by Robbie Fischer, concepts contributed by: Jessica Parker
Spanky’s tale continued….
“Obviously, if there was an unforgivable curse on me and I didn’t realize it, it couldn’t be a killing curse or a cruciatus curse. That left only one option. But the only thing that troubled my mind was the difficulty of getting out of Gringotts when someone had stuck a ‘for desposit only’ tag on me. But you already know how that worked out. So before the day was done, I was on broomstick, bound for Godric’s Hollow.
“I didn’t quite get there, though. At the bottom of the road that leads up to the Potters’ place, I ran into a No Fowl Play charm and was forced to land. Someone had evidently picked up on the danger to Lily Potter, and had set up spells around the place to keep uninvited guests from flying in. As I was poking around the hedge, looking for a way through, who should I meet but James Potter’s best mate, what’s-his-name. Now, considering that a year later, he went to Azkaban for betraying the Potters to their doom-are you all right, Sadie? Did something go down the wrong pipe? Can you talk? There, now. Well, as I was saying, in looking back I find it a bit rich that Sirius Black refused to let me come any closer to Godric’s Hollow. He downright accused me of being disloyal to James and Lily! Then his friends, Lupin and Pettigrew, got into the act. It seemed they were patrolling the perimeter.
“‘No one gets through,’ they explained to me. ‘Lily’s having the baby tonight.’
“‘You make it sound like a big security problem,’ I said innocently. ‘What would make you think they needed protection like this?’
“‘Protection?’ Lupin said, just as innocently. ‘Who’s protecting anyone? We’re just here to make sure they have the privacy, peace, and quiet they need and deserve. Now shove off.’
“‘I would like to help you,’ I volunteered. ‘After all, I care about James and Lily too.’ In the back of my mind, somewhere, I wondered why I was bothering to be so devious. These were people, after all, that I had been trying to protect already! But I supposed that I didn’t want to make too much of myself, so I waited humbly while Black sniffed around me, and Pettigrew studied me with those little beady eyes of his. My flesh crawled.
“‘What’s that in your pocket?’ Black finally demanded. Not waiting for me to pull it out, he thrust his wand at me and cried, ‘Accio!‘ A crystal sphere, about the size of my fist, flew out of the pocket. It was full of swirling smoke that changed color, like an oil slick, through all different colors of the rainbow-yet it seemed mostly black. ‘What the devil is this?’ Sirius gasped.
“‘I’m a hippogriff if I know,’ I said truthfully. ‘I’ve never seen that before. But I just bought these robes this afternoon, in a hurry too. Maybe Madam Malkin left it in there by mistake.’
“Lupin seized the object and held it up to the dying sunlight. ‘I know what this is,’ he growled. ‘The like hasn’t been seen, even in Knockturn Alley, since the Grindelwald days. Up until the 17th century they used to destroy wizards merely for knowing what these were and how to find and use them. Even if I have misjudged Madam Malkin, whom I doubt would touch this thing with dragon-hide gloves on-even if she would, I am sure she wouldn’t have let it slip into someone’s pocket by mistake. The only folks who own these are as evil as Voldemort, or more so. And they are very careful with what they own, as a rule.’
“‘You’re talking in riddles,’ I said angrily. ‘Speak plainly and tell me what I am accused of. But I swear that, whatever it is, I know nothing about it.’
“‘Where did you get this?’ Lupin asked, still in that growling kind of voice that made me feel like standing very, very still.
“‘I don’t know,’ I insisted.
“‘This will loosen your memory,’ Sirius barked. He aimed his wand at me and shouted, ‘Lubrilabia!’
“But they had forgotten to restrain my hands, and I had both wands out and a shield set up before the spell left Black’s wand. It ricocheted and hit Pettigrew in the face. Instantly, he began to wheedle and snivel.
“‘Mother,’ he said pleadingly, ‘don’t, please don’t be ill. I promise I’ll stay in then, and I won’t go out and play with the other children, and I’ll take care of you…’ Then, as the rest of us stood by in shocked silence, he added in a piercingly feminine voice: ‘Oh, Peterkin! You ungrateful, two-faced fiend! I just know that what you really want to do is to run out as soon as I close my eyes. And then what if I should wake and need medicine, or an extra blanket? I could catch my death of a chill. You don’t really care, do you?’…’Oh, Mother, don’t say that! Here, I will lie down beside you, so if you so much as stir, I can…’
“‘Shut up!’ Sirius shouted with a wave of his wand, and Pettigrew did so, looking smaller and more awkward than ever. For a long time we all just stood about, clearing our throats, trying not to look at each other. Then…
“‘Spankison,’ Black said, rounding on me with rekindled fury, ‘put your wands away this instant, unless you are proposing to duel with me. And you might as well know that in my family, dueling is not a sport.’
“I hesitated, still holding my wands in a defensive way. ‘So I am to stand down and let you curse me with impunity?’ I spat. ‘I don’t know about your family, but where I come from, no one can spare the time or money to be a damned fool.’
“‘I ought to break your neck,’ Black roared.
“‘Gentlemen!’ Lupin exclaimed, in his quiet but unmistakably firm way. ‘Sirius, old friend, hadn’t you better explain what you are going to do, and why, on the off chance that the suspect you are about to interrogate turns out to be innocent? That way, you can let him walk away from the encounter, and no blood need be shed.’
“‘I still want to know what that thing is, and what I’m supposed to be doing with it,’ I insisted.
“‘That’s what we’re all trying to find out,’ Lupin replied quickly, with a quelling look at Sirius, who had been about to answer me. ‘Now, lower your wands, and I guarantee that no ill will come to you-for now. Sirius, you’ll want to let me do this. Hem! Spanky, I apologize in advance for this, but this spell simply has to be done. You know what it does as well as any of us.’
“‘Certainly,’ I said. ‘Since it was an RMB agent who invented it, to save the cost of having a scribe take down a written record of witness interviews. It’s a word-by-word replay of…’
“‘All right, so we all know,’ Black grumbled. ‘Get on with it, Remus.’
“‘Do you consent to be interviewed, then?’ Lupin asked me.
“‘Certainly,’ said I. ‘I have nothing to hide. So long as…’
“‘Yes, I know,’ said Lupin. ‘So long as I limit the spell to relevant conversations within a time frame of, say, three days. Agreed?’
“‘For now,’ Sirius added.
“Pettigrew didn’t say anything. He was still looking pale and pained.
“So I lowered my wands, and Lupin hit me with the curse. And then it all came out-all the stuff I had been ordered to forget about, until I was in the same room with Lily Potter. It was weird hearing Eustace and Orel saying things, out of my own mouth, that I could scarcely remember hearing them say in the first place. But they had said it, hadn’t they? The crystal globe was a device that belonged to Eustace. It was called a Styxberry, and among the ingredients used in making it were essence of boggart, puffskein livers, erlking blood, and the hair of a boojum-which I didn’t even think existed. When smashed, it is supposed to unleash some kind of power that transports everyone in a thirteen-cubit radius to a realm where dreams and nightmares are real. It is basically a reality grenade, and its use, production, and possession have been banned by every wizard and goblin convention since 1549. Oh yes, and I was supposed to walk up to Lily Potter and smash it at her feet. That’s what Orel’s imperius curse was for.
“‘Well, it’s not his fault, really,’ said Lupin, ruefully, after the interrogation was completed.
“‘No,’ Sirius agreed. ‘But he can’t be allowed near the Potters as long as that curse is over him. And since he didn’t know it was on him in the first place, he won’t have begun to fight it off. As soon as he sees Lily, even without this Boojumberry thing, who knows what he’ll do to her?’
“‘So what shall we do with him?’ Pettigrew piped in.
“‘I am sick to DEATH of being talked about, when I’m right here,’ I observed. ‘I might as well have stayed in that sack in Gringotts!’
“‘What would you suggest?’ Lupin asked Pettigrew, ignoring every word that I said.
“‘Killing him would be safest,’ said Pettigrew.
“‘I know,’ said Sirius, ‘but we’ve discussed this before, Peter. That option is not to be discussed until all other choices have been eliminated. You see, Remus, what a bad influence you’ve been?’
“I’m sure the blame is entirely mine,’ said Lupin. ‘But Sirius is right. We mustn’t harm Spanky, since he hasn’t shown any disloyalty to James and Lily.’
“‘Thanks,’ I muttered. ‘Now that I get to live, what are you going to do to me?’
“‘I happen to have a very amusing idea,’ said Lupin. ‘You see, the danger is over once the baby is delivered. The terms of your enslavement were very clear: you were to destroy Lily Potter before she gives birth to the child. Since she is probably doing that as we speak, we only need to keep you here until James comes down the lane with his box of cigars. Ferula. There. Stand still, now. Struggling against the ropes will only increase your discomfort.’
“But something had come over me as soon as the magical ropes from Lupin’s wand wound themselves around me. I began to fight and snarl and foam at the mouth like a mad dog. I ended up rolling about on the ground, trying to get my hands free, and only hurting myself in more places than I care to name. All I wanted to do was break free and get around the Potters’ friends, and be there before the baby was born. But the ropes held, and after a minute or two of struggling, a kind of clarity came over me. I thought to myself, ‘What am I doing? This is ridiculous. There’s no reason that I need to see the Potters now.’ And I stopped struggling. At the same time, however, the pain from my bonds cutting into my arms and legs increased by about fivefold. ‘Ow!’ I yelled.
“‘That’s the ticket,’ said Lupin. ‘I daresay he’s getting over the curse now. And look, no sooner than necessary! Here’s James coming now!’”
+++ Another Pause for RIDDLE TIME! +++
If anyone is still dying to know, here are the answers to the riddles in #43. Barbara’s question was “What am I?” The answer-the human brain. Anonymous asked, “What work do I do?” The answer-he drives a truck (or lorry, if he’s British). If you still don’t get it, please don’t complain to me. That’s what the forums are for!
Here’s a new riddle from Annatar, who claims that it is “much better than the herring one.” You be the judge:
I saw four fine creatures traveling in company;
Their tracks were dark, their trails very black.
The bird that floats in the air swoops less swiftly than their leader;
He dived beneath the wave.
Drudgery was in for the fellow who taught all four of them their ways
On their ceaseless visits to the vessel of gold.
Here is another reader’s contribution (let’s call him E. F.): “If a plane crashes on the border of the U.S. and Canada, where do they bury the survivors?” Er…I don’t know, does that count as a riddle? Is there any simple way to distinguish between a “true riddle” and this kind of brain puzzler or trick question? I welcome your input on this.
And while the rest of you dig through your memories for the best riddles you know, here are a few from literature. Let’s see if you can spot where I got them from; extra credit for knowing the correct answer:
“Out of the eater came something to eat,
And out of the strong came something sweet.”
“Alive without breath,
As cold as death,
Never thirsty, ever drinking,
All in mail yet never clinking.”
“What is this? One slew none and yet killed twelve.”
What happens next? Send us your idea in 150 words or less, and tune in next week for another installment of the Magic Quill.