“Turning back to Professor Blume, James’s mind started racing. What did Professor Blume want with him? Sure, he hadn’t handed in his Care for Magical Creatures homework two weeks in a row, and it was the subject Professor Blume taught.”
Chapter One: The Beginning
“I still can’t believe you two got the best-looking girls in the year,” muttered Seamus as the boys left the dorms.
“Don’t be jealous, Seamus,” Charlie said, catching James’s eye. James couldn’t blame Seamus, because he was going with Lila Brown, who was not very, ummm, attractive?
Sylvia Winter, James’s date, was very pretty and very popular. Charlie was going with Sophia Smith, who was also very pretty, and smart. Sophia, Sylvia, Lila, and Katie Chiu, who was Harry’s date, were waiting at the foot of the staircase leading up to the boy’s dorms.
“Hey, Harry. Hi, Charlie. Hi, Seamus. Hi, James,” Katie said when she spotted them.
“Hi, Katie,” said Harry. “Hi, Sophia. Hi, Lila. Hi, Sylvia,” Harry said, returning a smile to Katie.
“Shall we go then?” asked Sylvia awkwardly.
“Yes, alright,” replied James, taking Sylvia swiftly by the arm and leading her towards the Entrance Hall.
Chapter Two: The Fall Dance
The Entrance Hall, when they arrived, was filled with couples, all waiting for the music to begin. The Entrance Hall looked great for the fact that it was almost always covered with a coat of baby blue paint. There were rather large oak leaves hanging on the ceiling in brilliant shades of yellow, orange, brown, and red. There were pumpkins and apples piled in the corners and against the walls, and to top it all off, there was a large banner designed with pumpkins, acorns, and apples and the words Fall Dance on it.
When the doors opened, Professor Blume was standing in the doorway,
“The Fall Dance is now open. You may enter,” said Professor Blume wearily. “Mister Scott, a moment if you will, please.”
“Go on, Sylvia, I’ll be there in a moment,” James told Sylvia.
Turning back to Professor Blume, James’s mind started racing. What did Professor Blume want with him? Sure, he hadn’t handed in his Care for Magical Creatures homework two weeks in a row, and it was the subject Professor Blume taught. Or was it about the argument he had with Peter Paterson the day before, where he had accidentally hexed Peter.
“Mister Scott,” said Professor Blume. “The headmistress has ordered me to give you this.” She handed him a neatly rolled piece of parchment.
James unrolled the parchment and read it:
It has come to my attention that the sister of Miss Sylvia Winter has recently been taken ill by the deadly disease of Dragon Poxs. Mr. and Mrs. Winter would like to come and pick Sylvia up to visit Ms. Sadie Winter at the Mooniago Medical Center for Magical injuries, and have asked me to ask you, Mr. Scott, if you would like to join them. Please send me your cat with your answer.
Sincerely, Professor Pythonia
James’s stomach tied itself into a hard knot at the pit of his stomach.
Why hadn’t Sylvia told him? She had been his girlfriend for two years and seven months, and she trusted him… or at least he thought so.
Chapter Three: James’s Question
The answer to your question: please tell Mr. and Mrs. Winter that I would like to go with them to visit Sadie at Mooniago’s. But before that, could I ask something? Why is it that Sylvia never told me about Sadie’s Dragon Pox? Surely she trusts me, right?
Sincerely, James Scott
James reread the letter, then rolled up the parchment and sealed it. He tied it to Whisker’s black, slim torso.
“Go, Whisker,” he muttered to his cat. “I’ll be here.”
James collapsed into an armchair, thinking about Sylvia.
Normally, he would never, ever ask a professor about Sylvia or his personal feelings or problems. But Professor Pythonia was different. She was James’s mum’s best friend when they were in school. So, Padme Pythonia was basically his aunt.
Whiskers returned a half hour later, a new piece of parchment tied neatly to her back.
My Dearest James,
Sylvia knows you well enough to trust you. But do you know her enough to trust her? Ponder the question, my dear. Send Whiskers along if you’ve got any questions, James.
Sincerely, Aunt Padme
Chapter Four: Dragons
When Eva and Eric Winter arrived a week later, James had his black duffle bag packed and Whisker was napping in her woven traveling basket. He put on his navy blue traveling cloak and walked out into the cool courtyard to find Sylvia, in her sky blue traveling cloak, sitting on the Winter’s Diamond-light dragon, Loche. She had her cat, Scotty, napping on her lap.
“Hello, James!” said Mrs.Winter. “You can sit next to Sylvia, dear.”
James walked over to the far end of the courtyard where Loche was sitting.
He climbed onto Loche, sat next to Sylvia, and scratched Scotty behind his ear. Sylvia looked out onto the lake and slipped a small piece of parchment into James’s duffle bag, before he could notice.
Chapter Five: Sylvia’s Note
When they arrived at the west wing of Mooniago’s Medical Center, where the families of patients stayed, the witch at the front desk greeted them and showed them to their rooms.
James would be sharing a room with Sylvia, and Eva Winter would be sharing with Eric Winter.
When James started to unpack, a small piece of parchment fell out of his duffle and onto the carpet. James read it:
My Dearest James,
I’m sorry I’ve been a bit… off lately. You see, Lila’s older sister, Lulu Brown, she works with Dragons. And the Dragons, well, they went a bit mad and they… killed her. They slashed her across her chest. I promised Lila you would be at Lulu’s funeral. I hope you’re not angry.
Love you always, Sylvia Winter
James glanced over at Sylvia. She was sitting on her bed, tears streaming silently down her face.
“It’s okay, Sylvi, it’s okay,” James cooed. Sylvia looked up at James.
“You’re coming?” Sylvia asked. James sat down next to her,
“Of course, Sylvi,” James whispered. “Always.”
Chapter Six: Mooniago’s
The following morning, James awoke early, dressed, and tapped Sylvia softly.
“Wake up, Sylvi,” James whispered. “It’s time.”
Sylvia stirred, opened her brilliantly blue eyes sleepily, and snuggled closer to James, resting her head on his lap
They headed down to breakfast ten minutes later, meeting Mr. and Mrs. Winter as they went.
After breakfast, they fastened their cloaks and headed towards the east wing, where Sadie lay, half dead, and infested with Dragon Pox.
“Hi, Mum. Hi, Sylvi,” said Sadie weakly. “Hi, Dad.”
“Oh, Sadie,” Mrs.Winter, tears pouring down her flushed face.
Chapter Seven: Sadie’s Fate
They left for lunch when Sadie had dozed off three hours later.
“Mum?” asked Sylvia, as they headed back to the west wing, where they would have lunch and then head back to the east wing.
“Yes, dear,” Mrs. Winter responded, dabbing her sooty-gray eyes with a tissue.
“Sadie will be alright, won’t she?” Sylvia asked, every ounce of her hoping her older sister would be cured.
“Of course she will,” replied Mr. Winter, his face white with blotchy red spots. “We’re in a hospital, remember?”
When they returned to the east wing, Nurse Suki greeted them sadly.
“I’m sorry, Mrs. Winter,” said Nurse Suki. “We couldn’t save her.”
“No!” shouted Sylvia, tears pouring down her red cheeks.
“I’m sorry, Sylvi,” James whispered, as he pulled her into his arms, trying to comfort in any way he could.
Chapter Eight: The Return
Sylvia, James, and Mr. and Mrs. Winter headed back to school the next day, after a great deal of tears, tissues, white and blotchy faces, and more sobbing.
When Loche landed softly on the green grass just beyond the courtyard, Professor Pythonia, Charlie, Seamus, Harry, Lila, Sophia, and Katie were all rushing across the courtyard towards them.
“Well?” asked Charlie, when James slid off Loche and onto the ground.
“Guess,” James replied, cocking his head at Sylvia, who was in tears again and being comforted by her friends and Mrs. Winter. James had a strong urge to run over and hug her, but he resisted.
“Dead?” Charlie guessed. James winced and nodded slightly, eying Sylvia, who was hugging Lila.
Chapter Nine: Two Funerals
A few months later, once the grief had blown over the Winters and the Browns, two funerals were scheduled. One for Sadie Winter, the other for Lulu Brown.
“You okay?” James asked Sylvia quietly, as they took their seats.
“Y-yeah,” Sylvia said, her face white and blotchy again.
“You sure?” Sylvia sighed loudly.
The funeral ceremony lasted forever, and it looked as if it was torture for Sylvia and Lila. The graves were dug on the edge of the woods surrounding the courtyard, where two headstones were placed.
Beloved daughter, sister, and student
Beloved sister, student, dragon trainer, and daughter
“C’mon Sylvia, I want to show you something,” James said, taking Sylvia by the hand and strolling down to the lake’s edge.
“Sit,” he said, patting the ground beside him. Ten minutes passed in silence.
“This,” said James, “is what I do when I leave dinner early.” He gestured towards the lake in front of him and the beautiful sunset reflecting on the water.
“Wow,” murmured Sylvia softly.
“Sunsets,” whispered James, “always make me feel good.”
“I agree,” Sylvia whispered, leaning her head on his shoulder and closing her eyes, imagining what it would be like to have Sadie standing on her other side.