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  #81  
Old September 5th, 2008, 6:11 pm
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Re: FAD: Last Author Standing -Entries!

FAD IV Championship Round
Who will win? Leah49 or USNAGator91?

Entry 1 Enters the Ring:

“Are you sure I’m supposed to drink this?” Steve Carlisle asked his wife, Amy, as the couple got ready for bed. He stood in the bathroom staring at the dark green potion in the cauldron.

“I told you I talked to a healer at St. Mungo’s about your snoring problem. Nothing can cure it, but he suggested trying a heavy duty sleeping draught.” Steve wrinkled his nose. “Come on, you want to stop snoring, don’t you?” Amy begged. “He believes you’ll be in such a deep sleep due to the draught that you won’t snore.”

Steve would do anything for his wife so he quickly drank the liquid. He shook his head trying to get rid of the aftertaste. Already with his pajamas on, he lay in the queen-sized bed and pulled the covers over him.

“Good night, love,” he said.

“Night, Steve.”

Amy kissed her husband on the lips after she crawled into bed herself.

“Tomorrow, honey, I’m trimming those nose hairs,” she said, staring up into his nose.

“Mmm,” he replied, the draught already kicking in.

Amy laid her head against her pillow and closed her eyes. She was ready, more ready for this than anything, to get a good night’s sleep. But, no sooner than she closed her eyes did the chainsaw next to her start up. She turned her head into her pillow and screamed.

Taking a deep breath, she realized tonight was not her night for rest. The healer recommended taking the potion for a week before looking at results so perhaps they had to give it time for it to work. Amy hoped with all her might that was it.

****************************************

“Hold still or I’ll slice your nose off.” Amy held out her wand as Steve stood over the sink ready for her to trim the hairs in his nose.

“Hurry up, Ames.”

Amy waved her wand and little nose hairs fell into the sink and counter below.

“There you go.”

Steve kissed his wife quickly.

“Thanks, I’ll see you after work.”

Amy began cleaning up the nose hairs. She could use magic, but she liked cleaning things by hand sometimes. Muggle-born as Amy was, she couldn’t break the habit. She wiped the counter with a towel and in the process knocked over the cauldron of sleeping draught that had been prepared earlier for tonight’s use sitting too close to the sink.

“Merlin!” She exclaimed as she bent over to clean up the mess.

Fortunately, only a small amount spilled onto the floor. Most of the draught was still left in the cauldron.

****************************************

“You know,” Steve said after taking a sip of the potion that night, “this doesn’t taste as bad as it did last night.”

“Maybe you’re getting used to it.” Amy slipped under the covers.

“Maybe so.” Steve followed. “I don’t quite feel as sleepy as I did last night. Maybe I am getting used to the whole potion.”

Amy sighed. She hoped getting used to didn’t mean the effects of the draught would no longer work.

“What’s wrong, Ames?”

“Nothing,” Amy lied.

“OK.” He turned over, closing his eyes. “I love you.”

“Love you, too.”
Amy groaned silently. Husbands were so difficult to deal with. She turned to face the other side of the room and closed her eyes. Maybe she’d fall asleep before Steve tonight. She lifted her head and kissed him on the lips like she did every night. When he didn’t respond she assumed he was asleep. She placed her head back on her pillow and waited. She waited some more. When it didn’t come, she sat up and checked for breath. He was breathing, but he wasn’t snoring.

“Steve!” She shouted. “Are you awake?”

“Wh-wha?” His eyes fluttered open alarmed.

“Sorry, I was just checking to see if you were asleep.”

“Don’t do that to me, woman.”

Amy laid there for what felt like half an hour waiting for the sound that didn’t come. She couldn’t believe it. He wasn’t snoring! She had found the solution! She could sleep in comfort, in silence, something she’d dreamed of since the two married three years ago.

****************************************

“You seem refreshed. Did you get a good night’s sleep?” Steve asked his wife as he got ready for work in the morning.

“The best I’ve had in years. Steve, that potion worked!” she exclaimed.

Amy was in the bathroom preparing that night’s potion. She looked at the cauldron and smiled. It was a thing of beauty.

“No snoring?”

“No snoring! I think we’ve found the solution.”

****************************************

Amy pulled the pillow tighter over her ears. She didn’t get it. Last night there was no snoring and tonight it was worse than ever. She was sure Steve took the potion before going to bed. She remembered him commenting on how the aftertaste was worse than before. A tear slipped down her cheek. She thought she’d had the solution and now it was all gone.

****************************************

“I don’t get it,” Amy stood over the cauldron as she poured in the Sleeping Draught.

“I don’t get it, either,” Steve said, watching her. “Do you remember doing anything different the second day?”

“I did knock over the potion while cleaning up the mess we made from trimming your nose hairs, but other than…” A light went off in Amy’s head. “That’s it! Nose hairs. Steve, I need your nose hairs.”

Steve placed a hand over his nose.

“We already trimmed them.”

“Don’t you want to stop snoring? Don’t you want me to get a good night’s sleep? Don’t you want to get a good night’s sleep?”

He slowly lowered his hand.

“Fine.”

Hovering over the potion, Steve allowed Amy to use her wand and trim the hairs in his nose. The hairs fluttered into the potion.

“I think I’m going to have to shake that up, to mix up the nose hairs and the potion.”

There was no lid on the cauldron and Amy worried about the potion flying everywhere.

Steve pulled a flask out of the medicine cabinet.

“Pour the potion and some nose hairs into this.”

Amy did so and shook the potion. She smiled. They were onto something big.

****************************************

A big smile spread across her face that night. Amy lay in bed for thirty minutes waiting for the usual noise to come from her husband. She was sure he was asleep as his breathing had become irregular, but there was no extra noise, none of the freight train, chainsaw sound that usually accompanied him. She did it. She couldn’t believe it. The healer told her there was nothing and she was able to produce something. It was easy and she couldn’t believe no one had come up with it before. But, then how often do people trim their nose hairs? It was an accident that happened. Amy Carlisle turned over, ready to get to sleep. She couldn’t believe she had invented an anti-snoring potion.


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  #82  
Old September 5th, 2008, 6:14 pm
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Re: FAD: Last Author Standing -Entries!

FAD IV Championship Round

Contendor Number Two Enters the Ring:
Kiss the Cook

“You wanted to see me Harry? Oh, hey George, what’s up?” Ron Weasley poked his head inside Harry’s office. His brother George was seated in front of Harry’s desk, an array of various unrelated items queued up atop the cluttered desktop.

Harry nodded and smiled at his friend. Harry was the head of the Office of Aurors and Ron was member of that august body. It was readily apparent why George was there. Over the years, Weasley’s Wizard Wheezes had branched out from its novelty gag items and was renowned for its Defense Against the Dark Arts wares. Ron recognized most of the trinkets, protective shirts, extendable eyes and a forkjack to name a few, so it was no surprise to see his brother here, considering that the Ministry of Magic was among George’s best customers.

“So, you wanted me to test out some of George’s new items?” Ron asked, eagerly. Harry chortled and then gave Ron a secretive smile.

“No, not really.” Harry rifled among the rolls of parchment on his desk and came upon a torn and slightly burnt shred of paper and studied it carefully. “No, it looks like we may have a dragon loose at the Epping Underground Station. I want you go and check it out.”

Ron looked less than pleased and he took a quick glance at his watch. “It’s almost two in the morning, Harry and besides, isn’t that something that the Department for the Regulation of Magical Creatures handles?”

“Yes, normally it is and I want you to head over there and go with their representative to handle it. They’ve brought in some sort of specialist. You’re going to check the situation out and see if we need an Obliviator Squad in case any muggles have actually seen the thing.” Ron failed to notice the quick glance that Harry shared with George. Ron still wanted to argue. Harry raised his hand to quickly silence his best friend’s objection. “Just go, Ron, please?”

Ron’s shoulders sagged and he nodded. “All right, Harry. See you later.” Ron turned towards George who was doing his level best to keep a straight face. “See you George.”

***

Ron trudged to the lift and pressed a button. Within seconds, a cab arrived and he depressed the button that would take him to the Department for the Regulation of Magical Creatures. When he got off the lift, he walked off, head down. He almost bowled over a person waiting to board the lift. As it was, he got a face full of bushy, brown hair. Ron looked down and saw that he’d almost run down his wife, Hermione.

“Ron! You almost knocked me down!” Hermione Weasley’s face didn’t look upset at seeing her husband. Her arms, as usual, were laden down with several ancient books. Ron smiled at the sight of her and then remembered why he came.

“Sorry, ‘mione, I was kind of preoccupied.” His voice dropped an octave.

Hermione’s face fell and she shook her head. “Don’t tell me you have an assignment. You’re supposed to be heading home in an hour.”

“I know, but something came up.” Ron said, his voice even more disappointed than his face.

“It’s our anniversary, Ron! Mum and Dad have the kids, we’re supposed to spend the weekend together.” She sighed heavily and resolved herself to get even with Harry Potter. This time, she was definitely going over his head. This time she’d talk to Ginny. “What’s the job?”

When he told her, she grumbled to herself and then stood straight. “Wait here.” She stomped off to her nearby office, leaving him to stand conspicuously by himself in the corridor. Within a few minutes she was back, the books gone and her beaded bag hanging from her shoulder. “I’m not missing another anniversary. I’m going with you.”

“But Hermione, I don’t know how long it will take. I’m supposed to escort some sort of dragon expert to the site and who knows how long it will take?” Ron’s voice kept rising in pitch and she stared at him with her own, unerringly obstinate face.

“Precisely, I’m going with you, you can finish your job and then we can go off on our anniversary weekend, like we planned.” She crossed her arms in front of her and tapped her toe impatiently. Ron suddenly realized that the argument had been lost as soon as she’d made up her mind. He sighed in surrender and led her down the hall.

They walked in silence until they reached a frosted glass door at the end of the hall. Ron pushed it open and looked around. It appeared deserted, but then he spotted a man standing in the corner of the room. The man was wearing a black leather jerkin and matching leather pants, with the ends tucked into a pair of scratched work boots. His arms were scarred and burnt in various places, but he had an easy smile and dark brown eyes. He had broad shoulders and a well toned physique and stood at ease with himself, looking every inch a man comfortable with the outdoors. Most of all, his face was bedazzled with freckles and he had shock of bright red hair, closely cropped into a flat top which meant that he could only be another member of the Weasley clan.

“Charlie!” Ron found himself shouting out and virtually running to his brother and clasping him in a close embrace. Charlie Weasley pushed his brother back and smiled over at Hermione.

“Hello Ron. Hi Hermione.” He said, clapping Ron on the shoulder and making him wince.

Ron smiled back. “So, you’re the ‘dragon expert’ the Ministry brought in. No wonder Harry wanted me to go on this one.” Ron looked over at Hermione guiltily, hoping she hadn’t taken exception to his outburst. He wasn’t supposed to be happy about starting his anniversary trip late. He saw his wife grinning from ear to ear.

“Well, I don’t know about all that. There really is a dragon trapped in an Underground station. I asked for an Auror to with me to help. I guess you got the call.” Charlie’s delight echoed in his voice and Ron nodded. Then, Ron’s face fell.

“Is it all right if Hermione comes with us? It’s our anniversary. We’re getting away after we’re done.”

Charlie beamed and nodded. “Of course! I suppose we should get going. After all, you two have only given me a niece and a nephew. I was hoping for a few more.”

He winked and laughed as noticed both Ron and Hermione’s faces flush in embarrassment. Charlie reached down and pulled a functional battered leather satchel from the floor and hung it from his shoulder. Then he grabbed a staff that was tapered to a point on the end and pointed it towards the door. “Shall we?”

***

Epping Underground Station was the end of the line for one particular leg of the massive London Underground. They apparated to an alley outside one of the entrances and started walking down the stairwell into the heart of the station. Ron’s professionalism started kicking in and he gazed around and was relieved to see that there was no sign of bystanders or onlookers, given the time of the morning. Their footsteps echoed on the concrete floor and they winced in the glare of the fluorescent lights as they proceeded downward. As they walked, they could hear the distinct rumble and roar coming from the walls and when they turned a corner, they saw a muggle constable and two other men standing nervously outside a vestibule that led to a door. The constable saw their approach and held up his hands. Before Ron could speak, Charlie shouted out and pulled out a worn leather billfold.

“We’re from animal control. Someone said something about an alligator trapped in the Underground.” Charlie’s voice was officious and commanding and the constable waved them over.

“Right, it’s in there.” The constable pointed to an open door, then he gestured to the two men. “The janitor ran into it in the men’s room and he called his supervisor.

“That don’t look like any alligator I’ve ever seen.” The old janitor grumbled out loud and Charlie gave him a condescending look.

“Sir, why don’t we leave the entomological classifications to the experts? I’m sure we can solve this before rush hour begins.” The man’s supervisor breathed a sigh of relief, his anxiety more from having to close the station during the next morning’s commute than with whatever animal was loose in the loo.

Charlie nodded to the constable and led Ron and Hermione into the vestibule. He turned back to the watching muggles. “Can you give us some space? It’s a liability thing.” The constable nodded and ushered them to the entrance, and away from where they were working.

Charlie took a quick look inside the room and whistled loudly. He stepped back and gave Ron some room to peer inside. Ron took a look and returned to his brother.

“She’s a beauty, isn’t she? Common Welsh Green, from the looks of her, but she’s only a baby, probably got lost in the tube tunnels.” Charlie said, professionally.

“That’s a baby?” Ron said, shocked. “It’s huge!”

“Oh no, she’s not even half grown yet.” Charlie said absently. He was rummaging through his bag. “Let me see, where is that thing George gave me, oh, here it is.” He pulled out two pairs of oven mitts and two aprons. He tossed a set to Ron and began tying the other apron around his waist.

Ron held up his apron and frowned. It was pink with lace around the edges and had embroidery on its front that said “Kiss the Cook”.

“What’s this?” Ron asked, holding the apron between his forefinger and thumb and away from his body.

“It’s something George came up with when I told him I was tired of getting singed.” Charlie said in a matter of fact manner.

“Why is it pink?” Ron asked disappointedly.

“Oh come off it Ron, my partner is a woman. It’s the only spare I have, now put it on. You don’t want to get burned, do you?” Charlie had finished tying his own apron. His was black with red trim with the words, “World’s Greatest Chef” on it.

“I don’t want to go in there, period.” Ron said sullenly, but a look from his wife stopped any further discussion. Reluctantly, he put on the apron and tied about his waist. He took the matching pink oven mitts and put them on and looked at his brother. “Now what?”

Charlie had a bundle wrapped in plain brown paper. It looked like a whole quarter portion of a cow and he placed it atop the pointed end of his staff. He held it out to Ron, who took it.

“Now, we’ll go in. You hold that out to her and keep her attention and I’ll do the rest. Ready?” Charlie asked.

“No. What if she wants to eat me?” The meat stick shook in his hands. Charlie laughed out loud.

“Ron, dragons like to cook their meat. Just hold the stick out. You won’t get burned, you’re wearing the apron and mitts.” Ron’s skepticism radiated from his face.

“If I die, I’m going to kill you.” Ron murmured.

“Trust me.” Charlie said and pushed Ron around the corner into the room. Ron looked over at Hermione, who had a partially worried expression on her own face. She smiled and started pulling out a pair of Extendable Eyes.

“I’ll keep an eye on you, Ron. Don’t worry.” She said and Ron nodded and followed his brother into the room.

***

Harry and George walked up and found Hermione on her knees, peering through the Extendable Eyes.

“How are they doing?” Harry asked casually.

Hermione didn’t take her eyes from the image.

“They just went in.” She said, but she had a frown on her face.

“What is it?” Harry asked.

“Are you sure this is a men’s room?” Hermione asked.

Harry and George shared a quick look and then Harry tapped on the “Men” sign above the entrance. “Yes, why?”

“What are those things on the wall?” Hermione asked.

George let out a howl and Harry bit back his own response. Instead, he grinned. “Have you ever been in a men’s room, Hermione?” She shook her head, her body language saying that the question was absurd. Harry laughed. “Those are urinals.”

“Urinals? What are they for? Oh.” Hermione blushed and turned her head back to the scene inside.

***

Ron held the stick in front of him, his mitten encased hands as far down the staff as he could. He peered at the dragon, which had knocked down four of the stalls’ walls and as watching him with a leery gaze. Her eyes went to the meat on the end of the stick and her tongue smacked front of the mouth. She reached her head out and Ron froze. She took a deep breath and sent a spear of flame out to the meat. He could feel warmth from the orange flame but it wasn’t hot. He should be burning, but the apron and mitts were protecting him. Instead, he concentrated on the meat, which was getting a good braising. His stomach began to twirl. It had been a while since he’d eaten, and the beef actually smelled good. He wondered if the dragon would miss a small piece of her meal.

“Ron!” Charlie seethed. “Never touch a wild animal’s food, or you become the food. Got it!”

Ron pulled his head down. “I wasn’t going to!”

Charlie rolled his eyes and continued is slow, steady walk to her flank. He rubbed her sides, almost caressing her, although her tough scaly hide probably didn’t feel it.

“That a girl. Nice little girl.” Charlie cooed. He reached up and put his hand on a soft, round spot located where the top of her head met her neck. Her focus was on the meat. She reached out with her jaws and clamped down on her meal.

“You were hungry, weren’t you girl?” Charlie began to rub the spot behind her head and slowly, her chewing began to slacken. The head began to fall to the floor and finally, she closed her eyes, asleep.

Charlie pulled off his oven mitts and turned to face Ron. His brother was standing there, pale as a ghost, holding a bare nub of stick. In her desire to eat, the dragon had snapped off the food, stick and all, barely missing Ron’s hands.

“That’ll do her. She’ll be out for at least three hours. Poor thing, she probably got lost.” Charlie looked over at Harry, Hermione and George walked into the room. George was applauding.

Ron hadn’t moved from his spot. He stood there, his frilly pink apron tied to his waist and his pink oven mitts shaking. “You all right, Ron?” Charlie asked. There was no reply.

Harry looked over Charlie. “Is that it?”

Charlie nodded. “Just about, now all we have to do is figure out a way to get her out of here and out to the Welsh Dragon Protection Range.”

“I have just the things.” George said. He reached into a brown paper sack and pulled out a toilet seat cover, two lacy bras and a pair of tweezers and held them up. Ron’s eyes grew wide and he tossed his stick down.

“Oh no.” He ripped the apron off his body and tossed it and his oven mitts to the floor. He walked up to his wife and grabbed her hand. “Come on, ‘mione, we’re leaving.”

George held his arms out. “What? You haven’t even seen how they work.”

Ron pointed to the bras and shook his head. “No, George. I won’t do it.”

“Come on Ron, it’s not like anyone’s actually going to see you wearing them.” George said, his face serious and his body hiding Harry and Charlie, who were in stitches.

“No. I said no and I mean no.” Ron said defiantly and turned to leave, but Hermione held him in place, refusing to move. She looked at him sternly.

“Ron Weasley, you’d better finish the job. An Auror always finishes the job. Then we can go.” He stared at her desperately and then looked at George.

“You swear no one’s going to see me?”

George held up his right hand. “I swear.” Ron’s shoulders fell and he sighed heavily.

“All right, what do I have to do?” George tossed him both bras. Behind them, Charlie and Harry stood together. Harry turned to Charlie.

“What exactly are the bras for?” Harry whispered.

Charlie shrugged his shoulders. “I don’t have a clue. The toilet seat is a port key to the preserve. All I was planning on doing was transporting her there using it.”

Harry whipped his head over towards George and he spotted the telltale bulge of a camera in his coat pocket. Harry turned his head away from Ron to hide his laughter.

Ron’s voice echoed in the room. “So, does this clasp in the front or the back?”


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Man is least himself when he talks in his own person. Give him a mask and he will tell you the truth. - Oscar Wilde

We're all human, aren't we? Every human life is worth the same, and worth saving. - Kingsley

Sustainability should be a part of what we do every day.
  #83  
Old September 18th, 2008, 3:34 am
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Re: FAD: Last Author Standing -Entries!

FAD Round V

Week 1

Theme: Mistakes

Entry 1

A Mistake


Sirius Black sat staring into the fire in the Gryffindor Common Room, feeling oddly at peace with the world. Currently in his sixth year at the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, he was taking a well-deserved break from the chaos reigning around him.

Ever since this year had begun he had felt a certain amount of uneasiness at almost everything. This past summer had been even more horrible as compared to previous summers at his house; his cousin Bellatrix had just gotten engaged to a boy from a respected pureblood family that was as old as his own, and his entire extended family had congregated at their home to offer their congratulations and suggestions for the wedding which was to be in August. He had tried to put up with it as best as he could, but the outrageous comments of his relatives, combined with the daily screaming showdowns with his mother, had culminated in him packing his bags and staging a dramatic exit from Number Twelve Grimmauld Place.

He had gone to his best friend James Potter’s house. Ordinarily this would have taken his mind off the rumours spreading through the wizarding world, of more and more people joining up with the Dark Lord. While his family supported the lunatic’s principles, they did not directly join his band of followers. The Lestrange family however, into which Bellatrix was marrying, were confirmed Death Eaters, and from what he had heard from his family, some of the most prolific ones. He did not regret leaving his house for one second, but he had a nagging fear that without his presence, those odious people would convince his little brother Regulus that the Lestranges were excellent role models, and he should try to emulate them.
While he didn’t care particularly for Regulus anymore, the boy had publicly disowned him after all, he still didn’t want him to fall prey to the family pressure, he had always felt that Reg had more morals than the rest of those evil gits. But if the crowd he was hanging with were any indication, Regulus would be a Death Eater within two years.

He had hoped to get away from these worries at James’ house, but unfortunately fate had never been so kind to him. James’s father Harold Potter was an Auror, and he would arrive home everyday with news of more attacks. Mrs. Potter bade her husband goodbye every morning with a somber air of wondering if that was the last time she was saying goodbye to him. James too wasn’t his usual cheerful ebullient self. He was worried about his father, but he also spent a great deal of time moping around the house. As this was so unlike him, Sirius had spent most of his time in vain trying to coax his friend to play Quidditch or go into town to meet girls. He had been extremely relieved when Remus Lupin and Peter Pettigrew had come to visit during the last three weeks of vacation, but the increasingly bad tidings from the outside world had cast a dampener on their spirits. They had returned to Hogwarts dreading finding out which of their schoolmates had not made it back. To make things worse, neither James nor Remus showed much enthusiasm for pranks this year, and Sirius grew glummer by the day.

On this particular evening however, none of that was bothering Sirius. It was a full moon night, and he was looking forward to an entire night of roaming the Hogwarts grounds in secret. Perhaps they could visit Hogsmeade too. That thought gave Sirius a sense of anticipation, they would have to be much more careful of Remus giving them the slip, but after all what fun was life without a few risks?
Even before that however he had unexpectedly managed to put into motion a wonderful prank, which would soon come to fruition. He was waiting for James and Peter to get back from wherever they had gone so that he could tell James about it. Peter had been there when he had done it and he had warned Peter not to tell James, he wanted to tell him himself. If that didn’t get James out of his stupor, he didn’t know what would. He grinned to himself and ran his hands through his long black hair with a feeling of pleasure. He looked into the roaring fire and pictured with immense satisfaction how it would feel to see Snivellus cowering in fear. The greasy git had it coming. He looked around the common room lazily and wondered what was taking them so long.

As if on cue, the Portrait Hole opened, and James Potter and Peter Pettigrew climbed in. Admiring glances followed them as they made their way to Sirius by the fire.
“Moony’s just gone to the Hospital Wing”, said James, sinking into a large armchair. “Reckon we should leave in another ten minutes? What plans do we have for today?”

“Oh Prongs I’d say we should give Moony a little more time today. He might have an unexpected guest”, smirked Sirius. James didn’t really register this; he was too busy staring across the common room at a red-haired girl, who was determinedly not looking in his direction. But when Peter snickered and exchanged a high five with Sirius, he snapped back to attention at once.
“Unexpected guest? What are you talking about Padfoot?”

“Oh nobody special. I just told Snivelly how to get in after Moony to the Shrieking Shack”, stated Sirius triumphantly. “I daresay he won’t go poking his abnormally large nose in our affairs anytime soon.”

James leapt to his feet at once. “WHAT? Have you bloody lost your mind Sirius? What in Merlin’s name did you do that for?”

“Oh I just thought it would be funny”, replied Sirius, exchanging another snicker with Peter.

Noticing this, James rounded on Peter. “And you knew about this? And in the last two hours you didn’t find the time to tell me?” James’s hazel eyes were blazing in anger. Peter took a step back from him and opened his mouth to defend himself but before he could speak Sirius had got to his feet. “Bloody hell Prongs, what are you getting so uptight about? Its just Snivellus!”

James turned back to Sirius with a withering look, but refrained from saying anything as the entire common room was watching the drama spellbound. Instead he stalked towards the staircase to their dormitory in anger. Peter called after him, “Prongs!” but James didn’t answer or look back so he hurried after his friend. Sirius watched them go feeling bewildered.

That wasn’t how it was supposed to go. In his minds eye he had pictured James letting out a great howl of laughter and clapping him on the back. Perhaps he would suggest going under the Invisibility Cloak to see Snivellus wet his pants when confronted with a real live werewolf. He would commend Sirius on his extremely innovative method of getting the annoying Slytherin to stop spying on them and leave the Gryffindors alone. It would be a lesson to all Slytherins in fact - Do not mess with the mighty Gryffindors.

He had not expected James to react in anger though. And James had called him Sirius. They hadn’t used each other’s real names in over a year. Which meant James was even more ticked off than he seemed. Shuddering at the thought, Sirius too made for the dormitory. The uneasiness was back in full force.

At the door to the dorm that the four of them shared, Sirius paused. He could hear the sounds of someone rummaging about in a trunk; he could also hear Peter’s entreaties that it had just been a joke. With a feeling of extreme apprehension, Sirius pushed open the door. Both of them looked up at him. He was even more unnerved to see that James was looking at him with the look of pure disgust that he usually reserved for the worst Slytherin offenders, usually before hitting them with a few well-chosen hexes. Before Sirius could say anything, James beat him to it. “Where’s my Cloak?” he said, or rather, spat.

Sirius motioned towards his trunk; James strode to it, opened it with rather much more force than was strictly necessary, and extracteded a light silvery cloak from it. He closed the trunk with a bang that made both Peter and Sirius cringe, and moved towards the door. His way was barred by Sirius.

“Move.”

“Prongs, wait a minute, don’t you think you’re overreacting a bit?”

“Overreacting? OVERREACTING? Sirius, do you even realize what you’ve done?”

“Given him a fright! Taught him a lesson about not bothering with what doesn’t concern him!”

“Really? So what’s going to happen when he freezes the Whomping Willow and goes inside?”

“He’ll see a werewolf and he’ll be bloody scared out of his mind. And serves him right. Why is this bothering you so much Prongs? Is this about Lily Evans and how she’s friends with that git? Is that why you haven’t played a proper prank all year?”

James exploded.

“No Sirius Black! This is about you not thinking even once about the consequences of your actions! How do you think Remus will feel when he finds out that you revealed his secret to people he hates, just to further your own messed up purposes? Did you even once think what would happen when Snape sees the werewolf? He’ll get the hell out of there and go straight back to the castle and tell everyone. This time tomorrow Remus will be on his way home because parents will write to Dumbledore and refuse to allow a werewolf to be near their children. The Governors might find fault with the fact that Dumbledore allowed it and get him removed. So Remus would be expelled, and Dumbledore would be sacked and that’s the best-case scenario! What’s more likely is that Snape’s going to be so scared that he won’t be able to move and he will get bitten. In that case you will have created another werewolf, Remus will not just be expelled, he’ll go to Azkaban, and Dumbledore will be sacked once word gets out. Is that what you want? Did you even think of all this before opening your mouth in front of Snape? Are you so bloody selfish that it didn’t even occur to you to think this through?”

Not waiting for an answer, he pushed past Sirius and reached the door. With one hand on the handle, he paused and looked back.

“Or did you realize all of this and decide it would all be a small price to pay to settle your score with Snape? I wouldn’t be too surprised.”

With those words he wrenched the door open and sprinted down the stairs.

Peter looked at Sirius and said something but Sirus wasn’t listening. He moved to the door and followed in James’s wake but Sirius didn’t even notice. Sirius stood stock still in the center of the dorm His fists were clenched and blood was pounding in his ears. There was a bubbling feeling of panic rising in his chest. What had he done? With one thoughtless remark he had single-handedly brought doom to the school and more importantly, to their friendship. James would never forgive him. Remus would be livid when he heard what Sirius had done. Peter would despise him. He had wanted to teach Snivellus a lesson and he had recklessly gambled away everything Dumbledore had worked for. What had he done? He was flooded with guilt and shame. He was just the same as his parents. No! Much worse. They had after all, still not sent anyone to their death. He had just accomplished that deed. The Black family would be so proud. His mother might even consider adding his name back on to the family tapestry when she found out. He was a murderer. He had been a fool to think he was better than the rest of his family. Blood always told in the end. He was a selfish manipulative Slytherin and he did not deserve the friendship of the Marauders.

But even as he felt tears come into his eyes at these thoughts, he saw through the tears the red and gold curtains of the dormitory, the very same curtains Dumbledore had once told him he had set fire to.

The curtains awakened a tiny sliver of hope in his heart. He was a Gryffindor, the Sorting Hat had seen his mind. The Sorting Hat knew his true nature and had put him in Gryffindor, had given him three wonderful friends. He would not lose them so easily. He was brave, he would fight for what was right, and he would do everything in his power to correct his mistake. This is what true bravery is after all, facing up to your mistakes and righting your wrongs. He, Sirius Orion Black, would be the epitome of bravery. Generations would look up to him as a source of inspiration. They would call him the ultimate Gryffindor.

Thinking thus, Sirus stood up straight, and taking half a minute to compose himself, he dashed off at top speed in the same direction as his friends. People sitting in the common room only saw a blur pass by and the Portrait Hole banged shut.

The Fat Lady was not happy. Thrice in the course of five minutes she had been manhandled. It had been a big mistake to take up the job of guarding Gryffindor Tower.


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Sustainability should be a part of what we do every day.
  #84  
Old September 18th, 2008, 3:38 am
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Re: FAD: Last Author Standing -Entries!

FAD Round V Week 1 (Mistakes)

Entry 2
Ron's Mistake

Ron ran through the rain, not caring whether he was soaked to the bone, or whether he was about to run into trouble or not. He just wanted to get away from there. When he stopped running, he disapparated without catching his breath. It felt as if his lungs collapsed, and he was being pushed through a straw, when suddenly he landed on solid dry ground and fell to the ground.

He looked around and realized he was in a narrow alleyway. He didn't know where he was and recognized nothing. He knew this was a mistake, and he should never have disapparated away from that forest. Harry and Hermione would be looking for him, and for all he knew, he was probably miles and miles away from them. He closed his eyes and was about to disapparate back... but he couldn't. There was some kind of barrier stopping him from going.

Suddenly, three different voices started laughing and cackling, and before Ron could do anything, four men were standing feet away from him.

“Expelliarmus!” yelled the tallest man.

Ron's wand left his hand and flew into the man's hand.

“You have been caught doing magic,” a chubby man said, “when the new rule states that no magic is to be done out in the public after dark.”

“When did that rule come along?!” Ron said, “I never heard of it!”

“You haven't been paying attention to the Daily Prophet, have you, boy?” the third, a short, stalky man said, “There is a new leader in the Ministry. And he doesn't allow any magic to be done after dark!”

“I didn't know!” Ron said, panicking.

“We know you apparated here,” the tall man said, “Where did you come from?”

“You look like a student, boy,” the short man said, “Why aren't you in school?”

“My name... is... er...” Ron said, stuttering, thinking wildly, “Stan Shunpike!”

“Stan Shunpike!” the tall man said, “No, I know that name. That's not you.”

“I don't know, Caledon,” the fat man said, “We've never seen Stan Shunpike. It could be him.”

“Do not use my name, you fool!” Caledon said.

“Boris is right,” the short man said, “This could be Stan.”

“Yeah, it could be,” Boris said.

“No it is not!” Caledon said, turning on Boris.

Ron sighed. He then saw an opening. He reached out his foot to the nearest person, the tallest man, Caledon, and tripped him. He grabbed his wand, disarmed Caledon's wand from him, then thought of a place and disapparated quickly.

--------------------------------
His ears popped and he felt a nice cool breeze hit his face. He then felt a jolt of pain on his left hand. He looked at it, and too his horror, he realized that he had two fingernails missing. He looked around and saw a house.

“Ron?” a voice said, “Ron?! What are you doing here?!”

Ron turned around, groggily. The pain of his splinched fingernails was starting to hurt a bit. He saw Bill walking toward him. He then realized that he was at Bill and Fleur's cottage.

“I made a mistake, Bill,” Ron said, “I left... Harry and Hermione... I don't know where they are. They could be in trouble.”

“You look starved!” said another voice.

Fleur had walked out of the cottage.

“No matter that!” Bill said, “Where have you been? Mum's been worried sick!”

“You must not tell Mum I was here!” Ron said, “It's a secret what I've been doing. I can't even tell you.”

“Well, you need to stay here for a little while,” Bill said.

“No, I need to find Harry and Hermione!” Ron said.

“You said you didn't know where they are,” Bill said, “Besides, you are hurt, and hungry. You should stay here for a day or two. Please?”

Ron sighed.

“Fine,” Ron said, “I will stay.”

Ron was still upset, even though he was with family, where he had three square meals a day (at least for a couple of days or so). But he felt as if he was making a grave mistake being here. Where were Harry and Hermione? Were they safe? Were they thinking of him? Was Hermione thinking of him? Ron grimaced. He remembered the fight he had with her that made him run away from them. He hated himself for that argument. Out of everything, that was his biggest mistake.


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We're all human, aren't we? Every human life is worth the same, and worth saving. - Kingsley

Sustainability should be a part of what we do every day.
  #85  
Old September 19th, 2008, 6:00 pm
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Re: FAD: Last Author Standing -Entries!

FAD Round V Week 1 (Mistakes)

Entry 3
“Dumb George!” Ron stomped up the stairs to his bedroom. “I’ll show him!”

The three-year-old redheaded boy flopped on his bed and tried to come up with ways to get back at his older brother. He watched the Chudley Cannons players zoom around in the new poster his dad recently bought him.

“That’s it!” He shouted to himself.

Ron hopped off his bed and ran down flights of stairs to the area in the sitting room where his mother kept the toys.

“Wonnie!” Ginny cried, sitting on the couch, watching him.

Ron ignored her as he stared at the four toy broomsticks leaning against the wall. He knew the two most battered ones belonged to Bill and Charlie, though they didn’t play with them anymore, a reason as to why he wasn’t given a new toy broomstick. The problem was discerning which of the better-looking toy broomsticks belonged to George. After what felt like a full minute, Ron picked up the darker broomstick.

“Fwed and Geowge don’t wike you touching their toys!” Ginny said.

“Shh, Ginny.”

“I’m tay-ying!”

Ginny climbed off the couch and headed for the stairs, most likely to the twins’ bedroom. Ron didn’t care. They would find out eventually whether Ginny tattled or not. He was just happy that he didn’t have an audience to watch him.

“I wish I was bigger,” he thought after trying to break the stick over his little knee.

With that idea not working, he decided to do things simpler. After pulling out all the bristles, he knew he would have to actually find a way to break the stick to make George pay. He was just a little boy and no matter the amount of effort he put into it, he couldn’t do it. Full of rage, he took the broom into the kitchen and bashed it against a chair where it splintered.

“There!” Ron smiled naughtily. “That’ll show him!”

“What was that noise?” Mrs. Weasley called out from wherever she was in the house. “Is everyone all right?”

“Yes!” Ron called back.

He looked at the messes he created, first in the sitting room with the bristles and second in the kitchen with the stick. Satisfied, he headed back to his bedroom. He passed Ginny on the way.

“I’m still tay-ying!” she said.

He didn’t care. The work was done. Revenge had taken place.



“RON!”

Ron woke up clutching his teddy bear in his arms. He had fallen asleep waiting for George to find the broken broomstick. He assumed that was George’s voice he heard. It was hard to distinguish the twins, especially after one had been asleep. He heard someone stomping up the stairs.

“RON! HOW DARE YOU!” Fred threw open the bedroom door.

“George tooked your broomstick cause I broked his?” Ron sat up, looking at the anger etched all over Fred’s face.

“His broomstick? That was my broomstick you broke!” Fred raised a wand he had found, most likely his older brother’s, and spoke a spell Ron had never heard before.

“AAAAAAAAAGGGGGGGGGGGGHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!” Ron threw his teddy bear across the room. Well, it wasn’t his teddy bear anymore. It had turned into a big hairy spider. “Kill it! Kill it! Get it out of my room!” Ron ran out the door, past his brother, and down the stairs, looking for the safety of his mother’s arms. Maybe breaking the wrong twin’s toy broomstick had been a huge mistake.


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  #86  
Old September 20th, 2008, 1:54 am
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Re: FAD: Last Author Standing -Entries!

FAD Round V Week 1 (Mistakes)

Entry 4
A Mistake of Magical Proportions


Petunia tried to take in the news her sister had just told her. “You’re a…a witch?”

“Yes. And I got this letter and I’m going to be going to a special school to learn how to use my powers and there will be other people with powers there.” Lily’s words tumbled over each other in her haste and excitement.

“Then, what that awful boy said about you in the park is true?”

Lily nodded eagerly. “An older gentleman came today while you were at Sarah’s house and explained it all to us and showed us how to get all the things I’ll need at this school and…oh, Tuney, it’s so exciting!”

“Will I be going to this school, too?”

Lily lost some of her pleasure as she admitted, “No, I asked. They said you aren’t magical at all. They called you a muggle.”

“Why do you have magic and I don’t?” Petunia demanded petulantly.

Lily shrugged. “I asked that, too. They said they don’t know why some people have magic and others don’t. It seems it’s just something you’re either born with or you aren’t.”

Their mother entered Petunia’s room. “Did you tell her your news?”

“Yes, Mum!”

Mrs. Evans looked at her elder daughter. “Isn’t it amazing? I can’t believe our little girl is a witch and can do real magic. I wish I could brag to all our friends.”

“Now, Mummy, you know the gentleman stressed that we couldn’t tell anyone outside immediate family,” Lily sternly reminded her mother. She didn’t want to have this opportunity snatched away by her mother’s inability to keep a secret.

“I know. I won’t. I just said I wish I could. Isn’t it exciting, Petunia? Aren’t you proud of your sister?”

“I want to go to this school with her.”

“You can’t. You aren’t magical like she is. You have to continue in your regular school. But I know how you feel. I wish I could go, too.” She giggled almost like a school girl and hurried out to make preparations for the special celebration dinner she was planning.

“I think you just don’t want me to go. You want to be special and you don’t want me to go to your new school,” Petunia told her sister. “Mum and Dad have always doted on you and thought you were special. This is just another example! A special school. I want to go. I’ll make them let me go, too.”

“You can’t,” Lily repeated. “See, this is the letter from Professor Dumbledore. It’s addressed to me.”

“Well, I’ll just write him and ask for an invitation. I’m sure it was just an oversight.” She flounced over to her desk and took out a sheet of paper.

Lily could see her sister was in one of her moods. She backed out of the room and left her to accept the inevitable. They had been so close until just recently. Lily worshipped her older sister and Petunia had accepted the adoration as her due. Now that Lily was eleven, she was starting to have friends that didn’t include Petunia, which Tuney didn’t like. And lately, she’d been doing things that she didn’t understand, but frightened Petunia. Whenever Lily did something strange, like make flowers dance, Petunia became frightened and insisted Lily stop. Since Lily had wanted to see what she could do, she was spending more and more time away from her sister. Petunia was so…ordinary. And she never wanted to try something different or go somewhere different or do anything exciting. Lily had an adventurous streak that her sister didn’t share. But they were sisters, and they would always, always be close. Petunia just needed time, Lily thought.

During the next week, all Lily and her parents seemed to talk about was Lily’s new-found abilities. Petunia tried to ignore them as they looked through the strange books and Lily waved her wand to make sparks fly. Petunia just waited. She would get her letter saying she could go to this new school, too, and she’d show them all that she was better than Lily. She wasn’t going to let her little sister show her up! Petunia knew Lily couldn’t possibly have an ability that Petunia didn’t have, so all she had to do was wait for that man to answer her letter and she’d show them all that she was more special than Lily.

“Petunia, you have a letter,” Mrs. Evans told her at last, handing over the envelope with the pretty green ink. “Oh, it’s from the same place as Lily’s letter. Oh! Does that mean the man was wrong and you’re magical, too?”

Petunia gave her sister a superior, gloating look as she carefully opened the flap and withdrew the letter inside. “Of course. I knew it. I’m not sure why they sent her a letter first, but she is no more special than I am.” She looked down at the letter in her hand, expecting it to be similar to the one her sister had received the week before. Her face fell as she read:

Dear Miss Petunia Evans,

Thank you for your letter of concern for your sister. I understand that you feel there was an error made and you do not wish for your sister to be sent off alone to Hogwarts. While I applaud your concern for your sister and wish to join her, I regret to inform you that I cannot extend an invitation for you to attend Hogwarts with your sister, as you were, unfortunately, born without magical blood. I am afraid there was no mistake in not sending you a letter earlier. I wish that siblings of witches and wizards were able to attend Hogwarts with their families, but that simply isn’t possible, and so a separation is necessary, however unfortunate. Your sister will require special training for her gifts that you will not require, nor will you be able to participate in the special classes Hogwarts offers. Therefore, it is with great regret that I must firmly but resolutely inform you that you are not invited to attend Hogwarts on September 1, and she will be forced to ride the Hogwarts Express alone. I am sure she will quickly make friends and you need have no further anxiety about her future. She will be well cared for at Hogwarts. Feel free to correspond with her as you wish via muggle post or owl, in order to assure yourself of your sister’s happiness and safety. I am certain you are as proud of her special gifts as your parents are.

Sincerely,
Albus Dumbledore


Petunia’s eyes narrowed and the words swam as she tried to maintain control of herself.


“Well?” Mrs. Evans prodded. “Does it explain why they didn’t tell us you were to go with Lily?”

Petunia snorted delicately and folded the letter with trembling hands. “I won’t be going with Lily to her strange new place. I will be going to my perfectly normal school. I wouldn’t want to go to a place filled with freaks like her who have all kinds of strange accidents. I’m going to Highcross like last year.”

Mrs. Evans and Lily reeled from the unexpected attack. “But…what do you mean?”

“I only wrote to make certain Lily wouldn’t be alone among those freaks. I’m her older sister and it’s my duty to protect her. But if you want to send her off to get blown up, there’s nothing more I can do.”

Mrs. Evans shook her head, trying to understand what was happening. “So, you won’t be going to Hogwarts? You aren’t a witch?”

“No! I am normal. I’m no freak who accidentally blows things up all the time.”

“I don’t blow—” Lily’s denial was cut off by her sister’s shrill tone.

“Did you or did you not accidentally blow up your birthday cake?”

Lily fought back tears. “That was three years ago. You were teasing me, saying I couldn’t blow out all the candles. I just wanted to blow them all out. I didn’t mean to cause all that wind. I didn’t know what I was doing.”

“And neither will many of the others at that place. You’ll be lucky to survive a year there. You’ll be blown up or blow someone else up…or be poisoned by those…those…potions! Fine. It’s your decision, your mistake. I won’t have any further part of it.” Petunia flounced up to her room, certain her sister was making a mistake in leaving her to go off to that school and that their parents were making a mistake in letting her, let alone being proud of her strangeness. But they’d see their mistake when that man brought parts of Lily home to them for burial.

Lily wanted to race after her sister and beg her to forgive her for…for what? What mistake had she made?

Mrs. Evans stopped her. “Petunia needs time, Lily. She’ll come around. Maybe we shouldn’t have made such a fuss over you, but we were just so surprised and proud. Petunia loves you and she’ll see that treating you badly for something you can’t help is a mistake. She’s just a bit jealous now, but she’ll come around. You’ll see. Just give her time.”


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We're all human, aren't we? Every human life is worth the same, and worth saving. - Kingsley

Sustainability should be a part of what we do every day.
  #87  
Old September 20th, 2008, 1:56 am
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Re: FAD: Last Author Standing -Entries!

FAD Round V Week 1: Mistakes

Entry 5

Mistakes

The small flat was spotless and perfectly organized. There was a place for everything and everything was in its place. Not that hard to accomplish when you're never home. Percy hated every inch of it. He had spent his entire life wishing for a place of his own that was ordered and efficient -- everything that the Burrow wasn't. Now he'd give anything to be in the midst of the chaos that was always present at the Burrow.

He'd been a fool -- letting his pride and arrogance get in the way. He'd known -- deep down -- that his father was right. He hadn't deserved that promotion after the way he'd messed up with the whole situation with Mr. Crouch. He'd faced an inquiry, but then Fudge came to him and offered him a promotion. Any misgivings he'd felt had been squashed immediately. He would have been a fool to pass up such an opportunity -- a chance to prove himself and show that he was capable of the job. At least that's what he'd believed at the time. Ambition had been his downfall and it had cost him. He looked at the photographs lining the mantle. It had cost him dearly.

The twins identical grins met his gaze and they waved at him while making rude signs behind the head of his photographic self. He'd been around 10 when this was taken -- shortly before he'd received his Hogwarts letter. He cringed at the site of himself standing there so pompous and aloof. He couldn't remember just playing and enjoying himself. He'd always been so prim and proper. No wonder they could never stand to be around me.

Ron and Ginny grinned up at him from the next photo. Bill and Charlie wrestled in the background while the twins cheered them on. And he was standing there as prim as ever -- always standing apart from the rest. He wondered what it would have been like to just join in the fray -- have a tumble in the dirt with Bill or Charlie or even stand there and cheer with the twins. But he'd been too worried about mussing his robes or finishing his holiday work.

He'd always held himself apart -- wanting to stand out and be Percy and not just another Weasley. He'd been ashamed of them ... now he was just ashamed of himself. He'd been so hurt when his father had questioned his promotion, believing that none of them thought he was capable of the job. He had known their concerns were legitimate, but that hadn't stopped him from lashing out -- from wanting to prove them wrong. But they had been right all along. He had wanted to go to them ... apologize ... but he just couldn't bring himself to do it. I don't know why I was put in Gryffindor. I'm such a coward.

Worry and fear ate at him constantly these days. Death Eaters ruling the Ministry -- he'd never imagined it would get this bad. He knew they were watching his family and there was nothing he could do but worry. Every day he anxiously waited for his father to appear and breathed a sigh of relief. They never spoke anymore, but just to see that he was alive and still fighting. He'd know if anything bad had happened with just one look. His father had never been good at hiding his emotions.

Ron had been missing for months -- along with Harry and Hermione. He'd always felt closer to Ron than the others. He understood the insecurity that plagued him even though Ron dealt with it in different ways. He had hoped that Ron would understand, but looking back, he was amazed that all Ron had done was ignore that horrible letter he had sent. He couldn't say what he had been thinking when he wrote it. He'd believed Umbridge's reports from Hogwarts and thought they were doing the right thing. But he'd been shocked to discover the truth. Forcing students to write lines in their own blood, sending dementors after Harry ... he didn't want to believe it, but it was all true. And he'd helped put her there and praised her for what she was doing. Once again, he sent up a prayer to whoever might be listening to watch over his brother and his friends ... and the rest of his family.

He wondered what Ron was doing with Harry and Hermione. He'd heard the rumors about Harry being The Chosen One, but he didn't know what to believe. Dumbledore had certainly gone out of his way to protect Harry and You-Know-Who was certainly determined to capture him ... probably kill him. Could the rumors be true? Was Harry really The Chosen One? Was he really their only hope of defeating You-Know-Who? His hands shook as he prepared a cup of tea, images of Ron being hurt or killed flashing through his mind. No. Ron would be fine and so would Harry and Hermione. The three of them had accomplished so much together. If Harry is The Chosen One, then Ron and Hermione are helping him. He smirked. You-Know-Who wouldn't know what hit him.

The time was drawing near. Tensions were mounting and it wouldn't be long before the fighting broke out. Aberforth had been a godsend -- sending him news about Ginny and what little he could about the family. He listened to Potterwatch faithfully -- drinking in the sounds of his brothers' voices, grateful to hear them alive and well. They were full of mischief as ever, but surprisingly responsible. He was proud of them and deeply regretted the possibility that he might never get a chance to tell them.

The Evening Prophet lay on the table, untouched. He sat down with a cup of tea and prepared himself for whatever bad news he would find within its pages. These days, there was nothing good to report. Well, the Death Eaters probably enjoy it, but I certainly don't. The headline that he hadn't even glanced at now grabbed his full attention. The teacup smashed on the floor and tea flowed over the pristine carpet unnoticed as he grabbed the paper to read the article.


HARRY POTTER BREAKS INTO GRINGOTTS
Harry Potter and two accomplices, believed to be his known companions, Ronald Weasley and Hermione Granger, broke into Gringotts bank earlier this evening. Gringotts goblins refuse to reveal the details of the break in, but early reports reveal that the criminal trio escaped on the back of a dragon. It has long been believed that dragons are used by Gringotts goblins to guard ...

Percy read the article with increasing disbelief. After months with no news ... a dragon? Surely this was another fanciful tale created to discredit Harry in the eyes of the public. They wouldn't break into Gringotts. Not without a very good reason ... But what could possibly be at Gringotts that would help Harry defeat You-Know-Who?

An owl tapped impatiently on his window and Percy reluctantly set the paper down to let it in. It took off immediately after he had removed the note attached to its leg. He recognized Aberforth's handwriting and opened it quickly.


It's time.


It's time? Time for what? He looked back at the Evening Prophet on the table. Time to fight. Harry must have had a good reason to break into Gringotts and draw attention to himself. He locked up and prepared to apparate to The Hogs Head, readying himself for the battle ahead. Not just the fight to come, but what he knew would be waiting for him when he got there. His family. There was no way they would be sitting this out. Not when they had been fighting with the Order for so long. They would be there and he would have to face them.

It was time for him to be a man and admit to his mistakes. He just hoped that they could forgive him.


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We're all human, aren't we? Every human life is worth the same, and worth saving. - Kingsley

Sustainability should be a part of what we do every day.
  #88  
Old September 20th, 2008, 1:57 am
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Re: FAD: Last Author Standing -Entries!

FAD Round V Week 1: Mistakes

Entry 6
Oops…

Nymphadora Tonks wasn’t blessed with a large amount of grace. She was athletic, smart and beautiful, but keeping her right foot from stumbling over her left foot was something of a challenge for her. The harder she tried to focus on where she was and what she was doing, the more her innate clumsiness came out. The problem was even more amplified when she was nervous. Now, Tonks was a gifted Auror and metamorphmagus to boot and she usually didn’t have to worry about nerves much, but there was something about Remus Lupin that grabbed her from the beginning. She couldn’t tell if it was how nice he was, or if it was the haunted look of loss that pervaded his expression. Tied in with his complete indifference to how shabby he looked and how willing he was to help his friends defeat the Dark Lord, Tonks always felt a flutter in her chest when he was around, and that made for a very dangerous package.

Twelve Grimmauld Place was empty when she arrived. She walked down the dark corridor and ignored the miserable house elf that was dusting a covered portrait and mumbling profanities to no one in particular. Instead, Tonks was studiously watching the floor, looking for a wayward broom handle or knot of wood in the floorboard that would send her flying. Of course, it probably would have helped if she’d checked to make sure her shoes were tied, but alas, they weren’t and she stepped on a loose shoelace and fell, face forward into through the swinging door and into the kitchen. She had a few choice words for her predicament and then suddenly realized that she wasn’t alone. She looked up and saw Remus standing behind the sink, a frilly white apron tied around his waist, drying some dishes and putting them away.

He had a bemused grin on his scarred and ashen face. He smiled and her heart melted, despite the situation. He put down the dish he’d been drying and casually tossed his dish towel over his shoulder and leaned down, extending his arm.

“You look like you could use a hand.” She caught herself staring at him and then she snapped back. She reached her hand up and took his, allowing him to help her up.

“I must have tripped back there.” She said, her face reddening, to be soon matched by her hair.

“Obviously, there must be a loose floorboard in the hall. I do it all the time.” His smile returned and he turned to finish the dishes. Tonks made a quick move to join him at the sink.

“Can I help?” Unfortunately, he had just grabbed a dish from the strainer and her sudden movement bumped his arm, sending it crashing to the ground.

“Oh, I’m sorry, my mistake.” She said nervously.

“No worries, no harm done.” Remus said. He bent down to pick up the larger pieces just as Tonks was drawing her wand.

“Don’t worry, I can fix it.” She said, not noticing what he was doing. Her elbow bowed out and struck him on the forehead, sending him face first into the kitchen counter.

“Merlin’s beard, my mistake.” She said in a panic.

He fell to his seat on the floor, rubbing his head. She walked over to a nearby drawer and pulled it open. “I think there’s some of Madame Pomfrey’s healing draught in here.”

When the drawer opened, it hit Remus in the side of the head, eliciting a loud “oomph” from him and bringing more stars to his vision.

“Oh dear, my mistake!” She cried out. “I can fix that in a second.”

Remus held up his hand, his voice almost pleading. “No, I’m all right. Just stop trying to help me, okay Tonks?”

She sighed heavily and dropped to the floor beside him, surprisingly avoiding any further injury to him. They sat together on the cold tile, their backs against the cupboards. She crossed her arms and sighed heavily.

“I can’t seem to get anything right. I’m such a klutz.” She peered at him through the side of her eyes. “Does it hurt bad?”

He chuckled. “Only when I breathe, talk or move. Other than that, I’m peachy.”

“I’m so sorry, Remus.” She said quietly. “I’m a walking disaster.”

She thought she heard him reply, but it came out in a whisper. She tried to process what he’d said, but she couldn’t make it out.

“I’m sorry, what did you say?” She asked, looking at him fully.

“Nothing.”

“Come on, what did you say Remus? Or do you want me to try to get you a bag of ice?”

He held both his hands up this time. “No, no, that’s okay. I’ll tell you.” He sighed heavily and smiled, but he couldn’t look at her. “I said you’re not a walking disaster, you’re the most perfect woman in the world.”

The words struck her like a thunderbolt. The kitchen was quiet, to the point that the silence was like a loud crescendo.

“Does that mean what I think it means?” She asked, afraid of the answer, but intensely dying to know.

“Tonks, I’m too old for you and I’m a cursed man. You deserve someone full of life who can have a future with you, but in answer to your question, yes, it does mean that I love you.”

The last three words struck her like hammer blows. She rocked back, of course bumping into his chest and sending the back of his head into the counter.

“Oh, I’m sorry, my mistake.” He shook his head and leaned back, probably trying to get out of range of any stray objects. She looked at him quietly. “I thought you said you didn’t feel anything for me, that you didn’t want to be with me.”

“Tonks, I thought I could do it, but you have to know how I feel. The signs have been there, or did you think Molly Weasley was some sort of idle gossip?” He asked, his bemused expression on his face.

She sat there and thought, recounting the times they’d been together, during Order meetings and on missions. The signs had been there, only she’d been so worried about stumbling that she’d missed them. He did love her! How could she have missed it?

She looked at him. He still had that same lost, forlorn look of despair on his face, but then his eyes locked with hers and they brightened at the attention. She leaned forward, hesitantly, hoping that this one time, she’d manage to not kill him after finally finding him. He closed the distance between them and their lips met. They kissed the kiss of a perfect match, lips locked as the fear and terror in the world disappeared for one fleeting second as they realized that they had each other. Tonks drew back and smiled. Then she flung her arms around his neck and moved to kiss him once more.

As her arm waved in the air to embrace him, they caught on the edge of the dish strainer on the counter above, bringing the laden basket down on top of them in a loud clatter of pots and pans and broken crockery. They didn’t let the distraction break their kiss. Finally, they came apart and surveyed the damage.

She flashed him a coquettish smile and before leaning down to kiss him again she muttered:

“Oops, my mistake.”

Last Entry for Week 1


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  #89  
Old September 26th, 2008, 5:47 pm
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Re: FAD: Last Author Standing -Entries!

FAD Round V Week 2: Krum at Durmstrang

Entry 1
Viktor Krum’s Last Day at Durmstrang

Viktor Krum winced as bits of mortar and brick shot past his head, a result of the blasting charm that struck a nearby wall. The tall, thin teen with the rounded shoulders and broad chest reached back and grasped Pyotr by the sleeve of his tunic and pulled the smaller boy along around a corner. The Death Eaters had attacked at first light, when the students were still sleeping in their cold dormitories. Durmstrang Castle was short, as castles went. Tucked high atop a crag overlooking a Finnish fjord, there was no need for spires and turrets when the terrain itself served as protection, so the castle was only four stories tall, but arrayed over a large bluff stretching for acres. Viktor had stepped in for his absent Headmaster, guiding the school through one more year. Krum was an early riser, and he was the first to notice the shadowy figures burst through the main gates and spread out through the courtyard below. Viktor reacted quickly, sending a bolt of fire from his Gregorovitch wand igniting a pyre in the center of the courtyard, sounding the alarm.

Fires were only lit at Durmstrang for magical purposes and emergencies. This was definitely an emergency. The Death Eaters spread throughout the corridors of the school, casually dismissing the bleary eyed students that were rapidly awakening to the danger. Some of the students and teachers fought back, but surprise was on the side of the Dark Lord’s minions. Krum noticed that the ferocity of the Dark wizards wasn’t the only problem. Durmstrang was only accepted pure bloods and had a reputation for teaching the Dark Arts. Some of the students and a good number of the faculty actually were sympathetic to Voldemort and were actively assisting the Death Eaters in what they came for. That was the only explanation for how easy it had been for the castle’s perimeter to be breached. Viktor rounded another corner in the maze of halls and passages that made up the school proper. He looked behind and saw Pyotr running close by. There was no doubt what the Death Eaters wanted. Specifically, there was no doubt as to who they wanted. The Dark Lord’s forces had been gathering strength since Voldemort’s return at the end of last year. Krum had been at Hogwarts for the Triwizard Tournament when Harry Potter had brought the news of the Dark Lord’s return. He’d seen the lifeless eyes of Cedric Diggory and knew that it was only a matter of time before the Dark Lord’s lackeys came for Durmstrang’s Headmaster.

As soon as Harry returned with the news, Krum could see that Igor Karkaroff had been terrified. His Headmaster had disappeared at that precise moment. The former Death Eater had managed to avoid long term incarceration at Azakaban by turning his fellow dark wizards into the Ministry. There was no doubt in Viktor’s mind that Voldemort would seek to visit his vengeance on Karkaroff and now that was happening. Unlike the newsies in England, the wizards and witches in Europe knew evil was on the rise. They could feel it and see it across the board. Krum never doubted Potter’s news. When his Headmaster fled Hogwarts, Krum was absolutely sure. He’d tried to get his former classmates ready for the fight. Hermione Granger had told him about the defense association the students at Hogwarts had created, and Krum tried to emulate it, but he was one person and not a terribly outgoing personality. He had a solid core of friends from the school’s Quidditch Team, but they were few and the Dark Lord’s sympathizers many. Now, all that remained was survival.

Krum came to a stop at an innocuous intersection. Pyotr stopped next to him, panting from the exertion. Pyotr was a fourth year student who idolized Krum. He was a reserve Seeker for the Quidditch Team and a member of Krum’s own defense association. He was rail thin with a bright shock of blonde hair atop his long, narrow head.

“What is going on, Viktor? What do we do?” Fear echoed in the teen’s voice, but he seemed to draw strength from the man in front of him.

Viktor held up his hand and cocked his head to the side, listening for signs of pursuit. “We must get out of here, Pyotr. I think our best bet is the ship.”

“What do they want?” Pyotr stared down the hall they’d just come up.

“They want the Headmaster.” Viktor replied, pointedly.

Pyotr’s eyes widened. “But the Headmaster isn’t here. He’s…”

“Don’t even say it, Pyotr. I should have never shared his letter with the team. Now you all know. Keep it to yourself. If you even think it, you will kill him.” The look in Viktor’s eyes clearly implied that Karkaroff wouldn’t be the only casualty of a slip of the tongue. “Now, come on!”

They ran down a small corridor and stopped in front of a portrait of a Russian Tsar holding a large sword. The man in the painting looked at them down his nose and pointed at Viktor. “Who dares disturb me?”

“Tsar Ivan, we seek access to the wharf.” Viktor responded clearly.

Ivan the Terrible’s portrait snorted. “Then use the main entrance.”

Viktor choked back the urge to blast the canvas into a thousand pieces. “Tsar Ivan, the Cossacks have overrun the castle. The wharf entrance is blocked.”

“Cossacks?” The painting’s voice held an edge of concern. “Why didn’t you say so?”

The frame opened, revealing a narrow passage that sloped downward into the mountain itself. They walked quickly and the passage kept its down angle the entire time, although it switched back and forth as they wound their way down towards the fjord. Neither Krum nor Pyotr spoke; the only sound was the panicked breathing of Pyotr as the darkness overwhelmed him. Krum kept up a steady pace, holding his wand in front of him, lighting the way while his other hand was crammed into the folds of his jacket, his fist gripped around a small sheet of parchment.

Eventually, the ground in the passage flattened out and started widening. Soon enough, Krum was able to extinguish the light on his wand as the passage grew lighter, the faint rays of the winter sun beating through the cracks of the door ahead. Krum pushed the door open slightly and took a quick look around. Then he turned and pulled Pyotr after him by the collar. The two ran towards a wooden pier where the Durmstrang ship was moored. They were nearly halfway there when shouts echoed behind them. Several Durmstrang students and teachers were running down the main ramp to the wharf, pointing at them excitedly. Among them were masked figures in long black robes.

Viktor turned to Pyotr and shouted. “Run! Get to the ship!”

Almost instantly, the air was filled with the crack hiss of the near misses from curses being sent their way. Krum had always shown amazing grace while atop a broom, but he was duck footed and rather awkward on the ground. Still, he kept his head about him, casting counter spells and dodging and weaving, avoiding the spells.

“Viktor!” Krum turned in time to see Pyotr stumble and fall to the ground. The pursuit was drawing nearer and Viktor took a quick look back at the ship and then turned and ran to his fallen comrade. Tugging on Pyotr’s arm, Viktor fired spells at the oncoming rush, fighting madly to get Pyotr on his feet and pull away, towards the ship. Here and there, he saw people falling as his spells took hold, but there simply were too many of them. He saw a bright flash of light, and then, nothing.

***

“Wake up, poppet.” Viktor heard the sneer in the voice. His head hurt and he moaned slightly at the initial disorientation.

“Rabastan, he’s awake.” Viktor opened his eyes and found himself bound to one of the beams in the Headmaster’s office. He looked around. Karkaroff’s office was plain, with little or no decoration, other than the drab, gray stone that made up the walls. The ceiling was held up by massive oak beams and Viktor tried to move his hands, but found himself tied tight to one of those beams. Off to his right, Pyotr was similarly held, but awake and eyes wide in terror.

“Good, now maybe we can get some answers and go back to someplace warm, no offense Thorfinn.” A tall, dark haired man walked up to Viktor. The man was dressed in black robes of a Death Eater and had dark, deranged eyes and a sinister grin. Viktor could smell the wine on his breath as the man put his face in front of Viktor.

“Now, Viktor Krum, hero of Durmstrang,” Rabastan Lestrange’s voice dripped with contempt. “I’m going to ask you a question and you’re going to answer it. There are consequences to not answering.” Lestrange pulled up a plain wooden chair and sat in it, crossing his legs as if setting up for an interview. “Where is Igor Karkaroff?”

Viktor stared at Lestrange with hate and anger. He pulled at his bonds and soon tired of the uselessness of the gesture. Viktor took a deep breath. “I do not know. The Headmaster did not return with us from the Tournament.”

Lestrange looked over at the large blonde Death Eater standing nearby. “You see, Thorfinn, I was right. Viktor Krum is a hero, idolized by thousands. He would not tell us on the first try. You owe me five galleons.”

Thorfinn Rowle grimaced and pulled the coins from his pocket. He slapped them on a table and grumbled. “Double or nothing it only takes one round.”

Lestrange chortled merrily. “Oh, I don’t know, Thorfinn. Krum is a great man. I’ll take that bet.” Lestrange turned to Viktor and smiled. “Now, don’t let me down, Viktor.” Lestrange pulled out his wand and pointed it at Krum. “Crucio!”

The pain welled up in Krum’s body. He resisted at first; he was a strong man, stoic by nature, but every fiber of every nerve seemed to well up. Rabastan Lestrange applied more pressure and the dam burst and Viktor Krum screamed, the agony overcoming his resistance, his mind crying out for relief. After what seemed like forever, the pain stopped and Viktor sagged against his bonds.

Lestrange placed the tip of his wand on Viktor’s forehead and pushed the sweating man’s face up. “So, Viktor Krum, where is Igor Karkaroff?”

How hard could it be? He didn’t know exactly where Professor Karkaroff was, why not tell them? Why go through the agony? He wanted to give in, but in the end, he didn’t. Viktor Krum snarled and shook his head. “I do not know.”

Lestrange smiled and turned towards Rowle. “This man is costing you a pretty penny, Thorfinn.” The broadchested Death Eater snarled and slapped ten more galleons on the table. “Well, Krum, you’ve certainly made me a lot of money today, thank you for that. Now, why don’t you tell me what I want to know? It’ll be so much easier.”

Viktor’s screams reverberated through the room. He thought the pain would never stop. A voice brought the pain to an end and Rabastan Lestrange looked towards the door to see who’d interrupted his fun.

“What is the meaning of this, Rabastan?” Lucius Malfoy stood in the doorway, his hand resting on the handle of his silver capped cane.

“I’m just trying to get the traitor Karkaroff’s location out of this very stubborn man.” Lestrange acted like a petulant school bully who’d been cheated out his fun.

Lucius pursed his lips and shook his head in disappointment. “Have fun on your own time, Rabastan. The Dark Lord sent us on a charge and you are wasting time.”

“He’s a tough one, Lucius. I don’t know if he’ll break.” Rowle spoke up and quietly palmed the galleons he’d put out to pay Rabastan.

“Most likely, he won’t break, at least not before the authorities get here.” Malfoy walked over to where Viktor and Pyotr stood. “But I find, that the best pressure is applied to the weakest point.” Malfoy drew his wand and aimed it at Krum’s head. Viktor tensed and waited for the recurring pain, but Lucius smiled and swung the tip of wand towards Pyotr. “You know the problem with these heroes, Rabastan?” Malfoy paused and smiled. “They always surround themselves with the weak. That will be Dumbledore’s failure by relying on Potter and that is Mr. Krum’s weakness.”

Pyotr’s face went ashen. “Viktor?”

“Tell them nothing, Pyotr.” Krum felt a welt of anxiety and tried to will his strength to his young charge.

“Viktor? Viktor?” Beads of sweat ran down Pyotr’s face. “I can’t Viktor. I can’t take the pain.”

“Do your duty, Pyotr! Tell them nothing!” Krum shouted at his friend, but knew it was futile. Krum wasn’t even sure he’d be able to endure the pain. Pyotr wasn’t as strong as Krum.

“P-professor Karkaroff never left England! He’s hiding somewhere in the north, in a shack!” Pyotr put his head down in shame, unwilling to meet Viktor’s withering gaze.

“You see, Rabastan? You simply need to apply the right leverage to the right spot. Now, we can go home.” Malfoy turned and dropped his wand to his side. He gave Rabastan a slight nod of the head. The Death Eater walked forward and aimed his wand at Pyotr.

“Avada Kedavra!” A shining bolt of green light struck Pyotr in the chest, taking his life. His blank eyes stared ahead, in one last, desperate attempt to gain Viktor’s forgiveness.

Rabastan turned his wand towards Viktor and Krum stood as straight as his bonds would allow, waiting for death.

“Wait!” Malfoy’s voice stopped Rabastan’s strike. “Krum is pure-blooded and a hero to the masses. Perhaps one day he will see the inevitability of our victory and come to his senses. Besides, my son admires him. Let him live.”

Rabastan held his wand out in the air, contemplating ignoring Malfoy’s wishes. Rowle cleared his throat. “Come on, Rabastan. The man won you a thousand galleons at the World Cup.”

Rabastan snickered and dropped his hand. “Too true, Thorfinn, too true.” The Death Eaters laughed together and left Viktor in Karkaroff’s office, alone with the lifeless body of his friend, Pyotr.

***

The sun was setting over the western mountains of the Scandinavian skyline. A bitter Arctic front was working its way through Durmstrang, but Viktor Krum didn’t notice the biting cold as he stood on the castle’s ramparts looking west, towards England. He offered a silent wish for Karkaroff. There was nothing Viktor could do for him. Viktor put his hands in his pocket and pulled out two wrinkled sheets of parchment that had arrived by owl post the day before. One was from Hermione, telling him that she had feelings for someone else and that she would still write him. He studied the letter, admiring her careful script and thoughtful words. She was afraid. Events in Britain were running apace and Hermione was helping Potter fight the Dark Lord. Viktor had never had feelings for a woman like he had for Hermione, and her fear became his, especially after what he’d just gone through. He folded her letter carefully and put it back in his pocket. Then he studied the second piece of parchment.

It was an invitation to a wedding. Fleur Delacour, one of his fellow contestants in the Triwizard Tournament was marrying Bill Weasley, Ron Weasley’s brother. Viktor was invited. He turned and looked back at the courtyard below. Durmstrang had changed. The dark arts had prevailed and it was no longer the school he remembered. He could no longer serve its students. It was time for him to go. He looked back at the invitation and smiled. Perhaps Hermione would be there. With all that had happened, he was most concerned with her safety. He had to go to the wedding. He had to see her one more time, to know she was alive and safe. He pushed the parchment into his pocket and sighed. He would go to the wedding. He would see Hermione, one last time. After that, who knew?


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Man is least himself when he talks in his own person. Give him a mask and he will tell you the truth. - Oscar Wilde

We're all human, aren't we? Every human life is worth the same, and worth saving. - Kingsley

Sustainability should be a part of what we do every day.
  #90  
Old September 26th, 2008, 5:48 pm
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Re: FAD: Last Author Standing -Entries!

FAD Round V Week 2: Krum at Durmstrang

Entry 2
If any of the young boys and girls who knew Viktor Krum from school had seen him in the state he was currently in, they would have told themselves they were seeing things. They would have thought twice, thrice and for good measure, another few times before mentioning it to anyone else. They could have gone to St. Mungo’s and cheerfully proclaimed before all Healers that they were losing their mind. They may have run to Karkaroff and reported that someone had Polyjuiced Krum. But under no circumstances would they believe that what they were seeing was fact.

Viktor Krum was an ordinary sixteen-year-old boy, who studied in the wizarding school Durmstrang. He was a from an old pureblooded family, had a talent for the Dark Arts and loved Quidditch; none of which made him any different from any of the few hundred boys who studied at Durmstrang Institute. He wasn’t popular or outgoing, he had few close friends and didn’t speak much even in their presence. He was known to his fellow students for two curious reasons.

The first was his singular talent on the Quidditch field. He played Seeker, even though he wasn’t the usual build for one. Seekers were supposed to be light, slight and speedy; Viktor was tall and well built and not particularly speedy. He wasn’t the type of player who was thrilling to watch, most spectators concentrated only on the action with the Quaffle and were usually stunned when he would suddenly land with the tiny Golden Snitch with his hand. For invariably, he would land with the tiny Golden Snitch in his hand. Ever since the day he had started playing Quidditch, he had never failed to catch the Snitch; whether in casual matches at home, Inter-House Matches at school, or at the Inter-School Tournaments that had recently become the rage. It didn’t always translate into his team winning the match though; some of the matches went on for so long that the one hundred fifty points that came with the Snitch didn’t make much of an impact before the huge number of goals being scored. Every Durmstrang student remembered the match in June 1991, which went on for six days, unheard-of in school level Quidditch! At dusk on the sixth day, when Professor Karkaroff had been about to declare time-out for the day, everyone had been shocked when Viktor Krum flew towards him looking simply murderous, and then snatched up the Snitch that had been hovering near his left ankle. However even that feat didn’t get him the mass adulation that tends to feature with success in Quidditch. And that was entirely due to the second reason why everyone knew Viktor Krum.

Viktor Krum did not smile.

It wasn’t that he walked around looking depressed, or angry, or arrogant, or anything else. In fact he walked without making eye contact with anybody. Not because he considered himself above (or below) other people, but because he saw no point in it. What was there to see in peoples’ faces? Nothing of interest. Faces remained the same all the time. Faces didn’t suddenly glimmer gold out of nowhere and then fly out of sight. Faces didn’t challenge him to prevail over them at all odds.

On one of the rare occasions that Viktor Krum had talked, he had confided in his friend Ivan Poliakoff about the lack of intrigue in peoples’ faces. Poliakoff had laughed at him and told him to open his eyes and look up at the world around him. He was convinced that one day Viktor would find his glimmer of gold in the face of a pretty girl, and that would be the end of his obsession with Snitches. Viktor had scoffed at this.

“Vot is the point of being obsessed vid a girl, they cannot fly for nuts. And no girl is pretty enouff to make me not vont to fly!”

It was also the end of the conversation. Viktor would say no more. Instead he sat hunched over a glass dome, with tiny figures on broomsticks zooming around inside. He was grumpily prodding one of the figures and muttering to himself. Poliakoff left him to his own devices and went in search of more stimulating company.

On this particular day however, Krum was not only smiling, he was talking. Chattering even. He was skipping as he walked, and for a change he was looking around him as he did so. If one tried to describe his expression, one would not be far from the truth if they said he looked ecstatic. His life was about to take an extraordinary turn.

In two weeks’ time, Viktor would turn seventeen. He would come of age. He would be allowed to use magic legally anywhere he liked. He would officially be an adult! And he would also be playing Quidditch for Bulgaria.

Josef Romanov, the recruiter for the National Team had heard from his son about Krum’s unmatched record of never having being beaten by a Snitch. Or another player. He had been extremely interested in this young man, and when he had asked his son for his opinion of Krum’s flying he had gotten a strange response.

“I do not know. I haff never watched him fly. He is not a very exciting player to watch, there seems to be nothing special about his flying.”

But Josef Romanov knew that a young boy who had never missed a Snitch and yet did not seem to fly especially well was no ordinary boy. He was a genius. He had come to watch a match on the pretext of meeting his son, and his eyes had not left Krum throughout the match. Two hours later when Krum had landed in his unspectacular way with the Snitch in his tight fist, he let out the breath he had been holding since he saw Krum going into the dive.

“I vos wrong, the boy is not a genius, he is a vunderkind.”

He made his way through the crowd and shook Viktor Krum’s hand. He turned away without a word but Viktor Krum found himself holding a business card. He frowned as he read:

Josef Romanov
Selector
Burgarian National Quidditch Team

Viktor Krum felt dazed. He had thought it would be brilliant if he could be selected to one of the Leagues of British Quidditch. Much as he hated the thought of British teammates, there was nothing else he could do, as Bulgaria had no League Teams of her own. And now here he was, with an offer from the National Team of Bulgaria. If Viktor Krum had ever looked into the Mirror of Erised, he would have seen exactly that.

But Viktor Krum did not smile.

He made up for it though, after his meeting with the Quidditch Council. It was this meeting that had him skipping along the corridor of the Ministry of Magic. He smiled at everyone he passed on his way out of the building. He even spoke to the man waiting next to him for the elevator. But as the sunlight hit his eyes as he skipped down the steps leading out of the Ministry, he came back to his senses. Scowling at the pavement, he continued on his way.

But for once his head wasn’t full of thoughts about Quidditch. Instead he imagined himself in scarlet robes, with ‘Krum’ embossed on his back. He pictured himself on a Firebolt, the broomstick about which rumours had been flying all across Europe. He would play in the Quidditch World Cup, which was to be held the following year. Shooting stars started to erupt in his stomach as this thought. Feeling light-headed with happiness, he scowled even harder at the pavement and wished he could use his broomstick for routine everyday transport. Portkeys and the Floo Network were such a waste of energy and magic. The wizards who had developed them would have been much better off developing prototypes for racing brooms that would be even faster than the Snitch! And when they had done that they could develop faster Snitches!

The thought of faster Snitches made his heart beat even faster. He thought of Poliakoff telling him that the same enticing golden gleam could be found in a girl’s eyes. He laughed to himself and thought no girl could ever make him feel that way.

With glimpses of his exceedingly promising future before him, he had never felt so excited about anything before. Hardly able to contain his excitement, Viktor Krum favoured the gates of Durmstrang with a perfect grimace. Waving his wand at the Wand Detector he strode in with his head, for once, held high.


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Man is least himself when he talks in his own person. Give him a mask and he will tell you the truth. - Oscar Wilde

We're all human, aren't we? Every human life is worth the same, and worth saving. - Kingsley

Sustainability should be a part of what we do every day.
  #91  
Old September 26th, 2008, 5:50 pm
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Re: FAD: Last Author Standing -Entries!

FAD Round V Week 2: Krum at Durmstrang

Entry 3
Krum's Durmstrang


“You cannot seriously be considering quitting Quidditch to go back to Durmstrang!” The owner of the Bulgarian Quidditch team couldn’t believe his star seeker had turned in his resignation to take the position of headmaster at Durmstrang. Krum was still young enough to have many years of good Quidditch playing in him, and Absom Makaroff wasn’t about to let him go without a fight.

“The Quidditch matters much less than the future. I can do more good as headmaster of Durmstrang than I could as a professional Quidditch player,” Viktor Krum argued. “Quidditch is just a game. The students of Durmstrang are the future of our world. I would like to make certain the direction of the school and the nation is correct.”

“What do you know about being a headmaster?”

“During the year I spent at Hogwarts, I did most of Karkaroff’s work. I steered the ship and watched over the younger students who went with us. When he ran away, I brought the students back safely and filed all the paperwork as well as reporting directly to the headmaster and the leader of our country. I have been the team captain since my first year on the squad. I know about being a leader and caring for others and doing paperwork. What more do you think I need to know that I do not?”

Absom searched his mind for any arguments, but Viktor had made up his mind and wasn’t waiting to listen. He turned on his heel and left the man’s office before he could form a reply. By the time Absom realized what was happening, Viktor had left the office and apparated to just outside the extensive Durmstrang grounds.

Slowly, he walked forward, remembering the first time he’d entered these grounds, the mixed feelings of returning home after losing the Triwizard Tournament, the last time he’d left after graduation just under ten years ago. And now, he was going back to his old school, not as a student, but as the headmaster.

He strolled up the main walk, marveling at how it had changed. Or was it he who had changed so drastically? He felt the weight of all that had happened in the intervening years. Voldemort, who the British—mostly Harry Potter—had defeated, had killed many people, among them, Karkaroff and Grindelwald. Although Krum had never respected Karkaroff as a man, he was very surprised to learn of his affiliation with Voldemort. He supposed it shouldn’t have surprised him, but he took it as a personal betrayal. Karkaroff was supposed to lead the students in the right direction. How could he when he was going in such a wrong direction himself? And Grindelwald…that name brought no mixed feelings for Krum, only hatred for the man who had killed so many, including Krum’s own grandfather, and had still managed to lead students astray even from behind bars.

As he entered the front of the school, he saw the familiar—though hated—symbol of Gellert Grindelwald. Although he had tried to have it removed before, he had only been a student, and Karkaroff and the previous headmaster had wanted it to remain. They had tried to say that he was a great man, even if he had not gone about his plans in the best way. Krum drew his wand—one of the last Gregorovitch had made before being hunted down and killed by Voldemort—and pointed it at the symbol Grindelwald had carved in the wall near the front door. Ignoring the caretaker who came to greet him, he spoke a low incantation and blew the symbol off the wall, replacing it with a hole that allowed him to see the main dining room on the other side.

The caretaker jumped and screamed, then held his chest. “What a start you gave me! What did you do that for?”

“As new headmaster, I am declaring that symbol taboo. I am going to remove it from every wall in this building…even if that means removing the walls themselves. Any student caught wearing or drawing the symbol will be expelled. Grindelwald was an evil man, killed by an even more evil man. Neither will be venerated at my school. He will only be remembered as the shameful criminal who died in Nurmengard.”

He dismissed the man from his mind and continued to his office, blasting one more hole in a wall and conjuring a Durmstrang banner, which he stuck with a permanent sticking charm to the wall outside the boys’ loo.

Inside the office at last, he saw his trunk had been brought up. He opened it and took out his broomstick, which he propped in the corner of his office, and the Quidditch trophies he had, which he used his wand to arrange on the mantel. The large fireplace looked much better with his trophies there, he decided. There was also a large desk and many, mostly filled, bookcases. He would go through these soon and remove those glorifying Grindelwald and use them for a lovely fire as he toasted his grandfather, his closest relative killed by the Dark Wizard.

The door at the back of the office led to his personal quarters, and he easily hefted his trunk to his shoulder and carried it to his room. This was the only room in the castle that was lavishly decorated. It looked gaudy compared to the austere décor of the rest of the castle. With a quick wave of his wand, the silk and fur hangings disappeared, as did the surfeit of furnishings. Such trappings of ego were not necessary for Krum.

When his clothes were put away and the trunk stowed out of the way, he returned to his office and sat at the desk to write out his first major change in the school, one he was sure was the right path, although he knew it would cause many complaints. It would be accepted, however, for his word was now law at Durmstrang and he had made certain he could do this before he had accepted the position.

After signing the decree and placing the Durmstrang seal on it, he walked over to the Book of Laws, in which the rules for the country as well as the rules governing Durmstrang were written. He placed the parchment on the first blank page and tapped it with his wand, swearing, “I am Viktor Krum, duly appointed headmaster of Durmstrang; I affirm and hereby swear that this parchment holds my words as to the governing Durmstrang. These words are mine and the rule is within my power as headmaster of Durmstrang. It shall be law effective immediately.”

The parchment glowed and shivered for a moment before becoming a page in the Book…and every other copy of the Book of Laws throughout the land. He left the room in search of the caretaker, finding him cleaning up the debris from the holes Krum had blasted in the walls.

“Steinmeyer, do you think we will have enough room if our student body doubles this year? I can get the beds, but will there be room enough in the dormitories for them?”

“D-doub—did you say double the students?” he stammered.

“I did.”

“And what makes you think we will double the student body this year?” Steinmeyer asked.

Krum gave him a rare smile. “Because, I have just made it law that muggle-borns are welcome to attend Durmstrang.”

The caretaker’s eyes widened and his eyes bulged. “Mu-mu-muggle-borns? At Durmstrang!?!”

“Yes. I think we should have a separate dormitory for them. Until the students get used to the idea, it might be best to protect them. In time, we will mix the dormitories, but for the first few years, they will have their own secure place. I want it to be password protected so only the muggle-borns can enter. Let me know if you need my assistance. I will expect to see your plans in my office tomorrow morning. At the moment, I have some new letters of invitation to write to the muggle-borns.”

Krum returned to his office and decided to write one personal letter before he got back to school business.

“Dear Hermione,

“I have some news I know will please you….”


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  #92  
Old September 26th, 2008, 5:52 pm
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Re: FAD: Last Author Standing -Entries!

FAD Round V Week 2: Krum at Durmstrang

Entry 4
Viktor Krum stepped off the boat and onto dry land. Traveling by an underwater boat assured no one knew where Durmstrang was located. Yes, it’s a boat, not a submarine. The only thing they knew the school was located in the upper part of the hemisphere that saw only darkness for half the year.

He walked into the front hall quickly hoping he could make into the Great Hall and at his house table without anyone stopping him. He didn’t want to talk one more time about the World Cup. He didn’t want to admit that he didn’t have enough faith in his team to gain enough points to win the final match before the world ended. He didn’t want people telling him he’s still the best Seeker they ever saw. He just wanted to sit down, eat dinner, and make it back to his house, the Bulgarian House, particularly to his dormitory since the house would be full of students wishing Krum had waited until Bulgaria scored more points.

Viktor found a spot at his table and watched as the other students filed in claiming seats at all four tables, Bulgaria, Norway, Germany, and Russia. The four countries that sent students divided the school and one was placed in the house of the country he or she was from. Viktor wasn’t sure he liked it that way, although it did solve problems of not being able to speak the language of another country.

“Good evening, students, professors, and faculty,” Headmaster Karkaroff spoke in German, the official language of the school. “Before we begin with dinner, I have some announcements to make.”

Viktor tuned him out as he thought about the food that would be coming later. Spending his summer in England for the World Cup, he had missed the delicious food his home country and school country, whatever that was, provided.

“This year there will be no Quidditch.”

Viktor’s ears perked up. No Quidditch? Was this man mad? Was he upset that Bulgaria didn’t win the World Cup and Ireland did? He wasn’t entirely sure where Igor Karkaroff hailed from, but there was a rumor he had been a member of the Bulgarian House.

“We will be participating in, for the first time in many years, the Triwizard Tournament.”

That’s new. He’d never heard of the Triwizard Tournament.

“Unfortunately, this tournament will not be held here, as I tried so hard to get it to be. Instead it will be held at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. The students I have chosen to represent our school will travel with me and spend the better part of this year in Great Britain at Hogwarts.

“I have picked only the biggest and the best students we have to offer. It was not a decision I made lightly. The students will come with me to Hogwarts and enter their name in the tournament. On the 31st of October one student from each school participating: Durmstrang, Hogwarts, and a French school, Beauxbatons, will be chosen to participate in the tournament. It is a dangerous tournament that should also not be taken lightly and I am absolutely certain the students I have chosen will fair very well. The tournament consists of three tasks and I am sure my student will win all three tasks.

“The students I have chosen are…” Viktor listened as Karkaroff rattled off names. He waited for the one he knew was coming. “And last, but absolutely most certainly not least, Viktor Krum.”

Viktor rolled his eyes as his house erupted in cheers. He was Karkaroff’s favorite, due to his unequaled Quidditch skills. He knew he was going to be chosen to travel to Hogwarts, but he didn’t know if he wanted to go. It was his seventh year. He just wanted to spend it at his school with his friends and his professors.

“Perhaps you can make up for your team’s lackluster performance in the Cup by winning the Tournament,” Atanas Dimitrov spoke.

Viktor chose to ignore him. It was widely known, not just in the house but the entire school, that Atanas was jealous of Viktor ever since year two when both boys tried out for Seeker on the house Quidditch team. He was partially glad Atanas wasn’t chosen by Karkaroff and he could spend a year away from him.

Finally, the food appeared on the table and Viktor could dig in. He was glad to see the usual favorites instead of the food England provided. He picked up a bratwurst ready to sink his teeth in. Maybe the tournament wouldn’t be so bad. Maybe he would represent Durmstrang. Maybe he would win and maybe everyone would forget Bulgaria not winning the World Cup.


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  #93  
Old September 27th, 2008, 1:04 am
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Re: FAD: Last Author Standing -Entries!

FAD Round V Week 2: Krum at Durmstrang

Entry 5
Viktor pulled his fur cloak closer around him as he trudged through the deep snow to the castle ahead. Every year it seemed to get colder in the winter months. He scowled at the sight of the mark on the wall as he opened the heavy doors to the Entrance Hall. It wasn't much warmer in her. The fires should be lit for more than magical purposes. He made his way down the corridor, pausing only to break up a fight between two younger students. That mark has to be removed before someone gets hurt. But he couldn't worry about that now. He had more important matters to consider.

In a few hours, he would be boarding the boat with the student delegation going to Hogwarts for the Triwizard tournament. He felt the excitement fluttering in his stomach, exactly as it had the very first time he had learned that the tournament was to be reinstated ... His thoughts drifted to Professor Karkaroff. He had always been Karkaroff's favorite due to his fame. As much as he hated the extra attention and blatant favoritism, he had never been able to convince Karkaroff to treat him like any other student. He had, of course, been the first chosen to for the delegation for Durmstrang ....

A loud bang diverted his attention. He turned to discover the two younger students fighting again, their wands drawn. Both were red-faced and shaking, their faces twisted in anger. The smaller of the two raised his wand as Viktor backtracked to intervene again.

"CRU --"

"EXPELLIARMUS!" Viktor shouted quickly, catching the boy's wand with the unerring skill of a practiced seeker. "Vot do you think you are doing?"

The boy looked at him defiantly, offering no defense or explanation. Viktor sighed heavily. Preparing for the tournament would have to wait. This was the second such confrontation he had come across among the students this week and another student was still recovering in the hospital wing from injuries received in a duel the week before.

"Come," he said curtly, turning and heading back down the corridor with the boys following behind him.

The tournament weighed heavily on his mind. International Magical Cooperation. How was Durmstrang supposed to promote that ideal if the students within its walls couldn't even cooperate with each other? The tournament was supposed to bring people closer together and provide an opportunity to make new friends. He fervently hoped that no student from Durmstrang caused problems while they were at Hogwarts.

He led the boys up two more flights of stairs and down another long corridor and then stopped abruptly at a plain wooden door. He held the door open and gestured for the boys to enter. Following them in, he lit a fire in the grate and removed his cloak. The boys' eyes widened at the sight of the fire, but they edged closer to its warmth, their eyes darting around the simply decorated office with interest.

"Sit," he said, indicating the worn sofa in front of the fire. He sat in the adjacent chair and looked at them sternly. "Explain."

The boys both began shouting at once, each getting louder as they tried to drown each other out. He held up a hand to silence them and sighed again. This was proving to be a very long day. The boat to Hogwarts couldn't leave soon enough.

**********

Comfortably full from the excellent feast prepared by the Hogwarts house-elves, Viktor sat back in his seat and waited along with everyone else in the Great Hall. The delegation from Beauxbatons sat very still, each of them watching the Goblet of Fire anxiously. Madame Maxime appeared calm, but her hand shook slightly as she took a drink from her glass. He saw the large man next to her -- Hagrid if he remembered correctly - pat her arm, a bit too rough for comfort he thought, but perhaps it was difficult for him to gage his own strength. The Durmstrang students were doing their best to hide their anxiety, but he knew all of them too well to be fooled. All eyes in the Great Hall were turned towards the Goblet of Fire, waiting for it to reveal the names of the three champions. The tension in the room was almost palpable. He felt the same nervous excitement fluttering in his stomach again and fought the urge to laugh.

The sparkling bright, blue-whiteness of the flames inside the Goblet lit up the semi-dark Hall. Everyone watched, waiting .... A few people kept checking their watches ... The flames inside the goblet turned suddenly red again. Sparks began to fly from it. The next moment, a tongue of flame shot into the air, a charred piece of parchment fluttered out of it, causing numerous students to gasp out loud.

Professor Sprout caught the piece of parchment and held it at arm's length, so that she could read it by the light of the flames, which had turned back to blue-white.

"The champion for Durmstrang," she read, in a loud, clear voice, "will be Pavil Dimitrov."

Applause and cheering swept the Hall as Dimitrov rose from his seat and made his way to the chamber off the Great Hall. As the applause died down, tiny Professor Flitwick turned to Viktor and clapped him on the arm.

"Well done, Professor Krum!" he said enthusiastically.

"I did not do anything," he replied, but he could not stop himself from smiling as he applauded his student.

As the clapping and chatting died down, the flames inside the Goblet turned red again. Professor Sprout caught the second piece of parchment that shot out of it.

"The champion for Beauxbatons," she said, "is Antoine Marceau."

The hall erupted into applause and cheers again as the young man followed Dimitrov's path towards to chamber off the Great Hall. Madame Maxime applauded loudly and kissed Hagrid full on the mouth, causing several catcall and whistles to join the applause.

All eyes turned back to the Goblet. One more champion to go. The flames turned red a third time and a piece of parchment shot towards Professor Sprout, who caught it deftly. She smiled and looked out towards the students.

"The Hogwarts champion," she said, smiling broadly, "is Lily Potter!"

Viktor smiled and waved as the lovely young red-head made her way past his seat. She beamed at him and joined the other champions in the small room off the Great Hall. Harry would be so proud when he found out. At least this time, he could be sure that there was no foul play and Lily was old enough to compete fairly. He made a note to write to Harry that evening to congratulate him.


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We're all human, aren't we? Every human life is worth the same, and worth saving. - Kingsley

Sustainability should be a part of what we do every day.
  #94  
Old October 10th, 2008, 11:36 pm
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Re: FAD: Last Author Standing -Entries!

FAD Round V Week 3: Quotefic Challenge

Entry 1
“Harry,” Ron spoke one evening while sitting in a squashy chair in the Gryffindor Common Room. “I’m bored. Let’s do something.”

“You have something in mind?” Harry asked.

“Yes, let’s use your cloak and explore the castle.”

Hermione looked up from the book she was reading.

“You’ll get in trouble.”

“Not if we use the invisibility cloak, Hermione. No one will know we’re out,” Ron snapped back.

“You’ll get in trouble,” she repeated.

“I’ve got the map Fred and George gave me. We won’t get in trouble,” Harry responded.

Harry and Ron climbed the stairs to the boys’ third year dormitory with Hermione following behind. Once inside the room Harry extracted the cloak and the map from his trunk. He threw the cloak over himself and Ron.

“You in, Hermione?” Ron asked.

“I—I—“ she stood with her arms crossed. “Fine. Where are you?”

Harry pulled the cloak up and allowed Hermione to join them.

“I solemnly swear I’m up to no good.” The map opened to reveal students and professors around Hogwarts. “Let’s go.”

Harry led the way out of the dormitory and down the stairs.

“Where to?” Harry whispered once they made it out of the common room.

“The kitchen!” Ron exclaimed.

“SHH!” Both Harry and Hermione reprimanded him.

“We’re under the cloak, no one can see us. We don’t want them to hear us!” Hermione whispered.

“Sorry.” Ron’s ears turned red. “Let’s head to the kitchen.”

Harry flipped the map so they could make out the route to the kitchens and they began walking.

“Quiet, here comes Fred and George,” Harry said as they made their way to the main staircase.

Fred and George seemed to be arguing about something. Fred looked happy, but George looked upset.

“Good people do not turn other people into water coolers,” George said.

“It was an accident,” Fred responded, “but it was well worth it. Besides, who says we’re good people.”

“We aren’t bad people. We aren’t Slytherins.”

“That we aren’t.” Fred waved his wand in the air. “Ah, he did provide a good drink of water, though.”

“I can’t believe you drank it! I also can’t believe it didn’t taste like mud. You know all Slytherins are mud.”

Fred laughed.

“Who did he turn into a water cooler?” Ron asked. “I hope it was Draco.”

“You know Draco would taste like mud,” Harry replied.

“Come on, let’s get to the kitchens, I’m starving.”

Hermione poked Ron’s stomach.

“You’re always starving.”



“But she’s being so difficult,” a portrait whined as the three passed by on their way to the sixth floor.

“Difficult about what?” Ron asked.

“Who said that?” The portrait asked alarmed. “They, they caught Black didn’t they?”

“Ron!” Hermione said.

“What? No one’s around to hear us.”

She kicked his ankle.

“Hey!”

“Sirius Black is innocent!” Harry shouted.

“Shh!” Ron and Hermione said.

“Sirius Black was a murderer!” Another portrait exclaimed.

“He was framed!”

“Harry, you’re going to get us exposed!” Hermione whispered. “Let’s keep going and let’s keep the talking to a minimum, please.”

“Great plan, it’s right up there with duck and cover.”

“Ron, please!”

Ron rolled his eyes at Hermione.

He almost replied back when Harry brought him to a complete stop.

“Nasty, ungrateful students,” Filch complained while walking out of the sixth floor boy’s bathroom, snuggling Mrs. Norris to his chest. “At least I have you.”

Mrs. Norris purred loudly and then meowed.

“You are mocking me, aren’t you?”

Mrs. Norris purred again.

“I love you.”

“Ew,” Ron exclaimed.

Fortunately for the trio, Filch headed in the opposite direction of the staircase. The concealed three continued on their way down the stairs to the kitchens.



Upon landing on the third floor, the trio observed Professor Dumbledore coming out of the hospital wing with Madam Pomfrey.

“I’ll be all right, thank you, Poppy,” Dumbledore spoke.

The three stood to listen to the conversation as most of the time the headmaster’s were very interesting. Maybe they would find out why he was visiting the hospital wing.

“A man who has never made a woman angry is a failure in life,” Pomfrey responded.

“Who did Dumbledore anger?” Ron whispered.

“Shh,” Hermione scolded him. “I want to hear.”

“Too true. I suspect she’ll be fine in the morning. Good night, Poppy.” Dumbledore kissed her cheek and made for the stairs.

The trio quickly got out of the way so he would not bump into them and waited for him to make it beyond the second landing before continuing on their way.



“Uh-oh!” Harry whispered once they made it to the second floor.

Ron and Hermione stopped behind him.

“What?” Hermione asked.

Before Harry could answer Professor Snape appeared around the corner.

“Stand still,” he ordered, hoping Snape would pass them without incident.

Ron nudged Hermione.

“Your shoe.”

The tip of Hermione’s shoe was visible. Before she could pull it back under the cloak, Snape noticed it.

“Have we got a student out after curfew?” He spoke in his greasy voice. “Harry Potter, using his invisibility cloak for mischief, I presume.”

“RUN!” Harry whispered loudly.

Holding firmly to the cloak, the trio ran as fast as their legs would carry them. They ran up stairs and through hallways until they were in front of the Fat Lady’s portrait.

Doxy!” Harry recited the password, pulling the cloak off so the Fat Lady could see him.

“Student out past curfew. Perhaps I should just let you stay here all night.”

“I’ve the password, doxy. Please, let us in!” Harry begged.

“All right, all right. Don’t make a habit of this.” The Fat Lady swung forward, allowing them through the hole.

The trio collapsed on the sofa in the empty common room, pulling the rest of the cloak off their tired bodies.

“I told you you’d get in trouble.”


The opinions of Slytherins are the opinions of Fred and George and may not express the opinions of the author.


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We're all human, aren't we? Every human life is worth the same, and worth saving. - Kingsley

Sustainability should be a part of what we do every day.
  #95  
Old October 10th, 2008, 11:38 pm
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Re: FAD: Last Author Standing -Entries!

FAD Round V Week 3: Quotefic

Entry 2
Operation Reconciliation

Harry stood in front of the chalkboard, carefully writing out the details of the plan he was contemplating as the five other people in the room sat in various stages of belief.

“This is a delicate situation. The plan will take timing, precision and a certain bit of luck.”

His wife, Ginny, shook her head emphatically, her auburn tresses flaying about her shoulders. “You can’t be serious, Harry.”

Ron Weasley, a heavy contributor to the plan looked at his sister. “Hey. Look at us. We came up with a plan, a good plan. You’re just being that way because you didn’t think of it first.”

Great plan, it’s right up there with duck and cover.” Ron’s wife, Hermione, snorted her dissatisfaction. The other couple in the room, Bill and Fleur Weasley, kept silent, allowing the four co-conspirators to work their way through the details.

“Hermione, you’ve got to be open-minded.” Harry turned from the board and placed the chalk on the ledge. “This is serious. We’ve got to intervene or things will never get back to the way they’re supposed to be.”

Hermione sighed, flitting her head to the side, momentarily distracting Ron with the movement he loved so much. “I agree, Harry, with your goal, but your methods leave something to be desired.”

Harry turned one of the chairs in the room backwards and sat down, resting his elbows on the back. “What would you suggest?”

“This will take subtlety and planning, Harry. I was reading in Martha Stewart’s Living that environment means everything. We need candles, music and above all, a nice quiet place for things to go right.” Hermione averred quietly.

This time it was Ron’s turn to snort. “I don’t get it. If our ancient compilation of spells, witchcraft and rituals can’t help us, what makes you think Martha Stewart can?

Hermione looked over at her husband with a look that indicated that he might need to rethink his sleeping arrangements for the evening. She took a deep breath. “You’re mocking me, aren’t you?”

A little chastened at the prospect of his wife’s wrath, Ron shook his head immediately. “It’s not that, Hermione, it’s just that this problem is way beyond fluffery and flowers. We need a direct approach and we need to act now.”

Ginny wiped a stray strand of red hair from her forehead. “Men! The problem with you two is that you’ve had it too easy. There is no way this will work. In fact, it may make things worse.”

At that moment, Fleur rose and looked at the others, tears in her eyes. She made to speak and then ran out the door, unable to form the words. Bill rose to go after her and then stopped and looked at them.

“Look, I know you guys are trying to help, but can you honestly say this will work?” He had a worried look on his face and Harry hesitated and then nodded his head firmly.

“Bill, you can count on us. Somehow, we’ll find a way to get Teddy and Victoire back together.” Bill nodded thankfully to Harry and then followed his wife out the door.

***

Harry and Ginny with Ron and Hermione left the Ministry briefing room and reconvened at the Weasley’s flat in Ottery St. Catchpole. They’d kept their tone quiet as the Weasley children, Rose and Hugo, were fast asleep down the hall. Their differences were still there, but the need to not rouse the children was paramount, so they kept the tone civil.

“You should have seen Teddy when he stopped me at Hogwarts. He was desperate.” Harry had been at the wizarding school, giving a guest lecture on alternative uses for a Patronus Charm when Teddy had caught up with him in the hall.

Ginny nodded. “So what happened, exactly? They seemed perfectly fine over the summer.” Sixteen year old Teddy, Harry’s godson had started dating fifteen year old Victoire, Bill and Fleur’s daughter during a family trip to Disneyworld over the summer. The seeds had been planted since they were young. They were older than the rest of the children in the Weasley clan and during a fifth journey through “It’s a Small World” at the behest of a smitten Arthur Weasley, they’d finally had that miraculous “first kiss”. The pair had been inseparable for the remainder of the summer and were looking forward to some time together at school.

“I don’t know, because Teddy was so scattered about it. From what I can gather, they were fine for most of the fall and then some Slytherin named Biff O’Reilly in Victoire’s year started trying to make some moves on her. Victoire, being part Veela, enjoyed the attention and Teddy got jealous. Instead of talking to her about it, he decided to make her jealous by asking some other girl to Slughorn’s Halloween party, and that set Victoire off.” Harry explained, the painful memory of Teddy’s expression indelibly etched in his memory.

Hermione smiled sardonically. “Boys can be so stupid some times.”

“Present company excepted?” Ron asked, hopefully, but she remained silent. Instead, Ron grumbled. “He should have just turned the git into a water cooler.”

Good people do not turn other people into water coolers. Thanks for proving my boy theory right, Ron.” Hermione laughed quietly.

As the couple finished their mini-tiff, Ginny looked over at her husband. “I get all that, Harry, but that doesn’t answer why you want to go with the plan you and Ron came up with.”

“What’s wrong with it?” Harry asked. “We set up this Biff character to be the cad that he is, so that, Victoire will see that she’s better with Teddy. They make up, he takes her back and they go to the Yule Ball together, case closed.”

Ginny almost choked on her husband’s words. “He’ll take HER back?”

Missing how close Mount Ginerva was getting to erupting, Harry continued. “Of course, after all, it was her fault to begin with. She should have never flirted with that Slytherin in the first place.”

Hermione watched as Harry’s lifespan began to shorten by minutes. She leaned over and whispered in Ginny’s ear. “Never interrupt your enemy when he’s making a mistake.” Ginny looked at Hermione and finally nodded, slowly, if with great difficulty, getting her temper under control.

Harry, for his part, took her silence as an indication that she agreed with him. He continued driving the spade into the deep hole he was ignorant of being in. “Of course, Victoire’s family, so I think it’s our duty to help her see that Teddy is the one for her.”
“Well, that’s that, I suppose.” Hermione stretched her arms and yawned. She winked secretly at Ginny and then looked over at the men. “If that’s the way you want to go, I won’t stop you. I won’t help you, but I won’t stop you.”

Ron smiled effusively, “Thanks Hermione. This will work. You’ll see.” The Potters rose and took their leave. Ginny and Hermione shared a knowing look and the couples parted for the night.

***

“I don’t know, Uncle Harry, it seems pretty complicated. I don’t know if Vee will go for it.” Teddy sat in the Headmaster’s office, Harry and Ron were standing nearby.

“It’ll work, Teddy, trust us.” Harry said, reassuringly. Teddy’s hair turned from a bright pink to a dark, royal blue.

But she’s being so difficult! I don’t see how she’ll want me back. After all, I did take Michelle Glassbrunner to the Halloween dance.” Teddy said anxiously.

Harry nodded sagely. “A man who has never made a woman angry is a failure in life.”

“Vee caught me snogging with Michelle near the coat closet.” Teddy admitted morosely.

“Merlin’s beard, you must be the most successful man on the planet!” Ron blurted out and then looked over at Harry. “Are you sure this will work?”

“You’re not helping, Ron.” Harry turned to look at Teddy. “It will be difficult, but it will work. All we need is an opportunity. Now, the Intraschool Quidditch Match is Saturday, right?” Teddy nodded. Gryffindor, as the reigning House Cup champion was slated to take on the school champion of the Copperfield School of Magic in an exhibition match. Teddy was the Seeker and Captain for the Gryffindor team.

“That’s perfect. They always have a mixer on Friday night. That’s when we’ll move.” Harry said triumphantly.

“You’re coming?” Teddy asked warily.

“Of course, it’s a big event, so a lot of alumni will attend. It’s perfect.” Teddy wasn’t entirely convinced, but his godfather had defeated the most powerful dark wizard in history, so he must know what he was talking about. Of course, it never dawned on Teddy to ask what exactly Harry James Potter knew about matters of the heart. Perhaps it should have.

***

“Why are we going to this again?” Ginny whispered to Hermione, who was busily adjusting the shoulders of her dress.

Hermione finished her preparations. “We’re going because you know and I know that Harry and Ron will make a complete mess of this.”

“Oh, that’s right. We’re going to watch our husbands fail and then make their lives utter misery because of it.” Ginny grinned.

“No, we get to do that already. We’re going to make sure that we can limit the damage they cause.” Hermione responded.

Ginny’s smile grew wider. “Oh, that’s what I meant to say.”

Hermione posed in front of her friend. “How do I look?”

“Wow.” The women turned and saw Ron and Harry walk in the Entry Hall. Ron’s face was crimson as he took in the stunning beauty of his wife. “You look stunning, Hermione. You’re the most beautiful woman on the planet.”

Even as Hermione flushed, Harry cleared his throat. “Sorry, Ron, but that title is taken, by this woman right here.” Harry kissed his wife softly on the side of the cheek.

“She’s my sister, mate.” Ron said, not taking his eyes off Hermione.

“That’s why you don’t see what I see.” Harry snapped back.

“Ahem, gentlemen?” Ginny brought their focus back. “Are you sure there’s no way we can talk you out of this hair-brained scheme of yours.”

“It’ll work, Ginny, trust us.” Harry held out his arm and offered it to his wife. Ron followed suit and the two couples proceeded into the Great Hall and the festivities going on within.

It took a couple of minutes for their eyes to adjust to the bright glare of the party. Harry scanned the crowd and found the objects of his plan on opposite sides of the hall from each other. Teddy stood with a couple of his friends, holding up a wall with his back, while Victoire stood in a fine golden dress as a tall boy in Slytherin green chatted up her ear. Harry could see that Teddy was not too happy with the attention Victoire was receiving from the persistent Mr. O’Reilly. It was all Harry could do to get Teddy’s attention. Finally, Teddy saw them enter and nodded his head at Harry and Ron. It was time to put the plan in motion.

“Look, Ginny, there’s Neville. Why don’t you and Hermione go and say hello?” Ginny shook her head and nodded to Hermione. There was no way to stop the train from derailing. The two women left to join Neville and watch the carnage ensue.

Harry and Ron stood off to the side and watched Biff continue to whisper in Victoire’s ear. The boorish boy had a clear punch glass in his hand and Harry waved a finger, causing the glass to spill its bright red contents the hem of Victoire’s skirt. Harry looked at his finger. He hadn’t meant for the punch to spill, he was trying to make it seem as if the boy was trying to make an inappropriate advance by touching Victoire’s backside. The boy turned a bright crimson, blurting out an apology. To her credit, Victoire took the misstep in stride, but Teddy had taken the event as an affront to her honor. He strode up purposefully to her side, his hair flashing a bright crimson.

“What do you think you’re doing, Biff? Can’t you see you’re bothering her?” Teddy said loudly.

Immediately, Harry could see that Teddy had acted too soon. No one would think Biff a cad for an accident, but they would think Teddy was for his behavior. Desperately, Harry tried to will Teddy to back off, but it was too late.

“What are talking about, Lupin? It was an accident.” O’Reilly snarled back, the commotion causing every eye in the place to fall on them.

“That was no accident, Biff. You did it on purpose.” Teddy was playing a losing hand, only he didn’t know it. He was so intent on defending Victoire’s honor, when it had not been called into question.

“You’re being an idiot, Lupin. It’s no wonder she dumped you. You’re not good enough for her.” Biff smiled triumphantly, as he was getting nods of agreement from the crowd. Teddy’s face turned an identical shade of red to match his hair. He clenched his fists and stood ready to react, until a small, strong voice caught hold of him.

“Enough, Teddy.” Victoire moved between the boys and placed her hands on her hips. She raised a finger and pointed it into Teddy’s face. “You already made your choice. Where’s Miss Snogfest, anyway? You’re not allowed to be offended by anything that happens to me. Now go away, I want no more to do with you.”

“But, Vee…”

“No, Teddy. No more.” She turned her back on him and Teddy’s face fell, his hair turning a dark jet black. Ginny’s heart went out to him, but Hermione kept a restraining hand on her friend’s shoulder. Teddy straightened his shoulders and mustered what ever dignity he had left. He turned and walked erect towards the doors. He saw an ashen and sad faced Harry standing nearby.

“Thanks, Uncle Harry.” Teddy grumbled and then he held his godfather in a withering gaze. “Thanks for nothing.” With that, Teddy walked out the door.

***

The two couples sat in a corner booth at the Hogs Head pub in Hogsmeade. Aberforth brought them another round of drinks and Harry hung his head low. “I don’t get it. It should have worked. I don’t know how I missed with that spell. I never miss.”

“Wandless magic is less precise, Harry.” Hermione said. “Still, all we can do is be there for Teddy. I’m sure he’s crushed right now.”

“How can you be so calm, Hermione? What do we do now?” Ron asked as he sipped his drink.

“WE don’t do anything, Ron. You and Harry have done quite enough. You think you know the heart, but you don’t. If Teddy and Victoire are meant to be together, parlor tricks and manipulation aren’t the way to get them to see it.” Hermione stated bluntly.

Ginny nodded. “Like Hermione said, all we can do is be there for Teddy. That’s why we’re staying for tomorrow’s match. Teddy could use all the support we can give him, even if he won’t speak to you two ever again.”

Harry nodded glumly and drank down the remainder of his beer.

***

The Quidditch Match was a close run thing. The Copperfield School’s team was large and brutish and midway through the match, Gryffindor was down one beater. Teddy had inherited his mother’s talent on the broom and he was steadfastly swerving and diving, avoiding well aimed bludger shots as he sought out the Snitch. There was something mechanical about his moves, as if he were flying more on instinct than with any real passion. Harry shook his head.

“His heart’s not in it. It’s all my fault.” Harry mumbled morosely.

Ginny put her arm around Harry. “You know, sometimes you can be an idiot, Harry. Let me ask you, what’s more important, Teddy flying well and winning this match or being happy?”

“That’s a no-brainer, I’d rather lose every Quidditch Match I ever play than to not have you.” Harry said immediately.

“Good answer, there’s hope for you yet. Of course, considering how much I hate to lose at Quidditch, I’m glad we never had to put it to the test.” Ginny giggled.

Harry looked at his wife curiously. “Why do you ask?”

Hermione and Ginny shared a conspiratorial look. Then Hermione surreptitiously drew her wand. “Harry, the real test of whether two people should be together isn’t how they react when they’re jealous or mad, but how the react in adversity. It’s how Ron won me over and it’s how you won Ginny.”

“What are going to do?” Ron asked anxiously.

“Watch and learn. After all, it’s only an exhibition.” Hermione smiled and looked up at the flyers.

***

Teddy wasn’t feeling it. He didn’t feel right knowing that Victoire didn’t want anything do with him. Still, he was a good Seeker and his team was relying on him. A flash of silver and gold caught his eye. It was the Snitch! He pulled on his broom handle and went into a powerful dive. The opponent’s Seeker was hot on his tail. Teddy leaned forward, adjusting his course as he reached his hand for the Snitch. He was just above the ground and almost there. Then he felt an almost imperceptible nudge on his side. He didn’t know what it was, the other Seeker was still behind him. At the speed he was traveling, a slight bump was all it took for him to lose his grip no his broom. He catapulted over the front of his broom and careened through the air, landing in a heap on the pitch floor below. He lay motionless on the ground, as the aches of his landing overcame him. He heard a roar from the visitor’s stands. The other Seeker had probably gotten the Snitch. Teddy lay there in despair. Now the worst weekend of his life was complete.

He lie motionless for a few minutes and then he heard her voice, the soft, velvet voice that only last night had been filled with nothing but contempt for him. This time, it was panicked and worried and it was getting closer.

“Teddy!”

For some reason, her voice warmed him and the pains went away. He felt her hands roll him over and slowly, he opened his eyes. It was her. Her angelic beauty was like a radiant halo, filling him with warmth. Despite his pain, he smiled.

“Vee, you still mad at me?”

“Don’t be silly, Teddy. Are you all right? I saw you flying through the air and I thought you were going to be killed.” She said worriedly.

Teddy laughed and then winced. He must have a cracked rib in there somewhere. “That wasn’t flying! That was…falling with style!” Relief washed over her face as he made a joke.

His face became serious. “I’m sorry, Vee. I really am. I wish I knew the right time to say it, but I can’t stand to be without you.”

Victoire allowed a small smile to cross her lips. “If you were waiting for the opportune moment, that was it. Next time, don’t wait until you almost kill yourself before you make things up to me.”

“I’ll do my best.” He looked at her, wincing as he tried to sit up. “I love you Vee.”

Her smile grew wider and she wrapped her arms around him and kissed him, ignoring the jeers and howls from the students in the stands. Their lips parted and she looked down at him, her bright blue eyes glistening.

“I’ll have to keep that in mind. All I need to do to make you see reason is to drop you from a dozen meters at high speed.” He laughed and then felt another wave of pain. She held him gently and leaned into his ear. “I love you, too. Now, let’s go see Madame Pomfrey and then maybe I’ll let you take me into Hogsmeade, if you’re a good boy.”

He nodded and allowed her to help him off the pitch.

***

Ron smacked his hand on his head, his eyes still wide at seeing Teddy and Victoire kiss. “What just happened?”

“Well, it probably would have hurt a lot less if you’d let us use the Martha Stewart plan, but it worked.” Hermione said.

“You planned this?” Ron asked, a growing appreciation for his wife’s deviousness showing on his face.

“Of course we did, Ron.” Ginny laughed and looked at Harry, who’s gaze was equally admiring. Ginny reached up and kissed Harry quickly on the lips. “Everyone knows that the way to get a man to see reason is to knock upside the head every so often.”

Harry laughed and looked Ron who was looking at Hermione curiously. “What is it Ron?”

Ron rubbed the back of his head. “It explains a whole lot of headaches I’ve had over the years.”

Hermione laughed out loud. “Some men need more lessons than others.”

Amidst their laughter, the four locked arms and made their way from the stadium.


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  #96  
Old November 3rd, 2008, 3:02 am
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Re: FAD: Last Author Standing -Entries!

FAD Halloween Challenge

Entry 1

Trick or Treat???



“I can’t believe I let you talk me into this,” Ron grumbled.

“I used to love it before I started Hogwarts. And don’t they look adorable? Straighten Rose’s crown so I can get a good picture for my parents.”

Ron tried to hold the crown on the squirming toddler, then whined, “But she’s being so difficult!

He got it perfectly positioned and stepped back. Rose looked like a perfect fairy princess…for all of maybe half a second before she swiped at the crown with her “wand” with the lightup star on the end.

Ron gave his wife a disgusted look. “If you were waiting for the opportune moment, that was it,” he groused.

Hermione took a deep breath. “Well, forget the picture. We’ll take her out trick-or-treating now. Maybe when she’s tired, it’ll be easier.”

Ron rolled his eyes. “Sure. A worn-out, cranky, toddler hopped up on sugar is much easier to pose.”

Hermione’s eyes narrowed. “You’re mocking me, aren’t you?”

Ron re-evaluated his position and quickly backtracked. “No, I’m sure you’re right. Mothers know best.”

She continued to glare at him for a moment, then went to answer the doorbell. She returned with Harry, Ginny, and their children, also dressed in adorable costumes.

“I still think my idea would have been more realistic,” Ron whined as he looked at Harry’s pirate costume.

“Ron, good people do not turn other people into water coolers to win a contest. That is not what Halloween trick or treating is about,” Harry repeated.

“We want to get clever with costumes. We have to win the costume contest fairly,” Hermione joined in.

Remembering the magazine Hermione had been looking at to get their costumes correct, he moaned, “I don’t get it. If our ancient compilation of spells, witchcraft and rituals can’t help us, what makes you think Martha Stewart can?

Harry spread his arms wide. “Hey. Look at us. We came up with a plan, a good plan.” Harry was dressed as a pirate, Ginny wore a female pirate costume Harry had brought home from the costumer shop, Albus and James were dressed as little sailors.

Ginny looked at her skimpy outfit and the bird on Harry’s shoulder and mumbled, “Great plan, it’s right up there with duck and cover.

Harry, only hearing part of her words, corrected, “It’s not a duck, it’s a parrot. And you don’t need to cover up anymore. You look beautiful in that outfit.”

Ginny and Hermione rolled their eyes. Both knew Harry had picked the outfit because it was skimpy, not because it was any great plan.

They rounded up the children and started out. They hit the relatives who lived close first. As the children got more attention and candy, they began to like this new activity. Then they went to the children’s party put on by the local civic organization. It included candy, cookies, cupcakes, a parade and costume judging.

When the judges smiled and nodded vacantly at Rose’s fairy princess costume (one almost identical to at least three others at the party), then started to move on, Ron could see that even Rose could tell she wasn’t going to win and she started to tear up. The overprotective father couldn’t stand that, so in desperation, he lifted Rose up and said, “Look at this before you judge her costume!”

He tossed her high in the air, surreptitiously using his wand to make her wings flutter as she flew around the room.

Hermione’s eyes widened and she quickly caught her daughter and placed her back on the floor.

“She-she-she was flying!!” one judge stammered.

Hermione tried to come up with an explanation quickly. “That wasn’t flying! That was…falling with style! Her father is very strong and the wings were just fluttering in the wind as she fell. Of course she can’t fly. Don’t be silly. The costume isn’t that good. It’s just the way I made the wings that make it appear that she is flying when she’s tossed in the air like that.”

There was a tense moment of silence before the judge forced a brief laugh. “Of course. Of course she couldn’t have been flying. It just appeared that way for a moment.”

Another mother of a fairy princess stepped forward with her daughter and hefted her up. “My costume wings flutter even better than that!” she proclaimed before tossing her daughter into the air toward her father. The man was fast enough to catch the girl, but it was clear that she had been tossed with no “illusion” of flying as Rose had shown.

Within moments, all the fairy princesses (as well as bats, bumblebees, and anything else with wings) were being tossed from one adult to another in an attempt to show how good those costumes were. Hermione wanted to stop it, but Harry laid a hand on her arm, saying softly, “Never interrupt your enemy when he’s making a mistake.

“But Ron cheated. It wouldn’t be fair. And what if a child gets hurt?”

Harry laughed, his soft chuckle lost among the screams of laughter the “flying” children were giving out. “They’re having a blast. Don’t spoil it.”

Hermione had to reluctantly admit that the children did seem to be enjoying being tossed around like beanbags.

“Fine,” she grumbled. “But wait until I get Ron home.”

Harry remembered hearing a co-worker once proclaim: A man who has never made a woman angry is a failure in life. Harry had called Ron many things since he'd known him: best friend, co-worker, git (many times), but never a failure. On this night, though, Harry was glad he wasn’t in Ron’s shoes.


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We're all human, aren't we? Every human life is worth the same, and worth saving. - Kingsley

Sustainability should be a part of what we do every day.
  #97  
Old November 3rd, 2008, 3:03 am
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Re: FAD: Last Author Standing -Entries!

FAD Halloween Challenge

Entry 2
“Tell the story!” Hugo chanted as the group of six sat down in a circle in the sitting room of his Uncle Harry’s house. They had all heard the story many times, but still enjoyed listening to it again.

Teddy Lupin, age 17, raised his wand under his chin and silently lit it with the light spell so it glowed under his chin like a flashlight.

Teddy was babysitting his godbrothers, James and Al, his godsister, Lily, and their cousins, Rose and Hugo, for the weekend while their parents enjoyed a nice weekend trip away.

“It was a dark and stormy night,” he began.

“No, it wasn’t!” Albus exclaimed.

“Am I telling this story or are you?”

“Sorry.”

“It was a dark and stormy night. All the neighborhood children were outside, dressed in costume, going door-to-door for candy.”

“On a dark and stormy night?” Rose piped up. “Mum and Dad wouldn’t let us outside in that weather.”

“Alright, it wasn’t a stormy night, but it was dark and drizzly!”

“That’s better!” Rose smiled.

“It was dark and drizzly on Halloween night. All the kids in the neighborhood went door-to-door for candy dressed in costumes of ghosts, ghouls, and stereotypical witches.”

“Did they wear the pointed hat with a wide brim and the long green nose with a wart?” James asked.

“Yes,” Teddy replied.

The kids giggled.

“We don’t look like that, do we, Lils?” Rose asked her younger cousin.

“No, but Aunt Muriel has a wart on her nose.”

“I said they were stereotypical witches. Muggles believe they look like that. Anyway, let me get on with the story. All the kids went to all the houses in the neighborhood, except for one house they couldn’t see.”

“Because it had the Fibadus Charm on it,” Albus interrupted.

Filedus,” James corrected.

“No, no, the Filadus Charm,” Rose offered.

“You’re all wrong. It’s the Fidelus Charm and yes, that’s why no one could see the house,” Teddy continued. “Except for one man.”

“Voldemort!” Hugo and Albus cried out together.

Lily shivered. “Say You-Know-Who!”

“Honestly, Lily, you can’t be afraid of him! He’s been dead long before any of us were born,” James assured his sister.

“Except Teddy,” Lily said in a small voice.

“Did you ever see Voldemort?” Hugo asked.

“No, I was just a baby. Anyway, Only one man could see the house and he was the man they were trying to keep it hidden from. He walked down the busy sidewalk on a mission. Do you know why he was the only one able to see the house?”

“Because the others were Muggles?” Hugo answered.

“Because the secret keeper told him where it was!” Rose replied.

“And who was the secret keeper?”

“Sirius Black?” Albus asked.

“No, that’s who everyone thought was the secret keeper,” James said. “But, it was really Peter Pettigrew, the traitor,” he added.

“I can’t believe he was really friends with our granddad,” Albus said. “If any of my friends ever did something like that, I’d hex them into outer space.”

“Teddy, please finish the story,” Rose said politely.

“Thank you. Inside the house was a young family. A mother and a father sat in their sitting room playing with their baby boy.”

“Daddy!” Lily exclaimed.

“Yes, that baby boy was Harry Potter. Anyway, the two parents were playing with their son. The father shot beautiful colors out of his wand to the boy’s delight. Soon, it was the boy’s bedtime, so the mother took him upstairs to his bedroom while the father stayed downstairs. When she was upstairs a visitor came to call.”

Teddy expected someone to interrupt with the name of the visitor, but by this time they were all too enthralled in the story to say anything.

“Instead of waiting for someone to answer the door, the visitor barged in. The dad was unaware and had left his wand on the couch. He shouted up the stairs hoping he could give his wife time to escape with their son. He fought the visitor, but without his wand, he was no match and was killed. The visitor then ran up the stairs to the baby’s bedroom where the mother and son were. The visitor wanted to kill the baby, but the mother would not let him, throwing her body in front of the baby. He told the woman he would save her life if she let him at the baby, but she refused. He shot the killing curse out of his wand, but with the mother in front of her son, it hit her instead, killing her. He tried it again and this time, it hit the baby, but instead of killing the baby like it should have, it bounced off and hit the visitor. It did not kill him, for unknown reasons, but it did turn him into vapor. The baby had saved the world.”

“Wow,” breathed Rose. “I love the way you tell that story.”

“Our daddy’s a hero!” Lily said.

“He’s no hero. He’s just our dad,” Albus said.

“I know I heard that story a lot, but did he really do that?” James asked.

“Yes, he did,” Teddy answered.

“That’s a horrible way to celebrate Halloween,” Hugo said.


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Man is least himself when he talks in his own person. Give him a mask and he will tell you the truth. - Oscar Wilde

We're all human, aren't we? Every human life is worth the same, and worth saving. - Kingsley

Sustainability should be a part of what we do every day.
  #98  
Old November 15th, 2008, 4:17 am
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Re: FAD: Last Author Standing -Entries!

FAD CHRISTMAS CHALLENGE
A HARRY POTTER CHRISTMAS CAROL

Part 1

Lee Jordan was dead, of that fact, George Weasley was eminently aware. He had died on this very day, Christmas Eve, almost seven years earlier. George wandered through the old house that had once belonged to Lee, his business partner for well over thirty years, and had been bequeathed to George as part of some big, elaborate joke. That had been Lee, of course, the man had been a jokester, hardly a head for business, until the end, that was, when George finally pounded some sense into his head about the virtues of frugality and the wages of idleness.

The muggles would say that Lee was deader than a door nail, whatever that was, but the implications were just the same. Lee was gone and George held the reins of their vast enterprise with an iron grip, keeping a grim accounting of all the income and remaining completely parsimonious with the expenses. In his more humorous days, Lee had purchased the old “Shrieking Shack” and converted the venerable old home into a series of townhome style dwellings in keeping with Hogsmeade’s expansion. Now that home belonged to George, and it stood apart even from its sister dwellings on the same block. George didn’t find the need to heat or light the place, so it remained broodingly dark, almost like its antecedent that he remembered from his days at nearby Hogwarts.

No one knew when George had changed, only that he had. The bitter cold could not compete with the coldness in his heart, nor could searing heat compete with the fire of bitterness that raged within him. As he walked through the bustling streets of Hogsmeade, people and animals avoided crossing his path. The denizens of Hogsmeade had long ago stopped calling out to him in greeting. There were no cries of “Good morning, George!” or “Happy Christmas, Mr. Weasley!” Some say that George’s transformation had happened almost twenty years earlier when he decided to stop producing child-friendly gag products and gone into “real” business. Weasley’s Wizard Wheezes had long ago died, replaced by Weasley and Jordan Financier’s. That’s where the real money was, thought George, and meekly, Lee Jordan had gone along. They sold their property in Diagon Alley. It wouldn’t do to have a money lending establishment so close to Gringott’s, so they moved the new venture to their office location in Hogsmeade.

The sign still read “Weasley and Jordan”, mostly because the expense of painting out the sign would cost far too much then simply allowing the weather to do its work. It was Christmas Eve, and here was George, seated at his desk with the back room door open so he could watch his clerk, Frank Longbottom work in the blistering cold of the office. There was a small stove near Frank, with a single coal burning futilely in the waning sunlight. Not yet three o’clock in the afternoon, it was dark outside and a biting North Sea front had settled in, dropping a foot of snow all around. Frank leaned towards the single candle the burned on his desk, hoping to draw warmth as the last bit of coal burned out in the stove.

George snorted contemptuously. At fifteen galleons a month, Frank still found it worthy to support a large family and work tremendous hours, while remaining upbeat. In many ways, Frank was very much like his father, Neville, idealistic and poor. Neville had wasted his family fortune away on such idle things as compassion and charity. George shook his head. He had no time for such dalliances.

“A Merry Christmas, Uncle! May Merlin shine his fortune on you!” A cheerful voice rang out through the office. It was his nephew, James Sirius Potter, son of his only sister, Ginny, who came upon him so fast that his cry was the first clue that George had that he had entered the office.

“Bah!” George snorted. “Humbug!”

So exercised was James from the walk in the snow and fog that his face was bright shade of red and his wild black hair was droopy on the ends as the frost and ice melted. His soft brown eyes twinkled in merriment as he clapped his uncle on the shoulder.

“Christmas a humbug, Uncle George?” James smiled widely. “Surely you can’t mean that.”

“I do. Merry Christmas, indeed!” George practically spat the words. “What right do you have to be merry? What reason do you have to be merry? You’re poor enough!”

His humor not lost, but actually increasing at the prospect of the verbal interplay with his uncle, James smiled. “What right do you have to be so dour? What reason do you have to be so cross? You’re rich enough.”

George gurgled having no real comeback other than another flurry of “Bah” and “Humbug”.

James laughed out loud at George’s reaction. “Don’t be mad, Uncle George.”

“What else can I be,” responded George, “when I live in a world of fools? Merry Christmas! Down to Merry Christmas. What’s Christmas to anyone but a time to pay the bills without money, a time to find yourself a year older, but not an hour richer? If I had my way, every git who goes around with ‘Merry Christmas’ on his lips would be sent to Azkaban!”

“Come now, Uncle George. Christmas is a wonderful time, a kind time, a time when goodness and compassion reign, when the world blinks anew at the wondrous gifts life has given us. Of course it hasn’t put a sickle in my pocket, but I’m richer nonetheless, all because of what the time means, Uncle.” James smiled sweetly and took a deep and labored breath, ready to ask his annual question.

“The invitation stands, Uncle George, why don’t you come to the Christmas Party at the Burrow? Everyone will be there and everyone wants to see you.” George’s mother, Molly, and his father, Arthur, had established a long standing tradition of bringing the entire extended Weasley clan and their friends together to the family home for a Christmas party. When Molly and Arthur had passed on, a grown up James and his wife, Anne, had purchased the home and continued the tradition. George had stopped coming once his wife, Angelica had passed away from a tragic illness. James, over the years, continued to extend the invitation. “Lily and Albus will be there with their families, so will Hugo and Rose, Uncle Ron and Aunt Hermione, father and mother, everyone. Please, Uncle George, please come.”

George’s stare was cold, it’s expression demonstrating his answer.

“But why, Uncle George? Why not?”

George pursed his lips together. “Good day, James.”

“Please, Uncle George?”

George sighed. “Why did you even get married, James? It didn’t make you any richer.”

“Of course it did, Uncle George. Being married is the most wonderful richness in life. You used to tell me that.” James’ comment brought a dark look on George’s face.

“Goodbye, James.” The conversation was over.

“I won’t stop trying, Uncle George. Believe it or not, you are my favorite Uncle, or you used to be, so it’s my duty in life to keep trying, to bring you back. I won’t let your cross mood affect my Christmas spirit, so, Merry Christmas, Uncle George.”

“Goodbye.”

“And a Happy New Year as well, Uncle George.” James waved to his uncle and turned to leave. He tossed open the door and as he walked out, two men walked in.

George’s eyebrows narrowed as he recognized the men. It was Kingsley Shacklebolt, the current Headmaster at nearby Hogwarts and Professor Slughorn, ageless Potions Master from the school. The two men smiled at George. Kingsley extended a hand, which George ruthlessly ignored.

If he was bothered, Kingsley gave no outward sign. “Hello, George!” The Headmaster’s rich baritone seemed to shake the walls of the office.

“What do you want, Kingsley?”

Slughorn placed his hands on his ample stomach. “The students and faculty of Hogwarts are running a campaign to purchase food and gifts for the poor children of Hogsmeade and we decided to start with the most fortunate of citizens, George.”

“Come on George, you started this campaign so many years ago. How much can we put you down for?” Kingsley asked, though his eyes betrayed what he knew the answer would be. This was Slughorn’s first sojourn into Weasley and Jordan’s, so Kingsley thought it would be best to experience this moment.

“Nothing.” George said gruffly.

Slughorn seemed perplexed. “Are you saying you wish to donate anonymously?”

“No, I wish to not waste my money on such drivel as charity.”

Kingsley raised his eyes to the ceiling while Slughorn turned a bright red. The normally ebullient potion master pleaded with George. “But George, it’s Christmas, surely you can grant a small wish on Christmas.”

“If it is wishes you want to grant, then grant mine. I wish to be left alone. Good day, gentlemen.”

Slughorn was about to say more, but Kingsley gently grasped his arm. With a nod to Frank in the back room, the two men departed.

George glanced over at Frank, who was busily getting ready to leave. “I suppose you’ll want tomorrow off?”

“Yes sir.” Frank said, anxiously.

“Why must everyone seek to pick my pocket every twenty fifth of December?” George asked forlornly.

“It’s only one day a year, sir.” Frank said cautiously.

“Bah!” George said. “You’ll not get paid and you’d better be in by six AM the next day.”

“Oh yes sir, Mr. Weasley, and thank you, Mr. Weasley.” Frank gathered up his threadbare jacket and walked to the door. Before he left, he turned and smiled at George. “Merry Christmas, Mr. Weasley.” Before George could respond, Frank Longbottom II had left.


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Old November 21st, 2008, 9:37 pm
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Re: FAD: Last Author Standing -Entries!

FAD CHRISTMAS CHALLENGE
A HARRY POTTER CHRISTMAS CAROL

Part 2

George took his melancholy dinner as usual in the HogsHead Tavern, speaking to no one, then beguiled the rest of the evening with his banker’s-book and the Daily Prophet and went home to bed. He didn’t notice how the former Shrieking Shack still held up to its reputation of darkness, dreariness and fear. The yard was so dark that even George, who knew its every stone, was fain to grope with his hands. The fog and frost so hung about the black old gateway of the house, that it seemed as if Dementors flew in mournful meditation around the threshold.

Now, it is a fact that there was nothing at all particular about the knocker on the door except that it was very large. It is also a fact that George had as little fancy left about him as any man in the British Wizarding World, including the Malfoys. Let it also be borne in mind that George had not bestowed one thought on Lee Jordan since his last mention of his seven years’ dead partner that afternoon. Therefore, it was quite a surprise when George, having raised his wand to unlock the door, saw in the knocker, not a knocker, but Lee Jordan’s face.

Lee’s face was not in impenetrable shadow as the other objects in the yard were, but had a dismal light about it. It was not angry or ferocious, but looked at George as Lee used to look: with ghostly spectacles turned up on its ghostly forehead. The hair was curiously stirred, as if by breath or hot air; and, though the eyes were wide open, they were perfectly motionless. That, and its livid color, made it horrible; but its horror seemed to be in spite of the face and beyond its control, rather than a part of its own expression. It put George in mind of the horrible Inferi he’d learned about in school and heard his brother-in-law, Harry Potter, describe.

As George looked fixedly at this phenomenon, it was a knocker again.

To say that he was not startled, or that his blood was not conscious of a terrible sensation to which it had been a stranger from infancy, would be untrue. But he picked up the wand he’d dropped, whispered, “Alohamora,” walked in, and lighted his wand with a weak Lumos spell.

He did pause, with a moment’s irresolution, before he shut the door; and he did look cautiously behind it first, as if he half expected to be terrified with the sight of Lee’s dreadlocks sticking out into the hall. But there was nothing on the back of the door, except the screws and nuts that held the knocker on, so he said “Pooh, pooh!” and closed it with a bang, going up the stairs by the light of the faint Lumos spell he had cast. (He didn’t even waste spells, generating barely enough light to climb the stairs.)

The lack of furniture and the dim light in the old house left plenty of open room to spare; which is perhaps the reason why George thought he saw a Thestral-drawn hearse going on before him in the gloom. George paid it no mind, not caring a knut for that image. But before he shut his heavy door, he walked through his rooms to see that all was right. He had just enough recollection of Lee’s face to desire to do that. Sitting-room, bedroom, loo: all as they should be. Nobody under the table, under the sofa, under the bed, in the closet, or in his dressing-gown, which was hanging up in a suspicious attitude against the wall. A small fire burned in the grate.

Quite satisfied, he closed his door, and locked himself in; double-locked himself in with a Collomora spell, which was not his custom. Thus secured against surprise, he took off his cravat; put on his dressing-gown and slippers, and his nightcap; and sat down before the fire.

It was a very low fire indeed; nothing on such a bitter night. He was obliged to sit close to it, and brood over it, before he could extract the least sensation of warmth from such a handful of fuel. The fireplace was intricate, paved all round with quaint Dutch tiles, designed to illustrate the history of Wizards. There were Merlins and Dumbledores; Agrippas and Circes; the founders of Hogwarts: Helga Hufflepuffs, Rowena Ravenclaws, Godric Gryffindors, and Salazar Slytherins; several Harry Potters battling Lord Voldemort in the graveyard, at Hogwarts, being carried from the Forbidden Forest, defeating Voldemort-possessed Quirrell; hundreds of figures to attract his thoughts; and yet that face of Lee Jordan, seven years dead, came like Merlin’s wand and swallowed up the whole. If each smooth tile had been a blank at first, with power to shape some picture on its surface from the disjointed fragments of his thoughts, there would have been a copy of old Lee’s head on every one.

“Humbug!” said George; and walked across the room. After several turns, he sat down again. As he threw his head back in the chair, his glance happened to rest upon a bell, a disused bell that hung in the room and was once used for some long-forgotten joke. It was with great astonishment, and with a strange, inexplicable dread, that he saw this bell begin to swing. It swung so softly in the outset that it scarcely made a sound; but soon it rang out loudly, and so did every bell in the house.

This might have lasted half a minute, or a minute, but it seemed an hour. The bells ceased as they had begun, together. They were succeeded by a clanking noise, deep down below; as if some person were dragging a heavy chain over the casks in the wine-merchant’s cellar. The cellar-door flew open with a booming sound, and then he heard the noise much louder, on the floors below; then coming up the stairs; then coming straight towards his door.

“It’s humbug still!” said George. “I won’t believe it.”
His color changed though, when, without a pause, it came on through the heavy door, and passed into the room before his eyes.


Lee’s Ghost



The same face: the very same. Lee in his dreadlocks, usual wizard robes, everything just the same. The chain he drew was clasped about his middle. It was long, and wound about him like a tail; and it was made (for George observed it closely) of cash-boxes, keys, padlocks, ledgers, deeds, and heavy purses wrought in steel.

“How now!” said George, caustic and cold as ever.
“Who are you?”

“Ask me who I was.” This was Lee’s voice, no doubt about it.

“Who were you then?” said George, raising his voice. “You’re particular, for a shade.”

“In life, I was your partner, Lee Jordan.” The ghost sat down on the opposite side of the fireplace, as if he were quite used to it. “You don’t believe in me,” observed the Ghost.

“I don’t,” said George.

“What evidence would you have of my reality beyond that of your senses?”

“I don’t know,” said George.

“Why do you doubt your senses?”

“Because,” said George, “little things affects them. A slight disorder of the stomach makes them cheats. You may be an undigested bit of beef, a sour firewhiskey, a moldy crumb of cheese. There’s more of gravy than of grave about you, whatever you are!”

George was not much in the habit of cracking jokes anymore, nor did he feel, in his heart, by any means waggish then. The truth is that he tried to be smart as a means of distracting his own attention and keeping down his terror; for the spectre’s voice disturbed the very marrow in his bones. To sit staring at those fixed, glazed eyes in silence would make him, George felt, as Looney as the Lovegoods.

“Mercy!” he said. “Dreadful apparition, why do you trouble me?”

“Man of the worldly mind!” replied the Ghost, “do you believe in me or not?”

“I do,” said George. “I must. But why do spirits walk the earth, and why do they come to me?”

“It is required of every man,” the Ghost returned, “that the spirit within him should walk abroad among his fellowmen, and travel far and wide; and if that spirit goes not forth in life, it is condemned to do so after death. It is doomed to wander through the world and witness what it cannot share, but might have shared on earth, and turned to happiness!” Again the spectre raised a cry, and shook its chain and wrung its shadowy hands.

“You are fettered,” said George, trembling. “Tell me why?”

“I wear the chain I forged in life,” replied the Ghost. “I made it link by link, and yard by yard; I girded it on of my own free will, and of my own free will I wore it. Is its pattern strange to you? Or would you know,” pursued the Ghost, “the weight and length of the strong coil you bear yourself? It was full as heavy and as long as this, seven Christmas Eves ago. You have labored on it, since. It is a ponderous chain!”

George glanced about him on the floor, in the expectation of finding himself surrounded by some fifty or sixty fathoms of iron cable: but he could see nothing.

“Lee,” he said, imploringly. “Old Lee, tell me more. Speak comfort to me, Lee!”

“I have none to give,” the Ghost replied. “It comes from other regions, George Weasley, and is conveyed by other ministers, to other kinds of men. A very little more is all that is permitted to me. I cannot rest, I cannot stay, I cannot linger anywhere. In life, my spirit never roved beyond the narrow limits of our money-changing hole; and weary journeys lie before me!”

“You must have been very slow about it, Lee,” George observed, in a business-like manner, though with humility and deference. “Seven years dead,” mused George. “And travelling all the time!”

“The whole time,” said the Ghost. “No rest, no peace. Incessant torture of remorse. Oh! captive, bound, and double-ironed,” cried the phantom, “not to know that ages of incessant labor by immortal creatures for this earth must pass into eternity before the good of which it is susceptible is all developed. Not to know that any Christian spirit working kindly in its little sphere, whatever it may be, will find its mortal life too short for its vast means of usefulness. Not to know that no space of regret can make amends for one life’s opportunity misused! Yet such was I! Oh! such was I!”

“But you were a good man of business, Lee,” faltered George, who now began to apply this to himself.

“Business!” cried the Ghost, wringing its hands again. “Fellow witches and wizards were my business. The common welfare was my business: charity, mercy, forbearance, fun, laughter, jokes and pranks were all my business. The dealings of my trade were but a drop of water in the comprehensive ocean of my business!”

It held up its chain at arm’s length, as if that were the cause of all its unavailing grief, and flung it heavily upon the ground again. “At this time of year,” the spectre said, “I suffer most. Why did I walk through crowds of fellow-beings with my eyes turned down, and never raise them to laughter with jokes and pranks!”

George was very much dismayed to hear the spectre going on at this rate, and began to quake exceedingly.

“Hear me!” cried the Ghost. “My time is nearly gone.”

“I will,” said George, “but don’t be hard upon me!”

“How it is that I appear before you in a shape that you can see, I may not tell. I have sat invisible beside you many and many a day.”

It was not an agreeable idea. George shivered, and wiped the perspiration from his brow.

“That is no light part of my penance,” pursued the Ghost. “I am here tonight to warn you that you have yet a chance and hope of escaping my fate. A chance and hope of my procuring, Ebenezer.”

“You were always a good friend to me,” said George. “’Ear! ‘Ear”

“You will be haunted,” resumed the Ghost, “by Three Spirits.”

George’s countenance fell almost as low as the Ghost’s had done. “Is that the chance and hope you mentioned, Lee?” he demanded, in a faltering voice.

“It is.”

“I—I think I’d rather not,” said George.

“Without their visits,” said the Ghost, “you cannot hope to shun the path I tread. Expect the first tonight, when the bell tolls Twelve. Expect the second on the next hour. The third upon the next hour when the last stroke of two has ceased to vibrate. Look to see me no more; and look that, for your own sake, you remember what has passed between us!”

When it had said these words, the spectre stood to leave. George ventured to raise his eyes again, and found his supernatural visitor confronting him in an erect attitude, with its chain wound over and about its arm. The apparition walked backward from him; and at every step it took, the window raised itself a little, so that when the spectre reached it, it was wide open.

It beckoned George to approach, which he did. When they were within two paces of each other, Lee’s Ghost held up its hand, warning him to come no nearer.

George stopped. Not so much in obedience, as in surprise and fear: for on the raising of the hand, he became sensible of confused noises in the air; incoherent sounds of lamentation and regret; wailings inexpressibly sorrowful and self-accusatory. The spectre, after listening for a moment, joined in the mournful dirge; and floated out upon the bleak, dark night.

George followed to the window, desperate in his curiosity, and looked out. The air was filled with phantoms, wandering hither and thither in restless haste, and moaning as they went. Every one of them wore chains like Lee’s Ghost; some few were linked together; none were free. Many had been personally known to George in their lives. He had been quite familiar with one old ghost in white flowing hair and waistcoat, with a monstrous iron safe attached to its ankle. Lucius Malfoy cried piteously at being unable to assist a wretched woman with an infant, whom he saw below upon a door-step. The misery with them all was, clearly, that they sought to interfere for good in human matters, and had lost the power forever.

Whether these creatures faded into mist, or mist enshrouded them, he could not tell. But they and their spirit voices faded together; and the night became as it had been when he walked home.

George closed the window, and examined the door by which the Ghost had entered. It was double-locked, as he had locked it with his own hands, and the spells were undisturbed. He tried to say “Humbug!” but stopped at the first syllable. And being—from the emotion he had undergone or the fatigues of the day or his glimpse of the Invisible World or the dull conversation of the Ghost or the lateness of the hour or all of the above—much in need of repose, went straight to bed without undressing, and fell asleep upon the instant.


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  #100  
Old November 30th, 2008, 1:43 am
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Re: FAD: Last Author Standing -Entries!

FAD CHRISTMAS CHALLENGE
A HARRY POTTER CHRISTMAS CAROL

Part 3


When George awoke it was so dark, that, looking out of bed, he could scarcely distinguish the transparent window from the opaque walls of his chamber. He peered through the darkness at the clock on his mantle which glowed with soft warmth, hardly penetrating the surrounding gloom. When he had fallen asleep it had been close to sunrise he was certain, and yet the clock read ‘Too Late at Night to be Looking at Me’. He huffed, irritated once again by the inaccurate silliness of that clock, he pulled out the muggle timepiece he’d purchased several years back, it read 12:45. With a gasp, he ran to the window and pulled back the drape. The sky was black as pitch.

How had he slept a full day through? It wasn’t possible. It must be the work of a time turner or perhaps it had all been a dream. That must be it! He had fallen asleep and dreamt that he had spoken to Lee. But no, here he stood in his work robes, just as though he’d fallen exhausted into bed after an ordeal. His wizarding clock chimed and he watched it change to ‘Almost Time’. Shivering, the events of the previous night flooded back to him. No! But it had to have been a dream. It was too cruel, too horrible!

He climbed back in his bed and shut the heavy curtains around him, hiding the taunting clock’s face. He clutched his muggle timepiece, watching the seconds tick by in the dark. When it struck one, he would sleep and forgot all of this nonsense. It was a mad dream, silly really, not worth worrying about. He watched the second hand drag its way toward the hour mark, and breathed deep as it slowly ticked past.

He closed his eyes in relief and did not see the thin white hand grasp the curtain of his bed. Lights flashed up in the room upon the instant, and the curtains were drawn aside. George, starting up into a half-recumbent attitude, found himself face to face with the unearthly visitor who drew them.

Robbed in purest white, the figure seemed a bloom of light sprung from the gloom. The face was at once familiar and foreign. Eyes bright with youth yet old with wisdom, skin translucent with age yet smooth as silk, a snowy beard falling nearly to the floor from a pink mouth curved with mischief. It was the face of Albus Dumbledore, and yet his strong, straight form gave him an ageless quality.

His steady hands grasped a wizard’s cap and from the crown of his head there sprung a bright, clear jet of light, by which all this was visible. Its light was blinding and George begged him to be covered.

“Would you so soon put out, with worldly hands, the light I give?” The voice was soft and gentle. Singularly low, as if instead of being so close beside him, it were at a distance.

“Forgive my irreverence, I beg you. May I ask what business brings you to me, Dumbledore?”

“Your welfare. I am the Ghost of Christmas Past. Rise and take heed.”

The soft hand, though gentle, was not to be resisted. He rose; but finding that the Spirit made toward the window, clasped its robe in supplication.

“I don’t have a broom, nor even my wand,” George remonstrated, “I will fall.”

“Bear but a touch of my hand there,” said the Spirit, laying it upon his heart, “and you shall be upheld in more than this!”

As the words were spoken, they passed through the wall, and stood on the sweeping path toward Hogwarts. The horseless carriages were carrying the last students down from the grand school and toward the waiting train.

“You recollect the way?” inquired the Spirit.

“Remember it!” cried George with fervor, “I could walk it blindfold.”

“Strange to have forgotten it for so many years!” observed the Ghost. “Let us go on.”

As carriage after carriage passed them, full to overflowing with bright laughing voices rejoicing in their holiday, George named the students as they passed, marveling that he recalled each young face with such clarity.

“The school is not quite deserted,” said the Ghost. “A few children still remain.”

They followed the path and soon Hogwarts loomed before them, its turrets and towers seeming to pierce the icy sky and its broad doors flung wide in farewell to its departing inhabitants. A young man sat on the broad staircase inside the Entrance Hall. Elbows on knees and face in hands he watched the wind whip the tree and churn the water in the lake through the frame of the grand doors.

As they looked on, a young girl tip-toed down from the first floor, biting her lip to keep from giggling as she clutched a heaping handful of holly berries to her robes. She sat silently several steps above the boy and began to flick them one at a time down upon him. He turned just in time to take one right between the eyes, and now her giggling could not be contained.

She raced down to him, brimful of glee. “Why are you moping dear brother?" Ginny laughed, bumping him as she sat beside him.

She tried to pry his hands from his chin, but only succeeded in spilling her remaining berries at their feet. "Hagrid wants help decorating. Ron and Fred are there as well, and they’ve nicked some cocoa from the kitchens. We can still have a fun Christmas, George, even with mum and dad away."

She pulled him to his feet and dragged him away with her, laughing and telling him all about the grand Christmas feast they'd have.

"A sweet child, she has such a large heart," said the Ghost.

"So she has," said George.

"She still lives near you and yet you rarely see her," said the Ghost, "and she has children. Two sons and a daughter, am I correct?"

George seemed uneasy in his mind; and answered briefly, "Yes."

Although they had but that moment left the school behind them, they were now in the busy back garden of a country home. It was plain enough by the dressing of every inch of that garden that here too it was Christmas time again.

The Ghost stood calmly and asked if George knew it.

"Know it?" cried George. "It is my childhood home!" The festive revelers laughed and shouted wishes of holiday cheer as they mingled beneath the shining decorations.

The crowd parted and they saw an old gentleman with thinning red hair sitting at the main table. His wide smile seemed to light the garden with as much brightness as the fairy lights strung all around him. He stood and gazed toward the entrance to the garden.
"Fred! George! Finally arrived!"

George's former self, now grown a young man, came in briskly, accompanied by his brother.

"Fred! Yes, there he is. Merlin save me, attached at the hip as we always were. Poor Fred."

"Ho, my boys! No more work tonight, nor pranks either. Let's clear away these tables for some dancing! Refresh those warming charms lads."

And the tables were moved away and music was struck up, and the garden was as warm, snug, and bright a ballroom as you could desire on a winter's night.

In came Mrs. Weasley bearing trays of every good thing. In came Bill and Charlie, Ron and Percy, along with Ginny, her cheeks bright with joy. In came Harry and Hermione, Lee and Angelina, and all those friendly to the Order. In came Kingsley and McGonagall, Remus and Tonks, and every Order member smiling with the warmth of the season. In they all came, one after another; some shyly, some boldly, some gracefully, some awkwardly, some pushing, some pulling; in they all came, anyhow and everyhow. And away they went in couples, up and down, and round and round the floor.

There were dances and cakes, roast and butterbear, and dances again. When Arthur finally pulled Molly away from her hostessing, they danced to the cheers of all their friends. And when the night was finally over and Merry Christmas was wished to all as they left the bright garden, George became conscious that the Ghost was looking full upon him.

"A small matter," said the Ghost, "to make these silly folks so full of gratitude."

"Small!" echoed George.

"Why! Is it not? They spent but a few pounds of your mortal money. Do they deserve the praise showered upon them by every guest?"

"It isn't the money, Spirit. They made Christmas a joy. They made our poverty not a burden but a mere trifle. They brought our friends together and kept us strong. The happiness they gave is quite as great as if it cost a fortune."

He stopped when he felt the burn of the Spirit's eyes and saw the glow of his light.

"What is the matter?"

"Nothing in particular. I should like to say a word or two to my clerk just now. That is all."

"My time grows short." observed the Spirit, "Quick!"

Again George found the landscape changed. He saw himself, older now, in the prime of life, his eyes eager and his hands restless. He sat beside a young dark girl in warm robes, in whose eyes there were tears that sparkled in the light that shone out of the Ghost of Christmas Past.

"It matters little to you," she was saying. "A golden idol has overtaken me and the memory of your brother. If it can cheer and comfort you in future, I have no just cause to grieve."

"This is business, Angelina, wise and steady business. Isn't that what Fred would have wanted for us? The world is hard on poverty and I intend never to be poor again."

"You fear the world too much. I have seen your nobler aspirations fall off one by one, until the master-passion, Gain, engrosses you. Have I not?”

"I am not changed toward you though. I am merely wiser and more determined. Without Fred it had to be so, has to."

"Without your grounding I could have never made it through, but you have changed. You were another man then."

"I was a boy," he said impatiently.

"Your own feeling tells you that you were not what you are," she returned. "I am. That which promised happiness when we were one in heart, is fraught with misery now that we are two. How often and how keenly I have thought of this, I will not say. It is enough that I have thought of it, and must let you go for the love of him you once were. May you be happy in the life you have chosen and untroubled by memory."

She left him, and they parted.

"Spirit!" said George, "show me no more! Conduct me home. Why do you delight to torture me?"

"I told you these were shadows of the things that have been," said the Ghost. "That they are what they are, do not blame me!"

"Remove me!" George exclaimed, "I cannot bear it!"

He turned upon the Ghost, and seeing that it looked upon him with a face, in which in some strange way there were fragments of all the faces it had shown him, wrestled with it.

"Leave me! Take me back. Haunt me no longer!"

George observed that its light was burning high and bright; and dimly connecting that with its influence over him, he seized the extinguisher-cap, and by a sudden action pressed it down upon its head.

The Spirit dropped beneath it, so that the extinguisher covered its whole form; but though George pressed it down with all his force, he could not hide the light, which streamed from under it, in an unbroken flood upon the ground.

He was conscious of being exhausted, and overcome by an irresistible drowsiness; and, further, of being in his own bedroom. He gave the cap a parting squeeze, in which his hand relaxed; and had barely time to reel to bed, before he sank into a heavy sleep.


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