Sunday, November 24, 2013

Loyalty, Unity, Confusion

Later that night she laid them out on her bed.  Tilted her head this way and that.  Added the purple squares she had created for classes that term in among them.  Loyalty, unity, and confusion to the enemy, she thought.  Totenberg came and stood at her elbow, laid one hand on the Slytherin star, traced the linked rings of Hufflepuff.

"Could do worse," he said, "than to sleep under a piece of your soul, yah?"

Spike thought about it.  In all the stories, wizard placed bit of their souls in majestic and important things -- the eggs of firebirds, cloven pines on lonely mountaintops, even Voldemort had fallen for the idea of creating his Horcruxes in glamorous, historically important items so that the wizard finding them would be tempted on several levels not to destroy such a venerated object.  Almost worked with Dumbeldore, too, she thought.  Tempted to keep the Horcrux whole, just for the value of thing itself, then tempted to use it for his own ends when it began to whisper.  Would have been the death of him, either physically -- or turned him to the dark, with a withered hand.

"It wouldn't look like such a much," she mused aloud, "Just a little Second Year's security blanket, made by loving hands at home.  Kept for sentimentality's sake."  She glanced up sidewise at her bodyguard.  "I think you may have something there, Totenberg."

A few wand movements later, the thing was conjoined and bound into one.

Spike vowed to keep it close, as a remembrance of this term, and a lesson in power learned.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Crashing and Burning

The match was thrilling, as always, and very close, but Hufflepuff managed to squeak out a  win over Gryffindor, by seventy-nine points.  They're getting good, Spike thought.  For a moment she was concerned about Slytherin's chances with the Quidditch Cup that term, but shook it off.  You have more to think about than just Quidditch, she reminded herself, like that little "victory party" in the Room of Requirement.

By thinking hard about how she needed to find Philandra and explain why she hadn't been in touch -- but how she had managed to create all seven faux Horcruxes!-- she found her way to the Room and waited quietly for the rest of the Order to turn up.  They trickled in by ones and twos, quiet and subdued, even the Hufflepuff contingent.

Philadra was last.  "So, she said, sitting down wearily and pulling off her pads.  "I've already heard everyone else's reports, why don't you fill me in, Spike?"  She listened as Spike explained the series of small deaths and sentimental objects that had been transfigured into something that appeared to magical senses as Horcruxes.

"I finally completed the series," she said, almost as tired as Philandra appeared.  "So I'm ready to start scattering them as soon as you give the word.  Ah, presuming you didn't already give it -- doing the Horcruxes put me a little behind on the OWL, so I had to make up for lost time . . . and . . ." she trailed off, suddenly feeling the stares of the other students gathered around her.  "Am I too late?"

The look on Philandra's face was painfully familiar to Spike; she'd often seen it on the face of one of her professors.  Not sure whether to be delighted with the power of her magic, or dismayed at the expression it had chosen.  "Spike, hon, I think you're the only one who actually completed ANY of the horcruxes.  And you say you made all seven?"  Spike blushed and nodded, looking at the floor.

"I called everyone back a couple of weeks ago to call the experiment off.  Didn't you see the flashing -- no, of course not."

Hecuba chimed in, "It was just too much for us, so we were going to focus on more achievable tasks  from here out.  Not fight dark with darker, but with single candles.  I couldn't seem to find you in the common room, so I thought . . ."

"You thought I'd backed out?" Spike was incredulous and furious.

"You're a Second Year.  You're the youngest student here.  Be reasonable, what would you have thought?"

"All right," she replied, conceding the point.  But what am I going to do with the Fauxcruxes?

Sunday, November 10, 2013

A Phoenix Reborn, Part Seven

"It can wait till tomorrow,"  Totenberg growled, as is certainly looked like his little mistress was going to run up the stairs despite the late hour.  Fifteen minutes to lights out, and she'd be climbing the spinning staircases to get to Gryffindor Tower, pounding on the door and yelling for Duntisborne.  Never thinking that at best it would look like a duel being called--and what kefluffle that would cause!  Hope she learn some sense of subtlety and proportion -- and may the gods grant that it be soon.

"She'll be worried --"

"She know that if a student go missing, it be all over the grapevine.  She know that if you go over to the other side--"  at her aghast expression, he spelled it out.  "You on one side, have to be at least one other.  If you go over to the other side, then too late to do anything about it now.  So!  Can wait till breakfast."

Breakfast seemed to take an eternity to come, but the gong finally rang, and Spike got into line to go down to the Great Hall, with the pin firmly fastened to the band of her hat.  She figured that was the easiest explanation; that she'd attached it to her hat and then hadn't seen it go off, there up on top of her head.  Sure enough, she had sat down in the middle of a mob of green when Philandra came over, dressed in Quidditch robes.

"There you are," she caroled gaily, pausing to take a scone from the tower in the middle of the table.  "Hadn't seen you around for a bit -- going to the big match this Wednesday?"

Stalling for time, Spike sipped her pumpkin juice.  "Gryffindor versus Hufflepuff, isn't it?  Winner plays Slytherin?  Wouldn't miss it for the world."

"Good!  I'll look forward to seeing you in the stands, then, and at the victory party after, right?"  The look in Philandra's eyes made it clear that the "victory party" would have precious little to do with the outcome of the match -- or indeed, with Quidditch at all.

"You bet!"  Spike hoped her smile looked more convincing than it felt.  "I just have some  . . . Transfiguration homework to attend to before then."  She hoped the spin she put on "Transfiguration" would be enough of a signal.

"Mmmm.  Homework is important; but I'd really appreciate your being there.  Try not to be too late."

Sunday, November 03, 2013

A Phoenix Reborn, Part Six

"Passed you OWL, huh?  Atyets be proud of you."

Spike flashed a weary handsign from where she sprawled in the chair.  "Atyets, maybe, no so sure about the doctor."  She waved at her project, flying lazy circles, executing an occasional barrel roll to hiss and flail its wingpit tentacles at the giant squid, who was turning to examine it with one slit-pupilled eye the size of a dinner plate and then the other.  "At least it looks like an owl.  Mostly.  If you ignore the tail."

"Is a rough draft.  Practice for next term, yah?"

"Mmmm.  Yeah, I have some refinements in mind.  I'll want to run them past Wolfie --"


"Herr Doktor Wolfgang, the sherblocker, the bonecutter."

"Yah, but  . . . Wolfie?"  One creeping eyebrow of suspicion and mistrust.  "Awful familiar."

"He's not so bad."

Dimo's silence was eloquent. "So.  OWL all good, even by the skin of you teeth.  What about dot  . . . thing we agree never to mention out loud?"

Spike sat bolt upright in her chair.  She'd had to throw every waking moment not actually spent in class into her OWL to pull it off; she hadn't thought about the Order in . . . well, weeks, honestly.  She hadn't been wearing her pin, it was just one more thing to keep track of, and remembering to comb her hair and put on a semi-clean robe each morning was about all she had room in her head for.  She'd go to bed just ahead of final bedcheck, then sneak back out to the lab, work most of the night, then get up early to keep going before the gong rang for breakfast.  Where had she put the thing?

The last time I saw it, I was  . . .  She got up, began turning papers over on her desk, scanning notes and laying them in three piles, one to transcribe verbatim into her grimoire, one to glean from and refine later, one to burn soonest.  She had hit naked wood in several places before she turned it up, and groaned softly.


She held it up.  The stones were flashing and winking, lights chasing each other around the brooch.  "I wonder how long Philandra's been calling me?"