Did You Get Your Letter?

Today’s the day young British wizards & witches depart for Hogwarts on the Express. In celebration of the auspicious day, here’s a snippet from my fanfiction work, George & Annie: An Unofficial Biography.

August 1989

“Wish you could’ve come too, Annie. It was bloody amazing!” Fred raved.

George agreed with his brother. “Fortescue’s was brilliant! I’ve never seen so many flavors of ice cream in one place…”

“And Quality Quidditch! That latest Nimbus model looked wicked fast. Bet Charlie wishes he could ride one of those, instead of the old Cleansweep…”

“But Gambol & Japes—that was the best. We spent everything we had there.”

“That’s the life, isn’t it, George? Nothing but jokes and pranks all day long, year in, year out.”

George nodded in hearty agreement with his twin.

“So show me! Didn’t you bring any?” Annie asked.

Both boys’ smiles faded to rueful smirks. “Mum confiscated practically the lot. We’ll be lucky to nick it back before we leave…”

And there it was: the elephant in the room. They were leaving for Hogwarts, just a couple days away now, leaving Annie to suffer through life in Ottery without them. Her best friends were so excited to leave her behind, heading off to live in a castle and learn to do magic like proper wizards, while she got to look forward to algebra and book reports…

The stars were just beginning to twinkle as they sat around the dying fire. When Fred noticed something poking his leg, an excited smile spread across his face as he recalled what was hidden in his pocket. He had completely forgotten about it all day.

“Oi, Annie. Check it out.” He slowly pulled out his new wand.

Annie’s wide eyes lit up—he could see them even in the dim twilight. “Is that what I think it is? A real magic wand?” The awestruck tone of her voice was as gratifying.

Fred nodded as Annie crept closer, her brow furrowed. “It looks like an old stick, doesn’t it?”

“What d’you mean? It’s a proper wand, and brand new to boot. Blackthorn, with dragon heartstring,” he explained with injured pride. Fred put the wand back in his pocket in a huff.

“Oh,” said Annie. She hadn’t meant to offend him, but apparently had. “Did you get one too, George?”

He nodded and began fishing in his pocket. “Apple wood, with dragon heartstring as well,” he informed her.

Annie reached out a tentative finger and gingerly touched it. It felt cool and smooth, just like any polished wood.

“It won’t bite. Here, you take it,” he offered.

Annie’s heart skipped a beat. She was dying to ask him that very thing. As she reached out for it, Fred warned.

“Have a care, George. She probably shouldn’t touch it.”

George smirked at his brother and rolled his eyes. Annie’s hackles rose—why shouldn’t I touch it? It was just a silly piece of wood, after all. She wouldn’t harm it. And she certainly wasn’t afraid of it.

Annie took the wand in a firm grasp, glaring at Fred with indignant anger. The handle quickly became frighteningly hot.

“George?” she asked, slightly worried.

Alarmed, George reached out to take the wand back. For an instant their hands met, both holding the wand at the same time. A brilliant yellow explosion of light shot out of the wand, striking the willow’s trunk with a loud clap. A black scorch mark about the size of a dinner plate now marred the tree.

Annie and George stared wide-eyed at each other, mouths agape.

“You idiot! George, you’ve done it now!” cried Fred, panicked at the thought that George had activated his Trace and they were about to be descended upon by Ministry officials.

“It wasn’t me, I swear!” cried George.

Fred considered this a moment, weighing whether to believe his brother. “I told you not to let her touch it,” he snapped.

“You mean I did that?” Annie stammered in a weak voice.
“No, stupid git. The wand did. Muggles aren’t supposed to touch them. They’re likely to go off. You could’ve done some real damage, you know,” Fred scolded.

“Sorry,” she murmured.

“Lay off, Fred,” growled George. “No harm done. Blimey, though, that was awesome, Annie,” he tried to cheer her, chuckling in surprise.

“The blast’s still smoking, Annie,” Fred laughed in spite of his concern.

Annie smiled. “That was the coolest thing ever, wasn’t it? Completely wicked, eh?” She imagined how useful a wand would be in the schoolyard this year, fantasizing about picking off a choice few of her schoolmates….

“You’re a hazard, Annie, that’s for sure,” laughed George.


Slide2You can read the entire story of George & Annie: An Unofficial Biography, at The Petulant Poetess‘ free online archive, though you must register for an account to do so. Just click on the image to the left. :)

 

Happy Birthday, Paul!

The First Time front coverThe First Time is a (very) short story originally written as a chapter in Tri Me, but ended up being cut for length. I hated for the depiction of this very special “first” to disappear forever, so it’s preserved as a limited edition, print-only booklet. This story will NEVER be available for sale by me via any outlet—your only chance to read the full installment is to win a copy! (more details below)

Here’s a snippet from The First Time, in celebration of Paul Atwater’s birthday on August 30…

Beth’s little apartment felt hot and cramped. Bookended by her boyfriends on her sofa, trying to watch television, she worried her air conditioner couldn’t keep up with the heat pouring off them. Their large frames always made her home feel diminutive in comparison, but the effect was amplified tonight.

I hate August, she grumbled.

But that wasn’t precisely true. She hated the entire monsoon season: the searing heat, the high humidity, the dust storms that rolled through every afternoon like clockwork, wreaking trashy, grimy havoc—miserable inconveniences all. But worse were the violent thunderstorms that tore through town at night, whipping up childhood fears and robbing her of sleep.

Paul’s schedule had become a sort of marathon torture ever since he and John returned from their hiking trip in the canyon. Gone were their romantic dates. Instead, the three of them settled for whatever random, short stretches of time they could string together.

John followed her home from work that afternoon and Paul, who got off his shift at the hospital at the same time, picked up dinner and met them at her place. After a couple hours spent in each other’s company, the guys would soon head back to their apartment so Paul could get some sleep before dragging himself back to the hospital before dawn.

John stared intently at the television, seemingly inured to the stuffy heat of the room. Paul’s head lolled back against the wall, his eyes closed, possibly dozing already.

Worried he might not be awake enough to safely drive home, Beth peeled herself off the couch and cranked the thermostat downward another degree on her way to the kitchen. She lingered in front of the open refrigerator for a few extra seconds, letting the cold air waft over her as she searched for something cold and caffeinated for him to drink.

“So, Paul, how do you want to celebrate your birthday next week?” she asked loudly to wake him, strolling back toward them with sodas in hand.

John winced and groaned, his head dropping onto the back of the sofa in defeat. At the same time, now suddenly wide-awake, Paul pumped his fist in the air, smiling and crowing, “Yes!”

“Why do I get the feeling you just lost a bet, John?” she chuckled, confused by the display as she distributed the cans.

“Yeah, I owe him something now,” John conceded, popping his soda open and taking a long drink.

She got the distinct feeling it wasn’t money.

Beth gave a yelp when Paul pulled her unexpectedly into his lap. He grinned broadly as he guided her arms around his neck and, gazing up at her with diabolically adorable, pleading eyes, said, “For my birthday present, I’d like for us to try something new…”

Want to become one of the select few lucky fans of Desert Ménage Trilogy who have won a copy of The First Time? Sign up for my newsletter, Taboo Times, by completing the short form on the home page (right-hand sidebar near the top) and you’ll be entered to win a copy. It’s just that easy! Folks already subscribed to the newsletter are already entered. I’ll draw the winner on August 31, 2015. Good luck!