It was mid-terms at Hogwarts, and Muggle Studies had focused on Comparative Religions in the Muggle world. So many to choose from, like a box of chocolates from Honeydukes! So many varieties of Dark and Light, although, confusingly enough, each one claimed to be the sole source of Light.
For mid-terms, each student had selected a Muggle religion to study in depth, and created a shrine for their chosen deity. Naturally, this had interesting results, as faith and magic intertwined. The smell of incense lingered in the air, and the winged rainbows from Miranda Softshanks’s presentation of Limpidia still fluttered in the corners almost an hour later.
Belvina Pascoe was just concluding her presentation. Her shrine was polished green marble carved with an eyeless face. ” … demanding everything from his followers, and offering very little in return. Except power, and glory where it can be snatched.” She dropped a raven’s feather into the brazier atop the shrine, and the smoke formed into a fanged and gaping maw before it blew away. “Not surprisingly, Crom is no longer worshipped as such, except by the small, scattered, nomadic tribes of the Cimerrians.” She turned and took a small bow before resuming her seat next to her project.
Professor Poole applauded. “Nice work, Miss Pascoe. And next we have Spike.”
Spike stood up next to her shrine, which was covered with an obscuro. She pointed her wand and snarled, “Ph’nglui mglw’nafh Cthulhu R’lyeh wgah’nagl fhtagn! Ia! Ia!” The mist resolved into a writhing mass of black snakes to reveal:
“Dread Cthulhu is still worshipped in Muggle Innsmouth, although it is not entirely clear whether this is purely deity-related, or more ancestor worship. He is formally considered to belong to the group of gods referred to as ‘The Many-Angled Ones,’ beings of near pure mathematics.
“He is said to send dreams to his followers of the terrors to come when the stars come right once more, and he ascends to power over the Earth. Their minds are slowly consumed by contact with his particular psychic energies … yes, Professor Ethelbard?”
“Why don’t you tell us about the blanket square, Spike. And the beer.”
Spike looked at the square.
She scratched her head. “That’s funny … I had made a simple concentrically striped square because after a long hard day, even a squamous and rugose sanity-devouring horror from beyond time and space likes to chill out with a cold brew and a warm binkie. I don’t get what could have happened …”
“Meet me in Professor Gorre’s office, please. Usual time.”
“During Quidditch practice? But … yes, Professor.”
Begonia Hoddington coughed as she stood up next to her shrine, a drifting tattered yellow veil. Silvery liquid dripped thickly from the hem, somehow disappearing before it hit the floor. “Leave the beer. Xuthal of the Dusk is propitiated by grain sacrifice.” She poured a small puddle, and the veil dropped hungrily to consume it.