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Chapter Twenty-Nine: By A Thread: The Slytherins - The Phantom Librarian
Spewing out too many words since November 2003
Chapter Twenty-Nine: By A Thread: The Slytherins
I do apologize for all the delays. I have not been enjoying 2011, and I'm afraid I made Teddy suffer for it. ;p

So the battle at Azkaban is over, and it was definitely time to break off and do an interlude. Honoria's piece on herself is not journalistic, but a personal column.

Table of Contents and Summary So Far

Volume 7, Issue 3510 June 2016

By A Thread

Brendan Lynch: A Work To Do

Part 14 of 16

Special to the Hogwarts Charmer
from Honoria Higgs


The Lynch home in County Clare, near Doolin, is a large and gracious ancestral home that commands a grand view of the sea cliffs. It is filled with honors both ancient and contemporary, from military decorations to Quidditch trophies.

The family is quite venerable in wizarding and Muggle circles. Aiden Lynch, the father of Brendan Lynch, directs a charitable organization that lets underpriveleged wizarding children play Quidditch in the national stadium, and, in its Muggle face, provides a league and uniforms for both Muggle and wizarding children (under careful supervision) to play the Muggle game of football. His wife Dierdre makes quilts for a charitable organization of her own. The children, eighteen-year-old Brendan and twelve-year-old Darcy (a second year Hufflepuff), are often seen on holiday going about doing volunteer work of their own. It is simply expected of them.

Ask anyone in County Clare who the Lynches are, and that's the story you'll hear.

Ask anyone outside County Clare, and there is precisely one thing known: Irish national Seeker Aiden Lynch has lost the Snitch to Bulgaria's Viktor Krum in two Quidditch World Cups and one playoff.

"I won't lie," Brendan says. "It's a bit annoying when they take the mickey out of Da on the Wizarding Wireless, and fourth year, when the Ravenclaws were rooting against the Hufflepuffs and started chanting 'Pull A Lynch' at their Seeker when he got too close... not really fun. That's why I don't really play much Quidditch."

But make no mistake: Brendan doesn't hold it against Viktor Krum.

"I did, once," he admits. "Then Da set me straight. It was Krum that got my mother to Bulgaria during the war. Oliver Wood was looking for contacts, and he knew Krum a bit, and Krum was looking for a way to help. He was here when the Ministry fell, you know, and he hated the Death Eaters as much as anyone. So Wood got my parents

to him when the Death Eaters came. Seems they didn't like my parents helping the Muggles. Krum got my mother to Sofia--Da stayed to fight--and that's where I was born. Thanks to Krum."

At Hogwarts, Brendan has never been a star student--"I almost dropped out after O.W.L.s," he says, "but it didn't seem right to break the year up"--and has steadfastly refused to throw himself into Quidditch. He has largely avoided the more notorious episodes in the past seven years, and isn't well-known outside his House and year.

He shrugs. "I keep to myself, mostly. And Gobstones Club. They're a good lot, though I reckon I've been the oldest for at least three years." Still, when pressed, he admits that the Gobstone players aren't the most defining group he belongs to. "Our year, though--it's not like anything else, is it? You can't get away from it. I wish I could find out who everyone else would have been."

With his pronounced lack of ambition, why did he end up in Slytherin House, a place where the Sorting Hat tends to put the most driven students? "No idea," he says, then reconsiders. "Maybe it's because I don't want to be just like my Da, and I don't want to be followed around by jokes about Golden Snitches. Perhaps I'm driven that way. Or maybe the Hat was just bored and said, 'I don't know where to put him, so off to the dungeons with him.'"

What's next for Brendan?

He shrugs. "That'd be the mystery, wouldn't it? Doesn't seem to be a great need for Gobstone champions." When pressed, he sighs. "I've got my charities. Darcy and I've been working at a relief society for hex victims--not the sort who get cared for in hospitals, but the sort who're stuck speaking in rhyme or hopping on one foot. Doesn't sound terrible, but have you ever tried to find work that way?" He raises an eyebrow. "Not that I'll do much better, with my marks, of course. But I know some people who know other people, and I've had some success at getting people into work they can do. Maybe I'll find some work I can do."

Volume 7, Issue 3617 June 2016

By A Thread

Jane Hunter: A Hand In Each World

Part 15 of 16

Special to the Hogwarts Charmer
from Honoria Higgs


"If you want to know the truth," Jane Hunter says, "only one person has ever really questioned whether or not I ought to feel at home in Slytherin as a Muggle-born, and he's long out of the House. I got a few odd looks from older students at first--you remember--but did you ever hear anyone call me a Mudblood, or anything else?" She shrugs. "That belongs to a different time in Slytherin. It's over for anyone who wasn't there then. I mean, how smart or ambitious could you be if you're going to hold on irrationally to something that would make you untouchable in decent company?"

Could the old prejudice simply have gone underground, as various detractors insist?

Jane considers it, then gives a shrug. "If so, it's so far under that it's not been any trouble to me or anyone else. I suppose it's possible that everyone I've met is really seething with deep hatred, but quite honestly, if they are, they can seethe all they like, as long as they stay out of my way--it's more trouble to them than to me. But somehow, I don't think there's all that much seething going on. It would take far too much energy to never let slip that it's happening."

This nonchalance is typical of Jane, a serious-faced, bespectacled brunette who is known among her friends for her wry, detached attitude toward matters others might approach more emotionally.

"I wouldn't call it detached, precisely," she protests. "I just try to filter things through my brain at some point before I let them out of my mouth. It keeps things a bit... calmer. When I read about the Houses, I really thought I'd be put in Ravenclaw, but it seems that they route thoughts through their brains as an end. I do it as a means to an end, and I guess that makes the difference."

Before receiving her Hogwarts letter, Jane was a self-proclaimed "anorak" at her Muggle school in Oxford, where her interest in the sciences was not well-received by most classmates, though it earned her high marks from teachers. She entertained herself by conducting experiments, though bouts of accidental magic may, she admits, have compromised her conclusions.

"Since I'm not sure when I was doing magic or not doing magic, I can't be entirely sure of the ones that worked the way I wanted them to, can I? After all--magic is about making things work the way you will them to work." She cuts off a question on this. "I don't mean it's that simple, of course. We've all seen magic that doesn't work the way we intend it to. But I think, at its core, magic is about will, about becoming a force of nature that acts consciously and with will on the rules of the physical universe. A whirlwind can lift a tree more efficiently than a witch can Levitate it, but it can't mean to do that." She smiles. "I think we ought to have a Philosophy of Magic course here, don't you? It would be a lot of fun."
Despite her interest in such questions, Jane has little inclination to study the subject in the Wizarding world, even within the Ministry's structure for such studies in the Department of Mysteries. Such things, she insists, are a hobby, not a vocation. Instead, she has maintained her interest in Muggle science throughout her years at Hogwarts, even sacrificing her summers to take classes in various scientific subjects. After fifth year O.W.L.s, she returned home and sat for the GCSE (General Certificate of Secondary Education), and plans to take A-Levels (a rough equivalent of N.E.W.T.s) in Chemistry and Physics.

"And that's as the number four student in our year!" she says, laughing. "I suppose if I'd concentrated a little less on getting my Muggle education, I could have got marks as good as Teddy or Lizzie or Donzo--maybe; this isn't an easy year for competition, even though you'd think it would be--but I wanted to make sure to keep my hands in both worlds. After all, when it comes to it, maybe I'd rather be a physicist than a Potions mistress. I wanted to keep my options open."

Like other Muggles who had magical children during the Death Eaters' reign, Jane's parents--astronomer Paul Hunter and meteorologist Angela (Gray) Hunter--were exposed to the magical world early on. In the Hunters' case, this knowledge came from a visit from a witch they were later able to identify as Minerva McGonagall, who saw Jane's name appear on the Hogwarts list in February.

"Apparently, she'd kept the list in hiding," Jane says. "When she was here during our fifth year, I had a chance to talk to her a bit. She created a false list, you know, so the Death Eaters wouldn't have access to the real one, which showed all of us being born, and they wouldn't even know it was missing, though she says now that Severus Snape probably helped cover it as well. It was quite a dangerous thing for her to do, but she talked about it the way she might mention keeping a list of marks for her Transfiguration class. She's quite a lady."

As Professor McGonagall was not free to contact the leaders of the resistance during that year, she took it upon herself to find and warn the Hunters of potential danger, should accidental magic draw attention to their newborn girl. Though resistant at first--like many Muggle scientists, they were dismissive of magical events--the Hunters were shocked into allowing her to construct protections when young Jane interrupted their meeting by making her bottle--for which she'd been crying--fly through the air to her.

"It was a particularly well-timed bit of accidental magic, don't you think?" Jane asks. "So useful and believable. I was certainly clever for two weeks old. Professor McGonagall quite agreed that it was a remarkable coincidence." She smiles. "At any rate, they let her protect us, and we were safe. And we weren't at all surprised by the arrival of a Hogwarts letter."

Volume 7, Issue 3724 June 2016

By A Thread

Honoria Higgs: Useful

Part 16 of 16

Special to the Hogwarts Charmer
from Honoria Higgs

It would be a fool's errand to pretend to interview myself, or to imagine that I could be entirely objective on the subject, so here, in my last piece for the Hogwarts Charmer--a paper I love as well as I love some people in my life--I can only write the most personal piece I have ever submitted. I cannot pretend that it is anything else. --H.H.

Image by Leith (aka, marycontraria), for the Hogwarts Charmer

There are moments that change lives.

We think of the obvious ones first--births, marriages, deaths. Perhaps we remember a particular tragedy that shaped us, or a celebration we shared. Such moments are communal, known by everyone.

But there are other moments, more profound moments, that perhaps we ourselves don't recognize at the time, and which may be entirely inconsequential to even the most vital participants other than ourselves.

My name is Honoria Hepzibah Higgs. I was born to Terence and Catherine (Rackharrow) Higgs in Gibraltar on 12 May 1998, and for me, such a moment came in June of my first year at Hogwarts.

I always wanted to be a reporter, like my godmother, Rita Skeeter, who had surreptitiously saved my father's life by sending him, along with my mother, to Gibraltar as soon as it became clear that Fenrir Greyback was placed highly among the Snatchers, as my father had done some dangerous research on Greyback and his pack of allied werewolves the year before. I didn't understand my own chosen profession, though, and spent much of my first year as nothing more than an avid gossip, creating this newspaper as much to cause personal distress as to report news. I made enemies among my year mates, and ultimately lost my own paper due to my own malicious behavior. Even this wasn't enough to change me, though--I spent the following weeks waiting for a story to report, a story that would make it unthinkable to keep me away from the Charmer.

Late that June, such a story seemed to fall from the heavens.

I looked down from the Astronomy Tower and saw Harry Potter and several teachers going to Professor Hagrid's cabin. I started down to spy on them, and instead found myself listening in on younger voices--Teddy Lupin and his friends, who were walking to the Forbidden Forest. I followed. I meant to do nothing but find out what they were up to, but as I was pushing the subject, Teddy and Tinny Gudgeon were attacked by Red Caps. I raised my wand, but didn't do anything. Teddy yelled at me to go back and get the adults. A part of me, starting to wake up, realized that I could help.

Teddy said--and I remember this word for word--"You can help by doing something useful for once! Go to Hagrid's!"

I quite doubt that he even remembers saying this to me, but it is one of those seconds in my life that is forever deeply etched on my mind. He presented me with a choice. I could follow and get a story and whatever glory came of it, or I could actually help save lives. I could do something useful.

I went to Professor Hagrid's and got the adults.

At the time, I didn't mark this as a major life change. In fact, I rather resented being called "useful," like a mop or a broom maintenance kit. But as I look back across the years since, I realize that it was the moment when everything changed, when I had a choice about what kind of person I would become, and I made it. It took a long time for me to gain anyone's trust, but from that time on, the desire to be useful, to contribute in a real way, was part of my soul.

I did not, of course, give up my ambition to be a reporter, but I was determined to earn my way into real respect. When Professor Slughorn agreed to let me come back if I wrote well, I started looking for a story that would change lives, and I found it when I met the children--now young adults--who had been rescued from Fenrir Greyback. I learned the real story, and I told it as well as I could, and as strongly as I could. It was my first serious story, the first that defined who I wanted to be as a reporter. There were some who called it propaganda, but it wasn't--it was a truth told in order to slay a lie that had been spreading. That's the real power of the press.

Who would I have been in a different year, a year where I might have found a little knot of like-minded people first year and ignored the rest of my class? Would I have made the same choice that day in the woods if I'd had little clique of my own to impress, rather than having been utterly shunned by even my own House mates? I'd like to think I would have, but I can't, in all honestly, believe it.

Being a part of the smallest year has defined us in ways that I think even we haven't understood yet. A part of each of us will always be standing there at the lake shore, huddled together, realizing the horrific price that was paid so that we might be there--a price paid by those who lived, those who died, and those who were never born because of the nightmare they all shared. We felt the debt that we owe them then, the responsibility to be worthy of their sacrifice, and we feel it still, with so few to share the weight of it--a single, fine thread to carry it by.

When I started this piece, I meant only to give a sketch of each of us, to tell stories of how we came to survive, but as I've spoken with my year mates, as I've written, I've understood that it all came down to this--to understanding that moments change lives, that the past is a living and breathing part of the present, and that the life of any person, however independent, is woven inextricably into the lives of the people around her.

My name is Honoria Hepzibah Higgs, and I can be useful if you ask.

20 comments or Leave a comment
sophiap From: sophiap Date: February 14th, 2011 11:37 am (UTC) (Link)
I'm sorry to hear 2011 has been such a beast to you.

Anyhow, I love these articles, and I especially love Honoria's--she's come a long, long way since "Forest Guard." The last line of her piece made me choke up a bit.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: February 14th, 2011 08:06 pm (UTC) (Link)
Honoria did turn out to be a pretty fun character to write. Teddy had no idea how much influence he had on her, either.
pevara From: pevara Date: February 14th, 2011 11:52 am (UTC) (Link)
I adore Honoria. Thanks so much for this!
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: February 14th, 2011 08:06 pm (UTC) (Link)
You're welcome!
i_autumnheart From: i_autumnheart Date: February 14th, 2011 12:42 pm (UTC) (Link)
I never thought, when I started reading about the Smallest Year, that Honoria could become somebody I would admire, but there it is. She's really come a long way!
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: February 14th, 2011 08:08 pm (UTC) (Link)
I'm glad she did--I didn't mean for the girls in Teddy's year to get as much of a short shrift as they did--he was closest to Ruthless, who was a year above, and Tinny, though she's definitely one of Teddy's close friends, was not a character who was built for adventures. Honoria, though, really came through for me!
sgt_majorette From: sgt_majorette Date: February 14th, 2011 02:26 pm (UTC) (Link)
Hey! Honoria has my birthday!

And I'd love to hear some backstory on Jane Hunter's parents...
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: February 14th, 2011 08:08 pm (UTC) (Link)
I bet her mother was suspicious of all the weird weather that surrounded Voldemort's rise!
willowbough From: willowbough Date: February 14th, 2011 03:10 pm (UTC) (Link)
Glad to see this back (no need to apologize for the delays--2011 also gets mixed reviews from me, so far) and I definitely enjoyed these last three portraits. Interesting to contemplate the seeming paradox of an unobtrusive Slytherin in Brendan. Jane's determination to keep a foot in two worlds is also intriguing (loved the bottle incident--McGonagall rocks!). And being in the smallest year really has transformed Honoria from a malicious brat to an effective force for good.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: February 14th, 2011 08:09 pm (UTC) (Link)
It was definitely good for her. She would have ended up much more Draco-like--without the redemption of seeing what her actions really meant--otherwise.
amamama From: amamama Date: February 14th, 2011 05:45 pm (UTC) (Link)
Wooooowwww.. I'm sorry 2011 has be a tough one this far, but my! You know how to write. And Honoria's column about herself is totally stunning. So raw. Fantastic. yes, she can be useful if we ask.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: February 14th, 2011 08:10 pm (UTC) (Link)
I was a little worried about letting her write without the veneer of journalism, but it seems to have worked.
From: severely_lupine Date: February 14th, 2011 07:09 pm (UTC) (Link)
Sorry to hear the year's going badly. I hope it picks up for you soon.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: February 14th, 2011 08:10 pm (UTC) (Link)
Me, too. But it should. We got a toy puppet theater at work--a year with a puppet theater can't be all doom and gloom.
From: (Anonymous) Date: February 14th, 2011 11:25 pm (UTC) (Link)
Puppet theater sounds fun - I just found my old puppets again, and am tempted to bring them to the next party, get the old crowd together again - we used to put on elaborate shows as kids... ten years ago. Sheesh, I'm getting old.

And I can only agree with all the Honoria love! Great to see you're writing again!

~Hermione Stranger~
cleindori From: cleindori Date: February 15th, 2011 06:31 am (UTC) (Link)
*blink blink*

No, Honoria's last line hasn't made me tear up a bit...I've just got something in my eye. ;)

I also think that the idea of a Hogwarts student still keeping enough in touch with the Muggle world to be able to sit GCSEs and A-levels is really interesting. Anorak or not, Jane obviously wasn't totally ready to give up on the non-magical world when she got her Hogwarts letter.

Glad to see this up -- and that it was nothing worse than a bit of flooding keeping you from updating!
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: February 15th, 2011 08:09 am (UTC) (Link)
Yeah, apartment flooding is annoying and frustrating, but on the scale of world tragedies--even flooding tragedies--I think being displaced and computer-less for a week probably rates pretty low. ;p

It does seem a shame sometimes that the bright kids who may not want to work in the magical world seem limited to doing so once they choose Hogwarts. I mean, just because you can do magic doesn't mean it's all you want to do!
malinbe From: malinbe Date: February 15th, 2011 05:46 pm (UTC) (Link)
I loved Honoria's article. It's so personal and touching. It takes real courage to write lik that about oneself.

I can't wait for the ending of this story- although I don't want it to come!
From: (Anonymous) Date: February 18th, 2011 08:03 am (UTC) (Link)
Wonderful work as always! I really enjoyed hearing more about Honoria from her point of view, she's really grown on me and it's good to understand a little more where her early hostility toward "the werepup" came from. No wonder she jumped out of the boat to get away from Teddy's morph!

One quick comment/Brit-pick, if, as I seem to remember from a ficlet, Jane is going on to Oxford or Cambridge she would need to have at least 3 A-Levels ... perhaps Maths or Biology or both (Maths would most likely be preferred by Oxbridge if you just pick one).

arien043 From: arien043 Date: March 7th, 2011 11:23 am (UTC) (Link)
Hope your year is getting better.
Great story, as usual, really love it and am so sad at the thought of it ending.
By the way, do you know that the link to chapter 30 leads to chapter 29?
20 comments or Leave a comment