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solo hedwig ~~this is a mystery vh34

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#1 Hedwig Lane-Foley

Hedwig Lane-Foley

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Posted 10 January 2017 - 09:14 AM

June 21st, 2036

 

 

Summer was hot, but the night didn’t know it: the moon above London opened like a monstrous eye, and the air was thick in her exhale. Her breath was like the moon, too, as Hedwig walked the lanes of Knockturn Alley, breathing, each foot clacking, beating, taking her closer to home. She breathed, and the stars gleamed thickets in the upward brine. Her route was a tactile thread, felt with her fingers as she walked them along the brick walls (cold), through her boot heels (colder), the shoe soles wet with mud.

 

Her mobile buzzed exactly twenty minute past midnight.

 

almost home?

 

It was difficult to type with the nibs of numbed hands, but Hedwig managed an estimate.

 

10mins topsx

 

It had been two months since she and Dictys had moved to Knockturn Alley. They’d rented a terraced house next to a used broom shop—theirs the bright red door at the end of a lane that bent like an old man’s knee. It was a stone’s throw away from the main, busy hub, but it granted some illusion of privacy. When they wanted more action, they went to their rooftop (they’d always loved rooftops) to watch the city by night, with all of its riotous, splendorous filth. 

 

Hedwig didn’t have to walk home, but she loved Knockturn best where she could hear it. Glass shards flattened; her skull rung with the brass of faraway sirens; her eardrums soft with the slapped-speech of passerby mouths, drunkenly professing. Each sound from the street wavering, each sound groaned, eating the air thick with hot promise. It was the distinction of a calm made beautiful only because of disorder, as she loved it, as she loved this place to be.

 

Half-dreaming then with a rusted heart, Hedwig almost missed it: 

 

There was a boy, tugging at the buttons of her coat.

 

“Sorry. Sorry, Miss. I didn’t mean to disturb.”

 

Lamplight greased long and yellow on his oval-shaped face. He couldn’t have been any older than fourteen: more like twelve if Hedwig had the guess of it. His eyes were hard (black), older—but his hands betrayed his age. He wore pale blue gloves frayed at the thumbs, worn through with biting and saliva. A nervous habit, she supposed. Something of childhood.

 

“You shouldn’t have muggle things out around these parts.” He nodded towards Hedwig’s mobile. “It isn’t safe for strangers.”

 

“Speak for yourself. It's late." Hedwig was out even later than usual, filing reports a co-worker at Mudgrove & Mudgrove had neglected for a flu. It wasn’t the hour for someone so young, even in Knockturn. The roar of lawless brooms; lovers touching windows; the breath of human speech.

 

“Do your parents know you're out?”

 

"It's fine."

 

"Are you sure?" she pressed. "I wouldn't want my kid on the streets this time of night. Do you know what time it is? Doesn't anyone—"

 

“I’m fine.”

 

The bursting of beer cans; the slinging of metal where it did not belong. 

 

"Not that it's really my business," Hedwig finished lamely. 

 

“It’s fine," (the boy corrected it quickly). "They're at home. I was putting the bins out. But, cheers for looking out.” 

 

"Like I said, isn't my business."

 

He grinned. (Now where had she seen a smile like that?)

 

“Well, have a good—”

 

“Theft, however, is my business—most days—at least when it’s mine.” Hedwig brandished an open palm. “Gimme it.”

 

If the thief was slow at the grab, he was quick at dropping pretences.

 

“No.”

 

She laughed.

 

“You can’t prove anything, lady,” he countered, moving in from the last of their shadows. Hedwig could see his face properly for the first time: more than dark eyes or shivering hands. Hedwig's assailant had hair like he'd been caught in a firestorm, uprooted and twisted in neglectful, wave-shorn disarray. No longer worried, he looked to her like a mistreated mop, or maybe a particularly oblong coconut. Hedwig had yet to decide. 

 

“Who knows, hm? Maybe you’re just trying to bully a child, touch a child when you caught him alone. I could tell the mob. They’d believe me.”

“Maybe.” She shrugged. “But who’s here now to hear you scream?”  Insert fake, maniacal laugh. 

 

Surprisingly, it wasn’t her phone she found but a box of pilfered Pixie Stix plucked from behind the other's head, suspended (he’d cast a spell, somehow) in moonlight. Regardless, Hedwig pulled a strand and bit it cheerily between her front teeth. She winked. The boy scowled, and Hedwig laughed louder, and (so) the boy scowled more. His peaked face crumpled like a pool of wet leaves.

 

“You’re the worst," he told her. 

 

It wasn't like Hedwig could disagree with him.

 

“So, what’s your name?” 

 

“What’s it to you? Going to harass me again? Tell the police to kidnap me from my bed, then enslave me for your sick, twisted pleasure?

 

If petty crime didn’t work out for the kid, he really did have a flair for the theatre.

 

“I’m all good on sick and twisted, but thanks.”

 

“Whatever."

 

“Whatever’s a nice name.”

 

“Ugh.”

 

“Even better!”

 

“I’m leaving.”

 

A wild cat sung to its food; a street witch hissed through her thick, webbed gums; a broken record droned with the muted, recorded wailings of a jobberknoll; ahead, a fierce, petulant stranger took the steps to disappear.

 

Hedwig tossed him the remainder of her candy. It hit to the back of his neck, but he startled as though she’d cast stone.

 

“I’m on your side, yeah?” Hedwig called out. “Just ask next time. And if you ever want a proper meal, ask around for Hedwig. I make the best lemon pancakes.” She grinned. The boy did not. He craned past his shoulder to watch her, unblinking. Even from her distance, each threaded lash seemed as thick as a clock arm. He grabbed the box from the road, but he did not thank her. 

 

"The worst," he repeated. 

 

Hedwig didn't mind. After all, Hedwig had a soft spot for criminals. Why else would she be here?

 

As he faded from her sightline, she texted Dictys:

 

sry! got caught up

 

i was making new friends  ;)


Edited by Hedwig Lane-Foley, 19 January 2017 - 05:17 AM.


#2 Hedwig Lane-Foley

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Posted 11 January 2017 - 11:58 PM

June 28th, 2036

 

 

It would take another week until Hedwig saw him again, lost in the rinse and repeat of new routine. Wake up, work, return. Wake up, work.... By Saturday, it was blissful to shake it off in favour of the streets. She’d kidnapped Elodie as her willingly wilful companion for the morning shop—Elodie, who spent the majority of their time alternating between cursing and silence. As it always was.

 

“Lighten up,” Hedwig cooed. “It isn’t that hot.”

 

Elbows knocked into carts; carts knocked into their patrons in reprisal. They kept to the sides of the roads, avoiding the worst of it, but Hedwig’s best friend was, as ever, the unavoidable hit.

 

“Of course you’d say that,” Elodie muttered. “You looove the heat. You probably planned this. You probably—”

 

But Hedwig had already stopped listening, perfected after years of (loving) practice. Elodie was wrong. As much as her vanity might blossom in irregular weather, Hedwig didn’t care for the summer. It was too bright. There were too many people. In the summer, Hedwig belonged too much to the rest of world. It was better November to spring, she thought, when she had her birthday and Elodie’s, Galen’s, then Christmas, anniversaries, and her boyfriend’s birthday, too. After May, there was nothing left to celebrate, and she missed it, somehow, that generous stillness, in the slips of the every day life. Hedwig had no reason for it but she longed for 4 o’clock evenings, the hang of warm coats on cold floors, a bedroom empty of sunlight. (Hedwig never really felt like herself in the summer. Not that it mattered. Not that it would.)

 

“What about this one?” she asked. Elodie, however, had stopped her complaining in favour of a sulk; Hedwig poked her.

 

“Elodie.” She held the hybrid fruit closer to the other’s nose, rhubarb spliced with something sickly and black—but most importantly cheap, and magical, and Elodie’s nose had never betrayed her when it came to poison. You could never be too sure in Knockturn Alley.

 

“Elodie, Lodie, Low-Fat Milk," classic, "could you be helpful for like—”

 

“Shut up. Somebody’s watching.”

 

Hedwig went quiet as Elodie peered beyond the bumps of Hedwig’s substantial hair buns, but otherwise continued disturbingly sorting through ‘Old Nan’s Used Fruit’ stand, trying to appear as though nothing was amiss.

 

“Watching like: ‘wow those girls are hot but I respect them’ watching us; or ‘wow it’s that werewolf!’; or ‘mug and murder maybe soon’ watching us?”

 

“It’s a kid.”

 

So, none of the above?

 

Hedwig matched the line of Elodie’s gaze, and she spotted him, sitting on the steps next to a vendor selling deep fried Acromantula. The last fruit: her coconut.

 

“You think a kid can hurt us?” Hedwig snorted, returning to palm a square watermelon. Fair that given the pair's history it wasn’t very far off, but this seemed extreme, even for Elodie. After all, Elodie was supposed to be the smart one.

 

“Anyways,” she said. “I know him. I caught him trying to steal from me last week. I’m sure he’s just put off and staring.” She waved at him and the small boy startled. Hedwig thought she might buy him a spider leg if he stuck around for long enough—or if Elodie could keep herself sane.

 

“He isn’t any kid,” Elodie said (so it was a 'no' on the sanity). “He’s one of the Banks Brothers.”

 

“Oookay,” Hedwig drawled. “Like this is some gangster film from the 1940s?”

 

“No muggle references, and no: he’s been on a notice board up in Helvellyn, along with his two brothers. That one’s Knut, the others are Sickle and Galleon. I heard that—”

 

“Seriously?”

 

“Shut up. They’ve been caught stealing Wolfsbane Potion. He stole from me last I was here.”

 

“Sucks to be you.”

 

Elodie ignored her; Hedwig considered it karma.

 

“We can’t figure out how, but he and his brothers have been on the scene every time one of the werewolves go to Knockturn to pick up new bottles. I’ve started having to make batches for everybody instead, so of course they’ve started taking the ingredients, too. Not that we’ve ever caught them in the act.”

 

“How’d you know it’s him?”

 

“You aren’t listening.”

 

“Never do.”

 

Elodie frowned. Another push, and Hedwig would wind up getting shoved, but honestly, Hedwig's skin had built up an immunity to bruising after twelve (cherished but violent) years of friendship.

 

“They’ve been here every time it’s happened,” Elodie continued, “but never anywhere close enough to catch. It makes no sense, but that’s the evidence. If you want to make yourself useful, I’d let your snog-mate know to tell his mob friends. It can’t be good for Knockturn’s… reputation.”

 

Of course.

 

“I texted you about this last week,” she finished, finally sniffing the fruit, approving, and dropping it unceremoniously in Hedwig’s tote bag.

 

“I remember,” Hedwig said, “but it was a lot, and you know how I feel about reading.”

 

There was a long, drawn out sigh.

 

“Whatever. Just, I’m surprised you didn’t know about them. You’re the one who lives here. Don’t you know your own home?”

 

Hedwig couldn’t say it didn’t cut. She returned to looking at ‘Knut’, the youngest in a line of three, watching through the slits of her eyelashes.

 

“He’s just a kid,” she answered instead. Elodie snorted. 

 

“We were kids once. Remember?” Were they? Did she? Sometimes, Hedwig really couldn’t say. Little Hedwig Lane-Foley with her oversized hair and neon-blind clothes—all beauty, all teeth, Quidditch shins and snivelling attempts at higher approval. Her body before Elodie seemed unconsidered. Her body before Galen too light. Her body before Dictys was entirely hollow.

 

Sometimes Hedwig wondered what it would have been like if she’d stayed in Wales, rooted in the summers of her past. By all accounts, that’s the story that made the most sense; the one she was meant to have lived—a life without magic, without werewolves, or other, more beautiful creatures. Hedwig was born for the summer. Before Hogwarts, she’d lived for warm months, for lethargy and bathing suit tops, punch bowls mixed with counterfeit sugars, the stick of teenagers’ too-red mouthsexpected to grow up kissing to boys’ necks in swimming pools, unashamed (their skins hot, good, but distant, she reasoned, when they never touched anything back). It would have been easier, she knew, to be muggle and absent from the favours of supernatural love. The caring of the magical, however blessed, assumed sacrifice. (But these were other things that did not matter.) 

 

Knut hadn’t stopped watching her in all this time, intrigued or disturbed, so she blew him a kiss (now he was 100% the latter). He looked hot and uncomfortable as he turned from her, a toy dragon trailing behind him as he vanished in the side of a street. He was sad, even, if Hedwig allowed a third descriptor. But the first, Hedwig could do nothing about. Not even a witch could change the weather.

 

It was a bright, beautiful day in the slums of Knockturn Alley.

 

It was two weeks before the kidnappings would really begin.


Edited by Hedwig Lane-Foley, 18 January 2017 - 11:46 PM.


#3 Hedwig Lane-Foley

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Posted 14 January 2017 - 03:07 AM

July 3rd, 2036

 

 

“I’ll give you one thing, Knut Banks, you're a hard one to find.”

 

“You've got to be kidding me.”

 

Hedwig stood at the gates of the cemetery, decidedly dramatic, staring the little boy down. It was one of Knockturn’s many, more ‘special’ sorts of attractions: a cemetery in that it wasn’t a cemetery as much as a coiling lot stippled with tombstones, but without any dead. Anyone else might have called it a park, but ‘Verity’s Graveyard’ was a pun of sorts, something Knockturn residents could claim with their grim sense of humour. Stones razored like shark teeth, its fog hammocked in a violet haze. It was just the sort of place a boy like Knut would choose for his lesser haunts. Never mind that the majority of London's ghosts took residence in the park in the nighttime. It was no place for a boy so young, although Hedwig was beginning to think that nowhere in Knockturn could be past the hour: in a sky whose light was fading, an ocean's wash into the night. 

 

“Total crup at stealing,” she pushed on, “but you know how to hide. I had to flirt with two different vendors to find you, and one of them didn't need hands to get handsy." 

 

“What is this.”  

 

“The first,” Hedwig was undeterred; she cast a hovering charm, and she lifted from the rift between the road and the grounds “—he mentioned I might find you next to ‘Beard Trimmings’, which was useless—but a nice witch there, hairy woman, said you liked to hang around Verity’s, and here you are.”

 

“Are you, like, obsessed with me or something? Is that what’s happening here?”

 

“But the second was helpful right away.” She landed. Hedwig wielded her purse in-between them as though she were presenting the Boy King with a bounty—and perhaps she was. Wickedly, the young woman grinned, her mouth like the waning of the spectral moon. “She knew your favourite food.”

 

From her leopard print bag, Hedwig pulled two plates, two knives, a fork, a spoon she’d yet to transfigure, and an arched silver tray.

 

“Well, three of your favourites," she clarified. "Goblin didn’t seem to know if it was eggs, sweet syrup, or Cauldron Cakes. So I brought all three.” Knut swore. “You can have a plate if you let me join you.”

 

He looked at her as though he'd been confuded. Black eyes dazed, incredulous. 

 

“Good Merlin,” he said finally, “you’re actually the worst.” There was a reason Hedwig hadn’t corrected him the first time.

 

“Fine, fine, but the werewolf isn’t getting her things back.”

“I didn’t expect her to.” Elodie’s potions would be soliders to the cause.

 

“And we’re eating at the gates, where someone can see you, in case you try anything funny.”

“Cross my heart.” Hope to, well.... 

 

Knut grabbed the plates and began to dig in before Hedwig had even lain out the blanket. His teeth tore in like three-headed a dog, every mouth, all slobber, speed, and enthusiasm, but Hedwig kept herself quiet. She had five siblings, so Hedwig knew the trick to endearment was patience, silence, and mountains of food. She wouldn't spoil the war for the merits of a battle. 

 

Don’t you know your own home? She would: even if it took sitting at the sides of a not-really-graveyard with an underage stranger, eating in the dirt of a fallow crypt. Hedwig was resolved (and pity anything, anyone, at the brunt of her ambitions).

 

“My brothers told me about you, too, you know,” Knut said after he'd already devoured three cauldron cakes, four hard-boiled eggs, and half a jar of syrup. “Saw us in the alley that night, said you were that Dictys Ator's woman.” 

 

Cool, good to know feminism is dead.

 

“They said that made you linked to Belladonna, that I should keep away.” 

 

Hedwig chewed calmly at her patch of scrambled eggs. Belladonna and his 'Beautification Club' were meant to keep their Alley clean of sordid, unnecessary crimes. She could see why petty thieves would want to keep to themselves, i.e. away from Dictys, and thus, away from her. 

 

“And what did you say?” 

 

“Nothing. S’how I got this.” It was hard enough to see where they were seated, relying on moonlight for sight, settled away from the main alley, the stacks of impossible, terrible people, friends, loved ones and peers, but Hedwig should have noticed the bruise before: at the crest of his wrist, its black, laced web as dense as a sponge. 

 

“I’ve had better,” Knut added. “You should have seen last week’s—stick around,” he laughed; the sound bit at the crux of his throat, “I’ll have others.”

 

There were some things no one could make beautiful. 

 

“Your brothers don’t sound like very nice people," Hedwig said plainly. 

“Most people aren’t.” Knut looked to his plate. “And they aren’t my brothers, not really.” He swirled his eggs into syrup, back and forth—and back. “Not by blood.”

 

She couldn’t blame him for his distinction. Hedwig, however, had chosen water over blood since her Seventh Year. 

 

“Were they the two boys I saw you with in the market?” she asked.  

 

“Yeah.”

“Well then… I didn’t want to say anything, but if you’re not related, their faces are pretty messed up.”

 

Hedwig reached over to pinch his cheek, and Knut nearly knocked himself off into an open grave in his protest.

 

“I shoulda known you weren’t a part of the gene pool. You’re too much of a cutie.”

 

“I knew it! I knew you’d harass me!”

 

“Awww.”

 

“Assault,” he shouted, “assault!”

 

Satisfied, the witch leaned back to an unmarked tombstone (‘John Smith, Never Dead’) and forked another mouthful of dough.

 

“Definitely a cutie,” she repeated. Knut scowled, but the child’s lines drew more lightly than they had before.

 

Hedwig had become an adult through a violent act. She did not know what it was to age with tenderness, but she had cause to preserve what was soft. It was only through loss that she’d learned how to love the vulnerable: those people better and purer than she was (than she had been). 

 

“So,” Knut started again after some time. He swallowed, slowly. Slowly, “You don’t want anything from me?”

 

“Just eat,” she said. “You’re as skinny as a wand.”

“Shut up.” He stuck her with a spoonful of syrup, and a fondness struck, too, with reason this time: Elodie, Hedwig realised, he reminded her of Elodie. The smile wasn’t Elodie (that feature Hedwig had yet to wholly consider), but the attitude? Hedwig licked off the glob of amber syrup with a thumb to her nose.

 

“I don’t want anything from you.”

 

There was the chewing of two taut mouths; torchlight, flickering, smooth; ghosts of the unloved; the sounds of the almost-sleeping, wrenched over bintops outside of the gate, tipping their exhausted bottles, drawing circles in salt with their hands for protection in the nighttime. It was a muggle-type magic: an old wives’ tale, like hair of the dog, a rabbit’s foot. Like chicken in a bowl of warm soup.

 

“Okay,” he answered her. Softly. Okay.

 

They agreed to make it a triweekly occurrence (only, only for her food, Knut stressed), coming together every Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday for a late-night meal. Hedwig made these other times more nutritious (she didn’t serve him in a graveyard, either, however unused). Hedwig brought Knut to a diner, a restaurant, a dragon-themed café, where the waiters breathed fire when they brought you your food (tacky, exceptional). He said that he hated it; she said he was lying. Knut wasn't a friend, and it wasn’t enough, but it felt like something of a start: something that could be hers, and useful. (Hedwig liked to be useful.) She didn’t tend gardens, but she’d planted a seed. She could water the corners without plucking the weeds, as her boyfriend might: tending to this dense, metaphorical jungle that was his childhood home. But Hedwig favoured water to blood, she knew, that blessed first week before Knockturn showed up in the paper. 


Edited by Hedwig Lane-Foley, 18 January 2017 - 11:43 PM.


#4 Hedwig Lane-Foley

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Posted 19 January 2017 - 12:47 AM

The kidnappings didn’t happen the first week. The first week, she and Dictys had rescued another, stray dog (both words), and they’d busied themselves in four straight days of slobber and fur. It was an easy tide, rolling between the wet of jellied noses, the sore of loved mouths, those rarer days that Dictys had free.

 

July was kinder than the month before it, but its sympathies petered and filled: at the start, doting; by its end…. Hedwig wore through the dates in a whiplash memory, her images skimming, the dialogue spurned, as all the while the headlines built up in the news. 

 

July 7th

 

 

She and Knut ate floating pancakes and played a game of ‘Time-Turner’: debating where they’d go, what they’d do, who they’d kill, who to save....

 

On the phone, Dictys decided to play too.

 

“Voldemort.”

 

“You’d kill—”

 

“His Dark Hole-y-ness,” he said, “and not as a baby. I’d take him as a teenager so I could punch him in his face before he died; I’d make him look like an idiot.”

 

But Dictys was the idiot (or maybe it was her: that kernel inside of her chest which glowed with the constancy of happiness).

 

“Well,” Hedwig said, “I’d go back to tell you you have cats.”

 

July 8th

 

 

“You’re eleven?”

 

“Don’t get your—” “Careful” “—in a twist. I start school in September.”

 

“September?" Hedwig pulled him beneath their umbrella by the nape of a speckled neck, snatching him back when he forced her away, his palms splintered, nails burned. 

 

"Do you have a wand? Your textbooks, your—”

 

“No.”

 

“Shopping. We are definitely going shopping.”

 

“You're such a woman."

"Yes."

"Or maybe just a Hufflepuff." 

 

“Now that... might be the worst thing you've ever said to me." 

 

“Maybe to your face.”

 

Pushing, laughing…

 

“Don’t take it personal," Knut said later, "it’s just because you’re crazy and you know good food, and you’re… because you’re okay, I guess. So far.”

 

These were the good days, the difference between the clatter of a sunrise and shadows it cast in emptying beds, sleeping in left-behind clothes. 

 

“But mostly it’s the crazy bit," he asserted. 

 

July 10th

 

 

Hedwig taught Knut his first lesson about flying on a broom (yowling as he tumbled to cobblestone, and then asked, "Can we do that again?")and it broke in the muscles of her heart, those chambers unspooling with blood and with midnight, with spell words and memorable filth. What it was to dwell in those evenings, in the centralness of her favourite things. Someday, Hedwig felt she just might include him in the list. Her people, her home, and all that she loved. More importantly than love, however, was that she had chosen them. Somehow, Hedwig felt she always would.

 

July 11th

 

 

Augustina Greenroot, Head of Wizengamot Administration Services, has been reported as missing since Tuesday, July 8th. Ms. Greenroot was last seen around 11:30am in London’s notorious Knockturn Alley. She was purchasing a Hangman’s Rope. If you have any information as to the whereabouts of—

 

“Have you seen this?” Hedwig fanned out ‘The Daily Prophet’ out on messed kitchen table, still stained with the ink-mark of tea bags she and Dictys had neglected in the rub of their newer routine.

 

“No,” he said. “But I know of it.”

 

“Oh." Of course. "Right."

 

Who they’d kill, who they’d save… But these were the things they could not discuss.

 

July 12th

 

 

A second snatching.

 

July 13th

 

 

A third.

 

July 14th

 

 

It wasn’t them, Dictys assured her.

 

“That, at least, I can tell you. You know we’d never—Wilbur, the others—I wouldn’t—”

 

So long as he was on his probationary period, Dictys wasn't allowed to disclose Belladonna's investigations with any outsiders, and he stumbled now in that secrecy, tongue between love and his loyalty. Dictys's trust, however, was never the issue in question, and Hedwig rarely allowed herself the extravagance of worry, the pinchings of a gratuitous heart. She saw no need to be niggled by the things they could not control. 

 

She kissed him, forgiving. (There was nothing to forgive.)

 

“I know, my love. I know.”

 

July 15th

 

 

Knut didn’t like to talk about anything personal, most days, but he assured her he wasn’t worried about being taken, although he wouldn’t say why.

 

“It’s about power,” he explained, their sixth visit. "What would I have? That's why you keep your secrets close, so no one can use them to hurt you.”

 

“Or help," Hedwig said. 

 

The boy laughed simply.

 

“My biggest secret’s my favourite thing. It changes every week. Uncover that, and you’ll have everything you need.”

 

"For?" He didn't answer her. 

 

Hedwig tried Knut's favourite colour, favourite word (all failed)…

 

His favourite food, however, Hedwig knew in abundance, and so she could provide. The witch's greatest charm was often her dedication, second only to her beauty, to her brilliance, her modesty.... She told him this in sequence, struggling his flea-bitten head into a hold he was 'powerless' to escape (that kernel inside of her chest popping in midst of the oncoming cold).

 

July 16th

 

 

Two of the missing people were the children of workers in the Department of Intoxicating Substances, last seen waiting for their parents outside the ‘Leaky Cauldron’. Their parents had been off on a bend.

 

Hedwig stopped reading the paper after that. 

 

July 17th

 

 

“Aren't your brothers worried we’re out so late? They aren’t going to think I’m trying to snatch you now, are they?”

“Nah.”

 

“Guess it wouldn’t be smart. I’m the obvious suspect, since you and I are together all the time.” Hedwig smudged his cheek with her thumb. “It's hardly a secret.”

 

“Yeah, and you’re... not really a part of the community, so. I mean, why would you target Knockturn?”

 

(Hedwig was never really herself in the summer.) 

 

“I mean—to most people, not to. Not to me.”

 

“So long as you know you'll be safe."

 

July 19th

 

 

Why worry about the things they could not change? she repeated it; repeated it.

 

July 20th

 

 

Elodie had the lab, and Dictys had the streets, but in the office, it was Hedwig who excelled. She dedicated herself to extra hours in the time she had free of them. Her bosses were impressed by her resolve (as they should be, five years into a job that paid scraps more morsels than bird food). Still, Seymour Mudgrove gave Hedwig the monthly cupcake for their best employee, because of the grunt work she’d done identifying mislabelled blood vials for vampires in need–all important, all secure. It was the same cupcake she received almost every month, flavourless and vanilla: YOUR #1! misspelled and iced pink–but Hedwig was pleased, unquestionably (unquestioned), knowing she could make a small, but significant difference in the lives of her clientele. She was a professional; she was polished; she was mature.

 

On her way out the door, Hedwig tossed the cupcake into a bin. 

 

July 22nd

 

 

Knut’s toy dragon circled over-head, by the ceiling of the diner, spinning, spinning, spinning on loop. It stopped only once to pinch an explosion from Hedwig's plate of popping-berry pie. 

 

“It’s not a toy,” he explained, and Knut asked her not to touch, as the model kept spinning, spinning up and spinning around—bobbing between the grape-vine hang of weightless chandeliers.

 

Was this a memory, too? Did she remember it right? Sometimes, her recollections could loop in a haze: work to leisure, to pleasure to sleep.

 

“You don’t have toys?”

“Toys are for children.”

 

We were children once, remember? (But this was a memory that Hedwig could never forget.) 

 

July 23rd

 

 

Why did summer always make her feel like she were paper, or linen? Too soft, and unwoven. The peeling of long-ago paint. 

 

July 25th

 

 

Hedwig slept. (Didn’t she?)

 

July 26th

 

 

Two more people went missing; they were eleven-years-old.

 

July 27th

 

 

Hedwig didn’t sleep at all.

 

July 29th

 

 

She could still smell the feathered grease of that week's news (unopened) when the memo showed up on her workdesk. 

 

 

Rejected for Representation

 

Patience Prasad

Bartholomew Wolchek

Fletcher McKay

Augustina Greenroot

 

 


Edited by Hedwig Lane-Foley, 20 January 2017 - 08:58 AM.


#5 Hedwig Lane-Foley

Hedwig Lane-Foley

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Posted 23 January 2017 - 03:51 AM

The report was a simple one: four missing people, last seen and then discovered in London’s Knockturn Alley, had been seeking the services of Mudgrove & Mudgrove, hoping the firm would take their case. Against who exactly? The first Mr Mudgrove had been concerned—Knockturn? Such a case was inadmissible. A suit could not be conducted, after all, with a particular person to sue—and if they didn't know ‘who’ they wished to sue? That was the trick with memory charms, you see, the second Mr Mudgrove had interposed—if a client didn’t know who or what it was that took them, how they took them, and even how long they’d been gone, it wasn’t as though their attorneys could make up the facts to get justice. But we’re lawyers, Hedwig had said drily. No Hedwig. We’re the law.

 

Mudgrove & Mudgrove, while dedicated to the rights of the dismissed, the plights of the muggleborn, the magical, and other subjected minorities, even they weren’t charitable enough to argue the impossible. After all, every witch and wizard knew that going to Knockturn meant asking for trouble. Just what did you expect them to do?

“Everything,” she’d answered, and if they wouldn't be the ones to bite the bullet, then Hedwig would bleed (gladly, gratuitously fleeced, stripped like a gun shearing bone).

 

August 6th, 2036

 

 

“I appreciate your patience with this… Patience.”

 

"Not a worry, not a worry. You're amazing; I'm—” The other woman struggled with her overlarge purse, stuffing the remnants of their meal in her extendable pockets. Even then, the fillings overflowed: cauliflower pakoras, pan-cooked cauliflowers, and flowers that were confusingly shaped like pakoras. Hedwig reminded her client to distinguish the three before packing any further. It wouldn’t do for either of them should more harm come to her. After all, Patience Prasad had been through so much.

 

“You’ve been through so much, Patience,” Hedwig repeated. "Don't fret." She swayed a heeled shoe from the toes of her foot, and leaned closer in a mime of consolation. A kidnapping, and the forfeiture of two weeks of her life—and through it all, an overdue parking ticket which had resulted in the loss of her grandmother’s heirloom broom. Athough Hedwig had since overruled that fine, and was far more interested in those two weeks in question, and what it was the other witch could remember when pressed. 

 

“And you’ve been so kind, Miss Lane-Foley, coming to me when no one else would—charging no fee, and not even—you've done everything for me, but I'm still concerned... I don't want to get my hopes up.”

 

“Come now, Patience. You know I'd never do that to you.”

 

The Knockturn lanes were buzzing, inordinate with heat, but lacking in brightness. The evening had dulled to the colour of jade, the sky a stone faintly muddied, that crystallised air melting dimly to gloom, deeper, and deeper. Hedwig paid for the food, and she listened (with a mind already made up). 

 

“I know, I know, but—" But, "but Mr Seymour said without any witnesses and without a known assailant, it’d be like I was charging a ghost, and I don’t want to—”

 

“Funny thing about that is,” Hedwig soothed, “is that I’ve actually charged a ghost before, and I won.” Her smile cut in its sweetness. “You can’t indict someone for scaring you to death when you’re dead already, now can you?”

 

Patience laughed, fish-eyed, and startlingly plain, although Hedwig didn't mean to be cruel (she genuinely wanted to help her, however ensnared by the speed of her own enthusiasm). The other nodded, again, again, kneading into a cauliflower-rose.

 

“I’ll find out who did this to you, and I’ll fix it. I promise.” 

 

Hedwig hummed as she righted the rest of her papers, slipping her notes into the prearranged line of the file she’d made for Mrs Prasad in particular, the only victim of the four who'd reappeared who had any sort of memory of their kidnapping. In the past week, and without use of Ministry resources, Hedwig had only been able to goad out a few of the details, but she was eager to get home and share the latest with Dictys. While she knew that he couldn’t respond, it didn’t make her work any less valuable to his Club's search. It was a welcomed, summer blessing, blown in by late winds: a cause that Hedwig could believe in; with new people to help; a cause that just so happened to help herself, too.

 

These were the facts: Patience Prasad had left her home in North Berwick on July 23rd, 2036, at exactly 9:32 in the morning (she was a pedantic woman, wholly fastidious, and kept records of these things near obsessively, a quirk which made her evidence more valuable to the court). Patience rarely travelled outside of her home, but she’d been forced to make the trip when a potion for hair growth required an extra human fingernail, and Patience had been too embarrassed to ask to borrow a friend’s. At 10:53am then, organ in hand, she remembered a bite at the back of her neck, a flashing of green (wings, she thought, or a leaflet), and the glittering expanse of a necklace made completely of wide, barrelled teeth.

 

The teeth were the new memory, and one that Hedwig was eager to disclose.

 

“I’ll meet you tomorrow the same time with a name of the sellers who list the item in question, or, if not, find records of anyone who’s filed a complaint of missing teeth. By their size, I imagine they’re some dragon’s—I can confirm with a friend I have in Helvellyn. I doubt even a crazy person would be proud of wearing teeth they got off the street, so it narrows our sources.” 

 

Patience laughed again, although sadly.

 

"Right," she said, "not even someone crazy." 

 

There was a loneliness, Patience had told her before, to the weeks she could not account for; as though she were separate from the weight of her own life, unearned, unremembered, like the sensitive switching of shadows into sparse, improbable light. 

 

Have you ever felt like that? 

 

But Hedwig’s distinction between what was loved and what was unclean was reserved to the crime of acquired devotion.

 

No, she'd answered her. I really can't say that I have.

 

When Hedwig got home, she found her boyfriend asleep on the couch. He was too fully dressed for sleep, so he must have waited up for her. It wasn't a Knut night, so gently, Hedwig shut the door and went about her tasks. She got a wok, boiled a pot of water, and opened the back door for the dogs to pee. What else? She could go for a shower, but Hedwig felt too tired to soak; instead, she chopped carrots, wilted spinach, then padded to the living room floor, intending on sharing her news. She took to her knees by the sofa’s edge. She looked at him.

 

Each feature held years, and Hedwig fell through each memory like the levels of a house. She descended: his hair (she had touched), nose (touched closer), his mouth (kissed), chin (rough), the neck (noble). Hedwig leaned closer, moving to touch him at the forehead, but she paused. She could still feel the heat from his brow in air, her fingers only inches from known, warm skin, but she could not break the rift. Why not? What was—

 

“See something you like?” Dictys asked suddenly (his eyes still shut). Almost four years, and always, still her stomach dropped, like stones tossed girlishly to water.

 

“Maybe.” Hedwig kissed the tip of his nose, but she returned to the kitchen before Dictys could impede her. There was work to be done (the mushrooms needed to brown).

Hedwig didn’t look up from the frying pan when she called back to him, “Don’t pout—I’m making you lunch.” Pasta, vegetables. Everything would keep. “I’ll leave it in the fridge for you to heat up at work.” Dictys was a good cook, but he liked to invest. Cooking wasn’t a practice for Dictys, it was a labour of love, and required his total attention. Hedwig was much better at necessary tasks, checked and marked from a list—Dictys with sentimentality: candlelight, flowers, or special occasions.

 

“Took the bins out earlier,” she continued. “Let out Doodle and Oopsy, too. No walk, but they should be good ‘til morning.” From beyond the counter, Hedwig could hear Dictys laugh sleepily, still half-hazed with static dreaming, but he lifted into vision like the rising of steam, hair mussed (it was always an artful mess), eyes dark—cloudless, black, shimmering. Looking at her.

 

“You’re perfect,” he said. “My perfect girlfriend.”

 

Hedwig smiled tightly. “My ridiculous boyfriend,” she answered, but her heart felt boiled (am I?), her tongue mummified. From where? How? Am I? I’m not. I’m—

 

She loved him; that wasn’t the problem. He loved her. She had chosen him (but would he—given another choice? If he—?)

 

Hedwig dissuaded her fears (daft) and asked about his day. He told her what he could, at least, as she finished her cooking and went to scrub the pans. She had wanted to tell him about Patience, and the progress she’d been eager to share, but… Dictys was in the other room, and she wanted to scrub the pans. Am I? It was necessary to keep your station clean, and if she didn’t scrub the pans—Am I?—the grease could settle for days. It was always Hedwig’s job to clean up a mess, an actual mess. She would not bother Dictys about needless worries—Am I?—when they were so rooted in their happiness. But:

 

What if you realise I’m not? The emotion was preventable, excessive. Hedwig had no reason to make him fret. Yet, all the same, her hands peeled through the water, wishing she were touching him instead. Hedwig needed to know whether or not Dictys was real—really here, really with her—and it was ridiculous enough (enough of this), and so abrupt, that although she felt as though she were shaking, Hedwig stayed put. She tidied the space until there was nothing left to prove she’d been there at all. Like a ghost, like a ghost.

 

Dictys appeared behind her, but Hedwig barely felt the arms as they snaked to her waist.

 

“See?” he whispered it against an earlobe. “Perfect.”

 

“I do what I can.” 

 

Knut was less convinced the morning after, when he caught her from her meeting, and pressed her back into a wall.

 

“The flack," Knut hissed, "do you that you're playing here?"

 

But Hedwig had always been too clever for games.


Edited by Hedwig Lane-Foley, 23 January 2017 - 08:42 AM.






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