Categories > Books > Harry Potter

Magical Me by Gilderoy Lockhart

by Marsredrust 1 review

The absolutely true story of how I, Gilderoy Lockhart (Order of Merlin 3rd Class, honorary member of the Dark Force Defense League, and undefeated record holder of Witch Weekly's Most Charming Smil...

Category: Harry Potter - Rating: PG - Genres: Fantasy,Humor - Characters: Gilderoy Lockhart - Published: 2017-07-26 - Updated: 2017-12-06 - 12576 words

2Original
Author’s Preface

Salutations! By Merlin’s beard, I was so busy writing another bestseller, I swear I almost didn’t see you there... drifting along in the dreary shadows of life looking for the slightest glimmer of the spotlight. But alas, not all of us have what it takes to make the world a brighter place, for it requires a special something if you will, that Je ne Sais Quoi! But don’t despair dear reader, for this is your chance to finally live vicariously through one of the world’s most accomplished wizards. And not just any old haggard Auror, but a wizard of the Order of Merlin 3rd Class, an honorary member of the Dark Force Defense League, and the undefeated record holder of Witch Weekly’s Most Charming Smile award! You might ask yourself who might this accomplished and handsome wizard be?
Why... it’s none other than me- Gilderoy Lockhart!
And I hereby modestly submit my humble self for your illumination, contemplation, and companionship in a way I would never choose be bothered with in real life. Sounds exciting, doesn’t it? But you might be wondering- “Why would Gilderoy Lockhart take time out of his busy and important schedule to submit his experiences for me to mull over with my glazed, droopy, and lack-luster eyeballs?”
Because, you silly Grumpkin, the thing to keep in mind, is- I do this, not for fame, or fortune, or for an exclusive private dining room at the Leaky Caldron, no, I do it for you! Because my only hope in life is that my world famous tales, thrilling adventures, and breath-taking daring-do, help lift you out of your boring, stifling, muggle-like life and inspires you to dream big, go out into the world, and make a difference... by purchasing all of my best-selling novels, and affordable guides to house-hold pests. And don’t just buy them only for yourself, as that would be rather selfish, but also buy them for your friends and your family, since they make great gifts for birthdays, holidays, and even graduations. Also weddings. Oh, and don’t forget anniversary’s, not to mention funerals. (So I won’t, as that would be rude, and more importantly, it would be in poor taste. And I don’t want anyone to say Gilderoy Lockhart has poor taste, cause if you think about it, that would actually be really, really rude. Way more rude than giving one of my books as a gift at a funeral.)

P.S.
One teeny, tiny last thing- In order to protect the innocent, I may have changed the names of just a few characters, in order to guard their identity, of course, and in no way to benefit from their miserable experiences.

P.P.S.
Also, just in case anyone has the audacity to question whether the following stories are anything other that the utmost truth, I implore you to think of all the damage you would be inflicting on all the poor souls out there that would be caught up in your misguided attempt to smear my good name. I mean, talk about an Unforgivable Curse! Please, just take a moment to think of all the sad-eyed children with runny noses and second-hand wands that need a hero to look up to, and how they would be devastated, and in turn would give up on any hope of living a life of importance, and if you think about it, would probably become Death-Eaters or worse! You wouldn’t want that now, would you? I didn’t think so. So banish those fears and doubts that feed upon your soul like a hungry Dementor with my illuminating Patronus-like wit and charm, and may you forget all about “The Boy Who Lived” and begin your travels along with “The Man Who Has Lived it All”! ®

P.P.P.S.
To re-iterate, there’s absolutely no need to investigate what is reported in the following tales and in fact, a much better use of your time would probably be to just go ahead and start your own Gilderoy Lockhart Fan Club! That’s right, think about it... perhaps you could even be president of your own club, and win the adoration of all your friends and neighbors! Why, doesn’t that make you feel better already? I know I do! Furthermore, just think of the past as being something really complicated that was broken a long time ago - Really, really broken, like a million little pieces broken, and it can’t be put back together. So... without further ado, I invite you to light up the old fireplace, sit back in your favorite comfy chair, grab a steaming mug of Butter-Beer, and let my stories whisk you away like so much Floo powder, and know in your heart of hearts that everything in this book actually happened, and every word is completely true, and that none of it is made-up in the slightest.

Not even a little bit.

Sincerely yours,
Gilderoy Lockhart


Chapter 1-
The Once and Future Me


Oh, where to begin, where to begin?
Ah yes, on what seemed to be just your typical rainy grey day in Bristol, England on January 26, 1964, while the rest of the Wizarding World was caught up in a wave of hysteria over old moldy Voldy’s rise to power, a potentially much bigger phenomenon was busy being born, in a literal labor of love that my mother describes as, and I quote, “not horrendously excruciating.”
Indeed, it was your esteemed narrator himself, Gilderoy Lockhart, and I was the third child of the greatest Witch mother and Muggle father a boy could ever want.
But the thing was you see, when I was born, my dear magical mother had just about given up all hope on having any magical children, after my two much older sisters, who are just the about the loveliest squibs you could ever meet (not that there’s anything wrong with that), failed to materialize any magic. My Mother then kept her magical abilities to herself for many years, as she didn’t want to upset the rest of the family, or put them in danger. This strained my parents’ relationship nearly to the braking point; Beetle the Bard never said mixed relationships were easy, that’s for sure.
So, she kept her magic hidden, tucked away as it were; She wrapped up her wand, gave away her owl, and put her old broom in the closet. And when I was born, she had no idea if I was going to turn out to be magical, but she loved me all the same.
Since she wasn’t sure if I was going to manifest growing up, I didn’t even know of her secret power because she never mentioned, or demonstrated it. But then guess who changed all of that? No... not Merlin, or He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Gamed, or the even the great Gandalf-The-Grey.
That’s right, it was little old magical me who changed all of that!
Because, strangely enough, around the age of six or seven I became fascinated with the idea of “magic”, not real magic, mind you, as practiced by witches and wizards, but the kind practiced by muggle magicians- “magic tricks” on stage. Yes, I know it’s hard to believe, but I did indeed love all the classic magicians like Harry Houdini and Harry Blackstone, and followed the comic strips featuring my favorite fictional character, the dapper and metropolitan Mandrake the Magician, who would fight crime by “gesturing hypnotically” to make people believe what he wanted them to see. He also lived in a really fabulous flat, and had a glamorous getaway car with all sorts of magical gadgets. All my family had was an old beat-up robin’s egg blue Ford Anglia, so you could see how exciting being a world famous magician would be to a little one and half-stone, shaggy-haired whippersnapper such as myself.
As I got a little older, I began to practice magic tricks and illusions for my friends and family. At first I was skeptical of my intentions, did I really just want to be the center of attention? Could there be a dark side to magic? I wondered this terrible thought for a brief moment at the end of my first little performance, but then the crowd erupted into delight. They were cheering and applauding, and I thought to myself, “Isn’t making people happy the real magic here?”
Good question... could there be anything more magical than that?
Little did I know, there actually was... like, real actual magic practiced by children at places like Hogwarts, and that my mother was secretly a witch. In any case, I practiced my magical illusions, and they became quite good, impressing friends and neighbors, and I began to book shows at birthday parties and make a little coin of the realm. I began to have dreams of becoming the world’s most famous magician, where I would travel around the globe with a beautiful assistant, and would wow stadiums of crowds. And in doing so, would make the world a better place, a brighter place, where any dream is possible, especially my dream... of making the world a better place... for me.
But then one day, at little Mikey Chabon’s Barmitzha, when I was eight years old, that all changed. As usual, I was thrilling the crowd with my illusions, and was ending with my show-stopping trick of pulling my pet bunny-Alice, out of my hat and placing her on my table where I would then make the rabbit “disappear” in a puff of smoke, while she secretly escaped through a trap door. But when I put the hat back on my head, I felt a plop, plop, plop. I quickly pulled it off, and much to my confusion, another different bunny jumped off my head. Looking into my hat, another rabbit then popped out, then another, and another.
“Amazing,” I exclaimed, “it’s just like magic!”
The rabbits hopped out into the crowd and I tried to chase them down and put them back. The audience went wild, and I tried my best to make it look like it was all part of the show. But I knew it couldn’t be possible, could it? For I had hidden only a single bunny in the secret compartment of my hat, but something else had happened... something magical.
My mother still withheld her secret since she was afraid it had been a merely a Fluke, (The common house-hold Fluke, of course, being a type of mythical Boggart that likes to play cruel tricks on the Squib children of magical parents.) however, after other similar magical incidents, she finally sat me down and told me what had really happened and why. She confessed she was a witch. A real live witch just like Muggles watch on TV shows like Sabrina The Teenage Witch, or Bewitched, or Jeannie from “I Dream of Jeannie”, who I guess was technically a Genie, but seemed pretty much like all the others witches on TV and in the movies, seeing as how she never ran out of wishes, or spells, or whatever.
I couldn’t believe it!
She explained everything the best she could, and told me all about the real history of witches, wizards, goblins, and fairies. She also informed me of the recent rise of You-Know-Who, and how terrible Death Eaters were, and how they hated people like us, which they called Mudbloods. I tried to take it all in, but my mind was reeling, but I could feel deep down what she was saying was true.
“So, magic is... real?” I asked, looking up into her big blue eyes.
“Yes,” she said with the world’s second greatest smile, “But in order to stay hidden and safe, you can’t perform magic tricks for people anymore. It’s too risky and dangerous.”
“What? Can’t I use magic... to be a magician?” I asked, suddenly unsure of all this hocus pocus business, and wondered if she was playing some sort of trick on me herself.
“No... I’m sorry.“ My mother shook her head and gently placed her hand on my shoulder, “Death-Eaters look down on magicians as the lowest form of entertainment. Even worse than... mimes.”
I was devastated.
What kind of monster was He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Gamed? From that day on, I abhorred the idea of “Pure Blood”, and being a dirty “Mudblood” myself, I hoped that You-Know-Hoodoo would one day be defeated, and that someday magical and non-magical people could eventually live in harmony. A rather beautiful and deep thought, isn’t it? I know, I know... you underestimate me. It’s all right, I under-estimate myself all the time and then surprise! I once again exceed myself.
Although my mother tried cheering me up by informing me that next year I would be going to the pre-eminent school for wizards and witches- the venerable and hallowed Hogwarts, it was little consolation.
My dreams of being a magician were over, and I wondered to myself, “Who are you Gilderoy, old boy?”
I honestly didn’t know who I really was... but I was determined to find out.




Chapter 2-
The Hoary and Haughty Halls of Hogwarts


That spring, after I gave away my magic box of tricks and illusions, I was rather distraught. But then I remembered, just like the song says, to always look on the bright side of life, stay calm and carrion and all that jazz, and believe it or not, as I began practicing spells with my mother, I slowly cheered up. Despite the unfortunate beginning, those summer months she and I spent together were the best, we practiced everyday, and she said I was the best wizard she had ever seen, and mothers do not lie!
Here I was, a scrawny whelp not nine-years old, and I was already a prodigy the likes of which she had never laid eyes upon. My mother then sent many letters to Hogwarts informing them of my exceptional abilities, and although we didn’t receive a reply (you know how reliable owl service can be), I’m sure word spread around the school like dragon fire.
By summer’s end, I actually started to look forward to my impeding magical studies, and by the time my mother took me to Diagon Alley to pick out my owl, I was hopping around like a baby Hungarian Horntail. Afterwards we visited Ollivander’s Ye Olde Wand Shoppe, and I could feel the hairs on the back of my neck stand up and got goose-bumps all over, as I walked into the small, dark, and dusty shop.
Inside, after my eyes adjusted, I could see a boy with bright red hair gleefully whipping his wand around, and sending bubbles everywhere. His mother looked happy, but slightly nervous, as he kept sending out more bubbles, and now not just spherical bubbles, but cubes, pyramids, cones, and cylinders. It began to fill the whole shop, and she kept telling him to stop, but he just ran around laughing and continued, making more complex forms and figures.
Soon the entire shop was filled to the brim with bubbles of all shapes and sizes, and finally his mother snatched the wand away, and exclaimed, “I SAID THAT’S ENOUGH BUBBLES, ARTHUR!”
He just smiled and nodded, “Yes, Mum!” as she dragged him out
by his red throbbing ear.
As the bubbles slowly dissolved, my mother and I then stepped forward, and I informed Ollivander that I was ready to pick out my wand. But he just smiled, and leaned over and said, “No, no, no, my dear boy, you see... the wand chooses the owner.”
I laughed and looked at my mother who just nodded politely, and I asked, “How could that be?”
“Easy, it’s...” He paused, leaned in close, and whispered, “... magic!”
My mother and I both smiled awkwardly, and I wondered if old Ollivander had maybe sniffed a little too much wand wood glue in his day. After trying out few different wands, I then picked out the one that I liked the best (cherry, dragon heartstring, nine inches, slightly bendy) not the other way around, and I poked fun at the old man’s suggestion that we don’t always choose our fate.
He looked off into the distance, “We shall see, young Lockhart, we shall see...”
Perhaps the old man had a small point, because while I thought I had a pretty good idea of what to expect the following day, it turned out much different. You see, after my dear sweet mother wished me the best of luck, kissed me goodbye, and dropped me off at Platform 9 and ¾’s to board the train to Hogwarts, all of the other students acted like they didn’t care or, as preposterous as it sounds, even know who I was.
Can you believe that?
I marched right up to two older boys. One was tall in a long black overcoat, with brooding eyes, a sharp nose, and a mop of jet-black hair. Next to him stood a rather well dressed boy who had the bluest eyes, and longest, blondest hair I had ever seen.
Doing my best to strike up a conversation, I politely asked, “Cheerio, old boys! Might this be Platform 9 and ¾?”
The blond boy just snickered, and squinted his eyes, “Hmmpf...”
The dark haired boy waited, almost motionlessly, and finally just rolled his eyes, “Ob.....visously.”
They both just stared at me in silence, I believe doing their best to summon the Evil Eye. Seeing as how I had my turquoise Lotus-Hand Charm to warn off the Eye packed away in my luggage, I said, “Well, I say... good day, kind sirs!” as politely as I could, and walked away.
Ooh, that really got their goat... classic English-style!
But alas, as I looked around, I realized what the problem was; the two boys, and the rest of them, must have been intimidated and perhaps a little bit jealous of me. For they must have heard about my wondrous abilities, and sadly enough were envious of my preternatural gift. But don’t worry, I forgave all of them right then and there- I’m no fudge to hold a grudge, that’s for sure!
Anyways, along with the rest of the students, I boarded the train and eventually arrived at Hogwarts. While not quite living up to my expectations, the grounds and school wasn’t too shabby, and all the students lined up in the great hall to eat a sumptuous feast while the faculty introduced themselves. Afterwards, the head-master Albus Dumbledore called all the new students up for the tradition of the Sorting Hat. I had been already informed by my mother of the various houses of Hogwarts, Gryffindor, Ravenclaw, Hufflepuff, and Slytherin, and watched other students get sorted with mounting anticipation. After what seemed like forever, Dumbledore finally read out my name, “Gilderoy Lockhart!”
I stepped up as the crowd was doing their best to pretend they weren’t interested, and put on the Sorting Hat. It felt strange on my scalp, like a scratchy and smelly massage.
The Sorting Hat mumbled, “Oh, uh, huh... very difficult... yes. Let’s see, let’s see. Yes, you would do great in... Slytherin.”
The students were doing their best to hide the fact that they were on the edge of their seats, or benches, or pews, or-you get the idea.
I thought to myself, “Please not Hufflepuff, please not Hufflepuff.-”
Finally, the Sorting Hat called out, “Ravenclaw!”
The crowd cheered secretly in silence, and I yelled out, “Yes! Not hufflepuff!” Not that there’s anything wrong with Hufflepuff, of course. Anyhow, as Dumbledore called down more students with odd names like Longbottom, Lovegood, and Lupin, I was kindly greeted by the house prefect, joined my fellow Ravenclaw housemates, and I was comfortable and secure in my chosen house, which is renowned for it’s students’ wit and intellect, just like me.
In the following weeks, once classes commenced, I set out at once to figure out what I would like to accomplish at Hogwarts. How to make my mark, as it were, but not a dark mark, but like... a light mark! I wondered, “Should I concoct my very own Philosopher’s Stone? (What’s that? Hmm? Never heard of the Philosopher’s Stone? Oh, it’s like the Sorcerer’s Stone, but not as gaudy.) Become the head of Gryffindor’s Quittich team, and lead them to a World Cup championship? Or perhaps study the intricate rules of magical law, and become the youngest Minister of Magic ever?”
Meanwhile, unbeknownst to me, while I had set out to attempt these noble endeavors, I had apparently developed quite a devoted little secret admirer, or perhaps even admirers. For in my third year, I was so focused on my studies researching Nicholas Flamel’s famous stone, that once Valentine’s came, I received not one, mind you, or two or three, but no less than eight hundred valentine letters.
That’s right, eight hundred! That’s probably more than the heart-throb vampire Amarillo Lestoat himself has received his entire undead life! There were so many owls, they had to shut down the great hall they did. By those numbers almost every girl in Hogwarts must have sent me a letter. Lily Potter did always love being my potions partner... um, ahem, may she rest in peace... or, um, whether even the esteemed Dolorous Umbridge sent them herself, I guess we’ll never know!
Anyway, in my fifth year, as I was rising through the ranks of the Ravenclaw Quittich team, my secret admirer then emblazoned my name forty feet high on the Quittich Posts. Can you believe it? Yes, I suppose it is a rather good name... Oh, who can blame them? I sure couldn’t when I saw each resplendent letter sparkling in gold.
I wondered who it could have been? Maybe it was Sybil Trelawny? Did she gaze into that crystal ball of hers and see a future? Perhaps the answer lies in the Department of Mysteries... who knows?
Unfortunately however, despite my record-setting performance, I had to bow out later that season due to a terrible knee injury that still haunts me to this day, for I so planned to take Ravenclaw to the championship that year... oh well, the best laid plans of mice and men...
Regardless, one of my many admirers still continued to try and woo me from afar, because on one chilly night, after some miscreant student cast the Dark Mark above the Owlery, shortly thereafter someone else, I’m embarrassed to admit, then cast my own handsome face in the night sky above it, blotting most of it out.
As it so happened, I was just walking back from the library when I saw a group of students in the courtyard gazing up, slack-jawed at it’s beauty.
The popular James Potter squeezed his swotty little girlfriend Lily Evans close, and whispered, “Can you believe it? Here, at Hogwarts?”
Lily shook her head in awe, “Who would do such a thing?”
I leaned close, smiled and said, “I know... such detail, and so accurate too, they even got my smile!”
Sirius Black shoved me and rudely snarled, “Are you daft, man? We are talking about the Dark Mark! It must have been someone in Slytherin.”
Looking back, it’s obvious now that Sirius was just trying to cover for his allegiance to the Dark Lord, and although I never trusted him, I didn’t suspect it at the time, a real shame too because of happened later, one of my few, if only, regrets from my time at Hogwarts.
Peter Pettigrew then added, “Yes.. must have been someone in Slytherin... perhaps Lucius.”
He was always too trusting... poor Peter Pettigrew. I hope Sirius Black rots away locked up in Azkaban for a good long while.
Anyway, trying to cheer up the morose group, I then added, “Well, whoever did it, my face sure put that drab old Dark Mark to shame, let me tell you!”
They thought about it for a moment, and Remus Lupin just shook his head, stared wistfully up at the full moon, and scratched at his neck, “I don’t know, but I don’t feel... well. We should all get going.” and they quickly walked away, their spirits clearly buoyed by my illuminated visage looking out above them.
“Toodle-oo!” I said.
And really, who knows who did it? Maybe the Dark Mark was merely a distraction? Perhaps a little Veritaserum might get Bellatrix herself to admit she was perhaps more smitten with yours truly, than with old You-Know-Who.
Well, I can only hope the students took solace in my glowing countenance during those dark, terrible times... and really how could they not? I know I did. But around that time, I had begun to wonder about life beyond Hogwarts after graduation. I had not accomplished all that I had set out to do, and so I felt a smidge lost, unsure of what career I would pursue. That all changed a few days later when I was called into the front office to speak to Dumbledore about who had cast my face in the sky that night, despite the fact that I absolutely had no idea at all.
I was waiting outside in the hall, when I saw the up-and-coming journalist Rita Skeeter step into the waiting room and sit down across from me. I recognized her face from The Daily Prophet articles about the Ministry of Magic’s battles with You-Know-Who and his army of Death-Eaters.
“Excuse me?” I said, “Aren’t you the journalist Rita Skeeter?”
She looked up from her Quick Quote Quill and said, “I am, darling. I’m here interviewing your Head-Master for a book I’m writing about him, care to give a quote?”
“Um, yes, I think that... um, Dumbledore is the... best-“
“That’s great, I’ll be sure to use it, darling.” She smiled, and went back to writing.
“Pardon me, but do you enjoy being a journalist?” I asked out of curiosity.
She looked up from her parchment, and thought for a moment, “Well... yes, I suppose I do... I love to write, I get to meet fascinating people, and travel the world. Why, do you want to be a journalist?”
“Me?” I wondered to myself for a moment since I had never really given writing a thought, “Maybe...?”
“Just start writing articles and getting them published, then Poof! You are journalist. Easy-Peasy, darling... and after you graduate, give me a call, I’ll set you up in the mail room at The Daily Prophet, they are always looking for strapping young lads such as yourself.” and she gave me her card, and winked.
Moments after that brief strange and serendipitous exchange, Dumbledore then called me into his office to interrogate me about the Dark Mark incident. He sat at his desk and asked me a series of questions about that night. Finally after nearly an hour, he said, “So you have no idea who put up the Dark Mark... or, clearly more important to you, which one of your many admirers put your face in the sky that night?”
“No, unfortunately I do not.” I answered, completely perplexed about the whole matter, “But... you know, there might be a way to get to the bottom of this.”
Dumbledore stood up, and rubbed his temples, “Oh, yes? How’s that?”
“Well... if we had a school newspaper, we might be able to get students to report on what happened, you know... anonymously. Perhaps they would prefer confiding in a fellow trusted student rather than a Professor, and then that student could write up a report on what they learned. And then-”
Dumbledore just sighed, and walked over to his Pensive, “Alright, fine, just... just get out of my office. I have a headache!”
“Ta!” I said.
I was flattered, for he proceeded to pull out his memory of our meeting, and flung it into his Pensive, clearly to enjoy later without having to lose any wonderful details, and I thought, “Well, well, well, what do you know?” For I had convinced the old codger with my logic and grace after all, and thus began the first student newspaper in the entire history of Hogwarts, as well as my own auspicious writing career.
Soon I was up and running, and issue after issue sold out. Also, as lead reporter, editor-in-chief, and photographer, I receive quite a few accolades for my various in-depth exposes on the founding members of Hogwarts, it’s various ghosts, and it’s unique culinary history known throughout the wizarding world. At last, I had finally found my calling and during my final year, the newspaper became a tremendous success, and the letters column overflowed with praise for my penetrating prose- I was now well on my way to a career in letters.
I then finally graduated from Hogwarts in ’82 at the top of my class, despite the addition of first-year Professor Snape, and his best attempts to fail my in potions class.

Next stop- The Daily Prophet!

Chapter 3-
The Strange Disappearance of Nudd Ludlow


After graduation, I then sought employment at the most respected bastion of magical journalism the Witching World over - The Daily Prophet. Rita Skeeter was kind enough to introduce me to her editor at the time, who happened to be none other than the esteemed Barnabas Cuffe, who would, of course, later become Editor-in-Chief, Esquire. He was rather impressed with my accomplished articles from Hogwarts and said, “You’re hired... for now.”
“Why, thank you! I was thinking I could start in the Magical Sports dept-“
“You’ll start where every body starts,” he said puffing his old-fashioned oak wood pipe.
“Where’s that?” I asked.
He exhaled a billow of little puffer-bellies, “The letters-room, of course...”
I was led to the top floor of the building and when he opened the doors, I saw a teeming flock of owls flying in and out of the largest Owlery I’ve ever seen. There were letters of every size, shape, and language. Giant troll-sized bags of correspondence were being levitated through the air and down the stairs. It was quite an operation, and I finally understood what Rita was talking about!
Rough and tumble as it was though, it was a great learning experience and introduction to the world of magical journalism. I immediately became familiar with the various departments, editors, photographers, and also fast friends with respected journalists such as Betty Braithwaite and Rolf Scamander, and I, in return, impressed them all with my zeal and hard work and in a mere couple of weeks I rose to the top of the mail-room as quickly as a Golden Snitch.
Shortly thereafter, Pomona Sprout left the newspaper to start her tenure at Hogwarts, and there was an opening in the letters column for a reporter to answer questions about household pests, herbs, and plants. I applied for the position and completely blew away the other applicants, and since I had done similar reports back at Hogwarts, I took over the section easily and as smoothly as possible.
It’s hard to believe, but in a matter of a few weeks I actually surpassed all of Sprout’s readership numbers, and exceeded her grand total record for fan mail, so much so, that the old boys in the mailroom thought it was a hoax. To that I say- preposterous poppycock!
Also like at Hogwart’s, I quickly became a well-known and trusted voice over at The Daily Prophet, and I confidently answered all sorts of difficult and perplexing questions like; what’s the best way to get rid of Hinkypunk, how to eradicate Devil’s Snare, and the best balm for Doxy bites. I also continued to develop my personal writing style and intimate relationship with my beloved readers that continues to this very day.
As popular as my column was, this went on for just over a year before my ever-restless thirst for adventure began to nag at me like some old sea hag. I was comfortable and making an honest wage, but did I secretly yearn for more?
Hadn’t I set out to be a real journalist?
My answer was to come shortly thereafter in the form of an old second-hand passed-over assignment. At that time in 1983, Rita Skeeter had become one of The Daily Prophet’s most popular reporters ever since her exposes on You-Know-Who’s demise from The-Boy-Who-Lived last year’s Halloween.
After the old Snark-Lord had disappeared and his army had fallen, her stories had shifted to the high-profile trials of the captured Death-Beaters. She was therefor regrettably much too busy to write a follow-up on the disappearance of a little known retired Auror named Nudd Ludlow who had recently gone missing a few months earlier.
Although I didn’t know him personally, Nudd was actually somewhat of a local hero from my hometown of Bristol, and was fairly well respected back in the days before You-Know-Who overwhelmed the Aurors and rest of the Ministry.
I had been chomping at the bit for months to take on a real story, and after much persistence and charm on my part, Editor Cuffe finally said, “Fine, knock yourself out.”
I replied, “You got it, sir!” and gave a small salute.
I set out at once to find out what had happened to Nudd and did a quick bit of research from the Prophet’s archives (which is as almost as astounding, and disorganized, as its owlery) and I ripped out his picture from an old article where Nudd was with his former partner, Auror Will Self.
Nudd had short-cropped hair, bright eyes and a big smile, and he reminded me of someone I couldn’t quite place. In the picture, he was with Auror Self, who was pale and wiry, with a shaved head and severe-looking expression. They sort of seemed like the classic Good Cop/Bad Cop.
After leaving the Daily Prophet, I wondered what happened to poor Nudd as I traveled from my flat in London, up past Middle Hope and Portishead Pier, and followed the dark and churning River Severn north, to my old hometown of Bristol, and I briefly stopped in for a cuppa with Mummy, who was doing quite well along with the rest of the family.
After the tea, I traveled downtown to the Old Node Inn for witches and wizards, since this was where Ludlow had supposedly been seen last. I walked up to the wooden door with carved Nordic Runes and stepped inside the dark and musty Inn. It smelled like burnt mushrooms, stale mead, and day-old fish, and I stepped up to the few patrons at the bar and asked around to see if anybody there had known or talked to Nudd recently. Either nobody had, or they didn’t want to talk about it, and to be honest I began to wonder if the stench was coming from the pub or it’s patrons.
As I pondered this thought, I spotted a group of old wizards in the back drinking Butter Beer, and when I walked up as they were arguing about something as they played a game of Wizard’s Chess.
One of the men, an Englishman with a long, braided red beard said, “I tell you, Bristol should be proud, we should, for I bet you on a good day the Severn bore could be number one in the world!”
A dark and dapper-looking bloke spoke, “I don’t know, I hear the Bay of Ungava is much bigger.”
Another wizard, larger that the first two put together, with long black hair, semi-rotten teeth, then added with a heavy German accent, “...and don’t forget the Bay of Fundy.”
I couldn’t help but join in and said, “Cheerio, old chaps! Being from Bristol myself, I don’t mean to be bore-ing, but what’s the Severn... bore?”
Impressed with my punning wit, he yelled to the pub, “Sweet Fanny Adams, that’s what I’m talking about! He don’t even know his own land or his own history, for Godric’s sake!”
Turning back to me, he explained, “It’s when the ocean enters into the Bristol Channel and has one of the largest shifts in tidal range in the world!”
“Oh yes, of course, a bore, I believe that was in the Sunday Prophet’s Crossword.” I said, “But, seriously, why don’t they just call it a wave?”
The red-bearded man scoffed, “What? A wave and a bore are two completely different things. Waves are random, the bore is caused by the tides!”
“Really, how fascinating...” We spoke a little longer of the bore’s speed, size, and path up towards Avon-Mouth and beyond, and finally I subtly shifted the conversation to Nudd.
The red-bearded man laughed, “Forget about him, Nudd was a loon! Ever since Ariel, well... you know. He wasn’t always, but-”
The German said, “Nudd was always a bit... different, and hen he got his hunches couldn’t see straight-“
Red-Beard laughed, “Maybe it was that mop of blond hair that got in his eyes!”
The German wizard gave him a look, and the Red-Beard looked down into his glass for the last bit of his remaining dignity, “Sorry...”
He then grabbed his glass, drank up, and smiled, “...he did always have some crazy ideas. But when he lost that lady of his, he went off his rocker.”
I spoke to a few more wizards in the pub but none of them really seemed to want to talk to me. I stuck around for awhile anyway, nursing the same watered down Butter Beer, when finally the old haggard and crippled owner, Trent Aegir, started opening up to me, and eventually admitted that he was one of the last people to talk to Nudd. He said that like usual, Nudd had been investigating recent rumors about Death-Eaters.
“What kind of rumors?” I asked finishing up my over-priced Butter Beer.
The wizened man, complete with an steel eye-patch and grisly grey beard said, “...that they were looking for one of the Thirteen Treasures.”
“Really?” I replied with a dramatically raised eyebrow.
He squinted, “Yeah, ...you know the Thirteen Treasures, don’t you?”
“Oh, yeah, of course, they are some of my favorite treasures...” I paused, so he would know how serious this was.
“So, which one was it?” I asked him, although I already had a pretty descent idea myself.
The man looked around, and then whispered, “The Cauldron..”
“The cauldron?” I asked, just to make sure I heard him correctly.
“...of Dyrnwch.”
“Dyrnwch?”
“The Giant.” He said.
“The Giant?” I repeated incredulously.
“Yes, the Cauldron... of Dyrnwch, the Giant.”
“No, Not the Cauldron... of Dyrnwch... the Giant! You don’t say, well, that just sums it up.” I replied now that I understood, for I had been foolishly thinking about a different Magical cauldron.
As a test to see how much he really knew, I waited for him to continue, but he just smeared a dark brown smudge around a glass mug with an old dirty rag.
I asked, “Well, what’s it do... boil meat incredibly fast?”
Aegir nodded, “Yeah yeah, it does that...”
“What’s all the hub bub, then?” I said.
He slowly leaned over towards me, “Well, the rub is... with a piece of the deceased and the right spell, it supposedly has the power to grant life after death.”
“Oh...” I could see why the Death-Eaters might want that.
“But isn’t it lost just like the rest of the Thirteen Treasures?” I chuckled, at least remembering that much from my OWL’s, “There’s no way they’d ever find it, right?”
Trent looked around at all the smiling faces in the crowded bar, and nodded “I certainly hope so, brother. I certainly hope so.”
I walked out of the Inn and took a stroll, as I am apt to do on such cool, crisp evenings. There were a few wizards mulling about next to the River Severn and I tried asking them about Nudd, but got the same general answer- that he was a broken man from the war with You-Know-Who, and after what happened to his fiancée Ariel, he finally snapped.
I began to wonder if there was really a story here, or perhaps if he was another casualty of the Great War, he was albeit a different kind, that of the wounded veteran.
I walked around trying to convince myself that’s all it was, that everything was as it seemed, and nothing more. Which, sadly, is the worse kind of story. Really, it’s not even a story... it’s just, like, facts. And facts aren’t necessarily the same as a story, or for that matter, the truth. Oh, sure, they can lead to the truth, but they have to be peeled back, as it were.
As I strolled further along, I saw a well-dressed man waiting at a Knight Bus Stop, in a jacket, suit, tie, vest, and of all things, a bowler hat. I thought that it was slightly odd, but being quite fashionable myself, I completely understood, and considering some of the questionable nightgowns some Head-Masters choose to strut around in, it didn’t seem to be too out of the ordinary.
I walked up and struck up a conversation, I was always quite good at that, and eventually asked him if he knew Nudd Ludlow.
The stroppy man growled, “What’s it to you?”
I told him, “Don’t worry, I grew up around here... and was, um, old friends with Nuddy.”
At first the man just nodded, then he said, “No... sorry. Don’t know him.”
We chatted for a little bit longer about the weather or some such thing, and I noticed his perfect clothes, but I didn’t recognize the designer, which is a little unusual for me now that I think about it.
I left him to his waiting, but as I walked past him however, I noticed he had a piece of some sort of seaweed, or aquatic plant, on his bowler hat.
I leaned over and tried to pluck it from atop his hat, and said, “I think you’ve got a leaf or some-“
He yelled, “No! Don’t touch me!” and quickly jerked back.
I replied, “Don’t worry old chap, let me help.” and reached out further.
The obviously rude man then jumped away, and took off running down the road, “No, don’t! See, I got it! Just some Gillyweed is all... please, just leave me alone!”
Gob-smacked, I replied, “Well then, I say good day to you... sir!” and quickly walked the other way.
As the sun began to set, I then continued my stroll all the way up the bank of the river to the next bridge, and walked across it, for I always liked bridges, especially London Bridge, of course, and thought about what everyone in town had said about Nudd as I watched school boys race paper boats in the rushing waters below.
I gazed off into the distance, as the crepuscular rays of light faded in the dusk, and I saw their reflections disappear in the dark waters of the River Severn. I eventually came to the conclusion that there was probably no real story here, and turned back as the last of the daylight faded away into darkness and noticed the bridge was suddenly empty, as a thick foggy mist rolled in quietly and quickly.
And it was then that I saw them.
Rising up like bubbles from the foam of the splashing waters of the River Severn, a swarm of sylphs swirled in the misty moonlight. The sylphs (which, if you failed your OWL’s I’ll inform you are a type of water-based fairy, but don’t tell them I said so, because they really hate being compared to their more popular cousins, and really, who can blame them?) then they delicately drifted over, and began to condense and shimmer in the air like dew drops glistening on a spider’s web. I rushed over to the river’s edge, and they flew to me and started to speak to me their strange language that I couldn’t understand.
I leaned over the railing, and called out to the strange, diminutive creatures, “Do you know why I’m here? Do you know where Nudd Ludlow is?”
They stayed close to the river’s edge and kept speaking to me in hushed tones that I couldn’t quite make out, but their pitch kept rising higher and higher, till it was almost frantic and shrill, and it sounded eerily like a warning.
So, quite naturally, I shouted as slowly as I could, “Nuuuudd? Nuuuuudd Luuuuudlooooow? Doooooo yoooou knooooow hiiiiiiiim?”
They continued to speak their gibberish, this time sounding more irritated and agitated now, but I still couldn’t understand. Then a moment later they seemed to be spooked by something in the darkness, for then they quickly took off, diving into the river, disappearing back into the ripples of the water, and they were now gone as quickly as they appeared.
Wondering what that was all about, I started walking back to the Old Node Inn, and listened to the sound of the river’s splashing when I began to hear whispers. I looked around to see if the sylphs had returned.
“Hello? Is anybody out there?” I called out, but there was no reply.
I began walking again, and after another moment the whispers returned, and this time I could tell they were coming from the river. I nimbly jumped over the railing, and stepped down the steep embankment towards the lower level of rocks and gravel that lines the river’s edge at low tide, and I listened closely. But all I could make out was the splashing of the waves upon the rocks.
“Hello, hello, hello? Ollie-Ollie-Oxen-Free?!” I called out, I looked up and down the shore of the river, but there was no one there.
As I turned around to climb back up, I could then hear something that sounded almost like whispers bubbling up from the dark water. I turned back around and I climbed down closer, then, out of the corner of my eye, I caught a glimpse of something in the water- something shiny and sparkling. I walked over to the river’s steep edge, and climbed down even further, being careful not to step into any puddles because I was in a pair of my favorite shoes (and don’t blame me, they were real dragon-hide leather, and cost a goblin’s mint down in Diagon Alley) and because of the glare of the moonlight, I then leaned over the water to get a better look, and could see something glowing down in the water that looked like gold.
I must have then stretched over a little too far, because a moment later a particularly large and unexpected wave splashed me, making me lose my balance, and knocked me down into the icy river below, all snookered-like.
Not to worry though, because being the quite agile swimmer, there was no need for alarm, for I then quickly swam up to the surface of the water, and then over to the steep embankment to climb back up the rocks.
However, when I tried lifting myself up out the water, suddenly something grabbed my left foot and wouldn’t let go. I quickly grabbed at the rocks and tried desperately to cling to them when the creature swirled around my leg, and yanked me back down into the icy waters.
I could feel the slimy tentacle-like grip wrap tightly around my leg and then up my torso, and it pulled me further down into the black water. I wriggled around, and with a particularly powerful kick was able to free my leg from its vicious embrace and successfully swim up to the surface, but then a moment later the vine-like grip had returned, grabbing both legs this time.
It pulled me back down into the water, and this time it wrapped up my legs and around my whole body, including my arms and hands. I swam away as fast as I could back up to the surface, but the tendrils wrapped up around my neck and head, and across my face, and tried to pull me down once again. It covered my eyes and nose, and then tried wiggling into my mouth as I gasped for air, I then bit down hard and a foul smelling goo squished into my mouth, and let me just say for the record that it was way worse than any Bertie Bott’s Every Flavor Bean I have ever tasted.
It then pulled me back down under the water deeper than ever this time and wouldn’t let go. At the last moment, as I began to lose consciousness, I mustered up all the strength I could, and wiggled a hand free. I was able to get just a few fingertips on my wand that I had tucked in my jacket pocket.
With my last breath of air, I gurgled forth the spell of “Relashio!” and broke free from the creature and swam back to the surface. After I climbed out of the river, I could finally see what had attacked me. Still clinging to me in bits and pieces was, rather oddly, an interlocking rope of dark brown, foot-long flobberworms all knotted and tangled up together. A few squirmed off of me and wiggled back into the River Severn.
I climbed back up on the road, shivering in my soaking wet clothes. Looking at the dark river, I thought about how unusual it was to be attacked by a group of flobberworms... mainly because they don’t usually start becoming aggressive and making complex shapes till mating season.
“Keeps getting earlier ever year...” I said to no one in particular.
Trotting back to my lodgings, in my squishy and soggy dragon-hide shoes while they squeaked loudly in the night, I hoped it wouldn’t be too difficult to get the taste of flobberworm slime out of my mouth.
But it was.
It was really, really difficult.


Chapter 4-
Her Name Was Sabrina Hafren


Dripping wetter than a re-steeped tea bag, I returned back to the Old Node Inn, cleaned myself up, and tried to get a decent night’s sleep. Unfortunately, however, I still had some river water trapped in my left ear, so I couldn’t drift off and I kept tossing and turning, which was bad enough with all the muffled swooshing and swishing, but to top it off, all night long there was also music coming from the next room. And it was the absolute worst kind of music; no, not polka, jazz, or even opera, oh yes, I’m talking about bagpipes! The worst sound in the history of the world!
And I’m not being hyperbolic either, their piercing wail is clearly somewhere between an asthmatic elephant and nails on a chalkboard. I’m definitely one for tradition, culture, and all that, but since my ancestors made music with something that sounds like a whale passing wind through a clogged blowhole, I think we’d better switch to the saxophone instead.
Eventually, drums and other instruments drowned out the bagpipe’s drone and a woman began to sing softly with the most wondrous voice, so I was finally able to fall asleep.
I dreamt of being underwater with the slyphs and they kept speaking to me in garbled bubbles.
All I could make out was, “How do you like your eggs?”
Which seems like an odd thing to say, but I suppose they always are, in dreams...
The next morning I woke up and hummed the melody to Mr. Blue Sky as I showered, groomed, and dressed. I wore my finest baby blue velour double-breasted suit, with a crisp white button-down shirt with a pair of flare-cut dark blue pants, complete with my deer-skin wallet and belt combo. I was impeccably dressed and ready for my day, and if you are still in any doubt, let me just assure you, I did indeed looked quite dashing.
I brushed my teeth, and gargled repeatedly with Spirit-Mint mouthwash and had hoped it would get rid of the aftertaste, but no such luck- the flobberworm slime flavor was still there.
“Mourning Breath.” I said to nobody in particular.
Also, my left ear unfortunately still had water in it. I tried shaking it out, jumping on one foot, and using a cotton swab, but to no avail.
Finally, I went to get my wand off the nightstand, but strangely enough it wasn’t there. I looked around and checked the bathroom, the bed sheets, and my suitcase, and still couldn’t find it. Finally, I got on the floor and looked under the bed.
Must have rolled under the bed and in between some old floorboards, and so I called, “Accio Wand!”
But it wouldn’t budge, like it was stuck or caught on something. I got down flat on the floor with dust and dirt all over myself, “Great, I just cleaned this suit!”
I crawled under the bed, and reached out and grabbed the wand. I said, “Luminos” I saw that there were some latin words scribbled on the wood. Most were too faded, but I could read- quaerenti defuit vigils.
Something about a missing lamb? Searching for a missing lamb? Or maybe Mary had a little lamb? Who knows?! I thought to myself that it seemed like an odd place to graffiti a nursery rhyme.
Oh well, I reached out past the trash and dust, and grabbed my wand, and went downstairs. I walked up to the bar and I told Trent Ageir, “I want a cup of your strongest Swirl-Grey Tea possible, and how about you whip me up some of your best Black Pudding!”
“Is that all?” He asked with his one cold eye watching me.
“You know what? Give me a Black and White Pudding!” I requested.
“Sure, mate.” He sniffled.
“You wouldn’t happen to have any hot sauce, would you?” I was desperate for anything to get rid of the Flobberworm flavor.
His one eye bulged at me, “Hot... what?”
I thought about it, “Hmmm, what about some horseradish?”
“Sorry mate, all out.” He spat in a cracked glass and wiped it out with his dingy old rag.
I sat down and began reading a copy of The Daily Prophet that had been left on the table. That day’s front-page story was by Rita Skeeter, and it was all about the fallout from the recent reports of the Minister of Magic’s own son being revealed as a Death Eater. The article goes on to state that a lot of new information had come forward since the arrest of Igor Karkaroff, who had originally been arrested by Aurors- Nudd Ludlow and his old partner Self.
As I ate my scrummy black and white pudding, I read about how Auror Self was now working with a new partner -Sadie Smith, and they were now following up on information gleamed by Boris Karkaroff’s recent confessions and testimony. Apparently after Karkaroff ratted out no less than Barty Crouch Jr. and whole bunch of other Death-Eaters, the Ministry was now looking for some of Crouch Jr’s old partners Vesto Slipher, Franz Zwicky, and someone that goes by the ominous name of John-the-Obliviator.
Above the fold on the front page, was an artist’s rendering of the notorious Death-Eater Vesto Slipher, with his somber dark eyes and slicked back black hair, braided in a long lock. Next to him was a drawing of Zwicky with his wild blue eyes and crazy red hair, and then John-the-Obliviator, who was wearing a mirror-covered Death-Eater mask. His drawing looked a bit like a disco ball in a holocaust cloak- not very intimidating, if you asked me.
The three seemed familiar, somehow, but yet I couldn’t quite place them. In any case, I opened the paper up to finish reading the article, and on the inside there was a picture of Nudd’s old partner, Auror Willem Self. He’s with his new partner, Auror- Sadie Smith, who had soft brown eyes, and was dressed in a smart tan pea coat with most of her dark curly hair wrapped up in a bright patterned scarf. However, at that specific moment, much more importantly to me, was that my left ear still had water in it, and was beginning to ring.
But that changed however, for when I put down the paper, the two Aurors, Self and Smith, whose pictures I had just been looking at, were actually sitting across from me at the table.
They looked pretty much like their photos, and at first I wasn’t sure if it was some sort of optical illusion or whatnot, so I picked up and put down the newspaper a number of times before Auror Self grabbed it and yanked it down. I blinked, and rubbed my eyes, and finally I said, “Oh, hello! I was just reading about you two, and now here you are in front of me, what a lovely coincidence! Pardon me, would either of you happen to have any hot sauce on you?”
Auror Self paused for a long time and then looked at Auror Smith, and replied, “You... taking the mick?”
I said, “The what? No, I’m quite serious. You see, I have got the worst aftertaste-“
Auror Self interrupted, “Stuff a pock in it, we heard you’re asking questions about Nudd Ludlow, what’s it to you?”
I replied, “Well, thank you for asking, you see... I’m a very successful reporter and I-“
“A reporter, ooh la la!” Auror Self said mockingly, “You hear that Smith? We got ourselves a real Beetle-the-Barf over here.”
I politely retorted, “Um, technically I don’t think that he was-“
“Belt up!” Auror Self said.
“A reporter huh? I read the Daily Prophet, maybe I’ve heard of you. What’s your name?” Auror Smith asked me.
I informed her, and her eyes slowly scanned my expression. She said with a slight Jamaican accent, “No, can’t say I have, sorry.”
Then Auror Self leaned over, “Wait a second... Lockhart? Where do I know that name. Lockhart? Lockhart... I know, oh yeah- ha, ha, ha! My wife is always harping on about your advice for getting rid of gnomes in the garden! She loves your column.”
“Oh, ta!” I smiled.
“But...” Auror Self leaned over the table, and proceeded to growl in my face, “I don’t like taking advice from nesh duffers!”
Unsettled, I whispered, “Oh, well, you certainly don’t have to, it’s just my opinion, there’s no need to get all shirty- “
“Then shove it!” Self yelled out, and slammed his wand on the table.
Various wizards and witches in the Inn were staring at us, and Auror Smith stood up, and waved her wand, “It’s alright, we’re Aurors on official Ministry business. Please go back to your meals. We’re taking care this, no need to be alarmed.”
The witches quickly looked away, and Smith turned back to me, “So, what do you know about Vesto Slipher?”
“Not much.” I honestly replied, “Only what I just read in today’s Morning Prophet.”
“You telling me you’ve never had contact or ever met Slipher?” Auror Smith asked.
“No, why?” I asked, looking up from my blue Razzleberry scone.
Auror Self spat spittle across the table, “What about Zwicky?”
“No... should I?” I asked.
“Did you have any contact with Zwicky or Slipher last night, the night of April the Twenty Fourth?” Auror Self asked, with a note of condescension.
“No, I followed up on some leads and came back here and ate in the dining room and headed to bed.” For some reason, I neglected to mention the part about the slyphs and flobberworms.
Smith looked at my mooncalf’s skin-leather bound notebook and it’s open pages from when I was reviewing my notes and I shut it quickly when he asked, “What were you doing on the Severn Bridge last night?”
“I was just taking a stroll after dinner here... why?” I asked, trying to suss them out, and I started to wonder if what happened last night might be a potentially bigger story than Ludlow himself.
The two Aurors exchanged a brief glance, then Auror Self replied, “Just take my advice, Newspaper Man... and stroll right on out of town before you get yourself killed.”
Auror Smith got up and added in a sad voice, “Or worse... you don’t want to end up like Ariel.”
I was confused and asked, “What do you mean? I thought Ariel... was murdered.”
Auror Self and Auror Smith both exchanged a glance, then Smith leaned over and whispered, “No... it’s confidential, but Ariel is technically still alive. She’s resides in the Janus Thickey Ward at St. Mungo’s.”
“Blimey? Why, what happened?” I asked.
Auror Smith looked forlorn, “She was... Oblivated.”
“Oh, I see...” I said.
Auror Self turned red and whispered, “Do you Nancy-Boy? Because it was Vesto Slipher who did it, and he’ll do it to you if you get too close!”
They both walked over to the fireplace, grabbed a handful of Floo powder and Auror Self yelled out over to the bar, “Oh yeah... don’t think we forgot about you, we’ll be seeing you again soon, Trent!”
They threw the Floo Powder down and poofed away.
“Fare thee well...” I waved.
Trent Aegir snarled something under his breath, “Looking forward to it, you little...“ was all I could make out.
When I settled my tab with Aegir, he leaned over and said with an accent full of salty sea air, “I never liked Will, he always thought he was too good for Bristol, he did, and when he became an Auror it went right to his head.”
“He’s from here too?” I asked.
“Unfortunately...” He looked down and tried wiping away some smudges from his bar.
“So did Willem and Nudd go way back?” I tried to be as tactful as I could, hoping after the Aurors left, he would now let something slip.
“Oh... yeah, they grew up together. Sometimes I wonder if something went down at the Ministry and wouldn’t surprise me if Nudd took the fall for it.”
“You think he was forced into early retirement?” I asked, genuinely surprised, “The Ministry hasn’t ever mentioned any thing like that.”
Aegir leaned over, “What did you say your job was again?”
“Reporter...” I explained, thinking Aegir must have had too many Butterbeer’s already this morning, I repeated it as slowly as I could, “I’m... a... reporter.”
I left the small Inn, and kept heading north to investigate more. I walked up the sidewalk and breathed in the crisp fresh spring air. The early morning sun was sparkling off the river, and I could smell the brackish water as the Dickensian Fog rolled in (which goes without saying is really just smog- no, not Smaug, mind you just, but just like regular smoke from factories, please just try to follow along as best you can?) and I continued on my journey walking along the water towards Berkeley.
As I did so, I watched the tides change, and the water level quickly rose. I kept walking till I reached the point where the channel enters into the river, or vise versa. The bore rolled in several successively big waves near a dock that lead down to a shoreline filled with white sand, and where there were small crowds sunbathing, along with a few groups of people with canoes, kayaks, and small boats. I strolled along as families and children played along the bank of the river.
A little further up, away from the other people, I saw a mysterious, dark haired woman in long purple dress appearing through the fog. She looked like some sort of old-fashioned gypsy, and she was wading out into the shore, washing some clothes.
The clothes she was washing, strangely enough, were the first thing that caught my eye, for they were an exquisite gold silk and sequined suit, fit for a king, with a finely woven fabric that reflected through the fog. The woman washed the jacket and vest with sea-foam, and when the tide retreated, the water carried with it a dark murky red color that bled out into the surrounding water. She continued washing the clothes, including cummerbund, pants, and cape, till all the vestments shone brightly in the sun. When she finished, the tide was moving rapidly in, and she stumbled along the sand.
I walked over and called to the fair maiden, “Do you need some help, poor stumble-y woman of the river?” and held her hand and helped her walk across the sand and up out of the river.
I asked, “Why are you washing clothes in the river?”
She just gave an enigmatic smile, “I’ve just... always liked it better that way.”
Intrigued, I inquired, “Whose clothes are those?” and I admired the intricate lacework.
She laughed, “Would you believe I don’t even know!”
I thought she might have been some sort of crazy muggle, but instead of wringing out the wet clothes, she pulled out her wand, did a spell to dry them off, and quickly popped them into a small handbag that was less than half the size of what she put in.
She stuck out her hand, and asked, “So, what’s your name?”
I shook her cold wet clammy hand, and introduced myself, and then she said, “I am Sabrina Hafren... and I’m pleased to meet you.”
We walked along the river north, and we started chit-chatting and talking about the Severn Bore. At some point, there was a workman who was on a ladder and she made sure to walk around it. A little while later, there was a black cat on the side of the road we were on, so she crossed over to the other side.
I asked, “You’re a little superstitious, aren’t you?”
She said, “Yes, I try not to get to carried away, but it’s better to be safe than sorry, init?”
“That’s true... I suppose.” I said.
She smiled at me, “Oy, don’t tell me you don’t have any superstitions, or good luck charms?”
“I suppose not... unless I can count my smile as a good luck charm?” I beamed a future award-winning smile at her.
“No, it doesn’t work that way, it has to be something you carry from your past, something you found or was given to you for good luck.” She tilted her head.
I said, “I believe we decide our own fate.”
She replied, “Perhaps...”
We walked up the embankment for a while, and afterwards we passed an old woman standing on her houseboat that was docked on the shore. The houseboat was swarming with a large flock of birds and there were all sorts of crows, ravens, and magpies. She was standing outside on her house boat, waving and yelling, “Can it be? Is that you! Maggy? Hello?!” She waved some more, and yelled out, “Oh Babushka, you’re home just in time for dinner!”
Sabrina quickly looked away, and said, “Just ignore her, she’s just a crazy old lady. Sometimes she even thinks I’m her grand-daughter.”
The old crooked and haggard woman was limping and used a Shillelagh, and as she leaned on that blackened and knobby walking stick for support, I thought it looked oddly like a giant wand. The woman also had the dirtiest and raggediest clothes, and long tangled frizzy silver hair.
But that wasn’t the odd thing, for you see the strangest part however, was that she had the longest nose I’ve ever seen.
I’m being completely seriously when I say it had to be six, no- eight, no- twelve inches long. It hung down past her mouth all the way past her chin. At first I thought she might have been a goblin, like at Gringotts, but she was much too tall, almost as tall as a half-blood giant, in fact.
I quickly looked away, “That’s too bad. Maybe she belongs in St. Mungo’s.”
Sabrina looked down the river and said, “Yeah, maybe there should be magical retirement homes, too, yeah? Like Hogwarts but for old gits. They could each have houses like Slytherin and Hufflepuff!”
“That’s a rather wonderful idea.” I said, and we continued chatting, I mentioned what I was doing in town, and asked if she knew Ludlow.
She quickly grabbed my arm, looked around and leaned in close and whispered, “Yeah, I knew Nudd, and it’s... not safe what you are doing.”
“Now what’s all of this then?” I said.
“If you are looking for Nudd, they will kill you just like... they killed him!” She seethed with hostility.
I asked, “Who? Who killed him?”
She looked around, and with sad dark eyes said, “It’s not safe for me to talk, if they find out they’ll hurt me.”
“Why” I asked, three down and two to go on the old five W’s. Even in the beginning, I was brilliant as a journalist.
“They followed You-Know-Who, and they have eyes everywhere. Leave now, stop looking for Nudd if you want to live.” She pushed me away.
“But what happened to him?” I asked before she could walk too far away.
She paused, “Nudd was always a great Auror, maybe the best. But he wasn’t...”
I waited silently as the river’s waves crashed.
“... such a great husband.“ she sighed and looked away.
Well, looking back I’m impressed at my bravery, because I did not turn back but I forged onward, and I said, “I don’t understand, what do you mean? What does that have to do with his disappearance?”
I walked a little further and she seemed like she wanted to talk, but then suddenly she looked scared, and said, “I can’t... I’m sorry not here, it isn’t safe.”
I stepped close to her and grabbed her arm, safely but firm, “Please, just tell me what’s going on?”
I looked around, and saw what she was looking at, just two old men who looked small and weak, walking along the shore, feeding bread to seagulls.
I let her go, and we meandered up the road. We walked in relative silence and I kept thinking about what she said. I tried to convince her to go into a record store, “Look, those old geezers won’t follow us in here.”
“I hope you’re right.” She said.
“We’ll wait here and then head back.” I took her hand- It was shaking.
We walked in, and checked out the latest records by the Smiths, Duran Duran, and The Cure. The whole New Romantic look was big at the time, so I was able to blend in quite well with my frilly shirt and Vestorian jacket.
I stopped to listen to some David Bowie, and I tried laughing off Sabrina’s idea as paranoid. As I put the headphones on her and we listened to Wind is the Wind, however, the same two men from before walked into the store, and just kept walking up and down the aisles stealing glancing at us.
While they were near the back of the shop, I grabbed her hand and we quickly ran out the front and back down the alleyway behind the store. We both pulled out our wands and I could see the fear on Sabrina’s face. Suddenly, a large rat jumped out of a garbage can, and she nearly fainted.
“It’s alright, stay close... I’ll protect you.” I whispered, as I held her close and we made our way past a brick wall covered in the same repeating Siouxsie and the Banshees’ poster.
We skedaddled our way down a few more side streets and I thought we had lost them, but then at the end of the alleyway, I could see the shadows of the two old men stretching out from the side alley.
“Quick, run!” I told Sabrina and we took off as fast as we could in the other direction.
My heart was pounding as we ran away, past more alleyways and side streets, but the two shadowy men stayed close behind.
They started launching spells, so I had to cast back a variety of self-defense charms in order to protect Sabrina. I fought them as well as I could, and thought I had stunned one, but unfortunately they stayed close in pursuit.
“Look, there’s no need to get all narked!” I yelled at them, but it didn’t seem to calm them down any.
As I ran past the filth and trash, I was able to blast the two men back, and get away for a little while. But when I rounded a corner, they somehow ambushed me from both sides. Up close, I could see that the two attackers no longer appeared as old men, but were now presently in their Death-Eater disguises. One was shorter, with a sad-faced silver skull mask, and one was taller with a smiling gold skull. They were like an evil version of the Drama and Comedy masks- Thalia and Melpomene, however, they were not divine muses- but evil men.
In any case, they both must have been wizards of exceptional skill and strength because they quickly blasted me with “Stupefy!” and I was immediately rendered unconscious,
It’s late at night when I eventually woke up. I was hanging upside down, and all tied up in a dark warehouse that smelled like death. I felt like I was going to honk all over the place and I looked over and saw Sabrina bound, upside-down as well, and still unconscious. I tried wiggling out of my constraints unsuccessfully, while I saw below me, there was bone-tallow candles lit in a circle around us on an old wooden and dusty floor. In the middle of the candles were runic symbols I didn’t recognize.
After a brief moment, I felt a draft in the room, and the candles swayed a swift, synchronized little dance back and forth and then suddenly stopped.
Slowly, as if in a dream, the two Death-Eaters stepped out of the surrounding darkness with their wands raised towards me. Together, they yelled “Cruciatus!” and the most unbelievable pain ripped straight through me, as if I was being electrocuted... on fire... while getting a root canal.
And, I kid you not, it sounded just like bagpipes.
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