It looked every bit like a real pensieve. It was made out of intricately carved stone, and the inside shimmered and shone like a looking glass, full of the mystical silvery substance that Hope and Matthew both knew would have been memories in the real thing.
“I wonder if it is a toy one,” Hope mused, peering closely at the runes decorating it. “Looks incredibly real to me. Usually my uncles aren’t that bothered about authenticity. I don’t suppose it matters even if it is a real one, because we can always take the memories back. I’ve found the cards as well.”
She spread them out over the living room rug, and the pair of them leaned over to look closely at them. “Show the memories of your first step… first tooth… first pet…” Hope read aloud.
“They’re disappointingly generic,” Matthew remarked.
“Totally boring,” Hope agreed. “Usually they come up with something better than this. According to the note they gave me, they wondered about using this as a sort of game at parties. You can uncover all sorts of embarrassing secrets about your friends and enemies, but because it doesn’t keep a record of them, no one’s legally liable.”
“I’m not sure anyone would get overly stressed about someone witnessing them cutting their first tooth,” Matthew remarked, prodding the contents of the pensieve with his wand. The heavy mercury-like substance pooled and rippled beneath the tip of the wood. “You’re right; it does look real.”
“How about we chuck the cards?” Hope suggested, suddenly feeling entirely mischievous. “We can have a turn each. Ask anything you want to know about me and I’ll show you, but you have to do the same for me.”
Matthew let out a long slow whistle. “That’s a lot of trust you’re putting in me,” he said. “There’s bound to be things you don’t want me to know about.”
“It’s not so much I don’t want you to know about them,” Hope said, tucking her hair behind her ears, “but some things are difficult to talk about, like the end of my first year at Hogwarts. You can watch it if you really want, but I’ll keep my eyes closed and my fingers stuffed in my ears if it’s all the same to you. I don’t really want to go through all that again.”
“I wouldn’t have asked about that,” Matthew reassured her. “This is meant to be fun, not dredging up you almost dying.”
“There’s one advantage to playing this game. It’s one way of making sure we stay friends,” Hope said quietly, looking straight at him. “It’s totally honest, and I do trust you, even though it looks like I haven’t lately.”
“You don’t need to justify anything,” he said gently. “It’s all in the past now, and I suppose we should be heading further into history if we’re going to play this game. No traumatic experiences allowed to be included. Any other restrictions?”
Hope thought briefly, and shook her head. “Ask away. I think you know most stuff about me, anyway.”
Matthew pondered whilst Hope drank her wine. He’d made a good choice with the bottles he’d brought with him. This was a fruity, heavy red, just as she liked it. She wondered what on earth he would want to know about her. He’d been her friend for over a decade, so surely he knew it all.
“Right then!” Matthew exclaimed, sitting bolt upright. “We learnt all about your Dad in History of Magic, but what was it actually like growing up as Harry Potter’s daughter? Show me any childhood memory so I can see what it was like.”
Hope smiled and breathed a sigh of relief. That one wasn’t so bad. She thought quickly, rejecting a few memories as not really worthy of viewing, then alighted on another.
“Got it,” she breathed, and lifted her wand to her temple, drawing down a silvery strand of memory and adding it to the pensieve.
She looked at Matthew and grinned. “Let’s hope my psyche doesn’t scar you too much. Ready for the fantastic early years of Hope Potter?”
He grinned back and nodded. Together they tumbled headfirst into the shimmering substance.
It was gloriously sunny, and almost blindingly bright after the darkness of the cottage’s living room. Hope squinted across at Matthew to see him looking mildly confused.
“This is just your back garden,” he frowned. “I’d have expected some huge Quidditch match or some massive Ministry function with you in cute little formal robes and everyone worshipping you.”
Hope elbowed him in the ribs and laughed. “You’ve got to be kidding. You know we hardly went anywhere when I was little. Mum and Dad were too wound up about something happening, and all the attention didn’t make it easier. I didn’t leave Hogsmeade much at all, unless it was to see family. Holly’s got no idea how lucky she is that they do things with her.”
Her eyes actively scanned the garden and settled on a small blob of colour on the far side of the oak tree.
“There I am!” she exclaimed, and galloped quickly across the garden.
Matthew jogged after her, and they leaned against the tall fence, watching the much younger version of Hope with amusement. Her bright red tresses waved wildly beneath the big white sunhat that flopped down over her eyes. She clambered around wearing a polka dotted bathing suit in her sandpit, building a complex castle, which both of them quickly realised wasn’t the same shape as the buckets she was using. The sand stacked remarkably easily into shapes bearing an uncanny similarity to those of Hogwarts, and as the turrets grew higher Matthew looked sceptically at his friend.
“Using magic already, huh?”
“You mean you weren’t? Not like you to miss a trick.”
A tiny dragon emerged from the dungeons of the sandcastle, shooting jets of flame past Hope’s ankles.
“No! That’s naughty!” A stern finger wagged by the dragon’s nostrils. “You’re not to hurt the princess. The handsome prince has got to come and rescue her. You’re only pretending to be fierce. Be a good dragon, okay?”
The dragon puffed some apologetic smoke at her and withdrew his head back into the castle.
Matthew chuckled. “Looks like some things never change,” he teased. “You were Slytherin through and through even then, and so cute with it! How old are you here?”
“About four, I think,” Hope replied, wrinkling her nose. “This is the summer before I started at the Hogsmeade Primary School. You wanted to know about growing up as Harry Potter’s daughter? Watch this.”
The distinctive red hair of Ginny Potter was easily seen as she bustled about in the kitchen, keeping a weather eye on her only child. She disappeared further inside the house for a brief moment, and Hope saw a deeply cloaked, shadowy figure lurking by the dustbins poised to ruin the idyllic scene. He leaned forwards, nervously checking all about him, then peering with undisguised interest at the child before him. There was a clatter, and he disappeared swiftly from sight, lingering until the time was right.
The younger Hope seemed oblivious to any danger lurking around her, and continued patting and moulding the sand, completely lost in her creation. The figure suddenly launched himself across the lawn, running at full pelt. Matthew started to his feet as the man got closer, and dived towards the tiny girl. The older Hope hauled on his arm and pulled him back.
“It’s ok,” she hissed. “You can’t touch a thing anyway, but I’d hardly be here now if anything had happened to me back then. We said no traumatic situations, remember?”
Matthew’s face fell, and he looked quite abashed.
Hope grinned at him. “My knight in shining armour. Shall I get the dragon back?”
“I’d only run off with the dragon and leave you to attack poor unsuspecting knights in the future,” he teased. “You’re far scarier!”
The man had pulled what was obviously a camera from his pocket and slowed, bending lower to get a clear snap of Hope’s face. Suddenly, there was a bellowed incantation and he was hurtled backwards into the uppermost branches of the great oak tree that was as ancient as the cottage itself. He landed with a sickening crack, and screamed with fright, his camera abandoned on the ground far below.
“Just a Daily Prophet reporter,” Hope remarked scathingly. “You’d think I’d have been safe in our own back garden but oh no; they were crawling all over the place. Here’s Dad coming to finish sorting him out. He’s never impressed by this sort of thing.”
Harry Potter appeared immediately and strode towards them, his wand outstretched and pointed in the direction of the reporter.
“You there!” a furious bellow echoed across the garden, and birds in the nearby field took fright and flew off, flapping and cawing madly in their haste to escape. “How dare you come onto my property and harass my daughter? When I get my hands on you I swear I’m going to… Accio!”
The photographer hurtled back down again, and Harry stood neatly aside, letting him plummet to earth face first, before hauling him up again by the lapels, his fists clenched with rage.
“Never do this again,” he hissed, jabbing his wand into the man’s throat. “My daughter is not public property, and I will happily take you apart piece by piece if I ever lay eyes on you again.”
Matthew’s jaw hung open, as he watched the man being forcibly ejected from the garden and his camera destroyed.
“Did… did this happen a lot? I never thought…”
“You think that's bad, imagine being staked out in Madam Malkin's when you went to buy your first bra,” Hope said caustically. “Save the wizarding world, and all they’re interested in is what colour underwear you’re wearing.”
“I think I remember reading that article,” he confessed. Hope stared at him, horrified. There was a long pause until he chuckled wickedly and grinned at her. “Only joking!” he said, “although it’d have been more entertaining than all the medical journals I get to read. What colour was it anyway?”
She narrowed her eyes. “Scarlet, obviously!”
The younger Hope scampered over to her father, stretching her arms up for him. He lifted her up and swung her around until she screamed with delight and giggled. Her pleasure was reflected in her father’s own expression. They knelt to the sandcastle together, and her father conjured flags that fluttered in the breeze, and some whinnying horses that stamped and pawed upon the sand.
Matthew took Hope’s hand, and the world of the cottage garden faded swiftly. Before they knew it, they were sitting back on the living room floor, feeling slightly disorientated. He dropped her hand quickly, glancing anxiously up at her as if he might have done something to offend.
Hope gave him a half-smile. “Don’t worry about it,” she said, taking his hand back in hers. “It’s inevitable that one of us will grab an arm or a hand when something’s going on. I did it to you back in the memory. It’s okay. I don’t want anything to change between us.”
Matthew flushed slightly, but squeezed her hand. “It hasn’t changed,” he promised. “Everything is just the way it was last year.”
“Good!” Hope exclaimed, reaching for the bottle and offering to top up his glass. “What do you make of my childhood now?”
“It’s nothing like I thought it would be,” he admitted, pushing his hair back out of his eyes. It flopped relentlessly forward again, but he didn’t appear to notice. “I always thought you had some sort of charmed upbringing, but that was awful with the reporter. And your parents looked so young as well. They must have been about our age.”
“They would have been,” Hope agreed, doing some rapid calculations in her head. “I think Mum was even younger than us in that memory. I can’t imagine having a relationship now, let alone a four year old. Can you?”
He turned even redder. “Not in my early twenties. Maybe one day, although getting the girl would help to start with.”
“Oh, so there is someone?” Hope’s glee came spilling out. “Do tell.”
“She’s not interested. Nothing more to be said,” Matthew said shortly. Hope felt an instant pang of guilt for asking something that was, after all, none of her business. He took a drink from his glass, and changed the subject. “So what memory of mine do you want to see?”
Hope thought hard. The thing that had always interested her most about her friend was his Muggle background. That was unusual enough for a Slytherin, but for Hope, who had been brought up almost exclusively surrounded by the wizarding world, it was a total novelty. Of course, she’d met his mum on a few occasions, but meeting Muggles wasn’t the same as actually seeing what it would be like to live as one. They had all sorts of amazing gadgets she’d learnt about like television and computers, although she wasn’t entirely sure why they were so popular because as far as she could see they were just like wizard pictures but far bulkier.
Then another question came to the fore. How had Matthew discovered that he had magical powers? Hers had always been part of her life and she’d never given them a second thought, but Matthew must have been quite shocked by them appearing out of nowhere. As far as she knew, his entire family was Muggle.
“Show me you doing your first piece of magic,” she begged. “I have no idea what you did or what you thought about it.”
Matthew grinned slightly sheepishly. “Trust you to go straight for the jugular.”
“What’s the matter? Scared of me seeing your grubby knees in shorts?”
He hesitated. “No,” he said, and with an obvious effort forced himself to explain. “You never saw what my life was like before Hogwarts. Your parents might have been very young but it’s obvious they adored you. It was pretty much a full on war zone in my house until I was about seven. I can’t say that me developing magic helped my parents’ arguments a lot. In fact, I’m sure it was the final straw that made my dad move out.”
Hope hugged her knees to her chest, wanting to reach out to him but not knowing if she dared. He’d never spoken much about his dad at all to her, or to anyone else as far as she knew. “Matthew, we said no traumatic experiences. I can give you something else.”
“Dad leaving wasn’t traumatic,” he shrugged. “Quite the opposite actually. It’s just…” he sighed, and shook his head. His wand touched his temple, and a long silvery thread spidered out as he drew it back down to the pensieve. He watched his memory for a fraction of a second before looking up at Hope.
She offered her hand to him now; he took it and smiled. They leaned together so their noses almost touched the shimmering liquid and then floated down through it into another world.