The Magic Quill #42: Orel Prevention

by Robbie Fischer, concepts contributed by: Leah & Heather

Spanky’s narrative continued:

“I trailed Orel back to his flat in London, which he had filled with a lot of rare and dangerous stuff. One of the things he had was a Pensieve. I was surprised to see it, having read that Dumbledore had rid England of the things, with a few closely guarded exceptions. I had always wanted to mess around with one, and I must admit that I had never understood what was so dangerous about them. I was about to learn a very hard lesson.

“Orel used the Pensieve a great deal during the next few days, while his deadline for dealing with Lily Potter drew near. Finally he seemed to have stirred enough thoughts around in it that a plan took shape. At any rate, there was a sudden change in his mood, from listless anxiety to exuberant energy. When he rushed out of the flat, taking a sack of galleons with him, I decided that he was not coming back very soon, so I broke cover and stole into his flat.

“I quickly found the Pensieve and was delighted to find that Orel had rushed off without removing his thoughts and plans from the bowl. So I plunged in and had a look around. What I found made my blood run cold.

“Evidently, Orel and his associates had gathered a lot of information about Lily Potter, her habits, and her tastes. Orel had pieced together several of her most charming traits and planned his attack through them. For instance, Lily had a weakness for chocolate, loved children, and was constantly throwing money into every charity that appealed to her soft heart. So it seemed that Orel was going to do something dastardly to her in the guise of a Merlin Scout going door to door selling chocolates to collect money so that underprivileged little wizards and witches could buy spellbooks and potion ingredients.

“I knew I had to warn Lily and James. But before I could get out of Orel’s memory, something truly apalling happened. The scoundrel came home, sooner than expected, and made haste to stuff the thoughts in his Pensieve back into his brain. He did not even take the trouble to look for anyone who did not belong in his thoughts. He didn’t seem to know I was there. But I knew what was happening the moment I started seeing the world through Orel’s eyes. He was going to try to murder Lily Potter, and I could do nothing to stop it.

“Words cannot describe how desperate I was. I knew I was doomed whether Orel killed Lily or not. If he succeeded, I would never be able to live with myself, seeing it all from behind the killer’s eyes while powerless to stop it. Plus, James would no doubt hunt Orel down and destroy him before long. And if Orel failed, he was going to get sizzled by You Know Who, probably before I would have a chance to get out of Orel’s brain. Now any of us can imagine how embarrassing it must be to get caught poking through someone else’s memories in a Pensieve. But to escape detection, and get stuck into a person’s brain without any hope of getting out, is a fate I had never dreamt of!

“Things did not look good. I raced around among Orel’s thoughts, unable to get his attention, scarcely daring to try, hoping to find some lever that I could push to move him off his dangerous course. Meanwhile, Orel put a slight shrinking charm on himself, vanished his goatee, conjured up a Merlin Scout’s uniform, and stirred together a potion that was meant to look and taste like chocolate but have the effect of the Draught of Living Death. By the time he had wrapped up the chocolates in pretty little papers, I had only managed to figure out how to make Orel sneeze.

“That night, Orel slept soundly for the first time since I had been following him. I, however, was tormented by all the weird things going on in his subconscious mind. I huddled terrified in a corner, wondering whether the horrid things passing on every side were the afflictions of a guilty conscience, the fantasies of a perverted mind, mere dreams, or even memories of things he had seen in You Know Who’s service. He awoke early, dressed himself in the Merlin Scout’s uniform, gathered up his collecting box and his chocolates, and apparated to a trail in the wood near Godric’s Hollow. In a matter of minutes, Orel was knocking on the Potters’ front door.

“Lily answered, looking radiant as always–no, strike that–more radiant than ever! She was looking very pregnant with little Harry, but she did not seem to be slowing down at all. Her fingers and the tip of her nose were stained with potion ingredients, her hair was loosely tied up, and she held her wand as if the caller had knocked when she was in the middle of doing something that she couldn’t wait to get on with. But when she saw Orel, disguised as a Merlin scout, she forgot about being in a hurry, and beamed at him the way Lily always beamed at children.

“’Is it already that time again?’ she asked. She rubbed her hands together, apparently wishing her fingers weren’t so dirty, because she clearly wanted to pat Orel’s head. Suddenly Orel stood beside me, in his own brain, looking on. ‘The lousy mudblood had better not touch me,’ he growled.

“’You watch your mouth,’ I retorted, and that’s when he noticed me.

“’Who the blazes are you?’ Orel’s hidden self demanded, goggling at me. ‘And what are you doing in my mind?’

“’Please, ma’am,’ said the counterfeit Merlin Scout. ‘Won’t you spare a few galleons for young witches and wizards less fortunate than yourself? In return, we would like you to have a box of these fine nougats as a gift.’

“Meanwhile, the Orel within was trying to bury me in jagged pieces of memories, broken plans, buried dreams, and various other kinds of gibberish. Every time I tried to run from him, I found him in front of me. He was walling me up in his mind.

“Still, I could see and hear what Lily Potter was doing. She bit her lip and twisted her hands, evidently considering a box of those tempting chocolates. Orel, in his youthful form, kept telling her about the lovely caramels and the hazelnut creams. Just when I was ready to give up and let him wall me in—when Lily began digging in her pockets for loose coins—the commotion stopped.

“’I beg your pardon, ma’am?’ Orel asked her, almost forgetting to sound like a polite Merlin Scout.

“’I said, I don’t mind making a donation, but I really must say no to the sweets. I don’t know what they would do to the baby, you know. Ah! Here you go! That should be enough for you to have a box or two for yourself, and some to spare. Good luck, and give my best to Mr. Ladderhold, if he’s still troop leader.’

“’But I really want you to take the sweets,’ Orel insisted, holding the box out to her.

“Lily grinned. ‘That’s very nice of you, but the answer is no. Here, take another galleon. It’s really about those poor children, after all, isn’t it?’

“Orel was growing desperate. In his mind, he was seething with fury. ‘Take the chocolate, you cursèd Muggle,’ his brain roared, forgetting all about me.

“’But ma’am,’ the boy-Orel squeaked, ‘what am I to do with these sweets? I can’t go around selling them twice. People will say I stole the money, or overcharged someone.’

“’Well, if you’re that concerned about it,’ said Lily, ‘I will buy a box then.’

“’Excellent!’ Orel said, a bit too eagerly perhaps.

“’I’ll send it to Mrs. Gwinn up at Golden Branch Farm, just over the hill past the village there. Perhaps you would be so kind as to deliver them with my compliments? I can’t spare the time to go myself, there’s a good boy. Here, have a box for yourself, too. Would you like a receipt?’ With a wave of her wand, she gave him one, and gave him another one of her delightful smiles. ‘You really are the sweetest one they’ve sent round since we’ve lived here. What’s your name again?’

“’Philip Smith,’ lied Orel. His fingers trembled as he took the receipt from Lily. ‘The children thank you,’ he added, almost tearfully. In his brain, he and I stood viewing one scene after another of his destruction by You Know Who. In each scene, a hideous dark figure sneered: ‘You mean to say, she gave you money?’

“’Goodness, you really do care about those children, don’t you?’ Lily exclaimed. ‘I’ve never seen anyone so moved by a donation of three galleons. What year are you at Hogwarts, then?’

“’Won’t you even try one?’ Orel begged. On a sudden inspiration, he ripped open one of the packages. ‘Here, have a caramel from the box you bought for me. Just a taste.’

“’Oh, no, I’ve had too many of those before,’ said Lily. ‘And I have to think of the little one. He’ll have a weakness for sweets in his own time, if I have anything to say about it, but that time is not yet.’ And now she actually did pat the boy’s head, potion-stained fingers and all.

“’Well, have a nice day,’ said Orel miserably, and he turned away. As soon as he was out of sight of the Potters’ house, he apparated to a smoke-filled parlor that had a stuffed mermaid on one wall, and the head of a hippogriff on another. Eustace put down his hookah, brushed a bit of dust off his smoking jacket, and stood up out of a very soft-looking leather chair.

“’I say, Orel, is that you?’ he cried. ‘I never would have put you down for a Phoenix Scout. You don’t look as if it went well. Tell me all about it.’

“’Just a moment,’ said Orel, striding over to the bar below the stuffed mermaid, and pulling yet another unregistered Pensieve out of a hidden drawer. ‘First, I want to introduce you to somebody.’

+++ RIDDLE TIME! +++

The Pensieve scenario in this week’s Magic Quill was inspired by some readers’ feedback about last week’s Pensieve-related riddle. So think about it—could this happen? If it did, it would mean that when Harry (for instance) stuck his head in the Pensieve, he was physically transported into Dumbledore’s or Snape’s memory; he didn’t simply stand there with his head in the bowl, experiencing everything in his mind. So if Snape hadn’t known to look for Harry, or hadn’t chanced to see him before stuffing the memory back into his head, Harry could have been lost in Snape’s brain! This is a major problem with the “physically entering the Pensieve” scenario. However, the other scenario (head only, and the experience of being inside the memory is an illusion) has even more problems, such as: (1) How does Harry see Dumbledore and Snape when they come into their own memories to fetch him out? (2) How is it that he sees and feels Snape’s bruising grip on his arm? (3) How can more than one person’s head fit inside the bowl? Etc.

Do you know any really good riddles (not just Harry Potter-related ones)? I would like to see them. The Red Herring one that the sphinx asked Merlin is the best one I know. Send me a cool riddle and I’ll see if I can find room for it in the story!

Finally, a belated thank you to everyone who kindly wrote to tell me how desperately they missed The Magic Quill while I was moving. No one is happier than I to find myself back at work with my friends at MuggleNet!

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