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You thought I forgot about this fic, didn't you! Didn't you.

I've been posting fic to this journal even though I don't actually journal here any more, but I may cut that out too, because the mod of talboys seems to have set it to moderated posting and then stopped checking the queue, which kind of makes it pointless posting to LJ.

In any case, despite my best efforts this fic has hit a point where I'll probably be writing straight through to the end, so I'm gonna put this installment here and then move operations over to AO3.

(I may yet write the second Triwizard task, but it was an extremely complicated logic puzzle time travel maze thing and would probably be really boring both to read and to write? So let's just all pretend that happened.)

Meanwhile. Jerry/Hilary, Peter/Harriet, 1600 words, PG.

"But what do I do with it?" Hilary asked, turning the bottle over in her hands. It appeared to be full of perfectly ordinary, nonmagical ink--which, under the circumstances, made it perhaps not so very ordinary. She had expected something far more interesting at the end of the trail, that was all, and felt almost disappointed.

"Well, I shouldn't go writing your Arithmancy homework with it just yet." Wimsey shrugged, cheerfully unhelpful. "You'll be wanting it in June, though if you care to know what for you'll have to work it out for yourself."

"I was afraid you might say that," said Hilary ruefully. "Can't I at least open it? Just to test a few drops." It wouldn't be safe, she suspected, to treat a suggestion like that as genuinely optional.

"A few drops at most," Wimsey agreed.

He seemed about to say more, but Professor Vane came up behind him and touched his arm; Hilary thought, a bit anxiously, that she looked rather pale. "Peter," she said quietly. "Could I speak to you a moment?"

Something about being greeted thus seemed to startle Wimsey, Hilary noted with interest--she hadn't thought of him as a man easily startled. This didn't look like a conversation that was meant to include her, Louis, or Katerina, and it was obviously extremely urgent, so she looked around uncertainly at the other two, who seemed equally lost.

"Go on," said Wimsey inattentively, and glanced at them. "I expect you've all got friends you'd like to be with, and for the moment I'm perfectly willing to pretend it's only butterbeer they've got waiting for you."

Louis laughed, but Hilary glanced at Professor Vane again; behind the apprehension there she recognized, from six years' experience, the expression that said Go ahead and try it, children, but I won't be responsible for the consequences. Somehow she didn’t think that expression had to do with anyone’s drinking habits. "All right," she said, and stepped back with the other two Champions. The entire Great Hall felt that something was off; people were murmuring, and Hilary suddenly wanted to stop being the focus of attention as quickly as she could.

"Armando sent me to--" she heard Professor Vane saying into Wimsey's ear, but the rest was too low to hear. Hilary clenched the ink bottle in her fist and went back to sit with her own House, offering Jerry a quick rueful smile as she passed the Gryffindor table. He shrugged back, apparently unconcerned, but Hilary still felt just a little too conspicuous to stop and talk to him, especially with Louis at her heels.

"Well done," said Amy quietly, when Hilary dropped into a seat beside her. "At least, I thought so."

"Thanks," said Hilary, tucking the bottle safely into her pocket.

By this time Dippet had joined Vane and Wimsey in conference, all of them looking serious; Hilary thought she saw Wimsey place his hand on Vane's arm, but it didn't stay there long. At last Dippet cleared his throat and turned to address the hall. "My apologies, but it seems we won't be feasting tonight after all. Please return to your Houses, all of you--there will be food there, and your Heads of House will be there shortly to talk to you."

Hilary snorted as she scrambled to her feet. "A lot of use that is--no feast, and he won't even tell us anything."

"Perhaps someone cheated at the task," suggested Winnie, slipping through the crowd to Hilary's side. Judging by her expression, this was just about the worst situation she could imagine.

"Well, if someone did, it wasn't me," Hilary assured her. "But I don't think that's it."



Professor Merrythought had the sort of voice Hilary had always envied--quiet and polite, and yet instantly commanding attention. Tonight it was shaking a little, though, and she looked grim as she shut the common room door behind her.

"I'm afraid I have some terrible news for you," she went on, once most of the room’s attention was on her. "Professor Fedorov is dead."

The whole room went still.

"What happened?" said Flitwick suddenly; his high voice seemed even shriller and more ridiculous than usual.

Merrythought wet her lips. "A dreadful accident, I’m afraid. There’s no danger to any of the students, I’m sure, but the Ministry is sending an Auror just to be certain.”

“Why is it,” murmured Amy to Hilary, “that when she says she’s sure it makes me think she’s nothing of the kind?”

Hilary snorted, but her heart wasn’t in it; she was thinking of Vane’s expression when she’d come up to the High Table. “What do you think’s happening?”

Amy shrugged. “Something really bad, I’d think--if Merrythought’s rattled.”

Flitwick’s question had broken the silence; people were muttering everywhere, most likely having more or less the same conversation. “Poor Katerina,” said Hilary involuntarily, but it wasn’t Katerina who occupied the majority of her mind; it was, in fact, her chances of slipping out the common room door.

Luckily Merrythought was now besieged by curious students, and Hilary was able to get out without too much difficulty; in fact she was able to acquire a couple of sandwiches on her way out, and bit into one thoughtfully as she crept down the tower stairs. It was roast beef and mustard, which was far from her favourite, but she hadn’t exactly had time to examine the selection the house elves had provided. She wondered whether perhaps the elves in the kitchen had felt the upset as well.

She had to be cautious going past the door to the Slytherin dungeon, though to no purpose; even outside it, the hallways were quiet. Whatever was happening within, the heavy stone walls muffled it quite well, but Hilary paused for a moment anyway; she knew the Durmstrang students generally ate with Slytherin, and she wondered whether they were in the common room with them now.

A few doors further along she found the Potions office, with--thankfully--the door ajar and the light on. She was about to knock when she heard voices from inside and realised someone was already paying a visit. While she was still hesitating, wondering whether to wait or try again another time, Vane raised her voice:

“Must we do this right now?”

“It does seem the time for it.” It was Peter Wimsey’s voice, and Hilary grimaced; this was the one thing that could possibly have made her timing worse.

“For playing detective?” Vane snapped. “Or for making love to me?”

“I confess, both instincts are so profoundly ingrained I sometimes have difficulty separating the two.”

This was followed by a long silence; even Hilary, who like anyone who read the Prophet was familiar with the stalemate between the two, was beginning to feel embarrassed on both their behalves. “I’d be happy to help with the former,” said Vane at last.

“Are you sure you don’t need any--”

“I don’t need you hovering so you can feel you’ve done some kind of duty by me, if that’s what you mean. Tell Armando I’ll be up in his office shortly.” Vane paused. “Before Mr. Parker arrives, for certain.”

Hilary forced herself not to flinch away when the door opened; she hadn’t a hope of concealing herself, anyway, but she gave Wimsey a wan smile when he emerged. She had tried and failed, on her way down to the dungeons, to think up an adequate excuse for being out of her House, and concluded she had none. So she was bracing herself for confrontation, but he only said “Miss Thorpe,” in a distracted tone and strode on past. Not that she could blame him for being distracted, really, under the circumstances.

When Wimsey was safely out of sight around the corner, Hilary poked her head through the office door, which had been left open again. Vane was sitting at her desk, fidgeting with a large quill, and hadn’t noticed her arrival; for the first time Hilary considered going back home without bothering her. “Professor,” she said instead, hesitantly.

“You were meant to go to your common room, Miss Thorpe.” Professor Vane looked up at her and smiled, though the goose feather went on twirling between her fingers. “But I expect you know that.”

“I did go,” said Hilary--a bit too smartly, and she was immediately sorry about it. “And then I came down here. I wanted--well, I wanted to know if you were all right, Professor.”

Vane lifted an eyebrow. “You’re curious and thought I could be wheedled round into telling you what’s going on, is more like it.”

“It’s both,” Hilary admitted, shutting the door quietly behind her. “But you came and told Mr. Wimsey something, and no one knew anything about Professor Fedorov before that. It was you who found him--wasn’t it?”

“I can see why you and Peter get on,” said Vane.

Under the circumstances, Hilary wasn’t sure how to receive this; she resisted the urge to apologise. “Please, Professor, I just want to know--was he murdered?”

Vane grimaced. “I should say he’d had a pretty rough time of it. In fact, that’s all I’d care to say about it. Mr. Wimsey’s gone to owl the Department of Magical Law Enforcement, so I suppose it won’t be a secret much longer anyway.”

“I’m sorry,” said Hilary quietly, and went looking for the tea kettle. “Are you all right?”

“I’ll do,” said Professor Vane, and mustered another smile.


( 1 comment — Leave a comment )
Sep. 17th, 2012 01:55 am (UTC)


Like all of your stuff, this feels like an actual book. I JUST WANT TO SINK INTO IT AND READ IT FOREVER.
( 1 comment — Leave a comment )


caffeinated wolf
the variable fictionalization device

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