Chapter 31 : Peter Locke
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‘I’m not hungry,’ Connor Norris answered back without looking up at the older boy.
‘Go, anyway,’ Max retorted. ‘You know what Greg and Harry said. Nobody should be on watch for more than an hour on their own.’
Connor sighed, before slowly starting to edge his wheelchair backwards and away from Louis’ bedside, only to be halted by a sudden explosion of sound and light. A metallic device beside the bed burst into whirring, mechanical life, and a loud coughing fit began to echo from the previously lifeless boy.
‘Louis!’ the two blond children yelled in unison, startling the bed-bound redhead and instantly catching his attention. ‘Louis! You’re awake!’
‘Well… yeah,’ the other boy coughed again, struggling to push himself upright against the wooden bedstead. ‘I guess I am.’
‘You’ve been knocked out for nearly two days, mate,’ Connor began to explain, tentatively. ‘After what happened at Oxford, with Max and with Professor Bennett… when you transformed to try and save them,’ he swallowed. ‘How much can you remember?’
Louis bit his bottom lip, straining to recall the chain of events that had left him bed-bound. ‘I remember agreeing to go through the Flames,’ he managed. ‘Not much else…’
‘I’ll get the others,’ Max offered.
Connor nodded. ‘You’ll do it quicker than me, that’s for sure,’ he observed, wryly. The eleven-year-old reached out towards a low, mahogany bedside table as he heard Max’s footsteps die away. ‘They said that you were awesome,’ the blond boy reported, ‘and that you probably saved their lives. Here,’ he scrambled around on top of the bedside table, seeking out a newspaper cutting to pass to the other boy. ‘Read this.’
FOR VEELA JOLLY GOOD FELLOW…
…and so say all of us!
It’s always easy to look back in 20/20 hindsight and criticise, but Peter Locke, Prophet columnist, has taken the time to look back on a handful of articles from the last few months in the new light of Friday’s events in Oxford.
Certainly, we were right – at least to some extent – about the connections between several recent terrorist acts, all of which seem to have been attributed to Kevin Brand to some extent. Yet, given the extraordinary declaration of the man himself when questioned, is it perhaps time for us to think more carefully about the role of the media in covering stories such as these?
To refresh your memories, here’s Brand’s quote in full: “It was all about making you panic. A little bit here, a little bit there. Wizards fearing muggles, muggles fearing wizards. Chinese Water Torture, have you heard of it? Drip, Drip, Drip. Before long the unknown would have taken its toll, and then you would crack!”
Yes, part of our role as journalists is to tell the truth, but the media were all part of Brand’s plan: picking his targets carefully, and allowing the wave of public opinion to do the rest. Small portions of “truth” garnished with prejudice and guesswork can often be far more harmful than simple fiction. We have victimised more than one innocent boy, casting blame upon children who have simply found themselves in the wrong place at the wrong time, and demonised an eleven-year-old whose selfless actions helped bring about an end to the whole episode.
Louis Weasley currently lies, unconscious in bed with a collapsed lung, having risked his life to help fellow student Max Deverill and Professor Greg Bennett, Head of House at Hogwarts, escape from Brand’s imprisonment. This is the same boy about whom the following sentence was written in September: “[Hogwarts] has once again endangered the health and welfare of its students through the admission of pupils of non-human origin.”
The full story of Friday night’s rescue also involved the co-operation and support of muggle-born wizards, and muggles themselves whom circumstance rather than choice led to the front line. Whilst we reflect back on stories we may perhaps wish we hadn’t printed, perhaps it’s also a good time to recall an oft-mentioned quote from the late Albus Dumbledore.
“It is your choices, not your abilities, that decide who you really are.’
Louis looked up from the newspaper as a throng of boys suddenly flooded into his room. ‘C… Collapsed lung?’ he stammered, feeling another cough fill his throat.
‘Yeah,’ Nathan answered. ‘The Stygian Flames didn’t affect you like they would have done if you were fully human, but they still hurt,’ he explained. ‘You’re going to be alright, though, Lucas has checked you out so many times, and he kept telling us you would wake up soon…’
Louis managed a thin smile. ‘Is he okay?’ he asked, speaking slowly and making a concentrated effort to slow his breathing. ‘Lucas, I mean, with his brother being arrested, and everything…’
‘He’s okay,’ a voice called out from behind the cluster of boys, ‘and all the better to hear you asking, too.’ Lucas pushed his way past the gathered children, reaching into his trouser pocket for his own wand. ‘Healer coming through,’ he announced, ‘checks to be done.’ He held the wand close to Louis’ shoulder, before slowly scanning his way across the rest of the boy’s body. ‘No Quidditch for you,’ the man concluded, ‘not until you’re back to school, at least, but you’ll be alright for Christmas dinner.’
Louis’ expression brightened almost as quickly as it had faded. ‘Christmas?’
‘It’s tomorrow, mate,’ Nathan laughed, and Louis reflected his friend’s grin.
‘What about you, though, Connor?’ Louis turned back to the wheelchair-bound boy beside him. ‘Do you get to keep your memory? What’s going to happen to you?’
‘I still don’t really know,’ the blond boy admitted, ‘but those two scientists, Xan’s dad and Nathan’s dad, want to keep trying to find out how and why magic happens,’ his words began to hurry, ‘and they said they needed a muggle boy to help them out, they asked if I wanted to do it and I said yes…’ Connor tailed off, feeling the eyes of the room suddenly turning towards him.
The redhead smiled. ‘Cool,’ he nodded.
‘I’m not allowed to tell anyone else about everything that happened on Friday, though,’ Connor continued, his voice quieter now. ‘If anyone asks, it was a gas explosion that flattened Dan’s old house.’
Daniel couldn’t stop himself from shivering, and Greg reached out a hand to steady the boy’s shoulders. ‘It’s alright, mate,’ the teacher whispered.
‘Do you get to come to Hogwarts with us, then?’ Louis turned back to Connor.
The blond boy had begun to open his mouth to reply, when an adult shout answered the question for him. ‘We’re working on it,’ Greg explained. ‘No muggle kids have ever been allowed into Hogwarts before, but no muggle kids have ever spent their Christmas helping save the Statute of Secrecy before, either.’
‘Cool,’ Louis repeated, setting the newspaper cutting back down at his bedside. ‘One last thing,’ he added. ‘Who wrote that? Who’s Peter Locke?’
This time Harry spoke up from the back of the crowd. ‘Ginny,’ he answered simply, ‘or Teddy, give or take a little, if Peter ever needs to go out in public at all.’
Albus turned, open-mouthed, to stare at his parents and god-brother. ‘Dad!’ he exclaimed. ‘That’s… that’s…’
‘Slytherin?’ Greg suggested.
‘Well, it was Teddy’s idea,’ the Head Auror expanded, grinning, ‘so you’re probably right.’
Albus smiled. ‘Slytherins…’ he began, and six more voices joined him in chorus.
Concluding Author’s Note
Okay, one 100,000 word epic was slightly mad. Two is certifiably insane, and I definitely need a break from Greg’s universe before I head back to work on Snakes & Ladders… which will be continued, at some stage!
I may find myself back for a one-shot or two in the meantime – certainly I’ve left a few avenues (Miranda, Rose, Charlie and Connor to name but four) unexplored, but until then I’d still love to read any reviews, feedback, questions, comments, suggestions for future work – or just hear who your favourite characters are. I do promise to respond to every review.
I hope you’ve enjoyed reading this as much as I’ve enjoyed writing it… oh, and there are bonus points available if you can spot the reference in this final Chapter Title.
Until next time…
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