The Magic Quill #53: Locating Ilona, Part One

by Robbie Fischer, concepts Contributed by: Lauren, Steph, ZapBrainigen, Sarah, and Jessica Parker

As soon as they were settled in their back parlor, Harvey and Sadie resumed pressing Spanky for the story of how he freed his fiancee from the genie’s curse.

“But the others will soon make me repeat it,” said Spanky, “And then the tale will become as tiresome for you as it is for me.”

“Fear not,” said Harvey. “Sadie and I may need to use the plumbing at the Three Broomsticks by then. It’s bound to happen to us eventually.”

“But I’ve already been to the toilet this week,” Sadie objected, prissily.

“Shush,” said Harvey. “Come, now. It is intolerable not to know what happened to you next.”

Spanky opened his mouth to issue another objection; but, seeing that it would be fruitless, he resumed his story where he had left off, a week earlier, before being run over by a flock of wild tricycles.

“James Potter had handed out cigars to his friends Pettigrew, Lupin, and Black, and conjured another one for me. Together we walked up the lane to the Potters’ house, where we found Lily resting with baby Harry on her belly. The joy in her face lit up the room like daylight. She was not alone, either; her special friends, Dorcas Meadowes and Emmeline Vance were sitting by her, pouring tea. Emmeline extinguished our cigars with an irritated wave of her wand.

“’Look who we found sneaking around,’ Black said satirically. Lily and Emmeline showed surprise and delight at my appearance. Dorcas, of course, never took her eyes off Black the whole time he was in the room, but even she seemed surprised that I was there. Lily at once started asking me questions, mainly about the scuff-marks all over me, but James and Emmeline told her to take it easy, and I assured her that I was all right.

“’So it’s a boy after all,’ said Pettigrew, who, for some reason, looked distressed. He kept twisting his hands together nervously, and almost seemed to want to cry.

“’Yes, and how like his father he is,’ Lupin murmured.

“’In every way but one,’ James said, beaming with pride as he sat down on the side of Lily’s bed.

“’And he was born before midnight,’ Pettigrew added, even more miserably. ‘A July baby, almost to the last second.’

“’If you’re going to start reading the child’s fortune, I’m leaving,’ Black said with mock gravity.

“’I’m so happy for you both,’ Lupin assured the Potters.

“’I feel as if I haven’t so much lost a mother as gained a brother,’ Black said, even more facetiously.

“’Don’t be absurd,’ James cried. ‘You have a brother already!’

“’I hope you are not referring to that purblind creature who calls himself…’

“James stood up and seized Black by the shoulders. ‘You know who I meant,’ said James. ‘And that’s why I’m asking you, Sirius, to stand godfather to my firstborn son.’

“For the first time in all the years I had known Sirius Black, I saw him struck speechless. His lips moved, but no sound came. Everyone—except, I suppose, Dorcas Meadowes—was obliged to turn away and pretend to be interested in other things. I fidgeted with the quenched cigar that was still in my hand, praying that someone would speak up before the scene became quite embarrassing.

“’A toast!’ Pettigrew blurted.

“Everyone stared round at him. Emmeline was about to make a cutting remark, but Lupin came to the rescue and said it was a brilliant idea, and he asked Peter to help him browse the cellar. ‘Everyone always said Peter had a gift for finding things in cellars,’ Emmeline remarked after they had left, but James was in no spirits to let such a slighting remark go by. ‘I think it was a grand thought, Peter’s,’ said James. ‘Poorly executed, perhaps; but I do feel that the fullness of his heart was behind it. Besides, there are so many bottles down there, even I haven’t seen the half of them. If we don’t drink them, who will?’

“’What was that noise?’ Black said, moving swiftly to the window.

“’Oh, come away from there, Sirius,’ Lily sighed. ‘The danger is over now. Harry is already doing what the Death Eaters had threatened to prevent—he’s breathing the world’s air.’

“’Harry?’ I asked. ‘Is that his name?’

“’Harry James,’ Lily replied, stroking the small, towel-wrapped form on her belly. For a while we all stood there in wonder, watching the minute rise and fall of little Harry’s torso as he snored for the first time. All except Sirius, that is, who kept darting anxious glances toward the window.

“After a while, Pettigrew and Lupin returned, hauling between them a reed-basket filled with chips of no-melt ice and a clutch of wine bottles. ‘You won’t believe some of the vintages we saw down there,’ Lupin said brightly. ‘Some I’ve never heard of. Come, Sirius, have you ever seen a bottle quite like this?’

“I turned and looked at what Lupin had in his hands, and my insides went ice-cold. Sirius said no, he hadn’t seen anything from that label before, but before he was done speaking a strange voice said, ‘I’ve seen one like it.’ And I realized, as the strange voice spoke, that it was my own.

“But there was no time to reflect any further. For at that moment, all the windows blazed with a sudden, ghastly, flickering light—like the flame of something foul and poisonous, encircling the entire house in a blazing ring so intense, and so tall, that it still amazes me that the Muggles down the road didn’t see it.

“And then I heard a voice that was really quite familiar—the voice of Eustace, the death eater who had imperiussed me before. The voice of Eustace, magically magnified from somewhere outside, said:

“’You are quite surrounded by dampening spells. You will find apparition, floo powder, and portkeys to be quite useless. No one will escape alive unless you do as I say. And I say: James Potter, come out alone with the child, and we will leave everyone else unharmed. You have exactly thirty seconds.’

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