Monthly Archives: March 2017

Hermione Granger Chapter 10

Hermione Granger And The Goblet Of Sexism

Chapter Ten: The Scar And The Prophet / Mayhem At The Ministry


Hermione lay awake in the dark tent, listening to Ginny’s steady breathing, for a very long time. Finally, the quality of the darkness shifted ever so slightly, and she heard a bird singing somewhere in the forest nearby. Then she heard the zip of the tent flap, and Mr. Weasley carefully stepped inside, tip-toed to Ginny’s bed, and said in a whisper “Ginny dear, time to get up, we’ve got to get home.” His voice sounded worried and anxious, and only after he had roused Ginny did Hermione sit up.

It had been a very long night.

She dressed quickly, and then stepped outside to see the others, as the horizon began to grow faintly lighter. Nobody said much of anything. Mr. Weasley used magic to pack up the tents, apparently now speed was more important than anti-muggle security.

When they left the campsite, they passed the Roberts cottage once again. Mr. Roberts looked dazed, and he waved them off, muttering “Merry Christmas” in a far away voice.

Mr. Weasley must have seen her face, because he quickly whispered “He’ll be alright. Sometimes, when a person’s memory’s modified, it makes him a bit disorientated for awhile… and that was a big thing they had to make him forget.”

She didn’t ask about all of the previous charms. She just hoped he was right, willed herself to believe that he was right, as they marched off along the moor.

The area where the Portkeys lay was crowded and noisy, with a crowd of people clambering around Basil. She guessed after the events of the night before, everyone was in as much a hurry to get home as the Weasley family. Mr. Weasley pushed through the crowd, and had a hurried discussion with Basil. Then it was only a short wait in the queue before they were able to take an old rubber tire back to Stoatshead Hill. They walked back through Ottery St. Catchpole as the sun rose in earnest now, and then up the damp lane toward the Burrow. Nobody was chatting on this early morning walk, each person seemed lost entirely in his or her own thoughts.

As they rounded the corner, a familiar voice came echoing down the lane.

“Oh thank goodness, thank goodness!”

Mrs. Weasley came running toward them on slippered feet, her face pale and strained with worry, a rolled-up copy of the Daily Prophet clutched hard in her left hand.

“Arthur!” she cried, flinging herself into her husband’s arms, “I’ve been so worried, so worried!” and the paper she’d been gripping fell from her hand and to the ground. It no longer mattered. The headline read: SCENES OF TERROR AT THE QUIDDITCH WORLD CUP and included a twinkling black-and-white photograph of the Dark Mark itself.

The reunion scene was sweet, and Hermione thought instantly of her own parents again. For a moment, she wanted to ask at once to borrow an owl and write her own mother. But no, it was stupid, mother didn’t even know, she didn’t read the Daily Prophet. There was no rush, and really, why bother her at all?

“You’re alright,” Mrs. Weasley was muttering, now releasing her husband and staring around at her children, “you’re alive… Oh boys…” and then she seized Fred and George even more tightly than she had Mr. Weasley.

“Ouch! Mum — you’re strangling us —”

“I shouted at you before you left!” she said with a little sob. “It’s all I’ve been thinking about! What if You-Know-Who had got you, and the last thing I’d ever said to you was that you didn’t get enough O.W.L.s? Oh Fred… George…”

“Come on, now, Molly, we’re all perfectly okay,” said Mr. Weasley, pulling her away from the twins and leading her back towards the house. “Bill,” he added in an undertone, “pick up that paper, I want to see what it says…”

In the kitchen, Hermione went straight for the stovetop and put the kettle on. Mrs. Weasley would need a good cup of tea after her fright. Mr. Weasley rummaged in a back cupboard for a tiny bottle of something, which turned out to be Ogdens Old Firewhiskey.

“Really, Arthur!” Mrs. Weasley said when she saw him with the bottle.

“Come now Molly, it’s just a taste to calm your nerves…” said Mr. Weasley as he poured a shot into her teacup. Then Bill handed him the paper, and he sat down to scan the front page opposite his wife at the kitchen table, with Percy peering over his shoulder.

“I knew it,” said Mr. Weasley heavily. “Ministry blunders… culprits not apprehended… lax security… Dark wizards running unchecked… national disgrace… Who wrote this? Ah… of course…” there was an air of disdain in his voice now, “Rita Skeeter.”

Hermione was about to note that there was nothing factually incorrect with the write-up, but she thought better of it, and poured herself a cup of tea as well.

“That woman’s got it in for the Ministry of Magic!” Percy almost shouted, “Last week she was saying we’re wasting our time quibbling about cauldron thickness, when we should be stamping out vampires! As if it wasn’t specifically stated in paragraph twelve of the Guidelines for the Treatment of Non-Wizard Part-Humans—”

“Do us a favor, Perce,” said Bill, yawning, “and shut up.” Percy looked offended, but didn’t speak again.

“I’m mentioned…” Mr. Weasley said, reaching the bottom of the article.

“Where?” spluttered Mrs. Weasley, choking on her tea and whiskey. “If I’d seen that, I’d have known you were alive!”

“Not by name,” Mr. Weasley screwed up his eyes. “Listen to this: ‘If the terrified wizards and witches who waited breathlessly for news at the edge of the wood expected reassurance from the Ministry of Magic, they were sadly disappointed. A Ministry official emerged some time after the appearance of the Dark Mark alleging that nobody had been hurt, but refusing to give any more information. Whether this statement will be enough to quash the rumors that several bodies were removed from the woods an hour later, remains to be seen.’ Oh really,” Mr. Weasley looked exasperated and handed the paper off to Percy. “Nobody was hurt. What was I supposed to say? Rumors that several bodies were removed from the woods… well, there certainly will be rumors now she’s printed that.”

He heaved a deep sigh. “Molly, I’m going to have to go into the office; this is going to take some smoothing over.”

Percy looked up from the paper and said “I’ll come with you, Father. Mr. Crouch will need all hands on deck. And I can give him my cauldron report in person.” and he headed out of the kitchen, perhaps to get properly dressed.

Mrs. Weasley took a sip from her tea “Arthur, you’re supposed to be on holiday! This hasn’t got anything to do with your office; surely they can handle this without you?” she said rather reasonably.

“I’ve got to go, Molly,” Mr. Weasley sighed again. “I’ve made things worse. I’ll just change into my robes and I’ll be off.” and he stood up from the little table.

“Mrs. Weasley,” said Harry, who’d been quiet since they arrived, “Hedwig hasn’t arrived with a letter for me, has she?”

She looked up at Harry while Mrs. Weasley said “Hedwig, dear? No… no there hasn’t been any post at all.” Who was Harry expecting mail from?

“All right if I go and dump my stuff in your room, Ron?” Harry said practically winking across the table at Hermione and Ron.

“Yeah… think I will too,” said Ron, just as obviously. “Hermione?”

“Yes,” she said quickly, but realized there was no way the others would realize anything was strange as they made their way up the stairs, they were all to engrossed in the paper being passed around the little kitchen.

“What’s up, Harry?” said Ron, as he closed the door to his attic bedroom.

“There’s something I haven’t told you,” Harry said looking very serious indeed. “On Saturday morning, I woke up with my scar hurting again.”

He was talking, of course, about the magical scar on his forehead, leftover from the curse by Lord Voldemort. She gasped. Previously, his scar had only bothered him when Voldemort himself had been quite close to Harry. “Well, you should probably speak to Dumbledore when we get back to school, if you haven’t written him already, because I’m afraid he’s the only one who really knows much about it. In the meantime, there may be information in several books that would come in rather —”

“But —” Ron cut in without noticing, “he wasn’t there, was he? You-Know-Who? I mean — last time your scar kept hurting, he was at Hogwarts, wasn’t he?”

“I’m sure he wasn’t on Privet Drive,” Harry said, for all the world as though he hadn’t just dropped a bomb into the tiny bedroom. “But I was dreaming about him… him and Peter — you know, Wormtail. I can’t remember all of it now, but they were plotting to kill… someone.”

Hermione bit her lip hard, and nervously pushed the hair from her eyes.

“It was only a dream, Ron said. “Just a nightmare.”

“Yeah, but was it, though?” said Harry, and he looked away from his friends and out the window at the brightening morning sky. He was obviously worried, and Hermione could see why. After all, he’d dreamed about the dark wizard that everyone else called ‘You-Know-Who’ before, and that had never caused him physical pain in his scar. There was a tense moment of silence, and she glanced over at Ron. When Harry’s back was turned, Ron suddenly looked quite concerned as well.

“It’s weird, isn’t it?” Harry said, in a far away voice, “My scar hurts, and three days later the Death Eaters are on the march, and Voldemort’s sign’s up in the sky again.”

“Don’t — say — his — name!” Ron said breathlessly.

“And remember what Professor Trelawney said? At the end of last year?” Harry said.

Hermione scoffed. Professor Trelawney was the Divination teacher at Hogwarts, only she wasn’t very good at divination herself and was constantly making gloom and doom predictions about students… especially famous students like Harry Potter. “Oh Harry,” she said, “you aren’t going to pay any attention to anything that old fraud says?”

“You weren’t there,” Harry said, shooting her a look, “You didn’t hear her. This time was different. I told you, she went into a trance — a real one. And she said the Dark Lord would rise again… greater and more terrible than ever before… and he’d manage it because his servant was going to go back to him… and that night Wormtail escaped.”

She bit her lip again. She hated all this emphasis on fortune telling, it really was such a distraction. She’d thought Harry was a bit brighter than that… and yet, here they were.

“Why were you asking if Hedwig had come, Harry?” she asked, trying to change the subject, it was no use arguing. “Are you expecting a letter?”

“I told Sirius about my scar,” Harry shrugged. “I’m waiting for his answer.”

She couldn’t think why Sirius Black, Harry’s godfather he’d only known a short few months, would be the best person to discuss the matter with. But Ron’s face lit up and he said “Good thinking! I bet Serius’ll know what to do!”

“I hoped he’d get back to me quickly…” Harry said, looking rather droopy again.

“But we don’t know where Sirius is,” she offered, “he could be in Africa or somewhere, couldn’t he? Hedwig’s not going to manage that journey in a few days.”

She wanted very badly to help her friend, to give him some comfort. If she’d learned anything about him in the time she’d known him, it was that she couldn’t push him to seek help if he didn’t want to. But he really did need to talk to someone about this, it could be important, and it was obviously troubling him. He just stared out the window, and she felt helpless.

“Yeah, I know.” was all he said.

“Come and have a game of Quidditch in the orchard, Harry,” Ron piped up. “Come on — three on three, Bill and Charlie and Fred and George will play… You can try out the Wronski Feint…”

“Ron,” she said, guessing Harry hadn’t slept much more than she had the night before, and looking at his pale form leaning on the window, “Harry doesn’t want to play Quidditch right now… He’s worried, and he’s tired…. We all need to go to bed….”

“Yeah, I want to play Quidditch,” Harry said rather suddenly, and stood up quite straight. “Hang on, I’ll get my firebolt.”


Hermione looked at both of her friends. As she hadn’t been invited to play Quidditch (not that she was particularly keen to) she thought she’d better head downstairs. And so she left Ron’s attic bedroom, softly muttering “boys…” under her breath. Sometimes she really didn’t know what to make of either of them.


The next day, Hermione did manage to borrow an owl and write her parents, but at the last moment she decided not to tell them about the trouble at the World Cup. There was no sense in worrying them, and it wasn’t as if they could do anything anyways. And besides, it occurred to her that if they were worried enough, they might decide that the wizarding world wasn’t safe, and ask her to come straight home. They weren’t normally the overprotective sort, but these were evil wizards they were talking about, and she couldn’t be too careful.

So she tied a letter to Hermes’ leg that focused on the good parts of the match and how much fun she was having at the burrow. Hermes was Percy’s owl, and he normally didn’t lend him out, but he was so busy at work at the ministry that he was hardly using him anyways.

“It’ll be good for him to have something to do, give his wings a stretch, poor fellow’s been bored, I expect.”

She got a letter back straight away, which was signed by both of her parents, but she suspected written by her mother.


Dear Hermione,

Your father and I are so pleased to hear you’ve been having a good time! That match does sound quite exciting, perhaps we can all get tickets to a Quidditch game next summer sometime (if that’s allowed)? Thank the Weasleys for letting you stay for us, won’t you dear? And have a wonderful start of term. Don’t forget to write.

P.S. The Christmas holidays can’t come soon enough!

Mum & Dad


She hadn’t exactly lied to her parents, she was having rather a good time at the burrow. Though, to her surprise, she was spending a lot more time with Ginny than she was with Harry or Ron.

Mrs. Weasley did all of their school shopping for them, and brought back all of their new books and the other supplies they would need for the following term. The night before start of term, Hermione found herself in the burrow’s sitting room, pouring over her copy of The Standard Book of Spells, Grade 4. Even though she would be taking the usual number of classes this term (instead of all the extras she’d attempted the previous school year) she couldn’t shake the feeling that she was going to be quite busy at Hogwarts, and it was always best to get ahead.

“It’s been an absolutely uproar. I’ve been putting out fires all week.” Percy said from the other end of the sofa, he’d recently returned from work at the Ministry. “People keep sending Howlers, and of course, if you don’t open a Howler straight away, it explodes. Scorch marks all over my desk and my best quill reduced to cinders.”

“Why are they all sending Howlers?” Ginny asked from her spot on the floor in front of the fire.

“Complaining about security at the World Cup,” said Percy. “They want compensation for their ruined property. Mundungus Fletcher’s put in a claim for a twelve-bedroomed tent with en-suite Jacuzzi, but I’ve got his number. I know for a fact he was sleeping under a cloak propped on sticks.”

Hermione raised her eyebrows slightly, and looked up over her book at the room at large. Harry was lovingly polishing his broomstick, Mrs. Weasley looked rather tense and worried (well, she had done a lot all week, truth be told) sitting in her favorite armchair, Ginny was mending a book with a roll of Spellotape, and Ron and Bill were playing a game of wizard’s chess at the far end of the room. Fred and George were sitting in a far corner apart from everyone else, quills out, talking in whispers, and Charlie was darning something next to her on the sofa. It was a crowded room, and only Mr. Weasley was absent, still at work.

She buried her head in her book again, trying to focus, wondering if she might be better off stealing away into Ginny’s bedroom to finish her reading. Oh well, she was used to studying in a noisy common room, she could tune it out…

“Don’t you dare blame your father for what that wretched Skeeter woman wrote!” Mrs. Weasley almost shouted, pulling Hermione out of her book once again. She was talking to Percy.

Bill set down the chess piece he’d been contemplating and said “If dad hadn’t said anything, old Rita would just have said it was disgraceful that nobody from the Ministry had commented. Rita Skeeter never makes anyone look good. Remember, she interviewed all the Gringots’ Charm Breakers once, and called me ‘a long-haired pillock’?”

“Well, it is a bit long, dear…” Mrs. Weasley began, and Hermione returned to her book. She wanted to finish this section at least. The talk went on around her, but she allowed herself to become completely engrossed in the theory behind summoning spells. They seemed a very practical thing to learn about…

But, scarcely a moment later, the kitchen fireplace roared as Mr. Weasley returned home, and Mrs. Weasley jumped up with a cry of “Oh your father’s coming!” and bolted out of the room. Mr. Weasley always used the kitchen fire to get to and from the Ministry, and Hermione always wondered why he never used the one in the sitting room, but she felt too awkward to ask. She supposed it was probably obvious to those who’d grown up in the magical world.

Then Mr. Weasley was stepping into the room with his dinner on a tray, and Hermione gave up her reading for the evening. She closed the book, hoping she’d have a chance to read on the Hogwarts Express the next day, though she didn’t really expect to. She glanced out the window, it was raining.

“Well, the fat’s really in the fire now,” Mr. Weasley said, sounding exhausted, as he sat down in the armchair by the hearth. “Rita Skeeter’s been ferreting around all week, looking for more Ministry mess-ups to report. And now she’s found out about poor old Bertha going missing, so that’ll be the headline in the Prophet tomorrow. I told Bagman he should have sent someone to look for her ages ago.”

So, she thought, the government was trying to keep everything hushed up and away from the press, and then blaming one reporter that they weren’t getting the coverage that they wanted. From what Hermione had seen of how the Ministry ran things, this Rita Skeeter probably didn’t have to look far for more blunders…

“Mr. Crouch has been saying it for weeks and weeks,” Percy said.

“Crouch is very lucky Rita hasn’t found out about Winky,” said Mr. Weasley, sounding irritable. “There’d be a week’s worth of headlines in his house elf being caught holding the wand that conjured the Dark Mark.”

“I thought we were all agreed that that elf, while irresponsible, did not conjure the Mark?” Percy raised his voice just a little.

“If you ask me,” she said, trying her best to keep her voice level, “Mr. Crouch is very lucky no one at the Daily Prophet knows how mean he is to elves!”

“Now look here, Hermione!” Percy shot back, “A high-ranking Ministry official like Mr. Crouch deserves unswerving obedience from his servants —”

Hermione couldn’t stand it. “His slave, you mean!” she shouted, well aware that the whole living room was now staring at her, “because he didn’t pay Winky, did he?”

“I think you’d all better go upstairs and check that you’ve packed properly!” Mrs. Weasley cut in, in a falsely cheery voice. Hermione was fuming, but she didn’t want to seem an ungrateful guest. She put her book under her arm, and marched into Ginny’s room without saying a word to anyone, to double check everything in her trunk. Maybe they would think she was just following instructions, and not storming off. Of course, everything was neat and tidy and ready to go, well she’d known that already.

She sighed heavily, and plopped down on the camp bed she’d called her own for the last week. She was angry at Percy, and at Ronald, and the whole lot of them for being so insensitive about Winky. She even felt angry with Mrs. Weasley, which she hated. And, though she didn’t want to admit it, she was feeling a bit mixed up. She was eager to get to Hogwarts, and yet she was already feeling homesick. Maybe she shouldn’t have come, maybe she should have spent the last week of the holidays with her own family… with her own mother. And though she wanted very much to help Harry get to the bottom of whatever was going on with his scar, she was also becoming aware that neither of her best friends had asked her much about what was going on with her. She was lonesome, and lonesome is a hard thing to be in a crowded house.

Ginny walked into the room quietly, and avoided Hermione’s eye. Hermione didn’t blame her. She pretended to refold some robes while Ginny walked up to her own trunk, groaned, and said “damn it all, this is going to take ages to pack properly!”

Well, Hermione thought, at the very least she could be some use with that, and she got up to help.

The rain continued.


Deconstruction / Notes On The Source Text


It is very lonely to be Hermione Granger. It is heartbreakingly lonely to be Hermione Granger. Even surrounded by people who supposedly care about her, Hermione is constantly isolated. And to some degree, this must be the case for most muggle-born witches and wizards, but Hermione is the one we get the closest to, the only one the reader has a chance to get close to at all. Like the worst of White American Liberalism, “tolerant” witches and wizards parade out their muggle-born friends as evidence of how accepting they are. “See?” they say, “It doesn’t make any difference to me! I even have muggle-born friends! I honestly can’t tell the difference between them and my pureblood friends.” They absolutely refuse to look at the fact that being muggle-born absolutely DOES make a difference. Muggle-born wizards face prejudice, some aggressive and ugly, some covert and less notable, and have to deal with that every single day of their lives. But they also have a very different cultural experience. By trying to view them as “exactly the same” wizards like the Weasleys fail to see them AT ALL.

I’m a white woman, so it isn’t my place to use a race metaphor here. But I am also a queer woman, so I will use that instead. Allies who supposedly see my family (two moms, one kid, three cats) as “just like anybody else” and “no different than a straight couple” (things I have actually heard from people who love me, yup) are lazy and ineffective allies at best. I am very very different than a straight person, and my family life is very very different than that of a straight family. Are there common threads? Sure. But straight people don’t live with the knowledge that that one cousin didn’t come to your wedding because he’s an angry homophobe… and they don’t have to live with the knowledge that the rest of the family wants to pretend he’s still a good guy and you should be fine with seeing him at family gathers. Straight people do not have to come out, and know that they will face backlash and rejection from at least SOME PEOPLE when they do. Straight people very rarely are told that they are “tearing the family apart” because they kissed someone they have a crush on. Straight people are rarely told that they should be GRATEFUL that people are working SO HARD to be TOLERANT of them even though they won’t say the word “girlfriend” about their girlfriends. Even if I wanted to assimilate, and have a family that was just like a straight family except that one teeny tiny detail (and I don’t) I couldn’t because my personal history is full of this stuff, as is my present. To say that you see no difference between my family (in which we are currently struggling to get our kid adopted by my wife, and had to do a freaking fundraiser for that, in which both me and my wife could be fired at any time for being gay, in which our child has two moms and a fairy godmother (sperm donor), in which our child is probably going to get made fun of for not having a dad someday) and the family down the street with a mom and a dad where parentage is generally assumed and respected by society… is the peak of a certain kind of privilege. It’s total and complete unawareness masquerading as acceptance.

And so, the reunion scene with Mrs. Weasley. In the original text, Mrs. Weasley is played as overly emotional and unreasonable (ugh ugh ugh) for the crime of knowing that her entire family was around unspeakable violence and you know, worrying. The text tells us that she grabs her family too tightly, yells too loudly, she is oppressive with her love and concern. It’s a kind of bare misogyny and ugliness already. But when I looked at it from Hermione’s point of view, it was far sadder.

There are flaws to doing this re-write chapter by chapter, but this is what we’re doing. And if this is a story about Hermione Granger, we need to look back at HER story. And that means that this book starts with Hermione arguing with her mother. Hermione is a fourteen year old girl parsing out conflicts with her parents, dealing with her close and loving relationship with her mother changing. Some of that is normal teenager stuff, but some of it is different because she’s a witch. She’s not only slowly gaining more independence and seeing her parents as human and therefore flawed (and being shaken up by that) she’s also literally leaving their world.

Imagine how Hermione Granger feels to see Mrs. Weasley grab her sons with all of that inconvenient motherly love and worry. She left her own mother in the midst of an argument. And Hermione was quite possibly in greater danger than any of the Weasleys (if Draco Malfoy is saying that he views muggles and muggle-borns as the same, and worthy of the same disdain and abuse, and we *suspect* that Draco’s father was involved in the attack on muggles… it isn’t far fetched to assume that is an attitude held by the attackers… and in later books we will see that this is the case) but her mother has no idea. A lot of us started keeping things from our parents around the age of fourteen, and Hermione is no exception. But increasingly, what she is keeping secret from her parents isn’t romance or bad grades or experimenting with substances, it’s the violence of the wizarding world.

I think she starts doing this for two reasons: One is that she feels that as a witch, she has to protect her muggle parents, and the entire wizarding world seems to think that the only way to protect muggles is to keep them ignorant. We talked in the comments about why this is wrongheaded and ultimately helps the death-eaters, but it is the common belief. And Hermione is afraid to rock the boat too much so it makes sense that she wouldn’t challenge that overly much. The second reason is that if her parents know exactly how dangerous and violent the wizarding world is, they might pull her out of school. And if they pull her out of school, she doesn’t get to be a witch anymore.

Which, while we’re on the subject of that, let’s talk about expulsion from Hogwarts and what that means. In the first book, Hermione says “I’m going to bed, before either of you do something else to get us killed, or worse, expelled” to Ron and Harry. Ron says “she needs to sort out her priorities.” It’s supposed to be funny. The first time I read it, I thought it was funny. I think we’ve all known someone who was very type-A and academics focused, to the point where they seemed to view school as the be all end all of their existence. It’s funny because most of us can think of a time when we looked at someone and thought “they need to sort out their priorities!” in a similar way. But that sort of requires seeing being expelled from Hogwarts as the same as being expelled from anywhere else. It isn’t. And it’s even less so for muggle-born witches and wizards.

If I had gotten expelled from High School, my parents would have been furious. There would have been a lot of social shame attached to that. There would have been strict punishments. It could have seriously set me back in my adult life by “starting me out on the wrong foot.” BUT I would have had options. I could have gotten my GED. I could have gone to a different High School in the area. If Ron Weasley gets expelled from Hogwarts, his mother will being furious and probably cruel, we know that. It’s unclear whether or not he would be allowed to go to another European wizarding school, but if it’s an options, I’m sure his parents would pursue it. Worst case scenario for Ron though, in the event of expulsion, would be life like Hagrid’s. It’s not what he wants, and it’s still MUCH MUCH WORSE than my predicted expulsion outcome, but he would still get to live in the wizarding world.

But if Hermione gets expelled… she has to go back to being a muggle. Only, of course, she won’t be able to. She isn’t a muggle, and she never really was. We know that magic slips out of witches and wizards when they are frustrated. So she would return to the muggle world, officially unallowed to use the powers she’s worked so hard to understand and hone, living in constant fear of being arrested by the wizarding world for letting something slip. It would be a nightmare. All of this means that OF COURSE Hermione is going to be uptight about the rules (but it’s also how she’s wired, I get it, I have similar wiring) and also she sure isn’t about to give her parents any reason to pull her out of school.

Ok, now let’s talk about The Media!

Reading this chapter NOW feels very… different… than it did a few years ago. I don’t want to make this deconstruction about American Politics, but I certainly can’t help but view things through the lens of the world I’m currently experiencing at least a little. So here we have a situation where the government handled a situation terribly, and I do mean TERRIBLY, and now they are blaming The Media for reporting on it.

The wizarding world is incredibly, impressively, corrupt. For some reason, the secret magical shadow government doesn’t exactly lend itself to transparency! We have no reason to believe that any of these powerful officials have been elected democratically (including Fudge). We know that the government is not above leaning on the Daily Prophet to suppress information (and we know that, at least some of the time, that works). We know that Lucius Malfoy is able to influence the government and the education system with money, and that sometimes works. Wizarding Britain has one government, one school, and one newspaper, and they’re all locked in a mutually abusive manipulative codependent relationship with each other.

Does Rita Skeeter engage in bad journalism and downright lies? Yup, she sure does. Does she mix that with actual reporting in a way that is really dangerous? Uh-huh. Does the prophet hold an unnerving amount of sway over most witches and wizards opinions? Oh yeah. I’m not here to paint Rita Skeeter as Secretly Good… because I know what’s going to happen later in this book. But in this section? I cannot find an untruth in the segment we’re read. I mean, it’s possible that (as Arthur Weasley assumes) she fabricated the rumors about bodies. But it’s just as possible that she interviewed people on the ground.

What happened at the World Cup WAS a Ministry Blunder, and culprits WERE NOT apprehended. That’s not sensationalism… that is just what happened. As far as I can tell from the text, there were no aurors or magical law enforcement of any kind on duty at the world cup. But there were a lot of ministry employees with zero experience dealing with dark wizards, muggles, crowd control, or anything. When dark wizards attacked muggles, they panicked, and did not know how to handle the situation. Fortunately, they were able to save the muggle family, but they didn’t apprehend anyone because THEY DO NOT KNOW HOW.

Then, the Dark Mark happened, and we have more panic, more lack-of-due-process, more nonsense. Arthur Weasley is a ministry official. He emerged from the wood tired and wanting to keep his own family safe, and he was not on duty. But he was also the first ministry official to greet the public after the Dark Mark was put into the sky. He knows how serious this is. He knows how frightened people are. He knows (presumably) what his position is. He should have known how to say something boilerplate and vague until an official statement could be made.

He should have been able to say “There are no known injuries, and I can assure you that the ministry is doing everything in our power to get to the bottom of the situation. We have every reason to believe that the danger has passed, please everyone stay calm.” or something way better than that because I have not been trained in how to deal with these situations but Arthur Weasley damn well should have been.

So what did Arthur Weasley say?

“Of course it’s not Him,” said Mr. Weasley impatiently. “We don’t know who it was; it looks like they Disapparated. Now excuse me, please, I want to get to bed.”


The expectation that the paper should report on the incident casting the ministry in a more favorable light… and that anyone who doesn’t has “got it in for the ministry” is really really troubling. That’s not how journalism works. Or at least, it’s not supposed to be.

And then we have this bit:

“Well, the fat’s really in the fire now,” Mr. Weasley said, sounding exhausted, as he sat down in the armchair by the hearth. “Rita Skeeter’s been ferreting around all week, looking for more Ministry mess-ups to report. And now she’s found out about poor old Bertha going missing, so that’ll be the headline in the Prophet tomorrow. I told Bagman he should have sent someone to look for her ages ago.”


Imagine, a REPORTER came across a government handling some things very poorly, and now she’s looking at that government’s operations more closely! The nerve of some people, amirite? Also, yes, a government employee went missing some time ago, and no, no one has looked for her at all. Apparently, we do not have a branch of our shadow government to deal with such things, it was solely her boss’s responsibility to SEND SOMEONE (who? WHO?) to go and look for her. There is no formal investigation, and there is no standard of practice for dealing with such things. It’s just one guy’s fault and no one else has any culpability at all, and even he isn’t too much to blame because he used to play sports.

I do not consider myself a journalist. I’m a writer, and I’ve picked up some reporting skills, but I don’t do straight journalism in part because I don’t have the training to do it the way I believe it should be done. But if I was, this is absolutely the kind of thing that I would need to report on. As it stands, if I found out something like this about my own government, I would pass the tip on so that a skilled journalist COULD cover it.

Sometimes missing people are fine. Other times missing people are DEAD. Other times they are alive, but very much NOT FINE. And I hope we can all agree that if we are ever a missing person, there should be some kind of investigation, and it should not be (shudder) up to our BOSSES to decide when and how that happens. If Rita Skeeter has discovered that when governmental employees go missing, whether or not to search for them is left up to their bosses, and in this case the boss chose to do nothing… she has an ethical duty to report on that. The fact that Mr. Weasley knows Bertha has been missing, believes it could be serious and thinks Bagman should have handled it better, but has done nothing more about that fact than make a mild suggestion AND ALSO believes that Rita Skeeter should bury the story, speaks volumes about him. Press about Bertha Jorkins could FINALLY put the pressure on to launch a search and an investigation.

He is literally putting the ministry’s reputation above the safety of an innocent person.

Later on, in the fifth book, it will be implied that Arthur Weasley has some greater guiding morality than allegiance to the government (unlike some people we could name). But I see no real evidence of that. Arthur Weasley, like the majority of adult wizards, aligns himself with power and institutions, and believes in those institutions and their ability to tell the difference between right and wrong. When he’s willing to go against the ministry, it’s only because he’s allegiance is called elsewhere. He loves the ministry, but he trusts Dumbledore more. Much like Lucius Malfoy, who loves the ministry, but trusts Voldemort more.

Also we have a nice little dig at poor people with the Mundungus Fletcher bit. We’ll find out later that Mundungus is a crook (in book five, apparently “I steal” is his only real character trait) but at this point we know nothing about the man. Except that he is so poor that he had to sleep under a cloak propped up on sticks. And he’s trying to screw the government out of money. Given that poor people are constantly accused of not needing the government assistance they use, this feels really gross to me. It’s also really frustrating to see the Weasley family, who are also struggling financially, engage in this sort of classism within the wizarding world.

And, is it my imagination, or is Percy Weasley — a poor boy from a poor family that had to borrow tents to attend the World Cup with tickets that they got for free — frustrated on behalf on the Ministry that other people, who’s possessions were destroyed YES IN PART BECAUSE OF POOR PLANNING AND MANAGEMENT ON BEHALF OF THE MINISTRY, aren’t happy to take the loss? I like Percy (sometimes) a great deal more than I’m supposed to, but come on. Percy, and most of the other Weasley children really, do not want an improved system that will be more fair for poor families like their own. Instead, they want to rise within the ranks of a deeply stratified social order, so that they can attain slightly more privilege and comfort than their parents.



Deconstruction Roundup for March 17th, 2017

(by the Slacktiverse and others; collected by Silver Adept, who has to choose between swift and ruinous or slow and perhaps less ruinous.)

The point of these posts is threefold:

  1. To let people stay up to date on ongoing deconstructions. (All ones on our list, including finished and stalled ones, here.)
  2. To let people who can’t comment elsewhere have a place to comment.
  3. To let people comment in a place where people who can’t read Disqus can see what they have to say.

Ana Mardoll: Ana Mardoll’s Ramblings

Fred Clark: Slacktivist

Froborr: Jed A. Blue

Mouse: Mouse’s Musings

Philip Sandifer: Eruditorium Press

Ross: A Mind Occasionally Voyaging

Katherine DM Clover: Here on the Slacktiverse

Silver Adept: Here on The Slacktiverse

Let us know, please, if there are errors in the post. Or if you don’t want to be included. Or if there’s someone who you think should be included, which includes you. We can use more content. Or if you are looking for a way to get through a block while discounting that you already have the way through. Or for any other reason, really.

The Renegades of Pern: The Last Loose End

Last time, the story of Thella came to its inevitable end at the sharp end of Jayge’s sword after one last attempt at revenge. With Toric brought to heel and Thella gone, and most of the others mentioned in the prologue either dead or enslaved, it doesn’t seem like there’s anything left to do, but then again, sometimes there’s a need for a winding down.

The Renegades of Pern: Chapter XVI: Content Notes:

(Southern Continent, PP 17)

(The Next Day)

(This entry requires Unicode characters, otherwise it won’t make sense. Most browsers have it in place, but just in case…)

Last chapter, woo! Which begins with Piemur awakening and being teased by Jancis that something exciting is going to happen today, but only after he swims, eats, and submits to ministrations. The thing itself is a blueprint describing the ad-min an-nex for a thing known as aivas. Which also has ceramic tiles and solar panels, according to the plans. Which gets Piemur in an excavating mood. But he needs Robinton’s help. Who pulls a green rider to take them there, which Robinton says is enough for Piemur and Jancis, but not him, and besides, he has work to do…

“Lessa wasted little time distancing Weyrs from our problems,” the Harper said, more amused than offended. “However, you two go on. Not only is a green beneath my consequence, but I must construct a report on this matter for Sebell.


“Beneath your consequence,” you say? Let’s not let our egos inflate quite so much, retired Masterharper. Whatever they would like to send you, accept gracefully.


Yesterday may have broken one thorn in the sides of the Lord Holders but–” He sighed deeply. “–only one, and it behooves me to sweeten the inevitable furor. I am thankful that Jayge is confirmed as a holder. I doubt Larad, or even Asgenar, will feel that the lad exceeded his authority, but he’s new to his honors. Some may feel he ought not to have killed Thella. The Telgar Bloodline is an ancient, and generally an honorable one.”

Cocowhat by depizan

Seriously, does nobody proofread the book for continuity? Larad disowned Thella earlier in the book. That, to me, would indicate any privileges of her bloodline would be revoked. And she’s also been out marauding and committing theft and murder. Plus, hell, since it’s Pern and all the Lord Holders are dudes anyway, she’s a woman, so that shouldn’t provide her any protection, either. I would expect the Lords Holder to essentially say, “Never liked the bitch anyway. Sorry, Larad, but it’s true.” That there is some sort of potential uproar about a holder killing a woman because her bloodline is older than his seems off. I might believe “jumped-up trader just offed a valuable community member and/or powerful bargaining chip for marriage,” but Thella was neither of those things, either, by her own actions and words.

As best I can tell, there should be no reason for anyone to be mad about Jayge killing Thella, except perhaps Larad. Because she’s family to him, even though he disowned her.

In any case, Piemur and Jancis head out, where they are met by Jaxom and Ruth, who they let in on their plans, and get help from Jaxom to excavate the solar panels. At which point, they decide to send out for Fandarel to see if he can make sense of the materials. He does, ish, but he also has the clout to round up an excavation team and get them to unearth the annex. There isn’t enough time to go in before night, so Fandarel calls a halt. Jaxom heads back to Ruatha, understanding that Sharra, who is “pregnant again”, will be annoyed to not be able to see for herself. (Babies ever after. Way to take a spirited woman out of the narrative there.) Ruth drops off Piemur and Jancis at Cove to report to Robinton, who is suitably impressed, and distressed that there’s so much stuff to catalogue and analyze from this location that nobody will be able to accomplish it in their lifetime, and it’s unlikely they’ll get what they already have done by the end of this Pass.

Jancis chides Piemur on his choice of name for Stupid as they take care of the runner. Piemur relates his story of going on walk to avoid being exiled by Toric for making eyes at Sharra, then talks Jancis through all the objections she raises about why Toric didn’t want to pair up Sharra and Jaxom. When Piemur asks about himself, she teases him and then the two of them have sex, with a nice fade to the next morning after one line alluding to the part where sex is involved.

The next morning is the final stages of the excavation of the admin building and the annex. Piemur seethes that everyone has one again taken over a thing that was private and small, even though he knows that Jancis can’t take precedence over Fandarel. When Fandarel and Robinton are ready to go in, Piemur demands that Jancis go first, by right if it being her hunch. The two Masters agree, and Jancis and Piemur set foot inside first.

Right now, I should mention that there’s a running theme of how Piemur believes Jancis needs to assert herself more and get what’s hers, with his help. Considering whose granddaughter she is, I don’t think it’ll be a problem, but there is this entire world and narrative’s weight looking back at her and telling her to do no such thing, unless she wants horrible consequences. Like Thella, Brekke, Mirrim, Kylara, and Lessa, y’know?

As it is, the party explores the area, and then gets into the room, where small red lights illuminate a few things, but the room itself is slowly lighting up and coming to life. Piemur can read the labeling on a light (panels charging) before it switches over to green, and notices the workstations that might have keyboards, though he has no concept of what they might be.

And then comes the big payoff.

“That corner says ‘AIVAS’, Piemur said excitedly, pointing to the obvious.
Robinton had turned to view the corridor walls and recognized familiar artifacts. “Charts,” he said.

Oops. Sorry. What was actually said was

Glórphost Gan Aitheantas

Sorry, universal translator is a bit fuzzy, apparently. It said

VoicePrint non reconnu

You get the point. The book itself actually states what is said in intelligible language to the reader and then forces us to realize that the party in the room can’t understand it through dialogue. Not only is it confusing, this is a great example of why writers get told “show, don’t tell”. Especially for what happens next, after the party and the voice talk at each other and only have a few words in common, specifically the names of Benden, Boll, Keroon, and Telgar. Eventually, it seems like there’s some about of intelligibility filtering through.

“It sounds testy, but I think I’m getting the hang of its accent. My name is Robinton. I am Masterharper of Pern. This is Fandarel, who is Mastersmith in Telgar Hold. With us are Journeywoman Jancis and Journeyman Piemur. Do you understand me?”
“Lingual shifts have occurred, Robinton. Modification of the language program is now required. Please continue to speak.”
“Continue to speak?”
“Your speech patterns will be the basis for the modification. Please continue to speak.”
“Well, Masterharper, you heard it,” Piemur said, rapidly recovering his composure. “Here, sit down.” He pulled the chair from under the desk, brushed the seat off, and made a flamboyant gesture.
Master Robinton looked aggrieved as he sat. “I always thought the Harper Hall had succeeded very well at keeping the language pure and unadulterated.”

Cocowhat by depizan

Cocowhat by depizan


Cocowhat by depizan


Cocowhat by depizan

Let’s recap. The descendants of the colony have unearthed the system their ancestors used at Landing. Which has not been damaged enough in the intervening time, due to the ash, and therefore can spring to life again once enough power is given to it. This same system is artificially intelligent and was programmed with enough foresight and a running process to be able to scan for linguistic shifts, and successfully manages, in a matter of minutes, to adjust for two thousand revolutions’ worth of linguistic drift, despite the barest of shared words, and even then, not necessarily with the same accent or inflection. All hail the engineer that made this miracle. Because apparently when they built it, they could speak Koine Greek and Old English, or something.

We alsohave (yet more) confirmation that the Harpers have been charged with the task of suppressing innovation planet-wide since the inception of the guild, by according themselves the power of keeping the language static. Suddenly, Yanus’s fanatical insistence that Menolly conform and the Benden Weyrleader’s insistence on TRADITION have context, and it makes them even more horrible. Robinton, you’re a monster. Pern is a horrid dystopia.

After introductions are made, Jancis provides the idea of what a woman speaking sounds like, and everyone learns that the Dawn Sisters are spaceships, although they don’t support life at the moment, Jaxom arrives, pouts a bit that they started without him, and then Piemur finally clues Robinton in on the magnitude of what’s been found.

“you do realize, Master, that here is the key you’ve been hoping to find. A talking key. I think if you can just ask it the right questions, you’ll find out all the answers. Even some you didn’t know you needed to know.”
“Aivas,” Master Robinton said, straightening his shoulders and directing his next remark to the green light. “Can you answer my questions?”
“That is the function of this apparatus.”
“Let us begin at the beginning then, shall we?” Master Robinton asked.
“That is a correct procedure,” Aivas replied, and what had been a dark panel suddenly became illuminated with a diagram that those in the room identified as similar to one found in the flying ship Jaxom had discovered. Only this diagram had such depth and perspective that it appeared three-dimensional, giving the awed observers the feeling that they were hovering in space, an unthinkable distance away from their sun. “When Mankind first discovered the third planet of the sun Rukbat in the Saggitarian sector of space…”

And that ends the book, with the AI recounting the story of Landing and the trip to Pern.

Board Business March 15th, 2017

(posted by chris the cynic)

Irregular Business

I’ve been doing a kind of crap job with keeping up with things, hence why the last two weeks were lacking in “This Week” posts.  On the other hand: Hermione Granger and The Goblet of Sexism has returned!  All of the posts are under this tag.

So kind of a mix of good and bad these past weeks.

Regular Business

There is no submission deadline for articles, open thread suggestions and writing prompt suggestions.  Send them any time.

The Submission Deadline for the weekend post is 20:00 (8PM) US Eastern Time Saturday.

Anyone who has submissions for the weekend post should send them in.  Some people wonder if they really deserve to be in the post.  The answer to that is always the same: You do.  So try not to be afraid and do try to send in submissions if you have them.

The sections of the weekend post are as follows:

The Blogaround

Any denizen of the Slacktiverse who has posted an article to their own website since they last submitted to a weekend post is invited, enticed, and cajoled to send a short summary of that article along with its permalink to the group email. That summary and link will be included in the next weekend blogaround. This will help to keep members of our community aware of the many excellent websites hosted by other members.

Remember, this is since you last submitted to a weekend post, not since the last weekend post. For example, if the last time you submitted was a month ago, everything you wrote since then is fair game.

In Case You Missed This

Readers of The Slacktiverse can send short summaries of, and permalinks to, articles that they feel might be of interest to other readers.  These should be sent, as you might expect, to the group email.

Things You Can Do

Anyone who knows of a worthy cause or important petition should send a short description of the petition/cause along with its url to the group email.

Again, none for articles, open thread suggestions and writing prompts.
20:00 (8 PM) US Eastern Time Saturday for the Weekend post.  Also, if there’s a deconstruction you feel should be in the roundup, you can suggest that at any time.
In case the links don’t work: the group email is SlacktiverseAuthors (at) gmail (dot) com.
It is perfectly acceptable to use this as an open thread, should you so desire.

Writer Workshop March 15th, 2017

(Posted by chris the cynic)

Those of you who also frequent Ana Mardoll’s Ramblings will find this somewhat familiar.  Here, as there, it was requested that there be a regular post to talk about writing projects (and other artwork-creation). Thus this post exists.

Pencil by Elisa Xyz

What are you working on? How are you feeling about it? What thoughts and/or snippets would you like to share? How does your activism work into your art? What tropes are you hoping to employ and/or avoid? Are there any questions you’d like to ask or frustrations you’d like to vent?  Writing workshop below!

Open Thread: Mid-Month Check In, March 2017

(by chris the cynic)

What have you been doing of late?  How are you?  Are you still alive?  So forth.

[As a reminder, open thread prompts are meant to inspire conversation, not stifle it. Have no fear of going off topic for there is no off topic here.]

Hermione Granger Chapter 9

Hermione Granger and The Goblet of Sexism

Chapter Nine: The Wayward Wand / The Dark Mark


They all made their way down the endless purple stairs together. Ron and Harry were still clutching their omnioculars grinning like idiots, and Mr. Weasley turned behind himself to look into the twins’ happy faces.

“Don’t tell your mother you’ve been gambling.” he said seriously.

“Don’t worry, Dad,” said Fred, “we’ve got big plans for this money. We don’t want it confiscated.” Hermione wanted to say something, but she didn’t, she just couldn’t even begin to understand how the Weasley family worked.

Mr. Weasley gave both twins a long look, but then said nothing as well.

The crowd on the way back to the campsites was entirely different than it had been on the way to the stadium. It was the same group of people, all witches and wizards, but whereas it had been filled with anticipation before the match, now it was filled only with jubilance and celebration. Or at least, so it seemed near them, she reminded herself that the Bulgarian supporters might be a whole lot less merry. Once they reached the tents (and it felt like ages) everyone agreed it was much too early to turn in. They all headed into the boys’ tent, and sat around the table in the little kitchen. Mr. Weasley put the kettle on for cocoa, and Hermione sat next to Ginny and listed to her argue spiritedly with her brothers about the match. Soon enough Harry was talking over everyone else about how he’d seen Krum hit and “why didn’t the referee?” and next thing she knew Ginny was dozing off right next to her. When her cocoa started to spill Mr. Weasley said “ah, I do believe it’s time for bed.”

So she helped Ginny up, and together they made their way to their own tent. They could still hear the noise of others celebrating, but somehow inside the tent it was rather cozy, almost homey. Ginny was asleep almost instantly, but as tired as Hermione was, she was awake for a very long time. The match was a lot to digest, and it was more than just the match, it was the entire day. She had lived over half her life in the wizarding world for three full years now, and yet she still felt she didn’t understand it at all.

She wondered, fleetingly, if that dark-haired Bulgarian seeker, Krum, had ever gotten proper care. She hoped that he had. Quidditch really could be quite dangerous, but for those who lived in the wizarding world their whole lives, the danger never seemed too serious. She supposed it would feel rather differently, if you never had to wait very long for anything to heal.

Somehow, she dozed off at last. She never knew whether or not she dreamed.

Then suddenly, she was wide awake, and she could hear shouting all around her. The tent, which had felt so much like a cozy flat, was obviously just a fancy tent in the woods again. The canvas walls moved with the breeze. Ginny was already sitting up in her bed, and she looked petrified. Something was terribly, horribly, wrong.

Suddenly the tent flap was being unzipped. Ginny let out a screech of alarm, but the head that poked into the opening turned out to be her father’s. Arthur Weasley looked as scared as Ginny had, and he barked “girls! Coats on, and get outside, now!” with no explanation.

She tried hard not to imagine what might be going on out there, or why it was so urgent to move quickly. Guessing wouldn’t help her, she would know soon enough.

Hermione sprang out of bed, gave Ginny’s shaking hand a quick squeeze, and found their coats. Both girls slipped on their shoes as quickly as they could, and they were still pulling their coats on as they dashed out of the tent, to meet the gaggle of other Weasleys standing by the boys’ tent.

The sight that greeted them was not one Hermione would have believed.

Several tents were on fire, and more were destroyed on the ground, and a group of wizards in dark, hooded, robes was marching slowly across the field. She knew who they were, or at least who they wanted to be that evening, from her studies. They were dressed, with hoods and masks, every bit the part of dark wizards — the wizards who called themselves “Death Eaters” and supported the wizard so evil other wizards feared to speak his name — and they were all pointing their wants upward, into the night sky. Though, that wasn’t quite right, because they’d also been met by other people, other wizards and witches, in more typical wizarding dress. Some of them had joined ranks… and she felt herself involuntarily shudder at that the thought the ordinary witches and wizards might so easily join up with pure evil. Then she followed the pointed wands upward.

There, in the sky, were four people. Two of them were mere children, one was a woman, and the other was unmistakably Mr. Roberts, the campsite manager from the day before. They were all floating in the air, twisting and turning, obviously struggling against the magic that held them. The crowd of hooded figures was laughing and cheering. The woman was upside down, and she was struggling to push her nightdress upwards to cover her drawers… rather unsuccessfully. It was hard to tell at the distance, but she thought that the woman and one of the children at least, were sobbing.

They were torturing them. They were torturing a muggle family for sport. It could have been her own family. It could have been anyone. She fought down the urge to vomit.

“We’re going to help the Ministry!” Mr. Weasley shouted, and she turned, grateful to have a reason to look away from the horrific spectacle. She realized he was gesturing to his eldest sons, Bill, Charlie, and Percy, who all had their wands out and appeared ready to go. Hermione wanted to help as well, how could she stand by, there were kids up there!

“You lot!” Mr. Weasley continued, “get into the woods, and stick together. I’ll come and fetch you when we’ve sorted this out.”

She glanced towards the woods, and noticed that there were others headed that way, retreating from the light and the noise, looking for cover. She didn’t want to run away, she was a Gryffindor and a muggle born witch! But there was no time to argue, Bill, Charlie, and Percy had already sprinted off towards the chaos, and soon Mr. Weasley hurried after. The crowd was coming closer, and she could see the muggle family more and more clearly.

Then a voice said “c’mon” and Fred grabbed Ginny’s hand, and then they were all following after him toward the wood. They didn’t meet any trouble on their way. When the reached the tree line, without meaning to, she reflexively looked back, and then she noticed that the others had done the same. The crowd had grown even larger, and more of them were hooded than before, or perhaps some had simply pulled up their hoods to avoid being seen by the ministry, who were trying fruitlessly to get to the center of the group. She wondered if they had a plan to get the Roberts family down safely. She pulled her eyes away.

In the woods, the colored lanterns that had lit the path earlier had all been extinguished. With so many people trying to take cover in the darkness of the trees, it was pandemonium. Children were crying, people were shouting, and everyone looked like nothing more than a dark shadowy figure tripping over tree roots. Hermione ran into Ron, then George, and then Ron a second time. He must have hurried ahead, and then she heard him yell out in pain.

“What happened?” she said, and then Harry walked straight into her. “Ron where are you? Oh this is stupid — lumos!”

Reasonable restriction of underage wizardry be damned, she wasn’t going to get herself injured in the woods for no reason when her wand made a perfectly suitable torch. It instantly illuminated, and she pointed the narrow beam of line across the path… and there was Ron, and he was sprawled out on the ground.

“Tripped over a tree root,” he said angrily.

“Well, with feet that size, hard not to,” said a drawing voice behind them. She knew that voice.

She turned, and so did Harry and Ron, and there was none other than Draco Malfoy. He was standing alone, looking completely relaxed in the sea of panic and fear.

Ron shouted something vulgar in Malfoy’s direction.

“Language, Weasley,” said Malfoy, his eyes glittering and his voice dripping with condescension, “Hadn’t you better be hurrying along, now? You wouldn’t like her spotted, would you?” he was looking straight into her face, and he nodded once.

At that moment there was a sound that was almost like a bomb from the campsite, and a flash of green light.

“What’s that supposed to mean?” she retorted, her skin crawling.

“Granger, they’re after Muggles,” he said gleefully, “D’you want to be showing off your knickers in midair? Because if you do, hang around… they’re moving this way, and it would give us all a laugh.”

Harry snarled “Hermione’s a witch!”

“Have it your own way, Potter,” said Malfoy, still smiling, “If you think they an’t spot a Mudblood, stay where you are.”

“You watch your mouth!” shouted Ron. He was objecting to the term, “Mudblood,” which meant a witch or wizard of Muggle parentage, but really what Malfoy was saying was much worse than the slur.

“Never mind, Ron,” Hermione said to shush him, and she seized his arm just before Ron moved toward Malfoy. Things were getting out of hand.

There was a loud bang, even worse than the last one, followed by screams of fear and confusion.

Malfoy chuckled to himself, “Scare easily, don’t they? I suppose your daddy told you all to hide? What’s he up to — trying to rescue the Muggles?” and the way he said the word “muggles” made it sound, if possible, like a nastier insult than “mudblood.”

“Where’re your parents?” Harry shouted, “Out there wearing masks, are they?”

“Well… if they were, I wouldn’t be likely to tell you, would I, Potter?”

“Oh come on,” Hermione said, “let’s go and find the others.” There was no point to arguing with a bully in the woods, and anyway, she didn’t want to admit it, but she was beginning to feel a bit frightened.

“Keep that big bushy head down, Granger.” sneered Malfoy.

Hermione only said “come on!” and then to her great annoyance she had to pull both Ron and Harry up the path to catch up with the other Weasleys.

“I’ll bet you anything his dad is one of that masked lot!” said Ron, rather hotly.

“Well, with any luck, the Ministry will catch him!” Hermione replied, trying to be sensible. And then she looked around, and said “Oh I can’t believe this. Where have the others got to?” for they were nowhere to be seen in the crowd of people all along the path.

A huddle of other teenagers, also in pajamas, seemed to notice their little group, and a girl with thick curly hair came toward them at once saying “Ou est Madame Maxime? Nous l’avons perdue —”

“Er — what?” said Ron, as though he’d never heard anyone speak French before, which maybe he hadn’t.

“Oh…” The girl turned back to her friends, saying “‘Ogwarts.”

Hermione nodded and said “Beauxbatons,” which was the name of the French wizarding school she supposed they must belong to.

“Sorry?” Harry said.

She blinked at him, trying to be patient. “They must go to Beauxbatons, you know…” he was still staring at her blankly, “Beauxbatons Academy of Magic… I read about it in An Appraisal of Magical Education in Europe.”

“Oh… yeah… right.”

“Fred and George can’t have gone that far,” said Ron, and he pulled out his wand, apparently also deciding this was no time for silly laws, and lit it as well. She was grateful that now there were two of them searching, maybe they’d find Ginny and the others and…

“Ah, no!” Harry said in a panic, “I don’t believe it… I’ve lost my wand!”

“You’re kidding!” she said, and she and Ron raised their wands to spread out their beams of light in a way more suitable for wand-searching. She wanted very badly to get on and find the others, but they couldn’t exactly leave Harry’s wand in the woods, either.

“Maybe it’s back at the tent,” Ron said hopefully after about a minute.

“Maybe it fell out of your pocket when we were running?” Hermione said, suddenly picturing it lost in the crowded field.

“Yeah, maybe.” Harry said.

And then a rustling noise in the undergrowth nearby made all three of them jump. It wasn’t a wizard, it was the house elf they’d seen up in the Top Box, Winky. She appeared to be having some difficulty extracting herself from a clump of bushes, and then Hermione noticed that everything about her movements seemed a little off. Was she injured? She was moving laboriously, almost as though she were fighting with something — or someone — that was invisible.

“There is bad wizards about!” she said in her squeaky voice, panting as she leaned forward to keep running. “People high — high in the air! Winky is getting out of the way!” Hermione instantly remembered overhearing her mention her fear of heights, and felt terribly sorry for the little elf.

“What’s up with her?” said Ron with some curiosity, “Why can’t she run properly?”

Harry squinted at the little, struggling, elf and said “Bet she didn’t ask permission to hide.”

Suddenly, Hermione couldn’t take it anymore. Harry was probably right, it was hard enough for everyone else to look for safety, but Winky had to contend with magical forces impeding her very movement. “You know, house elves get a very raw deal!” She said, watching Winky with sadness. “It’s slavery, that’s what it is. That Mr. Crouch made her go up to the top of the stadium, and she was terrified, and he’s got her bewitched so she can’t even run when they start trampling tents! Why doesn’t anyone do something about it?”

Ron turned and looked at her blankly, “Well, the elves are happy, aren’t they? You heard old Winky back at the match… ‘House elves is not supposed to have fun’… that’s what she likes, being bossed around…”

She wanted to punch him. Instead she said “It’s people like you, Ron, who prop up rotten and unjust systems, just because they’re too lazy to —”

At that moment, there was another loud bang from the edge of the wood.

“Let’s just keep moving, shall we?” said Ron. She knew very well that he wanted to change the subject, but she also knew that for once in his life, Ronald Weasley was right. They did need to keep moving. They could talk about house elves another time, and they jolly well would.

Through the wood they followed the winding path, deeper into the gloom. There was still no sign of Ginny, Fred, or George, which made her increasingly anxious. They never should have let themselves get separated. They passed a group of goblins counting gold, and they seemed quite calm as they clinked the great big coins together into stacks. They didn’t see many people for a bit, until they walked into a patch of silver light. There they saw a gaggle of young men, talking quite loudly, surrounding three veela. The veela seemed quite disinterested in what the young men were saying.

“I pull down about a hundred sacks of Galleons a year!” said one of them, so loud it was almost a shout, “I’m a dragon killer for the Committee for the Disposal of Dangerous Creatures.”

“No you’re not!” yelled one of his companions. “You’re a dishwasher at the Leaky Cauldron… but I’m a vampire hunter, I’ve killed about ninety so far—”

A third young man, who was thin and tall and had pretty bad acne, shouted out “I’m about to become the youngest ever Minister of Magic, I am!”

“Did I tell you,” said a voice that, to her surprise, turned out to be Ron’s, “I’ve invented a broomstick that’ll reach Jupiter?!”

Honestly!” Hermione muttered, almost to herself. It was just like during the match, they were useless around the silvery veela. There was nothing for it, she nodded at Harry, who seemed to have slightly more of his wits about him, and the two of they grabbed Ron by his arms and marched him off into the wood. They didn’t let go until they were away from that silvery light, at which point they appeared to be in the heart of the woods, and quite alone.

“I reckon we can just wait here, you know.” Harry said, “We’ll hear anyone coming a mile off.”

Hermione was about to say that they hadn’t only been looking for cover, they also needed to find Ginny and the twins, but she didn’t get a chance. Because at that moment, none other than Ludo Bagman emerged from behind a tree.

He looked strained and… just odd. He had none of his usual boyishness. He was blinking at them, trying to make out their faces, and he said “Who’s that? What are you doing here, all alone?” sounding as suspicious as Hermione felt.

She exchanged glances with Harry and Ron.

“Well — there’s a sort of riot going on,” Ron said feebly.

“What?” said Bagman, staring.

“At the campsite… some people have got hold of a family of Muggles…”

Bagman swore, and then looked around in frustration. “Damn them!” he muttered, and then without another word, he disapparated with a small pop!”

She peered at the place he had been standing, and said “Not exactly on top of things, Mr. Bagman, is he?”

“He was a great Beater, though,” said Ron, apparently unaware that Bagman’s accomplishments as a Quidditch player weren’t exactly relevant, and he led the way to a small clearing, and sat down on a patch of dry grass next to a tree, saying, “The Wimbourne Wasps won the league three times in a row while he was with them.”

Then Ron took out his small figure of Viktor Krum, and watched it walk around. It seemed for all the world as if all the urgency of the situation had ended, by the way he acted. She glanced at Harry, but he seemed to be relaxing now too.

“I hope the others are okay,” she said slowly.

“They’ll be fine,” Ron said, in a casual tone.

Hermione put her hands in the pocket of her coat. Now that there was nothing else to focus on, she kept remembering the look on the Muggle woman’s face. She couldn’t stand it.

“Imagine if your dad catches Lucius Malfoy,” said Harry, as he lowered himself to the ground beside Ron, “He’s always said he’d like to get something on him.”

“That’d wipe the smirk off old Draco’s face, all right.” Ron said, still watching the tiny Krum walk back and forth.

She took a very deep breath, “Those poor Muggles, though! What if they can’t get them down?”

“They will, they’ll find a way.” Ron’s words did not reassure her.

“Mad, though…” she said, thinking back to the scene at the campsite, “to do something like that when the whole Ministry of Magic’s out here tonight! I mean, how do they expect to get away with it? Do you think they’ve been drinking, or are they just—”

She heard something. Someone was coming near the clearing, and instinctively she looked over her shoulder to follow the noise. It sounded as though whoever it was was sort of… staggering… and then the sound stopped as abruptly as it had started.

“Hello?” Harry called out.

There was only silence in response. Hermione held her breath. Anything could happen. I the death-eaters thought anything like Draco Malfoy (and probably they did) maybe she wasn’t safe after all. To these people, having Muggle parents was the same as being a Muggle yourself. She shivered in the coolness. Harry Potter was up on his feet, peering around the tree. She wanted to tell him to be careful, but suddenly her throat was too dry to speak.

“Who’s there?” echoed out Harry’s loud voice again.

And then there was a cry, it wasn’t a cry, it was a spell. Someone, a voice unlike any other they had heard that evening, was triumphantly crying out a spell she had never heard before.


And then something vast, and green, and glittering shot out of the place where the voice had come from, and flew up over the treetops and into the dark night sky.

“What the—” gasped Ron, jumping to his feet, his figurine momentarily forgotten.

The glittering green light was forming itself into a shape, and it was a horrible shape. A skull, comprise of emerald green stars, with a serpent protruding from its mouth, for all the world like it was a long tongue. It was higher and higher, blazing in a haze of smoke. She knew that sign, she didn’t want to know what it was, but she did. She felt she was going to be sick.

And then came the screams. It was as if a horror she had only read about, some fairy tale villain, had come to life. All around them in the wood, people were screaming in panic and fear, calling out for their loved ones, if possible more fearful than they had been running away from the campsite. Harry was looking around in confusion, and then to her horror he called out “Who’s there?” again in his foolish, booming, voice.

She reached for him, and got a fistful of his jacket collar. “Harry, come on, move!” she said as she tugged him backwards, trying to pull him away from the clearing.

“What’s the matter?” he said, resisting.

“It’s the Dark Mark, Harry!” she said, trying to make the boy move, but he wouldn’t budge. She added “You-Know-Who’s sign!” hoping he would get the idea.

Voldemort’s—?” he said, his green eyes lighting up with recognition.

“Harry, come on!”

Ron, luckily, was already in motion. But Harry was impossible. He was bigger than her, to strong for her to move on his own, and she sighed with relief when he finally seemed to notice now might not be the best time to discuss his lack of knowledge about the dark wizard who had nearly killed him. They took a few hurried steps, and then there was a series of popping noises all around them. At once, about twenty wizards apparated into the clearing, and they all had their wands out, pointing at herself and her friends.

Somehow she had stopped trembling, she felt oddly calm in the panic, as though some other part of her brain had taken over as the situation became more dire. Harry Potter yelled “DUCK!” and pulled herself and Ron to the ground, and just in time, too.

“STUPEFY!” came the voice of the twenty wizards, and there were jets of bright light, blinding in the darkness, from each and every wand. She felt the rush of it push her hair this way and that, and she pulled herself down closer to the ground for protection. In a moment, they’d take a fresh aim, and it wouldn’t matter anyhow, they’d all be stunned.

“Stop!” yelled a familiar voice, “STOP! That’s my son!” It was Mr. Weasley. It was Mr. Weasley and he was running toward them, looking as though his very heart had left his body, and miraculously at least one of the other wizards lowered a wand, and the bright lights stopped.

“Ron — Harry — Hermione!” he said, his voice sounding shaky, “are you alright?”

“Out of the way, Arthur,” said yet another familiar voice. Hermione pulled her head up a little farther. It was Mr. Crouch. They had been attacked by Mr. Crouch, and he looked consumed with rage. She never would have guessed he could look so scary.

“Which of you did it?” he snapped, his eyes darting from Harry, to Ron, to Hermione, “Which of you conjured the Dark Mark?”

Harry, who must have stood up while she was still facing downwards, said “We didn’t do that!” pointing up into the sky at the green green skull.

“We didn’t do anything! What did you want to attack us for?” Ron shouted, and then he turned to his father.

“Do not lie, sir!” shouted Mr. Crouch. His wand was pointed directly at Ron, his eyes were huge with rage, and he said, “You have been discovered at the scene of the crime!”

“Barty,” whispered a new voice. Hermione turned, and saw a woman in a long woolen dressing gown, “they’re kids, Barty, they’d never have been able to—”

“Where did the Mark come from, you three?” said Mr. Weasley, cutting the witch off in mid-sentence.”

Hermione gulped, and replied “Over there,” and still in an awkward crouching position, she pointed at exactly where they had first heard that voice. “There was someone behind the trees… they shouted words — an incantation —”

“Oh they stood over there, did they?” said Mr. Crouch, his rage filled voice full of mockery, “Said an incantation, did they? You seem very well informed about how that Mark is summoned, missy—”

Hermione’s mouth fell open. She was being yelled at, and called missy, by a government official, simply because she knew what they all knew: that someone had cast a spell. She looked around, and saw that thankfully, all the other Ministry wizards had turned their attention (and their wands) on the place where she had pointed.

“We’re too late,” said the witch Mr. Weasley had interrupted, “They’ll have Disapparated.” She shook her head in disappointment.

“I don’t think so,” said another voice, this one male and slightly familiar. She looked up, and it turned out to be Amos Diggory, Cedric’s father. “Our Stunners went right through those trees… There’s a good chance we got them…” he marched across the clearing, squaring his shoulders and pointing his wand out before himself.

Someone shouted “Amos, be careful!” but Hermione never knew who it was. Hermione could hear her own heart beating.

“Yes!” Mr. Diggory shouted, a moment later, “We’ve got them! There’s someone here! Unconscious! It’s —” his voice trailed off into silence for a moment, and then picked back up again, “but — blimey…”

“You’ve got someone?” Mr. Crouch shouted after him, “who, who is it?” and Hermione realized, to her surprise, that he sounded as though he didn’t believe Mr. Diggory at all.

Mr. Diggory made quite a lot of noise as he reemerged from the trees, and they all waited with baited breath. When he came into view, he did have someone, in fact he was carrying the someone, but they were very small. Surely it couldn’t have been a kid, someone too young even to go to Hogwarts? No, as he came into view Hermione saw more clearly… the figure in Mr. Diggory’s arms, almost cradled like a baby, was a house elf. It was Winky.

Mr. Crouch was still and silent, it was as though a sudden change had come over him at the sight of the elf. Amos Diggory laid Winky at Mr. Crouch’s feet, and Hermione wasn’t sure if he had done that because Mr. Crouch was leading the investigation, or because Winky was his elf. For a long moment, Mr. Crouch did not react, simply stared straight ahead, but then he finally looked down at the poor helpless creature at his feet.

“This — cannot —be,” he said in a very different voice than his previous shouting, each word halting and troubled. “No—”

Instantly he moved around Mr. Diggory, and made for the place in the trees where Winky had been found. He was searching the ground in a panic.

“No point, Mr. Crouch, there’s no one else there.” Mr. Diggory called out.

Everyone else stood in silence and Mr. Crouch continued to search the trees. The silenced stretched out, and with the worst of the panic over, Hermione finally realized that she was still cold. The night breeze was tickling her bare ankles. She hugged her coat around herself.

“Bit embarrassing,” said Mr. Diggory, finally breaking the silence, “Barty Crouch’s house elf… I mean to say…” he looked down at the unconscious form of Winky, and he did look as though he found the whole thing embarrassing.

“Come off it, Amos, you don’t seriously think it was the elf?” said Mr. Weasley, speaking quietly lest Mr. Crouch overhear them, “The Dark Mark’s a wizard’s sign. It requires a wand.”

“Yeah,” replied Mr. Diggory, “and she had a wand.”

What?” said Mr. Weasley, a bit less quietly.

“Here, look.” Mr. Diggory help up a wand for Mr. Weasley to see. “Had it in her hand. So there’s clause three of the Code of Wand Use broken, for a start. No non-human creature is permitted to carry or use a wand.

Hermione was still shivering and looking down at the poor elf on the bare ground, but she heard Mr. Diggory recite the law, and a question formed in her sharp mind almost instantly. And that question was why. She shook her head, she would have to think about it later, they might still be in danger now, and she couldn’t miss anything. Anyway, these wizards couldn’t seriously think Winky had conjured the Dark Mark, could they? For one thing, the voice Hermione had heard sounded very much like a man’s, and for another Winky was far too timid, even if she did know how, which seemed unlikely.

Then there was another little pop, and another person apparated into the clearing. It was Ludo Bagman, and he stood next to Mr. Weasley looking disoriented and confused. Then he looked up into the sky, and it was as though he was noticing the emerald green skull for the very first time. “The Dark Mark!” he said rather stupidly, “Who did it? Did you get them? Barty! What’s goin on?”

Just then, Mr. Crouch returned to the clearing, empty-handed. His face was still white as a sheet, and his hands and his mustache were both twitching slightly. He didn’t say anything.

“Where have you been, Barty?” said Bagman in his boyish voice. “Why weren’t you at the match? Your elf was saving you a seat too — gulping gargoyles!” Bagman had just noticed Winky’s limp form at his feet. “What happened to her?”

“I have been busy, Ludo.” said Mr. Crouch, and his voice had not recovered and was still halting and jerky, “And my elf has been stunned.”

“Stunned?” said Bagman, “by you lot, you mean? But why?”

No one answered him. Mr. Crouch didn’t, and no one else dared to try. Then it was as though Bagman finally caught up, a looking of comprehension coming over his boyish face quite suddenly as he looked back and forth between Mr. Crouch and Winky.

“No!” he said. “Winky? Conjure the Dark Mark? She wouldn’t know how! She’d need a wand, for a start!” Bagman exclaimed.

“And she had one,” said Mr. Diggory. “I found her holding one, Ludo. If it’s alright with you, Mr. Crouch, I think we should hear what she’s got to say for herself.”

There was no response, but Mr. Diggory pointed his wand at the stunned elf anyway, and said “Ennervate!”

Poor Winky moved only a little, as though she were waking up confused, out of some kind of dream. She blinked her big brown eyes, and it made her look more human, despite her size and other characteristics. Surrounded by tall wizards, she rather shakily pulled herself upward, into a sitting position. She looked up into Mr. Diggory’s face, and there was no mistaking it, she was consumed by fear, maybe even more so than she had been in the Top Box. Then very very slowly, she turned her gaze to the sky, and the great green skull reflected in her large eyes. She gasped in terror, looked wildly around the crowded clearing, and then she began to cry.

“Elf!” said Mr. Diggory, though Hermione was quite sure he knew her name. “Do you know who I am? I’m a member of the Department for the Regulation and Control of Magical Creatures!”

Winky was rocking backward and forward on the ground, her breath coming in sharp bursts. She was going into some kind of panic, and she needed help.

“As you see, elf, the Dark Mark was conjured here a short while ago,” said Mr. Diggory in a stern and businesslike manner. “And you were discovered moments later, right beneath it! An explanation, if you please!”

“I — I — I is not doing it, sir!” Winky gasped breathlessly. “I is not knowing how, sir!”

“You were found with a wand in your hand!” Mr. Diggory nearly shouted, holding the wand up almost triumphantly.

“Hey!” said Harry’s voice next to Hermione, “that’s mine!”

Hermione turned to look at Harry, and then to peer in the darkness at the wand and see if she could recognize it.

Mr. Diggory said, “Excuse me?”

“That’s my wand!” Harry said. “I dropped it!”

“You dropped it? Is this a confession? You threw it aside after you conjured the Mark?”

“Amos, think who you’re talking to!” snapped Mr. Weasley impatiently, “Is Harry Potter likely to conjure the Dark Mark?”

“Er — of course not,” mumbled Mr. Diggory. “Sorry… carried away…”

Hermione blinked. It wasn’t that she wanted her best friend to be accused and questioned. But if the likelihood of the thing didn’t matter for Winky, why on earth did it suddenly matter when it came to Harry Potter? How could magical law enforcement even function?

“I didn’t drop it there, anyway,” said Harry, innocently unaware of the injustice. “I missed it right after we got into the wood.”

“So,” said Mr. Diggory, his voice turning nasty again as he turned back to Winky. “You found this wand, eh, elf? He said elf as though it were a particularly nasty word, “And you picked it up and thought you’d have some fun with it, did you?”

“I is not doing magic with it, sir!” said Winky in a desperate squeak, with tears streaming down her face and terror in her eyes. “I is… I is… I is just picking it up, sir! I is not making the Dark Mark, sir, I is not knowing how!” It might have been the saddest thing Hermione had ever seen.

Hermione swallowed, and knew she had to find her voice. “It wasn’t her!” she said, “Winky’s got a squeaky little voice, and the voice we heard doing the incantation was much deeper!” Desperately, she turned to Harry and Ron, because they had heard it too. “It didn’t sound anything like Winky, did it?”

“No, it definitely didn’t sound like an elf.” said Harry, and relief washed over Hermione.

“Yeah, it was a human voice.” Ron agreed. Surely with three witnesses…

“Well, we’ll soon see,” Mr. Diggory said nastily, “There’s a simple way of discovering the last spell a wand performed, elf, did you know that?”

Poor Winky was trembling all over,s he shook her head frantically, which caused her large ears to flap. Hermione felt helpless again. Then Mr. Diggory raised his own wand, and placed it tip to tip with the found wand, Harry’s wand.

“Prior Incantato!” he roared into the night.

Hermione had never seen this particular spell performed before, but all at once, a smokey shadowy form emerged from the place where the two wands touched… and it was a great skull as well, with the same snake where the tongue ought to be. Hermione heard herself gasp. How could that be?

“Deletrius!” Shouted Mr. Diggory, causing the smokey skull to vanish as quickly as it had appeared. Then he looked savagely at Winky again. “So!” he said, almost as loudly as he had performed the spell.

“I is not doing it!” Winky cried out in her tiny voice, still convulsing in abject terror, “I is not, I is not, I is not knowing how! I is a good elf, I isn’t using wands, I isn’t knowing how!”

“You’ve been caught red-handed, elf! Caught with the guilty wand in your hand!”

“Amos!” shouted Mr. Weasley, nearly as loudly as Mr. Diggory, “think about it… precious few wizards know how to do that spell… Where would she have learned it?”

“Perhaps Amos is suggested,” said Mr. Crouch, and his usual coolness had returned to his voice, “that I routinely teach my servants to conjure the Dark Mark?”

Nothing about this argument made any sense at all. Was this seriously how government officials handled these things?

Amos Diggory spurted out a helpless “Mr. Crouch… not… not at all…”

“You have now come very close to accusing the two people in this clearing who are least likely to conjure that Mark! Harry Potter — and myself!” he took a breath, and then said, his voice now dripping with condescension, “I suppose you are familiar with the boy’s story, Amos?”

“Of course — everyone knows…”

“And I trust you remember the many proofs I have given, over a long career, that I despise and detest the Dark Arts and those who practice them?” Mr. Crouch’s eyes were bulging nearly out of his head with anger now.

“Mr. Crouch, I — I never suggested you had anything to do with it!”

“If you accuse my elf, you accuse me, Diggory! Where else would she have learned to conjure it?”

“She — she might’ve picked it up anywhere —”

“Precisely, Amos,” Mr. Weasley cut in, “She might have picked it up anywhere… Winky?” he turned to the elf a bit more kindly than the others had done, but she still flinched, and Hermione couldn’t blame her, “Where exactly did you find Harry’s wand?”

Winky looked up at him in horror, her hands busy twisting the hem of the tea towel she wore instead of real clothing. In a tiny voice, hardly a whisper, she said, “I — I is finding it… finding it there, sir… in the trees, sir.”

“You see, Amos?” Mr. Weasley said as though he had solved the case by some sort of brilliant detective work, “Whoever conjured the Mark could have Disapparated right after they’d done it, leaving Harry’s wand behind. A clever thing to do, not using their own wand, which could have betrayed them. And Winky here had the misfortune to come across the wand moments later and pick it up.”

“But then, she’d only have been a few feet away from the real culprit!” Diggory barked again, “Elf? Did you see anyone?”

At this, Winky began to tremble worse than ever. She looked positively miserable as her eyes flicked from face to face, and she seemed to be having trouble making herself speak at all. She took a great gulp of air and managed to say, “I is seeing no one, sir… no one…”

“Amos,” said Mr. Crouch curtly, “I am fully aware that, in your ordinary course of events, you would want to take Winky into your department for questioning. I ask you, however, to allow me to deal with her.”

It registered to Hermione that she was witnessing one member of the wizarding government asking another member of the government to flagrantly break a law. Mr. Diggory looked displeased, but he didn’t say no. Hermione didn’t want Winky to go in for questioning (hadn’t Diggory berated her enough?) but this was such a breach of ethics…

“You may rest well assured,” said Mr. Crouch in his cold voice, “that she will be punished.

At those words, Winky loooked up into his eyes, her own eyes filled with tears again. “M-m-master… M-m-master, p-p-please…” she said desperately.

Mr. Crouch looked back at her, his eyes cast downward, and it was a cold, pitiless gaze. He didn’t care for Winky one bit. Then he looked up, not addressing her, but speaking to no one in particular, “Winky has behaved tonight in a manner I would not have believed possible. I told her to remain in the tent. I told her to stay there while I went to sort out the trouble. And I find that she disobeyed me. This means clothes.”

The gifting of proper clothing, Hermione recalled, was the one way a wizard could set a house elf free. The strange rags they always wore (like the tea towel Winky was now clutching) were, as Harry had once said to her, “a mark of their enslavement.”

“No!” Winky’s shriek pierced the night, and she prostrated herself at Mr. Crouch’s feet. “No master! Not clothes, not clothes!” she seemed, if possible, more frightened of this possibility than of anything else that had happened thus far. She was sobbing and clutching her tea towel as though it were the only thing in all the world that mattered to her.

“But she was frightened!” Hermione heard her own voice say, “Your elf’s scared of heights, and those wizards in masks were levitating people! You can’t blame her for wanting to get out of their way!” she may not have understood why Winky wanted to remain employed by Mr. Crouch, but she could clearly see that was what the elf wanted, and that she was still being treated unfairly, despite her innocence.

Mr. Crouch took a step backward, away from Winky. He looked at the creature who had worked for him for goodness knows hold long as though she were nothing more than something disgusting stuck to his shoe. Then, to Hermione’s surprise, Mr. Crouch’s cold gaze met her own.

“I have no use for a house elf who disobeys me,” he said coolly, “I have no use for a servant who forgets what is due to her master, and to her master’s reputation.”

All of the humans in the clearly were silent, but it was far from quiet. Winky sobbed so loudly that it echoed, it filled up the whole night, her grief was big enough to fill up the whole world. Hermione wanted to cry with her, wanted to reach out to her, tell her she would find a way to help… somehow.

Then Mr. Weasley said “Well, I think I’ll take my lot back to the tent, if nobody’s got any objections. Amos, that wand’s told us all it can — if Harry could have it back, please —”

Amos handed the wand back to Harry, and Harry put it in his pocket.

“Come on, you three,” Mr. Weasley said. Ron and Harry moved toward him, but Hermione couldn’t take her eyes from Winky as she sobbed. Then Mr. Weasley said “Hermione!” and she knew she had to go, she knew there was nothing, she, a fourth year muggle-born witch, could do. Bitterly, she put one foot in front of another, and followed.

After they’d walked out of the clearing, and onto the path, she said “What’s going to happen to Winky?”

“I don’t know,” was all Mr. Weasley said in reply.

Hermione sucked on the cool night air. “The way they were treating her! Mr. Diggory calling her ‘elf’ all the time… and Mr. Crouch! He knows she didn’t do it and he’s still going to sack her…” for that was what it was as far as Winky was concerned, a sacking, she was sure of it, “He didn’t care how frightened she’d been, or how upset she was… it was like she wasn’t even human.”

“Well, she’s not.” Ron said callously.

“That doesn’t mean she hasn’t got feelings, Ron.” she said, desperate to make him see, “It’s disgusting the way —”

“Hermione, I agree with you,” Mr. Weasley cut her off abruptly, “but now is not the time to discuss elf rights. I want to get back to the tent as fast as we can.” Then he looked around as though he had only just noticed something, “What happened to the others?”

“We lost them in the dark,” Ron said. “Dad, why was everyone so uptight about that skull thing?”

With the practice that only came from being Ronald Weasley’s friend, Hermione forced herself not to groan.

“I’ll explain everything back at the tent,” Mr. Weasley said.

When the reached the edge of the wood, their progress was impeded. A large crowd had gathered, probably of others emerging from the wood, and looking for answers. Many of them must have recognized Arthur Weasley as a Ministry official, because all at once they surged forward.

“What’s going on in there?”

“Who conjured it?

“Arthur — it’s not — Him?”

“Of course it’s not Him,” said Mr. Weasley impatiently. “We don’t know who it was; it looks like they Disapparated. Now excuse me, please, I want to get to bed.”

He led them through the terrified crowd and back into the campsite without another word. All was quiet now, the masked and hooded figures had gone, though the evidence still remained in the form of smoking and crushed tents. Thankfully, their two tents remained standing, and Charlie’s head was poking out of the boys’ one.

“Dad, what’s going on?” he called through the darkness, “Fred, George, and Ginny got back okay, but the others —”

Hermione heaved a sigh of relief that Ginny and the twins had made it back to the tents.

Mr. Weasley said “I’ve got them here,” and he bent down to enter the tent himself, with Harry, Ron, and Hermione following after.

It was brighter inside the tent, and it still smelled of cats. Bill was sitting at the little kitchen table, holding a bedsheet to his arm, which was bleeding profusely. Charlie sat beside him with a large rip in his shirt, and Percy was sporting a bloody nose. Ginny, Fred, and George, however, seemed unhurt, though all had the same wide eyed expression.

“Did you get them, Dad?” Bill said, sharply, “the person who conjured the Mark?”

“No.” Mr. Weasley said, suddenly sounded exhausted, and lowering himself into a chair. “We found Barty Crouch’s elf holding Harry’s wand, but we’re none the wiser about who actually conjured the Mark.” he looked older than he actually was.

“What?” said Bill, Charlie, and Percy together.

“Harry’s wand?” said Fred.

“Mr. Crouch’s elf?” said Percy, sounding thunderstruck.

With much talking over each other, Hermione, Harry, Ron, and Mr. Weasley, all explained what had happened to the others. They listened with their mouths agape, and when they’d finally finished the tale, Percy looked indignant.

“Well,” he said, “Mr. Crouch is quite right to get rid of an elf like that! Running away when he’d expressly told her not to… embarrassing him in front of the whole Ministry… how would that have looked, if she’d been brought up in front the Department for the REgulation and Control—”

“She didn’t do anything!” Hermione cut him off, she couldn’t help it, “she was just in the wrong place at the wrong time.” Percy looked shocked, but she didn’t care.

“Hermione, a wizard in Mr. Crouch’s position can’t afford a house elf who’s going to run amok with a wand!” he said. She knew he wanted to defend the boss he admired, but this was too much.

“She didn’t run amok! She just picked it up off the ground!” she said, and everyone stared at her.

“Look, can someone just explain what that skull thing was?” Ron cut in, “It wasn’t hurting anyone… Why’s it such a big deal.”

She took a deep, steadying breath. “I told you,” she said, hoping she sounded calm and patient, “It’s You-Know-Who’s symbol, Ron.” he looked at her blankly, so she added, “I read about it in The Rise and Fall of the Dark Arts.

“And it hasn’t been seen for thirteen years,” Mr. Weasley added in a rather quiet voice. “Of course people panicked… it was almost like seeing You-Know-Who back again.”

“I don’t get it,” said Ron, and it was hard to believe he had grown up his entire life around witches and wizards, “I mean… it’s still only a shape in the sky….”

“Ron, You-Know-Who and his followers sent up the Dark Mark into the air whenever they killed,” Mr. Weasley said gently, “The terror it inspired… you have no idea, you’re too young. Just picture coming home and finding the Dark Mark hovering over your house, and know what you’re about to find inside….” Mr. Weasley seemed lost in the memory, and he even winced slightly. “Everyone’s worst fear… the very worst…”

There was a silence. Bill removed the sheet from his arm to check his cut, and then said, “Well, it didn’t help us tonight, whoever conjured it. It scared the Death Eaters away the moment they saw it. They all Disapparated before we’d got near enough to unmask any of them. We caught the Robertses before they hit the ground, though. They’re having their memories modified right now.”

Hermione shivered at the words “memories modified” and she found herself lost deep in thought, as Mr. Weasley explained what Death Eaters were to Harry and Ron, two boys who seemed perpetually terrified of learning any history. She thought of poor Mr. Roberts, his brain already addled from a few too many memory charms. And his poor wife! And the kids! And then she thought of Winky… and what on earth would happen to her now. She winced when she heard Harry Potter say “Voldemort,” four years in the wizarding world had taught her to fear that name. She looked up from her thoughts…

“Sorry, what were You-Know-Who’s supporters up to, levitating Muggles?” Harry was saying, “I mean, what was the point?”

“The point?” Mr. Weasley said with a hollow laugh. “Harry, that’s their idea of fun. Half the Muggle killings back when You-Know-Who was in power were done for fun. I suppose they had a few drinks tonight and couldn’t resist reminding us all that lots of them are still at large. A nice little reunion for them.”

However worried she was for the Roberts family, Hermione was suddenly overcome with the feeling that it was a great relief they had survived at all.

“But if they were the Death Eaters,” Ron said, looking puzzled, “Why did they Disapparate when they saw the Dark Mark? They’d have been pleased to see it, wouldn’t they?”

Bill caught Hermione’s eye across the tiny table, and rolled his eyes ever so slightly, “Use your brains, Ron,” he said loudly. “If they really were Death Eaters, they worked very hard to keep out of Azkaban when You-Know-Who lost power, and told all sorts of lies about him forcing them to kill and torture people. I bet they’d be even more frightened than the rest of us to see him come back. They denied they’d ever been involved with him when he lost his powers, and went back to their daily lives…. I don’t reckon he’d be over-pleased with them, do you?”

“So…” Hermione began, thinking, “Whoever conjured the Dark Mark… were they doing it to show support for the Death Eaters, or to scare them away?”

“Your guess is as good as ours, Hermione,” said Mr. Weasley, and again that tired look took over his entire face, aging him ten years. “But I’ll tell you this… it was only the Death Eaters who ever knew how to conjure it. I’d be very surprised if the person who did it hadn’t been a Death Eater once, even if they’re not now…. Listen,” he said abruptly changing his tone, “it’s very late, and if your mother hears what’s happened she’ll be worried sick. We’ll get a few more hours sleep and then try to get an early Portkey out of here.”

Hermione’s head was buzzing as she walked back to the other tend with Ginny. She’d never thought about the possibility of a person being a Death Eater… and then, what, changing sides? And though she’d read and read and read everything she could about the wizarding world, she knew frighteningly little about house elves. She climbed into her bed, and tried to close her eyes, but all she could see was Winky’s tear streaked face.

They would leave early in the morning, because Mrs. Weasley would be worried. Of course, Hermione’s own mother had no idea that there was anything to worry about. Hermione suddenly wished that she did, she wished for all the world that there was no wizarding world, and no muggle world, just one world that people could share without secrets. But even that, she thought sadly, probably wouldn’t help the house elves.



Deconstruction / Notes On The Source Text

Phew, alright, that was a very long chapter, and a lot happened and there’s a lot to unpack here. In one way, that’s good, it’s more fun than a damn quidditch game. But in another way, well, let’s roll up our sleeves, so to speak.

First of all, I’ve noticed that I’m falling into some habits with the rewrite, at least one of which I’d like to explain. I think it’s important, because people often comment talking about how they remember the story, or “wow so and so sounds like a jerk” or whatever, and there are some differences between my version and Rowling’s version.

What I’m not changing: Dialogue, or at least the text part of the dialogue. I’m also not moving any plot points or changing any settings. What happens in Hermione’s version of events is more or less what happens in Harry’s version (although, obviously, when they’re apart from each other, I have to make stuff up and extrapolate things, which is what makes this fan-fic, and also what makes it fun).

But because it’s from Hermione’s perspective, I am taking quite a bit of liberty with how I describe things. In one of the earlier chapters, nearly everything Percy Weasley said had a negative adjective attached to it in the original text. It was all “Percy said pompously” and “Percy said with annoyance” and I took all of that out. But I also adjust some punctuation within the dialogue from time to time (I try to keep it to a minimum, but sometimes it really really needs it) and really think about all of the language AROUND what is being said. What does the scene look like? What’s Hermione’s relationship to these people? How does she view these events? How is her perspective different than Harry’s?

And one thing I have done the vast majority of the time, and I think this is worth talking about, is that Hermione thinks of people as people, regardless of their magical status. In the books, as soon as Harry crosses the threshold into the wizarding world each year, he starts referring to all men as “wizards” and all women as “witches” (groups of mixed gender are “wizards”) and if someone is obviously non-magical he’ll refer to them as a “muggle” almost every time. Harry does this because he wants to assimilate into the magical world, and he wants to assimilate fully. He doesn’t like his non-magical life, so when he’s away from it, he’s trying to forget that it exists. He feels very strongly that this is his world, this is where he belongs, and so as clueless as he is, he’s tried to adopt the native customs and prejudices.

Hermione wants to assimilate too, in fact she needs to. But for her, it’s different. For one thing, she still has a positive relationship (more or less) with her non-magical parents, and presumably she interacts with other non-magical people throughout the holidays as well. She has to have a foot in both worlds, there is no other option, and she can’t think of her parents in the derogatory way Harry is able to think about the Dursleys. Her internal dialogue, and the way she views the world, retains a lot of her non-magical upbringing. She also is in a very different position than Harry, in terms of privilege and politics. Harry is “half-blood” but even the most ancestry obsessed wizards would take him with open arms if only he’d play by their rules. There are no such doors open to Hermione. If Voldemort’s followers take over, she will be considered no better than a muggle, possibly even worse. So from Hermione’s perspective, everyone is a person first, and magical or non-magical second.

This has been a really fun thing to change in the text. And the surprising thing (to me) is it totally changes the tone of many scenes. I thing that has always gotten under my skin about this series, I suppose, is that the books really do go out of their way to make the point over and over again that muggles are inferior. Even wizards who are very pro muggle-born WITCHES AND WIZARDS engage in a lot of muggle mocking and dehumanizing. They seem blissfully unaware that when they talk about muggles as though they were helpless infants, the people they are talking about are their friends’ families. Which brings us to another point…


The muggles being toyed with in this chapter, they aren’t something horrific Hermione sees from afar. She’s very aware that they could easily be her. So that’s a very different experience, and that matters.


Ok so obviously we’re going to talk about house elves this week but I have one other thing first. Wizard government. What is going on with that?

Recently, my wife and I were watching Legend of Korra, the sequel to Avatar the last Airbender. I mostly don’t enjoy it! And one of the reasons for that is that it is an especially blatant example of something I notice in fiction a lot: really inconsistent and nonsensical fictional governments. In one seasons, all of the decisions are made by a council of five members, but they vote on things that aren’t clearly explained and if one member is absent they just don’t get a vote so the system is super easy to rig. In the next season, there is a president and he calls all the shots, even though he wasn’t even mentioned in the first season. It’s a total mess, and it’s so messy that I can’t even focus on the plotlines because I’m so distracted that they’re going all wibbly-wobbly with something that could be relatively simple.

The Ministry of Magic isn’t quite that bad… but it’s not great, either. You can read it either as incredibly poorly written, incredibly corrupt, or a combination of those things. Presumably, since their government appears to be at least loosely based on the British system, they have some kind of laws in place for when a person or creature is suspected of a crime. Presumably, there is some kind of investigation protocol. Presumably, at least some of these details are slightly more than just tradition or “well, usually we do it this way, but it doesn’t really matter.” That casualness is dangerous when it comes to government, because it can easily turn into “well, usually private citizens have rights, but it doesn’t really matter.” And it DOES turn into that, it happens all the time.

So, you have what happens here. They’re at a massive international event, and a crisis occurs… and there’s no plan, no system, no one knows what they’re goddamn job is. It’s just “all hands on deck” to fight the death eaters (which happens conveniently off camera, because that fight also makes no sense, it’s not a fist fight why did the Weasley boys sustain the injuries they did and not magical ones?) and then a rather random assortment of Ministry employees come upon the place where the Dark Mark was conjured in the forest. I’m sorry, but where is magical law enforcement? Maybe some of the nameless faces in that group happened to be them? Why are we referring to Crouch, Diggory, and Weasley, for all of our decisions about a law enforcement matter? I mean sure, if they suspect Winky, she’ll probably be transferred to the Department for the Control and Disposal of Magical Creatures, but they haven’t even agreed she’s a suspect yet.

Instead of investigating, or gathering evidence to investigate later, they just argue about it in the woods in front of a group of teenagers. And all of their decisions are based on prejudice. Diggory suspects Winky because he does not like elves, that’s clear. He only backs down out of fear of insulting Crouch. When Harry is brought up, he’s instantly cleared because “you’re aware of the boy’s story, aren’t you?”

This is a terrible non-system that will never be effective. This is how you get innocent people in jail and guilty people walking free. And given that the wizard prison is basically a massive torture chamber… This has some very serious implications.

Of course, I’m talking about all of this in-world, from a Watsonian perspective rather than a Doylistic one. One of my favorite things about Ana Mardoll’s deconstructions is her insistence that authors make decisions in their writing, and we are allowed to talk about why they made the decisions that they did, and if those decisions were not the best. We don’t have to perform the mental gymnastics to make it make sense if it doesn’t make sense.

Except, because I’m doing this as a re-write working within the confines of the seven book canon, I have to think in a Watsonian way. I have to do those backflips to accept this as reality so I can work with it. It’s frustrating. I think in part, the wizarding government is just poorly written (and don’t get me started on their economy and the runaway inflation rate). And I like the series a lot, but no author is without their flaws and weaknesses! But since the definition of this project requires not changing the plot… I have to work with it as it is.


Which brings us to… house elves. I don’t even want to write about them, to be quite honest. I had the way they’re used in the series, but in this book in particular. I really can’t think of anything, any way to make it defensible, that Rowling started this out with a LITERAL slavery plotline… and then jumped to “but they’re happier being slaves than free and Hermione’s just a bit uppity and won’t listen to reason.” Like, the argument has been made over and over again that slavery was someone better for enslaved people historically… usually by slaveholders or people who benefit directly from slave labor. It is inexcusable to write a series of books that say “that may be so, but it just so happens that in this one imaginary case that I brought up, slavery really WAS better!”

House elves are most likely based on brownies, which are a specific kind of fae/elf thing that does housework. My understand of brownies (and this is from a book I no longer have, so unfortunately no link, and I may be way off base here) is that they help with housework, mostly at night, and stay away from people. Unlike some other kinds of fae though, they don’t like thank yous, and thanks and tributes to them just offend them. If you thank a brownie, they’ll just take off, and then you have to do your own chores. But that bit is key, brownies come and go as they please… and they can take up with a new household quite easily. They don’t like “being bossed around” they just like doing housework.

So Rowling took that mythology (or something similar) and twisted it into a reality where wizards are in control and the elves are literally enslaved… but they like it. No. No, no, no no, no.

Everything about the way house elves are written, even when they are being verbally abused, is written to make them less sympathetic. They’re written like goddamn cartoons. Rowling can’t write Winky crying her eyes out without mentioning that her nose is “bulbous” and her ears are “bat-like.” House elves may not be humans, but they certainly are people. Time and time again, the text will begin to make that clear… and then undermine it.

Hermione Granger can’t do that, though, she can’t turn her back on these weird creatures just because they make no sense. She’s going to try to help, and she’s going to get hell for it.

I’m going to level with you here. This is only my second “reading” of this book. Typically, I take my Harry Potter in audiobook format, I’m especially fond of the Stephen Fry readings (although I lost all of my audiobooks when I lost my ancient computer so *sobs forever*). This means that I more of less have the series memorized and can rattle whole scenes off by heart. It also means that I apparently just zone out and focus on something else during each and every house elf scene, because house elves make me extremely uncomfortable. I do not find them cute or humorous in the slightest, and I have a kind of cognitive dissonance over a series that I love so much (I swear it, I really do love it) including such awful plot arcs of joyous exploitation.

I realized that writing out the Winky scene in this chapter, because as well as I think I know these books, I didn’t really know that scene. I knew vaguely that Mr. Diggory was unfair to her, that she cried and was scared, and that at the end she was forcibly freed/fired. But I wasn’t actually ready for it to be as bad as it was.

It is really really bad! And I cannot imagine that anyone could witness that without being overcome with sympathy for her. Ron’s acceptance that this is just the way things are is abominable, but so is Mr. Weasley’s “I agree, but it’s neither the time nor the place” attitude (because there never will be a right time or place to improve conditions for elves for Mr. Weasley, will there?). And the fact that Harry, who is supposedly some kind of hero, could see that, a scene that was in large part created by his dropping his damn wand in the woods… and go on to think that Hermione is unreasonable for trying to change the systems that oppress elves, is absolutely horrifying.

Hermione is right.

Deconstruction Roundup for March 10th, 2017

(by the Slacktiverse and others; collected by Silver Adept, who had returned to limbo, unfortunately.)

The point of these posts is threefold:

  1. To let people stay up to date on ongoing deconstructions. (All ones on our list, including finished and stalled ones, here.)
  2. To let people who can’t comment elsewhere have a place to comment.
  3. To let people comment in a place where people who can’t read Disqus can see what they have to say.

Fred Clark: Slacktivist

Froborr: Jed A. Blue

Mouse: Mouse’s Musings

Philip Sandifer: Eruditorium Press

Ross: A Mind Occasionally Voyaging

RubyTea: Heathen Critique

Katherine DM Clover: Here on the Slacktiverse

Silver Adept: Here on The Slacktiverse

Let us know, please, if there are errors in the post. Or if you don’t want to be included. Or if there’s someone who you think should be included, which includes you. We can use more content. Or if you are feeling behind on all your projects and need to catch up on the best way possible. Or for any other reason, really.

The Renegades of Pern: Hurry Up, Already!

Last chapter, there was more excavation and discovery, this time with discovery of the warehouse and its accompanying stores, still shrink-wrapped. And Toric went off to smash someone he felt was taking things away from him. Yeah, that’s it.

The Renegades of Pern: Chapter XV: Content Notes: Sex-negativity, Ridiculous Masculinity, Patriarchal Attitudes

(Present Pass, 17)

The chapter starts by continuing where the last left off – cataloging the discovered stores. Piemur wonders aloud whether the Ancients were clueless about Thread when they landed, because the way Landing is laid out has lots of windows, and then the clear scramble northward to caves without windows, demonstrating a deductive reasoning that many of the people more in charge than him clearly lack. They’re trying to match up the markings in the storehouses with the manifests that Piemur found the first day he went into the warehouse, but soon enough, he calls a break and then disguises it as a business trip to Paradise River.

He climbed on behind the girl, well pleased with himself. It would be perfectly legitimate for him to put his arms around her during flight.

And you’re still a creep, Piemur, for arranging yourself that way and not asking Jancis’s consent or opinion on the matter. Admit your crush and be willing to suffer the consequences.

Instead, there is bickering about the purpose and disposition of the goods in their discoveries.

“It’s one thing if they contain artifacts — but otherwise they are being useful, efficient.” He threw in that word more out of pique than as a humorous reference. “They’re not being desecrated or misused. They’re not inviolable. They’re certainly durable.”
“Then you believe we should use the shirts and boots and other materials in that cavern?” Jancis turned on him, her eyes flashing and her jaw set in a determined line.
“If they fit, why not?”
“Because it’s–it’s profane, that’s what!”
“Profane? To wear a shirt because it’s a shirt and was made to cover nakedness; boots because they’re boots and made for walking? I don’t understand you.”
“It’s a misuse of historical relics.”
“Besides the building slab, Master Fandarel’s using some of those drills — sharpest steel he’s ever seen.”
“Grandfa is not wasting them!”
“These aren’t being wasted, either,” Piemur declared. He raised his hands up high in frustration, then brought them down smartly to his sides. “Go read the bloody carton labels! That’s what you came down here to do. I’m going back to the hold. Jayge’s right about the heat of the day. It affects some people’s thinking.”

And there’s a spat, and heat, but Piemur’s wits aren’t dulled enough to not notice the invading force landing on the beach and spreading themselves out. He wakes up and warns Jayge, and picks up some weapons to fight. Both Jayge and Piemur do try to fight the group of attackers, but they are overwhelmed and both knocked out, with the hope of Aramina having done as ordered and gotten herself and the kids out of the way. In the blackout, the viewpoint changes to Jayge, who comes to trussed up uncomfortably. But he does hear that Aramina escaped and that Thella has a plan to make Jayge suffer first and then die, with the knowledge that Thella has Aramina and has tortured her first. Thella also has complaints about the quality of the hired help, after they complain about how difficult it was to get by Jayge’s dogs.

“There were six of you, with swords and spears! More than enough to take a drudge slut.[…]

Here I had thought that drudge didn’t need any additional bits on it to be the worst insult ever. But apparently there had to be that extra knife twist for the woman. Although we have seen men for drudges, I also suspect that the “drudge” insult is meant mostly, if not exclusively, for women, so the “slut” part is just extra on top of that.

Secondly, how exactly is it that the word “slut” survives? Promiscuity is baked into dragonrider culture, and while the Holders have a lot more invested in keeping their women from having sex outside of approved channels, I don’t see that particular insult sticking around for a couple thousand years, even with a dedicated group trying to make everything static. Not to mention that it would have had to have survived long enough to be part of FSP slang before that. Language evolves.

Jayge is considering his options with regard to how to get out of his situation and some smug satisfaction that Thella’s searching is not going to be in the places where Aramina is. He can’t actually get out of his ropes, but good things happen to those in the favor of the narrative…

“Easy!” a quiet voice cautioned.
“K’van.” The bronze rider was already sawing at Jayge’s bonds. “Aramina yelled — a good knack to rediscover at a moment of crisis. Heth responded. I can see why. Did Thella leave only the one guard?”
[…logistics and the knowledge that Aramina is safe…]
“You rescued Ara?” Jayge reeled more from relief than physical weakness.
K’van steadied him, eyes twinkling. “Plucked her out of the trees this time — her, Jancis, and the two children. Had to leave the canines behind.”

Well, previous theory goes out the window, then. Aramina apparently still does have the knack, and it was just slowly fading into the background. I wonder what it was, then, about that particular dragon that she didn’t hear them.
Jayge requests K’van to get help in dealing with Thella. K’van refuses, considering it a matter of Hold business and that fulfilling the request would be seen as interference, even as he helps get everyone unbound and back up to fighting condition. He’s hoping he won’t catch too much hell for what he’s already done because Heth heard Aramina and that was the end of the discussion.

Then, because it’s Pern, there’s time spent making sure all the women and children get to safety, including Aramina.

Aramina bristled. “I’m not running away again, Jayge Lilcamp!”
“I think you’d make it a lot easier for Jayge if you were out of Thella’s range,” K’van said firmly. “You and the children. Let him deal with her. It’s going to come to that one way or another, you know.” And with that the bronze dragonrider looked Jayge squarely in the eyes.
“And long overdue!” Jayge said savagely. “Go on, Aramina. She won’t find me such an easy mark this time.”
[…the defenders get themselves ready with weapons, a second dragonrider arrives, but is prevented from joining by K’van, and Farli returns with a report of having found Alemi and his men and reported what was going on to them…]
Jayge caught Aramina’s hand as she gets a fishing spear. “Oh, no, my love. You will take yourself and our children as far away from here as possible. Do you understand me? There’s no time to argue the point. You’re going.”
“And Heth and I will make sure she does.” K’van said unexpectedly, taking Aramina by the arm. “That much I can do.”
She hesitated one brief moment, then acquiesced, her shoulders drooping. “Just don’t let her slip away again, Jayge. I don’t ever want to be faced with this again.”

Uggggggh. Your masculinity is getting in the way of logic, Jayge, because Aramina is probably strong and capable of introducing Thella to Mr. Pointy based on the fact that she’s been doing the work of your Hold and raising your children, too. But no, we can’t have a competent heroic woman in the presence of men because Pern is all about the penis’s divine right of rule. (Which is, incidentally, how this whole Thella thing started anyway.)

In any case, Jayge and his five well-armed friends try to sneak up on Thella…who has fifteen underlings that they can see. Having Aramina along would have cut the odds to almost two to one with a surprise element. Having the dragonriders along would have made it better, too, but the mounted martial force apparently chooses not to interfere on anything that doesn’t directly affect them. Which makes it all the more problematic for Jayge to refuse Aramina’s help, after K’van refuses – he’s going to need all the help he can get!

The plan, such that it is, is to release the hounds, use them as a distraction (and possibly to do some damage) to pick off as many of Thella’s men as possible, then confront her when the odds are in their favor.

Thella also has a less than flattering description at the hands of Jayge, which could be some sort of metaphor about how her interval cruelty manifested in outward ugliness, but that would be for a different story.

Thella’s patience, such that it is, has worn thin and she orders her men to gather fellis plants and set them ablaze so as to smoke Aramina out of the trees. The first attempt is stopped by the man sprouting a knife on his back, and then Jayge orders the assault, having both humans and canines attempt as much killing as possible.

Jayge attempts to intimidate Thella using the idea of the loudness of his sword being drawn. Except that swords, when sharp, should be silent, not loud, and dragging an edge across a thing to make it be loud will dull things. Admittedly, one could easily make this mistake, since Audible Sharpness has been a trope for a very long time.

In any case, Thella and Jayge lock blades, and Thella taunts Jayge while circling him. Jayge has a small wonder as to why Thella might be doing that, but is too focused on responding to her insults to really think about it. Unfortunately for him, Jayge finds out that Thella isn’t bluffing about her skill with weapons, and he only barely avoids getting killed several times, until he is able to back Thella up against a tree (lucky) and then block her attacks and wound her severely on one arm (for Armald), then the other (for the lost people and horses in the ambush), and then across the middle, for Readis.

Before he can deliver the killing blow, though, Aramina stops him, at least until Thella tries one last time to get to Aramina and Jayge runs her through to protect his wife. Thus ends Thella.

The Benden Weyrleaders arrive as soon as Threadfall ends, and both of them are immediately in K’van’s face for “involving himself in a holder dispute.”

Cocowhat by depizan

I’m a bit chuffed at this particular choice of language, because this entire book has been all about denying Thella the opportunity to be a Holder, mocking her for being Lady Holdless, and otherwise denying her legitimacy to achieve that office. This, in the official opinions, is not a holder dispute, because there aren’t two holders opposed in it. If that was what was keeping K’van out of it, then he should have been able to charge right in without fear.

The remainder of Thella’s crew will be shipped off to be drudges for others, Thella’s death is meant to be used as propaganda against someone else getting the same ideas, at least for a while, and Lessa leans hard on Aramina to come back to Benden and be a queen rider, since that hearing dragons thing is a specialty of the Ruathan bloodline, and it might pass on to her daughter, too…

That ends the chapter. It has certainly taken long enough to get Thella, but this is not the last chapter of the book, because there’s apparently still something left to do after Toric is humiliated and Thella killed. (Thella is still a waste of a good villain. She was perfectly designed to expose and exploit the flaws and the problems associated with the society Pern created for itself, and instead gets wasted as greedy and vain instead of oppressed and sympathetic.)

Writer Workshop March 8th, 2017

(Posted by chris the cynic)

Those of you who also frequent Ana Mardoll’s Ramblings will find this somewhat familiar.  Here, as there, it was requested that there be a regular post to talk about writing projects (and other artwork-creation). Thus this post exists.

Pencil by Elisa Xyz

What are you working on? How are you feeling about it? What thoughts and/or snippets would you like to share? How does your activism work into your art? What tropes are you hoping to employ and/or avoid? Are there any questions you’d like to ask or frustrations you’d like to vent?  Writing workshop below!