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Cressida Ruth Burgess is a supporting character in the Epithalamium series of stories by Squibstress


Early life

Cressida was born in 1902 of unknown parentage. She was left at London's Foundling Hospital at several weeks of age, where she was baptised "Emily Coram." She lived there through the age of five, when she was adopted by Dr and Mrs Paul Burgess. Dr Burgess had become enthralled by the child's wit and intelligence during his visits to see to the health of the hospital's charges, and when he and his wife, Hannah (who could have no children of their own), took charge of the little girl, they renamed her Cressida, after the heroine of Dr Burgess's favourite Shakespeare play.

Dr and Mrs Burgess were surprised indeed to find that their daughter had talents that went beyond those of a precocious child, and when then-Deputy Headmaster of Hogwarts Armando Dippet arrived on their doorstep bearing the news that Cressida was a witch, they were remarkably unsurprised.

Hogwarts years

Cressida went off to Hogwarts in 1913 was sorted into Ravenclaw. She excelled in her studies, particularly Potions, Charms, Arithmancy, and Transfiguration, and she left in 1920 with seven N.E.W.T.s and a letter of introduction from Headmaster Phineas Nigellus Black to renowned alchemist Nicolas Flamel.

Apprenticeship with Nicolas Flamel

Cressida began an apprenticeship with Flamel shortly after leaving school. Albus Dumbledore was also working with the alchemist at the time, and he and Cressida became friends as they worked together on several projects. The pair became lovers for a short period, although both knew they were not destined to be together for long.

A new career

Cressida grew disenchanted with alchemy; it was "too much work with too little payoff," so she decided to pursue a different career path, and one that she had considered when she left school: Healing.

Her excellent references and the "Outstanding" N.E.W.T.s she had earned before leaving school helped her secure a place in the magical medical training programme of St Mungo's Hospital for Magical Maladies and Injuries. In 1927, after completing the four-year course, she apprenticed with a well-regarded private Healer in London. Two years into her apprenticeship, she realised that she was growing bored with general practice and decided to take a fellowship in Vienna in the field of magical haematology.

Cressida returned to England after two years but found that there were no openings at St Mungo's, where she hoped to work, so she accepted a post at the Viener Hexenklinik, where she would work for the next ten years.

Return to Britain

In 1939, with the twin threats of the recent Anschluss of Muggle Austria and the escalating global wizarding war, Cressida decided to return home to England. A friend from her training days invited her to set up a private practice with him in Edinburgh, and for the next seven years, she provided consultations in the field of magical haematology, specialising in reversing misfired charms, and hexes and curses that affected the blood.

In 1945, she was surprised to receive an owl from her old friend, Albus Dumbledore, inviting her to accompany him to the ball the Ministry of Magic was giving in honour of his recent defeat of Dark wizard Gellert Grindelwald. She looked forward to renewing their acquaintance; however, she was disappointed to find him distracted and distant during the ball, and he did not ask her out again.

St Mungo's

In December 1945, the new Chief of St Mungo's offered Cressida a place at the hospital, and she gladly accepted. Not only would the hospital provide the most interesting cases, but she would have the opportunity to conduct original research into her field.

Cressida would spend the next four decades at St Mungo's, gradually building her international reputation as an expert in blood curses and magical haematology.

In 1967, she encountered Albus Dumbledore again when she was called in to consult on the case of an obstetrical haemorrhage. She was surprised to find that the patient was Dumbledore's wife, Minerva McGonagall. Cressida recommended and performed a hysterectomy—a procedure rarely used in wizarding medicine, but which helped save Minerva's life. She was sceptical when another Healer, Jean-Baptiste Martel, who had been a medic in the Muggle army in France, recommended a blood transfusion to stabilise Minerva's condition. The procedure was successful, and Cressida and Martel eventually authored a seminal journal article on the topic together.


In 1986, Cressida retired to the Languedoc farmhouse she had bought several years earlier and took up winemaking. It took five years, but she eventually produced a passable Minervois Grenache, and she sent a case each to Albus and Jean-Baptiste, as well as several other friends.

Appears in

Epithalamium series

Novels Epithalamium · Come Autumn, Sae Pensive (1967)
Novellas Till A' the Seas Gang Dry · Because It Is Bitter, and Because It Is My Heart
Stories "Bonnie Wee Thing" · "Winterreise (1976)" · "Familiar Rituals (1977)" · "Mammals of the Order Chiroptera (August 1995)" · "Ca' the Yowes (1996)" · "After the Fall (June 1997)"
Characters Minerva McGonagall · Albus Dumbledore · Severus Snape · Thorfinn McGonagall · Amelia Bones · Poppy Pomfrey · Alastor Moody