I jumped up from the bed as though I had been stung by a bumblebee. "Beeeee…Becky!" I breathed, trying to conceal Amelia's sitting figure behind my back (it was too late to cast the vanishing charm on her). "What… what are you doing here, honey?"
"WHAT?" my fiancée shrieked. "I received an owl from Doris… she told me she had seen you kissing some hussy at the McGonagalls' wedding yesterday!!!"
Damn you, Doris Crockford, you terrible gossip, I cursed inwardly. "Well, you know, Becky, the point is that…"
"…That you're even sleeping together with that cow!" she shouted, pointing at Amelia whom I obviously hadn't managed to conceal properly behind my back.
"She's no cow!" I snapped.
"No?" Becky laughed hysterically. "Then what should I call her – a goat? Or perhaps a flobberworm? All animals on Earth would be deeply hurt if I compared them to this whore!"
"Hold your tongue, you have no idea what you are talking about!" I cried with clenched fists. For a moment Becky seemed to recoil, her eyes widened with shock and the expression of understanding spread on her face. "So…" she whispered. "You're… you're in love with this… this…" she cast a side-glance at Amelia.
"…wonderful person, yes," I said quickly before Rebecca could call Amelia other kinds of animals. "I'm sorry, Becky… I had no idea how to tell you…"
She folded her arms with an extremely superior glance. "You don't have to. I'm intelligent enough to assess the situation and to… give this back to you." With that she pulled her engagement ring off her finger and let it fall on the floor, then turned her back on me and headed for the door. At the doorframe she doubled back. "Oh, forgot something." She pulled a heavy, leather-bound book out of her robes and chucked it at me: The Notre Dame of Paris. "Screw your goat!" she hissed, and banged the door shut behind her.
I bent down and picked up my favourite book, feeling downright mad with Becky for insulting poor Djali, my favourite goat character.
Then suddenly my anger evaporated, as though a gust of wind had blown it away, and I turned to face Amelia: my love. She was crouching on the bed, chewing her lower lip, clearly not knowing how to react, but I did the reacting part for both of us: I flung myself on the bed and gathered her into a firm hug. "Amelia, Amelia, Amelia!" I yelled, rocking her (and almost stifling her in my frenzy). "I'm no more engaged, Amelia! Do you know what this means?"
She shook her head.
"This means I can marry you!" I shouted happily and plastered my lips to hers. When we parted (after a nice three-minute snog session), I added, "Of course if you're willing to marry me, that is." I slipped off the bed, sank to my knees and took her hands. "Would you do me the honour of marrying me, Amelia Who from Walter von der Vogelweide?"
She seemed speechless. I mean this in the other sense of the word – her muteness wasn't the only reason why she couldn't talk - even if she had been able to talk, words would have failed her at this magical moment. For moments we just stared into each other's eyes, and after a long pause I was getting insecure. Doesn't she want to marry me? I thought desperately. "A…Amelia," I stuttered, "did you understand what I said?"
Slowly she nodded.
She nodded again.
"Does this mean that you… you're willing to become my wife?" I asked, my voice quavering.
She nodded once more.
"Yippieeeee!" I yelped and jerked her off the bed, dancing through the room with her in such a frantic way that I didn't even notice knocking Fawkes' cage off the table (the Phoenix gave Amelia an angry squeak – he hated the poor girl for some reason). A wonder that Headmaster Snape hadn't returned to see what this clamour was.
After I released my new fiancée - thinking I was changing my fiancées as often as others changed their socks - she bent down and snatched up the ring Rebecca had thrown on the floor.
"Oh… her ring," I said. "Just put it somewhere, Ami, I'll buy you a new one."
However, she shook her head and pulled the ring onto her finger, beaming as she held up her hand to the light coming through the window and the gem in it flickered like a diamond (though it wasn't a diamond, of course, I, as a teacher, couldn't afford to buy diamonds).
"You… you'd accept her ring?" I asked, utterly surprised. No other woman would have accepted a ring that my former fiancée had thrown away, but Amelia was different… she wasn't as proud as the others, she was so much simpler, and so much sweeter… She nodded happily and seemed to be enjoying herself a lot, looking at the gem as it refracted the white sunlight like a prism and turned it into all colours of the rainbow.
So, the wedding ring part was settled, then. "You know what, Ami?" I told her. "I can't stand the thought of me not buying you any kind of jewellery for our wedding… I'll buy you a nice bracelet, how about that?"
She seemed to have no objections, just kept playing with her ring, her bleating-like-giggling filling the room as the gem painted the walls with vivid colours as the light passed through it.
* * * * *
We decided to keep our engagement a secret till the next Saturday when we wanted to go into Diagon Alley to buy the promised bracelet for my beloved Amelia.
On Saturday morning I turned invisible, put the vanishing charm on my fiancée and we headed down to Hogsmeade. As soon as we left the castle's grounds, I took the invisibility charms off ourselves and we walked hand in hand into the village.
As it turned out, we arrived too early for the train (I didn't want to expose Amelia to any other kind of travelling, perhaps Portkeys or Floo would scare her); it was only eight in the morning and the next train would leave the station at ten o'clock. Even the ticket box was closed this early in the morning. So, we decided to take a walk in the village and just look at the shop windows (Amelia particularly liked the shop window of Honeydukes). On our stroll we met Aberforth. I wasn't in any mood to talk to my annoying brother and spoil my good mood on a wonderful day like this, but what could I do? I let Aberforth invite Ami and me into the Three Broomsticks for a nice early morning Butterbeer.
"So, Albus, tell me, how are things going with our charming Miss Who?" Aberforth grinned at me, then squinted jovially at my lady.
"Things couldn't be more spiffing, bro," I replied. Well, Albus, better break the news to him, you'd have to do it sooner or later, so why not now? I thought. "So, Aberforth, Amelia and I are getting married."
For some mysterious reason my brother suddenly spit out the mouthful of Butterbeer he was just about to swallow and started to cough madly. I had to tap him on the back for a couple of times to stop his bout of coughing.
"You… must be kidding!" he said finally, his face as white as a sheet and totally desperate. Why on Earth would he be so desperate? He had never liked Becky, and he had personally introduced me to Amelia, so he should be happy I'm marrying her! What got into him? I wondered.
"No, why would I be kidding?" I shrugged. "I love her and she loves me, right, darling?" I sneaked an arm around Amelia's shoulder and she blushed, giggling.
"But… what about… Rebecca?" Aberforth spluttered.
"That's over, brother. She got to know that I loved Amelia and broke off the engagement. So I'm free to marry Amelia."
"But… but… you barely know each other!" my brother reasoned.
"But of course we know each other!" I replied. "We've been living in the same room for almost a month now – because of you, dear brother." This was true: it had been Aberforth who had insisted on me sharing my room with Miss Who. "So to say: it's your fault," I added with a wink and didn't understand why my brother's complexion turned from white to greyish green.
"Are you feeling all right, Aberforth?" I asked. "Perhaps you could do with a bit of fresh air, huh?"
"No… rather a double Whisky to knock me out," he muttered.
I pulled my magical clock out of my pocket (it had twelve hands and little planets moving around the edge) and squinted at it. "I should go and get our tickets to London, the ticket box must have opened already. Amelia, dear, would you please stay here with Aberforth and take care of him? I think he's not feeling well."
She nodded eagerly and I left for the station. Twenty minutes later I returned and it didn't even occur to me that perhaps I shouldn't have left my fiancée alone with my brother…
* * * * *
Amelia and I had a great time in Diagon Alley. We went to Madam Malkin's (owned by the current Madam Malkin's great-grandmother) to look at some wedding robes, then headed for the jeweller to pick Amelia's bracelet. She chose a pretty silver one that had charms on it, and whenever the charms clinked, they made a funny sound that sounded like a cowbell. Its sound was a bit higher than that of a normal cowbell; it reminded me rather of those smaller bells worn by sheep and goats… wonder why Amelia felt attracted to a sound like that?
We spent the whole day with going from shop to shop, and Amelia liked the Magical Menagerie a lot, but her favourite was definitely Flora Fortescue's Ice Cream Parlour (Flora was obviously Florean's ancestor).
We slept in the Leaky Cauldron that night. I took two rooms, so that people wouldn't even suspect that I had ever slept in the same room with my fiancée (mind you, at those times sleeping in the same room before getting married wasn't as fashionable as it is today…)
However, at the middle of the night I got awoken by someone slipping into my bed.
"Amelia!" I breathed. "What are you doing here?"
She didn't say anything, just snuggled close to me and dropped off. I understood: for the last month we had always been sleeping 'together', and probably she was scared to sleep alone in a totally unfamiliar room? Hm… back in Liechtenstein did she always sleep together with her mum or sisters? I wondered. Funny people, these Liechtensteinians, I told myself for the umpteenth time.
Next morning we took the train back to Hogsmeade. It was already late in the afternoon when we arrived back; it was nearly sunset. I wanted to head back to the castle immediately, but Amelia pointed at the sun setting above the meadows and tugged at my arm, indicating that she wanted to go through the fields and enjoy the sunset. Since we didn't have much luggage, I thought: why not?
After a short walk we decided to have dinner. I conjured a checked blanket, put it on the grass and also magicked a basket full of sandwiches out of nowhere. Perfect picnic. We had been chewing our sandwiches for a while when I spotted them.
A flock of goats.
"Will you excuse me, dearest?" I smiled at Amelia and flicked my wand at the flock that was approaching at tremendous speed. "Petrificus Totalus!"
The goats were frozen at the middle of the fields and I put my wand back into my robes. "Well, that's taken care of," I grinned at my fiancée, who cast a disappointed glance at the goats, as though she had been sad that I had petrified them. But I couldn't just let them attack us again, now, could I?
"Don't worry about them, sweetest," I cupped her chin, "I'll take the charm off them as soon as we have finished our dinner."
A grateful smile spread on her face and she sneaked her arms around my neck. Uh-oh… before I could react, her cherry-coloured lips had assaulted mine and I wouldn't have been able to let go, even if I wanted. But did I want to? Huh, not sure.
I gently lowered Amelia onto the blanket and covered her face with feather-like kisses while her hands roamed on my body, trying to pull the robes over my head… then I remembered what I had been thinking weeks earlier up in my room in a similar situation: what if she was totally unknowing? What if she had no idea what was to happen…?
However, the way she jerked me back to herself and pinned my poor, deprived body between her legs, I got the impression that she pretty much KNEW what she was doing…
It felt like as though time had stood still for us, the sun somehow refused to set – perhaps it wanted to perch on the horizon like some curious bird, wanting to see what we were doing? A thought like 'who the hell cares whether the sun is a voyeur or not?' flashed through my mind and I let the pleasure take over me. The sandwiches were forgotten, I no more heard the thousand of crickets around, I was no more aware the intoxicating fragrance of the wildflowers, at that moment I wouldn't have cared if Headmaster Snape had been standing two feet from us ogling us with his usual scowl… nothing mattered, just Amelia and me…
I don't know how long it had lasted… to me it seemed an eternity… still the sun hadn't dived behind the horizon yet when we finally started to dress.
For a while I didn't speak – what I felt couldn't be expressed with words… it was too perfect to express with words. I was sooooo terribly in love! I felt like shouting at the top of my lungs that I loved Amelia Who from Walter von der Vogelweide, but would it have mattered? No. Just holding her hand and looking into her wonderfully blue eyes told her more of my love than any kind of shouting. And what else could express my love that perfectly to her? "Flowers! I'll get you flowers!" I jumped up. I gave her a final peck on the cheek and bolted off into the twilight (the sun had finally set) to pick some nice flowers.
It took me five minutes to assemble a pretty bouquet, and humming a romantic melody I returned to the place where I had left Amelia.
There was the checked blanket and the empty basket on the grass, but Amelia was nowhere to be seen. Instead there was a goat sitting on the blanket, bleating.
How on Earth? I thought irritably. Had I not petrified all those damned goats?
"Shoo!" I waved at it. "Get off you goat, I'm waiting for my fiancée and don't want you to be around."
But the goat didn't budge.
"I said sod off!" I advanced on it, now starting to feel really annoyed. Perhaps it had been the twilight that made me not see the goat properly, but only when I got closer to it did I notice that it was wearing Amelia's favourite little red hat…
"You've even stolen her hat?" I bristled at the animal. The goat bleated again and moved one of its legs… and something jingled. "You pilfering little… now wait a minute! Lumos!" I breathed, crouching down to have a closer look at the goat in the circle of my wand's light. It was wearing Amelia's brand new charm bracelet… and something sparkled on the blanket… the wedding ring.
"A…Amelia?" I stammered desperately.
The goat bleated.
"Amelia?" I swallowed the lump in my throat.
The goat bleated again.
"Amelia!" I shouted, shaking the poor animal. "Finite Incantatem!" I pointed my wand at it, however it didn't change back. This couldn't be happening to me, I swore to myself. What could I do to get to know what was happening here? Then I suddenly remembered an old incantation that revealed what kind of magic had been cast on something or someone… it was a bit like Priori Incantatem, however it didn't show the earlier spells cast by the wand, but the earlier spells cast on somebody. "Priori Ars Magica!" I pointed my wand at the goat.
Suddenly I saw (and heard) a cloudy image of my brother Aberforth casting a spell on a hazy image of a girl that was unmistakably Amelia… I recognised his spell to be a 'delayed version' of Finite Incantatem – with this kind of magic you could put a spell on someone or take a spell off someone so that the spell would only take effect hours or days after you cast it. Then I saw the next image: Aberforth throwing some transfiguration spell on a goat… since Priori Ars Magica showed the spells in reverse, first Aberforth must have had to put that spell on the goat, then put the delayed Finite Incantatem on Amelia… I slapped my forehead.
"Holy heavens!" I shouted into the darkening sky. It was her! The goat was her! MY AMELIA!
* * * * *
For some strange reason when I visited my brother's house that night to kill him, he was no more there. According to the neighbours he had hastily moved out the day before (very likely after Ami and I had left for London) and they hadn't seen him ever since.
* * * * *
For the next few days I took my holidays in order to be able to devote all my time to sending as many Howlers to my brother (whose location was still unknown to me) as possible. I don't know where and when he received them, but at least one of them must have exploded on him when others could also hear it, because soon the newspapers were filled with articles on 'Aberforth Dumbledore practicing improper charms on a goat' – at least that's what I had been shouting at him in my Howlers: HOW DARE YOU PRACTICE IMPROPER CHARMS ON A GOAT, ABERFORTH?!? I was cautious enough not to mention in any of my Howlers that the goat had been my fiancée, it was enough if people heard that Aberforth had done something wrong and Aberforth would know what exactly he had done even without me mentioning Amelia. I hoped that the Howlers at least made him have serious pangs of remorse, but I couldn't check whether they did, since he had been giving me a wide berth.
My terrible anger with my brother had only lessened a bit when his wife Michelle had visited me and complained that she had got to know what her husband had done and she felt that it had shown her Aberforth's true colours and she was leaving him for good – Michelle had been annoyed by her husband's way too childish behaviour on several occasions and had been contemplating whether to leave him, but had always decided against it. However, this goat-incident was the last straw for her – she knew he'd never ever be able to change to become more serious. I knew my brother loved his wife and felt some malicious joy knowing that he'd be devastated about Michelle leaving for ever. Hell, he had deserved it!
Soon Aberforth had also left the country, because I had made it clear for him that I was in no mood for ever forgiving him for his evil little joke. He had protested, saying that it had only been an April Fool's Day's trick and he had wanted to take the charm off the goat after 1st April, but when I demanded why he hadn't done so, he had replied: "Well, ya know, Albus… I was having so much fun seeing you with her… I just couldn't bring myself to spoil it…" That was when I used the slug-belching curse for the first and last time in my life. After Aberforth's bout of belching slugs had subsided, he left England, and as far as I knew, he settled down somewhere in Russia.
As for my ex-fiancée Rebecca Dawson… she married to an extremely old chap not long after she had broken up with me. As I heard she had been very unhappy in her marriage.
My heart ached for the loss of Amelia even months after the events, but I just couldn't get myself to go out to the Hogsmeade fields and visit her where she was grazing together with her goat friends. I thought I'd go mad if I had to see her again…
So I decided to do everything in my power to forget about her and all the goats. The first step was to let my beard grow so that I'd no more have a goatee.
The next step would have been giving Fawkes away to someone so that I wouldn't think of Amelia every time I glanced at the Phoenix… however I couldn't find it in my heart to chuck him out… he had grown on me. So, Fawkes stayed and we became really good friends.
The final step in the 'Forgetting Amelia Project' was to buy a Pensieve. I used it to siphon the troubling thoughts (especially myself making love to a goat) into it and that way it felt less of a burden than earlier.
Though getting to know Amelia had lots of disadvantages, it had some advantages as well: the first was Fawkes' friendship, the second was my learnt skill of turning invisible. Had I not met Amelia, perhaps I would never have volunteered to learn the trick of invisibility. It came in handy a lot of times later, for example I could use it pretty well in the battle against Grindelwald, and whenever I felt like strolling on the Hogwarts corridors without being disturbed by anyone, I could turn invisible at will. I used this ability brilliantly when I was 'visiting' Arabella Figg in her husband's house so many years ago… sigh. I loved Arabella, but never as much as I had loved Amelia. I tend to believe that you can only love once in your life… I mean really love. There are different types of loves, and you can fall for many different women, but there's only one you can truly, deeply love. And in that 'truly, deeply' way I had loved a goat.
Even when Arabella's husband committed suicide upon realising that she had been cheating on him with me (and because he had got to know that she couldn't bear children), I didn't feel like proposing to her. I had nearly married twice in my life, but I had sworn: never again!
As the years flew by, the memory of Amelia got hazier and hazier in my head, but I could never truly forget her. I had seen Sylvester Snape being replaced by Armando Dippet at the head of the school, I had seen innocent little Tom Riddle coming to study at Hogwarts, I had seen Grindelwald's defeat and little Tom's rise to power, and I had seen the fireworks showering the skies on the 31st October, 1981 when Voldemort (no more innocent and little Tommy) had been defeated by the baby Harry. Sometimes I still wonder whether sending Ollivander those two phoenix tail-feathers that Amelia had pulled out had been a good idea or not… but no use crying over spilt milk, right?
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
1st April 2012 again
"You know, you're loosing your touch…" I told Aberforth.
"Yeah… this joke didn't even come close to your other one."
"But you still believed it."
"Yes… I believed it." I sighed.
"Hehe… it pretty much got your goat, didn't it, bro?" Aberforth laughed. "Hahaha… got your goooooat! Haha, what a one-liner! I just love my own sense of humour!"
I felt like giving him a kick in the shin, but held myself back. "Very funny, indeed, brother," I snarled at him. "But you know what? You still haven't explained why you played that goat-joke on me. It happened 115 years ago and I still don't have any idea why you did it." I folded my arms before my chest, trying to give Aberforth a menacing look (I had learnt that from good ol' Sylvester Snape).
"Well, ya know…" my brother drawled, "you were so taken with the Notre Dame of Paris and Djali… I just thought you loved goats."
"I liked them… but not enough to sleep with one!" I snapped.
"ABERFORTH!" a very angry female voice shouted, and stamps of feet signalled the arrival of Minerva McGonagall, my sister-in-law. When I had had that 'are you pregnant, Minerva?'-talk with her, she got such a shock that she needed to go up to Madame Pomfrey for a sedative. It seemed that she had finally got over the shock and had enough strength to come and tell her husband off.
"Minnie, dear?" Aberforth cringed. "Are you okay?"
As an answer Minerva's fist met with Aberforth's still-intact left eye.
"Now I feel okay," she hissed as my brother started rubbing his newly acquired black eye.
"You know, bro, you deserved it," I smirked.
Aberforth gave me a contemptuous look, then glanced at Minerva and made a face showing how utterly hurt he was.
"You know, I'm sorry for you two," he said. "It must be terrible to live with a total lack of sense of humour."
"A lack of sense of humour?" I breathed. "Do you call this stupid joke a sign of humour? Then you are suffering from a serious lack of judgement, brother."
"Oh, am I?" he bristled. "Just to remind you, Albus: without me this school would be the most boring place on Earth! I'm the one who brings life into this school, who provides entertainment, and what do I get in return? I'm always the bloody scapegoat!!!"
"The scapegoat?" I sniggered and nudged Minerva. "Scapegoooooat!" Minerva joined me in the laughter and soon the corridor was filled with our guffaws.
"Ha-ha," Aberforth was eyeing us with a bitter expression. "You know, this isn't funny at all."