10th March 14
You will want to know who the unhappiest student to ever walk the halls of Hogwarts was.
I mean the one who probably deserved Hogwarts the least.
For unhappy, after all, must mean ungrateful in this case, and that must mean also undeserving. For Hogwarts is a home to so many! Hogwarts is a warm roaring fire or the cool spark of knowledge beyond the windows looking out onto the murky secrets of the lake, of the heart. Hogwarts is everything dead — portraits, alumni — coming back to life again, and forbidden adventure just beyond the reaches of the forest, and a humorous and twinkly-eyed Headmaster offering a lemon drop. So anyone who does not love Hogwarts surely does not deserve these rewards, does not deserve the warmth or the excitement or the secret knowledge Hogwarts gives one. He surely did not deserve it. And he knew he was undeserving.
Everything came easily to him. This is the first point we must make. Some people struggle with their magic. They hold out a hand to make a duck into a dove, and instead they produce a dragon which turns on them, or else a damselfly, or else they only kill the duck. Magic is at odds with these people. They might possess is, but in fact they are less worth bothering with than any Muggle, for Muggles simply walk on past magic, unheeding, and attend to their own business. They do not pervert it, or cause it to snap back angrily at them, as though they have no business mucking about with it.
But magic loved him. This is like being loved by the Fates. You do not have to try. The duck becomes a flock of doves, which in turn fly out of the tower window in a cloud of ethereal white, which return a moment later with berries and flowers and crowns of leaves, and drop one glorious gift before each gasping Gryffindor, each hale Hufflepuff maiden, before reverting, at last, to a common duck. And then there is applause. All eyes turn to you. Favored, talented, lucky, magical. All without the slightest effort.
Understand that this is a bit like being a fraud. Success so easily won means nothing. Classmates cluster about, good friends clasp you on the shoulder. And you only think, Well. Alright. But that was easy enough. And you begin to see that what really happened (not trying at all; suffering no pain; deserving no reward) is perceived as something very different (leaping ahead of the rest; exceptional without a doubt; deserving extreme praise). You begin to feel as though you were dreaming, and when you awoke, someone had thrown a disguise on you. The disguise was one of those crowns. They felt you deserved it the most.
For him, this did not happen only with magic. It happened, too, like a kind of happy accident, when he should give away, rather carelessly, a kind word. When he should blink his clear blue eyes in such a way that it seemed like he understood someone perfectly. When he helped a classmate with their homework, or without thinking obliterated someone else’s cruel Howler at supper. It cost him nothing to do these things. But more and more people saw this as evidence of greatness, of some lofty and noble soul. They would see the crown even if he did not intend them to. It caused him no small amount of discomfort. The Hat had warned him of this, told him that his life would be artificial, all keeping close his secret listlessness, and that he would be better served being honest about that, at least. For he was an artificial creature, often without meaning to be. The more he protested that he was not so wonderful, that he was not trying, the more eyes flickered down to his house scarf or his badge and replied that it must be false modesty. Which of course made him even grander to them. But he had done nothing worth their approval. Not really. He was a secret double-dealer, a hoax. This ate at him.
It ate at him more when he should read of the lives of the luckless. Those Fate cared nothing for. There were people living oceans away, in tin-roofed hovels, who could summon up magic as easily and wonderfully as he could. But no Hogwarts letter would ever come for them. They often had no local school. There were sick and mad people, some of them people he knew intimately, who likewise had no avenues for earning crowns. No one wanted to applaud them even if they should accomplish something great. It was better that they be locked away. There were even people in his own dormitory, separated by thin layers of bedhangings, who tried and tried and at last summoned up a dove, at last saw some glimmer of reward. But no one cared. Their eyes were not so blue, their demeanor not so easy and kind, their blood was perhaps a touch too muddy.
Oh, how good you are to care about people like that! others would say, simpering, when he explained this. Oh, you are such a hero.
But this would only anger him more. The great unfairness. It was not even really the people he cared about, after all. It was the awful broken system all around him. It was how here he was, reaping all the rewards the Hat had said he would, and yet he did not earn them. They were only thrust at him, because he was easy to love, powerful, not quite so muddy — because he passed by the skin of his teeth all those strange unspoken tests the Wizarding World set, before it could consent to crown you.
In his own family, there were those not half as lucky. And it was only by some quirk of fate that he was born the right shade, and in the right order, and with that ability to control his magic even when feeling very mad, and not have it control him. But he knew in his heart that to rearrange one chromosome or allele, just one, would have been to make him less lovable to the rest of the world. Perhaps he would have been a girl, abused in a field. Or a bitter young boy, born not quite so talented, ready to give up at age fifteen. Perhaps he would not have been the great crowning glory of the family. And what a random, ugly, chaotic truth that was.
He wanted always, in his own way, to replace the chaos with order. Order was a powerful word for him, intoxicating, like a spell. He searched and searched and searched for ways to bring the universe into some more sensible system, one that wasn’t marked by unfairness and cruelty. Some of these attempts were quite terrible. Those were the unnoticed ones. The ones people noticed were the ones that brought him accolades. There he was defeating dragons so that they would not turn on the hapless crowd, rescuing young and handsome schoolmates who did not deserve to be made into prizes, unraveling labyrinths, unpacking every lie at the heart of alchemy and mediwizardry, every misconception about blood that formed the basis for transfiguration and the dark arts.
There he was, seeming greater and greater, year after year. All the while committed to ending his own greatness, in a way. To bringing about a universe in which others, the people like him, who were quick and clever, could not take advantage, seize all the crowns for themselves. He learned to see the humor in this. He spoke very wryly of his successes, poking fun at himself. People (who he had begun to see as somewhat silly. Human and worth caring about, but still silly) called this evidence of great humility.
It was not. It was a reaction. It was the great lie he’d inadvertently created spinning out in a beautiful web. The more they believed the lie, the more power it gave him. The more power he had, the more he could work to end the lie.
Often he did the wrong thing. Valued the wrong person. Crowned with laurels the wrong side. He was not superhuman. He only seemed that way.
He wanted to do good. It became very funny to him that he could never do as much good as he liked, and never without also doing some evil, and never without receiving more than his fair share of the credit. How huge the lie, the mask seemed to grow then! It was such a silly thing, the mask.
But if you had wanted to go without credit, or to be seen as every bit the liar you are, the Hat would tell him. Then you would have been better served in Slytherin or Hufflepuff. Or even Ravenclaw.
An I-Told-You-So. For the four-way hatstall.
But do you know? He died without regrets. He had by then become accustomed to the school, which he had hated as a youth, for one day there had come before him a pair of frank green eyes, and they seemed to say:
Everyone thinks I’m a hero. But I’m not, not really. Who thrust this on me?
In this case it was not Fate or the personification of magic that had done it. Not completely. It was a man looking to end all that, a desperate man, a man sick of the system, unhappy. But Harry, Harry was not like him. Harry did great things because someone had to do them, because he had to, not as part of some great web of lies meant to end the system. Harry suffered more than he had to, and became a hero, and deserved his heroism. Harry was not dissatisfied. Harry had not become so jaded that he began to find most people very silly. Harry loved Hogwarts. Hogwarts, and its Head, loved Harry.
And Harry had earned it. You should not have to earn love. But, truly, the unhappiest student at Hogwarts had never understood how it could be so freely given. Particularly in a world like theirs, where so many people went without, and beyond this went without even a modicum of respect, never mind crowns. He’d known that to love must be a great thing, seen how its lack warped people. But he did not approve of the way the system parceled it out. Grand and powerful as he was, he waged war after war against the system.
This is why we remember him as the Greatest Wizard Who Ever Lived. The Supreme Mugwump. The one who stood above all the others as a leader, as Head Boy, as Triwizard Champion. The Greatest Head of Hogwarts.
But know that he was not happy there, not really, not at all. Not until Harry came.
9th March 14
Neville’s office isn’t in the castle. Well, there is technically a room assigned to him (third floor, fifth door on the right, mind the re-located portrait of Sir Cadogan). But if you needed help with your Herbology assignment or were sent to see the Head of Gryffindor House about that parakeet you snuck into the fifth floor girl’s toilets, you would never find him there.
Neville had a small cottage near the greenhouses. There had been some grumbling about its creation when Neville first started teaching, but it was hard to argue with the Minister’s favorite advisor who just happened to be a hero. So the cottage was built and young Mr. Longbottom and his new wife moved onto the Hogwarts grounds.
There was a steady stream of students coming in and out of the little house during class breaks. Some carried odd potted plants, some looks of guilt etched on their faces, and some simply dropped by to say hello. The windows had bright curtains and the chimney always cheerfully puffed smoke. It was hard not to feel welcomed by the cozy exterior.
Things were different after night fell. Students still weren’t allowed to wander the grounds at night, but everyone turned a blind eye to those who knocked on the cottage door under cover of darkness. These students carried no gifts and bore no cheery smiles. Their faces were tear-stained or bruised or fearful. They were hunched over, trying to make themselves as small as possible. They knocked on the door with shaking hands and trembling lips.
When they entered they would find a crackling fire, a squashy armchair, some of Hannah Longbottom’s famous ginger biscuits and a steaming cup of tea. And they would find Professor Longbottom, smiling kindly. He heard stories of homesickness, of bullies and taunts, of fears and failures. He dried tears and patted backs. And most importantly, he listened.
He might quietly find a bully and intervene. He might Apparate from the Three Broomsticks to the nearest Muggle town and place a call to a concerned parent. He might consult with Madam Pomfrey on the best way to help manage the anxieties of an overwhelmed fifth year. He might simply sit and give a firm and thoughtful piece of advice. But this is not why students came to Professor Longbottom’s house when life was bleak and Hogwarts was too much to bear.
They came because he had once, so many years ago, been like them. And because they, unlike him, would never have to be alone.
(written and submitted by ppyajunebug. This is another very sweet submission from this author. ppyajunebug’s wizarding world always feels like ultimately a good place, where wrongs are righted and people do kind things. It’s an inviting, pleasant look at canon; thank you, ppyajunebug!)
9th March 14
Every year the train fairly buzzes with bets, gold and dollar bills changing hands fast as lightning as the train pulls into Salem. Even the most cynical New York witch gets caught up in the fervent debate that rages through the compartments like a wild fire.
“I’m telling you. It was stone last year so this year it’ll be wood. Oooh, a log cabin!”
“Oh come on, a log cabin? What is this, 1818? Please. I bet it’s a gigantic apartment. I heard we’ve got more students this year than ever before.”
“Oh, gross, an apartment? I live in one of those normally, I don’t want to be there during the school year. I’ve got my fingers crossed for a big stone mansion like 1978 had.”
“Those lucky witches.”
It’s a fight out of the door of the train, dozens of students falling over themselves as they run towards the enormous gates that are the only thing that ever remains the same at the Salem Witches Institute. They reach up to the sky and mark the boundary between the magical and the mundane. From outside, all you can see is a field – standing empty and ruined. That is, if you even make this far. America is huge and wild, even after so long. There will always be hidden pockets of wilderness tucked in among even its most urban states. American wizards don’t need magic to hide away their lands. They just need enough money to buy a good plot out in the middle of nowhere. And America is practically overrun with middle of nowheres.
The first look at their school is always a sacred moment for every Salem witch and wizard (contrary to the name, it has always been a co-ed school. Both men and women died in Salem after all). A moment of stillness as they regard their home before the year begins and they submerge themselves in spells and potions and all things magical.
You see, every year the Salem Witches Institute sheds its skin and begins anew. Bricks might fall out like old teeth as wooden planks push their way out or ivy might peel off like old snakeskin to reveal gleaming stone beneath. Its first year it was a crude log cabin with just one room for all five of its students. The next year, a wooden house stood in its place. The following year, a gorgeous creation of glass and gleaming metal welcomed dozens of students trickling in from all across America as word of this bizarre, wonderful school spread. In 1876, 100 years since America declared its independence, the Salem Witches Institute looked exactly like Hogwarts. Some students were outraged, some were touched, most were confused. But as its Headmistress pointed out, no one but the school could decide what it would look like from year to year. And besides, she said with a definite twinkle in her eye as she welcomed them in, wasn’t it important to remember where we came from so we can see how very far we have come since then?
The European schools tend to look down on the Institute. Even the oldest American school is but a babe in arms next to the Great Schools of ancient Europe. Hogwarts was founded in 990 AD. America wasn’t even discovered yet.
(Of course they forget that long before a white man ever set foot on their land, Native witches and wizards were casting their own spells and teaching their children magic in smoky wigwams or under the starry skies.)
So, to them, the Institute’s changing nature is indicative of its youth. Like a teenager with a new hair cut every few weeks. It’ll settle down eventually, most European wizards agree indulgently. Everyone needs their rebellious period.
Salem witches and wizards just roll their eyes. Why on earth would you want to remain stagnant when the whole point of magic is change? Every Salem graduate knows, deep in their bones where their spark of magic resides, that magic is renewal and transformation and growth. They go out into the world knowing they can change it.
(written and submitted by rainbowrites. Rainbowrites has a tremendous ability to capture the wondrous, that spark that made canon seem so significant, even as they depart from canon and create new worlds, explore schools and perspectives only mentioned in passing. I’m always pleased to how else they’ll challenge and play with perceptions of and within the wizarding world. ♥)
8th March 14
Everyone would have agreed it was a shame that two weeks passed before Professor Flitwick realized why the child’s feather was failing to rise. “Louder, boy!” he instructed, when he finally reached the far left corner of the classroom to observe the student’s wandwork.
“Wingar——dium leviosa” the boy had said.
“Don’t pause in the middle, say it smoothly, like this.” Professor Flitwick demonstrated, the feather floating gracefully up a dozen inches then settling back to the desk. “Again!”
And that was when the professor had nodded in understanding and quickly ushered the child to the infirmary.
“No wonder he’s been so shy since he arrived, the poor thing’s ashamed to speak,” he explained to a bustling Madam Pomfrey. She shook three drops of Graphorn Gall onto the terrified boy’s tongue—expensive, but worth it for the permanent fix—flicked her wand twice and spoke the explicare charm. There was a quick red glow across his chin, and a loud pop that made him startle. The boy reached up tentatively to his lips.
“There, let’s hear you now.”
“Wingardium leviosa,” the boy said quietly.
“Ah ha! Very good,” exclaimed Madam Pomfrey. “Back to class, you’ll have those feathers flying in no time.” She escorted them out with a smile, placed her vial of Graphorn Gall back on the shelf, and proceeded to forget the incident entirely.
She wasn’t there to see the boy’s shy eyes when he greeted his parents at King’s Cross in December, his mother gasping at his free-flowing words, his father’s cheeks damp with pride. And many years later, when she noticed a former Head Boy return to Hogwarts with special permission to access the charms library, she could not have recalled their first meeting.
No one saw him alone in the guest quarters that night, pouring over ancient magical-reversal texts, muttering one incantation after another with wand pointed to his lips. “This is my voice,” he repeated quietly between each attempted spell. “This is my voice.” Another flick of his wand. “Th-th-this is my vvvvvoice.”
No, Madam Pomfrey was peacefully asleep after another day of mending the broken. She didn’t hear the man’s long, deep exhale, or see his bitter smile.
(Written and submitted by littleredspaces. This comes with the author’s note: “A look at non-consensual healing and the erasure of disabled identities in the wizarding world.”
I’ll confess, I had to check in with littleredspaces before I understood this fully, not realizing that I had blinders on, so used to my way of looking at the world that I couldn’t understand the horror here. I’m extremely grateful to littleredspaces for taking the time to explain, and, even more so, I’m grateful that this was written. It uses the trappings of the magical world to tell us a story that is decidedly not magical in any way, that is real and all too painful.)
7th March 14
Grandfather always got terribly irritated when his slippers weren’t waiting by the fireplace every evening. No matter that he was a ghost, there were standards to uphold, good Merlin.
(written and submitted by essayofthoughts. Short, funny, and clever! I love it.)
6th March 14
The Gaelic Years
Scottish wizards always had a hard time of it when they came to Hogwarts. First, and most obviously, was the fact that they would be missing out on their final year of primary school if they left at age eleven. The pureblood families didn’t mind so much, but Muggleborns were often faced with the hard decision about which was better - full primary Muggle education, or a proper start at their hidden wizard heritage? Most opted to leave the primary schools, which often put their parents in extremely difficult situations.
But secondly, there was the additional factor that until 1603, the two countries had existed independent of each other. They had fought against each other at Culloden, Bannockburn and Flodden, assassination attempts had been made on both sides (primarily during performances of Macbeth, where wizards playing the witches, in an act of patriotic defiance, shot out Stunning spells at the audience and once, the watching courtiers), but the worst offence, in the Scot’s opinion, was after the Jacobite rebellion of 1745, when the English victors banned tartan, bagpipes, and Gaelic.
Until then, no unified schools had been set up to teach young wizards and witches in Scotland - those lucky enough to be born into a family were taught in the home, while the few Muggleborns were killed in infancy - and, particularly in the Highlands, many spells were performed in Gaelic, the mother tongue of Scotland, there since Columba came over from Ireland to convert them to Christianity. Due to this tragic ban, many clever and innovative spells - including the early forms of basic incantations now used to fortify the soil before any magical plant is moved into it (not created by English wizards until the mid-seventeenth century), and the template for the smokeless blue flames so many lost travelers mistook for will o’ the wisps - were lost. Those few brave witches and wizards who kept Gaelic spells alive were found out by any number of English wizards and had their spells forcibly Obliviated from their minds.
After the Second Wizarding War, Scottish wizards campaigned to be allowed to host their own wizarding school.
They were declined.
(written and submitted by theteaisaddictive
. theteaisaddictive melds genuine history with magical worldbuilding to give us a sharp view of how we might read the British wizarding world, so rarely seen from this side in the books. Seeing people deepen the canon like this, personalize it, bring their own understanding to it, and do so in a well-written, thoughtful fashion like this, is one of my favorite things about running this blog. Thank you, theteaisaddictive!)
5th March 14
I fought in the old revolution
on the side of the ghost and the King.
Of course I was very young
and I thought that we were winning;
I can’t pretend I still feel very much like singing
as they carry the bodies away.
Leonard Cohen, The Old Revolution (1969)
She is beautiful, he thinks, as her hair fans out around her. Black, rippling waves, dark and mesmerizing, beckoning him to join her as she drifts down the river. (Home. Home is here. Slytherin, children of the water gods.)
She is beautiful in the same way all dead people are beautiful. So calm and peaceful. Her features carefully softened by the dark water gently rippling over her face, tenderly smoothed into a kind of beauty he is sure she did not possess in life. And everything, smoothed out and tinged by that sickly but uncannily beautiful shade of green. Shades of death, he calls it, complimenting his cousin on her fine dress in precisely that colour and his cousin laughs nervously and tells him not to be morbid. His cousin deals enough with it where her eldest sister is concerned; she does not need a younger cousin following in those footsteps.
So he stays quiet and keeps his thoughts to himself and nobody misses his gentle voice. Drowning, he muses, is the way to go. None of the violence of ordinary death. None of the mess; the gore and blood. Salazar knows he’s seen enough of it to last him a lifetime. No. Drowning is the death of the pure and innocent of heart. It is silent and beautiful, ghoulish poetry of the reaper. If they must die, then they must drown. It is the only aesthetically pleasing form of death they can have.
Then Rodolphus spits in the water and hisses mudblood before stalking away and the poignant stillness of the scene is shattered. Not beautiful, he thinks. Ugly, ugly, ugly. Dead and ugly. Cold and clammy and slowly rotting even as the five of them look on.
He wants to throw up.
She is a child. Not more than nine, younger even. She ought to be playing. Discovering the magic which runs within her veins. A doting father soon tucking her into bed and kissing her goodnight as she settles in to sleep.
Instead she is dead; no, murdered. Not yet quite old enough to understand why she had to die.
He looks to his companions. Lucius at least has the grace to express some form of distaste - Regulus sees it in the way he crinkles it slightly, though his face is an unreadable blank mask for the most part. Bella; Bella rejoices in death in all its hideous forms as long as she is allowed to bestow it. In this, at least, he sympathizes with Lucius. If they are to be butchers, they might at least be allowed the satisfaction of being artistic ones. Bella, like her husband, revels in the mess, in blood spattered over her dress and Regulus supposes that that is all right for them; unto each his own.
(They never did mention people would have to die for it.)
And as he watches her float on to her final, watery grave, he wonders where the fire that once burned within him has gone. This was meant to be revolution; fire, passion, ideals, all of them stars burning brightly with a fierce beauty, a swift unstoppable force crushing those who opposed them. This was meant to be freedom and liberation and the beginning of a new world.
Instead he wishes he could join her and paint his face green: shades of death. She has peace and eternal silence. She has the joy of a watery grave.
(and beauty. such beauty. dark, drowning beauty. White and green and rotting in peace. Slytherin, the sign of water. Home calls.)
He has the comfort of knowing he is the good son. He has chains of his choosing, a heavy heart and the knowledge that he is ugly. Marred. Marred like the world they live in. Twisted out of shape through his own choice.
Some day he will join her; he will be the lion he is named for and return home where all the children of Slytherin go. He too will be beautiful. No longer a shadow lurking in corners of dark alleyways. No longer a vulture, a creature of prey. The water will wash the filth away. (Salazar purify me.) He will be clean again; clean and at peace. His hair will unfurl in lovely long black waves; his face will be tinged with shades of death. Someone else will look upon him and wish to join him in his watery death.
But not today. Today he will trudge home along with the rest of them. Today he is No One in Particular: the wearer of many masks. Tonight, he will set this ivory mask he holds aside and put on another one. Perfect son, precious child. He will smile and make merry and laugh and his parents will be content, for their son is all that he should be. And tomorrow he will look on yet another drowned soul and wish he had the courage to join them.
Some day he will be brave. Just not today.
(Written and submitted by thepostmodernpottercompendium. This is absolutely gorgeous. The prose is beautiful, the piece itself insightful, the story imbued with decay, and death, and beauty in death, and hope only as it comes through morbidity. The line between horror and wonder is thin here, so thin, and this seems especially fitting for a character like Regulus, whose fate is woven into the main narrative in the smallest but most terrible of ways. thepostmodernpottercompendium gives him the spotlight here, and it’s amazing. Author’s note: Inspired by tumblr user pica-scribit’s headcanon song for Regulus Black.)
4th March 14
It all started when a boat full of Muggleborns, charged guilty of “stealing magic” and on their way to Azkaban, seemingly vanished into the sea. The Ministry officials at first believed that it was simply an (un)fortunate accident, and no one was going to cry about a few mudbloods drowning.
The incident reapeated itself twice before they finally grew suspicious. A pair of Aurors, pretending to be prisoners as well, was placed on the next boat to find out where its cargo was vanishing off to.
They were found three days later, stumbling along the shore, confused and unable to recall what had happened. The same thing happened to a couple of Snatchers, who were on the trail of a group of fugitives and suddenly found themselves with a two day memory gap and their prey gone without a trace.
Head Auror Dawlish, fresh out of St. Mungos after that embarrassing encounter with the old lady and her terrifying vulture hat, was anxious to solve this curious case (mostly because his colleagues were still merciless with their teasing and he desperately wanted his dignity back). He sent out his men to investigate, but none of them came back with anything more than a disturbing lack of memory.
Soon there were rumours though, about a most peculiar group of people that was determined to set the convicted Mudbloods and Bloodtraitors and other criminals loose again, that hunted down Snatchers and took their prey. Snatched it back. Back Snatchers.
It was the most stupid name they had ever heard. None of them ever suggested giving their weird little gang a name, but if they had, it sure as hell would not have been Back Snatchers. It stuck to them anyway, and at some point they just rolled with it.
Essentially, they weren’t much different from the Snatchers anyway. They, too, tried to track down muggleborns and runaways, but instead of sending them to Azkaban, they send them into safety, helped them flee over borders or to safe houses hidden all over the country.
They would tail groups of Snatchers for days, following them quietly and then jumping between them and their victims (and of course always making sure none of them took off without an Obliviate sent their way).Soon enough, the Ministry found them to be most undesirable, though they could never quite figure out who exactly they were.
Sometimes people they met on the run or the ones they saved travelled with them. The half-giant was with them for a while, but he was too big and loud and not subtle enough, and some of the scared muggleborns they saved were nearly as terrified of him as they had been of the Dementors.
The twins didn’t stick around for long as well, soon joining their friend in broadcasting the word of the resistance, though they left them quite a lot of useful toys and gadgets.
The boy with the claw marks on his head stayed longer. He had been on the first boat they had taken (half-blood and a werewolf, how dared he), and they didn’t have to convince him of their cause. He had unfinished business with that Greyback guy, after all.
There was even a goblin amongst them, a polite fellow who didn’t talk much. But he was of great value whenever they got into a fight, as was the former Slytherin girl, who had won several dueling championships in her time at Hogwarts.
Then there was Justin of course, whose brilliant Memory Charms were the main reason they had gone undetected for so long, and a bit later Augusta joined them and amused them all with her story about the poor Auror who had been foolish enough to believe she’d be an easy target.
Yes, they were a curious constellation of people, misfits and half-bloods and muggleborns and whatnots, but they had a cause, and that cause united them.
(written and submitted by killingkari. This is so badass and yet so cheering! It tackles the darkest year in the canon without sentimentality but with a lot of heart, outlining in direct, unpretentious terms a similarly unpretentious, but extremely heroic band of people. I love this.
Image edit also by killingkari. Sources, as there are too many to list in the link, are: 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8.)
3rd March 14
To be a leader is no easy thing.
It is amusing, however, that this leader has always wanted to be a leader. Considering all that rot about the best leaders not wanting to lead, it is interesting how popular this one is and was.
Oh, but he was crafty. He played the fool or the grandfather or the mentor, without ever truly being any of those things, because at heart, he was a leader. Leaders make difficult choices, as they must, but this leader…well, his choices had never been difficult in the sense that they were hard to do.
It was only that they were hard to bear.
Take the boy, for instance. What boy, you ask? Oh, well, any boy.
There was the soulless one, who was allowed into Hogwarts even after his murdering, because it was better to be within these walls than without it.
Or the other boy, the friendless one, who was allowed to consort and to bully and to isolate himself, because it was a lesson for others, and because, in the end, there was a desperation in him, and desperation can be wielded when the desperate inevitably break.
Or the last boy, the favoured one, who had to live with the lowly and the abusive to soften the heart, to make him love this world more than he could ever love the other one.
Evil? No. Wrong? Perhaps.
But think how it might have become, had their leader not chosen so. Think of the soulless boy, who would lose all he held dear and rise to power before he could be corralled? Or of the friendless boy, if he were admonished and miserable, and so never became desperate enough to salvage. Or of the favoured boy, who would leave the world that hates and loves him by turns, who was made to be soft and to die and then return.
These choices were made, and these difficulties born, because he was a leader.
The greater good is all that matters. You would do well to remember that.
- Transmission of Former Headmaster Phineas Nigellus Black to Current Headmaster Neville Longbottom in the year 2021
(written and submitted by the lovely petrichorlore. I adore ‘Character A’s perspective on Character B’ stories, and petrichorlore pulls this off beautifully here. By sketching out a meta on Dumbledore, she cleverly gives us a view into Phineas Nigellus and the Slytherin perspective, a masterful misdirection that is beautifully executed.)
2nd March 14
There is a bench now under the beech tree by the lake. It appeared one day without any fanfare, as if it had been there always. And maybe it had been. No one in the castle seemed to recall a time before it had sat in the leafy shade.
On rainy days, birds perch on the back and shake the water from their wings. In the snow it becomes a home base for the lucky few who first claim it during snowball fights. When the sun shines, students can be found spreading their books and papers across the seat, or eating lunch they hastily grabbed from the Great Hall, or simply lounging about and watching the giant squid swim laps.
No one ever looks any closer, except one. On an early spring morning, Teddy Lupin is walking back from the Quidditch pitch when he sees the dew sparkling on the back of the bench in an odd way. Leaning his broomstick against the arm, he sits down and takes a closer look.
There is a carving there. Two deer, a stag and a doe, are galloping alongside a large dog and an even larger wolf. At their heels is a small rat. Teddy knows the meaning of this engraving. He knows who put it here. And he cries as he hasn’t since he was a small boy, since his grandmother first told him the story of his parents and their best friends.
When his tears have run out, Teddy picks up his broom and hurries towards his room in Gryffindor Tower. It has been a long time since he’s written a letter to his godfather, and he suddenly has a lot to say.
(written and submitted by ppyajunebug. ppyajunebug has a distinct and powerful voice. Simple, not overly-sentimental, but always, in the end, moving. Cutting right to the core. The kindness they reserve for the characters, and their clever, honest way of presenting it, delight me every single time they submit.)
1st March 14
The Order of Merlin, First Class, was awarded posthumously to Regulus Arcturus Black by order of the Minister, Kingsley Shacklebolt, despite hearty opposition from the Wizengamot, whose counters included, “He’s a Death Eater,” and “He committed atrocities unaccounted for,” to “Others more deserving will be passed over!” And so on.
Kingsley ignored it. In truth, the Order of Merlin was only in part meant for the memory of young, tragic Regulus Black. At least half of it belonged to a house elf named Kreacher, a foul being made foul by his masters, who nevertheless was instrumental in the defeat of the self-styled Lord Voldemort.
Of course, the Minister knew that no matter how much opposition he received, no matter how many bridges he was burning, no matter the dissent sowed, it would be infinitely worse should he attempt to award a house-elf the Order of Merlin, First Class.
Never mind a house-elf brainwashed into being a vehicle of pureblood propaganda in its least subtle form.
Kingsley, however, attempted to rectify the animosity the Council were throwing his way like particularly quiet curses.
"Regulus Arcturus Black—" said Kingsley Shacklebolt, newly elected Minister of the British Wizarding World, "—was a scion of the Most Noble and Ancient House of Black. In truth, through his self-sacrifice, he has salvaged the perception of his blood and his house. I ask you, most noble Council of the Wizengamot, what the effect of an Order of Merlin, First Class, on such a martyred descendent, would have on the views of the populace which we govern."
Annalise Wilding stood, tall and stern, the silver scars on her face shining in the gloom. “It would, I believe, have a stabilizing effect on the populace, and the press, that we sorely need. A pureblood, a Slytherin, to be awarded the Order of Merlin, would reassure other purebloods, other Slytherins that they will be judged by merit by the Ministry. It would, in fact, encourage meritorious action that will be received most welcomingly by all, despite intentions that might indicate those actions are not altogether altruistic.”
"And what of the effect such an award would have on the victims of the Dark Lord’s terrorizing?" asked elderly Llewelyn Mell. "Would they not think the Ministry weak, think that our establishment has reverted to the old ways of bribery and corruption?"
Kingsley smiled to himself, but hid it behind a veneer of tranquil attention. The ‘old ways’, indeed. He cleared his throat, and regained the attention of the Wizengamot. “We must not forget the numerous other upstanding wizards and witches who will also be awarded. This should serve to counter any dissent. As it is, I feel as though it will be worth it.”
No less than seven hours of debate later, the Wizengamot came to the same conclusion.
In a dark house slowly being reclaimed by light, a house elf held a golden medallion on a purple ribbon with tearful awe. “My master has been recognized,” he croaked to himself, utterly unaware that such a matter had been debated by the greats, nor, in fact, that it had been done on his behalf.
Harry smiled to himself from behind the door and turned away as the aged house-elf named Kreacher reverently hung the Order of Merlin, First Class, on the centre of the wall of his cupboard, where it was surrounded by glum photos of a dark-haired boy all in black and green.
(written and submitted by petrichorlore. This is all I want for Kreacher, one of my most favorite minor characters ever, so please excuse me if I gush a little. petrichorlore creates a wonderful reward for him here, a reward on his own terms, and imbues her story with a beautiful understanding and a kindness that he could never receive in canon. On top of that, we get a competent & clever Kingsley, playing the powers that be and moving politics forward even as he does a good turn. Wonderful, just wonderful.)
28th February 14
Professor Marion Hunt was agreed by all the students to be a superb Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher. She allowed students to practice spells and ran a twice weekly duelling club that anyone could attend. She also was a strong believer in magical equality and liked to teach things that weren’t on the syllabus to widen her students’ views.
So on Thursday when her students entered the classroom and saw copies of “Werewolves of the Continent” set on their desks they simply sat down and waited. “Page four-forty-nine please. Werewolves of the Black Forest.” The room was filled with rustling pages.
“Who knows anything about lycanthropy?” she asked. No one looked up from the large diagram on the open pages before them. “Hmm. Very well I shall have to explain a great deal to you.
“Lycanthropy is a magical retrovirus. Recent studies done by Singapore Magibiologists have shown that lycanthropy is transmitted by a virus in werewolf saliva. The virus is only present in the wolf form and completely rewrites the DNA of the one bitten. In muggles it usually results in death but in Wizards and Witches the presence of magic allows the individual to survive. The result is a person - for they are human bar thirteen nights of each year - who is forced through an excruciating transformation each full moon that renders them unable to control the violent urges of the magical wolf.”
Professor Hunt tapped a map hanging from the ceiling and directed small lights to specific spots. “These are the sites of the last twenty Werewolf attacks on the continent; see how spread apart they are? On the continent werewolf hunting used to be a pureblood pastime, and it was banned shortly after the bloodsports, which you will learn about in your History of Magic class.
“Werewolves on the continent lived in packs, the largest of which was in the Black Forest. Because of the pack hierarchy found on the continent that we lack here in Britain, werewolves on the continent varied in violence with the most violent usually ruling the packs. These most violent ones were often also the biggest and the ones marked to be killed or selected as “trophy kills” by the pureblood hunters, and so increasingly when new wolves were bitten they had similarly calm temperaments like the ones who bit them. Over time, wolves began behaving like the common European Wolf, and even some werewolves retained memory of who they were when human and vice versa. Before long these wolves became pack leaders, and with these wixes in charge werewolf packs became almost indistinguishable from mundane wolf packs.”
Professor Hunt tapped the map and the lights changed colour, softening from gold to different shades of orange and red. “The darker the red the older the attacks, the newest, this one,” she tapped a coppery coloured one, “was sixty-nine years ago. Since then all werewolf infections on the continent have been consensual. An individual, often an orphan or disowned by their family will ask a pack registered with their Ministry permission to join them. If the individual is deemed suitable they stay with the pack at the full moon and are bitten.”
Several hands rose and Marion pointed to one, “Yes Phoebus?”
“Isn’t that risky? They’ve got werewolves in a controllable state, all it would take is for one to go feral or rabid and everyone ends up in danger.”
“OI!” Susi cried. “They’re people too! The fact is, they’re capable of higher thinking as wolves now. They won’t attack people. That means you won’t have to lock them up like they do here. They’re lucky. Don’t take that from them.”
The class was silent.
“What, none of you think that? Are you cruel? The Lupin laws were put in place for a reason.”
The Professor laughed. “Brave girl, Susi, to own to thinking as such, and right too. In the past the Ministries on the continent have discussed preventing any turnings but it was quickly agreed that to do so would both bring back the stigma attached to lycanthropy as well as drive to crime those previously mentioned orphans and disowned witches and wizards. The family a pack created was proven to be a stabilising influence on these individuals and the occasional accidental breeding that would occur between the wolves increased the intelligence of the native wolves which reduced non-magical animal attacks.
“Your homework is to pick one of the continental werewolf packs and analyse how the effects of lycanthropy there have changed as well as a projection of what might happen should a British werewolf join them.”
(written and submitted by essayofthoughts, who consistently thinks about magical creatures in new and insightful ways. Here, they depart a bit from the standard reading of canon werewolves, but in so doing offer us a glimpse of how the status quo in the magical world might be altered. Wonderful.)
27th February 14
Cho loves the Lunar New Year. It’s her favourite holiday, more than Christmas, more than Hallowe’en, even more than her beloved Valentine’s Day. Growing up, the Spring Festival meant lanterns hanging in the front porch and rice cakes and everyone they knew in Tollcross coming over for dinner and going to the temple and lighting incense for the ancestors at the family altar. Cho was devastated when, in her first year, she learned that her parents were unable to secure her a special dispensation to come home for the New Year and she and Anthony Goldstein bonded over their shared experiences - he told her about Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, and how he wasn’t allowed to take time off classes for it. They agreed that it was wicked unfair - even Cho’s father, Julian Chang, was able to get time off from Edinburgh University (where he was a lecturer on History) to celebrate the holiday, and people for blocks around would make time to come and enjoy her mother Sayaka’s extravagant New Year’s feasts, prepared in the most lavish manner Japanese cuisine could manage.
Cho kept the festival as well as she could. Every Lunar New Year, she would put on the brand-new robes her parents sent her the week before. She wasn’t allowed to have an altar in the dormitory, and the small white tablet with her ancestors’ names carved on it was a poor substitute, but she would light a tea-light in front of it and remember that at home, miles and miles away, her family would be lighting candles in front of photographs on the high altar and making offerings of flowering branches and bowls of the most perfect pick of the first fruits of the season. For the first three days of the New Year, she would try to do good deeds and not lose her temper or break things, and she would divide up the New Year’s money her parents sent her among the first year Ravenclaw girls for luck.
When she was grown and the prophecy of her name had come true - she’d always spoken better Japanese than Chinese, much to her mother’s smug triumph and her father’s annoyance, and hadn’t known until she was in her twenties that chō chang meant “melancholy” in Chinese - she kept the festival every year, but there was a drop of bitterness in all the lantern-lit joy and festivity. With the way Hogwarts and its people had treated her - not cruelly, but dismissively, with kindly scorn - and the war in which she had fought and all that had passed for her there, the stones of the wizarding world scorched her feet and celebrating the Lunar New Year in her home with her fiancé and later husband and their daughter became an act of defiance against it.
And when little Sayaka McLaughlin began making her stuffed toys dance without touching them, Cho swore that her little girl would never go to school in a castle, or spend the Spring Festival away from her family or live in a world where you could be killed by a flash of green light.
(image is magical-flying-moron's. Story is written and submitted by magical-flying-moron as well. This works perfectly in terms of making me feel for Cho, and giving me a sense of her as a full-fledged person with her own dreams and values. I already loved her; now magical-flying-moron makes sure I’m firmly in her corner, makes sure I understand what the stakes were for her, and the unfairness she might have felt at Hogwarts. This makes me fall in love with her all over again. It’s a wonderful character-driven piece.)
26th February 14
It is the early 2000s and judgement based on blood status is as strong as ever in the deep south of America. The Quill, the leading daily for most of the American wizarding world, has famously been following a scathing set of criticizing articles by guest writer Rita Skeeter, demonizing Georgia Waters, Muggleborn and principal of Frontier University, a wizarding college in the swamps of Louisiana. After a particular vicious “interview” detailing the personal life of Waters, mentioning several times her life partner Alayna Waters-Motley, a trio of Muggleborn students of the school form a small band together to become known as Mudblood bWitches.
The scathing lyrics of Melody Sparrow disguised in a genre reminiscent of bubblegum pop berates the controversial issues of the wizarding world, such as the testing of experimental potions on animals, the forcing of centaurs from their traditional grounds for foresting, and the noted classism and bias of pureblood and halfblood preference in many wizarding governments.
Mudblood bWitches quite easily made notable enemies for their ballads against noted figures, such as Matthieu Baudelaire, teacher at Beauxbaton’s school in France, being accused of sexual relations with several students and getting away with, as the lyrics go, “A slap on the wrist and a pump on his dick”. Baudelaire responded with a flock of Howlers at the band’s next concert, calling them offensive slurs in front of a crowd of several hundred.
Soon after this occurrence, Mudblood bWitches was taken off the air of magical radio on what many fans call suspicious; all members and their agents have refused to comment. Instead, the group has put their music and related topics onto the Internet (protected from Muggles by world-standard charms interwoven in the scripting and layout) for their fans to keep in contact.
While not considered completely successful, due to the lyrics applying nearly solely to minorities—such as Squibs, werewolves, and QUILTBAG+ magic users—Mudblood bWitches has gained a very vocal following. They will be releasing a new EP, titled (Trans)figuration in late June. Their music can be found at http://www.m-dbloodbwitches.owl.
picture: lead singer Melody Waters. (Rooney Mara)
25th February 14
Oh, surely you didn’t think Platform 9 3/4 was the only hidden treasure in King’s Cross?
There is always another secret tunnel to explore, another hidden garden to frolic in, or another magical creature to discover. Even the famous Marauder’s Map is missing a few hidden mysteries. The Wizarding World is wide and wonderful and not even its occupants know all of its secrets. After all, where would the fun be in that?
(written and submitted by rainbowrites. As short and simple as this is, it still manages to be well-written and exciting, promising so much. And, would you believe it, but rainbowrites sums up my take on the wizarding world exactly.)