The Intern

I suppose I’m just going to see this thing through until the end now, since I can see you all are reading.  As always, thank you so much and please let me know if you have a comment or a critique!  Here are the previous sections:

Smudgeworth’s Message

The Featherleys Get the News

Bringing Up Astrid

Dawn in the Alley

I’ve actually been borrowing my friend’s laptop and snatching a few minutes here and there at work to post these for you the last few days.  Here’s the latest:

She stopped on the stoop, taking a swig of pumpkin juice and a deep breath.  “This is it,” she muttered before turning the knob.  “Time to show them all what you’re made of.”

The world inside the Daily Prophet was in stark contrast to that outside in the alley.  Employees who appeared to have been awake for hours bustled about in a frenzy, bumping into each other in their haste to arrive wherever they were going.  Paper airplanes whizzed by her head, reminding her of outings to the Ministry of Magic to visit her father.  She could hear the steady hum of a printing press, and then a low blast from a distant wand caused her to jump.

Astrid shrank into her clothes, trying to make herself appear smaller, although no one seemed to have noticed her.  She wasn’t quite sure what to do or even who to ask for directions.  She had met with the editor only briefly before and knew how very busy he must be; it would be improper and downright embarrassing to go to him for help.

A tall, thin woman with her face buried in a piece of parchment bumped into her.  “Watch it!” the woman said in an irritated tone.

“Sorry,” Astrid said instinctively.  The woman hurried on without acknowledging her again.

“Astrid?” came a male voice from behind her.

Filled with relief at having been spotted, she flung around.  “Adrian!” she said, recognizing an old school chum.  Adrian had been a few years ahead of her, but she had seen a great deal of him in the Slug Club.

“I heard you were starting today!  Old Sluggy came through for you, did he?”

“Yes, he was very helpful.  I wouldn’t be here without him.”

“Who will you be working with?”

“I’m…not entirely sure.” Astrid flushed.

“Oh!” Adrian looked confused.  “Well…come and meet me on your break if you’d like.  No sense going out alone, times like these.  I sit over there.”  He pointed to a vague spot in the middle row of desks.

“Right.  Thanks.  See you,” said Astrid, already peering around again for anyone else who might recognize her.

She stood for another minute until she was approached by someone new.  This woman wore high heels and bright red lipstick with her short, platinum-blonde curls, which made her resemble a 1950s pin-up model.  A heavyset man carrying a camera followed closely behind her.

“Miss Featherlight?” the woman said.

“Featherley,” Astrid replied, “but Astrid is fine.”

“Quite.”  The woman held out her hand and spoke with an air of importance.  “Rita Skeeter, Gossip Correspondent.”  Astrid reached out to shake her hand; Rita had a very stiff handshake.  “You’ll be working under me.  This is Bozo,” she said, jerking her thumb toward the photographer.

Astrid shook hands with Bozo, who held on just a fraction of a second too long and stared into her eyes in a way that seemed somehow invasive.  “Hello,” she said.

“I’ll show you where you can place your belongings,” Rita said, walking briskly to an empty desk in the far corner of the room.  “Quickly, quickly!  We have very little time before the day’s first interview.  This will be your desk.  No one will disturb your things.  And…,” and here she peered around as though seeking something.  The desk was bare but for some abandoned, impersonal office supplies, but amongst the clutter, Rita spied an ugly paperweight shaped like a fat black rat and smiled, scooping it up.  “Ah,” she said.  She held the rat in one hand and produced a wand with the other.  “Scriptorio,” she said, pointing the wand at the rat.

Astrid watched as shiny gold lettering reading ‘Astrid Featherly’ appeared across the side of the rat.  “There’s actually another ‘e’ in Feath–,” she began, but Rita interrupted, setting the makeshift nameplate atop Astrid’s new desk with a clunk.

“No time, no time,” Rita said.  “We’ll get you a new one later.”

Dawn in the Alley

Well, once again because I can see that you all are reading, I have decided to share the next segment of this story with you.  I really appreciate your time.  If you like it or have a critique, please let me know in the comments!  I may place something in between the last section and this one, but if I do, I haven’t written it yet.  Astrid is grown up now, though this is still during the events of Vold War I.  He won’t attack the Potters for a few more months from this point.

This whole concept began after I took a trip to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter and started fantasizing about living in Diagon Alley and working for the Daily Prophet.  A friend joked about me receiving visits there from a certain someone who will soon become the other main character, and thus, an idea was born.  For those who are new, here are the previous sections to this story:

Smudgeworth’s Message

The Featherleys Get the News

Bringing Up Astrid

And here is Part 4:

June 1981.

It was still dark and quiet in Diagon Alley when Astrid awoke for her first day on the job.  But by the time she had finished her morning routine and was preparing to leave, she could hear the sounds of a kerfuffle from outside.  Astrid headed to her window to discover the source of the disruption.  It was not hard to find.  Across the street, a vendor’s cart appeared to have been flung through the air and landed upside down, its wares scattered across the alley.  Beside it stood a scrawny young man who looked to be about Astrid’s own age.  He was shouting at a busty and smirking older woman who had her own cart in its upright position.

“You set that right!” he was saying.  “That’s my property, it is!  I’ll sue you for damages!”

“Oh, you will, will you?” the woman replied.  “I told you, you’re in my spot.  You need a permit to park ‘ere!  You need a permit to sell ‘ere!  So you can clean up your own stuff and move out of my way.”

“Look at you, then!  You’re so high and mighty.”  He began to circle the woman, flapping his arms in an exaggerated manner like a bird.  When he spoke again, he had lifted his voice to an absurd pitch, mocking her.  “I own the alley!  Look at me, everyone!  No one come near me!  I can’t stand the competition!”

Astrid giggled and instinctively threw her hand across her mouth, though no one would have spotted her from her window above.  Shaking her head, she stepped back and pocketed her wand before grabbing her handbag and a large notebook and going to the door.  She kept a hand on the rail as she descended the uneven stairs leading from her flat to the street below.

“It’s not my mess,” the woman was saying.  “I’m not cleaning it up!”

“Well, you made it!” said the young man.

“Oy!  Keep it down!” came a new voice.  Astrid looked up to see an angry man in a nightshirt leaning out of an upstairs window.  “Some of us are still trying to sleep!”

Astrid approached the woman, who smirked again at the other vendor, and ordered a gillywater and a pumpkin juice.  As she fished for the correct change, a law enforcement official approached to ask about the disturbance.  The woman hurried through the exchange with Astrid, apparently eager to tell her side of it, and Astrid left them to it, heading down the street in the direction of the Daily Prophet.

Bringing Up Astrid

I really appreciate you guys reading my fiction, so I’m going to go ahead and share Part 3 with you.  If you missed them, you can find the first two parts here:

Part 1

Part 2

I’d like to show you my protagonist, as well.  If you’re at all familiar, I basically conceived of this story while watching Pretty Little Liars (a very guilty pleasure) and trying to place the girls into houses.  I wanted to write about a character who wasn’t basically just a Mary-Sue for a change.  What, I thought, could I do with a character who wasn’t in my own house?  And that brought me to my main character, Astrid Featherley.

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So she’s an original character, of course, as are Smudgeworth and the Featherleys, but my whole point in trying to complete this exercise was to work within a given structure, and for me that meant writing a story that could fit within established canon, changing nothing of J.K. Rowling’s world, only embellishing where necessary.  Sort of like an extended universe story, which, being a Potterhead, is something I hope to see more of in the future.  So although she’s an OC, you’ll see Astrid interact with other familiar characters throughout.

Now without further ado, here’s Part 3:

Of the few memories Astrid Featherley held of her birth parents, most involved reading storybooks.  She had the usual stories read by magical children—works such as Babbitty Rabbitty and Her Cackling Stump and The Fountain of Fair Fortune.  But being of mixed blood, Astrid was also privy to Muggle works and those, of course, shared by both worlds, such as The Gingerbread Man.  Given to her by her parents the month she was born, this was one of Astrid’s all-time childhood favorites.  She fondly recalled curling up with her parents on a cold winter’s night and excitedly finishing the sentence for them every time they read, “Run, run, as fast as you can”.  Astrid’s face would light up as she exclaimed, “You can’t catch me; I’m the Gingerbread Man!”

There were slight changes to such stories depending on which world one was in.  In the Wizarding version of The Gingerbread Man, for example, the woman’s mischievous husband cast a charm on the gingerbread man so that he would run from her, and then the husband assumed his fox Animagus form to outrun his wife and eat the gingerbread himself.  The magic in the tale was toned down for Muggle children.  Astrid loved these stories the most because these felt truest to her own life as a half-blood child.

Magical children often displayed special gifts or talents very early on in life, and for Astrid, this was the gift of learning.  By two years old she was already reading these books to herself.  This pleased her parents very much, as they were themselves both quite clever.  Astrid’s father was what Muggles called a “scientist”, and although each parent worked in astronomy, their careers were very different.  Muggle astronomy was eons behind that of the Wizarding world, but Astrid still held a great deal of respect for her father’s career, as she recognized the dedication and study it required.

Mr. and Mrs. Hastings had met while attending a dissertation on the theory of stellar nucleosynthesis presented by Sir Fred Hoyle of Cambridge.  Astrid’s mother had wandered into the event out of curiosity over what exactly Muggle astronomy was all about, had sat beside Astrid’s father, and had walked out with him afterward to a nearby restaurant.  The two had found each other so witty that, for a few years to come, they could rarely catch their breath for laughing.  Astrid knew as much from letters to her adoptive parents from her mother, letters she devoured in her older years.

But then came the night the laughter stopped.

Astrid remembered far more than anyone knew about that wretched night.  The secret knowledge was a constant presence in her life, a burden she carried alone.  The state of her world and the prejudices within it rested heavily on Astrid’s shoulders.  Each time she thought to confide in someone, to share the weight of her past, the ever-present danger seemed to rise up within her.  Gripped by fear, Astrid chose instead to remain silent and stoic.

Her adoptive parents were unaware of Astrid’s knowledge about the event.  They had woken her the following morning and explained that her parents had been robbed and consequently killed with a Muggle weapon, that she wasn’t to worry about a thing because she would live with them, and that she was free to call them Mum and Dad when she felt she was able.  They had seemed particularly insistent on this, and Astrid had known why.

Astrid, understanding the gravity of the situation, could not bring herself to refer to her auntie and uncle as “Mum” or “Dad”, but had agreed to the more formal “Mother” and “Father”—a formality that seemed to suit the Featherleys.  Although kindhearted and loving, they were certainly more stern and rigid in their ways than the Hastings family had been, focusing less on wit and play and more on diligence and excellence.

On the whole, Astrid could say that her childhood had been a decent one, filled with expectations, goals, and competition, to be sure, but also with privilege, love, and as much security as parents could provide for a child in a world at war.

 

The Featherleys Get the News

Thank you so much for reading my fic yesterday!  I decided to post the next section of it for you.  Please let me know what you think….

Many miles from Mr. Smudgeworth’s beach, the rain had already fallen over a quaint village filled with identical thatched-roof cottages, a few places of business, and a small church with an unobtrusive steeple.  Apart from the foggy streetlamps at each corner, the lights had all been turned out but for one house whose front window still shone.

A carefully-pruned tree stood outside this window, and in it perched a large crow who was trying to sleep.  The light was distracting him, and every now and then a tall, stern-faced woman in a nightdress appeared in the window to look out at the street.  Now the crow opened one eye and found the woman once again in the window, looking rather more concerned than before.

Inside the house, Mrs. Naiadina Featherley paced to and fro.  Returning from the window, she seated herself on a sturdy wooden sofa and drummed her fingers on the armrest.  After a few seconds, however, she seemed to grow tired of this and walked further into the dwelling, out of sight now of the crow.

Mrs. Featherley climbed a set of curving stairs and entered a modest-sized bedroom, wherein a tiny child with mouse-brown hair lay in a bed much too large for her holding a flashlight and reading a book.  The child looked up, startled at the sudden appearance of Mrs. Featherley in the doorway.

“Astrid,” said Mrs. Featherley, with a hint of impatience, “what did I tell you before?”

The child appeared to concentrate and consider her words carefully before she spoke.  “You said, ‘Impressive though it may be that a child of your age is so keenly devouring storybooks, your parents will have my head if they return to find you still awake.’  Sorry, Auntie ‘Dina.”

Mrs. Featherley blinked.  “Yes, well.  I’ll just be taking that book and that odd little light-making device.”  She strode to the bed and took the objects out of the child’s hands.

The light seemed to come from Astrid’s eyes now as she replied, “It’s called a flashlight!  It makes light without a wand, and you don’t even have to cast a spell!  You just push this ‘ere button, see?”

“That’s fascinating, Astrid, but now you must get some sleep.”  She pulled the covers over the girl, who placed her head cooperatively on the pillow.

“Auntie ‘Dina?”

“Yes, dear?”

“I love you.”

Mrs. Featherley smiled and kissed her on the forehead.  “I love you, too,” she said.  “Good night.”  She left the room and returned downstairs, still carrying the book and the flashlight.  After another glance out the window, she sat back down on the sofa, picked up the book, and studied the cover.  It had a shiny golden spine and was titled, The Poky Little Puppy.  She opened the book and began to read, even chuckling once or twice.

Outside the window, the crow had all but decided to seek out a new roost for the remainder of the night, when there came a sound from nearby like a faint pop.  An official-looking man wearing a dark cloak and a very grim expression appeared in the yard.  The crow, resigned now to his sleepless night, peered down at the man, who hesitated briefly, sighing and shuffling from one foot to the other before straightening, clasping his hands behind his back, and striding forward.  He hesitated once more at the door to the Featherleys’ home before knocking.

Inside, Mrs. Featherley, now examining the flashlight in some confusion, jumped up, startled.  Reaching down, she grasped a robe from the sofa to cover her nightdress, and hurried to the door.  She practically flung the door open and then froze when she saw the person who stood there.

“Barty!” she said, in something akin to disbelief.

“Ah, Naiadina,” the man said.  “Terribly sorry to disturb you at this hour, but I’m here on Ministry business.  Er…might I come in?”

“Of course,” said Mrs. Featherley, clutching her robe about her and stepping aside to allow him room.

“Where is Harold?  Sleeping?” said the man called Barty.

“No,” came another male voice from the stairwell.  “No,” he said with a yawn, moving to stand beside his wife, “I’m up.  What’s this about, then, Crouch?”

“Well, I’ve got a spot of bad news, I’m afraid.”  Mr. Crouch reached up to stroke a small black mustache.

“My sister and her husband?” said Mrs. Featherley.

“It might help if we were seated,” said Mr. Crouch.

“Barty, has something happened to my sister?” Mrs. Featherley stood rigidly in place.

Mr. Crouch looked back and forth between them and sighed again.  “Not long ago, I was in my office when I received a visit from one Niles Smudgeworth.  You’re familiar with the man?”  He hesitated as the Featherleys nodded their agreement.  “Yes, well…Niles was all out of sorts.  In tears.  Could hardly speak for the blubbering.”  He cleared his throat.  “It seems Niles was in the presence of your sister and her husband earlier tonight, at a beach over in Blackpool.”

“Yes, they went to an event there tonight, but they should have returned hours ago,” said Mrs. Featherley.

“It seems they got into a spot of trouble on the way back to their Portkey.”

No one spoke.

“Killed.  Both of them,” Mr. Crouch went on.

Mrs. Featherley screamed.  Outside, the crow, exasperated, finally took off, heading for the church steeple and a bit of rest.

Inside, Mr. Featherley assisted his wife into a chair before saying, “When you say ‘killed’….”

“I mean murdered,” said Mr. Crouch.  “By, so he says, Niles Smudgeworth himself.”

“That’s not possible,” Mr. Featherley said.  “Niles is a family friend.  He would never harm them.  In fact, Niles wouldn’t harm a mosquito if it was biting him.”

“Yes, well, he claims to have been under the Imperius Curse.”

A deathly silence fell over the room.

“You’re saying,” said Mr. Featherley, “you’re saying that this is the work of…of him.”  He gave a small shudder.

“It very much appears so.”

“So…it’s happened,” said Mrs. Featherley, wiping away her tears.  “It has happened to us.”

There was another silence.

“These are…dark times we live in, Naiadina.  Lord Voldemort”—he spoke the name with disgust—“is ruthless in his treatment of Muggles.  He would go to any length—well.  Let us just say it’s a good job your sister and brother-in-law weren’t tortured, as well.  Yours is not the first grieving family.  No, not by far.  Nor will it be the last, I fear, but the Ministry is doing everything it can to stop him, as well you know.  This…pestilence…must be wiped out.  The trouble is, it’s damned near impossible to tell who is innocent and who is lying.”

“So, Niles…” Mr. Featherley began.

“…Will be held in custody until we can hold trial.  I daresay he’ll be let off, but in the meantime, you must trust no one.  Now, I came straightaway.  I’m terribly sorry to be the bearer of such bad tidings, but we have another important matter we must discuss.  I understand Mr. and Mrs. Hastings have a young daughter?”

Mrs. Featherley sniffed.  “Astrid, yes.”

“We will take her, of course,” Mr. Featherley said.  He placed an arm around Mrs. Featherley’s shoulders and gave her a quick squeeze.

“Yes, of course,” said Mrs. Featherley, “we have always wanted one of our own.  My sister’s child—I couldn’t give her up.”

“Very well,” said Mr. Crouch.  “Only let me strongly caution you, for your safety and the child’s—raise her as your own.  I would keep the death of her birth parents quiet.  Astrid will fare much better if she is believed to be of pure blood.  That is to say…if word got around that her parents had been murdered by—well, You-Know-Who…it could be very dangerous for her.  Now, I am prepared to use my connections at the Ministry to alter her birth records and Obliviate those who do not need to know—including myself.  I shall require your full cooperation.  Astrid must never know the truth about what happened to her parents.”

“She will be our own,” said Mrs. Featherley without hesitation.  “We will tell no one.  We can work out a way to explain the situation to her.”

“Splendid,” said Mr. Crouch.  “That brings my business here to an end.  I will leave you to it, then.  Harold, take the morning off if you need to.  Naiadina.”  He bowed his head.

After Mr. Crouch had gone, Mrs. Featherley looked up at her husband.

“Let her sleep,” he said.  “We can break it to her in the morning.”

“Oh, Harold,” said Mrs. Featherley, resting her head against his shoulder as the tears fell.

At the top of the stairs, Astrid, who had climbed out of bed immediately after Mr. Featherley had done and had overheard everything, wept silent, terrified tears of her own.

Smudgeworth’s Message

Normally I write about my own life, but today I thought I’d share the intro to a piece of fiction I’m working on just for fun.  Please let me know what you think and whether you would be interested in reading more….

1 August, 1965.

Beneath a thin crescent moon on the coast of Fylde, all was still but for the gentle waves lapping against the shore and a breeze that whispered of rain.  Great clouds loomed over the sea, shrouding even the stubbornest of stars.  It might have been impossible to see clearly on such a night on another beach, but this beach happened to be home to a very popular amusement park.  Dazzling lights from the roller coasters and Ferris wheel blazed and stretched their way down the coastline for nearly two miles.  It was precisely here, where the lights from the park met the edge of darkness, that a short, porcine man by the name of Mr. Niles Smudgeworth stood waiting.

It was cool for an August night, and Mr. Smudgeworth hugged himself.  Someone’s tattered, castoff old scarf lay in the sand beside him, but he was not tempted.  He was unconcerned, as well, with the chance of rain.  In fact, he felt very calm as he listened to the waves.

Schlap.  Schlap, they said.

Ahh, Smudgeworth thought, such a delightful sound.  He smiled to himself.

Schlap.  Schlap.

Mr. Smudgeworth had been sent to deliver a confidential message to some very dear friends of his.  He had been waiting now for a few hours.  Not one person had passed by in all this time.

Yes, he thought, they really chose the perfect spot.

Schlap.  Schlap.

In time, two tiny silhouettes appeared in the distance from the direction of the park.  Mr. Smudgeworth watched their approach.  The two newcomers stopped and embraced.  He smiled again.  His friends’ happiness really was his own.  It brought such peace and joy to see couples in love.

Before long, he could hear the sounds of conversation and laughter.  As they neared, he could make out the words.

“I couldn’t take my eyes off the drummer all night,” came the voice of the female.  “It’s incredible what someone can do with just a couple of sticks!”

“You know, I think he’s one of your kind,” a man replied.

“One of ours?  What makes you say that?”

“I think it’s obvious, really.  He’s great with sticks, for one.  Not to mention, no Muggles in their right minds would name their child ‘Ringo’.”

“What?  I think it’s a perfectly ordinary name!”

“You’ve hit the nail on the head, my dear.”

None of this made any sense to Mr. Smudgeworth.  He had certainly never heard of anyone called Ringo.  As he watched, the couple began to embrace again and fell to the ground this time, still laughing.  He chose this moment to announce himself.

“Ahem,” he said, stepping into the last fingers of light.

“Oh!” and “Good heavens!” came the cries of alarm from his friends.

“Terribly sorry for interrupting,” Mr. Smudgeworth said in a high, squeaky voice.

“Oh!  Niles, it’s you!  How did you know we would be all the way out here at this hour?” said the female.

He noticed the 13-inch piece of blond wood in her hand.  He raised his own hand, almost instinctively, in which he, too, held a long stick of wood.  “Expelliarmus!” he heard himself cry.  The piece of wood flew up out of her hand and landed in the sand several yards behind them.  They both stared at him, bewildered.  Then, after a mere second, he saw realization dawn on both of their faces.

“Darling, get to the Portkey!” shouted the man, running and stumbling in his dash for the piece of blond wood.

The woman saw the scarf at Mr. Smudgeworth’s feet.  His eyes locked on hers.  He raised his wand arm again.

Avada Kedavra!” he cried.

A bright green flash filled the night sky, reflecting off the waves, and the woman fell to her side, dead.

NO!” the man screamed.  “Niles, what have you done?  What have you done!?  Think of Astrid!  She’s not yet three!”

Mr. Smudgeworth pointed his wand at the man, who froze, as though making up his mind about something, and then charged Mr. Smudgeworth.

Avada Kedavra!” Smudgeworth screamed again.  Another flash of green, and now there were two dead bodies at his feet.

Schlap.  Schlap.

All was quiet again, yet the waves were no longer calming to Mr. Smudgeworth, who was beginning to feel as though he had just awoken from a terrible dream.  He looked down at the bodies of his beloved friends, his vision slowly clearing.

“Oh!” he squeaked.  “Oh dear, oh dear!”  He fell to his knees, his eyes filling with tears.  “What have I done!?  Oh, Merlin’s beard!”

The waves continued to lap at the shore as Mr. Smudgeworth began to sob.

Another Superhero Dream

I finally had a dream last night; it had been a while!  Maybe it’s because I’ve started updating a bit more frequently, so my subconscious decided, well, she’s willing to talk again–let’s give her something to talk about.  (I ❤ my subconscious.)

First of all, I don’t know where I was; and like certain other of my dreams, I wasn’t really me, I just looked like me.  And my dad looked like my dad, too, but wasn’t him, either.

We were in some large city where superheroes were…not exactly common, but people weren’t all like, “OMGSUPERMANLIVESHERE!”  (Superman was not in my dream; that was just an example.)  Basically, just the way people act in any fictional town where one or more superheroes reside; normal, except for that.

But where there are superheroes, there are also supervillains.

There was one superhero (and I’m not even sure if he was the only one) who had…turned bad.  I don’t know what all of his powers were (which didn’t change when he turned, he just used them differently), but I do know that he was able to see people’s souls.  He could see things about them that they sometimes didn’t know about themselves.  He could tell if there was evil inside them, or whatnot.  I guess he had a whole method worked out of reading and interpreting what he saw.  And he could see people’s souls in other rooms, through walls…basically, it worked like night vision, I think.  I’m not sure what turned him bad (although I could write a story based on this guy…I think I want to now, so I’ll be making up these details I’m unsure about), but he’d been using his powers for evil for a few years.  It was common knowledge that when you saw this guy’s superhero uniform (his identity was, of course, not known)…you could run, but you probably wouldn’t survive.

He ate souls–which, in turn, killed people.  I guess it was kind of like a vampire, in that he had that dark, mysterious sexiness about him while he was killing…or, perhaps more accurately (except sans the sexy part), like a Dementor–he basically sucked people’s souls out of their mouths.  This is not something he did when he was good–it’s just one of the things that changed about him when he became evil.

Now I’m this quiet, innocent little thing…I think perhaps I was a bit younger than I am now, more innocent and naive or something…well, I guess I really must have been, because…well, you’ll see.

So my father, the mad (evil?–undetermined) scientist, worked for the government, coming up with new weapons.

He had just invented this bug-like thing that looked like a bug when it was moving (it looked just like that weird bug I saw at work last night while I was cleaning–some sort of fly/bee combo)…but when it was resting, it folded its wings over itself, was completely still, and looked exactly like an M&M.  All different colors–even pinks!  These M&M bugs ate human flesh.  (This probably has something to do with the fact that I just passed the Knockturn Alley part of CoS yesterday, when Hagrid was looking for Flesh-Eating Slug repellant.)  Not only flesh, but…they basically ate everything…all the way through, until there was merely a bit of shell left over.  And they had just been tested on some guy who had killed his wife…and it was pretty gruesome….  (But it didn’t seem to affect my father at all, as he scooped the bugs into a Ziploc bag–I guess they worked on command?–and sealed it, screaming, “It works; it works!!!”)

It was nighttime, very dark, and I was to help destroy this superhero who had become his own supervillain.  It was known that he hung around this big ex-office building (he’d seen to its undoing, I guess so he’d have a lair) downtown, and my dad and I were driving there.  For some reason, he was sending me off by myself to find this creep, armed with this little bag of M&M bugs.

For my part, I didn’t want to kill him, and I was repulsed by the idea of killing anyone in such a way…but my dad kept reminding me that it was my civic duty.  (I’m not exactly sure what he was doing, but it seems that, in the dream, he really did have something equally important he was doing–maybe we just split up and he had his own bag and it was just whoever found the guy first…I dunno.)

So I started creeping around, and I’m on the outside of this building, where there are lots and lots of windows, and I’m assuming he’s just going to jump out of one, so I’m a bit nervous…but more than fear, all I feel is regret for what I know I have to do.  And I’m walking along…slowly…slowly…trying to reach the edge of the building, where I’m just going to turn the corner and creep along the back wall–alone.

I don’t know what exactly I expect to find–probably him in his costume (which looked oddly like a cross between Spider-Man and Strong Bad…hmm), feeding on some unsuspecting soul.

Well, I reach the edge of the building, and there’s a short hand rail stretching back into the woods, and I figure I’m going to climb over it, when I step forward, and somebody else steps forward from around the corner.

For some reason, it’s Clive Owen.  (The last time I saw him in anything was Closer, but that was about two weeks ago.  Hmmm.)

He looks…well, really hot (it’s Clive Owen, I mean…come on).  But he’s not in the Strong Bad costume–he was wearing a long-sleeved bluish shirt (I think Crayola might call it “cornflower” or “midnight blue”–been a while since I opened a box of those) and jeans and just brown shoes, and he seems…relatively normal, so I just say, a bit calmly, “Oh–hello.”

He just…stares at me for a moment, and finally says slowly, “Who are you?”

I guess I gave him a name.  I’m not really sure.  I just remember him staring, in all his hotness.

Turns out (and I don’t know if he told me this or if I just…knew it) he was the guy I was looking for, just not currently in costume, and he’d been creeping along the other side of the building, because he’d…spotted my soul…creepy…and was following along beside me so he could spring out and…I guess eat me.

But as he was following along, he was staring at my soul and thinking, against his will almost, without even really realizing it…that there was something so absolutely lovely and pure about it (shut up, guys, I already told you it wasn’t really me) that he just knew he wanted to get closer…and the closer he got, the more entranced he became by this complete innocence I must have been radiating.  (Perhaps this comes from my joke to Steve last night, while putting away the basket that held the taco shells, that I always felt like Little Red Riding Hood carrying it.)

Anyway…he just became so entranced by my “innocence” that it completely washed over him and changed him back–but not immediately–he was very cautious at first, not exactly sure what was going on (maybe he didn’t know anything was going on)…and…I’ve got to go to class in a minute, that’s why I’m rushing along here.  I think there may have been a lot more to it but it’s time to go.

Secrets Internalized

I recently referenced a story I am currently writing that takes place within the world of Harry Potter.  You can now read the beginning of it for free here or here.  (I recommend the first one since the second didn’t let me keep my formatting.)  It’s still a WIP (work in progress) so I’ll be adding to it as I go along.

Secrets Internalized is a short story about a smart and ambitious girl in a war-torn country who gets an internship with a major news organization and immediately begins suffering abuse at the hands of her evil supervisor.  She discovers that an old friend from school is hanging around some shady folks and decides to follow the lead, stumbling upon a terrorist plot and putting herself in increasingly more dangerous situations as she gets more and more deeply involved in her determination to rise above her evil boss.

It’s also fan-fiction.  So if that’s your thing, maybe you’ll dig it.

My “original” main character is pretty much Spencer Hastings from Pretty Little Liars, set in the 1981 Wizarding world (months before the Potter murders).  Here, I have this cool fan art my friend made me to prove it:

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I’ll give you one paragraph here so you can see the writing style, but you can see everything that’s currently available by following the links above.  Please enjoy:

1 August, 1965.

Beneath a thin crescent moon on the coast of Fylde, all was still but for the gentle waves lapping against the shore and a breeze that whispered of rain.  Great clouds loomed over the sea, shrouding even the stubbornest of stars.  It might have been impossible to see clearly on such a night on another beach, but this beach happened to be home to a very popular amusement park.  Dazzling lights from the roller coasters and Ferris wheel blazed and stretched their way down the coastline for nearly two miles.  It was precisely here, where the lights from the park met the edge of darkness, that a short, porcine man by the name of Mr. Niles Smudgeworth stood waiting.