[Wizarding World] Ruby-Slippered Magical


The stars twinkle and wink, flirting with the hazel-eyed woman who watches them ever so closely from below. She used to imagine the constellations wheeling and spinning to make themselves shine all the brighter, each trying to arrest her attention away from others. She peers through her telescope, noting placement and brightness for her charts, color and orientation, before mobiliscopium’ing the telescope carefully back into its cupboard. She hates leaving it out to the elements and human clumsiness, however shielded the castle may be. Once the beautiful instrument is tucked away, she makes her way from the observatory, her apple-shiny crimson stilettos sounding along the slat boards of the floor before hollow echoes give way to solid clicks as wood concedes its place to stone when she enters the castle proper again. Seating herself on the bannister of the winding stair, she outdoes the storied nanny-witch Mary Poppins as she slides all the way down to the base of the tower. Why walk when one can glide?

“Professor Penuryst is magical!” a first-year, a flash of muted yellow at her skirt, whispers to her companion as they flatten themselves back against the staircase wall at the woman’s jolly “On your right, mamselles!”

“Well, of course she is, you git! She is a professor.” The second-year, badge emblazoned in emerald, rolls her eyes.

“No. I mean, she’s, like, ruby-slippers magical!” the awed Muggle-born sighs.

Of course, her pureblood classmate had not the foggiest notion of what she was talking about, Dorothy and her yellow brick road not being overly common bedtime fare for witchy children.

“And those shoes…!”

The woman hits the floor moving, never breaking stride as she manoeuvres through the night-shadowed corridors. A few students scurry about from the library and study groups, off to their common rooms and dorms before curfew chimes throughout the castle and she hurries them along their way. Making her way to a wing off-limits to students, the female professor draws out her rich cherry-wood wand, waving it succinctly at an unremarkable door in the hallway. It swings open and admits her to a comfortable parlor, the fire in the grate leaping up into life and causing the handsome barn owl perched before it to ruffle his speckled feathers and preen.

“Gawain, you’re supposed to be in the Owlery, or, better yet, out hunting,” she chides, to which the owl only clicks his formidable beak and settles once again on his now-warm perch.

How on earth did the witch expect him to be out hunting when he knew he would be delivering missives near and far for her once she completed her charts? Even an owl needs his sleep.

Delorah Penuryst merely chuckles and proceeds into her study from the parlor, setting down her scrolls and wand. Twisting up her abundantly unruly hair into a bun, which she then secures with said wand, she settles down with journal, fresh stationary, and fountain pen (yes, she was a fan of a few more modern epistolary devices than just quill and inkwell and parchment). She then goes on to compose several different letters, one of which to be delivered just over the hill. But, in that particular case, letters were far safer than face-to-face conversations, as she didn’t wish to get Firenze into trouble with his herd after all.

The night deepens as Delorah writes, first the letters and then in her journal, taking in the sweet silence of the night, with only the crackling fire in the next room for company. She writes not only to Firenze but old friends, colleagues, and mentors. She writes to the head of the Magical Creature Rehabilitation Conservatory in Wales, the mother of her best childhood mate. She writes in German to her grandmother, currently serving on the Board of Governors of Beauxbatons Academie of Magic. Delorah writes until the paper bullets in her brain run out. Letters enveloped, sealed, and addressed, they wait in their parcel stack for when Gawain awakes in the pre-dawn, ready for work.

Delorah, meanwhile, rises from her desk and makes her way to bed, weary of mind and body but utterly content. There is nowhere she would rather be than where she is right now, at home in Hogwarts, teaching the art and science of Charms and Astrology to rising young witches and wizards. No, nowhere else in the world. Freeing her abundant curls, she settles beneath the covers of her bed, a threadbare and oft-kissed rag doll at her side. Tomorrow will be here soon enough for this “ruby-slippered magical” woman. Giving the wand one more flick, Delorah bids the world sweet dreams and good night.

“Nox.”

 

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Utter Dichotomy


She was an utter dichotomy sitting there at the diner counter in her sundress, polka-dot, peep-toe, wedge sandals, a turquoise ribbon shining against her dark hair, the abundant curls of which had been hastily caught up into a makeshift chignon at the base of her neck, due to the unexpected heat in the restaurant. Wasn’t this why air conditioners were invented? Surrounded by Coca-Cola memorabilia and looked down upon like the moon by a giant portrait of Elvis, framed by vinyl records, she bounced her toe slightly to the beat of “Earth Angel”. She looked like a picture out of “Grease”, sipping on a milkshake while playing with her iPhone. The smell of sizzling meat and deep-fried whatever filled the diner as servers rushed back and forth behind the counter before her, making milkshakes and getting ice cream cones. In the background behind her was inconsequential chatter as she typed away with her thumb, putting down her milkshake so she could use her more dexterous index finger. She was writing it down so she would remember, though none of them ever would.

None of them would ever remember the strange man (whom she was still sure had a smorgasbord of mental issues) with the bright blue box that was bigger on the inside, ancient and inexplicably new at the same time. He said he’d borrowed it, sort of. He’d shown it to her, offered her “adventures throughout time and space. I love a good spot of adventure, don’t you?”

“No.”

“No?”

“No, I don’t like adventure.”

And she didn’t  She didn’t like the unknown, with all its variables and dangers and long, long ways from home. Life had enough adventure as it was. She was getting ready to start graduate school soon, leaving the school where she had been for four years, the friends she had made, the professors she admired, the campus that had become home. She was already scared enough of that; she didn’t need the whole of time and space to compound that fear.

He seemed intrigued. No one had ever told him no before, at least not that he could recently remember. So he sat down next to her on the steps just inside the door and they…talked. For a long, long time they talked. Correction: she talked. She told him about her life, her parents, her home, about her. Why, she never knew. Why did she open up the book that was her life to this strange stranger? But she did. She told him it all, punctuated by laughs and tears, anger and joy.

And he listened. Unlike when he had first come to her, he hardly said a word. He leaned his elbow upon his knee, his cheek propped upon his fist, and he listened. When she finally circled around to that day, he gave her a small smile.

“You’re right,” he said, “You have adventure enough here. Your entire life is an adventure, don’t you see? I suppose…I suppose I never really thought of it that way. I always thought I was offering adventure, never that I was interfering with one.” His smile is sheepish then. “Sorry about that.”

She smiled and laid a small hand on his arm, telling him that it was all right. She hadn’t thought of her life as an adventure either.

“Well! I will take my blue box and leave you to your adventure.” He bounced up from his seat, all his former energy returning.

“You’re part of it now, you know,” she told him as she rose herself, pausing on the steps, “You’re part of my adventure, even though I won’t go with you on yours.”

The strange man smiled and, coming back down the steps, reached out and gathered her to him in a hug.

She couldn’t quite describe what he smelled like. A hint of smoke, strawberry jam, silk spiced with incense…she just couldn’t place it. Finally, she gave up and hugged him back.

When he pushed her back, the strange man smiled and then turned her around and began shoving her out towards the doors. “Have a good life, look both ways before crossing the street, don’t take any plug nickels (whatever that means), and…” He paused as she was almost out the door.

“And enjoy your adventure.” He smiled was broad and bright as he stuck his hands in his pockets and rocked back and forth on his feet.

“I will,” she assured him before stepping out the door. When she turned around, the borrowed and blue box was gone, as was the strange man inside.

No. None of them in the diner would ever remember. But she would. She would always remember. With a smile, she finished up and turned towards the diner doors and the adventure that awaited her beyond them.

“Geronimo.”

Daily Writing – June 21, 2011: Of Myths and Men, Volume 1


A teaser for one of my favorite stories I’ve ever written, with one of my best friends. ^_^ A crossover of “Highlander: The Series” and “X-men”.

= = = = = = =

Nadya came back into the room where Methos reclined on the couch, flicking on the TV on her way to the kitchen. Methos, grunting in disgust as the annoying marvel of the 20th century blared to life, propped himself up on one elbow and opened his mouth to call after Nadya…only to be interrupted by her.

“Yes, I know you want a beer, but, of course, I don’t like that stuff in my house.” She turned and placed a hand on her hip as she rounded the island in the middle of the kitchen. “I’ll brew you some coffee in a minute…or some tea?” she offered as she opened the refrigerator door.

Methos suppressed a smirk. The small figure was clad in a long denim skirt with a slit up the back so as not to slow her down. Covering the upper part of her frame was a violet colored sweater, worn more for looks than for the chill of the mild September thatPariswas having this year. Her feet were shod in her light-blue fuzzy house slippers…the ones with the little bows.

Methos’ smirk became a smile as he responded, “Actually, I am aware of that and was going to ask for the tea to begin with.”

Nadya poked her head around the door to look at him. The old man gave one of his boyish grins that annoyed the life out of her…except for the fact he looked so cute when he did that.

‘Must be feeling better if he is in the mood to play,’ she thought before saying, “It’s fromIndia—Princess Gita.” With that, she ducked her head back behind the fridge to hide her smile at the upcoming reaction.

“…can’t you have any decent tea?”

Nadya wasn’t sure what language he had slipped into but she remembered his rants about Indian tea – namely, the British obsession with it and, specifically, Byron’s obsession with it, among other things. She knew he hated the stuff.

“…..bloody nasty stuff!” Methos paused to get a breath, ending his tirade for a moment. “Could I have coffee instead?”

Nadya composed her face and peeked around the door again.

By then, Methos had remembered his manners, “Please.”

“Of course! I keep some just for you.” She moved toward the cupboard.

“I know.” Methos grinned and lay back down on the couch. Nadya was about to respond when the television drew her attention, followed by the old man’s.

The television portrayed a protest in the streets of WashingtonD.C.The crowds of people holding signs and yelling were lined up behind barricades along streets in front of Capitol Hill. Fists were raised in the air, along with signs proclaiming the country’s growing concern about what some were so bold as to call a world wide epidemic. Mutants.

“Today, the streets ofWashingtonbelie what the Congress voted just the day before: that theUnited Stateswill not require mutants to register nationally. Yet, apparently, the public has not had its concerns met by their representatives,” came an anchor’s voice over.

The camera panned away from the reporter to fan the angry crowds. Some were even chanting, “Death to mutants!” The newsfeed cut back to the newsroom and the anchors closed the story then as they looked to another camera, appearing to leave the turmoil that was gripping the world at large and focus on a public interest story.

“If only it were that easy,” Nadya said as she moved over and turned the television to the French version of A&E.

She and Methos shared a sympathetic look before she asked, almost in a whisper, “Aren’t you…?”

“Afraid they will come after us next?” Methos finished as he looked down at his wounds, almost healed by now.

“Yes.” Nadya clenched a small fist at her side. Her concern for her friend was evident; not just for him but Duncan as well. And all the others.

“I have seen far worse,” Methos replied, mostly to alleviate her fears. If only she knew what he had not only seen but had done. His mind flashed back to a year ago and his own involvement with the bunch of racist…‘no, speciest jerks’. He should have felt guiltier about being involved with Stryker, but well…

‘Well what, old man? You wanted that adamantium! You wanted to keep your own head! You are selfish…yes.’ Methos thought to himself. ‘But, when you have been Death, nothing is too hard. And morals…well, morals are fickle things.’

Methos didn’t regret his time spent playing the bad guy…only that it had proved useless in the end.

“You have?” Nadya asked.

Methos nodded. “The world has seen far worse than this…and I suspect even that will one day be surpassed. Humanity lacks no limits to the depths to which it is capable of descending,” he said as he sat up, his wounds finally closed.

“That…is an awfully pessimistic attitude,” Nadya answered, a somewhat sad tone to her voice.

“Well, what do you expect?! I just got attacked by a bloody big, powerful immortal, almost got apprehended by the authorities, walked several miles with a gaping hole in my side, AND, to top it all off, there is no beer in the place I sought refuge at!” He threw his hands up in a gesture of ‘why me’.

“I…I think some tea would calm you down,” Nadya murmured as she moved back to the kitchen. Her tone was flat and low; he could tell she was hurt by his outburst.

“Nadya…wait! No, I’m sorry. Please, no tea; I’ve suffered enough,” Methos staggered to his feet, cursing himself, and followed the small woman to the kitchen.

Daily Writing – June 16, 2011 – Crossover Challenge: Highlander The Series and Fables


Methos glanced at the address in his hand as his cab pulled up toBulfinch StreetinNew York City. Woodland Luxury Apartments. Yep, this was the place.  He paid the cabbie, shouldered his bag, and made his way through the great iron gates.

A smiling man in uniform greeted him at the door. “Good day, sir, and welcome to Woodland.”

The old man nodded in reply. “I’m here to see Miss White.”

“Of course. Please, just step into the lobby and the attendant will call her for you,” the doorman directed, still with a large smile.

Nodding again, Methos stepped through the open door in the sumptuous, old-fashioned lobby. Following the doorman’s directions, he spoke to the person at the security desk.

“It’ll be just a moment or two, sir,” the guard said, hanging up the phone.

Methos declined to sit and just waited near the staircase, glancing around. As he stood there, someone came tromping down the stairs and bumped shoulders with the old immortal as they passed.

“Hey! Watch it!” It was out of Methos’ mouth before he could suppress it. Blast it all; didn’t he usually try to avoid confrontation?

The man who had bumped into him paused in the midst of pulling a battered old trench coat over his shoulders. He turned and glanced at Methos, a cigarette clenched between his teeth, his eyes narrowing slightly as he finished pulling on the coat.

Methos didn’t feel threatened, more like the man was trying to recognize him. The man leaned towards him as though to speak but, instead, he sniffed the air around Methos.

“Heh,” he finally grunted. “Didn’t think I’d ever see you again.” With that and nothing more, the man turned and strode out the door.

Methos barely had time to be nonplussed, for a voice rang out halfway up the stairs. “Adam! Adam Pierson, is that really you?”

He glanced up to see a woman coming down the stairs towards him. As long as he could remember, the only way to describe her was “lips red as a rose, hair black as ebony, and skin white as snow”.

“Well, don’t just stand there like a hobo waiting for a handout, come on.” She smiled and led him up the stairs and down more than a few halls. “My office is this way. Welcome to Fabletown, by the way.” She smiled over her shoulder at him.

Let’s just say Methos was more than happy to follow form, in a manner of speaking.

Once they were in her office, she closed the door behind them and Methos proceeded with gaping.

“This isn’t an office….it’s…Ali Baba’s cave!” he gasped, as they stepped into the yawning space that Miss Snow White called her office.

“Close,” she laughed in reply.

“Ooooo, Miss White, do we have a visitor?” Methos suddenly found himself face-to-face with, of all things, a flying monkey.

“Yes, Bufkin. This is my friend Adam Pierson,” Snow introduced Methos by his “mundy” name.

“Call me Methos,” he rather stuttered.

“Oh, lovely to meet you,” Bufkin grinned. “I’ll rustle up some tea for us all if that’s all right, Miss White.”

“That would be wonderful, Bufkin, thank you. Where’s Boy Blue?”

“Out to lunch!” the monkey threw over his shoulder as he flew down the corridor.

Methos let out a low whistle as he glanced around Snow’s office. “Impressive. I never thought…”

“You just thought I was insane, didn’t you?” Snow said, chuckling. “A girl who claims to be the Snow White and to run a community of fairytales and fables.”

“Well…I’ve never been much for fables. After all, I was one.” Methos smirked, sitting in one of the leather chairs across from her handsome desk. “Oh, speaking of your citizens, I passed someone on the stairs. Rough looking guy, trench coat…?”

Snow nodded knowingly. “Bigby. Bigby Wolf. He’s our Sherriff. Don’t worry, he’s that way with everyone.”

“You mean, he sniffs everyone he passes?”

Snow cocked her head to the side and raised an eyebrow questioningly. “No…not necessarily. He did that?”

“Yeah, rather strange. He spoke like we’d met before but, honestly, I think I’d remember. He’s too much like another person I know,” Methos added.

“Perhaps you have met before, just not while he looked like that,” Snow suggested, lifting teacups off the tray that Bufkin had just brought.

“What did he look like before?”

“Try the largest wolf you’ve ever seen and then multiply that by about 20,” Bufkin laughed, setting the teapot down. “And he huffs and he puffs….”

“Wait, wait! Big…by Wolf. He is the…”

“…Big Bad Wolf, yes,” Snow supplied, “So you have met before?” She reached for the teapot.

“No, allow me.” Methos took it from her and did the honors of the tea service as he spoke. He shook his head in disbelief as he did, smiling in spite of himself. “Long, long ago, when I lived alone in the woods, I came across a wolf in my cattle pen one morning. Sugar and cream? A huge thing, it held a bull down with one paw while it tore its throat out. One lump or two? Naturally, I tried to kill it but…”

~ ~ ~

The door crashed open as Methos hurtled through it. It was unusual for his small herd to be so restless, especially out here away from everything. But something had those animals spooked, because they were lowing up a storm.

His Ivanhoe drawn, he hurried to the cattle pen. It was probably thieves; couldn’t let an honest man live his life without butting into it and making things difficult.

“All I wanted was to be left…alone?” Methos felt something die quietly in his brain. There, in the cattle pen, was the single largest creature he had ever seen. A wolf. No, a leviathan. It held a bellowing animal down with one paw, staring at it for a moment before neatly snapping its neck in two, nearly severing the head.

Damn it. That was his only breeding steer and eventually starving to death was not a happy prospect. Methos lost no time moving against the wolf. As he leapt from the fence, sword held high, the wolf suddenly turned on him with a snarl.

When next he could think, all that filled his mind was the arm that the wolf had seized him by and flung him a hundred feet, crashing into a tree.

The arm was completely shredded, forever useless; if he had been mortal, that is. Methos heard the beast approach, the bull in his maw. The wolf just looked down at him from its towering height and sniffed at the man.

Methos was keenly aware that one of his ribs was lodged in a lung; he was dying, sure as the sun rose. He struggled to look up at the wolf and, he was just delirious, to be sure, but he was certain that he heard the wolf mutter around the bull in his mouth.

Later, when he would reflect on it, Methos would almost swear the animal said, as he died, “Idiot.”

~ ~ ~

“….needless to say, that was a battle I lost. I always wondered by he didn’t finish killing me.” Methos shook his head and chuckled ruefully as he handed Snow the cup.

Snow smiled, cradling the saucer. “We can tell what you are, almost like we would tell each other. It’s a different feeling entirely, like a different consciousness, but it’s there. You Immortals are as much a fable as we are, in a way. And Bigby never forgets a scent.”

The old man shrugged as he prepared his own dish of tea. “Lucky me, I guess.”

The two took their tea in quiet for a while before Bufkin started up. “So…Methos…you’re Immortal?”

The old man almost guffawed at the winged monkey’s attempt at small talk. “Yes.”

“Bufkin might be quite interested in what you’ve brought us, Methos. Shall we show him?” Snow suggested mischievously.

“Ooo, ooo! What is it?” The monkey perched on the back of her chair excitedly.

Turning to his bag, Methos opened it and pulled out a rather large, heavy book, setting it on Snow’s desk with a respectable thump. “Welcome to my world, Bufkin.”

The monkey’s eyes widened. As the Fabletown librarian, he had a fondness for books and knew where each and every book and document in the Fabletown offices and library were filed.

“Bufkin, this is Methos’ Chronicle; it’s his life story,” Snow began.

“Kept since writing was invented so I hope you’ve brushed up on your hieroglyphics and Ancient Greek,” the ancient finished.

“Methos needs somewhere safe to keep it; the Immortals are in more danger from Mundanes than we are, Bufkin. And he is the oldest of them all, if what he tells me is true.”

“And where else to hide something you don’t want found…”

“…than with people who don’t exist. Got it!” Bufkin flapped up over the desk and settled on the edge, next to the great book. “Let’s see, where shall I put it? History, Memoirs, or Languages?” he asked himself more than anyone else.

“Wherever you like, Bufkin. You’ll be the only one who remembers where it is anyway,” Snow offered.

“Yeah, that’s true,” the monkey agreed. After a few moments, he figured a way to heft the book and then flapped off into the depths of the library.

Snow smiled gently when he was gone. “We will take excellent care of it, Methos. The proof you exist is safe here.”

The Immortal nodded but, before he could say anything, the office door banged open and there was Bigby. “Snow!”

She sighed. “Don’t you knock, Bigby?”

He ignored the question as he strode up to her desk. “Just got word from Wheyland up at the Farm, Colin’s run off again.”

Snow sighed. “That pain of a pig. OK, let me know when he shows up, because you know he will.”

“Always does,” Bigby grunted. Then he looked down at Methos. “How’s the arm?”

Methos looked confused but then recollection flashed behind his eyes. “Just fine, thanks. Mended perfectly, now that you mention it.”

“Yeah, would figure it did,” Bigby muttered around his cigarette. “So what are you anyway? Cuz you’re not a fable.”

“Well, he is…of sorts,” Snow offered, “Among his own kind.”

“And that would be?” When they both hesitated, he pulled the cigarette out of his mouth, exhaling heavily, “If I’m gonna protect this place, I need to know what’s going on. What are you, bub?”

“Immortal,” Methos replied.

“But not like us, huh?”

“No, not quite. From what Snow has told me, your immortality hinges on how much you are believed in, right?”

A grunt in reply.

“Well…our Immortality hinges in whether or not our head stays attached to our shoulders.” Methos’s mouth curled sardonically.

“Well, then, Methos. From what you’ve told me…I guess the three of us are going to be around for quite a time, huh?” Snow snickered, leaning back in her chair.

Bigby sort of grunted again and then turned towards the door. “Well, enjoy your tea, ladies. Some of us have business to attend to.” With that, he was gone again.

Snow sighed in annoyance, pinching the bridge of her nose. “And that’s when he’s polite. You have no idea…”

Methos raised an eyebrow, smiling in that infuriatingly superior way he had. “Oh, don’t I? Let me tell you about a guy namedLogan. But they also called him the Wolverine…”