Chapter 1 : Part 1: Friendship and Betrayal
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Most wizards do not question their place in the world, the ease at which they go about daily life, or the idea that the social order is how it always has been. Wizarding privilege at its finest. There was a time when wizards, elves, and goblins were as brethren to one another each with their own skills and abilities. The only key distinction was between the magical and non-magical of the world. The subjugation of elves began in the least likely of places – a friendship between Hywel Hufflepuff, a wizard, and Winifred the Wise, an elf.
Winifred always enjoyed observing her magical fellows. She would often spend weeks at a time shadowing wizards, goblins, or anyone who looked like they would have interesting adventures. At times she would try to befriend them to learn from them and teach them what she could. After spending the last fifty years of her life observing and meeting as many other magical creatures as she could, Winifred was comfortable approaching anyone.
It was spring when she first spied the fire-red hair of Hywel Hufflepuff. She had observed him for up to a week and noted his pragmatic use of magic. Today, he was pointing his wand at a stack of lumber and was muttering words under his breath. There was an axe discarded on in the ankle-deep grass that indicated the task the young man was attempting through magic. Winifred watched for several minutes as the wizard tried to change the nature of the wood.
It was a spur of the moment decision that caused the elf to step out from behind her hiding place and say, “You’ll have better luck if you bewitch the axe rather than the wood.”
Hywel turned at an alarming speed toward the voice and set eyes on the elf. He had seen and talked to a handful of elves before at the market and in the local pub. “The axe?” he said looking around for the instrument he had discarded.
“Yes. It is better to bewitch a tool rather than a material,” she said picking up the axe. With a snap of her fingers, the axe flew towards the logs and began to chop it into neat pieces of firewood.
Smiling, Hywel extended his hand saying, “Thank you. My name is Hywel Hufflepuff.”
The short elf reached up to shake the man’s hand. “Anytime,” she said with a grin. “I’m Winifred the Wise, at your service.”
That evening the new friends swapped heroic stories from their past adventures. They settled in at a local public house where magical folk frequented for food, drink and gossip. The barman greeted Hufflepuff with a jovial voice. Both of the magical beings had experienced their fair share of ventures and close calls. Hywel was once nearly burned for sorcery until his hippogriff flew in and saved him. He admitted it was not his most subtle move. Winifred decided to share her most daring deed to date.
“Are you telling me that you rode a dragon?” Hywel asked over mead and sweet meat. “That is a tall tales for such a short elf.”
A tinkling laugh came from Winifred’s mouth as she grinned. “I didn’t say I tamed the beast. I managed to hop and not get thrown off long enough to call it a ride.” It was the closest thing to a lie she ever told people. A crazed but brilliant wizard by the name of Greene helped Winifred find a dragon in her younger years.
“Weren’t you scared?” Hywel asked as he was beginning to believe her tale.
“Terrified. But I knew I wasn’t in deeper than my magic could bail me out,” she said taking a bite of meat.
Hufflepuff furrowed his brow. “Don’t you have a source for your power?” It felt almost silly to ask. Wizards required an instrument so he assumed all magical creatures did.
“Of course not. You need a stick of wood for your magic,” Winifred said kindly. “No one can steal my magic,” she added with a mischievous grin. Then she added, as if worried she had been rude, “Your wands are quite impressive though.”
“Is there magic you can’t do?” Hywel asked feeling as if his own knowledge of magic was suddenly too narrow and myopic to be of any great use.
Winifred shrugged. “I am sure there is. Most elves only use their magic to help others or themselves at times. We try to keep a balance with nature.”
A revelation came to Hywel as he listened to these words. “Is that how you knew to use the axe rather than make the wood separate?”
That had been the basis of her hypothesis earlier. Wood does not split in nature, not like he was trying to coerce it to go. “Essentially. It is harder to make a thing go against its nature. I’m sure you would have eventually succeeded,” she said smiling.
“I’d like to learn more about your magic, Winifred,” Hywel said tentatively. He could see that Winifred truly was wise and, despite having finished his education years ago, the young wizard had much to learn.
“My friend, it is not my magic but the magic of all creatures. I would love to learn from one another.”
Hywel sat in silence for a few moments. He could not imagine what he had to offer this intriguing creature.
Weeks passed and the two were nearly inseparable. Hywel was astounded by the way Winifred worked with nature and above all else, food. Winifred was impressed with how industrious her good friend was with brewing potions and simplifying manual labor through magic. She was concerned, however, that Hywel was trying to use magic for too much for there to be balance between magical and non-magical beings.
“Do you think there’s a limit to what magic should do?” Winifred asked as she watched Hywel add ingredients to a potion that would give the drink the strength of 10 men.
Stirring the potion counterclockwise he considered the question. The idea that there was a larger governing limit on magic felt foreign and uncomfortable. “We are the masters of magic, Winifred. Our magic should only be limited by our own minds and willingness to try.”
“Aren’t there some parts of magic we shouldn’t want to explore?” Hywel stopped stirring and raised an eyebrow at his friend. “For instance, asserting control over another creature or doing another bodily harm?”
Hywel lost his focus on his potion and gazed at the elf. “That sounds horrible on the surface, but what if there was a threat or an attack which provoked such behavior? No one should use that kind of magic as their first line of defense but, sometimes, it’s necessary to fight back. Other times it’s necessary to strike first.”
Neither said anything else on the topic for that day although both were unsettled by the other’s words. The idea that another creature would dictate how wizards use magic nettled Hywel and he felt the need to consult another wizard on the potentially dangerous ideas the elf was spreading. Winifred couldn’t understand how a wizard as kind as her friend would contemplate such evil, dark powers. She was beginning to think it was time to find another companion.
Hywel visited his friend Rhein for a midday meal a few days later. Rhein had not befriended many elves and did not know any who spouted as many ideas and questions as Winifred. They sat in the dining room of the large Malmagus estate. The sun shining through the window caused the entire room to glow with morning light – it was almost blinding.
“Why shouldn’t we bend the world to our needs?” Rhein said holding his wand aloft. “Let’s say I wanted to dim the sun for being too bright?”
Watching his friend aim at the sun, Hywel said almost automatically, “Winifred would say you should bewitch the drapes rather than the sun.” Rhein lowered his wand and eyed the other wizard wearily. “I meant only to share how she would view this. It’s all about keeping with nature and balance.”
Rhein laughed sinisterly. “This elf has already swayed you to be a weaker wizard. Next she’ll be keeping you as a pet with your wand in her hand.”
Hywel leaned back in the mahogany chair and gave thought to his friend’s words. Winifred would never try to take his wand. All of her ideas and challenges had been intellectual and theoretical rather than pedantic and controlling. Still, a drop of unease filled his mind.
Winifred and Hywel were walking through a nearby village on a Sunday afternoon. Winifred disguised herself as a child to pass through the muggle town without drawing attention from non-magical folk. She had just told Hywel of her plans to visit Italy for a few years as the art and theater there were supposed to be remarkable.
“Will you come back to visit?” the young Hufflepuff asked feeling sad at the elf’s departure. Despite the slight contention that rose between them over the use of magic, Hywel knew he’d miss her wit and wisdom. Part of him wondered if it was the unresolved disagreement that caused her to leave.
“I’m sure I will eventually,” she said reassuringly. “I travel quite often and like to see old friends.” Winifred stopped walking to let a family pass.
Hywel stopped too and eyed the family as they passed. “Are they why you disguise youself?” he asked in a low whisper.
“Not just them… but I don’t want to disrupt these people in their lives by my appearance. Most muggles aren’t ready to see a magical creature – other than wizards,” she said feeling uncomfortable with the way the conversation turned. She was just supposed to say a simple goodbye, not get into another disagreement about magic.
Hywel gripped his wand but left it sheathed. “We could make them accept it,” he offered casually, slowly taking his wand out.
“No! It wouldn’t be right,” Winifred said with alarm rising in her voice. She reached out and put her hand on Hywel’s outstretched arm. “They haven’t done anything.”
“Not yet, you mean. Remove that charm from your visage and wait for them to react. You’ll be tied up in a square,” he said with an angry growl.
Suddenly it became clear to Winifred – Hywel was once at the mercy of an angry muggle mob. Perhaps his close call with the pyre was closer than he made it sound. Still, such malevolence should not be exerted towards ones so helpless. “These aren’t the same muggles,” she said in a pleading voice. “No one here has harmed you.”
For a moment it looked like he would put his wand away and let them part as friends. That was until a portly gentleman passed. He carried a rapier and wore a badge, perhaps he was the local sheriff. “That man,” Hywel said flicking his wand and causing the man to trip, “he is the same muggle.”
The look on the wizards face was dark and ugly. “He did not know better!” Winifred squeaked.
With a slash of his wand, Hywel caused a deep gash across the man’s face. “He’ll know better next time.”
Hywel raised his wand again but Winifred was faster. Before Hywel could inflict further damage on the muggle who was just realizing his injury, she had the wizard’s wand in hand. “I won’t let you hurt him,” she said boldly. Winifred grabbed onto Hywel’s wrist and transported the two of them to a spot well outside of town.
“How did you do that?” he asked bubbling with rage and confusion. “Give me my wand, Winifred.” When she did not move for a moment, Hywel began to rage at the trickster elf. “You don’t deserve to do magic if you’re going to stick with what’s natural and balanced! You’ll always be the weaker race!”
Winifred’s eyes widened at this hatred coming from this man who had been her friend. “You… you don’t know what you’re saying. Balance is not weakness and brute force is not power! I… I cannot stay here any longer,” she said backing away. Winifred set down the wand and gave a bleak smile feeling tears trickle down her long nose. “Goodbye my friend.”
With a pop, she was gone. Hywel hoped she was gone for good.
A/N: In the next/final part of this story, we’ll how Hywel reacts to realizing an elf could overpower him and the ripple effect throughout the magical world as relationships between wizards and other magical beings slowly fall apart. Let me know what you think!
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