Mrs. Claus

25 Dec

A horror story for the holidays.

She pulled off the fancy bow, throwing the ribbon tidily onto the ground next to her. Opened the lid, slowly. As was proper. Breathed in a little as the top jiggled loose with a quiet puff of old dust. Looked inside.

A moment of silence.

“This is… not what I was expecting.”

The man in the red suit with the slicked-back hair and black goatee, all glint and glimmer and promising shine, smiled his lopsided smile. Deceptive as ever.

“What do you mean?” he asked, sickly sweet as an overly gummed candy cane. He slid closer, gliding like a hellcat in the shadows. “What were you expecting?”

She looked up, her eyes an angry flash at his bloody veneer. Her lips curled up into a snarl. “Immortality.”

The man in the crisp red suit threw his head back and laughed, all mirth and mockery. A tear dripped from one eye and he brushed it away with a black-gloved hand. “Oh, my dear,” he hissed, “That would have been an awfully big present. Too big for one as little as yourself. There’s not enough soul in you, to pay for that.”

Her slight frame shook. She pulled the bauble from its box. A glass knife. No – it was already dripping – an ice knife. Sharp. Pretty. Ephemeral.

She had asked for control over life and death. He had given her a toy.

Sly cat. No matter. She had some claws of her own.

“I will take what is my due,” she whispered, her voice thin as a blade and three times as sharp.

The man in the red suit lounged back on her sofa. “Oh really?” he purred, one eyebrow arching up. “And how is that, pet?”

She smiled. Carefully. Slinked towards him in her dress, red like blood and seduction. A sin for a sin. Of course he’d said they’d need to match.

She climbed onto his lap and put her hands over his chest.

“You’re magic,” she murmured under her breath. The man in the red suit leaned into her words. “Ageless.” She let a little reluctant wonder creep into her voice while one finger crept up the red suit and came to rest just over the heart that beat beneath the red suit. Her nails were long and pointed, sharp like daggers. Red from cuticle to tip.

Red. His color.

And now hers.

She dug her claws into the suit, into the flesh, into the man and his magic and his terrible gift-giving and she stole it. Pulled it up, out of him, away from his years and years of cheated death and trickery treasure and into her own body. She felt herself grow large, taking it all in. Bigger. Powerful.

Beneath her claws, the man in the red suit withered. His skin wrinkled and aged. His goatee frayed and greyed and whitened. Flab arose and clung to his middle like denture paste to an old jawline. His eyes sunk and his nose reddened.

And he began to scream.

She pulled her claws out then, cackling.

The old man in the red suit wailed at the sharp blades of her fingers cutting their way back out of him. There was pain. Oh yes, there was pain.

But there was no death.

He healed. Instantly. There was still enough magic left in him for the job.

She had made sure of that.

His chest rose and fell, clunkily. Ragged.  “Ho. ho. ho.” The old man’s wheezing was short and clipped.

The woman smiled. “Ho ho ho,” she laughed.

The man looked up at her, fearful. “Who are you?” he whispered, eyes growing wide with fear.

Ah yes, a name. The woman looked down at her fingers, covered in red like cherry slowly drying to crimson around the cuticles. Her eyes narrowed.

Yes, that would do.

“Claws,” she said, voice firm as desire. “Mrs. Claws.”

She pulled the man up from the couch, thrusting him back towards her fireplace. “Now, if you don’t mind, dear, I believe you have my bidding to do.”

The old man in the ancient red suit was silent. But he nodded, then disappeared back through the flames.

Mrs. Claws’s eyes glinted in the firelight. She looked around the room, wondering where to start.

A now-empty box caught her eye. Mrs. Claws smiled. Cracked her knuckles. Stepped into the fireplace to follow the old man back to his workshop. Yes, that would be her first order. That is how he ended. That is how she would begin.

Toys,” Mrs. Claws hissed. “Toys for everyone.”

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On Those Stupid Red Cups

12 Nov

It’s that time of year again. The time of year when Starbucks, like so many other corporate entities, deck their halls with all things red and white and green and glistening. That time of year when I write about aesthetic and memory.

When I write about Krystina.

I’m not going to write about Christianity or outrage or anger (though I have many thoughts on the first, Katherine writes a pretty goddamn good post on the second, and last year’s post on this topic certainly had a decent dose of the third).

But I am going to write, very briefly, about those red cups.

I hear some people are unhappy with their plainness this year. Maybe it was nearly every corner of the internet posting about it that prepared me, this year, for Starbucks’ holiday makeover. I knew it was coming, this time. I knew Starbucks was going to look like the inside of a candy cane’s daydream. I knew there were going to be the snowflakes, the garlands, the puffy snowmen statues hiding between muffins in the pastry display.

I knew Starbucks was going to look like it did the last time I saw Krystina alive.

She was a creature of past and possibility. Of hurt and healing peeled back and replaced too many times. Of anger and outrage. Of all things red and glistening.

I think she would have appreciated the plainness of Starbucks’ holiday cups this year. Definitely would’ve laughed at the “controversy” they caused. She likely would’ve doodled on the cups. Or maybe just etched the word “fuck” all over them with the blunt end of a dying pen. Equally probable.

appreciate the blankness, this year. Not because of some grand ideological viewpoint, but because I just do. For me, the unadorned red cups feel like a blank slate. Like catching my breath. Like possibility.

I’ve spent the past year shedding the skins of old lives and donning the trappings of new ones. (Blue hair may be up next, folks. I may also be moving to Scotland. Fair warning.) I’ve spent months running from ghosts and exorcising demons. Washing memories off the walls of my existence. Moving on.

I sat in Starbucks today, clutching my blessedly blank red cup and staring at the decorations and listening to the hum in the air of the other lives moving around me.

It didn’t hurt, this time around.

Desperate: A Free Short Horror Story for Halloween

31 Oct

Happy All Hallow’s Eve, spooksters.

I’ve finished up “Desperate,” a short horror story, and am releasing it on Gumroad for Halloween! You can read the start of it here and, if you like it, hop on over to my Gumroad store to download the full thing for free/pay-what-you’d-like.

It’s got monsters, and fire, and edge. It’s got gore. It’s a little bit haunted. And that makes its characters a little bit desperate.

Actually, that’s the title.

fire banner

Desperate

They’d been a desperate threesome. Nikki had made it out first, kissing the world goodbye for the military (an escape to violence that would at least get her pride along with the bruises). Calvin had settled where he was, dropping into the familiar Midwestern monotony of a comfortable desk job with spreadsheets and quarterly reports and a girlfriend who’d fuck him enough that he could forget for thirty sweet minutes about the slipping mind of his ailing mother.

Em had been the first to leave but the last to make it out. If she were really honest with herself, she was still running.

She wondered if the other two were just lying to themselves too. She wondered if they’d really escaped the nights of writhing, trying desperately to claw their way out of their own body while dragging along a splitting mind behind them. Sweating into pillows, tears staining the sheets, howling to the dark from behind a dead smile. Always prepared to jump back into place. Waiting.

She hated spending nights alone. Screaming.

She wondered if they’d really managed to exorcise their demons or if they, like she, had merely managed to become better friends with the devil.

They’d all learned how to hide their scars, eventually. She’d just never learned how to stop making them.

She could imagine what Nikki looked like, underneath. Calvin she wasn’t so sure about. Numbness made it hard to get the truth. She was supposed it was better than his old pain, though. Cold and sharp. Howling.

Some days, she ached for his warmth.

It was very hard not to tell him that.

There was mold growing on the counter. Em frowned and tried to ignore it as she splashed the gasoline over her arm, careful to hold it steady above the sink. Old bloodstains soured their stench up at her. She sighed at the taste.

Em sat down on the leaves, moist and decaying on the kitchen floor. The house was old when she’d gotten there, and the cobwebs in the corner had only begged her all the more to stay. She loved it. Nikki would have, even more so. Calvin would probably hate it.

Em picked a match out of its box and struck it to life. She held it to her skin, setting her left arm aflame. Her dark eyes glittered in the light.

The heat roiled over her curling skin, seductive and swaying. The warmth slowly tingled up to her shoulder, then down to her bones. Em breathed out slowly. Shut her eyes. Whispered his name.

Waited.

Her arm crackled softly in the silent night. Em hoped he wouldn’t be slow about showing up tonight. Gasoline only burned for so long, and she wasn’t going to set her arm on fire twice in one week for the fucker.

The leaves around her crunched lightly, then harder as a body shuffled its way closer. The visitor sat down, and there was silence again.

Save for one deep, tired sigh.

“Em, that’s gross. Cut it out.”

She grinned at the exasperation in it. Em opened her eyes, both of them turned to wells of pupiless black. She looked fondly at her burning arm, pink and blistering now. “It’s beautiful,” Em breathed.

Calvin made a face. “It’s gross.”

“It’s effective. You’re here, aren’t you?” Calvin was silent. Em shrugged. “But fine, have it your way.” There was a snuffing noise, and the flames disappeared, plunging them both into darkness. Em brushed a small clump of ash off her arm, now back to its normal flawless white.

Calvin ran one hand down its alabaster smoothness. Em shivered under the rough touch of his callouses.

“You okay?” Calvin murmured, his voice low.

Em only glared.

Calvin leaned back and sighed again. “Fine. Well, I’m here. What did you want?”

Em swallowed down the pain surging up her throat. She ran her fingers through the gossamer strands of her hair, absent-mindedly twisting and untwisting her curls.

“I… just… wanted to see you.”

Why?”

Em tugged too hard at her hair and pulled a strand loose. “Ow.”

She held the strand up in front of her eyes and stared at it.

“Em?”

She tossed the strand. Looked up. Glanced at Calvin, now standing and ready to leave.

Just like she didn’t want him to.

“She’s getting restless.”

Calvin’s brow furrowed. “Who? Nikki?”

“No.”

“…Oh.”

Calvin crouched down beside Em and pulled her into his arms. “What do you need?” he murmured, pressing his face into her hair.

Em hugged him closer. “You.”

Calvin let out a breath, long and slow. “You know I can’t do that. Shelley…”

Em growled.

“Fine, I won’t say her name. But you know the rules.”

Em dug the nails of her right hand into her left arm. Calvin flickered a little. Em snarled. “Since when do you care about rules?”

Calvin gently pulled her fingers off her arm. Solid again, he kissed her on the forehead and backed away. “You know when,” he whispered.

But Em could hear the sting still in his voice. She knew he was lying.

Even when he was gone, and not even his shadow was left to show he had been there, Em knew he didn’t really care.

Not enough. Not yet.

She could hear it in the dark spaces of his voice. The poison that still pooled in the corners.

Em dug her nails back into her arm and breathed in the smell of his memory.

He couldn’t lie to her.

Not when he was still hungry.

Not yet.

She needed Nikki. Badly.

Finding her was not going to be easy. Nikki had always been the hunter out of the three of them. Lithe and dangerous and predatory. Stealthy and graceful and very, very good at covering her tracks.

But when it came to Em, she’d always been a little bit obvious, too.

The moon was high that night, spilling milky sheen onto the wet floors of the old house through the holes in its roof.

Somewhere, a drip of black water fell from a windowsill. The clink of gravity rippled through Em’s ear, expanding into her consciousness. She shivered as the waves hit her.

Full moons had always made the night an ocean. At least this time she was choosing the drowning.

Nikki,” Em thought, her voice small and helpless and floating. “Nikki, where are you?”

The world was silent as deep water. But one part of it was more silent than the others. Em smiled.

“Nikki!” she shrieked gleefully, stepping through the black space and into reality. A tall girl with short hair glared at her from beside a campfire.

“What are you doing here?” Nikki spat. She glanced around. “And what the fuck did you do with my platoon?”

Read the full text of “Desperate” on Gumroad for free/pay-what-you-want.

The Dust of When You Are Collapsing

24 Oct

Depression is a game that you can’t win because the rules aren’t ones that you get to make. Depression is a game full of false starts and trap doors and smoke screens you thought maybe, for once, were windows. Depression is a game that’s for lasting, not for winning.

Depression is good at gaining allies. Time, and wounds that refuse to scab over. Disappointments and anxiety and the eyes of strangers that glance at you the wrong way. Subverted friendships and cancelled plans and one too many sore mornings this week. People who make you want to crawl into a room with no doors. Places that make you wish for the smoke screens.

Depression fights with stabs and bruises and you are allowed your words for weapons. Thought, if you can tame it, and if not that then the ability to blink through one more round of twenty-four hours. Depression will allow you your dull knives and pointless arrows. These tools you once thought you had to fight with, rendered inefficacious because depression takes the shine off of everything. There’s no more sun. You’re just left sweating.

Sometimes there are people who make you want to get out of bed in the morning. Sometimes there are those intangible things called dreams that whisper through the fog and make you reach a little bit for a sky that’s got stars in it again. Sometimes there is art, and a swell somewhere deep within you that for once has nothing to do with hurricanes. Sometimes there are stories, and you can hear yourself whispering again. Sometimes there is silence and no crushing dark of the deep asphyxiating ocean on your chest along with it. Sometimes you can breathe enough to remember what movement felt like.

Cling to it all.

There is no secret passageway out of this collapsing building. There is only the possibility that maybe, in the rubble, there’s a hole.

Free Stories!

29 Aug

Update: I’m now on Gumroad!

gumroad profile

I have a lot of stories lying about my computer, sitting more or less patiently in their folders on my desktop waiting for me to try to publish them or submit them to a literary contest or, ya know, forget about them for years on end. And while some of them I’ve gone and flung out into the world already, mostly, they’re just sitting there.

So I’m giving them to you! To have and enjoy! For free!

Well, mostly free. Flash fiction, shorter poems, and short stories up through 3 pages in length are available for no charge. You can pay for them, because hey, supporting art is great and we artists appreciate it! But you don’t have to pay for it. Unless it contains, ahem, “mature” content. In which case I’ve put up a pay wall before you can access it. It’s not a very big pay wall, but I feel I’ve done my due diligence protecting vulnerable eyes or whatever from what some parents might consider bad, scary words by requiring buyers to wield a credit card in order to get to it. Short stories four pages or longer, novellas, and whatever novels I put up there will have a nominal fee, because hey, writing is hard work, and at that order of magnitude of investment, a few bucks for months of work on my end is pretty fair.

I’ll still be posting here, on Quill Aquiver, but I’m mostly using it as a space to talk about writing. And society. Whatever. This blog is for my thoughts. Gumroad is for my stories. Tumblr, that deep, deep rabbit hole, is for my insanity. Zero filter, folks. Fair warning.

Anyhoo. Go forth! Read! Glut your literary fill! Follow me on Gumroad to get updates on when new material’s uploaded. Yes, more courses coming.

Hope is a Lioness

15 Aug

“Education breeds confidence. Confidence breeds hope. Hope breeds peace.”―Confucius

No.

Or at least, not always.

Education breeds knowledge. Knowledge can make you stand up and shout and stomp your foot, because here is your evidence, here is your fact, here is your goddamn certainty that this thing here is so.

Knowledge can also make you sit down and shut up because you know, you know that you are a human and have the capacity to be astoundingly wrong.

Knowledge breeds awareness. And sometimes, awareness can breed doubt.

Confidence can breed hope, but confidence can also breed hate. Confidence carries with it the offspring of swagger, a dangerous little bugger if not raised right. Confidence can slay its ancestor, replacing a birthright of knowledge with a reign of blind and willful ignorance instead. Confidence will sometimes shut its ears like that.

Hope is taken for such a quiet little thing. Hope will placate. Hope will soothe. Hope will take your rumbling shores and show you where to dock your anchor.

But hope is about weathering all that.

Hope is the thing that will stand up and fight in the night. Hope is the thing that will make you push on, even when the winds blow so hard as to strip you of all your armor. Hope is being able to stand naked before the world and say that still, you have these hands to fight with. Still, you have this mind within you. Still, you are on your feet before it all and you, against the odds, are not yet dead. Hope does not need reason. Hope does not need bravery. Knowledge and confidence be damned, hope will lean on crutches of desperate abandon and wavering limbs.

Hope is sometimes about reconciliation, but it is always about risk.

Hope may bring peace,

but it may also bring a body count with it.

Hope is no quiet, quivering mouse.

Hope is a lioness with her claws not yet out.

Hope breeds strength,

bodies strung with humming prowess.

A brood of capacity that pads noiselessly in the dark –

silent only until the kill.

Hope births the drive to sate the grumbling emptiness of a stomach,

and peace is not always what fills a belly.

Complicated

11 Aug

I am a millennial. A twenty-something. A whatever-you’d-call-it. Mostly I’m just a young adult trying to get her shit together. This is my general impression of most members of my generation, whatever their current socioeconomic status. We might have a good job with lots of money and work we love to do, or we might have no job and no money and be getting really fucking bored of the wallpaper in our parents’ basement. But no matter what, for the most part, we’re trying.

The world got a lot bigger for us than it was for previous generations. Sure, the same is true for those other age cohorts as well, but the internet was really quite an impressive thing when it came to exposure-expansion. My generation saw phones go from pixel bots you played snake on to life boxes you can somehow use to do your laundry. On the scale of what’s available to us to see and know and do and talk about, the world got blown pretty fucking wide open.

And we’re trying really hard to put all that shit together and figure it out.

We’re willing to work with gray areas. We’re willing to question and re-think and reconsider. We’re willing to toy with paradigms to stretch discrete units into spectrums. We’re willing to rewrite the rules. We’re willing to rewrite a lot of things, actually.

Let me talk to you about Harry Potter fanfiction.

As someone who fancies herself a writer, I resisted the idea that fanfiction carried any sort of legitimacy for a while. “It’s just copycat. Unoriginal. Cheating. Usually just a facade for slapdash porn, at best.”

Okay, at the point I was thinking those things I hadn’t really read any fanfiction yet. But that’s how stigmas work. You don’t approach the taboo thing because the thing is taboo because… it’s… taboo… because…

*endless loop of unreasoned fear-avoidance*

And then I spent more time on the internet and was exposed to a lot of the “best of” snippets that people posted on facebook and tumblr and such, and my pretension about this genre of writing that can be as good or as bad as any other sector of writing slowly faded away.

Yes, some fanfiction is unoriginal. Cheating. A cheap facade for shitty porn full of too-quick nudity and broke-back sentences.

But some of it is brilliant.

I like what books do to people. I like seeing how my generation has grown up and whipped out our own pens (or, ya know, keyboards) and managed to occasionally add on or change up the writing that was already given to us, in a way that doesn’t feel strange or blasphemous but real and clever. I like seeing how my generation gets to creating, when it comes to the Harry Potter story. I am delighted by the number of good writers it’s gotten talking, because they wanted to put their own spin on our favorite childhood narrative.

But I am delighted, most, by the way it shows how my generation is thinking.

Here, let me show you the particular piece that got me blathering:

prismatic-bell:

cinematicnomad:

aplatonicjacuzzi:

crazybutperfectlysane:

So I was rereading Harry Potter, when I came across this and thought- what if instead of Cedric Diggory, Cassius Warrington had been chosen to compete in the Triwizard Tournament?Imagine Dumbledore calling out the name of the Hogwarts champion and it isn’t a Gryffindor, or a Ravenclaw, or even a Hufflepuff, but it’s a Slytherin. A student from a House most people hate.Imagine Cassius Warrington getting up, and three out of four Houses are booing at him and shouting things like “NO!” or, “We can’t have a Slytherin champion!” or demanding a retry. But he’s a Slytherin- he’s been dealing with this shit since he got sorted, so he keeps his head high and joins the other champions.Imagine Harry trying to catch Warrington alone because he doesn’t really want to associate with Slytherins (plus Malfoy has this tendency of being around the guy ALL THE TIME since he got chosen), but at the same time he’s also fair enough not to want him to walk into the first task unprepared.Imagine Warrington walking over to Harry a few months later, and Ron and Hermione both jump into a protective stance, wands out, but instead of attacking Harry he just tells him to stick the egg underwater. (Because Slytherins don’t forget those who helped them out).Imagine Warrington and Harry helping each other out in the labyrinth.Imagine Harry being devastated when Peter kills Warrington- because Voldemort doesn’t care what house they’re form, a spare is a spare.Imagine the uproar that causes among the Slytherins, because some of their parents really are Death Eaters and they know what really happened.Imagine Slytherins fighting in the Battle of Hogwarts and shouting “This is for Cassius!”

Imagine Harry returning with Warrington’s body, and the crowd realizes what’s happened, but Warrington’s parents don’t show up. There’s no one to mourn him, to cradle him in their arms and cry for their son. The Slytherins know why. His parents were Death Eaters, too.Imagine Slytherins reaching out, asking for help from classmates from other houses. They’re terrified, truly terrified because the being their parents claimed would never hurt them because they’re pureblood, they realize that he does not care.Imagine Slytherins in the 5th book sneaking off to join Dumbledore’s Army, to learn more about who Voldemort is without their parents acting as a filter. Imagine the shock when they’re told what he’s really done.Imagine that a few talented Slytherins went with Harry and the others into the Ministry of Magic. The others are a bit wary but they prove themselves as friends.Imagine them being confronted by Lucius Malfoy in the the Hall of Prophecy, and when the Death Eaters descend, they know that any one of them could be their parents.Imagine the shocked gasp of a Death Eater as they realize their own child, a pureblood, is standing defiantly with Harry Potter. They choke back a cry. They can’t let their child know that they were about to duel to the death.Imagine a DA Slytherin facing off against their own Death Eater parent. That they make the decision to let their child defeat them, because in that moment, they realize that they love their child more than they fear Voldemort. They go down, mask unveiled, and the Slytherin kid has to be dragged from the fight before he gets killed.Imagine Book 6 Slytherins getting more friendly and cooperative with the other houses. Two years of Voldemort terrorizing the muggle and Wizarding world, two years where their parents just up and leave some days, cringing from the pain in their arm, two years after the death of the first Slytherin pureblood, Cassius Warrington, killed by Voldemort’s right-hand man, and they’re slowly hitting the breaking point.Imagine Slytherin kids keeping tabs on their parents, sending the information to Harry, who shares it with the Order of the Phoenix, and hoping that their parents won’t be killed.Imagine Book 7 Slytherins low-key rebelling against the new oppressive Hogwarts staff.Imagine the final siege on Hogwarts, where Slytherins stand proudly by their fellow houses, knowing full-well they could be fighting their own parents. Some Slytherins know their parents were in the fighting. They hope to find them first and sneak them away. Their fellow students understand. Professor McGonagall allows 7th Year Slytherin, Pansy Parkinson, to duel a death eater in her stead; her father is under that veil. She knows it.Imagine the aftermath of the battle; every house suffered loses. Slytherin students crying over the deaths of friends they made in every house.Imagine 

 a Cassius Warrington statue made in his honor, the first Slytherin to fight and die nobly with Harry Potter, the boy who lived, in the face of ultimate evil. He was a true Slytherin, and it’s in his name that Slytherin children and their families have cut all ties with the Death Eaters, denounced Voldemort, and are finally living in peace.

#i do enjoy cedric #but this would have been immensely wonderful in many ways (via batty4u) 

Imagine a story in which Harry wasn’t in love with his fellow champion’s girlfriend, but after her boyfriend’s death just hugs her so long, so hard, and says “he wanted to win for you. You should know–you should know he won, he did it for you” and gives her the best hug and shoulder he knows how to be because her parents aren’t there either and she must know why.Imagine Harry staring over her head at everyone else until Hermione steps up–it doesn’t take long, but it takes long enough that when she does all eyes are on her as a source of motion–and says “we’re never going to forget this. They’re not going to get away with it” and the girlfriend just latches onto Hermione and everyone is in wands-out stance convinced she’s about to attack the shit out of Hermione, and then the girlfriend stares into her eyes and says “do you promise me” and Hermione just gives her this super-firm nod and says “I promise” and the girlfriend just collapses on her, sobbing. Imagine Dumbledore trying to give some flowery speech about inter-wizard solidarity while glossing over why, because Slytherins have always been a touchy subject, and Ron gets to his feet and says “Professor, I need to say something important” and Dumbledore is so surprised he just cedes the floor, and Ron–after that awkward moment when he realizes everyone is staring at him–says he didn’t know Warrington particularly, but he knows how Warrington and Harry played. That each was always cheering on the other. Both wanted to win, but neither was willing to undercut the other by underhanded means. He finishes up saying “I think–I think it’s important everyone should know he died being what a champion should be. Because he could have abandoned Harry and instead he stood up with him to play the game the honest way, and he died for it. And–and Slytherin House should be proud, and we should all be proud, because Warrington was a good bloke.” He sits back down all flustered because he didn’t actually stand up meaning to make a speech. And then Pansy Parkinson stands up before Dumbledore can take back control of the room and says “I want to tell Weasley thank you.” And all of Slytherin House raises a glass–to Warrington, to Weasley, to Potter–and the other houses follow suit. Many years later, Wizarding scholars will say that was the moment Voldemort truly lost.Imagine later that summer. Harry gets several owls on his birthday, all unsigned. The birds are plump and pretentious and well-cared-for. He will never know which Slytherins sent him their treasures: parchments with hexes developed by the Death Eaters; a strange locket that will only open if he whispers a special spell but that always shows him the picture he most needs to see; a page torn from a potions book that, brewed properly, will allow him extra time to summon a Patronus by giving him a few crucial seconds not just of happiness but of bliss. It doesn’t matter. Harry knows these gifts not as birthday gifts but for what they really are, and he treasures the locket and copies out the potion to send to Hermione and Mrs. Weasley, and when first summoned by the Order of the Phoenix he marches straight up to Dumbledore with the hexes and says “I can’t tell you where I got these, Professor. But they’re in use by the Death Eaters and I think you should have them.” Months later, Sirius will recognize the spell Bellatrix shoots at him, and will dive out of the way just in the nick of time.The final battle. Everyone is there. Sirius somehow ends up herding a group of Slytherins. They all stare at him and he at them, across a centuries-old divide Voldemort has only succeeded in deepening. Then he remembers the hexes. Harry’s locket, now tucked under Sirius’ shirt because Harry’s friends are with him in this battle but most of Sirius’ are dead. The moment that happiness potion saved Remus’ life, his very soul. Snape’s final words to Harry, finally seen not as mockery but real true advice. What Harry said Voldemort said–his first words in his new form. They are kids, and they are sharing the same kind of hurt he once wouldn’t admit to, watching his mother burn his name off the family tree. “When we go in there, it’s going to be hell,” he tells the Slytherins. “Some of you are probably going to die. I might go down too, and if I do I want your best curser in the front. But I want you all to remember one thing. There are no spares.”  Later retellings of the battle never fail to mention the moment a group of angry, screaming teens burst into the Great Hall, wearing their green and silver as the badge of honor it should be, shouting NO SPARES, NO SPARES at the tops of their voices in between hexes and curses and the occasional physical punch. When Hermione is present, she always interrupts the storyteller to be sure everyone knows about the moment Blaise Zabini shoved her to the floor, dropped on top of her, fired off three curses in rapid succession and said “stay alive, Granger, we need you” before jumping back to his feet and vanishing into the melee–how, for all anyone knows, those may have been his last words, and she will not let his sacrifice go unnoted. The aftermath. Malfoy holds out a hand to Sirius, badly injured on the floor. Sirius asks how Malfoy is willing to trust him. Malfoy nods at his chest. “You’ve got my godfather’s locket,” he says, and when Sirius and Harry finally speak after the battle Harry gives his full agreement to the very first thing out of  Sirius’ mouth. They give the locket to Malfoy. Sirius grits his teeth and closes his eyes and opens them and says “He probably saved my life, giving Harry that.” He doesn’t say thank you. Malfoy hears it anyway. The school reopens under a single banner: the four Houses united. The House rivalry is reduced to just that–a competition in fun–with those deep divides slowly healing to scars, and eventually away to nothing at all.Imagine it.

prismatic-bell:

cinematicnomad:

aplatonicjacuzzi:

crazybutperfectlysane:

So I was rereading Harry Potter, when I came across this and thought- what if instead of Cedric Diggory,Cassius Warrington had been chosen to compete in the Triwizard Tournament?

Imagine Dumbledore calling out the name of the Hogwarts champion and it isn’t a Gryffindor, or a Ravenclaw, or even a Hufflepuff, but it’s a Slytherin.A student from a House most people hate.

Imagine Cassius Warrington getting up, and three out of four Houses are booing at him and shouting things like “NO!” or, “We can’t have a Slytherin champion!” or demanding a retry. But he’s a Slytherin- he’s been dealing with this shit since he got sorted, so he keeps his head high and joins the other champions.

Imagine Harry trying to catch Warrington alone because he doesn’t really want to associate with Slytherins (plus Malfoy has this tendency of being around the guy ALL THE TIME since he got chosen), but at the same time he’s also fair enough not to want him to walk into the first task unprepared.

Imagine Warrington walking over to Harry a few months later, and Ron and Hermione both jump into a protective stance, wands out, but instead of attacking Harry he just tells him to stick the egg underwater. (Because Slytherins don’t forget those who helped them out).

Imagine Warrington and Harry helping each other out in the labyrinth.

Imagine Harry being devastated when Peter kills Warrington- because Voldemort doesn’t care what house they’re form, a spare is a spare.

Imagine the uproar that causes among the Slytherins, because some of their parents really are Death Eaters and they know what really happened.

Imagine Slytherins fighting in the Battle of Hogwarts and shouting “This is for Cassius!”

Imagine Harry returning with Warrington’s body, and the crowd realizes what’s happened, but Warrington’s parents don’t show up. There’s no one to mourn him, to cradle him in their arms and cry for their son. The Slytherins know why. His parents were Death Eaters, too.

Imagine Slytherins reaching out, asking for help from classmates from other houses. They’re terrified, truly terrified because the being their parents claimed would never hurt them because they’re pureblood, they realize that he does not care.

Imagine Slytherins in the 5th book sneaking off to join Dumbledore’s Army, to learn more about who Voldemort is without their parents acting as a filter.

Imagine the shock when they’re told what he’s really done.

Imagine that a few talented Slytherins went with Harry and the others into the Ministry of Magic. The others are a bit wary but they prove themselves as friends.

Imagine them being confronted by Lucius Malfoy in the the Hall of Prophecy, and when the Death Eaters descend, they know that any one of them could be their parents.

Imagine the shocked gasp of a Death Eater as they realize their own child, a pureblood, is standing defiantly with Harry Potter. They choke back a cry. They can’t let their child know that they were about to duel to the death.

Imagine a DA Slytherin facing off against their own Death Eater parent. That they make the decision to let their child defeat them, because in that moment, they realize that they love their child more than they fear Voldemort. They go down, mask unveiled, and the Slytherin kid has to be dragged from the fight before he gets killed.

Imagine Book 6 Slytherins getting more friendly and cooperative with the other houses. Two years of Voldemort terrorizing the muggle and Wizarding world, two years where their parents just up and leave some days, cringing from the pain in their arm, two years after the death of the first Slytherin pureblood, Cassius Warrington, killed by Voldemort’s right-hand man, and they’re slowly hitting the breaking point.

Imagine Slytherin kids keeping tabs on their parents, sending the information to Harry, who shares it with the Order of the Phoenix, and hoping that their parents won’t be killed.

Imagine Book 7 Slytherins low-key rebelling against the new oppressive Hogwarts staff.

Imagine the final siege on Hogwarts, where Slytherins stand proudly by their fellow houses, knowing full-well they could be fighting their own parents. Some Slytherins know their parents were in the fighting. They hope to find them first and sneak them away. Their fellow students understand. Professor McGonagall allows 7th Year Slytherin, Pansy Parkinson, to duel a death eater in her stead; her father is under that veil. She knows it.

Imagine the aftermath of the battle; every house suffered loses. Slytherin students crying over the deaths of friends they made in every house.

Imagine a Cassius Warrington statue made in his honor, the first Slytherin to fight and die nobly with Harry Potter, the boy who lived, in the face of ultimate evil. He was a true Slytherin, and it’s in his name that Slytherin children and their families have cut all ties with the Death Eaters, denounced Voldemort, and are finally living in peace.

#i do enjoy cedric #but this would have been immensely wonderful in many ways (via batty4u)

Imagine a story in which Harry wasn’t in love with his fellow champion’s girlfriend, but after her boyfriend’s death just hugs her so long, so hard, and says “he wanted to win for you. You should know–you should know he won, he did it for you” and gives her the best hug and shoulder he knows how to be because her parents aren’t there either and she must know why.

Imagine Harry staring over her head at everyone else until Hermione steps up–it doesn’t take long, but it takes long enough that when she does all eyes are on her as a source of motion–and says “we’re never going to forget this. They’re not going to get away with it” and the girlfriend just latches onto Hermione and everyone is in wands-out stance convinced she’s about to attack the shit out of Hermione, and then the girlfriend stares into her eyes and says “do you promise me” and Hermione just gives her this super-firm nod and says “I promise” and the girlfriend just collapses on her, sobbing.

Imagine Dumbledore trying to give some flowery speech about inter-wizard solidarity while glossing over why, because Slytherins have always been a touchy subject, and Ron gets to his feet and says “Professor, I need to say something important” and Dumbledore is so surprised he just cedes the floor, and Ron–after that awkward moment when he realizes everyone is staring at him–says he didn’t know Warrington particularly, but he knows how Warrington and Harry played. That each was always cheering on the other. Both wanted to win, but neither was willing to undercut the other by underhanded means. He finishes up saying “I think–I think it’s important everyone should know he died being what a champion should be. Because he could have abandoned Harry and instead he stood up with him to play the game the honest way, and he died for it. And–and Slytherin House should be proud, and we should all be proud, because Warrington was a good bloke.” He sits back down all flustered because he didn’t actually stand up meaning to make a speech. And then Pansy Parkinson stands up before Dumbledore can take back control of the room and says “I want to tell Weasley thank you.” And all of Slytherin House raises a glass–to Warrington, to Weasley, to Potter–and the other houses follow suit. Many years later, Wizarding scholars will say that was the moment Voldemort truly lost.

Imagine later that summer. Harry gets several owls on his birthday, all unsigned. The birds are plump and pretentious and well-cared-for. He will never know which Slytherins sent him their treasures: parchments with hexes developed by the Death Eaters; a strange locket that will only open if he whispers a special spell but that always shows him the picture he most needs to see; a page torn from a potions book that, brewed properly, will allow him extra time to summon a Patronus by giving him a few crucial seconds not just of happiness but of bliss. It doesn’t matter. Harry knows these gifts not as birthday gifts but for what they really are, and he treasures the locket and copies out the potion to send to Hermione and Mrs. Weasley, and when first summoned by the Order of the Phoenix he marches straight up to Dumbledore with the hexes and says “I can’t tell you where I got these, Professor. But they’re in use by the Death Eaters and I think you should have them.” Months later, Sirius will recognize the spell Bellatrix shoots at him, and will dive out of the way just in the nick of time.

The final battle. Everyone is there. Sirius somehow ends up herding a group of Slytherins. They all stare at him and he at them, across a centuries-old divide Voldemort has only succeeded in deepening. Then he remembers the hexes. Harry’s locket, now tucked under Sirius’ shirt because Harry’s friends are with him in this battle but most of Sirius’ are dead. The moment that happiness potion saved Remus’ life, his very soul. Snape’s final words to Harry, finally seen not as mockery but real true advice. What Harry said Voldemort said–his first words in his new form. They are kids, and they are sharing the same kind of hurt he once wouldn’t admit to, watching his mother burn his name off the family tree. “When we go in there, it’s going to be hell,” he tells the Slytherins. “Some of you are probably going to die. I might go down too, and if I do I want your best curser in the front. But I want you all to remember one thing. There are no spares.”  Later retellings of the battle never fail to mention the moment a group of angry, screaming teens burst into the Great Hall, wearing their green and silver as the badge of honor it should be, shouting NO SPARES, NO SPARES at the tops of their voices in between hexes and curses and the occasional physical punch. When Hermione is present, she always interrupts the storyteller to be sure everyone knows about the moment Blaise Zabini shoved her to the floor, dropped on top of her, fired off three curses in rapid succession and said “stay alive, Granger, we need you” before jumping back to his feet and vanishing into the melee–how, for all anyone knows, those may have been his last words, and she will not let his sacrifice go unnoted.

The aftermath. Malfoy holds out a hand to Sirius, badly injured on the floor. Sirius asks how Malfoy is willing to trust him. Malfoy nods at his chest. “You’ve got my godfather’s locket,” he says, and when Sirius and Harry finally speak after the battle Harry gives his full agreement to the very first thing out of  Sirius’ mouth. They give the locket to Malfoy. Sirius grits his teeth and closes his eyes and opens them and says “He probably saved my life, giving Harry that.” He doesn’t say thank you. Malfoy hears it anyway.

The school reopens under a single banner: the four Houses united. The House rivalry is reduced to just that–a competition in fun–with those deep divides slowly healing to scars, and eventually away to nothing at all.

Imagine it.

(via sci-fantasy)

(original post here)

JKR gave us these books, seven wonderful, complex books with a story about bravery vs. cowardice, right vs. wrong, light vs. dark, and they were good. Really good. Something we could all pretty much get behind.

But then we readers grew up and came of writing age, and while we all appreciate what was given to us, I see in our fanfic how we also sit down and look at the world and look at each other and go, “Yeah, but what if it were more complicated than that…”

And that makes me really goddamn proud.