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HP: Apollo's Curse (Trelawney)

saeva organized the HP Gen Ficathon. I was assigned olivehornby, one of whose requests was Sibyll Trelawney's interview for the Divination professor position, from her POV.

Title: Apollo's Curse
Author: voleuse
Fandom: Harry Potter
Character: Trelawney
Rating: PG
Disclaimer: Not mine.
Summary: She's doomed to prophesy, but she doesn't know it.
Notes: Pre-series, spoilers through Order of the Phoenix



Her earliest memory was the look in Cassandra Trelawney's eyes when the sight took her.

Sibyll was a mere child then, put on her great-great-grandmother's knee as all Trelawney's were, in case something great hovered in their future.

Cassandra's hands, frail though they were, clutched at Sibyll's waist with unnatural strength, and her eyes dilated, then went completely black.

She still remembers her father's gasp, the murmurs of her cousins as Cassandra's voice deepened, roughened.

She doesn't remember Cassandra's prophecy, but her mother has told the story to her, time and again.

Cassandra Trelawney looked at her great-great-grandchild and saw despair.

*


She dreamed of Cassandra's death, though she was hundreds of miles away when that time came.

Cassandra had returned to their ancestor's home, the ancient shores of Troy, which local Muggles had built over. Their ancestral palace was now the site of a farmer's market.

Annoyed, Cassandra had sent an owl back to the family in England, told them that she was traveling to Delphi.

That night, visions of a giant snake haunted Sibyll, and she saw Cassandra's face melt into bone.

She woke screaming, but when she tried to explain her nightmare to her mother, she could only stammer and clutch at her pillow.

Word of Cassandra's death arrived the next afternoon, as well as a fragmented account of the vision that killed her.

A skull encircled by a snake.

*


The problem with having a famed ancestor linger on so long, Sibyll discovered, was that people found it easier to compare you to them. Compare, and find things lacking.

On the strength of her ancestry, Sibyll had studied divination to the point of obsession during her time at Hogwarts, but no true visions came to her.

She continued to dream of snakes, of dancing skeletons, though those nightmares came more infrequently as she grew older and turned to more practical methods of divination. Palm reading, tea leaves, crystal balls, and tarot cards; those were practices at which she felt skilled, though she found vague foretellings were more accurate than those more detailed.

Often, she felt that it might be solely common sense that lent her predictions truth. It wasn't difficult to foretell disaster for a Gryffindor (those types sought trouble out more than most), or a thankless career for a Hufflepuff, or a distinguished one for a Ravenclaw.

She outright refused to foretell anything for Slytherin's get, though she was never able to articulate why.

*


After leaving Hogwarts, at an aunt's suggestion, Sibyll apprenticed herself to a group of fortune tellers in Romania.

Her professors at Hogwarts had whispered that, while perhaps not a true seer, Sibyll was still quite capable of learning, and her guesses, on occasion, not far off the mark.

From the pity in her aunt's eyes, and her mother's downcast ones, Sibyll thought it was one kindness too many, but she had followed Cassandra's path so far already.

She was the last of the seers, and it was up to her to give her ancestry its due.

In Romania, at least, they would know her by her own name, instead of Cassandra's.

She hardly dreamed at all, anymore.

*


When first the Dark Mark appeared in the sky, Sibyll fainted dead away.

She had been having tea, soon after her return to England, and discussing a possible staff opening at the Daily Prophet, a column about future events, answering questions, giving advice, that sort of thing.

Then the Mark burned itself three streets over, the skull and snake that had haunted her since Cassandra's death.

Everything went grey, then black, and when Sibyll awoke, she was sprawled on the cobblestones beneath her table, and all she could hear was screaming.

It was a bit of a relief to her when she realized she wasn't the only person shrieking in terror.

Then Rita returned to the table with a chunk of chocolate, handed it to Sibyll, and gushed about the Muggle massacre a few streets over.

Sibyll turned and ran.

*


She opened a shop in Glasgow, a back-alley palm reader's office, and catered strictly to Muggles.

She felt like a queen for a while, bedecked in lace and beads, wreathed by perfume and smoke. They enjoyed the pageantry, the Muggles did, even more than they liked the way her eyes widened when she clutched at their palms and muttered under her breath.

For three years, she convinced herself that this was her destined life, and if she saw Cassandra's skull in the mists of her crystal ball, she told herself she had had a nip too much sherry.

Once in a while, she laid out cards with her old life in mind. Each time, she heard hissing as she flipped the card of the Tower over.

She told herself it didn't mean a thing.

*


An owl perched on her windowsill one day, and she remembered, peering into the glass in her hand, that not everything in the world was counted out in pounds sterling.

She took the parchment with trembling fingers and offered the owl a piece of toast.

That evening, she apparated outside her family home.

She was just in time to hear her mother's last words.

*


Her cousin Trent worked for the Ministry. She asked him for a favor, and the next night, she paced across a room at the Hog's Head Inn.

She wished, clutching at the three necklaces laced about her throat, that she had brought her cards, or her crystal ball, or perhaps a picture of Cassandra. Something shivered in the back of her brain, at that, but then Albus Dumbledore entered the room.

Sibyll smiled, almost bowed, and shook his hand as steadily as possible. "Thank you for meeting me, Professor."

"It's a pleasure, Sibyll," he replied, but she noted a hint of impatience in her tone. "I'm told you might fill the Divination post?"

"Yes." She gestured that he should sit, and seated herself as well. "I've been told you don't have a Divination professor, currently. I'm sure you recall I was quite proficient when I was at Hogwarts."

"Well." Dumbledore seemed to hesitate, and she clutched at her robes until he responded. "Professor Calchas did always praise your diligence."

"Divination has long been in my family's blood," she affirmed. "It seems only proper that I pass on these gifts to the students at Hogwarts."

He looked at her for a long moment, and she bit her lip, feeling as clear as glass. In an effort to fill the silence, she babbled about her experiences with foretelling, about her time in Romania, about her mastery of tea leaves...anything but those vague nightmares.

After a time, he held his hand up, stemming her river of words.

"I'm sorry, Sibyll," he said, "but I don't think Hogwarts requires the post to be filled."

Her heart sank, and as he stood to leave, murmuring empty compliments and apologies, her eyes filled with tears. His form became blurry. Everything went grey, then black.

When she regained her sight, Dumbledore was seated again, and her throat ached, dry. "Thank you for your time, Professor," she croaked out, but he shook his head.

"I think, Sibyll," and he leaned forward, "Hogwarts has a place for you after all."

She blinked the tears from her eyes. "Really?" Surprised, she allowed her vulnerability to show through. "What changed your mind?"

Dumbledore steepled his fingers together, and she thought of the Tower, again. "Just a feeling, my dear."


###

A/N: An interpretation of the Tower card can be found here.

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