The Forgotten Tale of Harry Potter's Sister: Bathilda Bagshot
Bathilda Bagshot had been reading in her sitting window upstairs. Already in her nightgown, she was preparing to settle in for the night when a large house magically appeared in the once empty plot beside her. This is not right, something is wrong, she thought. The old woman leaned forward in her chair, her heart skipping a beat - she went to retrieve her wand on the bedside table, mind moving quickly. She needed to contact Dumbledore. Hustling across the room and into the hallway, she turned, looking at a golden framed painting on the wall featuring a 14th century embroidered chair. Bathilda spoke to it. “Professor Fortescue are you available? I need to speak with Dumbledore, immediately. It is an emergency.”
After a moment, a hand holding a trumpet grabbed the inside of the frame and a white-bearded wizard creeped his head into view. He placed the trumpet in his ear and spoke, “An emergency you say? Is this a blue, orange, or red scenario?”
“Understood, one moment, please.”
Bathilda noticed then she was shaking. Suddenly, there was a loud BANG and her whole house shook as much as she was. She wobbled her way back into her room and threw open the window, gasping. The Potter’s home had a gigantic hole blown out off the corner. She could see the baby blue wallpaper inside the house. That’s Harry’s bedroom, she thought with melancholy. Dust was flying everywhere and rubble was still clobbering itself down the side of the foundation into the bushes below. The family had been attacked. Bathilda gripped her wand tighter, palm sweating, when she heard the painting of Professor Fortescue in the hallway calling for her to return. She turned away from the horrible scene next door and dashed into the hallway.
“Tell Dumbledore the Potter Family has been attacked and to send help immediately. I am unsure if anyone is still alive.” Fortescue gave her a brief nod and disappeared. Heavy-hearted, Bathilda walked back into her room. To her surprise, Nelly, the Potter family cat, was perfectly perched on her open windowsill, its silhouette framed by the moonlight. Nelly was sitting very calmly, her tail twitching. The lucky thing must not have been in the house, Bathilda thought. She made a few steps to approach and usher the cat inside, but when she made eye contact she suddenly froze. Nelly’s eyes were not her own. In fact, they were not even the eyes of a cat. A ring of red the color of blood encircled a pitch black pupil. The cat was sitting too calmly, as if it had already caught its prey and was now patiently awaiting the perfect kill.
The cat yawned, unhinging its jaw in a most unnatural way. Bathilda watched, transfixed, as the cat’s mouth opened wider and wider. She flinched painfully as she heard the jaw bone dislocate, then a dark mist began to emerge from deep inside it. Nelly’s broken body fell backward off the windowsill and into the bushes below. Bathilda could no longer move. Her mind screamed to run, but her body refused. Like black lightning, the hovering mist shot right for her and entered her ears, her nose, her throat. A thundercloud converged in her mind and she couldn’t see. There was only a loud deafening storm consuming her.
Albus Dumbledore had just retreated from the Halloween Feast. His speech had been more than adequate, he told himself, although his mind had been not been altogether present. After visiting the Potter home an hour or so earlier, his anxiety had shot through the roof and his blood boiled in frustration for once again having to fulfill Headmaster duties during such a tumultuous time. Sugar Quill, he muttered to the Office’s statue, it began to spiral upwards and he stepped up the stairwell.
Dumbledore opened the door to the Office and his attention was completely captivated by a beautiful ghostly doe, frantically prancing around the room. Upon sensing his presence, the patronus charged him. Hands folded behind his back, Dumbledore proudly stood his ground. The doe stopped in its tracks only a few inches from the Hogwarts Headmaster, bowing ever so slightly.
A voice from the wall of paintings interfered with this majestic occurance, “Excuse me for the interruption, Albus.” It was Professor Dexter Fortescue’s portrait, “Bathilda Bagshot says it is a red scenario at the scene.”
Dumbledore felt warm tears threaten to rise up his throat into his eyes. Peace, friend, he said to himself. Nodding to Dexter, he responded, “Return to her and notify me if anything changes.” Fortescue’s portrait quickly turned and disappeared from the painting.
His attention shifted back to the doe. She had already begun to fade. He bowed his head closer and listened intently. The doe opened its mouth, its voice was soft,
I’m facing my death, Professor. God-willing I will use my body and soul to protect Harry. James is dead, I heard the killing curse. I will most likely be next. But my dear Amaryllis! Please find my daughter, the Dark Lord has surely taken her. I heard her screams… my heart is screaming - oh! To die in sacrifice so my children may live — !**
**The Order of the Phoenix was formed by Dumbledore in the 1970’s. He created a method of communication among Order members by inventing a way to make Patronuses speak. While Voldemort is distracted having found Amaryllis in the kitchen, Lily uses her wand to send a Patronus to Dumbledore. She stashes her wand under a floorboard with the intent to protect her children, knowing Voldemort would be able to track the last spell. There had been no time to defend her husband and while she herself would protect her son, Dumbledore is the only one who could protect her daughter now.
The doe was barely visible now. A slight breeze may have wisped it away. Dumbledore could no longer hold back a tear. He let it slowly follow the wrinkle on his face for a moment then reached into his robes and pulled out a small flask. Holding the glass against his cheek, he caught the tear before it had the chance to disappear into his beard. His last memory of Lily. Now, to act.
“Albus!” Professor Fortescue had returned and was clearly alarmed. “You must send help immediately! The scene has been attacked! It is unknown who survives!”
Dumbledore strode to a gold-studded trunk on the side of the room and pulled out a neatly folded robe. Unfurling it around his shoulders, he spun upward as he apparated - not to Godric’s Hollow, but to Hagrid’s Hut.
Hagrid jumps in earth-shaking surprise upon the Headmaster popping into his small house. The professor was wearing a very old looking maroon cloak.
“I’m sorry, Hagrid but I must immediately ask something of you that is of upmost importance and secrecy.”
Hagrid listens to Dumbledore’s news that the Potter house has just been attacked and James and Lily have been murdered by Lord Voldemort. Stuttering, Hagrid readily agrees with enthusiasm to rescue baby Harry from the rubble and deliver him safely to the address 4 Privet Drive, Little Whinging, Surrey. Dumbledore writes it down and passes him the small strip of parchment. He then pulls out a white sock from his robes and with a swish of his wand, activates it as a portkey.
“This will send you directly to the Potter’s home. I am not sure of the damage done, so be prepared.”
“Aye, I’ll find the lad.”
“Thank you, Hagrid.”
As Hagrid picks up the sock and transports to the Potter’s home (ending up in the laundry and nearly destroying the room with his size), Dumbledore reverses his cape, revealing it to be the Invisibility Cloak, and apparates to the living room in Bathilda Bagshot’s home, next door. The house feels completely empty and as he searches the upstairs, he finds the window open wide, but no sign of Bathilda. Entering the hallway he turns to the painting on the wall and drops the cloak around his shoulders, calling for Professor Fortescue, who appears instantly.
“Blimey, Albus! I’ve been popping back and forth wondering how to inform you… once you apparated, I returned here. Bathilda seemed in shock. She walked right past my queries, as if she were sleepwalking. I thought perhaps I wasn’t loud enough! I heard her open the front door and leave the house - I fear something has happened.”
Dumbledore dashes down the stairs, pulling up the cloak, and steps out the front door, scanning the area. With alarm, he hears raised voices at the Potter house. Hagrid is there, having an argument with someone, but Albus somewhat relaxes upon recognizing the other voice. Sirius Black wants to take Harry, being his Godfather. But Hagrid refuses, holding fast to his orders. This is the very reason I needed Hagrid for this responsibility, Dumbledore had wisely thought it though. The loyalty and unquestionable faith Hagrid has in his guidance is unshakable. Unfortunately, Sirius Black is only a fraction aware of the magnitude of the situation. They were all still very close to danger.
Dumbledore hears Sirius eventually submit and offer use of his flying motorbike. Albus discretely exits Bathilda’s yard, through the open (he notices) swinging gate, and strides down the street, searching. Muggles, having heard the commotion, have come to their windows and yards. As they begin to walk towards the Potter House, Dumbledore notices a ghostly figure in her pale nightgown, slowly walking in the middle of the road the opposite direction from the growing crowd. It’s Bathilda.
As Dumbledore approaches her, he hears her muttering about quieting a barking dog and, still invisible, he gingerly guides her back towards her house ushering her inside. Albus removes the invisibility cloak from his shoulders and examines the unresponsive witch. Her eyes are glazed over and she is unresponsive to his queries. The voices outside grow louder and more alarmed. More people have gathered. He must move quickly. Placing his right hand on his heart, Albus gently lays the tip of his wand on Bathilda’s right temple. He takes a deep breath. Then a deeper one. Then a third. Upon the fourth, he moves his hand from his heart to hers and withdraws his wand, pulling a silver strand out from her head. When it detaches, Bathilda gasps in an exasperated breath, her eyes open wide in shock. Albus drops the silver strand in an empty flask and swiftly puts it in his robes before placing his hands lovingly on Bathilda’s forearms. He smiles gracefully at her as she calms herself and makes eye contact with him.
“Albus? You’re here? Where am I? What happened?”
“Hush, now, Bathilda. One moment at a time. You are safe in your home."
“Where’s the cat? What happened to the cat?”
Dumbledore did not understand what she could mean and asked her such.
“The cat was on the windowsill! We must find the cat!” Bathilda began to shake uncontrollably, her eyes searching the entire room. She seemed to be going mad.
“Now, now, Bathilda, calm yourself. There is no cat here.”
“There is a thunderstorm…a dog was barking! You must have heard the dog!”
“Bathilda, there is no thunderstorm. Is that why you left your house after contacting me?” The old lady just stared at him blankly in response. She suddenly seemed much much older than her already old years. In her eyes, she was lost, confused and unable to cope with whatever had happened to her.
“No, no… this is not right, not right!" Bathilda pulled herself aggressively away from Dumbledore and pounded her fists against her head. She was clearly afraid of something and confused about reality. “We must find the cat! We must get out of the thunderstorm! Albus, you must hush the dog barking!”
Bathilda, determined now, begins to search the house. Albus kindly helps her, thinking. Cats, dogs, and thunderstorms? How are they connected to the attack on the Potter family? Dumbledore wonders what he will find in the memory he had just removed from Bathilda. It was the brightest memory she had just before things got muddled in her mind. He used a heart-technique to identify what memories were unquestionably Bathilda’s vs tampered ones. It had been a challenging spell and had drained most of his energy.
“Bathilda, may I ask why you must find the cat?”
“Because…” she hesitated searching for an answer, “Because the cat needs my help!”
“It just.. does. I.. I don’t remember.”
At that, Bathilda turned away and continued to search the house before gradually losing interest and comes to a stand still in the hallway, staring at the wall. Dumbledore’s disheartened. The old woman was already very senile and quite frequently would forget herself in conversation. She was doing so well assisting the Potters and it had been comforting knowing her and Lily had formed a friendship. But now that her mind had clearly been meddled with magically, on top of the grief surrounding James and Lily’s death, he was unsure how to further help her. Maybe it was best to leave her here, looking for a cat, and spare her the truth that the Potters had indeed been murdered.
He needed to return to Hogwarts. For now, he would have to place a spell on the house to protect her and make a point to return to help at a later time. She must have been briefly possessed by something, but whatever it was was gone now and the damage to Bathilda was already done. There was nothing further he could do for her. He approached the lost woman in the hallway and placed his hand on her shoulder, making her jump in surprise.
“Oh! Excuse me, how can I help you?” Bathilda had forgotten Albus was even there. There was no recognition in her eyes of who he even was.
“I’m sorry, Bathilda, I must take my leave. You are safe in this house. Please stay here and continue looking for the cat?”
“The cat! Yes! Of course! I wonder where she is?” Bathilda dreamily wandered back into her bedroom and began calling for the cat, digging in the closet. Dumbledore sadly closed the bedroom window, took his leave to the living room, and glanced at the flashing blue and red lights next door. He pulled up the invisibility cloak and stepped outside just as the bodies of James and Lily were being removed from the house. He closed his eyes and bowed his head, taking a moment to mourn for them. Turning back towards Bathilda’s house, he cast a protection spell before apparating back to the Headmaster’s Office.
Back in the safety of the Headmaster's Office, Dumbledore carefully folds the Invisibility cloak and places it back in the gold-studded trunk. He pulls the flask with Bathilda’s memory out of his robes and approaches the Pensive in his private quarters with focused intent. Uncorking the flask, he carefully pours the fresh memory out and watches it settle before bending over and submerging his head into it.
He’s there, in the bedroom, watching Bathilda read peacefully next to the window not a few hours before present time. He sees the Potter house appear out of thin air next door, but as Bathilda grabs her wand and heads for the hallway, his attention remains on the house. Suddenly, the Potter’s kitchen door swings open and Dumbledore sees a small figure supporting another, seemingly unconscious child into the yard. Amaryllis? Abruptly, the killing curse flashes green through the window on the second floor and rebounds back - causing an explosion and taking Dumbledore’s attention away from the two figures in the yard. As he looks back, they’ve completely vanished. He steps aside as Bathilda approaches the window and throws it open, waiting for whatever happens next. He hears Professor Fortescue call for her and as she leaves again. Dumbledore looks out the now open window, focusing on the Potter’s kitchen door. A cat scampers out. The Potter’s cat. Of course, I now recall Amaryllis found a stray awhile back. He watched as the cat sprints towards Bathilda’s house and climbs up the siding towards the window where he is standing. It hops up right in front of him and sits on the sill, eyes locked towards the hallway. Unnatural eyes. Possessed eyes. Is it possible? Oh, Tom, have you succeeded in your goal? Bathilda enters the room and sees the cat. It unhinges its jaw and Dumbledore watches as black mist begins to rise from inside it… then all goes dark. That was the whole memory.
Coming back into the Office, Dumbledore can barely keep his eyes open. Pulling Bathilda out of her hypnosis had drained him. If he were to be of help to anyone else, he would need to rest for awhile. However, there was one more task he needed to see through. Pulling himself out of his chair, he approaches one of the Headmaster’s paintings and sends for Minerva McGonagall. He then retreats back to his study behind the Headmasters desk and sinks into an armchair, exhausted and tormented by what he has just witnessed, he could have certainty now of two things: one, there was an accomplice to Amaryllis’ kidnapping. Second, Voldemort was still alive with the ability to possess living creatures - though the ability clearly could not be a permanent solution for everlasting life, otherwise he would have stayed a cat. As a student, Tom’s interest in immortality must have been more than just curiosity - it was obsession.
McGonagall enters the Office and walks up to the entrance to his study, concern all over her face. Dumbledore is so tired at this point, he can only briefly give her instruction.
“I need you to travel to Surrey at once to observe the Dursley family. Hagrid is on his way there with Harry Potter. The Dursley’s are now his only known living relatives. Yes, Minerva,” he took a couple deep breaths, “James and Lily have been murdered by Lord Voldemort. Amaryllis has been taken. I must rest, but I will meet you at Number 4 Privet Drive within the day.”
Dumbledore nods off in his chair, hands folded under his beard, softly snoring. McGonagall apparates immediately.
*Jo has not told us where Dumbledore was or what he was doing between the news of Potter’s deaths and his arrival at Privet Drive at Midnight Nov 1st.