Bert Cassidy, Oxford Philosophy Student and Tale Teller

Bert Cassidy doesn't say much, but when he does express himself he tries to do it intelligently and concisely. Here is his tale.

~Chaucer

Dear readers,

Harry Bailey asked me for an adventure story--something that will be enjoyed by all. I had to think long and hard about how to convey my masterful tale to a common audience. I think I've succeeded. Please, enjoy my tale. Maybe you'll learn something.

Bert.

Seb Poena's Tale

We were starting to worry at The Pilgrim about what happened to Seb. Finally, I received this message today, along with his entry. Here is Seb Poena's Tale

~Chaucer

Dear Harry,

I know I'm late to post my tale. My last job united me with an unexpected partner and, well, to be honest, I'm not sure what happened. I just woke up a couple hours ago. I'm not sure how, but I blame Hugh for this, that bloody devil.

Anyway, here is my tale: the truth about "Life Coaches" and their pathetic existence.

~Seb

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Hugh Fryer's Tale

Well this was slightly unexpected, but Hugh Fryer asked for his tale to be posted immediately It seems he sort of just fell upon it. Here is his tale.

~Chaucer


Dear Wife of Bath

Author’s Note: For many years, I have run an advice column in the Bath Daily Gazette under the pseudonym “Wife of Bath.” During my time at the paper, I have helped hundreds of men and women solve problems related to dating, work, child rearing, and much more. For consideration in your esteemed contest, I present to you one entry from my time as Wife of Bath, complete with the original letter written to me for context.

Dear Wife of Bath,

I’ve been married for just over a year, and while in many ways the marriage has been successful, there is one big, glaring issue that is keeping me from being completely happy: my husband doesn’t know what I want unless I explicitly tell him. This may not sound like a big deal, but it’s driving me crazy. For example, last month my sister was throwing a cocktail party. My husband hates parties, so he decided not to go. But I really wanted him there with me, since I can’t stand my sister’s friends and knew I would be miserable if I had to deal with them alone. I dropped plenty of blatant hints about my feelings—I talked about how horrible my sister’s friends were, how I would have no one to talk to, how I wish there would be a familiar face there with me, but he didn’t understand. I didn’t want to force him to go, since I knew that would lead to a huge argument and him sulking all night. I wanted him to get that I needed him and come of his own accord. Needless to say, I went to that party alone. And that’s just one example of an all too common issue.

    What can I do to make my husband better understand my needs?

Sincerely,

Frustrated in Somerset

 

 

Dear Frustrated in Somerset,

I’m going to start by telling you a little story.

Once upon a time, there was a man working in a big marketing company. Let’s call him Eric. Eric was known around the office as “the sleazy guy.” He wasn’t completely terrible looking, but the way he came onto his co-workers was so lecherous no one ever returned his advances. Still, nothing deterred him from trying, and one day he went too far and pinched one of the intern’s bums. The intern filed a sexual harassment suit, and Eric was called into his boss Wanda’s office. Wanda gave Eric the standard warning, telling him he’d be fired if he didn’t cut his behaviour out. She also decided to suspend him, but the way she did it was a bit unusual, and frankly, probably a bit outside of the law. Wanda told Eric that he had to figure out what women wanted most in the world. When he came back to her with the correct answer, he’d be allowed to start working again.

So Eric went around to all the women in his life, asking what their deepest desire was. Of course, all of their answers were different. His sister wanted love, his mother wanted happiness, his friend wanted money, and on and on. Finally, after a couple of weeks of this, he was approached by his sister’s friend Ashley, a homely creature who had had a crush on him for years. She shyly told him she knew the right answer, but she’d only tell him if he promised to go on a date with her. He agreed, she told him, and he ran into his boss’s office the next morning, shouting, “I know the answer! The thing women want most in the world is  to be in charge of the men in their life.”

Wanda told him that he was right, and Eric got his job back.

The next day, he went on the promised date with Ashley. It went well and they got along nicely. And so, when they got back to Ashley’s flat she invited Eric inside. Eric hemmed and hawed, and Ashley soon figured out the problem.

“It’s because of my looks, isn’t it?” she asked.

Eric, deciding to be honest, nodded.

“What would you say if I told you that I can change my appearance? I can become beautiful.”

Of course, Eric didn’t believe her. But then, she changed, and all of sudden she looked like a supermodel. Before Eric could comprehend what was happening, she changed back.

“If you want, I can look like that. But, if you choose that appearance, I’ll be unfaithful and mean to you throughout our whole relationship. If, on the other hand, you decide to have me like this, I’ll be the most devoted girlfriend you could ever wish for. What will it be?”

Eric thought for a while, unsure if it was worth pursuing a relationship with those caveats. He was about to call the whole thing off, when he thought about the correct answer to the “what do women want” riddle. And, smiling, he said, “I trust your judgement. I’ll let you choose what’s best.”

Ashley smiled too, and transformed back into the supermodel. “Correct. Since you learned your lesson and let me have the authority in the relationship, I’ll be both faithful and beautiful for you.”

And they lived happily ever after.

So, my dear Frustrated in Somerset, you may be wondering what this has to do with your situation. What I’m trying to say with this story is that men don’t know what we want. They simply can’t comprehend it. As you can see, Eric could never have come up with the answer to his boss’s question on his own. He had to find out the answer from the women in his life. And then, once he had the answer, it wasn’t like he just forgot it instantaneously. He used what he learned with the homely woman-turned-supermodel, and for that, he was rewarded

with a beautiful and faithful girlfriend.

So, the best thing for you to do is stop just dropping hints and hoping your husband understands. After all, he isn’t being obtuse on purpose. For both your sakes, just tell him what you want. If you want him to go to a party, tell him to go to a party. Sure, you may get into an argument, but at least he’ll understand that it’s important to you—which he probably doesn’t now realise . And even if he still bows out of this party, he’ll know for future parties that it will be a big deal if he doesn’t go. Like the man in my little story, he’ll learn his lesson and use what he learned to make you happy. Drop the coy act and be straight with your man, and everyone will be happier in the end.

           Best,

           Wife of Bath

 

 

"Chef" Roger Fleming's Tale

Roger Fleming is a stand-up comedian and cook and, as you'll see, he likes to drink and talk. His tale for this contest is a bit...well, I'll let you decide. Good effort, Roger.

For more about Roger and all our artists visit our artists' profile page.

To read how Roger became next in line visit our forum, The Prologues.

~Chaucer


Ladies and Gentlelads!

Reali exited to show you my tale this week. Im a pretty boss stand up comediun so thort Id share my jokes with all of you. Did this up in Edinburgh a couple of weeks ago. I was really pissed (as usual lol). Realy funny tale about my mate Tony Knobcheese – he’s a right idiot, I swear! Tony if you watch this yor gonna love it, you knob – makin you famous, your welcome!

Everyone else check it out plz! I’m always lookin for gigs n hopin to make it in the big time. 

~Roger


Ozzy Reeve's Tale

Dear Readers,

I can't say I'm a huge connoisseur of the medium Ozzy Reeve has chosen to use for his tale, but I cannot deny that it is effective. Well done, Ozzy!

Visit the forum thread "What did everyone think about that" to see the confrontation between Robbie Miller and Ozzy Reeve.

~Chaucer


It all starts when John messages Alan.

Katie Simkin has noticed the new arrival...

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In the kitchen, John tries some sweet talk.

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Alan can't respond right now.

Robbie Miller's Tale

What should I say about Robbie Miller? He insisted on telling his tale in this format. I have to admit I wish I didn’t have to publish this tale here. So, to our respectable readers I say please, for the love of God, don’t think that I am posting this story to be a troll. I have to post all the contestant’s tales for better or worse or else the contest isn’t fair. So, I’ll remind you all that if you don’t want to read this story, click back and choose another tale. I’m sure you will find enough entries that have historical merit, tales about good people, or even tales with a moral. Don’t blame me if you don’t like the story. Robbie Miller is a rude guy; you’ve seen that already. Again, don’t blame me for this tale.

At the same time, people need to learn not to take jokes so seriously.

Visit the forum thread "How was that for a kickoff" to read how Robbie Miller jumped the tale telling queue. Also, notice that Ozzy Reeve, the contractor, doesn't seem too impressed by this tale to come.

~Chaucer


Right, as I mentioned in the Forum, I was drunk when I managed to get ahold of this hilarious conversation. Hell, I'm drunk again while I'm sending it in. (What of it?) All I'm trying to say is hopefully I get everything in the right order. But if I don't, go easy on me and blame it on the drink. This tale is about Ali--who is a real looker, some student nerd who is fresh on her called Nick, and her old man, John, the idiot contractor who has no idea what's going on.

--RM

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And there you have it! John's the butt of a joke, Ali got screwed, Abz got a piece of Ali in the end, and Nick's ass got burned! That's how you tell a tale! Good luck to the rest of you.

BK's Tale: Part 7

Post-Apocalyptic Medieval Battle of Hogwarts and The Love of Maidens

Part 7

Disclaimer: I don’t own any of these characters, they belong to J.K. Rowling. Please review and share with your friends! This is the final part of this tale.

---

“I just can’t believe he’s gone,” said Harry. Ginny sat next to him on a bench by the grave, looking at the little leaves of grass spurting from the damp soil. It had been a month since Draco’s funeral, and still both of them came to visit his last resting place every day. In a way, they both felt responsible for his death; Harry more so than Ginny, who hadn’t really had a say in the matter. They both wore black robes, and even Ginny’s hair looked limp and sad as if to join in the general feeling of mourning.

“What are you going to do now? Are you going away?” asked Ginny. Something in her voice made it feel like she’d been holding that question in her throat for a long time.

“I don’t know,” said Harry, not looking at her.

“Oh,” said Ginny.

They were both quiet for a little while.

“I think I’m going to stay. Look after Hogwarts,” said Ginny finally.

“It’s what he would’ve wanted,” said Harry. Neither of them knew what made him say that, but it felt right somehow. Even if it wasn’t exactly true, it was an acceptable version of the truth and not an outright lie. Who knew what Draco would’ve wanted? He did love Hogwarts, they thought, and he always enjoyed working with Ginny on the grounds. Even before he’d worked alongside her, he’d liked watching her working in the garden from the prison above. Hogwarts felt like a fitting place.

“I think I may stay too,” said Harry. His voice was casual enough, but his hands were shaking.

“Yeah?” said Ginny. Her gaze was still fixed on the little sprouts of grass.

“It feels like a good place to… I don’t know. Repent. If I went away I think I’d feel like I was running from my responsibility.”

“Yeah,” said Ginny.

They sat and looked at the grave again. Soon it would have a headstone. But for now, it was just a soft bit of dark soil with a few blades of grass poking bright and green through the dark ground.

---

A year later, Harry and Ginny had both moved into the Groundkeepers’ hut. Harry had learned a lot from Ginny’s expertise, and they just felt that living together would be a good thing. Both of them had grown quite solitary in the time that had passed, but they enjoyed spending their evenings together, reading by themselves in two opposing corners of the hut, alone but still together.

There was a knock on the door.

“I’ll get it,” Harry said to Ginny, who was engrossed in her diary. He had been cooking their dinner, rabbit and turnip stew, so he put down the large wooden spoon before he opened the door.

“Hello,” said Dumbledore and entered. His hair was smooth and shiny in the light of the open fire under the cauldron. “I have come to propose something to you.”

“Come on in.”

“Thank you, Harry,” he said and sat down on one of the hut’s comfortable chairs. The furnishings were simple, but they were all handmade and had a cosy charm about them. “I was wondering if I could ask if you were ready to move on from your grieving,” Dumbledore began.

“What?” said Ginny, and put down her quill.

“You know. Marriage. You two are practically married already, I mean, look at this home you’ve built together!”

Both Harry and Ginny blushed. They were both in their early thirties, and they had been sharing a house for a little while, but still the mention of their relationship changing made them embarrassed.

“Oh, don’t be daft. This could be the best thing that’s ever happened to you!” said Dumbledore.

“I can’t,” said Harry. Ginny lowered her eyes. “My friend died because he wanted to be with her. I can’t do that to him… to his memory.”

“Okay,” said Dumbledore after some deliberation.

Ginny finally piped up. “Why doesn’t anyone ever ask me?” she said. “I don’t get asked whether I want to marry him. It’s my choice too!” she continued.

“Yes! I agree,” said Harry. They now presented a united argument, and Dumbledore could see he was at a loss.

“Yes. I see,” he said. “But don’t be cross if I ask you again once some time has passed.”

“Okay,” said Harry. He glanced at Ginny and added, “But under one condition.”

“What’s that?” said Dumbledore.

“You need to ask both of us. Separately. And we both have to agree. And no pressure.”

Ginny smiled a little secret smile.

“So be it,” said Dumbledore. “I see what you mean. Her Majesty Professor McGonnagall and I only became companions after a long time. And even now, she’s like a sister to me. There’s nothing romantic about it. We’re just good friends.”

“Really? Tell me more about that,” said Ginny, and got up to fetch some small glasses for fire whisky and berry schnapps.

And so Dumbledore told them the long story of his friendship with Minerva McGonnagall, of his lover and long-time partner Werner, and of the complicated social system, of keeping a facade alive for the sake of the throne, and so on. “If I could’ve married Werner, if we could’ve been kings together, I would’ve. But truth be told,” he said, and took a long sip of schnapps, “I think Minerva is a much better administrator than him. And much better with the press. So it works out for all of us.”

Harry and Ginny were very drunk by the time Dumbledore walked off to go back to the castle. The mystery of the King and Queen’s separate bedrooms was finally solved! Sitting by the fire with a bowl of overcooked stew, they gazed into each other’s eyes for a long time.

“Maybe one day,” said Ginny after a long silence.

“Yes,” said Harry.

They each ate a small spoonful of stew.

“This is disgusting,” said Ginny.

“Yes,” said Harry.

They laughed, and Ginny reached across the table to put her hand on top of Harry’s. Their fingers intertwined slowly, and so they sat, eating their soft stew, holding each other’s fingertips, until they fell asleep where they sat.

---

Ten years later.

Dumbledore, still in his prime, walked up to the hut. He was in a hurry. Harry’s 40th birthday was only a few days away, and he needed Ginny’s help to plan the perfect party. She opened the door and welcomed the King in, and he noticed how her hair had gone sort of grey in parts, like the copper was now woven through with silver. It suited her.

“How can I help?” she said, drying her hands on a tea towel. She had been gardening, and there was still some dirt under her fingernails. The vegetable patch of Hogwarts was thriving more than ever, Dumbledore noted with pleasure.

“You’re Harry’s best friend. Do you know what he’d like for his birthday?” he asked.

“I think he’d like it if we didn’t make a big fuss,” Ginny said. They were both silent, and then snorted and started laughing loudly. “The Golden Boy, you know. Doesn’t like a big party.”

“So, fireworks?” asked Dumbledore, brushing tears of laughter out of the corners of his eyes.

“Yes, I think that would be appropriate,” said Ginny.

“Good,” said Dumbledore. He would tell Minerva to go ahead with the preparations for Party Plan A. “And one other thing,” he said. “Are you two finally ready? It’s been a long time now. Do you think we could fit a tiny wedding into the birthday party?”

“Yes, I suppose,” said Ginny with a wide smile.

“Fantastic!” said Dumbledore and clapped his hands together with excitement. “I’ll ask Harry,” he promised. He walked away and found Harry in the forest, healing bark on a tree.

“Hi, Albus,” said Harry. His face had some new wrinkles now, but he was still as handsome as ever. In fact, the wrinkles even helped disguise the scar on his forehead.

“Hello. Listen, Harry, I was wondering… don’t you think it’s time you stopped being a bachelor and became an honest man?”

Harry grinned. “Have you asked Ginny yet?”

“I couldn’t possibly share that with you,” said Dumbledore, and winked.

“Yes. Yes, I think that would be great,” said Harry.

“So you’ll do it?” asked Dumbledore. He didn’t want to get his hopes up before he was completely certain.

“Yes. I would be honoured. If she’ll have me, the old witch,” he said.

“Fabulous. I do love a wedding!” said Dumbledore, and clapped a hand to his mouth. He had divulged too much. Harry was beaming with joy.

“Cool,” he said, appearing calm. His wand hand was drawing sparkles into midair.

And so it was that Harry and Ginny were married, and both their prayers became true: Harry married Ginny, and Ginny married the one who truly loved and appreciated her. And all was well.

 

BK's Tale: Part 6

Post-Apocalyptic Medieval Battle of Hogwarts and The Love of Maidens

Part 6

Disclaimer: I don’t own any of these characters, they belong to J.K. Rowling. Please review and share with your friends! The final part of this saga, part 7, is due out tomorrow.

---

Harry and Draco were fully kitted out. Their wooden uniforms restored to their former glory, their leather helmets snug against their skulls, they were ready to fight. Both were now talking to their troops before heading to the Quidditch Stadium.

“Listen!” yelled Harry. The chatter in his preparation tent fell silent. “You have come to help me fight for the love of the woman who is everything to me. It was King Dumbledore’s wish that we have a battle, and a battle we shall have!” Everyone cheered. There were one hundred witches and wizards crammed into the circular tent, each wearing whatever armour they had been able to cobble together. Some carried pitchforks, some broomsticks, some large ladders, the purpose of which was unknown. “And not only that! We will have a battle, and we will win it!” Loud cries of affirmation resounded within the tent. Harry’s troops were ready to fight for him.

“My dear friends,” shouted Draco. His troops turned their gaze at him. “We came here for many reasons. Ginny, the most enchanting woman in the world, will be the prize of this battle. So we will win! I’ve got to win! And you will help me!” The witches and wizards let out ecstatic cries, and someone grabbed Draco and put him on his shoulders. The tent was stuffy and small, and the atmosphere was tangible; it was one of excitement, nerves and impatience.

Suddenly, the doors of the tent were flung open.

“You may now enter the battle grounds,” said Sir Nicholas the Nearly-Headless. He, too, had put on his finest uniform. On the way to the Quidditch grounds, both troops walked side by side, with Harry and Draco leading the way. The two friends didn’t look at each other for fear of losing their focus. As they reached the big stadium, they realised it was decorated elaborately in green, silver, red and gold. Their old House colours. A rush of the old enmity filled both Harry and Draco’s lungs. Mixed with memories of years of friendship, jealousy and envy for Ginny’s affection, and the adrenaline of leading a troop of people ready to fight on their behalf, it made for an explosive emotional cocktail.

Inside the stadium, Harry and Draco both saw that the ranks were full of people cheering. It was like a Quidditch match, except this was more serious, and people were likely to die. In what had been the teachers’ booth, they spotted Dumbledore, McGonnagall and Ginny. Ginny was looking incredibly uncomfortable, shifting from one side to the other in her seat. She waved when she saw Harry and Draco, but, quite reasonably, didn’t seem at all excited at the prospect of being a prize people would kill each other to attain.

“Take your places,” shouted Dumbledore. The cheering in the stadium grew louder and louder as both troops lined up along their semicircle.

Ginny stepped up to join Dumbledore at the front of the teachers’ booth, and Harry and Draco saw that she was holding a blue handkerchief up high in the air.

“When this handkerchief lands on the ground, you may begin. You have as long as it takes. I decide who wins. Thank you.”

Ginny let go of the handkerchief. Everyone held their breaths and watched as it fell.

Harry thought about not wanting to die. Maybe he could lose and survive, and at least then he’d still get to see Ginny.

Draco thought about his wish, and about winning. He would. He had to.

Then the handkerchief landed on the dusty ground. There was an immediate reaction from the troops, like tectonic plates moving they shifted forwards, rushing to meet one another halfway in the stadium. Pitchforks, crossbows, colonial pistols, and wands, many wands. People’s legs were being cursed together so they could no longer walk, others were momentarily blinded with bright lights erupting from the tips of wands. Harry was caught in the middle of it all, but he had lost sight of where Draco was. He fired a stunning curse all around himself with a circular sweep of his wand, and pushed forwards in the muddle. It was hot here among all the other witches and wizards, and the noise was drowning out his every thought. Never mind winning, or surviving, he thought he’d be lucky if he didn’t get trampled within the first few minutes of the battle.

Draco was fighting in another corner of the stadium, stunning, exploding, repelling and blinding with his wand, and wielding a sword as well, for good measure. He was a ball of movement that no one dared even approach.

And so they fought. Harry’s wand arm got really tired, but he had to keep fending off enemy  fighters. He found himself completely surrounded by them, and he wasn’t sure where his troops were; hadn’t he been safe with them behind him and on either side of him? Suddenly he was among his enemies, and they weren’t holding back.

A booming voice stopped the fighting after two hours.

“All of your troops are injured or dead, Harry,” it said. It seemed to be the voice of a God, but it was only Dumbledore addressing the whole stadium. “Draco Rodolpho  Salazar Malfoy, you are the winner of this contest,” he said. At the same time, Harry saw, Dumbledore waved at Madame Pomfrey and her helpers to head into the battle ground and heal those who could be healed.

Harry looked around him. Among his enemies, he hadn’t noticed that his own troops were so far gone. He was disoriented and pushed past rows and rows of fighters until he was in the clear. Yes, there it was, the ground was strewn with bodies who were aching and bleeding, and those who were not breathing anymore. I did this, he thought. Never mind that it had been Dumbledore’s idea to send them to battle: he made these people fight. And now he had lost his one true love to Draco. But it was fair enough, he deliberated, after all he wasn’t worthy of her love, not after having led so many people to their own deaths.

A deafening rumble went through the ground as a large silvery ghost appeared above them. In that moment, Harry spotted Draco, who was standing next to a big battle horse one of his knights must have brought along. The knight was long gone, but the horse was still there, wearing shiny armour and foaming at the mouth.

“I am Helga Hufflepuff,” the ghost screeched loudly. “And no one came to me to ask for help in this battle.”

Draco and Harry looked at each other in confusion.

“This isn’t your battle, Helga,” said Dumbledore, but the ghost took no notice.

“I am here to bring chaos!” she said, and flew to the ground with incredible speed, crashing into the soil and sending a large ripple like an earthquake all around the Quidditch stadium. The spectators in the ranks fell over themselves, some falling off their seats and down onto the battlefield.

The armed horse next to Draco had fallen too. Harry ran over, stepping over witches and wizards, to see if it was okay, and it looked like it was still breathing, but underneath the horse, he could see a leg and an arm sticking out. Draco. Where was Draco?

Ginny was suddenly beside Harry.

“Draco!” both of them shouted, looking around, not wanting to face the reality of what had happened. Helga Hufflepuff was laughing menacingly behind them, stomping on the ground and creating more small earthquakes.

Harry and Ginny crouched beside the horse and tried to move it off the person trapped underneath it, but it was too heavy. They shot spells after spells at it, but it wouldn’t move. Maybe this was a magical earthquake, dooming everything to stay where it fell? Or maybe Harry was exhausted from the long battle. Then, out of nowhere, the horse shifted.

Dumbledore walked up to them, his wand pointed firmly at the horse, murmuring a powerful levitation spell. It was clearly taking a lot of out of him to perform, he had beads of sweat trickling down his face.

Yes.

Draco.

The horse had fallen onto him with such force that it had actually pushed him into the ground. He was flattened, and completely still. They felt for his pulse, but it was gone. There was nothing anybody could do, and even Madame Pomfrey said it was a lost cause. He was dead.

Harry and Ginny refused to leave Draco’s body. They sat beside it crying, each holding one of his hands. Around them, there was a flurry of movement as the Quidditch Grounds were cleared.

And so Draco had won the battle, and his prayer had been fulfilled.

BK's Tale: Part 5

Post-Apocalyptic Medieval Battle of Hogwarts and The Love of Maidens

Part 5

Disclaimer: I don’t own any of these characters, they belong to J.K. Rowling. Please review and share with your friends! Part 6 due out tomorrow.

---

“What on Merlin’s Good Earth is going on here?” said Dumbledore. Only once had Harry seen him this angry, and that had been for good reason; Dumbledore had suspected that he had put his name in the Goblet of Fire. But this was different.

“We’re arguing about a woman,” said Draco sheepishly.

“Oh, poppycocks,” said Dumbledore. “I live with a woman and it’s perfectly fine, nothing to write home about, haha! But of course Her Majesty Professor McGonnagall and I are just friends.”

Draco and Harry looked at each other in confusion as to how this had anything to do with their situation.

“Anyway, who is this woman you’re arguing about?”

“Her name is Ginny,” said Harry.

“And she’s the most ravishing creature I’ve ever laid eyes on,” said Draco. Harry nodded to confirm his friend’s words.

“Well, it’s simple! You don’t get to decide who gets this woman’s affection, that’s her choice. It would be silly to assume that a contest could decide who somebody marries. It’s the 90’s, for crying out loud!” said Dumbledore. Harry and Draco were dumbfounded. Dumbledore shook his head and added, “No, hah, that’s not what I meant to say. Let’s do battle. Yes, that’s a better idea. None of this quarrelling on the ground in the dirt with the ants! Each of you will assemble 100 witches and wizards, and in precisely one year we will have a battle! The winner of the battle will then win Ginny’s hand in marriage. She is one of my dependants, therefore I get to decide who she marries.”

“But didn’t you just say it was up to her?” said Harry.

“Yeah. I think you’re contradicting yourself,” said Draco.

“Poppycocks!” repeated Dumbledore. “In one year we shall do battle!”

---

Draco and Harry had no choice. They were glad Dumbledore hadn’t remembered that they were meant to be in exile and prison. So they gathered witches and wizards, one by one, and trained hard on the grounds of Hogwarts. They helped Ginny with everyday tasks, and the three of them became close friends. The nearer the date of the battle drew, the more absurd the whole scenario appeared to them, but Dumbledore had already planned it all out and prepared the big Quidditch court to hold 202 witches and wizards and their battle wands.

Finally, it was one month before the battle. Ginny, Harry and Draco found themselves in the hallowed halls of Hogwarts, each finding their mentor in one of the founders’ ghosts.

Ginny was the first to find hers: Rowena Ravenclaw. She went up to the founder’s statue and prayed, and Rowena herself appeared to talk to her. Ginny said, “Please, Rowena, do I have to marry one of them? I don’t think I want to get married at all!”

“I’m afraid so, Honeycheeks!” said Rowena. Her voice was low and kind, and her eyes had a spark of wisdom even now that she was a ghost. “But don’t worry. I’ll make sure you marry the one who really loves you.”

“But isn’t it about who I really love? And whether we really love each other?”

“Trust me in my infinite wisdom!” and Rowena Ravenclaw disappeared with a chuckle and a poof of smoke.

---

Draco instead went to seek out the ghost of Salazar Slytherin. In the Slytherin’s dungeon, which had now been converted to being the coal cellar, he spoke to the founder.

“Please, Salazar. I really want to win. Can you make sure I do?”

He held his breath. Was this cheating? But he didn’t care; he needed this. He had regained all his strength, recovered from all his injuries. This was his battle to win and he knew it. With a little help from the founder, it would all work out.

“Okay,” said Salazar finally after some deliberation.

“Thank you!” said Draco, and coughed out a lungful of black dust.

---

Harry went to see Godric Gryffindor’s ghost. It felt strange to go back into his old common room, where everything still smelled as it had when he was at school. The days of innocence were etched all around him, into the wallpaper, the chairs, the old fireplace where Sirius’s face had once appeared to him… it was all still there.

“Godric!” he called out.

And the ghost appeared.

“What can I do for you, Golden One?” asked Godric.

Harry blushed. “Don’t call me that,” he murmured. Louder, he added, “Godric, I beg of you, can I have the love of the beautiful Ginny? She is everything to me. Working alongside her I have come to appreciate her so much, and it’s not just that she’s beautiful, she’s also smart and funny and capable and great with animals.”

“Of course, my dear,” said Godric Gryffindor. Then he disappeared again into a wall.

All that praying had made Harry exhausted, and he sat down on a dusty red sofa. Soon, Draco and Ginny found him, and all together they took a long nap in the old Gryffindor common room.

Nobody could have prepared them for what was going to happen at the battle.

TBC.

BK's Tale: Part 4

Post-Apocalyptic Medieval Battle of Hogwarts and The Love of Maidens

Part 4

Harry was alone now. With Draco gone, watching Ginny in the garden became not so much a pastime as his whole daily occupation. It could be said that he was obsessed. Apart from thanking the person who brought his food every day, watching Ginny was his only human contact in the tower.

Draco was wandering the forests on the outskirts of Dumbledore’s kingdom. Thankfully, it spanned quite a small area, so he could walk all the way around its borders in a day. But still, he was in exile, meaning he couldn’t go back in. And if he couldn’t be there, he thought, he might as well not be anywhere.

---

Harry was being taken for his weekly bath when he had the idea. He was soaking in a clawfoot tub surrounded by a thin silk veil dangling from the high ceiling in a room that was all tiles, each gold-rimmed and polished to a shine. He thought about running away, and because he wasn’t strictly exiled, it wouldn’t matter if he remained within the kingdom - and close to Ginny. Obviously all his efforts would have to occur in secret, or Dumbledore would be likely to tighten the prison’s security. A stern-looking young witch was handing him a bar of soap while he sat in the bath, and as he washed his hair, he thought, I could do it now.

And if I soap myself up I’ll be hard to catch.

No, that’s silly, there are guards.

But I’m a wizard!

All the time in the tower he hadn’t once thought of using his magical powers. Living among muggles for so long, he was used to doing things the normal way. He winced with grief as he thought back to his childhood friend Ron, who was so magical he didn’t even know how to open a window without magic. Ron had been one of the victims of this last war.

Remembering how many people had died made Harry angry, and it made him want to escape even more, because now he had an additional motive - pissing off Dumbledore. Sure, he had been kind in keeping them alive, but had he done anything else for them since? There was nothing for him to do in the tower (well, except for looking at Ginny), no educational activities, nothing to keep him occupied.

The witch handed him a towel, all the while keeping her eyes strictly fixed on the tiles. Harry wondered if she was counting them.

“Let’s go back to your room,” said the witch.

The utterance was a straw, the last straw, and Harry buckled.

It wasn’t his room, it was his prison.

And he was going to get out.

---

Draco was on his third total traverse around the circumference of the kingdom when he spotted a bushel of grass growing higher than he’d ever seen grass grow before. The blades of grass were pale, beige, almost white, and they grew higher than he was tall. He stuck his head into them to see what they were obscuring, but there was only more shrubbery. As he pulled his head back out of the grass, the feeling of the leaves tickling his cheeks and brushing against his neck made him think of hair almost immediately, and it wasn’t long until he had fashioned a perfectly adequate long wig for himself. He wasn’t sure if it was a good enough disguise, but with his hairless face, he could give it a shot. After all, the man the guards were told to keep off the premises had  glossy short hair, not a straw-like mane to his waist. Maybe it would fool them.

He tried it.  At the next opportunity, when he got close to the border of the kingdom, he stepped over it with just one foot, testing the water. No obvious alarms went off, no loud sirens our big fireworks erupted, so he continued walking. After three days in exile, he was hungry, smelly and tired, and walking around Hogwarts had made him physically exhausted. So exhausted, in fact, that he decided a little nap was in order and collapsed underneath a tree.

---

Back in his prison, Harry briefly lost his determination to escape. It was a comfortable enough room, and he had come to feel at home there. And he always had Ginny.

He wandered to the window, patting his hair and beard dry with a towel, and looked out. This time of day, she was usually trimming the weeds by the Forbidden Forest.

Except that she wasn’t.

He looked all around as far as he could see, but she wasn’t there. His heart sank, and the anger rose in him again.

I’m going to go.

I’m going to go right now.

He looked over to his bed, and saw the straw blanket he had weaved out of Draco’s old bed. With nothing to do all day, he’d become quite good at weaving crafts, and the blanket was a pretty addition to his bed. Now would be the craft’s most glorious moment. Harry pulled his wand from his pocket, where it had been ever since they had arrived at the prison, and enchanted the blanket to be more firm, more stable, and most importantly airborne.

There.

His own flying carpet.

He chiselled away at the window with his wand as well, a task that took more effort than he had anticipated. He made sure to leave all the pieces right underneath the window, so no telltale bits of bricks would fall into the garden from a height and alert someone to his presence or his devious plan.

Then he was done. His wand arm ached from the effort, but he swished it one more time to direct the carpet towards himself, and to the window. All those little weaving patterns, and the straw that still held his friend’s dear smell! He lowered himself onto the surface of the floating mat, and, once he was confident that he was sitting still, directed it out of the window.

He didn’t know where he was going, but he knew he was going to leave the prison behind. And in that moment, that was a good enough plan.

---

“Wake up,” said a soft voice.

“Who’s this?” said Draco. He blinked.

A small hand stroked his long wig. As he looked up, he first saw a shock of ginger hair in a messy bun, and several strands falling into a beautiful freckled face.

Ginny.

“Never mind. You need to move,” she said. She stood up, and extended a hand to help him.

When he was finally standing up, he looked around and saw what she had meant.

“Yeah. Firecracker Ants. This is their migration path. And trust me, you don’t want to make the Queen of the Firecracker Ants angry,” she giggled.

The largest ants Draco had ever seen were crawling on the ground where he had taken a nap, carrying big branches.

“Do you want to help?” said Ginny. She handed him a broom, and showed him how to sweep obstacles from the ant paths.

Draco wasn’t saying a word. It was too overwhelming to be close to Ginny, and the fact that she was just talking to him like a normal person was too much to handle. He held on to his broom for dear life, and swept the ground clean so the ants could walk freely and safely.

---

Warning bells went off inside Hogwarts. A prisoner had escaped.

But Harry was long gone.

Flying over the Forbidden Forest, he spotted a clearing and directed the mat down towards it. Rushing past the tree tops, he felt a familiar rush, and he thought of Quidditch and how happy he was then, how happy he was living at Hogwarts and playing with his friends. That was a long time gone, and things had changed, but flying still felt like freedom, and like he was aspiring towards something.

He landed.

He heard some voices nearby, and hid behind a tree.

---

Ginny and Draco approached a clearing.

“I’ve got to go back to the hut now, but if you want a job I could meet you here again tomorrow? You were okay at sweeping those ant paths, but maybe I’ll find something else for you to do.”

“O-okay,” said Draco.

He handed the broom back and turned around to walk away without saying goodbye, and Ginny ran off to the Groundkeeper’s hut. He walked through the trees and out into the clearing, and had the air knocked out of him: The clearing was beautiful, and the sun streaming through the tree tops made it look enchanted. And also, his friend Harry had just tackled him to the ground, and he was sitting on top of his chest making it hard to breathe.

“What in the name of Hagrid do you think you’re doing?” a voice boomed from nearby.

Both Harry and Draco looked up.

Dumbledore was standing over them, looking decidedly disappointed.

BK's Tale: Part 3

Phew, what an emotional roller coaster! Find below Part III of this continuing saga.
~Harry Bailey, Managing Editor


Post-Apocalyptic Medieval Battle of Hogwarts and The Love of Maidens

Part 3

Dumbledore received a letter early in the morning one hazy day in June.

“Dear Albus,” it read, “I am writing to you on behalf of my late grandfather’s great nephew, Draco Salazar Rodolpho Malfoy. I understand he is currently within your custody. I would be much obliged if you were to let him go, for the exchange of the enclosed amount of galleons. Yours sincerely, M Dolohov IV”

Albus tossed the letter into a burning bowl, including its silky envelope and the enclosed cheque. He didn’t even glance at it to see the amount it promised to pay. He wasn’t a man who was for sale.

---

Harry was starting to grow a beard and teased Draco about having a perfectly hairless baby face.

“Well, at least I don’t look like a werewolf,” said Draco.

“Too soon, Draco. Don’t you remember one of my closest friends and mentors was a werewolf?” said Harry.

This was only the latest in a series of petty disagreements and hurtful snide comments. Every meal time, they now sat quietly by their windows, looking down to the grounds in the hope of catching a glimpse of the fair maiden. They had now learned her name - Ginny - and had each decided that they were fated to be her husband.

“It’s obvious. I like her for her expertise in gardening. You’re just idealising her,” said Harry and slurped a spoonful of thin oat soup.

“No, I just think there’s something otherworldly about her. Something about her beauty. It’s like she’s not even touching the ground when she walks,” said Draco.

“But she does touch the ground. She stomps. She pats down the soil after planting a seedling. She probably has dirt under her fingernails. And I love that,” said Harry.

“That’s creepy,” said Draco.

They didn’t look at each other, but they knew this had created a rift between them. Sometimes, Harry would bring up a different topic, like the current Quidditch league, and they would talk about that for a while, but it would inevitably lead back to the same discussion: which one of them was more suitable to being this mysterious Ginny’s husband?

After a slow conversation about the exact number of battles they had fought alongside each other, Harry and Draco went to sleep. The tower was chilly at night, but they didn’t move their straw beds closer to each other.

Harry was fast asleep when Draco received a strange visit… a visit from a feathered friend.

---

A month later, Dumbledore also had a strange visitor. Sir Nicholas the Nearly-Headless had escorted him to Dumbledore’s beautiful office. When he appeared in the doorway, Dumbledore was taken aback by his appearance, even though he himself had seen many strange creatures in his lifetime: The man did not have any feathers. As a matter of fact, not only was he completely featherless, he was also completely hairless. His eyes had no lashes, his cheeks no whiskers, and his ears no little tufts. He was the epitome of baldness.

“Hello,” he said in a sweet voice.

“Who are you?” said Dumbledore. The old nightmares had plagued him again the night before. A green light. Nothingness. Breathing through densely packed soil. Earth worms.

“Oliver Home,” said the man.

“And how can I help?” said Dumbledore.

“I’m from the Ministry of Magic, Department of Imprisonment,” said the man. He pulled out a handkerchief and dabbed at his hairless brow, even though it appeared to be completely dry.

“Right,” said Dumbledore.

“And I’m here to say that I’m afraid there’s been a bit of a filing error. Totally a mistake on our part, but, um, as it appears, one of your prisoners for life was actually not meant to be imprisoned for, um, life, as it were,” said Mr Home. His cloak, which was a uniform grey colour and had specks of silver all the way through it, billowed around him as he spoke, as though the act of breathing generated a breeze around his chest.

“Is that so?” said Dumbledore.

They sat down at Dumbledore’s desk, and to his surprise he saw that the papers all checked out. Mr H J Potter was indeed down for imprisonment for life, but Mr D S R Malfoy was meant to be in…

“What does that say? I’m afraid my eyes aren’t the youngest!” said Dumbledore and chuckled. This was one of his tricks: he pretended to be more elderly than he was, to not draw any attention to his recent rejuvenation and his general sprightliness now that he was Albus Dumbledore the White.

“It says Exile,” said Mr Home.

Dumbledore didn’t know what to say. Mr Home carried on talking, but even though he didn’t know Dumbledore at all he must have sensed that being spellbound isn’t one of his more common traits.

“Um, so, Mr Malfoy is actually sentenced to Exile and not a lifetime in prison.”

“But we didn’t go to court. Who filed these papers?”

Mr Home got really uncomfortable.

“You did, Sir, I’m afraid,” he said and pointed at the signature and the letterhead. Both were distinctly Dumbledore’s.

“Oh,” said Dumbledore. He whistled and has phoenix Fawkes appeared on his shoulder. “Please get Minerva,” he whispered to the beautiful bird. He promptly disappeared and left behind the smell of sulphur.

 

---

 

Harry and Draco were sitting munching on pumpkin bread with lemon marmalade when Professor McGonnagall arrived to see them through the hatch in the middle of their room.

“Professor!” both of them shouted in unison. They hadn’t had a chance to be alone with her since they arrived.

“It’s Her Majesty, actually,” said Minerva McGonnagall, but smiled sweetly so they boys would know she wasn’t serious.

“I’m delighted to share some good news. In his never-ending mercy, Albus has decided to let one of you go, provided you leave this place and never return. Your sentence has been amended to exile.”

Harry and Draco looked at each other. The arguments of the past weeks had made their friendship brittle, but still the promise of separation hurt.

“It’s Mr Malfoy. You must leave immediately.”

Draco’s heart ached in that moment, and not just for his friend. He knew that out in the world he wouldn’t get to see the beautiful girl anymore. The painful irony was that he was closer to her now, in the tower, than he would be in exile. He went to his bed, realised he had nothing to pack since he had no possessions, and returned back to McGonnagall and Harry.

Harry looked at Draco, and for a second it seemed like he wasn’t going to say anything.

“Good luck out there, mate,” he finally said in a small voice.

A second of silence. McGonnagall busied herself with straightening out her cloak so as to give the two friends some privacy.

“Thanks. You too,” said Draco.

They embraced.

Harry thought about all the places Draco would go.

And Draco thought that staying might have been the better punishment.

When they let go, the possibilities of their own fates had melted away and only the envy of the other person’s situation remained. Their gazes met as they said goodbye, but their eyes were hard.

“I’ll take you downstairs,” said Minerva.


TBC.

BK's Tale: Part 2

Hello everybody! Thank you for your feedback on yesterday's tale! Wasn't it great? I love the originality of it. Who would've ever thought of taking Harry Potter characters and making them into a new story? Well done, BK! Anyway, here is Part 2 of his story for you.
~Harry Bailey, Managing Editor


Post-Apocalyptic Medieval Battle of Hogwarts and The Love of Maidens

Part 2

Disclaimer: I don’t own any of these characters, they belong to J.K. Rowling. Please review and share with your friends! Part 3 due out tomorrow.

Harry found himself in a big black velvet sack curled around his best friend’s body. Both of them were close to death and in pain, and being rocked around in a big bag didn’t help. They could hear the music of the parade get more and more quiet as they moved further away. Finally, after what felt like a whole day’s journey, they were eased down onto a hard surface, a floor of some kind. A ray of light fell into the sack and illuminated their bleeding faces and Harry’s gap-toothed grimace.

They glanced at each other, but before they got a chance to speak, Dumbledore’s gravelly voice boomed all around them.

“Are you alive?”

Harry furrowed his brow, and Draco rolled his eyes.

“Yes,” said Draco and sneered.

“Barely,” said Harry.

“You’d better be grateful,” continued Dumbledore with his loud voice, “I could have let you die out there. Instead, my infinite wisdom and mercy is upon you. You’re lucky. I’m in my prime.”

“I thought you were in your prime when we first met, Professor,” spat Harry.

“Yeah. Back when you were Albus Dumbledore the Grey,” added Draco.

Dumbledore towered over them. Their limbs were still entangled even though the sack that had contained them had fallen away now that its string had been untied.

He shot a look down at them over the rim of his half-moon glasses. Then he walked away and returned shortly with two clay cups filled with water and, to Harry and Draco’s surprise, Madam Pomfrey’s ghost and a short boy.

“Madame and Travis will take care of you,” said Dumbledore and left them alone.

It was only now that Harry and Draco began to feel the breeze that was rushing all around them. One look out of one of the narrow windows that were more like slits in the walls confirmed it: blue skies. No green, no brown, nothing that looked like the ground. They were in a high tower.

“Let’s get you all fixed up, huh?” said Madame Pomfrey. Travis, who seemed to be her little helper, was unscrewing the lids of a dozen jars with pastes and salves in them.

Harry and Draco felt the familiar feeling of being home, home in Hogwarts, in the good care of Madame Pomfrey. Except that they were prisoners, and in a lot of pain. But otherwise it was remarkably similar. Oh, and Madame Pomfrey was now a ghost. But other than that it was just the same.

After taking a handful of pills that Travis handed to them, and washing them down with big gulps of water, both Harry and Draco fell asleep.

---

A week passed before their injuries healed completely, but seeing as they had both been on the brink of death that was quite an achievement. Once they felt strong enough, they started walking around their prison, which was in the western tower of Hogwarts. The view of the grounds was stunning. After their wounds had healed and the bruises had started to fade they spent long mornings and afternoons gazing down at the sprawling forest and rolling meadows around Hogwarts.

On one such morning, after an elf had brought them each a bowl of porridge and a mug of weak tea, they ate breakfast together while staring out of the narrow windows.

“Oh, wait. Look!” said Draco.

“What is it?” said Harry and stirred his porridge. It was steaming and watery, and surprisingly delicious.

“Do you see her?” asked Draco. With his spoon, he pointed down at someone moving around on the grass directly underneath the tower. The person wore a wide-brimmed straw hat and dungarees.

“Oh yeah,” said Harry.

They ate their porridge.

They drank their tea.

They watched the girl pull out weeds, water flowers, take a three-headed dog for a long walk

The way she tended the garden was so careful and loving, and when she played with the three-headed dog she was fun and completely carefree. Harry and Draco agreed they had never seen a more ravishing creature.

She took off her sunhat and shook out a mane of red hair. It glinted in the sunlight like polished copper.

“What do you think her name is?” said Harry.

“I don’t know,” said Draco.

And they were quiet again and watched her.

Day in, day out, they watched her work in the garden. They made up a conversation for her, talking to the birds and the trees.

---

“How’s it going, dollface?” said Arnold the badger to Ginny Weasley, who was sweeping up some dry leaves next to the cabbage patch.

“Leave me alone, you creep,” said Ginny. Arnold had been trying to talk to her for weeks, and she wasn’t having any of his pick-up lines.

“Alright, suit yourself,” said Arnold and walked away.

---

“She’s probably friends with all of them,” said Harry.

“Yeah! And now she’s saying to the bee, Hello, Mr Bee, how are you doing today?” said Draco. He did a high-pitched voice when he imitated Ginny.

“Oh, I’m well, thank you, Miss,” said Harry in his best insect imitation voice.

Later that day, as they went to sleep on their straw beds, Harry and Draco talked about the girl.

“I think she’s the prettiest person who’s ever lived,” said Harry.

“I want to marry her,” said Draco.

“Me too,” said Harry.

“Hey, I called dibs!” said Draco.

“Dibs isn’t a thing, Draco,” insisted Harry.

“Whatever,” said Draco, and blew out the candle that stood between them.

BK's Tale: Part 1

Dear readers,
As you may have observed in our forum discussion, the random draw has chosen BK, also known as 'Big Knight'/Bernard Knopper as our first contestant. I received this entry with the explicit instructions to split it into seven parts, so as to stay true to the medium BK has chosen for his tale. I am also told that comments are highly encouraged. What a great start to our competition!
~Harry Bailey, Managing Editor


Post-Apocalyptic Medieval Battle of Hogwarts and The Love of Maidens

Part 1

Disclaimer: I don’t own any of these characters, they belong to J.K. Rowling. Please review and share with your friends! Part 2 due out tomorrow.

Dumbledore sighed. He had a big victory party to go to, but he was weary and tired. The battle had been tough and fast, and had cost many lives, but he was joyful about having reclaimed Hogwarts as his own. He brushed the soot and bone shards out of his luscious white mane with a fine-toothed comb until it was smooth, clean, and soft. Up in the highest tower of Hogwarts, he examined himself in the Mirror of Erised, but saw only himself looking back at him. This was it, the peak of his life: he had everything he wanted. Yet the mirror showed a happier version, a happier version of himself, but changed on the inside. An Albus Dumbledore the White, with a happy family, maybe some little ones around that he could bring up as his own grandchildren. They weren’t showing up in the Mirror of Erised because their warmth and presence would be something more felt than seen. He was the king of an empire now! There was no time to dilly-dally around and play with little witches and wizards. But he’d make sure to see them every few weeks or so, to guarantee they would get the benefit of his wisdom and kindness, now that he was in his prime.

He stopped brushing his hair. It wasn’t going to get any better than it was.

“Are you ready, Albus?”

“Yes, Minerva,” he called out to his companion. She was pacing the halls in her slippers as fast as she could, more shuffling than striding. Even in her old age, she had retained her wizened grace. Without the rejuvenating effect of being resurrected, her bones were slowly going brittle and her skin cracked and folded. But her robes, dusty and heavy as they were, still had their old lustre and grandness and reminded Dumbledore of a time long gone, a time when they were both teaching in the castle, rather than reigning from it.

He pulled the long sleeves of his dark battle gown down to cover his arms completely to cover his delicate skin that was speckled with birthmarks like an egg. It was brand-new, yet it had been his for so many centuries. He shook his head slightly, to reorder his thoughts and brush away the memories of his new old body.

“I’m ready.” Minerva was now being lifted onto a broomstick by two young battle wizards. She was riding side saddle—her knees weren’t the strongest. Floating in the air next to Dumbledore, her robe trailed behind her on the floor. Dumbledore loved her a lot in that moment, with all his heart, because they were going to their victory party and his beautiful queen didn’t give a Crumple-Horned Snorkack’s arse whether her robe got dirty or not. She had so much swagger. He was definitely lucky to have her. He could think of no better queen to reign over the land than Minerva McGonnagall.

“Let’s go,” she said, and zoomed ahead of him on the broom.

Dumbledore could hear the crowd cheering outside through the castle’s big windows.

He took a breath and felt it fill up his new ancient lungs.

Yes. He was ready now.

---

Harry and Draco lay in the dust. Both of them were bleeding freely from wounds all over their bodies.

“Are you okay, mate?” asked Harry.

Draco said, “Yes, I’m fine. Just… in pain. But it’s nothing I can’t survive.”

They thought back to all the battles they had been in together; the Battle of Hogwarts was only the most recent one. They were on the opposing side now, though, no longer fighting for their head, now that Dumbledore had come back from the dead and was pursuing his own private plan.

Harry showed gaps in his smile where some of his teeth had been knocked out in the fight. It made his smile lopsided and adorable, thought Draco. “You can say that again,” said Harry. The missing teeth gave him a little bit of a lisp, but it didn’t diminish the majesty in his air or the heroic glint in his eye.

They had survived wounds way worse than these. Harry had his head chopped all the way off, and Neville had healed it on again, while Draco had been sewn in half by a fraud magician who had used a real saw. Magic had put him back together, but sometimes he still felt an itch where the stitches were healing across his midriff. His battle armour was wooden, and it was fortified around his waist where he needed the most support, lest he was to fall apart again.

“What are we going to tell the others?” asked Harry.

“Um,” said Draco, and in that moment, Harry knew.

There were no others.

They were the only ones left.

Everyone else formerly of the DA, now the ADA, was dead. The curse bomb that had obliterated their troops and seared itself brightly into their retinas had killed all their friends.

“Bloody hell,” said Harry quietly, more to himself than to anyone else.

Draco crawled over to him, wincing at every step at his bruised and broken limbs. After a long while, he had made it, and he put his arm around Harry’s shoulders, who had buried his face in his crossed arms.

“We’re okay.”

“Well,” said Harry.

Draco smiled. He knew that doubt was the first sign of his best friend’s cynicism that he loved so well.

“We will be. I’m sure.”

---

Dumbledore rode on his hippogriff at the top of the parade, witches and wizards from all over had gathered to greet their long-lost emperor. But there were some women by the wayside, crying their eyes out. At first, a bubble of anger rose in Dumbledore’s throat – they were supposed to be happy for him! But he couldn’t help but wonder if maybe it was that thing, the very thing that made him happy, that was causing them grief.

He dug his heels into the flanks of his beautiful steed. “Hush, Buckfast, that’ll be it for now. Fly about for a little while and meet me back here in 20 minutes,” he whispered into the hippogriff’s ear.

Buckfast nodded his head in response, and pushed himself off the ground with his powerful claws.

“What’s the matter?” said Dumbledore to the crying women.

They looked afraid to see their new ruler so close by.

“It’s our husbands.”

“You evaporated their remains.”

“We want to bury them.”

“Or we will never find peace.”

It seemed to him that they were all speaking at the same time, they were all opening their mouths and speaking their heart’s desires, like one voice and four voices. He was overwhelmed by pity. He knew, of course, that victory came at a price, but this seemed like too expensive a price to pay.

“I will find them, and you can bury them.”

He took out his wand, shiny and new – he had got a new one after his resurrection, since Harry Potter obviously now had his wand. “Accio Remains!” he shouted, and his gravelly voice shook the ground. At first, nothing happened. The bystanders all looked around, but they couldn’t see what he had summoned. Then, with a large rushing and wooshing sound all around, the dusty bones of the women’s husbands arrived in a heap. The women looked troubled, but thankful. As horrified as they were, they looked like they knew that they could now find their peace.

---

“What was that?” said Harry. His chest hurt where the centaur had kicked him.

“I don’t know. I could be wrong, but it looked like a bunch of bones just flew through the air.”

“Shit. What is going on?”

“I don’t know.”

Draco looked down at his friend, who had now stopped crying and was breathing steadily. They were both wounded and would probably die where they were if no one came along to help them. Their long hatred of each other had turned to a deep connection and a lasting friendship over the years, and he truly loved Harry like a brother. They had sworn a blood oath to protect each other always, and they knew they wanted to do everything in the world together. Now their adventures seemed to have come to an end, with both of them slowly running out of fight within them. Only in their mid-twenties, a tiredness mixed with ennui slowed them to a halt. They were so, so tired. Maybe this was it. Maybe dying would be the last thing they would do together.

---

Dumbledore moved on. The women were hunched over the pile of bones, weeping still, but with less desperation than before. They would make a burial and hold a funeral, and then their souls would be still.

He whistled.

Buckfast came pelting down from the air, and he scooped up Dumbledore, whose stride was still as smooth as ever – resurrection had done wonders for his posture.

“Continue the parade,” he said to his friends around him, who had waited in silence all through the preceding action.

“Of course,” said his officer, Nearly Headless Nick.

The music started up again. It was a cheerful tune played by brass flutes and wooden trumpets, and Dumbledore hummed along to it.

Suddenly, the parade stopped again. He was riding at the helm, but couldn’t see immediately what had made Buckfast stop in his tracks.

Buckfast growled through his closed beak.

Dumbledore sensed something was wrong.

Buckfast sniffed at something on the ground.

Not something.

Some…one.

“Help,” came a hoarse whisper from underneath Buckfast’s face.

Dumbledore jumped off his hippogriff. He saw a man lying on the ground, his leg bent the wrong way, bleeding from his hip. The man’s face was contorted in pain, and he seemed to have landed in this spot just a minute ago.

“We dragged ourselves out here so we could live,” said another man, who was crawling close by out of the thicket. He had very thick dark hair with a streak of premature grey in it, and wide eyes that were rimmed in red from having left contact lenses in for too long.

“But you’re my enemies,” said Dumbledore. He saw their armour, made of wood, the armour of the last bastion of Hogwarts defenders who wanted it to remain an anarchist’s playground.

“We hoped you’d have mercy,” said the man lying on the ground. He raised his face to meet Dumbledore’s gaze, and then Dumbledore recognised them both.

Harry James Potter.

Draco Salazar Malfoy.

“You.”

He spoke quietly, put his hand on Buckfast’s shoulder to steady himself, and turned over his thoughts in his head. Over, and over, and over again.

“Fine. You shall live.”

“But, Sir,” Nearly Headless Nick was at Dumbledore’s side. He clearly had doubts about Dumbledore’s judgement. “They’re our mortal enemies.”

“I didn’t say they could live in freedom,” said Dumbledore.


TBC.

General First Post

When the sweet-smelling showers of April pierce the drought of March to its root, people like to write. It fell on a day when I started working at The Pilgrim that all these interesting characters started visiting the forum and chatting. They were all so different and yet all seemed to be going in the same direction: a pilgrimage into the Internet to thank the patron saint of anonymity for helping them recover from whatever it is that life afflicted on them.

The Pilgrim's Managing Editor, Harry Bailey was impressed by all these people coming to the site and he suggested, since they were all together anyway, that he host a storytelling competition in the magazine. He would act as judge, and the winner would get a trip to Canterbury along with a fantastic meal and a great cash prize. Harry is a good man—no finer man I know, to be honest—and he has bright eyes and great intentions. Everyone agreed this would be a fine opportunity, and Pilgrim's Prize was created.

I hope that the artist profiles section of this site will help you, observers of this strange game, to get to know its contestants. They are varied and colourful, to say the least. I feel that I need to offer a disclaimer that I am only the webmaster and any views expressed by these tale tellers are their own and are not representative of my opinions or beliefs. I'm only here to manage the site. 

Lucky for you, if one (or more) of these stories displeases, you are free to click back and choose another tale.

~Chaucer

Welcome everyone!

Hello readers and visitors!

I'm Harry Bailey, the managing editor of this fresh new literary magazine. I'm pleased that you have come to spend time here and it is my sincerest hope that you enjoy yourself. While waiting for some content to appear on the magazine, wander over to the Forum to see who has already been here. There are some colourful readers who visited recently. In fact, thanks to a bit of an evening conversation, I've decided to put together something special to start this magazine off. Stay tuned, and make sure you come back on the first of April!

~Harry Bailey, Managing Editor