashion?"
There seemed no possible way in which she could know about Narnia, and yet to what else could she be referring? Guardedly, I said, "More to my sister Lucy than to me."
"Your sister? Older sister?"
"No, younger." My eyes filled up again. "She died in the same railway accident as mother. All of them did: my parents, both my brothers, and Lucy. It would have been Lucy's birthday today."
Miss McGonagall's face crumpled. "And I'm reminding you of them. I am so very sorry."
"It's all right." There is no ladylike way to blow one's nose. "Usually I'm fine, it's just…" I shrugged.
"Not to worry. I understand." She hesitated, and I heard her say under her breath, "But if she has children, she will need to know."
"I'll need to know what, if I have children?" If there was something dreadful in my mother's family—she'd not talked about them much, either—I wanted to know.
She glanced around. "This isn't the best place to talk about such matters."
"My flat isn't far," I said. "Come and have supper with me, unless you had other plans?"
"None of consequence," she said, sounding relieved.
We spoke of nothing much from then until we sat at the tiny table in my flat. I regretted that all I had was tinned soup, some of those wretched half-soya sausages, and tinned peas, but Miss McGonagall waved off my apologies, saying that after the rationing of the war years, she no longer paid much attention to what she ate.
"And speaking of the war years, how old were you when the war began, Miss Pevensie?"
"Oh, do call me Susan, please, Miss McGonagall. I was ten, nearly eleven."
"And you are welcome to call me Minerva. You said your sister was younger than you; what about your brothers?"
"Peter was a year and a half older, Edmund two years younger, and Lucy three and a half years younger than I. Why?"
"I'll explain in a moment. What about your schools? Did you all attend the same school?"
"No, I went to St. Catherine's, as a boarder, and Lucy eventually did too. The boys went to Rochford; they boarded as well."
"And you said that strange things happened around you, but around Lucy especially? What sort of things?"
In a way it was a relief as much as a grief to talk about what had happened, being evacuated to Professor Kirke's, Lucy's finding Narnia in the wardrobe, becoming a Queen and then coming back to England as a girl again, the return to help Caspian gain his throne—oh, all of it. In four years I hadn't been able to say anything to anyone, not even William, who would have laughed and passed it off as a funny story, and if I'd insisted, would have looked at me with concern and perhaps worse. But Minerva McGonagall listened to the whole thing without so much as a murmur of disbelief, and her questions all took my truthfulness for granted and only asked for greater explanation.
"I see," she said when I had finally finished telling it all. By then we had long since finished eating, and she'd insisted on doing the washing-up while I still talked, and made us a pot of tea. "I suppose your mother did what she felt was best when your brother Peter got his letter, and then the rest of you… the war was on by then, so…"
"What do you mean, 'when Peter got his letter'? What letter?"
"The letter inviting him to attend Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry," Mrs McGonagall said calmly. "Where your mother had gone, and I, and where I teach now."
I looked at her carefully, but she didn't seem any different from the slightly dowdy woman who had sat across from me at the King's Arms and recognised me as my mother's daughter. "You teach witchcraft?"
"Transfiguration, to be precise. Changing one thing into another. Would you care to see?"
I was beyond astonishment by then. I nodded, not knowing what to expect.
She produced a wand from out of her reticule and tapped the sugar bowl with it. I blinked, and the bowl had sprouted legs and begun to crawl slowly towards the edge of the table.
"It's a turtle," I blurted out. "What—how?"
"Careful now." She picked up the turtle and again tapped her wand, and set the sugar bowl back. "It's magic. That's what I teach, and what you might have learned. We might even have been in the same House and been friends, although you're a few years younger than I."
"So—you think—I'm a witch?" It was hard to reconcile that idea with my memories of the White Witch, on the one hand, and this rather ordinary-looking woman across from me, on the other. Ordinary-looking, but I had just seen her turn a sugar bowl into a turtle. So not ordinary at all, not really.
Minerva's smile was regretful. "Could have been. Oh, you would still have the potential, but if you're not trained properly while you're still young… let's just say that it's not impossible after that, but more trouble than benefit. Your children, though, could well be wizards and witches, and if they are, they'll get their letters at eleven, as you must have done. That's why I wanted you to know, you see, so that if they start showing their magic sooner, you won't be afraid, and you'll have had time to think about whether you want them to go to Hogwarts or to live as Muggles as you have done."
"Muggles?" I didn't understand.
"Sorry, Muggles are non-magical folk. Generally the wizarding ability runs in families, and it's quite rare for a witch or wizard to have a non-magical child. The reverse is more common—a child of two Muggles turning out to have magic. But since your mother was a witch, and quite a good one according to my own mother, your children will probably have magic too."
"Magic," I repeated. Suddenly everything I had known in Narnia—the creatures like Tumnus the faun and Mr and Mrs Beaver, and the river-god and the naiads and dryads, and the way that Aslan himself had come back to life and broken the White Witch's magic once and for all—suddenly it all came rushing back to me, and tears prickled in my eyes. I had tried hard not to think of Narnia. I had never quite denied its reality, but had tucked it into the back of my head as something childish, to be put away as unsuitable for a woman nearly thirty and about to become a solicitor's wife. "My children will have magic? They can attend this school?"
"Most likely, yes," Minerva said. "As long as you and your husband are willing."
That brought reality back like a splash of cold water. "I don't think William would approve. He's very… traditional, you understand."
She tilted her head sideways and peered at me. "I do. My own father was a Muggle, so I know how that can cause difficulties in more than one respect. Either you have to tell him the truth, and risk rejection, or else lie, potentially all your life and your children's." She sighed. "There are spells that can cause someone to forget something, but…"
I nodded. "That doesn't seem right to me either."
"It's not something you'll have to decide on immediately, of course." Minerva tapped the teapot with her wand and then poured herself another cup, the steam rising gently from the surface. "But as I said, that was my own family situation, and I thought you should be aware of your options."
"Thank you." I took a deep breath, and smiled, a little shakily. "Truly. Now shall we talk of something else?"
We talked about the war, and our mothers, and all sorts of other things for hours. By the time Minerva left, it was long past midnight, and we had become friends. I sent her the invitation to my wedding the very next day. She came, and as well as a more traditional gift of linens, she gave me a silver-framed copy of a photograph of our two mothers, which I hung on a wall where I would see it daily and treasured for years.
I told William that it was a picture of my mother Gladys and her friend Isobel, but I never explained the joke of it to him. In the picture, Mother is astride a motor cycle, and Gladys is sitting in the sidecar—so it reminds me not only of Mother, but of Minerva too.