Chapter 6 : Behind the Mirror
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Authors Note: This chapter is mostly fluff—'the last good day,' if you will.
EMILY sipped coffee at the Hufflepuff table late on Saturday morning. It was the last weekend before Hallowe’en and Tristan’s party would be later that night. She’d been looking up at the windows without realizing and saw, with great relief, Siouxsie soar into the Great Hall. It had been five weeks to the day since she’d written her brother, and all would have been lost if her package had taken any longer to arrive. Not to mention that she felt bad hogging Tristan’s owl for so long, but she didn’t feel safe sending a school owl to her brother. Emily was hastily stowing the parcel in her bag, not wanting its girth to draw suspicion, when the Weasley twins sauntered over.
“So we’re on tonight for Tristan’s do?” asked Fred.
“Where have you planned to hold this gala?” added George.
“Corridor, I guess,” replied Emily.
The twins shared a meaningful look.
“We think we might be of use in that department,” began Fred.
“Clearly, no one knows more about this castle than us,” said George.
“Not even filthy Filch,” added Fred.
“And we think we’ve scouted the perfect location,” concluded George.
“Where?” asked Emily, curious.
“It’s private,” said Fred.
“It’s secret,” said George.
“Uh-huh?” said Emily, urging them to continue.
“Just meet us on the fourth floor. The mirror near the library. We’ll show you,” finished Fred.
“Ok brilliant, thanks!” from what little they had divulged, Emily got the sense that it must be some sort of secret passageway. She’d suspected that they used secret passageways for some time now.
“Oh, sit down, won’t you!” Emily commanded, and the twins obliged.
“Who can we expect to see this evening?” asked George, pouring orange juice.
“Hogwarts’ finest, we presume,” said Fred.
“Me, Isobel, Laurel, you two, Angelina. Lee I suppose—but not too many third years, ok?” said Emily. “No offense,” she added.
“None taken,” Fred assured her, busy scooping eggs.
“And Tristan was thinking of maybe inviting Oliver Wood? Do you think that would be a bad idea?” asked Emily.
“Extend the hatchet!” cried George.
“Bury the olive branch!” agreed Fred.
“We like your style,” said George. “Consider him invited.”
“Great,” said Emily, relieved. She’d felt uncomfortable inviting Oliver herself, lest he get the wrong idea. “And do you know Siobhan Quirke? Ravenclaw? She’s a seventh year, and pretty busy studying for her N.E.W.T.s, but she’s cool. You’ll like her.”
Siobhan had been a friend of Tonks’, strictly speaking. She was the one Emily knew the least well because Siobhan studied so much, but from what Emily remembered she was a good laugh.
“Was she on the Ravenclaw Quidditch team last year?” Fred asked as he finished his sixth strip of bacon.
“Yes! That’s the one,” exclaimed Emily, wondering why she hadn’t thought to mention Quidditch straight off. “She left the team this year to focus on exams. I think she’s planning to go through auror training like Tonks and needs perfect marks.”
“Tonks had perfect marks?” asked George, surprised.
“Nearly,” nodded Emily. The twins had never really met Tonks, and Emily supposed that from the look of her, you wouldn’t guess.
“Always pegged her as a real Hex Head,” said Fred. “No offense,” he added. “To yourself, as a Hex Head, or your friend, in the event I’ve misjudged.”
“No, she wasn’t really,” mused Emily. “Some of her friends were. A bit. Not Siobhan though, I don’t think.”
Too late, she elbowed Fred in the shoulder, “Oi! I’m not a Hex Head either!”
“I was wondering when you’d catch that,” laughed George.
Isobel came down just as the twins were bowing out to the Quidditch pitch, and Tristan showed up shortly thereafter. Laurel didn’t come at all.
Despite wanting to keep third years to a minimum, they decided it wouldn't be right to exclude Cedric. Emily was rather proud of the party, even though it hadn’t happened yet. Every house of Hogwarts would be represented, including players from three of the four Quidditch teams. Take that, house rivalries, she thought.
Despite their heavy workload, they decided to head up to the North Tower to watch the Gryffindors practice. Emily took a brief detour to stash her package in her room, which wasn’t far from the Great Hall, and stocked up on a few supplies on the way back.
They ascended the castle stairways, and once on the seventh floor, Isobel turned west to Ravenclaw tower to try and rouse Laurel. Emily and Tristan continued north together. At his request, they passed by Sir Cadogan’s portrait to say hello.
“Ho, ho, ho, gentlelady and dear sir. Do I mistake the date, or is this not the sixteenth anniversary of your birth?” called the knight.
Tristan was clearly considering Sir Cadogan’s possible double negative—he had on his ‘overthinking’ face.
“Yeah, I’m turning sixteen—well, on Thursday,” replied Tristan.
“Then good health to your mother, to whom our greatest gratitude is due,” replied Sir Cadogan, descending into a deep bow.
“Hear, hear,” agreed Emily. She liked Tristan’s mum, Mary, quite a lot.
“Yeah,” was all Tristan said.
“So when, may I ask, are the upcoming nuptials?” continued Sir Cadogan. “And I may add,” he went on, his voice significantly lower. “It isn’t fitting that you two carry on your stroll without a proper chaperone.”
It took Emily a second to work out what the knight had just implied, then she hastened to correct him: “Oh no, we’re not—” she began, but Tristan interrupted her.
“June,” he improvised, throwing his arm around her shoulder. “And our chaperone only just stepped out.” To Emily, he whispered, “play along, it’ll make him happy.”
“Uh huh,” she said, feeling awkward.
“Then your chaperone should fall well beneath your esteem. As a man of chivalry myself, may I offer you an armored escort on your way?”
At this, Emily and Tristan resumed their journey with Sir Cadogan flitting through paintings beside them atop his fat little pony. They bid him farewell at the tower’s base, before climbing up the spiraling stairs. It wasn’t long before Isobel joined them.
Laurel was still in bed, but Isobel had been sure to transmit their whereabouts in the form of a note spell-o-taped to Laurel’s forehead.
“Ok, so it was gonna be a surprise, and I was planning on saving this for later, but I couldn’t resist,” Emily was fitting to burst.
“See,” Isobel smirked to Tristan. “Just terrible at being sneaky.”
“Shut it,” Emily scowled, unzipping her rucksack. After a moment's rummaging, she produced a bottle of bourbon, a bottle of lemonade, and four steel mugs.
“You really need to let me in on this ancient Hufflepuff wisdom,” Tristan said, impressed, while Isobel clapped and squealed.
“The Wisdom only accounts for the cups and juice, I asked my brother to send the whiskey,” she said, setting up the supplies in the gap between two parapets.
“Then thank Lucas for us,” said Tristan while Emily began fixing their drinks.
“To Tristan, the coolest Slytherin ever,” said Isobel, raising her glass. “Sixteen!” she called.
“Sixteen,” they cheered, and clinked their mugs together.
They did make a bit of an effort over the following hour, if halfhearted, to watch the Gryffindors practice. But the pitch was far across the grounds, and none of them knew what they were supposed to be looking at.
“Maybe it’s more interesting during a real match?” suggested Emily.
“Which one do you reckon is Potter?” asked Tristan.
“Well that one keeps diving a lot, but right now he’s just sort of sitting there above everyone else, so I think that one,” offered Isobel. “Is this lemonade fresh squeezed?” she added considering her mug.
“Maybe,” responded Emily, coy.
“Come on, how do you do it?” asked Tristan.
“You know, it’s really not all as exciting as I’ve made it out to be,” sighed Emily. “If it’s ever a situation where you need to know, I’ll tell you how to do it.”
That said, the Hufflepuff, the Ravenclaw, and the Slytherin fell into a comfortable silence and watched the distant Gryffindors zoom around on their brooms.
Emily, Isobel, and Laurel met on the fourth floor at half five. Laurel was furious with herself that she’d slept through their noontime cocktail hour. Tristan had gone back to the dungeons to shower, giving them enough time to set up. Emily felt a little childish scheduling a party so early in the day, but there being a curfew, she saw no way around it. The twins soon arrived, and directed them to a cracked mirror hanging on the wall.
“Watch and learn,” said Fred.
“But never tell,” added George.
“Hello gorgeous,” Fred winked at his own reflection before sliding the mirror aside, revealing a dark passageway.
“As you can see,” said George. “The place could use a little brightening up.”
“Lumos,” the five said in unison as they climbed through the hidden doorway.
It appeared to be some sort of corridor that had caved in, but what was left was a space like a large room with one wall built of rubble. It was more than enough room, as Emily only planned for a party of about ten.
“This is amazing!” cried Emily, throwing her arms around the neck of each twin in turn. “Thank you for this!”
“Cheers, mate,” said Fred, and they got to work setting up for the party.
Isobel magicked bunches of glowing bubbles to hover at the ceiling for light while the twins got to work hanging a brightly colored banner Laurel and Isobel had made. Emily began rearranging the rubble she felt comfortable shifting to be used as furniture. They set up one rather large block of stone to serve as a bar.
“What did this place used to be?” asked Isobel.
“Secret passage, led straight out the castle,” answered George, admiring his handiwork with the banner.
“Been caved in since forever,” added Fred.
“And Filch doesn’t know about it?” asked Emily as she changed the colors of each chunk of rubble, transforming the caved-in passage into a riot of color.
“Nah, can’t, can he,” George said to Fred.
“We’ve hid from him here more times than we could count,” agreed Fred.
“Nice work,” said Laurel, while Emily transfigured a hefty rock from gray to orange. “I see you haven’t gone with a green and silver motif, then?”
They were putting their finishing touches on the room when the other guests started to arrive. Cedric came first, followed in quick succession by Lee Jordan and Angelina Johnson. Oliver Wood and a fellow Gryffindor fifth year, Ian, followed shortly thereafter. Oliver added a bottle of Ogden’s Old Firewhiskey to the bar, and thanked Emily for the invitation.
“Well it came from Tristan,” Emily rushed to assure him.
“That was big of him,” replied Oliver, unsarcastically.
Siobhan brought her boyfriend, Stan Perkins, as well as a case of lager. How she managed to sneak in an entire case was beyond Emily.
At first, Emily felt uncomfortable that Stan was there, Head Boy of Hogwarts as he was. He added an additional firewhiskey and some nettle wine to the growing bar, and her fears vanished. Best of all, Lee had brought along a wizarding radio so that they could have music. It only tuned into magical stations, and Tristan considered wizard rock ‘uninspired,’ but it was far better than nothing. Lee tapped the radio with his wand until he found a station playing the Hobgoblins, and set it on a turquoise boulder near the bar.
“Can you wait for him outside?” Emily asked Isobel at five o'clock. “He should be arriving about now, and I’d like to run get some mixers and water.”
The two witches stepped back out from behind the sliding mirror. Isobel busied herself reading a library notice—to keep her loitering from arousing suspicion—while Emily leapt down the stairs two at a time. Emily was so fast that she arrived back at just the same time as Tristan, levitating four bottles of lemonade and four of water alongside her. The bar had increased with each guest, and Lucas always said it was a mistake to get dehydrated while drinking. Emily wished she could think of something else aside from lemonade to drink with whiskey, but came up at a loss.
“So, why are we meeting here?” asked Tristan.
“You’ll see,” trilled Emily.
Isobel took control of the levitating bottles, and Emily moved to push the mirror aside.
“Huh,” she said, and tried again. It wouldn’t budge. No matter how hard she shoved, the mirror stayed firmly in place. Emily began to grow embarrassed. After heaving a few more times, She gave up.
“Er, well,” Emily mumbled. Tristan looked bewildered and Isobel looked anxious, struggling to keep the hovering bottles afloat. A foolish thought struck Emily, and out of desperation, she tried it:
“Hello gorgeous,” she muttered, and tried for a clumsy wink.
To her surprise, the mirror shifted easily after that. Emily stepped aside, and waved for Tristan to go in.
“Surprise!” rang a resounding chorus.
Emily and Isobel followed Tristan and the mirror slid shut behind them. Word of the party had clearly spread through the castle, and what was originally meant to be a party of ten had expanded significantly. Every Hufflepuff years five through seven had turned up, as well as most of the upper level Ravenclaws and Gryffindors. Tristan was still the only Slytherin.
Emily set the bottles down at the bar, and was pleased to see that Tristan looked genuinely surprised. One by one, members of the party stepped up to give him hugs or shake his hand. Oliver Wood went for both, turning a handshake into a gruff embrace, followed by a sportsmanly clap on the back. Tristan and Angelina greeted each other awkwardly, but in good humor. Emily guessed that Ian Abercrombie was one of the friends Oliver had been with when he pushed Tristan, based on the meaningful nod he gave. Tristan saved his last, longest hug for Emily, who had been pouring drinks at the bar—which had tripled in her absence. It seemed to her like every smuggled bottle of liquor had found its way into the passageway behind the mirror.
“Thanks for this,” Tristan said in her ear. “Really, it’s… Just brilliant.”
The party set into full swing after that. Tristan was in such good spirits that he even enjoyed the Weird Sisters, whose music he usually referred to as ‘daft and two-dimensional,' and whose frontman he liked to call 'a derivative shagger.'
Whatever Emily had said about Siobhan not being a Hex Head turned out to be wrong. What she took at first to be too much coffee was in fact an Alacratus charm. After a few drinks, Stan admitted to Emily that she’d started using them to study, and had grown rather dependent. Apparently, ‘Study Spells’ were pretty common among the high achieving N.E.W.T. students. They didn’t think of it as Recreational Magic, though, since they weren't doing it for fun.
“So long as she isn’t self-spelling,” explained Stan. “That’s when it turns into a real problem.”
Without meaning to, Emily glanced over at Laurel. She was glad to see that Laurel had been in good spirits all day without the assistance of a Cheer. What’s more, she hadn’t asked for one, and seemed to be enjoying the party for its own sake. Out of respect for Laurel’s restraint, Emily tried to be as inconspicuous as possible while trading Cheers with Tristan, and later, Isobel.
The Weasley twins, despite being the youngest guests in attendance, were easily the life of the party. Emily wasn’t naive to the fact that they’d consumed a good portion of the beer. She wasn’t sure that they’d ever drank before.
Emily looked around considering the younger guests; Cedric and Angelina were two grades below, but only about a year younger than Isobel. Angelina seemed a lot older than fourteen, and was nursing a flask of elderflower wine, while Cedric stuck primarily to smoking spliffs with Stan. Emily imagined that Cedric gravitated toward Stan because of his Head Boy status, as if it granted him permission. Ced was pretty straight laced outside of spliff.
To her delight, Emily saw that Oliver and Tristan seemed to be getting along famously. Ian still looked out of place, and consistently turned down every drink, smoke, or Charm offered to him. For a wild moment, Emily realized she was behaving a bit like Isobel—keeping track of everyone else, staying tuned into the collective mood, and adjusting things to keep everyone on a positive keel (negotiating toilet trips without drawing attention to the party was complicated). In some psychic inversion, Isobel appeared uncharacteristically ‘in the moment,’ and was talking animatedly with Siobhan. The mood as high as it was, and the drink flowing as freely, Siobhan’s Charming wasn’t very obvious anymore.
“And stay tuned for the Muggle Music Hour, coming up next on WWN Radio 3,” the radio DJ announced after an upbeat dance number by Circe. “As always, our request line is open.”
Tristan abandoned his conversation with Lee mid-sentence, and dashed over to make his requests. Soon, the opening chords to “Atomic” by Blondie were issuing from the radio. Isobel squealed and grabbed Laurel’s hand, making her way closer to the speakers. It wasn’t long before other guests followed their lead and started dancing as well, even though most didn’t know the song.
For the next solid hour, every one of Tristan’s requests got played. Emily guessed it was because he was the only one to make any.
“Sometimes I feel I’ve got to,” clap-clap, “run away, I’ve got to” clap-clap, “get away…” Emily and Tristan shouted, mildly out of key. Everyone soon gathered the gist of the song, and clapped along in the right places—Even Ian Abercrombie. Granted, he was slightly out of sync.
They were dancing, and all together, rather than paired off into couples. Tristan had obviously gone for the most accessible and danceable requests, to great effect. The caved-in passageway was crowded with bobbing, swaying bodies—everyone dancing with everyone. Cliques gathered into loose circles, and muggle-borns sought out other muggle-borns who knew the lyrics to their favorite songs, but mostly your partner was whoever you were adjacent to at any given moment. Because they both knew the songs the best, Tristan and Emily danced beside each other most of the time.
"People always told me, be careful what you do, don’t go around breaking young girls’ hearts."
Michael Jackson succeeded in distinguishing the exceptional dancers from the mediocre.
As it turned out, Oliver was the best, with Isobel as a close second. Oliver’s athleticism on the Quidditch pitch transferred easily, and Isobel was naturally sexy, so the two gravitated toward each other for five astonishing minutes. They twirled and shimmied, seizing a large swath of the dancefloor for their antics. The whole display could have been choreographed, they were so synchronized. The song ended to widespread applause—which surprised a blushing Isobel. She surrendered to a squinting grin, squealing, tongue between her teeth, and curtseyed.
After several hours strong, the party inevitably wound down. Predictably, the Hufflepuffs were the first to leave. Emily felt ashamed that she hadn’t invited them herself, but she’d been uncomfortable bringing them to a party with drink and drugs. It had turned out alright in the end, though, and Emily was glad to have spent the time with them.
One by one, the other guests trickled out until only six remained. They were sitting on the brightly colored rubble near the bar sharing a fresh bottle of whiskey and the remaining case of the beer (no one had bothered with the nettle wine) when Isobel produced her present to Tristan. He seemed to think the party itself would be the end of it, and laughed long and hard over the gift: socks, stitched with clumsy images of floppy disks and racecars. Tristan gave Isobel a long and appreciative hug in return. Emily had gotten him a cassette of Nevermind by Nirvana, which had only been released the month before, and a copy of A Brief History of Time, by Stephen Hawking. Laurel and Isobel didn’t easily grasp the perfection of the latter gift, but they knew it had to be brilliant, after it left Tristan speechless. Laurel’s gift was straightforward, but brilliant in its simplicity: she’d charmed a Slytherin pin from Madam Malkin’s to read Fuck Slytherin instead. It was beautiful, and Tristan affixed it to his robes front immediately.
The twins had been entertaining each other easily while Tristan had received his gifts, and the fifth years only realized that George had drunk too much when he vomited.
It was almost funny—what with them being twins—that Fred retched immediately thereafter.
Emily rushed over while Isabel scourgified away the sick. George was clearly the drunker of the two, and slid down to the ground, his head lolling to the side. Fred shook his brother, but Laurel stopped him.
“Emily, can you get them food?” asked Isobel.
“I’d better. Come on, help me,” said Emily as she hoisted George up.
He retched once more, nearly passing out. Fred followed them out through the secret door, not needing any help walking. Fred took over transporting his sick brother once they got to the stairs—he was much stronger than Emily or Isobel, and best suited to support the weight of his staggering twin.
“Where are we going?” he asked, seeming to have sobered up rapidly out of concern for his brother.
“We head down like we’re going to the Entrance Hall,” she directed. “Do you know where the Hufflepuff Basement is?”
“Of course,” snorted Fred, offended that she’d question his knowledge of Hogwarts.
Once they’d descended into the lower levels of the castle, Fred started off in the direction of the Hufflepuff Common Room.
“No, that painting down there. Of the fruit,” corrected Emily.
Isobel said nothing, not knowing the precise location of the Hufflepuffs or their destination, and generally oblivious as to what was going on. Emily approached the still life and tickled a pear until it giggled. The painting swung aside to reveal a door. Fred followed her, half carrying George.
“Drust because I’m junk, doesn’t mean I won’t remember this,” mumbled George.
“Good trick,” Fred agreed, taking in the full splendor of the Hogwarts kitchens.
House elves in their neat little uniforms surrounded the foursome, offering assistance.
“Hi,” said Emily. “This boy is, er, sick. Can you help?”
“Certainly,” squeaked a tiny elf.
“Thank you, Toggy,” gushed Emily.
Five house elves had already begun setting up a camper bed for George. Toggy took Fred’s hand, and lead him over. Three other house elves pulled out chairs. Isobel took a seat, and thanked the elves awkwardly. A tea tray arrived, set with cakes, biscuits and clotted cream. Fred occasionally stopped worrying over his brother long enough to stare in awe.
“This. Is. Brilliant,” he said once George had been provided with bread, water, and a bucket. “Emily!” he cried, ruffling her hair.
“Just don’t take advantage,” she replied, tentatively, while she blew on her tea.
“Oh, we won’t,” assured Fred, and Emily was inclined to believe him.
Isobel, who’d been quiet aside from thanking the helpful elves, finally spoke. “I’m glad it’s only the Hufflepuffs who know about this,” she said, looking around thoughtfully. “Well, aside from me and Fred now. And George, it he remembers.”
“Oh I’ll remember,” George warned from the bed.
The mixture of excitement and worry seemed to have enervated Fred, who barely seemed drunk anymore.
“It’s nearly curfew,” he remarked. “If you think it’d be ok, I could stay here with George ‘til he’s alright to move, and you two could head back. I mean, we can manage the castle after hours, and even if we’re caught, there’s no reason we should all get in trouble.”
Emily considered. They had only ten minutes to get back to their dormitories, which was barely enough time for Isobel if she ran.
“Yeah, ok,” she agreed. “Isobel, you should start out now. I’ll explain to the house elves.”
Isobel and Emily shared a swift hug and kissed each other’s cheeks before she set off out of the kitchen, wishing the Weasleys well as she went. Emily asked the elves if it was alright that Fred and George stayed a bit, and they insisted it was.
“Ok so my dorms are just that way. If you need anything, the password is ‘Hufflepuff,’” said Emily. “I’ll kip out on the common room sofa.”
“Thanks,” said Fred. “You're a good mate.”
“Any time,” smiled Emily.
“But I do reserve the right to tease you about that later. The Hufflepuff password is Hufflepuff? Seriously?”
“Only this week,” countered Emily, defensively. “And who would ever guess it?”
“Therein lies the genius of your House,” George cried from the camp bed with as much drama as he could muster.
“Do you know when your prefects patrol?” asked Fred.
“Oh, they don’t bother,” said Emily. “Hufflepuffs never break curfew.”
“The glory of your House grows ever more in my esteem,” George interjected again. His eyes were still closed but he made a show of rolling his r’s theatrically.
Emily left the Weasleys in the care of the elves, and set up some pillows and blankets on her common room sofa. She felt like she’d only just closed her eyes when she awoke the following morning to the sound of a running shower.
According to the house elves, Fred and George had left the kitchens the previous night without incident. The Gryffindor hourglass in the Great Hall seemed to have the same amount of rubies as the day before, so no points appeared to have been docked. Emily crept through the castle, illuminated by the rosy light of dawn, back to the fourth floor.
Behind the mirror lay the wreckage of their party. Many of Isobel’s bright bubbles from the previous night had popped, and the rubble was beginning to fade back to grey. Emily scoured the bottles borrowed from the kitchen, and struggled to vanish the rest of the debris. Every last drop of alcohol had been drunk.
1. Quirke is a surname pilfered, yet again, from the 1994 Sorting—Siobhan is the elder sister of Orla, Ravenclaw. Ian Abercrombie is the elder brother of Euan, who was mentioned in The Order of the Phoenix. Euan was sorted into Gryffindor in 1995, and believed The Daily Prophet’s smear campaign against Harry Potter (hence my bashing Ian’s sense of rhythm.) Stan Perkins is related to the old wizard that served alongside Mr. Weasley in the Misuse of Muggle Artifacts Office.
2. To put ages and years into perspective, in American terms, Tristan would be a Junior in High School. Laurel, the second oldest, would be a sophomore, alongside Emily and Isobel. Isobel has a summer birthday, and is the youngest of the four. Cedric Diggory and Angelina Johnson would both be High School freshman, while the Weasley Twins would be Eighth graders.
a) “Atomic” is still by Blondie, off Eat to the Beat.
b) “Sometimes I feel I’ve got to [clap clap]” is the Soft Cell version of “Tainted Love.”
c) The line “People always told / me be careful what you do / don't go around breaking young girls' hearts” is Michael Jackson’s “Billie Jean,” off Thriller.
d) “Rosy light of dawn,” is a phrase that crops up in all sorts of literature, in homage to Homer’s epithet “rosy-fingered dawn” (Iliad and Odyssey). And I think Rowling used it too, wot with being a Classicist and all.
4. I had originally been under the deluded impression that there were inconsistencies in canon over how to gain access to the Hufflepuff basement (I wrongly believed that one source suggested a "pass-rhyme" while another source indicated a "pass-rhythm.") As a result, I decided to screw all that noise, and limit canon to what appeared in the text (so my default was a password--and I really liked the idea that the password was "Hufflepuff.") NOW, as it turns out, there wasn't any inconsistency after all (curse you, dyslexia!) BUT I LIKE THAT JOKE SO MUCH. So, I suppose it would be more honest to say that this story is 99% true to canon. Apologies.
Dyslexics of the world, UNTIE!
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