The Magic Quill #24: The Interview

by Robbie Fischer, concepts contributed by: Bexy & Dave

“Well, since you’’ve seen my face now, I might as well show you this,” said Spanky, pulling a dog-eared magazine out of his cloak. It was a very old issue of Broom and Wand, with the caption “Who Will Laugh Last?” and a picture of two angry young wizards brandishing wands at each other. One of them was Spanky. The other was…

“Hey, I know him,” Merlin exclaimed. “Why, he’’s–”

“Shmedly,” said Spanky. “I don’t care what name you know him by. That name is not spoken around me. I’’ve even altered the text of this interview so that I don’’t have to hear it. I would rather hear the entire Three-Sickle Opera sung to the words ‘Lord Voldemort.’ So let’s just keep calling him Shmedly, right?”

The others murmured agreement as Spanky flipped the well-thumbed pages to the interview. “This was done between our Team duel and the final of the Freestyle event. Even though our side was clearly ahead of Romania in the Galleon race, they had beaten us a couple of times and, as you can see, the press was aware that we were closely matched and bitter rivals. So this sporting journal decided to do a double interview, and our team coach decided it was a good idea. Ah! Here it is. Touch your wand-tips there.”

Five wand-tips emerged from various robes and invisibility cloaks and touched a little blank square beneath the headline of the interview. All at once, the wizards and witches around the parlor table found themselves in a dingy little office furnished with three stools. They gathered around, watching the two young duelers glowering at each other from either side of a bald, barrel-chested man whose Quick Quotes Quill was scribbling away.

“Wow,” said Endora. “I forgot they used to do this pop-up kind of thing, before the duty on mnemonic ink went–”

“Shush!” warned Sadie. “They’re about to begin!”

INTERVIEWER: Testing, testing. Excellent. This is Bo Dwyer, feature writer for Broom and Wand, covering the Hogsmeade Owlympics. With me today are Spanky Spankison, four-time Galleon-winning captain of the English duelling team, and his sometime schoolmate and Romanian opposite-number, Sid Shmedly. Throughout the duelling events so far, the wizarding world has been riveted by the obviously fierce competition between your teams–especially between the two of you. I wonder, Sid, is this a personal thing, or is it purely a sporting rivalry?

SHMEDLY: Oh dear me, no, there’s nothing personal about it at all. In fact, Spanky and I are dear old compatriots. Aren’t we, Old Spank?

“I always hated that man,” whispered Merlin, confidentially, as the interviewer put the same question to young Spanky.

“Shmedly?” said Harvey. “I suppose that’s natural. Though he is a smashing good whist player.”

SPANKISON: Well, actually, Bo, we loathe…

SHMEDLY: We loathe having to face each other with our wands drawn. It’s always been this way, but we seem fated to be at opposite ends of a major duel. But having a worthy opponent, one who is so nearly your equal in almost every aspect of the game, is what makes competition so rewarding…

The present-day Spanky ground his teeth almost as loudly as the image of his younger self.

DWYER: I understand that, in spite of your avowed mutual friendship, you come from very different personal and political backgrounds. Mr. Spankison, is it true that you are Muggleborn?

SPANKISON: Actually, Bo–not that I think it matters one bit–I’m a halfblood. My father, you see, was an Animagus who did some dangerous work in the Forties against the Dark Lord of that time. He was the head of an anti-Grindelwald cell in the Bavarian Alps (this was shortly after my mother conceived me), and he was helping witches and wizards escape Grindelwald’s followers. Apparently Grindelwald got wise and conjured a huge blizzard that buried their whole village under yards of snow. Everyone would have perished, trapped for weeks in a snowed-under ski lodge, had not Dad turned into a dormouse and burrowed his way out of the snowdrift. Then he scurried for help and somehow got it, but he must have run into some other dark workings of Grindelwald’s, because he was never able to convert into a man again. He was sent home in a cigar box, and my mother took care of him for the rest of his life; but she herself was a Muggle and could not do much to support my older sisters and me. So she sent me to live in Mangeford with my Aunt Violet, my father’s sister, who was a squib and married to the owner of the local alehouse, known as the Dog Biscuit. I washed dishes for them and took magic lessons from the landlord, Lionel Nib–

SHMEDLY (yawning): I daresay, I love hearing about your sordid personal history, my dear Spankimus Maximus, but chiefly at bedtime. Suffice it to say that your heritage is as patchy as a calico cat, and you could draw up your wizarding pedigree on a cigarette paper, which would then be all the more suitable to roll up, daub with saliva, and ignite.

DWYER: Oho! Listen to the man! What a delicious example of the–I’m sure–friendlyribbing that keeps your competitive natures on edge. What do you say to that, Spankster?

SPANKISON: I’m sure I don’t know, Blow–I beg your pardon–Bo. It’s only that I sincerely do not understand what difference a wizard’s pedigree makes. I believe I and my teammates are proving that wizards of mixed or even non-magical heritage can perfom just as well as–

SHMEDLY: I wonder what my dear friend thinks the word “prove” means. As I understand the word, it involves the slow, patient, exhaustive application of an impartial research method on both a focus group (say, for example, wizards) as well as a control group–such as Muggles. This is precisely what the wizarding race has been doing, through centuries of refining and proving the wizarding bloodline, while mavericks and sports like this–

SPANKISON: Bloodline, shmoodline! Did you hear yourself say the words wizarding race? What about the human race, Sid? Aren’t you a member of that?

SHMEDLY: But you see, Spanky, for a Muggle that term means something quite different from what it means to a wizard. For a Muggle, there is nothing else for a person to be; you’re either a human being or you’re no being at all. So there is nothing in particular to inspire his loyalty to mankind, nothing to measure himself against. For a wizard, it is different. A wizard coexists with other beings, like goblins and centaurs and so forth, so a wizard has a stake in maintaining the superiority of his order of beings. And therefore it is in wizardkind, not in mankind, that I take my place with pride.

SPANKY: But why do you hate Muggles so much, Sid? They’re human too, aren’t they? What did they ever do to you?

SHMEDLY: It’s not so much what they’ve done as what they haven’t done, and cannot do. I sometimes wonder whether Muggles are people at all.

DWYER: Now wait just a moment, Sid. I’ll have you know–

SHMEDLY: Yes, yes, yes, let’s take it as already said. It’s not that I’m angry at Muggles, or what have you. None of their feeble witch hunts or witch trials or witch burnings ever harmed a true wizard. They’re like ants running around on the anthill, building and feeding and conspiring and conquering and murdering each other, all unaware of the wide world outside of the anthill. The real world is unknown to them; perhaps it is they who are not real.

SPANKY: You make it sound so sophisticated, but all it boils down to is senseless hatred and a blind sense of your own superiority!

SHMEDLY: There’s nothing blind about it. Muggles are the ones who are blind. Or rather, our world strives to keep them in the dark, to keep them unaware of our existence. Why should it be so? Why should we not work our magics in the open, in full view of all? Why should we hide from them? They cannot harm us, but we can harm them. They should hide from us!

SPANKY (surging to his feet): Those are the words of a dark wizard!

DWYER (flustered): Well, this has been an interesting avenue of discussion, but let’s get back to the upcoming Freestyle final…

SHMEDLY (calm, scornful): Spanky, Spanky, Spanky! You are so stuck in the past, afraid of the future. Why should true beings hide their nature, while mere talking animals go about their dumb-show? Why should we protect their delicate sense of reality? Why shouldn’t we step forth boldly and show ourselves to be what we are? Why shouldn’t Muggles learn to adjust to the reality that there is magic in the world, and the right destiny of mankind is to be ruled by magic?

SPANKY (spitting with fury): Right? You dare to speak of right?

DWYER (very loudly): So, Mr. Spankison, since your less-than-stellar showing in the Freestyle event at Nationals, what have you done to strengthen your routine?

SHMEDLY: Yes, right! How many Muggles did you tread on in order to hoist yourself onto that high horse? I happen to know another heartwarming anecdote from your adolescence, Spankison. I happen to know about that Muggle sweetheart in Mangeford, to whom you gave a salamander on Bonfire Night. What became of that poor girl? I wonder, did her family rebuild their hovel after it burnt down, or did they move as far away from your dear Mr. Niblet’s lands as they could?

SPANKY (pulling out both wands): I’ll take you right here, you smug b–

“Silencio!” cried Harvey. The escalating mayhem went on in silence while the older Shmedly stood, stoop-shouldered, in the corner. “I think that will do nicely. Shall we go back to our cozy little parlor and wash this bitter memory down with a nice drink?”

Spanky nodded wearily, waved his wand, and the scene disappeared. Two invisible figures, one veiled, one masked and one hooded sighed deeply, and picked up their still-steaming goblets.

“Well, I take it your Freestyle match was something to remember,” said Sadie, sardonically.

“That, if I remember well,” said Harvey, “is the understatement of the night. May I warm up your drinks, chaps?”

What happens next? Send us your idea in 150 words or less, and tune in next week for another installment of the Magic Quill.