Chapter 1 : Hungarian Flame
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Keep your head down.
Her dad’s words still rang in her ear as melodic as the Common Welsh Green’s roar and it gave her a strange sense of security because she felt like she had an excuse. An excuse to dance in the shadows. She still believed she could be her father’s saving grace. She only wanted to see him smile; she didn’t know the last time she saw that.
She heaved a sigh and put her eye to the telescope and found Canis Major. There was something infinitely pleasing about the night sky, a love affair she had that she could never explain. She leaned in closer and ignored the hard stone beneath her knees as she moved the scope to seek out a new constellation. Maybe she’d find Orion tonight; he always had something to say to her.
As her eyes drifted across a sky she knew so well she let the thoughts that had been incubating in her mind tumble around. She always thought better up here, up above everything that happened in the castle. It had been foolish of her to have thought that one impulsive act could have saved her from seventeen years of her father’s warning. It had been a night that ended with the Cruciatus curse and she hadn’t even been able to save Ernie. Her so called heroic efforts were nothing but a grisly mistake that she was met with every time she closed her eyes for sleep. She told herself that anyway.
Keep your head down his words rang out to her reminding her of her failure. It's the only thing he ever asked of her. She hated that she had failed him then and that the smile was delayed once again. He always said that the light of the Bones cannot go out, but rather shine like the flame of the Hungarian Horntail forever. She was the last of them, his message was loud and clear, you must not go out.
But as the nights kept rolling by and the weeks kept moving forwards and she found herself staring at the stars progressively more. She hoped they held the answer to the questions in her soul, as if they would clear the fog that grew in her mind. She felt like someone had slipped her a sleeping draught but it hadn’t made it properly and she was now in limbo between the sleeping and the waking.
She remembered when he said she would be powerful. He, the one who was wise beyond life had said that that day in Diagon Alley when she first got her wand. Ash, he had said with his voice whispery and other wordly as if he was speaking secrets from the heavens themselves. She had fancied that the stars had reached down and were directing his very thoughts. Ash and dragon heartstring- he had paused again and spun the wand in his fingers and let those two words roll over her (she had shuddered with anticipation, the world had seemed as if it would cave it by the magnitude of his speech), twelve inches, springy, and he promised it would be good for Transfiguration.
It had never failed her and she wished that all that was expected of her was to turn a shoe into a rabbit or a needle into a hamster. Her favourite was using Snufflifors because Megan hated mice and it was always funny to see her scream like she was being chased by a Norwegian Ridgeback. Life had felt easy once when all she had to do was sit in class and learn something as simple as Accio or learn what Foe-Glass or what a Sneakoscope was (who believed that darkness ever existed when you were sitting in class?). Living was infinitely harder when those things actually meant something and your classmate could be your enemy.
Ollivander also said there was power in this wand, power that would match the user.
Her - Susan Bones - powerful. She laughed at the thought; she couldn’t even face a Blast-Ended Skewt without getting burned. She leaned her head against an edge of a pillar in the Astronomy Tower and closed her eyes to block out the night sky that was as dark as the Hebridean Black. It was as black as their souls, black as sin, all of them, the Carrows, Deaths Eaters, him, this war. She couldn’t escape that, even up here.
Hannah rose unbidden into her mind, the reason she dared to run all the way up here past curfew, it was her first time out since that night. She thought she could find answers but the heavens were silent tonight; their glittering multitude offered no answers too interested in their own stories to think of the ones that were happening just below them. Firenze used to tell her that the stars held secrets that could only be discovered by those strong enough to seek them, but she could feel the clouds of doubt seep into her soul. What could they say but tell of stories long past?
She could see Hannah’s pain and the slow deterioration of her friend. She knew how she was coping and she knew that Hannah wasn’t just another casualty of war, just another person who couldn’t cope. It was her (who else could it have been?) who caused the bright to fall. She hated herself for it.
Keep your head down. (It was hard)
If only she had. She wasn’t used to being looked up to for answers. She never played with fire as a child but rather she walked in the shadows only hoping to be overlooked. Yet, something had changed when she tried to save Ernie from the Carrows. People looked at her differently; she could no longer tango with the shadows because she was suddenly hurled out into the sun. Hannah gave her this torch to carry and it was a burden as it held the hopes of the students on it. Carry it, Hannah said, carry it for the Hufflepuff’s for they need someone better than me.
Hannah had been the strength she lacked but when she stood up Hannah had collapsed. Susan knew she didn’t have the strength to defend them all. She did not want if for fear of the fire. There were scars that ran deeper than the skin to remind her of the consequences of doing what Hannah needed her to do.
She stood up and stretched, trying to get feeling back into her feet from kneeling so long in front of the telescope. Would she end up like Hannah? Sickly and crying, pleading for death? What would she give up if she stopped trying to dive back into the background?
She breathed in the night air and let it wash over her and wondered what her aunt would have done, what her mum or her grandparents- her uncle... any of them who had been steadily picked off, the name Bones meant more than the name Abbott. When she had stood, Hufflepuff fell in behind her strangely enough, even after years of hiding. It scared her more than she cared to admit because she didn’t think she had that same blood running through her veins.
I’m scared Susan, she heard Hannah say again what she had told her earlier today, a confession she had never shared before. So am I Susan thought obstinately, so am I. She touched the stone walls, they were cold and precipitation clung to them from when it rained buckets the evening before. She traced her name and watched as the droplets collected under the letters before they started to cascade down the wall, each so small but as they continued their journey the droplets spider webbed together until they were one bulging drop that seemed to be pulsing before it dripped to the ground.
Susan stared at it for a moment before a slow smile spread across her face, not a smile of happiness, but one of understanding. She pressed her hand against the wall to see the effect again. It only took a single drop to start it, only one but it connected to others to make it bigger. She leaned against the wall and looked back out the gaping window to the night sky, it seemed brighter this time, but maybe it was just now that she was able to see what it was telling her. Every star was needed to make the night sky and every drop was needed to form something bigger (was this what she needed to know?)
Hannah had been her legs when she couldn’t walk, had held her up when she thought she couldn’t face what the world was giving them. Maybe it was her turn to be the legs. She knew something had changed the moment she decided to try and save Ernie, she had felt something course through her veins like elixir. She hadn’t liked it, tried to ignore it and dodge back into the shadows, but the shadows would not have her.
“Susan?” She whipped around and saw Seamus at the entryway. She relaxed and looked back out to the sky. “What are you doing out here?”
“Thinking,” she replied, the smile still touching her lips. “You asked me earlier about broadcasting on the wireless?” Seamus took a step closer, nodding. She smiled at him and let him walk up next to her and then looked across the Hogwarts grounds, light still flickered in Hagrid’s hut at the edge of the grounds.
The wind blew through her plaited hair and she couldn’t help but let a laugh burst from her lips. She thought of her dad, then her mum, her aunt, and the rest of her family, their stories tumbling in one after another. They were all single drops that when added together they pulsed with untold meaning. She would not let the light of the Bones go out, but rather let it be like the flame of the Hungarian Horntail and she knew she could only try to do it if she lifted her head.
"Isn't this beautiful?" She whispered, not needing to clarify what she was speaking of.
Note: For purposes of the challenge, this is around 1600 words. I’ve made use of the following prompts:
- features your House’s Champion (5 points)
- mentions at least 4 specific breeds of dragon (5 points)
- mentions at least 1 Unforgivable Curse (5 points)
- mentions a Blast-Ended Skrewt (5 points)
- mentions a Sleeping Draught (10 points)
- mentions 2 of the following types of magic: a transfiguration spell, a sleeping spell, the conjunctivitis curse, the summoning charm (accio) (15 points)
- mentions at least 2 of the following types of Dark Detectors: Foe-Glass, Sneakoscope, Secrecy Sensor, or Probity-Probe (15 points)
- features a theme of flourishing in the face of adversity (25 points)
- mentions the details of your Champion’s Wand, as provided by your Head of House (25 points)
A final thought is this built from The Star Listener, if you want to read what happened with Susan and Ernie refer to that.