Monday, November 26, 2007

"Potter" Fan Fiction

I don't know why I haven't posted this yet. This past summer, not long after book 7 came out, we had an extremely slow day at work with very long stretches between calls. As a way of combating the extreme boredom, I wrote the following. It has been edited here and there, but about 95% of the story below is what I wrote that day.

I'd always been curious, starting at about book 3, about what a Hogwarts graduation ceremony would be like. What would it consist of? And I'd always hoped, knowing it was not in any way crucial to the overall story, that JKR would describe a Hogwarts graduation in one of the later books. And so, since that never did happen, I decided to write about it myself.

So here it is, my first and (so far) only attempt at a Harry Potter "fic."


Hogwarts Castle stood triumphant and whole once more on the day of Harry Potter’s graduation.

A week after You-Know-Who’s defeat, Headmistress Minerva McGonagall - along with Heads of House Sprout, Flitwick, and Slughorn held a meeting with the board of governors during which they unanimously voted to grant full class credit to Hermione Jean Granger, Ronald Bilius Weasley, and Harold James Potter – despite having attended no classes their final year. This decision received overwhelming support from the wizarding community in light of the direct roles the three played in the victory over Voldemort and his minions during the Second Wizard War.

The underclassmen were the first to file into the Great Hall on the morning of the ceremony. Although they seated themselves by houses as usual, they all wore identical black robes decorated only with the Hogwarts coat of arms, which featured the emblems of each of the four houses surrounding a large “H.”
The faculty were seated in a semi-circle at the rear of the dais. Standing front and center on the dais were McGonagall, Flitwick, Sprout, and Slughorn – their hands clasped behind their backs, each wearing a happy yet solemn expression.
Nervous whisperings which had commenced once the underclassmen had been seated were emphatically quashed by three booming knocks on the giant entrance doors. Several first-years squeaked in fright, with the boys trying to disguise theirs by coughing.

“WHO KNOCKS?” asked McGonagall, her voice amplified with the sonorous charm.

“TIS MESELF, PER-FESSER HAGRID,” answered Hagrid with no magical amplification whatsoever.




The doors slowly opened…

Early that morning Harry had been roused by a deep bullfroggy voice. “Master must wake or he’ll be late for his own graduation. Wake, Master Harry, wake - here are soap, hot water and towel for washing.” “Thanks, Kreacher” yawned Harry. Neville, Dean, and Seamus were already sluggishly going about their washing and dressing. Ron was the last to wake.
Prior instructions to the graduates consisted of being told to gather in their respective common-rooms for further guidance. Accordingly, the Gryffindors were soon seated about the fireplace in the common room with Ron on the verge of falling asleep again when Sir Nicholas, their house ghost, drifted in.
A hush fell as for several heartbeats Sir Nick merely hovered before them, letting his gaze slowly pass back and forth over them – luminous ghostly tears welling in his eyes as he smiled upon them.
“Oi, Nick. Are you gonna let us in on the procedure?” asked a bleary-eyed Ron.
“Follow me,” answered the proud ghost.
Escorted by Sir Nicholas, they descended Gryffindor Tower and made their way down the Grand Staircase. Personal landmarks from their years at the school seemed to bid them farewell as they went. There were so many memories. There was the bit of swamp left by Flitwick in tribute to the Weasley twins. They glimpsed the hallway leading to the bathroom where they had rescued Hermione from the troll. There was the spot of wall where the door to the Room of Requirement waited for a person in need. They thought as they passed the third floor of their encounter with Fluffy the giant three-headed dog. That occasion marked their first of countless brushes with death at Hogwarts.
Moaning Myrtle, secret chambers, basilisks, a werewolf for a teacher, educational decrees, large black dogs, shining silver stags, occlumency lessons, pensieves, mistletoe, nargles, Dumbledore falling…falling – all these passed through Harry’s mind during the trek through the castle.
It was a moment before Harry realized they were standing outside the castle with several thestral-drawn carriages before them. Silence fell. The winged, skeletal horses were visible to one and all.

“Up you go,” said Nick, “they know where to take you.”

Nobody felt like talking much as the carriages bore them away down the path.

“But this is the way to Hogsmeade Station,” said Ron, “What’s up d’you reckon?”
“I dunno,” said Harry, though he was beginning to have suspicions of what and who awaited them.
The gleaming Hogwarts Express loomed in front of them as the thestrals halted at the train station. There was no one in sight.
“Is this a joke?” asked Seamus. No one answered.

“Seventh years! Seventh years over here!” called a bear of a voice they all knew. Harry, Ron, and Hermione got to him first.

Hagrid led them down a familiar footpath to a familiar quay where a number of familiar boats were moored. “Entray-voo” said their large friend with a sweep of his hand. “Yer gonna leave Hogwarts jus’ like you got there that first day all them years ago – give yeh time to remember and think how far yeh’ve come since then.”

Harry, Ron, and Hermione rode in Hagrid’s boat.

“Just look at yeh. Harry, Hermione, when you two took this ride that first time yeh’d barely found out yeh were magical folk. And you, Ron, you was afraid of not measurin’ up to yer brothers. No more need to worry about that, I reckon.”

They nodded in response. It was too emotional for words. They gazed across the vast lake as their school loomed larger and larger.

Hagrid opened the doors and preceded them into the Great Hall. He took his place with the rest of the faculty as McGonagall stepped forward.
“Please be seated,” she said, directing them to a semi-circular row of chairs at the front of the hall which mirrored those of the faculty. The Headmistress then brought forward a familiar looking stool, upon which she placed the Sorting Hat. All eyes were on the hat as it began singing its farewell to them.

“Seven years ago I sorted you
by what I sensed within,
Today that sorting is undone
that another may begin.

The gifts you have are gifts indeed,
Freely share them, freely give them
For by sharing them your gifts increase
and happiness along with them

As I sort you now into the world
To choose your own life’s lot,
I say be charitable to your fellow men
Be they magical or not.”

The hat had scarcely finished before it opened its “mouth” again.


For an instant Harry thought he was somehow in trouble again, but then he saw McGonagall kindly beckoning to him. He ascended the dais and approached her. She then waved her wand in the air above him, causing sparks to burst forth spelling the words HARRY POTTER – WIZARD, WITH HONORS. Cheers broke forth from his classmates as a silken cap of red and gold appeared in the air and descended until it rested on his head. He looked McGonagall in the eye as he switched the red tassel to the other side. “Your wand, Potter, if you please,” said McGonagall. As he produced his wand she said, laying her wand across his: “May this wand in your hand always be ready for whatever needs may arise, and Heaven willing may they from now on consist mostly of things no more serious than a broken vase, a child’s scraped knee, or a family meal prepared to give a tired wife a break.”
As she shook his hand she leaned towards him and quietly said in his ear, her other hand placed warmly on his shoulder, “Potter, you know as well as I do that there is not honor enough.”
“Thank you, Professor, but I think there is. It’s called getting to experience a world without Voldemort in it.”
“Well said,” she answered.
She gave him a quick embrace, and then he shook hands with the beaming Flitwick, Sprout, and Slughorn.
“My dear boy,” Horace said,” you’ve done Lily proud.”

The hat called up the rest of the students in turn, each to receive their own cap and to recieve their wand’s benediction. For the rest of his life Harry always meant to ask Ron and Hermione what McGonagall had whispered to them when their names were called, but whenever the chance arose he forgot about it.

The house elves gladly prepared a feast for the ages that night at the graduation party.
Kreacher, however, would let no other elf so much as refill Harry’s glass or pepper his salad.

Once the feast ended, the dance began. Harry and Ginny embraced to the music for the duration of the evening. Close together, no ominous cloud of any kind hanging over them, they looked into each others eyes. Eyes that had found what they were looking for, yet could never gaze deeply enough. Afterwards neither of them could tell what else had occurred or who else was there during that evening.
“So,” Harry said during a break as they sipped punch together, “one more year at Hogwarts for you.”
“Actually,” Ginny replied – seated on Harry’s lap with her head on his shoulder, “they gave me the option of graduating this year if I wanted to. Luna as well, she tells me. You know, being active members of the DA, aiding in the defeat of You-Know-Who and all. Or, maybe they just wanted a few Weasley-free years. Anyway, I’ve decided to stay…for the Quidditch.”
Then, fixing him with that spellbinding, blazing look of hers, she added, “I just don’t think I’d be able to stomach leaving this place with one less Cup than you.”
Harry looked at her in mock-indignation, then threw his arms around her and held her as they laughed.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Latest Effort

This is a potrait I did of Courtney Tramundanas, Andy and Michelle T's oldest. I've been working on it intermittently over the past several weeks. I drew it from a photo taken on her b-day 2006.
It was done on gray paper, the paper color serving for the middle tones. When blocking the outlines of the face and features I used vine charcoal - a very delicate charcoal which erases effortlessly. For the highlights and shadows I used a white and a black Conte Crayon - and on occasion a charcoal pencil.
I was very happy with how it turned out, particularly the hair - which is something I've been impatient with in the past.
I framed it and took it over to their house this past saturday evening, partly hoping it would make up for not having gotten any b-day presents for them this year (and hoping it's close enough calendar-wise to serve as their Christmas present).

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Day Tripper - Vegas

Well, during this past week I was pondering a saturday excursion. I had not flown anywhere in a while and was pondering some ponderables. Choices were New York (I wanted to get some photos of the writer's strike), Santa Barbara (to relax at Goleta Beach/Pier) and Las Vegas (just to see what oddities there were to be seen along the Strip). I guess the title of this posting is a pretty blatant spoiler alert. I went to Las Vegas. One reason was basically professional. Working for an airline it helps to have a certain amount of first-hand knowledge of a given airport.
So, what first-hand info did I gain about Las Vegas McCarran Airport? First, I had heard that the airport itself was not that far from the Strip itself. While pulling into our gate I discovered the truth of that statement.

This was taken from my window just after we came to a stop at the gate. There's Mandalay Bay and you can just see the tip of the Luxor.
Second? Well, I already knew that it had slot machines, but was not aware that they can be found in:

The baggage claim area

The food court/shopping area

And the boarding area

I took a Gray Line coach to the Strip and de-coached at the MGM Grand. I had heard that there used to be some pretty neat Hollywood themed attractions there, but I did not see any. I then ventured back out onto the strip, crossing the street to check out New York, New York.

It looks pretty awesome from the outside. I liked the little NYPD fireboats in the "harbor" around Lady Liberty.

It's kind of jarring to see a photo of her with palm leaves in the foreground.

NY NY had a pretzel stand inside which smelled incredible, but I did not end up getting one. For a while I sat in the shade under one of the over the street walkways and people-watched. As one walks down the strip there are many people who accost one with condo-deals, flyers for nightclubs and the like. But, not one of these Vegas hawkers and flim-flammers said a word to me. A couple of these types who had been giving their shpiel to the folks walking in front of me would them clam up like a radio being switched off when I passed them, then snap to life again for the next group after I passed. Maybe I'm shpiel-resistant.

I stepped into the Planet Hollywood hotel/casino to look around.

It is next to The Paris - occupying the spot once taken up by The Aladdin. The casino area has a pretty interesting look to it. They also have a Pink's hotdog stand, which was not yet open for the day.
It was an ok trip, nothing much accomplished except I found a present for me mum. I didn't even get the customary souvenir shot glass for Traci or postcard for Melissa.

Las Vegas. I commented in my posting last summer about our trip there how all the casinos seem to have a labyrinthine quality about them. It's true. Now while there are certainly some fun and worthwhile things to see and do there, Las Vegas also has an element about it which subtly and sometimes not so subtly tries to disorient you. It's obvious that they have taken the art of separating tourists from their money to a new level of perfection. One can sense the extensive research which went into it. The maze-like casino floors, the no clocks on the walls, etc. People when they arrive go into a cycle of being blindfolded, spun around, then let loose. And then repeat. It's like playing pin the tail on the donkey in a sea of jackasses.

The ads one sees on tv promote Las Vegas (totally blatantly) as a place where one can set his or her moral compass aside, and it's ok. You all know the slogan. What audacity. Especially when one thinks of all the deeds people think will really stay in Vegas. They won't. Sooner or later whatever happened in Vegas will get out of Vegas and end up staring you right in the face. I am happy to say that after my trip to Vegas, I was able to look Bishop Hansen in the eye and shake his hand.

One more thing about the place: Dr. Hugh Nibley in one of his books commented that one thing temples have in common (ancient - which ever the culture, or latter-day temples) is that they are places where people go to get their bearings, to orient themselves. To take stock of their situation spiritually, then make whatever course corrections are necessary. To get where you want to go, you first need to know where you are. The aim of the Vegas "element" is to get you onboard a ship in an uncharted sea, take away your instruments, and blank out the stars.

To illustrate, here is a photo I took in the MGM Grand shopping/restaurant area.

We've all seen these types of maps in malls, theme parks, etc. HOWEVER, those maps all have something which this one does not - and believe me I looked. You will not find anywhere on this map that little stick figure or arrow marked with the words "YOU ARE HERE."