In honor of Poppy’s birthday, here’s my heacanon for Poppy Pomfrey from the Epithalamium series.
Born: 25 February 1932Heritage: Half-blood
Wand: Willow and unicorn hair, 12 ½″, flexiblePatronus: Blackbird
Height: 5′4″Build: mediumHair: dark blondEyes: hazelSkin: light
Martin Pomfrey (grandfather)†Edwina Pomfrey (grandmother)Penelope Blishwick (aunt)Richard Cox (uncle)Austin Pomfrey (father)Hazel Belby (mother)Marek Bastyr (husband)
Poppy Penelope Pomfrey was born on 25 February 1932 in the village of Henley-on-Thames in Oxfordshire, England. Her father, Austin Pomfrey, was the son of a Muggle-born wizard and witch and served as the Owl postmaster for the Oxfordshire region. Poppy’s mother, Hazel (née Belby) was a pure-blood witch.
Poppy’s childhood was a happy one, although she was an only child, and she enjoyed spending time with both her parents. She developed an early interest in Healing, as her father occasionally brought home ailing owls from his work, and she helped him nurse them back to health.
She was an inquisitive, sensitive, and intelligent child, and her Muggle-born grandmother, Edwina, liked to read to her from all sorts of Muggle literature.
Poppy was excited to arrive at Hogwarts in September 1943, and after being Sorted into Ravenclaw House, she threw herself into her studies.
She did well in all her classes, especially Charms and Herbology. Although she struggled with Transfiguration at first, with some extra help from Professor Albus Dumbledore, she came to enjoy it, eventually joining his N.E.W.T. class and earning an “Exceeds Expectations” on the difficult exam.
An avid chess player, she joined the Hogwarts Wizard Chess Club in her first year and played throughout her Hogwarts career.
She loved her Care of Magical Creatures elective but reluctantly gave it up before N.E.W.T.s, as it wasn’t on the list of six N.E.W.T.s required by the St Mungo’s Training Programme, which she had decided to pursue in hopes of becoming a Healer.
Having achieved the required N.E.W.T.s, Poppy began the rigorous training at St Mungo’s. Although she did well in her studies and enjoyed the difficulty of the training, the practical Poppy realised that the expense of the Healer programme, coupled with the long training period, were too burdensome, so after her first year, she transferred from the Healer Training Programme to the Mediwitch/wizard Training Programme, as the time required was only two years, compared with the four years required of a Healer.
After completing her training, Poppy was invited to join the staff of St Mungo’s in the Artefact Accidents department, where she honed her skills caring for the victims of broom accidents, Quidditch mishaps, and other maladies occasioned by the use of magical items.
In 1955, Poppy transferred to the more prestigious Spell Damage Department, where she could indulge her interest in Healing injuries resulting from hexes, jinxes, and curses. The work was challenging and varied, but in 1961, when she read that Hogwarts’s matron Alfidia Soranus was retiring, she applied for the position.
Not only would the Hogwarts job give her the opportunity for independent practice, living at Hogwarts would provide an escape from an increasingly untenable personal situation.
In late 1952, while she was completing her training, Poppy tended to a young wizard who had been burned by a Streeler’s venom. The wizard, Marek Bastyr, was an immigrant who, after his father’s death, had fled with his Muggle mother from Hungary’s annexation of what was then Czechoslovakia and the subsequent Nazi occupation. A former student of the Durmstrang Institut, Marek had been unable to complete his studies and was forced to work in a series of menial jobs, eventually working his way up to become manager of the Magical Menagerie shop in Diagon Alley.
Quite taken with the young mediwitch, Marek asked her out, and the two began to keep regular company.
Poppy found Marek charming, intelligent, and mysterious, and despite his occasional foul moods, she consented to marry him in 1956.
The marriage at first was a happy one, but Marek resented Poppy’s dedication to her career and the fact that she out-earned him. He took to drinking, and the two often quarrelled—more so after Poppy discovered Marek had been unfaithful to her during her long hours at St Mungo’s.
Despite this, Poppy still loved Marek and didn’t want to divorce him, but their home life had become intolerable, and when she was offered the position as Hogwarts matron, she took it, although it would require her to live at the school, while Marek would have to stay in London. Poppy told Marek she would always love and support him, but that she could no longer live with him.
In 1965, after years of trying to maintain a long-distance marriage, she made the difficult decision to divorce him. Poppy was heartbroken, but it had become clear that Marek was hopelessly addicted to alcohol, and though Poppy had supported him and helped him through several attempts at rehabilitation, his increasingly erratic behaviour became intolerable. She was saddened when Marek was sentenced to three years in Azkaban for a serious assault on another wizard, and devastated when he eventually committed suicide in 1980.
In August 1961, Poppy joined the Hogwarts staff and moved into her quarters adjoining the Hogwarts infirmary.
She immediately loved the independence the post gave her, and enjoyed treating the students, but she was at first nervous at providing medical care and advice to people who had been her teachers.
She soon found her bearings, however, and made friends among the staff, especially Minerva McGonagall, whom she remembered as the intimidating Head Girl during her own first year as a Hogwarts student.
The matron position was challenging, with the frequent broom mishaps, potions accidents, and misadventures a population of magical adolescents could get into. With each passing year, Poppy became more adept at the art of Healing and was able to manage all but the most serious and complex problems, which she quickly referred to her colleagues at St Mungo’s.
Among the most difficult cases Poppy encountered were treating young Remus Lupin for injuries related to his lycanthropy and the Petrification of several students by a Basilisk during the second “Chamber of Secrets” affair.
Despite her unhappy experience with Marek, Poppy began a romance with a French Healer she had met at a conference in early 1967.
Jean-Baptiste Martel was warm, intelligent, and caring, and the pair shared many interests. On the afternoon they met, their coffee lasted into a dinner during which they discussed at length the effects of seemingly harmless jinxes and their counter-spells, and found that they both had a passion for chess.
Poppy was delighted to find that Jean-Baptiste planned to take a year’s fellowship at St Mungo’s beginning in autumn of 1967, which would allow the couple to meet frequently.
When the fellowship ended the following summer, the pair carried on a long-distance relationship, seeing one another during summers and weekends off.
The romance ended amicably in 1975, when it became clear that a long-distance romance was increasingly unsatisfying to either party, neither of whom was willing to give up their job. Over the ensuing years, Poppy occasionally dated others, but she never had any further long-term romantic relationships.
During Poppy’s first year in the job at Hogwarts, she and Minerva McGonagall became close friends. Poppy was surprised when Minerva told her of her, Minerva’s, marriage to Albus Dumbledore, but as Poppy came to know Albus on a personal level, she recognised how much he and Minerva had in common. Over the years, Poppy provided a sounding-board for Minerva whenever she became frustrated with the difficulties inherent in her marriage, and Poppy eventually confided in Minerva about the problems in her own marriage. Minerva was a great support when Poppy finally decided to divorce Marek.
When Minerva became unexpectedly pregnant in the summer of 1967, Poppy was delighted for her. She cared for Minerva during the early months of her pregnancy, and she was devastated when, in her fifth month, Minerva suffered a placental abruption that killed the baby and nearly took Minerva’s life as well.
Poppy’s quick thinking and her skills saved Minerva’s life during the initial crisis, and it was her memory of a discussion she’d had with Jean-Baptiste that led Minerva’s St Mungo’s Healers to perform a blood transfusion, the first recorded among wizards, to prevent her from bleeding to death.
With Jean-Baptiste, Poppy wrote a case report for Europe’s most prestigious wizarding medical journal (anonymising the patient), which gained the pair some notoriety in Healing circles and paved the way for the eventual incorporation of more Muggle medical technology into wizarding medicine.
Poppy saved Minerva’s life once again in 1996, when the Deputy Headmistress was Stunned while defending Hogwarts groundskeeper Rubeus Hagrid from an unjust attempt to arrest him. While Stunning spells usually caused no serious injury, the four Stunners that Minerva received directly to the chest disrupted her heart rhythm. Moreover, the spells were strong, as they were cast by Aurors, who were trained to use the most powerful Stunners to subdue suspects. Minerva’s heart stopped shortly after being hit by the spells, but, using her strongest magic, Poppy was able to stabilise her. When Minerva’s heart stopped twice more during the ensuing night, however, Poppy realised her colleague needed more intensive care than she could provide and transferred her to St Mungo’s. Thanks to Poppy’s skill, Minerva survived the transfer and eventually made a full recovery.
The two witches remained close throughout their lives, and Poppy was a frequent visitor to Minerva’s family home after Minerva’s retirement.
Poppy retired from Hogwarts in 2010, moving to a flat in London. She enjoyed a second career teaching Healers, mediwitches, and mediwizards at St Mungo’s for another eight years, when her eyesight began to fail.
She continued to enjoy visiting with friends, including Minerva and Pomona Sprout, and kept up with research in both magical and Muggle medicine, writing occasional articles for wizarding medical journals.
Poppy was of medium height and build, with hazel eyes and dark blond hair that turned grey in her later years.
When at work at Hogwarts, she usually wore plain work robes and a pinafore and peaked cap. Off duty, she favoured colourful robes that set off her delicate features and voluptuous figure.
Poppy’s great compassion meant she often had to force herself to maintain a professional demeanour when providing treatment, which sometimes made her appear stern to her patients.
Her warmth and subtle wit came out when she was with trusted friends, and she enjoyed socialising, although her position often interfered with her personal life.
Throughout her life, she developed varied interests and enjoyed challenging herself to learn new things, often travelling during summers to explore the world.
Poppy’s willow-and-unicorn-hair wand, unusually, chose her immediately when she visited Olllivander’s shortly after her eleventh birthday. The willow made it especially well suited to Healing, while the unicorn-hair core added an adeptness for inventive charms that served Poppy well throughout her career.
Poppy inherited her parents’ small home in Oxfordshire and used it during holidays when she wasn’t travelling.
Poppy’s aptitude for charms made her an excellent diagnostician, while her hard-won skill at Transfiguration gave her the ability to heal all but the most severe injuries. Her knowledge of potions earned her the respect of both Horace Slughorn and Severus Snape and enabled her to quickly select the right potion to treat most magical illnesses.
Poppy remained a good chess player throughout her life, and when she visited Minerva at her family home after both witches had retired, she found an eager and challenging opponent in Minerva’s brother, Einar.
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If you haven’t read the series through Because It Is Bitter, and Because It Is My Heart, there will be some spoilers, so read at your own risk.