"This is how you would
treated your father."
|You know you're shallow when...||
Cuttings from the
Smallest Slytherin trilogy
|Fake fans||'Ship' shape.||Daniel does Glensheen|
|From the editors||"You were right."||Laura's swimming hole?|
|H = Yes||E = Yes||Q = Yes||
||D = Yes||E = Yes||M = Yes||
||S = Yes||E = Yes||L = Yes|
|N = No||O = No||B = No||
||V = No||O = No||W = No||
||G = No||O = No||R = No|
These are the nation's best universities.*
California Institute of Technology
Massachusetts Inst. of Technology
University of Pennsylvania
University of Chicago
Washington University in St. Louis
Johns Hopkins University(MD)
University of Notre Dame(IN)
These are the nation's best colleges.*
Claremont McKenna College(CA)
Harvey Mudd College(CA)
Washington and Lee University(VA)
*U.S. News and World Report, 2007.
|Head colds, etc, Sept. 2006 - Aug 2007|
|Oct. 12, sneezed all morning, headache and fever in the evening, worsens overnight. Not exhausting (i.e. didn't want to stay in bed Friday morning), didn't impact appetite. UPDATE: Miserable Friday, worse Friday night, lots of resting over the weekend. Stuffed up, headache, fever, malaise, sore throat, itchy ears. No body aches! Utterly miserable without pain relievers. UPDATE. Took a solid week to go off pain relievers. Midway through week 2, I'm still plugged to the gills with phlegm.|
|Nov. 13. Started sneezing again after a visit from relatives. Babied myself all week, thought I'd dodged a bullet. Then, Monday, Nov. 20, stomach flu hit. Terrible abdomen pain while sleeping Tuesday morning. Left work at 10am, went home and slept for 5 hours, ate only tea and soda crackers. Worked half a day on Wednesday, recuperated slowly over long holiday weekend. Some sneezing and stuffy nosedness, but maybe that's from the drought.|
|Jan. 1. Towards evening, headache and face pain (usually a sign of sinus trouble/impending headcold). Feverish all night. Better in the early morning. Worse in the late morning. On pain relievers. Hoping it will be a short virus, not a full blown head cold.|
|Feb. 23. Nasty sinus infection. Lots of face pain. Ears so itchy!|
|Mar. 12. Three days! Three damn days! After a head cold so bad (see Feb. 23) I was sick for two weeks and missed 3.5 days of work, I recovered just long enough to see CAMELOT. Then, on Monday, I went back in the pool, and BAMMO! Another week-long sinus infection/head cold!|
|March 27. Sneezing again. I skipped the pool all last week (since March 14, actually) in favor of walking. But my back missed the pool, so yesterday, in I went, and today, I'm sneezing, despite meticulously avoiding water up my noise.|
|July 4 and 5. Call it the Crucio Bug. Nothing but pain, vicious, unending pain, from the top of my head to the tips of my toes, setting my bowels aflame. But hallelujah, it's been nearly 4 months since my last illness!|
|September 5, 2007 Home sick with headache and nausea. Gee, I wonder why? Boss called in the afternoon to check on me. Described a stroke-like sinking spell the dog had had the night before, which didn't help.|
|February 1, 2008 Scrathy, itchy throat began Wed. evening. Face pain, headache and malaise full blown by Thursday night. 3 aspirin, 2 ibuprofen and a 12-hour sudafed (careful with those!) around 2 a.m. made me functional. Actually, I'm very pleased this is my first head cold/respiratory ailment of the school year. Guess it helped, reducing the water aerobics and introducing stationary biking.|
|Fall 2008 Look at the improvement! I credit Beantown's suggestion about nasal spray (saline solution to keep the the mucous wet...can't trap cooties if you're not sticky!) and my new habit of popping two echinacea capsules and a zinc tablet twice a day when I feel illness coming on. Only thing to report - serious stomach trouble the night of the election (Nov 4). Was fine until midnight. Then went to bed and grew more and more nauseous (just like chemo!) until I rose at 2pm to vomit...and kept throwing up for 2.5 hours. My first thought was bad poultry (treated myself to a Swanson pot pie while watching the returns). But lingering supplemental symptoms convinced me it was a 24-hour stomach virus.|
|Feb. 13 Two-day earache. Some pain, lethargy and insomnia, but nothing like the week-long sinus infections from hell.|
|March 8 A full-blown sinus infection or similar respiratory ailment, complete with unrelenting headache, itchy ears, scratchy throat and phlegm. Started March 2, still raging March 15. Here's hoping I haven't trashed my immune system with the echinacea!|
|April 14, 2009 Just like election night (except I was fine when I went to bed). Woke up in the middle of the night spewing from both ends. Chills and aches, too, suggesting the flu. So unfair! I got the shot! I never get the flu! But my Easter guests included an elderly grandmother who doesn't wash her hands when she goes to the bathroom, so chances are it was some kind of bug. Overall, I attribute the rough spring (health-wise) to months of bad weather and weeks of prolonged stress waiting for UMM to announce its layoffs. I may eat healthy foods, exercise 5-8 times a week, get plenty of sleep and refrain from drinking or smoking, but I'm still not weathering life's health hardships as well as I used to. I've got to get in better shape.|
|November 5, 2009 I need a name for the recurring low-grade unpleasantness that marginalizes my days but is nowhere near as rough as the head colds/sinus infections documented above. How about 'crud'? Missed a day of work because of crud. Symptoms generally include sneezing, headache, some body aches, sore throat, coughing, mild nausea, lethargy, no fever. Greatly helped by OTC pain relievers, and I probably could have gutted this out with enough aspirin and ibuprofen, but the unwellness would have shown and these days you're scum if you come to work sick. Staying home a day fulfills the anti-contagion obligation.|
|Tuesday, November 24, 2009 Crud. Tummy-focused. Came on Sunday, Nov. 22, after the cousins left. Complicated by interminable cough that's just recently become productive. Nausea, lethargy, diarrhea, aches. Had to go to bed at 8:30 p.m. Monday evening. Considered breaking out the antibiotic stash (one outdated course of that drug you take for just a few days) because I want to be healthy for Thanksgiving AND maybe nuke some lingering bug that's caused me to feel sick more often than well this fall. But I decided not to. Better to wait until after the massive Thanksgiving gathering, just in case I pick up something there. Besides, now that I'm monitoring the crud, I may find out it's not really that big a problem. I'm better today.|
|April 28, 2010 Went home sick at noon Wednesday after sluggish Monday and Tuesday. It took such a long time for the symptoms to take hold (hurray!) that I didn't realize at first it was another sinus infection. The Zithromax was getting older every day (exp. 2007) so I decided to take it. BAMMO! All better by Friday evening, a process that normally takes 2 to 3 weeks.|
|January 18, 2011 Holy cow! Laid low by a stomach bug so viral (vomitting, diarrhea, aches, chills, headache), it reminded me of chemo (enough to make me cry). But it went as quickly as it came and a day later I was back at work.|
|April 25, 2011 Beginning Week 2 of a strength-sapping, low-grade bit of respiratory and muscle misery. Primary complaints are fatigue, aches, congestion and coughing. This could be the ailment that's been landing some folks in the hospital with pneumonia. I feel fortunate that aspirin or ibuprofen keep me essentially comfortable and functional.|
|November 28, 2011 Hellacious headcold sweeping west central MN. I know 4 people on campus currently battling it and everybody who hears I'm sick asks, "Do you have the bad head cold?" Yes. Yes, I do.|
Raul Esperza with Beantown's mom.
Go or stay? Go or stay?
It's hard to admit the real reasons. I thought we were so great. When you're 'it,' and everybody makes a fuss, and adult co-stars say you're better to work with than kids from other countries, it's easy to believe you're great.
But someone taught me a trick recently. "Don't look," he said. "Listen. Stick your movie in a DVD, pick a good scene, shut your eyes, and listen to your acting."
Do you know what I discovered?
I suck! We all suck! We're so bad, the younger set, especially compared to those kids from other countries. It's mortifying! Demoralizing! The others wonder what's wrong with me, and I can't tell them. I can't tell them about the trick. It will destroy them.
And we're not getting any better. Our highly-esteemed adult co-stars (among others) say we are, but they're lying, aren't they? Why? At first I thought they were being kind. Now I realize it's because they don't want us to improve. They're threatened by us, resentful of our stardom.
If I go now, that'll be two less movies to be embarrassed about.
But what if they replace me with someone who's actually good? One of those 'other country' kids to whom they teach the accent? They're probably already making plans to position such people, putting them forward in such a way that folks will say, "Gee, that person would make a good _____."
And then there's him. Mum says he's not good for me, he treats me like I'm so lucky to be with him. She's right. I see it in the candid footage. Me reaching for him, never him reaching for me. Me looking at him, him looking at the director. Why? Why does he think so highly of himself? Well, because everyone, EVERYONE, the movie folks, the wannabes, the fans, they all tell him it's all about him, and as time goes by, they MAKE it more and more about him and him alone. But he's not really good-looking. I'M good looking! And there are 3 guys in the young set the fans are crazy about, whereas I'm the only girl. By quitting, I quit him, and that would be what's best for me.
I should teach him the trick. Before reaction to his other projects knocks him right through a brick wall. "Gee, didn't you know? You suck!"
We all do.
AGE (in years)
To Kill a Mockingbird
Paper Moon & Love Story
The Trouble with Angels
Living in Oblivion
These is my Words
Papa Married a Mormon
What the Dead Know
The Secret History
HP 5, 6, 7
The Golden Compass
Will to Murder (about the Glensheen killings)
Escape (by Carolyn Jessop) (finished 12/18/2007)
Diary (Chuck Palahniuk)
Shattered Dreams (Irene Spencer)
D.B. Cooper: What Really Happened
90 Minutes in Heaven
All the Shah's Men
Hold Tight (Coben)
The World is Flat
Three Cups of Tea
House of Spirits and Whispers
The Season (Goldman) (Wow)
What Your Poo is Telling You
The Family Nobody Wanted
The Onion Field
Justice at Dachau
A Short History of Nearly Everything
Horns, Hogs, and Nixon Coming
The Old Curiosity Shop
When Ghosts Speak
The House of the Seven Gables
Starving for Attention
Losing It (Bertinelli)
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society
The Screwtape Letters
In the Lake of the Woods
Old Town in the Green Groves
Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
Dark Places (Flynn)
Pride and Prejudice
The Way I See It (M. Anderson)
The Hunger Games
This I Believe (Allison ed.)
Confessions of a Prairie Bitch
The Big Short
Joined bookclub (selections in bold)
Why? Because We Still Like You!
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
Age of Innocence
The Girl Who Played with Fire
Let the Great World Spin
Someone Named Eva (July 4)
Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children,
Giants in the Earth (July 18)
Water for Elephants (August 20)
Anna Karenina (August 22)
A Midsummer Night's Dream (August 31)
Richard II (September 12)
The Thirteenth Tale (September 30)
Sarah's Key (October 25)
At Home (October 26)
Gone with the Wind (December 7)
Henry IV Part 1 (December 12)
Room (January 3)
The Wilder Life (January 17)
The Help (February 6)
Making Sense of the Christian Faith (February 13)
Lady Macbeth (March 1)
(Skipped Round Ireland)
The Lovely Bones (March 30)
Making Sense of the Cross (April 2)
Henry IV Part 2 (April 6)
The Kite Runner (April 11)
The Snow Child (May 9)
Wolf Hall (July 26)
The Glass Castle (August 6)
Witch and Wizard (August 20)
To Known as We Are Known (August 20)
Bringing Up Bebe (August 30)
Wuthering Heights (September 17)
The Facts of Life and Other Lessons my Father Taught Me (Oct. 5)
The Dibbuk Box (Nov. 19)
The Language of Flowers (December)
Atlas Shrugged (Jan. 14)
Visiting Tom (Jan. 17)
True Haunting (Jan. 25)
Possession (Byatt) (March 20)
Both of Us (March 27)
The Grapes of Wrath (April 10)
The Sign of the Four (April 24)
A Study in Scarlet (May 28)
Elinore's Choice (Jun 26)
True North (August 5)
Notes from a Small Island (Sep. 3)
Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (Sep 17)
Orange is the New Black (Oct 13)
The Hound of the Baskervilles (Oct 14)
Thirty Rooms to Hide In (Oct 25)
A Light in the Ruins (Nov 13)
Jane Eyre (Dec 6)
The Testament of Mary (Dec 12)
Call the Midwife (Dec 25)
The Complete Maus (Jan. 3)
Never Let Me Go (Jan. 13)
The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks (Feb. 12)
Shadows of the Workhouse (Feb. 24)
The Long Secret (Mar. 31)
The Tenth Gift (Apr. 14)
Ten Little Indians (May 22)
Five Days at Memorial (June 16)
Bleak House (July 23)
People of the Book (Aug. 11)
The Buddha in the Attic (Aug. 27)
Anya's Ghost (Sep. 10)
The Scarlet Pimpernel (Sep. 19)
Little Dorritt (Jan. 26)
Farewell to the East End (Jan. 30)
The Lincoln Myth (Mar. 3)
The Skin Collector (June 1)
Suspicion (Finder) (June 9)
The Heist (September 4)
The Dead (Joyce) (September 12)
The Sonnets (Shakespeare) (September 18)
The Girl on the Train (September 22)
The Dead Will Tell (October 26)
Emma (November 10)
A Christmas Carol (November 17)
True Haunting 2
Tales from Shakespeare (March 22)
The House We Grew Up In (March 27)
The Competition (Clark) (April 11)
The Woman in White (July 7)
The Canterville Ghost (July 12)
Uncle Tom's Cabin (Sep 7)
Great Expectations (Dec 12)
The Girls (Cline) (Jan 6)
The Devil in the White City (Feb 2)
The Jungle (Feb 17)
The Wind in the Willows (Feb 24)
The Life We Bury (Mar 6)
David Copperfield (May 17)
The Luckiest Girl Alive (May 24)
Pretty Girls (June 10)
One Kick (July 6)
Karolina's Twins (July 13) and Tear Soup
Stay Where You Are & Then Leave (July 31)
Buddy Beantown returned to the Big Apple recently. Saw Spring
Awakening and Company (again). |
"God, I'm so envious, I can't even talk."
She got some fabulous pix, like this one with Jonathan Groff/Melchior.
|Had such a GREAT time at Theatre L'Homme Dieu last Thursday night. Judi Morton and I went to see YOU CAN'T TAKE IT WITH YOU and who should sit down next to us in the front row but Ari Hoptman, TLD regular and one of my favorite Twin Cities actors. I told him how tickled I was and asked him to sign my program, which tickled him! At intermission, following a piece of advice my father once heard about what to say to a celebrity/actor, I asked him what he's working on. He's been trying to get permission to adapt a film for the stage, so I mentioned a similar rejection I'd had in grad school, trying to get the rights to MY FAVORITE YEAR, only to learn they were in the process of creating the musical. Turns out Hoptman is a big fan of the film, even wrote to Lou Jacobi (Uncle Morty) and received an autograph. We spent the rest of the break riffing comedic dialog from the film... Ari was so delighted I knew it well enough to set up punchline after punchline that he applauded every time I nailed something. Break a leg in LITTLE SHOP, Professor!|
|Wading in the footsteps of Laura Ingalls Wilder. Plum Creek, September 7, 2007|
Complaint Case #: 1347205 |
Consumer: Rebecca Webb
Complaint ID#: 1347205
Business Name: Charter Communications St Louis
The Better Business Bureau has received a response from the business regarding your complaint.
Better Business Bureau
Serving Eastern Missouri and Southern Illinois
Attn: Mr. Scott Thomas
15 Sunnen Drive, Suite 107
St. Louis, MO 63143
RE: MO BBB 1347205 WEBB
Dear Mr. Thomas:
This letter is in response to your correspondence regarding a complaint submitted by Rebecca Webb concerning a billing issue.
Upon receiving this complaint, a local Charter Customer Service Representative investigated Ms. Webb's concern in regards to this matter. Charter records indicate that a credit in the amount of $13.00 was issued on 03/11/08 and a promotional package was added to Ms. Webb's account for $64.97 for 12 months before applicable taxes and fees.
Charter's representative made attempts to contact Ms. Webb on 04/15/08, 04/16/08, 04/17/08, 04/18/08 and 04/21/08. We attempted to reach Ms. Webb at [phone number deleted]; the contact number Charter has on file. Messages were left on each attempt complete with contact information. It is Charter's recommendation that Ms. Webb return our calls to expedite any future issues.
Charter representatives have worked diligently to resolve Ms. Webb's concerns. We trust our response fully addresses all of her issues. Thank you for your assistance and should you have any questions, please feel free to contact me at 864-297-2248.
Very truly yours,
Executive Escalations Manager
2 Digital Place
Simpsonville, SC 29681
Please review its response to your original complaint and advise us if you are not in agreement with the company's position.
The details of the complaint (including the business' response) can be accessed by clicking [link deleted, business response below].
Your complaint will close as Assumed Resolved. The complaint will be re-opened should you dispute the company's response and you re-contact our office.
Dispute Resolution Department
C3A - 1100
Happy birthday to my St. Paddy Daddy and thanks to whoever sent the American Cancer Society Daffodils of Hope.
Snape found Malfoy on his bunk, reviewing a chapter on Finite Incantatem from an ancient charms text. On the bunk above him, Neville tossed in his sleep.
"Not yet, sir."
Snape sighed. From the upper bunk, Neville echoed him with a moan. It appeared his nap was being disturbed by a bad dream.
"That happens a lot," muttered Draco.
Snape could just imagine.
"Perhaps, when you're finished..." He found himself unable to replicate Malfoy's offhand tone. "Join me in the dungeon, please. I'm culling edibles from the stores in my office."
At that, Draco looked up, the old insolent grin making an unexpected appearance on his sharp features. "Just imagine," he drawled, "if flobberworm flesh weren't poisonous. You could use that curse to grow them from our ears and all our problems would be solved."
Snape nearly smiled. It had been ages since he'd done that to a Slytherin! "It's a transplanting spell," he told Draco with a shake of his head. "You have to have the worms on hand. Bundle up before you come down."
He was hard at work a short while later, transferring bottles of daisy roots from a cupboard to his desktop, when footsteps approached. But they didn't sound like Draco's. They were light and quick, Snape observed, more like...
Before he could finish his thought, an elf swaggered into the doorway, hands on hips, a haughty expression on his oddly familiar face.
"I seek the elf called Dobby," he announced.
Snape stood rooted in place, a bottle of daisy cuttings in each hand. For some reason, his pulse quickened. Odd, he mused. The creature looked too young to be a house elf. Draped in a rough-woven fabric resembling burlap, he had the shaggy, unkempt appearance of youth, more of an age to be apprenticed than employed at Hogwarts, home of the most prestigious appointments in elfdom. Until recently, Snape corrected himself, his thin lips twisting into a wry smile.
He studied the elf at length. There was a lump under his tunic above the sash around his waist. He had a long, thin nose and vibrant green eyes. There was nothing in his appearance to inspire concern. Yet Snape's heart pounded in his chest.
Perhaps it was his tone. The creature had addressed the wizard assertively, almost aggressively.
"I seek the elf called Dobby!" he repeated, his hostility barely masked. "Do you know him or not?"
Know! There was something about that word that set off bells in Snape's head. His heart banged against his ribs. Why didn't this elf know Dobby wasn't in the castle? Any Hogwarts elf would know Dobby wasn't in residence. His pulse raced, desperately telegraphing a message to Snape's protein-deprived brain.
It finally arrived.
This elf isn't from Hogwarts.
And that meant...
He came in through the barrier.
The realization rendered Snape speechless. A living, cognizant creature had traveled through the barrier. It was a gift from Heaven, a one-time opportunity. He had to do something. But what? The weight of so many lives at stake pressed down hard on Snape's mind. One false move, one wrong word, and this elf would slip away, irretrievably gone, perhaps forever...
Already, he was turning to go.
"Yes!" Snape cried. "Yes! I know him! We're... we're good friends."
He held his breath, praying it had been the right thing to say. If the elf and Dobby were enemies...
But the elf was turning back. Snape breathed again. He longed for the wand in his pocket; one quick spell and the elf would be his captive. But his hands were full of daisy roots.
"Where may I find him?" the elf wanted to know. He watched Snape closely, observing the full hands, the wand protruding from Snape's pocket...
Just keep him here, Snape lectured himself. That's all you have to do. Keep talking and keep him here.
Where the bloody hell was Malfoy?
"May...may I know who inquires after my friend?"
It seemed like a reasonable move. Who wouldn't want to ascertain a stranger's identity before supplying information? But the elf was not inclined to introduce himself.
"He was a friend to my mother," the creature informed Snape. "She has died. I am obligated to tell him."
"Please accept my condolences, Mr...?"
This time, the ploy worked. The elf folded his arms across his chest and tilted his head to one side, thrusting his chin in the air.
"Dobby would know me by the name my mother used. She christened me in honor of someone he admires. But I will not use a wizard's name. I prefer one that reflects my own greatness, the skillfulness acquired in the hidden forest of my birth. You may address me as Fenswoods."
Snape almost laughed. The arrogance of youth! Could there be a more obvious tell? This elf was little more than a child. Still, the potions master had to admit, the creature had invented an elegant name for himself. He moved slowly towards his desk, hoping to put down the daisy roots. The elf immediately fell back, taking a defensive step into the corridor. Snape retreated, resigning himself to a conversation throughout which he would literally have his hands full.
"You're from the Fens?" he inquired with just the right hint of admiration. "The creator of Hogwarts' finest house came from the Fens." Never mind the obsolete conceit; with any luck, this creature would have heard of Salazar Slytherin. The founder may even have played a role in developing the clandestine enclave from which he sprang. An offshoot of the Royal Forest, perhaps...
Of course, that meant the interview might soon be over. The Dobby Snape knew could not possibly be the creature this elf was seeking. Fenswoods had defeated the barrier. He commanded powers unknown to the magical brethren, house elves included. Dobby, on the other hand...
"Dobby has been working to recover the skills we possessed when we were 'happy hunters and gatherers.'"
A proud boast made on guard duty to explain an impressive display of magic. Snape nearly gasped. That..that little... There was no other word for it. Rascal! What else, Snape wondered, had the house elf gotten up to during all those years of seemingly slavish...
"I wish to see the elf called Dobby as soon as possible. My business is important."
"Of course." Snape made a hasty bow; it looked ridiculous thanks to the glass jars in his hands. "Forgive my distraction. I..."
At last! The very opportunity he needed! Snape took just a moment to compose a smooth segueway in his mind.
"I beg your indulgence. We, too, are concerned with extremely pressing matters. Surely you noticed the barrier enshrouding our castle..."
The elf gave a hearty snort.
"It would take far more than your incendiary gelatin to keep me from fulfilling my filial obligations."
Snape blinked. Unbelievable. He thought it was a security device!
"Oh, no!" the wizard protested. "No, no, no! We are not the creators of that substance. We are the victims. Unless we can find a way to defeat the barrier before our food and fuel run out, the inhabitants of this castle will certainly..."
"That is not my concern."
The words cut the air like a whip. At first, Snape thought he must have misunderstood. But there was no mistaking the look on Fenswoods' face. Snape had seen such hardness before. They could die, as far as the elf was concerned...every last one of them.
He wanted to throttle the little visitor.
But he steeled himself against the feeling, commanding himself to think. The elf would not help them willingly. All right. There were other options. A bargain, perhaps?
The elf's hands were back on his hips. Snape could see he was running out of time. Dozens of lives hung in the balance. What could he possibly offer this creature? Before he could think of anything, Fenswood spoke again, for the last time, apparently:
"Do you know where I can find my father or not?"
At that, Snape nearly fell over. His father! No wonder the elf looked familiar! Snape recognized it now; the long thin nose, the bright green eyes...
The deputy had no idea which shocked him more, that Dobby had sired a child, or that the child didn't care whether Dobby lived or died. But for the moment, the most recent insult weighed heaviest on his temper, heavier than all the other priorities he'd brought to the conversation...the orphans, the staff, the Creeveys, the Weasleys, Hermione, Draco, Neville...
Later, he would decide that it was a toss-up between Dobby and Neville, what finally drove him to act. But he was just about to, when...
It was Minerva, calling from the floo system to check on his progress with the edibles.
Snape jumped. So did the elf. And for the first time, to Snape's complete surprise, the tiny creature lost control. His face turned red, his eyes bulged out of his head, and the nails of his tiny toes cracked and broke as he jumped up and down, shaking with fury.
"HOW..." he shrieked at the top of his lungs..."DID SHE KNOW MY NAME!!!???"
If he could have afforded the luxury, Snape would have collapsed. It was all too much to deal with...they were trapped and starving, a wild elf had broken through the barrier, he was Dobby's son, he was named for Snape, he refused to help them... But he couldn't fall apart now. Fenswoods' tantrum was an advantage. It was time to act. He briefly considered appealing to the elf with the truth about his Christian name. But that wouldn't work. Fenswoods had already made his lack of sympathy clear. Besides, Snape liked his original plan better.
He hurled a jar of daisy roots at the elf as hard as he could.
Under different circumstances, it might have worked. But Snape was off his game, and Fenswoods was firmly on. The little bastard jumped so high, Snape's impromptu missile sailed right under his feet. He came down running and was safely out the door before the beleaguered Snape could retrieve his wand and take aim.
The wizard marveled at elf's determination to find his father; he'd been certain Fenswoods would disapparate immediately if the jar missed him. Instead, he was racing across the office after the wretched intruder, leaving Minerva to wonder why on earth her deputy would hurl a bottle of edible potion ingredients at an elf.
He'd had just reached the door when a shout echoed down the corridor
Snape sprang into the hallway. There stood Malfoy, blocking the corridor, rubbing his leg as he glared at the elf. Trapped between two wizards, Fenswoods decided to depart after all. He was gone with a pop, leaving Malfoy to duck a stunning spell that came shooting from Snape's wand.
The teenager threw both arms over his head and leapt aside just in time. When the jet of red light had shot safely past him, he turned to Snape, watching curiously as potions master staggered down the corridor towards him.
"Are you all right, Professor?"
The older wizard seemed on the verge of collapse. He slumped wearily against the wall. Malfoy shook his head.
"Why were you chasing a house elf, sir? Were you trying to find out where he got his vial?"
"His vial?" It seemed to take Snape all the strength he had to lift his head and peer at the boy. "What vial?"
Draco tapped himself on the chest. "The pewter vial around his neck. He ran right into me with it. Didn't you recognize it?"
But no, the teenager realized, Snape wouldn't have done. He gave them to Slytherins right before they left.
"I saw them around dozens of Slytherin necks last fall at the squire's. Honestly!" He shook his head again as he joined Snape in leaning against the wall. "People criticize us, then all they do is try to be like us. Even elves! I wonder what..."
He broke off beneath the intensity of Snape's gaze. The deputy was staring at him, open-mouthed, and Malfoy thought that, if he'd had the rest of the week at his leisure, he would not have been able to count all the ways the potions master looked ill.
The students gasped, and rightly so. This had to be the last straw. Was Snape finally going to take the truculent Ginny Weasley in hand?
Yes, he was.
"My office," the potions master hissed at the head girl. "Seven o'clock."
She hissed right back with her snotty, "Yes, sir," and Snape got the distinct impression she was looking forward to it, already planning her attack. He dismissed them all and waited until they were all safely out the door to drop into his chair with a sigh.
The confrontation was inevitable but he dreaded it nevertheless. Ginny Weasley was a problem. He had no idea why. Her fellow head student, Colin Creevey, was easily managed, and so were the other children. Even the retros and the four inhabitants of the alumni wing were no chore for the deputy to keep in line. Why was the Weasley girl posing such difficulty?
He sat quietly as his desk, pondering the question. Minerva's face came to mind, and Lupin's, but he pushed them away, concentrating instead on Ginny's pale freckled visage. Remember her consternation when Bill lorded it over the Great Hall two years ago? Remember her subtle plea across his office desk last fall for sanctification of an illicit intention to protect her father?
Snape smiled at the memories. She confides in me like Minerva, he mused. Then he sat up with a jolt. There it was! That was the answer!
Ginny Weasley held an adult's opinion of him. She thought of him the way Minerva did, or Molly or Lupin. And she had since her fourth year. That made her the youngest person ever to develop a full appreciation for him. That's why it was so unpleasant to treat her like a child. But that's what she was, for the next several months, anyway. She was his charge, his responsibility. He could not conduct himself as if she were a member of staff or one of Longbottom's financially secure wingmates.
He was still pondering this epiphany when she burst into his office at the appointed hour, red hair flying, a tirade already spewing from her lips.
"Why did you bring him here?" she demanded, so angry she actually kicked his desk. "This was supposed to be my year, my chance, my time to shine!"
She threw her wand down on his desk so she could thrust both hands on her hips.
"For the rest of my life, I'm going to live in the shadow of the great Harry Potter. No one's going to care who I am, what I contribute. I'll just be a side note to a cultural phenomenon, the closest hanger-on to a figure of unending hero worship. And that's fine!"
The sharp rise in tone belied her words.
"I've accepted it," she insisted, even as her arms folded belligerently across her chest and her toe began tapping out a punishing rhythm against the stone floor. "I love Harry Potter, and if that's the price of being with him, so be it. It's the path I've chosen. But I was SUPPOSED... to HAVE..."
Her arms came undone and she actually slammed one first down on his desk as her voice rose to a shriek.
Snape studied her curiously from behind his desk. Why do the women of Hogwarts always shout at me? he wondered as he waited to see what she would do next. Perhaps she was going to shake that freckled fist beneath his majestic nose.
"This is supposed to be my year!" Ginny continued, her tone modulating before the impassive stare and unwavering composure of the potions master. "I'm Head Girl! I'm the star of the school quidditch team! I'm the one everybody's supposed to be listening to! I put in years earning some time in the spotlight. Then you go and invite Harry Potter to live here and you ruin it. You bloody RUINED IT!!!!"
She stamped her foot like some hopping mad little house elf and Snape finally permitted himself a dismissive chuckle.
"Mel," he began with a condescending shake of his head, "you are unspeakably pathetic, you stupid, stupid..."
"What did you call me?"
The change in her demeanor was startling. Gone in a hearbeat was the blistering Weasley temper, to be replaced by a face full of simple curiosity. Snape missed a few beats, then continued more sharply than before.
"I called you stupid, you stupid child. I will say nothing about the complete lack of intellectual and ethical development that motivates one to seek notoriety, however briefly. But Harry Potter is not here to overshadow your glorious final year at Hogwarts. He doesn't want to stand in your way or dog your footsteps. He just..."
"No." Ginny not only interrupted, she waved the entire subject away with one hand. "Who's Mel?"
Snape stared at the girl, dumbfounded.
Did I actually call her Mel?
His irritation melted away as a wave of emotions washed over him, not the least of which was giddiness. He had confused Ginny Weasley with a child from another generation! It was the first time such a thing had happened to Snape, and it thrilled him. To confuse one generation with another was a badge of honor at Hogwarts, an indication of the substantiality of one's tenure. The teacher could not help smirking as he drew himself up to his full height, his eyes fixed on some distant point as if he could suddenly see through the walls to the horizon beyond.
I have arrived, he thought.
On the far side of the desk, Ginny chuckled.
The genial sound brought Snape's attention back to the matter at hand. It was her red hair, he realized, that had inspired the slip. Ginny faintly resembled a student from his first year of teaching, a girl who had seemed important at the time but had faded so rapidly and completely into insignificance that her face was difficult to recall. Beyond that, the two had little in common, this uncharacteristic burst of ego notwithstanding.
"I apologize," he announced so abruptly that Ginny's eyes flew open wide. "Your behavior has been more than a little foolish of late. But your auburn tresses aside, you are nothing like the grasping, self-centered person I mentioned. Sit down."
He nodded at the chair across from his desk, taking his own as he did. Ginny dropped quickly into her seat, her expression a mixture of confusion, curiosity, and eagerness.
"Your feelings are your servants, not your masters," Snape lectured the girl sternly. "A hot temper is not an asset, and your recent inability to control yours is a disgrace. There is nothing to stop you from making whatever you want of this year, not even the presence of Mr. Potter, who, if I may say so, seems far more interested in pursuing his secret academic ambition..."
There it was again, that delicious glow. Harry Potter was being studious. It just warmed the cockles of his heart!
"...than in fraternizing with you," he finished, much less sternly than he'd intended.
He paused for a response but Ginny just nodded, so quickly it was clear to him that she'd already put the whole thing behind her and moved on to something else. He wondered what it was. That reminded him of Potter, and he further wondered if he might be able to use her to discover what the boy was up to.
No, Snape scolded the unceasingly curious part of his mind. You can't bring up Potter again! Counterproductive!
"One thousand lines," he declared instead. "'I must learn to control my temper.' I will spare you the humiliation of any public punishment. You will, however, inform the school quidditch team that you will not be participating in their next practice. When they demand to know why not, as they surely will, you will inform them you are being punished for rudeness to a teacher. Understood?"
Ginny rose so quickly to her feet she practically jumped out of her chair. "I'm sorry, Professor," she assured him with a rapid-fire delivery, "and I'll apologize again in front of the whole class, I promise."
She practically raced out the door when he dismissed her and a few moments later was pounding on the entrance to the common room.
"Checking up on us?" inquired the Slytherin who answered her knock.
"Looking for someone," the head girl replied. But she didn't see him in the house, so she took off again, hurrying to the potions classroom, the great hall, the staff room, and finally up the stairs to the Astronomy Tower. There she found the personality she sought, staring morosely over the grounds.
The silvery spectre jumped. He turned to Ginny, who fixed him with her most winning smile.
She made one last stop before retiring for the evening, at the alumni ward, where she was pleased to find the door to a particular study propped open.
Harry, bent over the parchments on his desk, looked up in surprise. The site of a cheerful Ginny made him grin from ear to ear. But he swallowed that pleasant expression as quickly as it had appeared, assuming instead an air of mock severity.
"You stay right where you are," he ordered, shaking a finger at the toes she had neatly aligned on the far side of his threshold. "'No fraternizing.'"
"'No fraternizing,'" Ginny echoed dutifully. They held their sober, austere expressions for as long as they could, then burst out laughing.
"You would not believe," Harry confided, "how much time Luna spends on the far side of Neville's threshold."
Ginny pointed at the parchment scrolls on the study desk. "What are you doing?" she asked.
Harry hesitated only for a moment. "I'm trying to find somebody," he replied, an admission that made Ginny gasp.
"For the Saturday Night Seminar? Me, too!"
Harry couldn't have been more surprised if she'd announced she was going to give up sports to concentrate on her NEWTs. His eyes narrowed in an unintentionally but undeniably Snape-like manner.
"I thought you didn't approve of the 'two new areas of inquiry,'" he teased. "'Too much distraction from interscholastic quidditch.'"
Ginny shrugged off the quote with a grin. "I got inspired. Who are you looking for?"
"Four guys from different houses," Harry explained. "Ogo, Logo, Zulu and Viggy. How about you?"
"A red-headed girl named Mel. Any luck?"
Ginny hesitated. The Baron had indeed told her a story, or the first chapter of one, anyway. But it began with the death of Harry's parents. She would need some time to figure out how to share it with him. She leaned forward, careful not to cross the magic line of propriety.
"Let's meet up after a bit and check our progress," she whispered. "You know...keep each other up to date."
Harry nodded, clearly pleased with the idea. "Someplace private, though," he suggested. "More private than this."
He glanced toward the corridor and Ginny looked down the hall. All three of Harry's floor mates had their study doors propped open.
"It lets in the heat," Harry explained.
"I had another idea," Ginny continued, whispering more softly than before. "Let's go on a date. You know, over the Christmas hols."
"Where?" Harry wondered.
Ginny thought it over.
"Someplace we can talk the whole time," she decided. "Like last summer."
In August, Harry had joined the Weasley family for a shopping trip to Diagon Alley a few days before Ginny's 17th birthday. Mrs. Weasley, fiercely protective of her only daughter, had yet to grant the couple permission to spend time alone together away from home or school. They'd managed to slip free of her watchful eye and, desperate to escape the stares of Harry's fans and admirers, had sneaked off to a Muggle department store where they'd sat for half an hour in the appliance section, laughing and chatting through the rebroadcast of an American sitcom episode about four friends who park in a handicapped spot to buy an engagement gift for a friend.
"How about the British Museum?" Harry suggested. Ginny liked that idea, but it begged another question.
"How will we escape the burrow?" he wondered.
His girlfriend grinned. "We'll make that part of the fun," she whispered conspiratorially, and Harry grinned back, so long and hard he looked downright silly.
Ginny pondered him for a while, sitting at his desk, his hair a mess as usual, his green eyes unusually happy behind his round glasses. He wasn't very handsome, and he wasn't always sure of himself, this perpetually gawky teenager. But he was so brave and so kind.
"I love you," she announced.
Harry's smile faded, to be replaced by an expression of complete wellbeing.
"I love you," he replied.
Almost immediately, a condescending drawl assailed them from down the corridor.
"That's enough," called Draco Malfoy.
If the two lovebirds were appreciative of the check, they didn't show it. Ginny tossed a perturbed scowl in the general direction of Draco's study door, then thrust her head boldly across the threshold to whisper to Harry.
"'Hate the Drake!'" she hissed.
"'Hate the Drake!'" echoed her boyfriend with a grin.
I ignored her.
I ignored her.
She nudged me. My heart was racing, but I ignored her.
Desperate, Amy resorted to speech.
"Look...over...there," she whispered.
She pointed with her index finger to the row of latecomers standing along the wall, careful to shield the gesture with her other hand.
I shook my head.
So she started to trace his name with her finger, spelling it out on her hand. "S," she wrote so hugely she could barely remain within the margins of her palm.
"I know!" I hissed out of the side of my mouth. I took one quick peek at the bespectacled man with his steely curls and a dark purple sweater. Then I returned my attention to the front of the hall and kept it there for the rest of the afternoon.
Amy got the message. She quieted down. But for some reason, she just couldn't let it go. Her head continued to turn, first to Sydney, then to me, then to Sydney again. Finally, unable to contain herself any longer, she leaned in close and whispered behind her hand.
"He keeps...looking...at you."
So Cousin Jim Johnson is gonna help Obama select his vice president,
I vote for Jim Webb, the senator from Virginia. He's a Vietnam vet (Hi, Dad!), a novelist (do Harry Potter fanfics count?), a military brat (ahem), and an extremely straightforward person (ahem ahem). Hard to believe he isn't a relation!
Jim Johnson's and my mutual ancestors are buried at Six Mile Grove cemetery between Benson and Montevideo. The legs reflected on the stone are mine, from a Memorial Day 2006 visit to decorate the site.
|UMM is allowing employees to alter their work week to save gas this
summer. So I'm working at home for 4 hours on Fridays (and using vacation
the other four so I can skip a commute). After a stormy night, guess what
I saw preening on my dock this morning?
Then, a few hours later...
"At Rebecca's Mallard Hotel, you'll enjoy the finest in lakeside accommodations. Book early for choicest sections of the dock."
The Tonys approach, so here's my tribute to Stephen Sondheim: Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU, for being another person who knows "nice is different than good."
"One, two, three...NOX!"
The last syllable, shouted in unison by a dozen voices, plunged the warm, steamy chamber into darkness, and everybody cheered.
It was Ginny's game they were playing. They'd been lounging about the cavernous warm pool one night...the only place besides bed where one could feel truly warm these days...discussing how glad they were that the Harper/Vaisey Saturday Night Seminar on Hogwarts' plumbing had led to such a luxurious improvement of the dark harbor beneath the castle, when Ginny had observed,
"Wouldn't it be brilliant if we could extinguish the lumos lights from the water?"
Thanks to the barrier, it was no longer permissible to use the ever-dwindling fuel supply to light the many torches attached to the cave-like walls of the harbor. Nor could they afford to illuminate the prefects' lavatories. Colin still used one, though. He simply bathed by wand light, which is how he figured out they could still visit the warm pool if several people went swimming at once. Multiple illuminated wands, placed on strategic outcroppings and ledges, provided an enchantingly luminescent environment for a toasty group soak.
So they'd started swimming again, and after Ginny made her casual comment about hands-free noxing, they'd chatted at length about games played in the dark. Inspired, the seventh years had cracked the secret of hands-free wand illumination within days.
"I'm amazed!" Professor Flitwick had observed when they'd demonstrated in front of the Ravenclaw common room fire. "I once tried for hours to master that skill with no luck whatsoever!"
The question had come from Snape who, when all eyes turned to him, continued,
"Did you try here, at the castle, or someplace else?"
"In a tent," a surprised Flitwick had responded, "at the Quidditch World Cup. How did you know?"
"Hunch," murmured Snape. When Professor McGonagall asked if it was the same hunch he'd applied to the fiendfyre, he'd smiled his thin-lipped smile and meandered away to the nearest bookshelf.
After that, Ginny had set to work inventing her game and the younger students had labored mightily to master hands-free illumination. It wasn't easy. Often, at the beginning of a match, their incantations would 'miss,' sending them out of the water to retrieve their wands and extinguish their lumos lights by hand. That meant having to sit out the rest of the game on various slippery stone surfaces; it was too dangerous to try and get back in the water in the dark.
Once the lights were out, the game consisted of merely bobbing quietly in the blackness, seeing how long they could go before someone spoke. Often they played tricks on each other, slipping below the surface to grab a wary ankle or tickle an unsuspecting foot, trying to force each other to be the first to talk. But not tonight.
Tonight was the first time all the wands had gone out at once, and the young witches and wizards of Hogwarts were determined to make the most of it. They shouted and shrieked with excitement until Colin hissed,
...and the silence began.
Well, not silence, exactly. The surface of the water made constant lapping and gurgling sounds. Occasionally, someone cleared a throat or sniffed. And everyone splashed a bit, treading water.
In her spot near the tunnel to the hole in the cliff wall, Violet spun in place, reveling in the caress of the warm water against her skin. She loved the warm pool. It felt so safe in the dark harbor chamber, despite the impenetrable darkness brought on by the game. It was like being in a womb, a great big womb where she was cozily surrounded by a protective phalanx of...
What would we be called? the 4th year wondered as she floated in the darkness, imagining eleven other witches and wizards bobbing alongside her. Dodecatuplets?
Theoretically, the whole castle was like this. The inhabitants of Hogwarts could wander anywhere, anytime, without fear of harm or reprisal. Their suggested bed times were a conservation effort, not a safety mechanism. It was the one good thing about the barrier.
No one could get at them.
Still, only the dark harbor felt really safe. That's probably because it's so warm here, Violet reasoned. But that didn't really make sense, did it? What about all those comfort-seeking trips to chilly, lonely Slytherin?
A few feet to her right, someone coughed. Violet turned in the direction of the sound, listening for further indications of respiratory distress. She hoped the swimmer wasn't becoming ill. It was miserable being sick in the cold, dark castle these days. But contagious infections and viruses weren't much of a problem in a school cut off from the world.
It was emotional illness that plagued the castle these days.
When something happened to upset one of them...a dream, a conversation, a failed work session...the effects proved toxic, impacting the sufferer far more deeply and lastingly than distress ever had before the barrier. Cheering charms were no help; the efficacy of mood-altering spells was generally tied to the suggestibility of the recipient, Flitwick had eventually confessed. Since calming draught ingredients were in limited supply, they had to develop other methods to cope with the wretched, persistent feelings that clung to the edges of their hearts and minds. Dark harbor swimming was a popular one. But there were others.
Whenever Violet got upset, she liked to wander down to the cold, dark dungeon and slip into Slytherin house. Even without torchlight or fire, it was comforting to be home. She would wrap up in some spare bedclothes, climb onto a ledge in the common room or her cell, and sit for hours by the light of her wand, recalling happier times, until she felt better...or until the sound of the storm through the enchanted windows became too distracting. They hadn't bothered to reinforce the dungeon. Cold air didn't rise, after all.
Thinking of all this, Violet suddenly became aware of the storm raging beyond the dark harbor tunnel. It was louder in the chamber than in the castle, of course. But it was muffled by the long tunnel and she was so accustomed to tuning it out. As the game wore on, however, she found herself listening to it.
The storm never sounded the same from one moment to the next. The wind changed constantly, rising and falling in different tones, pitches and intensities as it roared. Listening to it from the warmth and security of the dark harbor, Violet found herself enjoying the ceaseless noise. It reminded her of lying snug in bed in Slytherin, drifting off to sleep while an October rainstorm pummeled her enchanted window.
She swam a few feet closer to the end of the tunnel. As she did, a strong, eerie gust blew a cloud of snow across the cliff face. That one sounded like a thestral! Violet giggled to herself. She held her breath and waited to hear what the storm would do next. The wind broke forth with a long, intense arc that grew to a shivery cacophony of mournful moans and whispers.
There's a phoenix! Violet grinned in the dark. There's a basilisk hiss!
She wished she could tell the others what she was doing. It was fun, listening for sounds in the wind! Maybe this could be a new game. They could all listen in the dark, calling out what they heard, and whenever two or more people called the same thing at the same time, they could be awarded...
Violet gasped. A voice! She'd heard a voice in the storm!
She froze in horror, her pulse quickening as she waited to hear if the person would shout again. Yes! There it was! Someone was out there! Someone was out there in the blizzard beyond the cliff wall, shrieking loudly enough to be heard above the roar of the storm.
Violet tried to speak, to tell the others, but no words would come. The person might be lost, or dying in the cold. Perhaps it was someone trying to rescue them. But something about the voice gave Violet pause. It didn't sound like a rescuer, or a person desperate for shelter from the merciless snow and wind.
It sounded angry.
The voice sounded menacingly angry, in fact...threateningly, psychotically angry. It reminded her of every horror story she'd ever heard about inbred human monsters, mad, sadistic animals who killed with terror and butchery.
Her heart pounding, the 4th year strained to make out words. Was the person in the storm angry with them, with the inhabitants of the castle? Did he or she know they were in here, that there was a hole in the cliff wall with a tunnel that led right to them?
The voice dropped low, guttural and snarling, then rose to an even higher shriek. Violet was just about to shove her face below the surface of the water to open her mouth and wet her terror-dried tongue and scream when her heart nearly stopped.
She'd heard another voice.
There's more than one, she thought with a whimper. There were two...no, three...no, four or more, screaming at each other, eager, maniacal, frenzied.
"KILL THEM! KILL THEM ALL! I WANT TO! I WANT TO!"
Who could they be, she wondered desperately? How had they survived outside all this time? Had they been coming into the dark harbor? Had they been warming themselves in the refuge of the warm pool, just missing their chance to attack the unsuspecting inhabitants of the castle during one of their frequent swims? She thought of Snape and McGonagall, staggering about in the storm after Christmas, and started to cry.
As quietly as possible she backed away from the end of the tunnel, tears rolling down her cheeks. Didn't anyone else hear them, she wondered? Why wasn't anybody saying anything? Were they still playing their stupid game, oblivious to the fact that they were all about to be destroyed by psychotic, sub-human monsters?
They were always invincible, insanity-fueled criminals. They were going to torture the people of Hogwarts, bury them alive beneath the floors, sever their limbs and feast on their living flesh. There was no reasoning with the criminally insane...and no defeating them.
And they were right outside the tunnel.
Help us! she cried out in her head. Professor Snape, help us! Please, please help us!
Why, oh why, had they ever thought it was a good idea to go in the water without their wands? She would gladly take 12 or more on a wet backside for being so foolish if only Snape would help them.
"KILL THEM! KILL THEM ALL! I WANT TO! I WANT TO!"
I have to do something, Violet urged herself. What should I do? WHAT SHOULD I DO?
She simply could not think. Should she shout to the others, warn them? Or would that bring the furies down on them in one swift, butchering swoop? Perhaps she could find her schoolmates in the dark and lead them silently, one by one, out of the harbor and back into the castle. Was that possible? Would the others understand what she was doing? Or would they resist, make noise, alert the butchers to a human presence?
Then a thought occurred to her. Maybe the others did hear. Maybe THAT was why they were maintaining silence. Otherwise, wouldn't the game would have ended by now?
She concentrated on the sounds inside the chamber. Yes. They'd heard the voices. She was sure of it. That's why they were keeping so quiet. No one was breathing out loud anymore. No one was splashing the water. They were all listening as hard as they could, silent and terrified.
A puff of wind pushed another cloud of snow down the tunnel and Violet nearly shrieked. She couldn't stay by herself for one more second. Swiftly she moved through the water, groping for another human being. She found one and searched that person for a hand, clinging to it in the darkness. The bone-crushing squeeze she received in response assured her that the others had, indeed, heard the same thing she had.
Professor Snape! she screamed to herself. Harry Potter! Dumbledore! Anyone! Please help us!
They would not be able to escape in the dark. They would have to shout for light, and the moment they did, the monstrous beings beyond the tunnel would descend upon them, ensnaring them before they could even escape the warm pool. They would butcher the students, those murderous furies, and then they would lurk in here, killing off the citizens of Hogwarts one by one as they came to the dark harbor to swim or seek the missing. Eventually, the heating charm would wear off. They would die here, and lie here, preserved forever in the darkness and the cold.
Darkness. Cold. The words stuck in Violet's mind, repeating themselves over and over like a recognizable but rarely recalled refrain. Darkness. Cold. Darkness. Cold.
Suddenly, she remembered. A wave of relief swept over her, so strong that she cried out far more loudly than she should have.
"They're not real!"
Her screech terrorized those she sought to reassure. A few feet away, poor Marybeth screamed.
"Lumos!" shouted Ginny in a rare strident tone, and one by one, her schoolmates followed suit, filling the dark harbor with bright, beautiful wand light. They all turned to Violet and no one berated her for ruining the game. Instead, Ginny demanded,
"How do you know?"
"I read about it," Violet hiccupped, sucking down deep breaths of relief. "It was a book about a family that lived through a long winter of prairie blizzards."
The central character had been about Violet's age and the entire family had been terrorized and deluded by the aggressive animosity of the wind. But eventually they'd recognized the truth.
"There are no voices in the storm."
Relief spread throughout the chamber, loosening the muscles of the young witches and wizards. They climbed out of the water and took up positions on various ledges to bask in the glow of their wands.
"New rule," Ginny announced as she stretched out near the shore. "At least two players sixth year or above have to keep wands with them at all times."
No one argued.
They sat quietly in their steamy chamber, waiting for the light and the heat to dissipate the wretched effects of hysteria coursing through each young body. Violet wondered how long it would take. Quite a while, she supposed. Go away! she snarled at the miserable feelings washing over her, polluting her soul with insidious despair. I hate you! I hate you! Go away!
Several minutes passed.
When too much time passed without anybody saying anything, Ginny spoke again. "We're suggestible," she called with what was intended to be a casual shrug. "It's perfectly understandable under the circumstances."
That was true. But it didn't help. Violet needed help. The vile emotions brought on by the intense bout of terror were making her bones and muscles ache. It was too quiet in the cave-like harbor, too easy to notice the winds raging beyond the tunnel. She cast about for something to discuss, something heartening, reassuring, and comfortable.
"Do you know why I love this chamber?" she blurted suddenly. "It's just like the one in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang where the villagers hide their children."
"I know that movie!"
Ginny sat up, delight filling her pale, freckled features.
"Harry told me all about it. He watched it every chance he got when he was little." A ticklish smile lifted her lips. "Something about that flying car really spoke to him."
The bathers chuckled, even the ones who knew nothing about the Ian Fleming story. They began to share their own memories of happy stories they'd loved when they were little, eventually moving on to the light-hearted tales they were reading now. This went on for a long time. Their hope was that if they talked long enough, calm would be restored to their souls.
It didn't help.
Eventually they headed back into the castle, and on her way to Ravenclaw, Violet paused outside the stone entrance to Slytherin. It was too late to visit, she knew. She had to hurry to bed, to conserve the heat she'd absorbed in the warm pool. If only that bed could be in a cozy cell in Slytherin, on a corridor full of housemates. It would help so much if she could just be back home.
In Ravenclaw Tower, she found Snape perusing a shelf full of books near the staircase to the girls' dormitories. She paused at the entrance to the stairway, wondering if anyone had revealed what had happened in the chamber. Unburdening herself to Snape might relieve some of the torment surrounding her heart and mind. But she held her tongue. There were only three things the inhabitants of the castle could do to improve their situation: work hard, take care, and be brave. Whinging about an outbreak of hysteria in the dark harbor would not be brave.
But she couldn't bear to go to bed with a heart full of distress. She stared beseechingly at the full-grown Slytherin, her eyes overflowing with longing. He would understand. More than that, he would help. She was sure of it. And without thinking how cowardly it would sound, she cried out in a moan that was nearly a sob,
"I want to go home!"
Snape turned his head only as much as was necessary to study her over his shoulder. His imperiousness was impossible to decipher. Had someone told him about the voices? Was he angry at their foolishness? Disgusted by her sniveling? Annoyed at the interruption? Violet couldn't tell. With an inscrutable, steely murmur, he delivered his response.
"You are home. You're just not sleeping in your own room. You're residing in a sibling's chambers. Most children would consider it a treat."
If she'd been older or wiser, like the two Gryffindors standing near the fire listening to every word, Violet might have noticed what Ginny and Minerva observed: That was a surprising sentiment to hear from Severus Snape. But, overwhelmed by a sudden sense of contentment so strong it bordered on cheerfulness, only two words reverberated through her mind as she climbed the stairs to the dormitory where Marybeth was already asleep in the lower bunk.
Love came around the day she saw it in his smile
He was a young boy, Sue Ann just a child.
Weaving sweet dreams made everything seem real
How gently he held her, how warm he made her feel.
She wanted to love someone
There'd be so much to share
And what about tomorrow?
Was there promise there?
The song of their loving
He gave her for her own.
He didn't stay to sing it
She'll have to sing it all alone.
Child with a child
There'll be no time to laugh and run wild
She'll work it out, at least she wants to try
And which asks more, hello or goodbye?
Elizabeth's the sweetest doll Sue Ann has ever seen
She's playing hard and hanging on
But the playing's getting mean.
Oh where is her love now?
Loneliness is setting in
She fights back the tears for what is
or might have been.
She dreams in the darkness that he'll come back to stay
He told her that he loved her. He gave her today.
How many mornings when dreams don't come true
Can she keep it all together, feeling old and yet so new?
Child with a child
There'll be no time to laugh and run wild
She'll work it out, at least she wants to try
And which asks more, hello or goodbye?
The song tells the protagonist's entire story while playing over a montage
of just a single day in her life. Sue Ann Cunningham, appealingly
portrayed by a young
Mariel Hemingway, is a coltish, fatherless, love-starved high school
freshman who falls for a senior star athlete. The
product of a fundamentalist
upbringing, she refuses to have an abortion after finding herself pregnant
and begs Chuck to marry her. He runs away and Sue Ann is sent to a
where a social worker explains that she can surrender her baby temporarily
after it is born if she needs time to make plans (for the child's
upbringing or adoption).
Her mother forbids this, insisting Sue Ann make the same choice she did,
even though it led to years of poverty and hardship. Sue Ann brings the
child home and, in
the crowded apartment inhabited by a stepfather and two toddlers, the
mother interferes in harmful ways, driving Sue Ann to move out. Clinging
to the idea that
Chuck will come back one day, she takes up residence in a crime-ridden
slum, the only area she can afford on her welfare checks. After she is
attacked and nearly
raped, her social worker finds her a room at the McClellan Home, a halfway
house for teenage mothers. Sue Ann is ecstatic - the home is safe and
clean and provides
daycare while the mothers are at school and/or work. She has no idea how
exhausting and demoralizing her schedule will be.
As the song begins, baby Elizabeth is waking her at dawn with her cries. Sue Ann greets the child with a smile and prepares her for the nursery, then rushes off to the kitchen to help cook breakfast for the entire community. After a few hurried bites of her own, she scurries away to school where she marches doggedly through her schedule, thin and bleary-eyed. Back at the home, she grabs a few moments to rock Elizabeth, unwittingly cataloging a litany of sacrifices as she tells the baby about her day (there's no time for her homework or the cute boy who likes her, and there's no money for nice clothes like the stylish vintage dress worn by a classmate). Then it's time for laundry and dinner prep before she leaves for her swing shift job at a drive-in. She makes her way home in the dark, collapsing into bed with her books. Several yawns and a brief nap later, it's morning...time to start all over again.
Images from I Want to Keep My Baby
Sickened by her pregnancy, freshman Sue Ann takes refuge in a high school bathroom while her 'high school hero' boyfriend, senior Chuck Ryan, wins the track meet.
Chuck is horrified to learn Sue Ann is pregnant. With college and a full life ahead of him, he has no desire to settle down with a teenaged wife and a baby.
"How could you do this to him?" Chuck's parents blame Sue Ann for the unwanted pregnancy.
To hide the shame of the impending illegimate birth, Sue Ann is taken to a facility where she watches with envy as other pregnant teenagers receive visits from their boyfriends.
The title comes from a line of dialog that Sue Ann, coached by her mother and minister, obediently asserts at her daughter's christening when asked how she responded to the misguided people who suggested surrendering the child for adoption. This scene is frequently cut from television broadcasts.
Unable to bear her mother's interference, Sue Ann decides to try and get by on her own via the welfare system.
Her lack of maturity shines through during the emancipation discussion with her social worker when she admits she named her baby after 'the cute little girl on The Waltons.' (Joanna Lee worked on the acclaimed television series.)
Social worker Rae urges more schooling.
"Did you ever think about what you wanted to be when you grow up?"
"Yeah," nods Sue Ann. "A mother."
Rocking Elizabeth after morning chores and school, before evening chores and work at the drive-in.
Worth all the sacrifices?
There's no time to accompany Greg to the lake; what little free time Sue Ann has each week must be spent with the baby.
"How old are you, Sue Ann?"
"Wow. You might as well be fifty."
Chuck finally returns...to drop off a check. He'll fork over child support but wants nothing to do with Sue Ann or the baby.
"Don't you even want to see her?"
Devastated by losing Chuck forever, Sue Ann breaks down, throwing Elizabeth forcefully onto the mattress of her crib, knocking the wind out of her. Rae is called and Sue Ann decides to relinquish the baby.
From the mouths of babes: Elizabeth, perhaps knowing a better thing when she sees it, says "Mama" for the first time...in the arms of her adoptive parents.
I saw EQUUS on Tuesday, October 21, 2008, at the Broadhurst.
I disagree with the reviews that praise Richard Griffiths. He wasn't understated. He was bored, just going through the motions, leaving me hungry and grateful for every moment the other adult cast members spent onstage......and furious to think of all the British actors who could have done more with the role. Michael Kitchen, anyone?
Daniel Radcliffe, on the other hand, performed better than expected. His less dramatic moments were lacking, somewhat empty, as if there were little behind them. But the extreme moments were outstanding, especially the orgasmic ride at the close of Act I.
He should have been left alone in the main playing area throughout his frenzied, climactic attack. Overall, I liked the play's staging...the blocks, the horseshoe-shaped playing area, the jarring sound effects and the unnerving lighting. But we didn't need the horses 'upstaging' him during the final, escalating terror. The initial blocking worked great - a naked teenager racing psychotically back and forth, shooting straight up the stall walls to drive his spike home while the music shrieks and the horses scream, their blinding stares extinguished as the darkness closes in...
|Perhaps the poetry goes over my head, but I've never liked the cast album from Spring Awakening as much as the one from In the Heights. So I was very excited to see this production, my first Broadway musical, at the October 22, 2008 matinee. The set was stupendous. (A fellow audience member told me Broadway shows are putting heavy emphasis on production values these days. That was certainly true of all five I saw, few of which were as inspiring as the unrelenting talent and brilliance of the low-budget Forbidden Broadway.) But the show itself came off as somewhat amateurish. The first half of the first act was too clogged with ensemble members who got all the intricate staging while the principals, whom I really wanted to focus on, were left sitting or standing pointlessly during their initial numbers, arms flailing, songs delivered at a uniform high intensity that left them nowhere to go as the drama increased. I never noticed these problems in Spring Awakening or A Tale of Two Cities. But it should be noted that Heights was the only show that made me cry and its male leads were very endearing.|
I suppose I should be grateful for my stage left orchestra seat to the
October 22, 2008 evening production of A Tale of Two Cities.
Sidney Carton spent a lot of time right in front of me. But I suspect the
lucky Barbour fans who got to see Jane Eyre a few years ago had a
rewarding experience than I. |
Tale seems to suffer from the same problems as the Little House musical I wrote about on August 24, 2008. The story is too large to translate to the stage without a specific focus. That focus was supposed to be Sidney Carton according to comments made by the director and author during a Playbill podcast. That would have worked really well. So might the perspective of Madame DeFarge, or even little Lucy. The show needs some kind of brilliant approach that permits an effective winnowing of the novel. But so far, as best I can judge by comparing the Broadway production to the concept recording and the publicity material from its out-of-town try-out in Florida, attempts to tighten the show without any specific focus have resulted only in the incising of its humor and edgy freshness (a perception confirmed at the stage door by folks who'd seen it in Sarasota).
Never mind that opening night is behind you, Jill. Be brave. Rewrite your musical in the voice of Little Lucy, telling the heart-breaking tale of how she lost the very best friend she'll ever have.
There's no denying that original casts are often the best. But in the
case of Spring Awakening, I say: |
I adored the cast I saw on Thursday, October 23, 2008. In general, I disapprove of aiming younger when casting youthful roles, a lesson I learned from viewing multiple productions of Annie. Older actors perform better. The younger kids have less depth and wind up substituting precocity for insight, which becomes boring after 10 minutes. But in the case of Spring Awakening, the added tenderness and vulnerability really work.
Never mind that so much of the show is ludicrously anachronistic and gratuitous (though it does vex me to think how much more effective "I Believe" could have been if we'd seen no more than that wonderful move between the legs and a bit of hip as the hand pulls at the trousers). Never mind that the staging itself is such a star, so energetic and generous. Never mind that some of this cast's passion, pain, and determination may have sprung from the discovery that their show would close in three months (an announcement made public the following morning, so presumably the cast learned Thursday night before curtain...or does Ilse always have tears in her eyes throughout the entire production? Anyway, it works.).
I just loved spending time with these kids. Loved every minute of it. No other group (not even the Forbidden folks) seemed so disciplined, hard-working and generous. It was a privilege and a thrill to see their performances.
Now this is what I'm talking about when I say a Broadway show
should be so good I shouldn't be able to second-guess a single aspect of
the production. I saw Speed-the-Plow last, on Friday night,
October 24, 2008. Hilarious, enlightening, magnificent!
Esparza was hands down the strongest performer, a source of constant, explosive laughter. I found Moss's work a little thin, though some critics insist she meant to do that. It seemed to me she just isn't quite as good an actor as Piven or Esparza (yet?). The guys could be a little smoother finishing each other's sentences (and in time, they will be, which will upgrade the show from stupendous to flawless). But Esparza's cynical, lightning-quick dismissal of Elizabeth's last stand will stay with me forever. I never would have thought to take such a manic, rapid-fire approach. When a show comes out better than anything I could have imagined while reading the script or listening to the cast album, that's Broadway quality.
And my front row center seat was pretty boss, too. Shout out to Beantown Mama.
|It was days before I dared to return to my usual route to the bus stop. But I had a theory I wanted to investigate. Beyond the Chateau stood an abandoned brick house, old, with a large covered porch (or veranda) on two sides. It was a strange place, filled with the screaming of birds, as if someone had left a window open upstairs and a flock had moved in. Rumor had it the property belonged or had belonged to some sort of cult. In the many trips I'd made back and forth in front of it, I'd never seen a single living soul, inside or out.|
Attention, John Hawkes. If you have any insight into what's happening at Theatre L'Homme Dieu, please share it at your earliest convenience.
In a way, it was like a pothole, four feet wide, four feet deep, and perfectly square, surreptitiously tucked among the passageways of the Chamber to form some sort of den or retreat. The basilisk would have had to build up speed upon approaching to sail across it without injury.
Violet crept to the edge and peered down into the little space. There were a few candlesticks lying about, knocked over on their sides, and some dried out old quills. The broken-legged skeleton of a rat lay in a corner where it had crawled to die, a warning to the other vermin that the drop into the pit was steep and should be avoided. And strewn here and there, covered in slowly decomposing fabric, were four round pillow cushions, too tiny to fill the seat of any chair Violet had ever seen. She wondered if they might have come from barstools.
"What's that?" she whispered, pointing with her lumos light to the only other object visible in the square pit, an instrument propped on the remains of one of the decaying pillows. "Is that a guitar?"
Dennis wriggled forward to lie beside her. "Not exactly," he replied, leaning into her a bit to free his arm and point. "See how the strings are in pairs? I think it's some kind of Spanish instrument."
The information made Violet shriek with excitement. "Salazar is a Spanish name!"she cried. "Maybe this was his artistic retreat!"
"I doubt it, Violet."
Budging past her, Dennis lowered himself carefully into the small square space. He made his way across the little room and gingerly picked up the ancient wooden instrument.
"He could have had a lute or something," he murmured, cautiously testing the strings. "But guitars are only a few centuries old."
An image popped into Violet's head, of her and Dennis meeting here secretly throughout the school year. She saw herself wrapped in a house blanket, perched on one of the cushions while the Gryffindor serenaded her with the Spanish guitar. The idea made her blush; she was glad the Chamber's dim light hid most of her face.
Dennis handed the instrument up to his illicit co-investigator.
"You found it," he announced. "You keep it."
"I can't play it," Violet protested.
Dennis tip-toed to fold his arms on the edge of the ledge, resting his chin on them as he smiled at her, nose to nose. "Maybe you'll learn," he suggested cheerfully.
Violet wriggled backwards to make room for him to climb out, clutching the guitar even as she pondered the unlikeliness of his suggestion. Between schoolwork and Saturday Night Seminar efforts, who had the time?
Well, there was one person, and wouldn't you know, he was exactly the one Violet ran into, strolling casually through the corridors at just the right moment to intercept her as she smuggled her new acquisition back to her cell.
"Where did you get that?" Malfoy demanded, rudely pulling the item from her shoulder. His scrutiny of the instrument kept him from noticing Violet's gulp.
The fourth year's mind raced to come up with a deflection. What mattered most was keeping the project a secret, of course. To that end, what popped out of her mouth was so brilliant she would marvel over it for days. It was the one response guaranteed to prevent any further inquiries.
"Do you want it?"
As she watched him saunter away, a blonde devil with too much time on his hands happily strumming his new prize and humming to himself, she wondered how long it would take him to generate his first composition - and who the unfortunate subject would be.
|First lake bath||Last lake bath||2009: cold summer, warm September||After June 16||September 16|
|2010: High lake this year||May 29, after Saturday cemetery crawl with Kim. Hot visit to Sunde farm, hotter bike path hike. So cold I could only soak at neck depth for about 5 minutes.||August 21, after overexerting my sickly self mowing the lawn while Mom and Dad rode Steve's $65,000 pontoon. I had some hope of braving the icy depths (and I do mean depths) on September 28, but that didn't quite work out.|
|2011: Lake now disasterously high. First windstorm cost me $5,500 in lost shoreline footage.||June 5. Climbed in to take photos of the riprap restoration project.||September 11. Leafy lake bath after frantic hours of unpacking and tidying following return home from Wyndmere trip and phone message from Cousin Greg announcing a visit.|
|2012: The lake has dropped several feet (thank God!) following a winter drought.||May 27 (Sunday). Kim again! We made the cemetery crawl on Saturday, then walked Sunday morning through oppressive heat and humidity, only to get eaten alive by biting flies as we waded into icy waters for a cooling bath.||August 28? Refreshing swim after mowing during which I observed a suspiciously brief GLOW cruise. No, September 3, after 20-mile Labor Day bike ride before pancakes at Perkins.|
|2013: Latest ice-out ever.||June 14 after mowing. Freezing! Passers-by who heard me yowling kept reminding me: the ice only went off 4 weeks ago.||Sep. 18, after steamy, sweaty bell choir rehearsal.|
|2014: record-breaking winter.||May 28, afer hearing Mandi's verdict. So cold my forehead ached.||Thought it would be Saturday, August 23, 1 a.m. in Lake Owasso after hearing Aretha Franklin at the state fair. Nope. Late September heatwave allowed a starlit swim last night, September 28.|
|2015: Gone on road trip first two weeks in June.||June 21, after cleaning a braided rug, before church in the park. Had gone jet-skiing the day before.||September 6, after a particularly sticky dog walk Labor Day Weekend.|
Here's downtown Alexandria, decorated for Christmas. These over-the-road decorations have become irreplacable, I guess. Maybe they're illegal now. None of the other towns in the area have them anymore. Once they wear out, the towns have to replace them with the kind that attach to light posts. Thanks a lot, pomo safety nuts. So I thought I'd better capture these for posterity. As you can tell, I'm standing in the middle of a four-lane road, taking all the time I need to frame and compose the shot. Precious little traffic on the roads on Thanksgiving in my neck of the woods.
Sidney Carton, an evening guest at the home of the Darnays, puts little Lucy to bed.
SIDNEY: You're not missing anything downstairs. I promise.
LUCY: Pretty dull?
LUCY: They should drink more.
SIDNEY: You don't have to repeat EVERYTHING I say.
LUCY: Sorry, Sidney.
I've worn the same coat for 20 years. I bought it for a dollar at a garage sale in Starbuck the same summer I purchased
the cabin. It was light grey then, a disastrous color that showed every speck of dirt it touched. Since Minnesota
clothing comes into close contact with filth all winter long (every time you enter or exit your car, to be precise), I
remedied the situation by dying the coat blue. But it still suffered from a ludicrously dented hood (it was too big and I
had to sew part of it shut), the visible repair of an enormous L-shaped rip, inexpertly hemmed sleeves, and the woefully
outdated look of nylon with stretch polyester trim. I don't know what I'm going to be about the increasingly frayed cuffs.
But I'll have to think of something, because this is my coat for life. It cannot be replaced. Believe me, I've tried.
But this coat is:
|Dang. I really love How to Succeed. Listened to it last night
while walking the dog in the basement. I can't get over the timelessness!
A lot of older musicals don't hold up dramatically, but decade after
decade, wherever we're at with corporate America, How to Succeed is
there. Flash vs. substance? Got it covered. Gender issues in the
workplace? All over it. Our love/hate relationship with hard work?
Check. And now, when we could really use a show about what employers and
employees owe each other, How to Succeed delivers a tale of
workplace altruism so tender (yet biting) it warms the heart. But Daniel
Radcliffe won't be able to see that. He's too polarized to step outside
his philosophical orientation and see the accuracy of the subtext, no
matter how well a director might explain it to him.
I wonder if Hunter Parrish has the cool, clear eyes of a seeker of wisdom and truth?
Anyone familiar with my site will understand that what makes this shot of Henry Fonda with my dad in Vietnam particularly interesting is the timing. Dad was in Vietnam from the summer of 1966 through the spring of 1967. That means he chatted with Henry Fonda right before or right after the star filmed Yours, Mine, and Ours. Perhaps they discussed the company mascot, a three-legged monkey this M.A.S.H. unit fixed up. His name was...Philip.
Dog-sitting for the neighbors for a week. She's got this weird thing where she's not willing to walk through clear space to get from one side of the bedroom to the other. Instead, she insists on climbing under and walking beneath the coffee table that serves as a bench at the end of my bed...
...but on the whole, she's following my parents' example and making herself comfortably at home.
Behold what may be the only public photos of Laura Ingalls
Wilder's swimming hole along Plum Creek. Nansie Cleaveland spotted the area
yesterday (July 20, 2010) as we hiked the creek from the dugout site
north/downstream to the 140th Street bridge. It was a treacherous process
requiring sturdy, water-friendly shoes, life jackets, hiking sticks, a
safety buddy, and a month-long wait for the water level to recede. No
wonder the Ingalls family preferred to access the 'beach' by land. Of
course, that's no longer practical due to immense overgrowth.
There's a good deal of evidence to suggest this is the spot. It corresponds to Laura's hand-drawn map. It's the widest part of the creek we saw...
...with the biggest (only?) sandy shore area. It has comparatively low banks on either side. Then, north of this section, there's an enormously high bank, just like it says on Laura's map.
The hole is not as deep as Laura suggested, but it has probably filled up with sediment over the years, especially since the addition of agricultural irrigation ditches running into the creek.
We were hoping to find the swimming hole, fish trap waterfall, and 'real'
tableland. Here's a graphic with my final analysis...as of today!
Stay tuned for Nansie's take on the day.|
|Item to be purchased or replaced||Purchase date of current item|
|Used car||2005 (currently 125K miles)|
|Travel out of North America||Have never done|
|HDTV||Have never had|
|Tooth #31||Came with body.|
|Snow blower||2009 cheap plastic model from Walmart. Broke first time I used it.|
Greetings from my neighbors on the shores of Lake Minnewaska. You may remember the dog from a puppy-sitting gig earlier this summer. We're checking out the ludicrous height of the water; as you can see, it's flush with the bank, leaving no beach whatsoever. That's unheard of! After a particularly snowy winter, the water may start this high in the spring. It's happened once in the 20 years I've lived here. But it's NEVER high in the fall because the rain generally can't keep up with the warm weather evaporation. This rare situation is actually quite undesirable. Without a beach, there's no place for the lake to sluff organic waste (like weeds, leaves, or dead fish). So they pile up in the water at the bottom of the bank and rot there. Makes the water too murky and stinky to swim in. No more lake baths for Rebecca this year!
I should have commented on the passing of Elizabeth Taylor, whose
performance as Helen (right) in Jane Eyre greatly influenced the
development of Marybeth Montague.
And there's a good deal of Peggy Ann Garner's Jane (left) in Violet.
As the others departed for bed, Minerva lifted one end of Flitwick's bearskin rug, inviting Snape to join her on the sofa.
"If you could go anywhere or do anything right now," she whispered when they were snuggled together beneath the only truly warm covering in the Ravenclaw common room these days, "what would it be?"
Snape wrapped his arms around her chilled, bony frame and, pressing his lips against her ear, whispered,
"I'd seduce you."
Her high, tinkling laugh was as gratifying as ever. It occurred to him to wonder just how unappealing the starving, shivering inhabitants of this castle must look after months of blizzard-bound hardship. Rather repulsive, he surmised. But there was nothing revolting about the skin of Minerva's wrist beneath his thumb, cool and aged though it was.
He stroked it a time or two.
The headmistress of this castle full of doomed children suddenly deflated, her eyes filling with pain. Her lower lip trembled. A tear gleamed in each eye. She turned her gaze from the fire to bury her face in Snape's chest.
They spent that night together on the sofa beneath the bearskin rug.
When Malfoy entered the common room at daybreak the next morning, he assumed the lumps buried beneath the thick animal hide were lascivious older students, desperate for a little extra warmth.
"Roust 'em out!" he drawled from the hearth, rubbing his hands before cooling embers. "Time to crawl back into your own beds."
The lumps beneath the bearskin remained perfectly still.
Draco sauntered over to the presumed fornicators, eager to chase them away and assume their spot on the sofa.
"Better get up before the heads find you," he counseled, shaking a lump he assumed was a shoulder. He grabbed one end of the rug and pulled it back from the sofa-dwellers' heads, only to find himself staring into the stony faces of Hogwarts' ranking administrators. After a startled moment, he whirled away with a scream of pain.
"My eyes!" he cried, throwing his hands to his face to protect his precious peepers from further assault. They also provided a convenient curtain behind which he could hide his barely suppressed mirth.
"Oh, do shut up," Snape snarled, whispering a reassuring, "Don't worry," to Minerva. Draco peeked at the two of them over his shoulder and Snape snapped his fingers at the teenager.
"Turn around!" he commanded.
When the boarder's face was safely hidden, he and Minerva made themselves presentable and climbed out from beneath the rug. The three of them stood there, resigned to a moment of extreme embarrassment.
It never came. Instead, Draco just stared at them, his face suddenly filling with pain similar to that which had overcome Minerva's features last night. Snape needed no magical power to read the boy's mind.
If I have to die, Draco seemed to be thinking, it would be nice to have parents nearby to ease me through it.
Without a word to the two administrators, he dived beneath the bearskin and pulled it tightly around him, reveling in the warmth Snape and McGonagall had left behind.
|The students at this godforsaken hellhole that passes for an institution of learning are getting nastier and more impertinent by the second. Case in point: the infernal seventh-year who today apparently decided to celebrate the onset of her eighteenth birthday by secretly painting several well-handled surfaces in the Slytherin common room with undiluted bobotuber pus. How Blaise Zabini managed to get the stuff on parts of his anatomy that should, by all rights, never come anywhere near the vicinity of the fireplace's stone gargoyles must needs remain a mystery (at least, it must if we are all to manage to keep our breakfasts down); but at least the culprit was found out before I myself was affected, and it was with a wholly justified sense of rage that I dragged the willowy, golden-haired practical joker back to my private chambers for as sound and severe a punishment as it has ever been my pleasure to deliver.|
Knock knock knock
Knock knock knock
Knock knock knock
|Check it out! It's Spellwad!|
|I've kept this newspaper photo for more than 25 years and it still fascinates me. It was published in July of 1987 or 1988 (I think) by the Daily Herald and shows a family sitting on the porch roof of a venerable two-story brick home on Center Street in Provo watching the annual Pioneer Day parade. From right to left, we have Amy Hart Redford as a blonde-haired teenager, an older woman I gotta figure is her Grandma Phyllis Van Wagenen (owner of the home), the former son-in-law (Robert Redford) who recently divorced Phyllis's daughter, and the former son-in-law's girlfriend (Sonia Braga). Dang, Phyllis, that is LIBERAL, even for the first woman to run for mayor in Provo!|
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