I come to think of it, it's only about two hundred miles away from me.
But far, far away for some of you who're reading this, I suppose.
when I say a long time ago, some of it happened a week ago last
Thursday, and some of it happens sixteen years in the future, so not
that long ago at all, really.
But narrative convention demands certain formalities, so: A long time ago, in a land far, far away...
"The castle was all a-wonder The castle was all a-twitter The Queen had a face like thunder The King was reading his book in the..."
You know, I don't think that's really suitable for this kind of story...
the beautiful land of England, you can find many castles suitable for
the setting of a fairytale such as the one I'm about to share with you,
which is fortunate because it keeps me in business. The castle we're
visiting today is known as Bones Park, for it is set in the most
wonderful acreage of parkland to be found in the whole of the land.
Such plants as are never seen elsewhere in the nation thrive here, and
several dozen gardeners are employed all the year around just to keep
the grounds tended and trimmed, for it would take only a little
encouragement, a very little time indeed, for the plants to overrun the
parks and cover the castle in thick creepers that even a heroic knight
in shining armour would struggle to cut through.
the gardeners are exceptionally good at their job, and today are
working that little bit harder than normal, because today is the day of
days, the big one, the grand event for which the whole of the land has
been holding their breath.
For today is Princess Susan's
christening, and the beautiful little baby will be cheered from one end
of the land to the other as a shining ray of light, a symbol of the
prosperous future to be enjoyed by the nation she will one day rule as
Of course, right now she's a screaming, squawling,
mess-making infant who'd rather pee on her subjects than wave regally,
but she's a baby. Give her time. By the time she's sixteen or so,
she'll be true royalty and then...
Well, okay, she'll likely
be a screaming, squawling, mess-making brat who'd rather pee on her
subjects than wave regally, but royalty is as royalty does, right?
christening of the Princes and Princesses of the Bones lineage has
always been a grand affair, attracting the finest and richest, the
bravest and prettiest, the smartest and funniest, the most loyal and
the truly deserving. In this it was akin to all royal christenings,
although there was one grand exception which made Bones christenings
the talk of society for months before and months after. Long ago, so
long ago as to be lost to the mists of time, it was a Bones who helped
the very first fairy godmother with her very first assignment. As a
reward, that godmother made her helper a King, and promised that there
would be godmothers at the christening of every Bones there would ever
And so there was, and so there is, and so there will be.
tomorrow Susan Bones will be christened, and the twelve godmothers -
despite strenuous campaigning on the part of godmother Ron, the company
prefers to retain the traditional title - of One Wish, Inc., godmothers
to all, will come to Bones Park and bestow twelve gifts upon the
already beloved infant.
In fact, I believe we can go to our ace reporter on the scene, Rita Skeeter.
one and all to Bones Park, where tomorrow will see the christening of
baby Susan. We're here to witness one of the wonders of the modern age,
the granting of gifts by the godmothers of One Wish, that renowned
godmothering service, who as recently as six months ago fixed up the
marriage of Harry and Ginny Potter. From one success to another, then,
as now it's time for the traditional One Wish involvement in the
christening of the latest Bones child, Princess Susan.
all know, Princess Susan is a child like no other. Not yet three months
old, she is already showing signs of recognising colours, shapes and
forms, which is highly advanced in one so young. WWN news is sure that
such a promising child will play a big part in the continuing
prosperity of the country when it comes time for her to become our
Queen. Gods bless their majesties on this most marvellous of days."
And it may take all the gods in creation to sort out the mess that the
King and Queen of Bones Park have landed themselves in. For twelve
invitations have been sent to One Wish, but, as we all know, there are
thirteen individuals employed at the world's most prestigious
godmothering firm. Thirteen individuals, twelve invitations. You see
"Darling," Queen Bones cooed.
"Darling?" the King replied, looking up from his book.
"WHAT DO YOU MEAN YOU ONLY SENT TWELVE INVITATIONS?"
The King, safe as he was behind a door heavily reinforced with Imperturbable charms, cringed.
"Don't you 'Darling' me!"
"I should never have bothered giving you anything to do for this christening!"
"I should have known you'd mess it up!"
"Mother said you weren't made of the right stuff!"
King stood up to his full height, momentarily forgetting that he was in
the toilet and his trousers were around his ankles. Fortunately, the
thick door prevented anyone from receiving an unwanted eyeful of the
Well, other than your narrator, who gets
paid hazardous duty pay for this sort of assignment which helps cover
the cost of the therapy afterwards.
The King glared at the door.
"Woman!" he roared. "Don't bring your ruddy mother into-"
"Don't you say anything about my mummy!"
The King slumped in defeat. One should never come between a woman and her mother or, in this case, mummy.
"Darling," he said, eventually. "The invitations were sent as per your instructions. Twelve invitations for twelve godmothers."
"And the head godmother?"
"What head godmother?"
"Head godmother Draco, the man in charge of One Wish, Inc."
new guy. Blonde hair, slim, looks good in a gown. Did you turn the
sheet of paper over? I specifically remember putting him on the back
side, because it seemed awfully like patting him on the backside."
There was a blissful sigh from the far side of the door. The King eyed the door suspiciously.
"My dear, don't tell me that you've fallen for this Rocky Horror reject."
"He has lovely calves."
"I happen to be your husband."
"You had lovely calves once."
King looked down at his bare legs, which had bulked up somewhat after
fifteen years of living in a castle with lifts to every floor and a
two-Michelin-star chef in the kitchen.
"And if you didn't
check the backside of the paper, then you haven't invited the King and
Queen of Luxembourg, the Count and Contessa of Greece, the King of
Spain, Prince Bertram of Monaco or--"
"Oh, tarnation. I shall
send more invitations, with extra gold around the edges. They'll go
clang when it's put on the table, okay?"
"Now, may I get back to what I was doing?"
"Of course, dear. Glad we could clear that little mess up."
extra invitations were sent immediately after the King was finished in
the toilet. Godmother Draco's invitation was so heavy with gold edging
that it needed two of the strongest post owls in the country to carry
The King went on to the kitchen to supervise the preparation of canap�s
for the feast afterwards. The owls soared high over the sky, where they
were too plump and tempting a target for a thestral that swallowed them
with one invisible gulp, before spitting out the invitation, which was
in turn swept up by a squadron of magpies that quickly and methodically
shredded the gilt-edged paper and used it to line their nests.
On such acts of nature does the fate of a nation turn.
Actually, the fates of nations usually turn on large wars in which ninety percent of the young men are slaughtered horribly.
occasionally, in fairy tales where death is too graphic a concept for
the small children - who generally don't mind the idea of death, so
long as those who die deserve to do so - there is scope for the fate of
a nation turning on the reliability of its postal service.
for those of you who may have wondered, is why fairy tales are always
set 'once upon a time in a land far, far away'. Imagine the world we'd
have if children grew up believing that the fate of their country
rested on the shoulders of their postman.
But I digress.
(Besides, everyone knows that it's the tobacco lobby that runs the country...)
so the sun dawned on the day of the christening, golden rays of light
kissing the flaxen curls of young Princess Susan as she slumbered in
her crib, preparing herself for the great majority of her life still to
And soon the trumpeters trumpeted, the drummers drummed,
and the cornet players played their cornets, aware that as a name,
corneters was a strangely unpopular noun which none but they saw fit to
use for their brotherhood of small horn blowers. That no two groups of
instruments could agree on which tune to play only added to the general
cacophony, for the day was here at last, the day of the christening,
the day of the dozen-and-one gifts to the precious princess.
a person in the castle was anything but overawed by the prospect of the
day ahead. The Queen herself was struck temporarily speechless when
Princess Susan's nanny cast a clever Silencing Charm upon her, for the
young Princess had recently begun to teethe and did not need her sleep
disturbed, when she managed to sleep at all.
And so the castle
chapel was filled with guests, who alternated between anticipatory
silence, and excited giggles as though they were six years old and
awaiting the arrival of Father Christmas-
-who, by the way, is
a cheerful old boy of Hufflepuff house, eager to see that everyone gets
at least one half-decent present on Christmas morning-
-while they bounced up and down to try and see over the head of the person in front, because at any second...
"My Lords and Ladies, Mesdames et Messieurs, Ladies and Gentlemen... Please be upstanding for the King and Queen of Bones Park."
who weren't standing rose. Those who were standing contrived to stand
at attention. Those who were already at attention fell over in the
excitement, leading to a momentary pause in proceedings as ushers
hurried forward and ush'd them back upright.
And then, in
their finest finery and greatest goodery, King and Queen Bones began
their walk down the chapel aisle. They were - reports vary - around
five steps from the font before anyone had the courage to point that
Princess Susan was still in her pram at the top of the aisle. Still,
such moments are to be expected on such an exciting day.
everyone was in place, and upright, and Princess Susan looked quite the
little angel in her white christening robes, although Queen Susan would
have had much to say about the way in which her daughter's name was
printed in black across her shoulders in an early attempt by her father
to get her interested in Quidditch, had it not been for the Silencing
Charm that was still in effect.
"Dearly beloved," the minister
began, as Princess Susan's nanny held the infant before him. "We are
gathered here today to join this woman and this, er, baby..."
was a short period of confusion as the Minister was lead away by a
kindly person, a substitute was found, and the Book of Services was
turned to the correct page.
"Wuv, twue wuv," the new Minister
announced. Several people groaned, recognising the Minister from a
marriage in Florin that had led to some unusual events.
Susan is the pwoduct of twue wuv," the Minister announced, as the King
and Queen avoided one another's eyes. "And this twue wuv has brought us
here today. Pwincess Susan, please come to the font."
The nanny brought the infant forward, followed by the King and Queen and Princess Susan's godparents.
Susan Amelia Jacinta Theodowa Samantha Thomasina Thumbelina Daphne
Stacy Beatwix Bellatwix Sidney Clawissa Jennifer Sabwina Susan
Stephanie Awiel Belle Jean Gwizelda Awabella Angelina Alicia Katie
Bones," he took a deep breath. "The Fourth."
"Excuse me," the King interrupted, as the silenced Queen tugged insistently on his sleeve.
actually Susan Amelia Jacinta Theodora Samantha Thomasina Thumbelina
Daphne Stacy Beatrix Bellatrix Sidney Clarissa Jennifer Sabrina Susan
Stephanie Ariel Belle Jean Grizelda Arabella Angelina Alicia Katie Sophia Bones the Fourth."
I do apologise. Pwincess Susan Amelia Jacinta Theodowa Samantha
Thomasina Thumbelina Daphne Stacy Beatwix Bellatwix Sidney Clawissa
Jennifer Sabwina Susan Stephanie Awiel Belle Jean Gwizelda Awabella
Angelina Alicia Katie Sophie Bones the Fourth."
"No, sorry, it's Sophia, not Sophie."
do beg your pardon. Pwincess Neil Colin Jacob Peter Alex Thomas Samuel
Hawwy Won Aloysius Thiewwy Jermain Wio Joseph Andwew Charles Percy
Fwedewick George William Arthur David Anthony Twevor Neville Gordon
Seamus Matthew Jason Simon Luke Bones the Second-"
"Now look here," the King interrupted again, after being paralysed momentarily in amazement.
perhaps it is best if we leave the ceremony, for the Bones christenings
are invariably long-winded, primarily designed to heighten anticipation
of the magnificent feast that awaits the guests upon the ceremony's
And what a feast! One need only mention the
possibility of tea at the Bones' castle to see the nobility of Great
Britain nearly drown in their own drool -- and that is on a normal day.
It is said that an entire herd of oxen are maintained on the estate at
all times, purely so that the King will have something to eat should he
awaken in the small hours one night-time.
The reason for all
this splendour is Molly Snape, mother of the recently married Princess
Ginevra, mother-in-law of the
Boy-Who-Lived-So-Many-Times-We-All-Got-A-Bit-Bored, and chef par
excellence. Chef Molly, as her friends know her, is capable of doing
things to a leg of meat that would make the animal glad to have
sacrificed itself to the cause.
And if you're a vegetarian, just ask about the Caesar Salad. Trust me-- I'm a converted carnivore.
Molly barely stretches herself nowadays. Years of looking after her
horde of unruly, always-hungry children has given her the ability to
whip up banquets in minutes, and a mere feast is child's play.
A Bones christening, however, is guaranteed to bring out the best in Molly.
"Ronald Weasley! Get out of here right now or so help me you'll feel the flat of my wooden spoon!"
you may have turned out to be, my boy, but only a vanishingly distant
cousin -- and even my own daughter wouldn't get away with trying to
lick the icing bowl before I'd finished the cake."
"Look, I did help your daughter find her one true love, you know."
I know," Molly replied, squaring up to a man a foot taller and forty
years younger than her. "And I did the catering for the wedding,
"Oh, yeah," Ron sighed happily.
"So, I think you've been more than adequately compensated for your actions -- especially as you were just doing your job."
"But I had to wear a dress! I couldn't really enjoy the food, not with everyone laughing at me."
"And what you're wearing now is any better?"
Ron glanced down at his scarlet jumpsuit, which went about as well with his ginger hair as you might expect.
"At least it's got legs," he muttered. "I don't have to worry about draughts."
"And the sequins do set off your eyes," Molly grinned. "And flares are in this season, I believe. And the medallion, well, the medallion is very macho."
morosely fingered the shining golden disk that hung from his neck. It
was as big as a dinner plate, with a number 1 superimposed on a capital
W, the whole picked out in red rubies against the gold background.
Sighing, he tucked it back into the jumpsuit where, un-noticed, it
immediately began to work its way back up to the collar.
"It's the new uniform," he said. "All One Wish operatives have to wear it, unless we qualify for something individual."
"Didn't you qualify when Ginny and Harry were married?"
"Well, yes, but..."
"Oh, I remember. There was that nasty business with the cucumber, wasn't there?"
"Never mind, dear. I'll tell you what, once I've finished making the casserole, you can have the leftover stock to drink."
"Really?" Ron asked, perking up.
"Absolutely. You are family, after all."
in the kitchens, the tables were groaning under the weight of a
thousand different dishes. Soups lay with trifles, steaks with prawns,
waffles with the other sort of waffles and bananas with custard.
dish that anyone could possibly have desired was set out, steaming or
glistening or crackling in its perfection. Two hundred maids, butlers,
footmen, underfootmen and dead-man's-handmen stood ready to take orders
from the regiment of house elves who were keeping a close eye on the
Suddenly, there was a crack and everyone in the kitchen turned as one to greet the Apparition of the King's private secretary.
"Still going," he said, as everyone in the kitchen relaxed. "The priest's having a bit of a difficulty with the name."
"...Gwizelda Awabella Angelina Alicia Katie Sophia Bones the Fourth."
There was a spontaneous round of applause as the minister finally got the name right, on the seventeenth try.
"Pwincess, you are here to be baptised in the sight of God and man. Who here will stand by the Pwincess' side?"
The hall took a collective breath as the Princess' godfather stepped forward.
"Is it that unbelievable?"
entire hall regarded the godfather carefully. Tall, muscular,
broad-shouldered and possessed of the most astonishingly white hair all
along his flanks, the centaur appeared to be perfectly unconcerned at
the surprise he had generated.
"Not at all," the minister
said, eying the centaur's broad muscles carefully. It required the
minister to turn his head--the centaur was rather too well built for
him to see all of his muscles at one. "May I take your name?"
The King and Queen took a step back.
"Dobbin," the centaur said, icily.
"Dobbin," the minister replied.
well, then. Dobbin, will you agree to pwotect Pwincess Susan from all
evil, defend her against those who would do her harm and pwomise to
seek out a weplacement cook should Molly Snape ever decide to hang up
Dobbin hung his head for a moment and muttered something about potato vodka that can sadly not be transcribed in full.
rest of the ceremony largely passed without incident, bar the Queen
recovering from the Silencing Charm and letting out a long, hissing,
list of threats against the nanny before the King turned and Silenced
At last, the Princess was handed back to her
father, whose smile became a frozen rictus as he realised that his
daughter was in dire need of a change of nappy.
"Ah, er," he
began, and looked around for the nanny, but she was involved in a
furious exchange of sign language with the Queen, who was displaying an
impressive grasp of expressive gestures, although not many that would
have been likely to have been found in any book of International Sign
The King turned to his daughter's godfather.
her from evil and defend her from harm, this I am bound to do," the
centaur said. "But, your majesty, I am afraid that my duties do not
extend so far."
"Tarnation," King Bones said, as baby Susan began to grizzle. "Well, once more into the breach, and all that..."
"Sire!" A flunky appeared at King Bones elbow.
"A most urgent situation has arisen, milord."
"It has? What?"
"The Queen's mother has caught fire, milord."
"Excellent, I- What?"
mother-in-law, sire. She is running around the Long Gallery, screaming
loudly, after her wig came into contact with the chandelier."
"Her-? The-? But the chandelier is seventy-five feet up in the air."
"Yes sire. It is a very big wig. That is why I came on foot-- she still had about sixty feet left before she herself was in any danger."
"I see. Still, critical business. No point in hanging around, then. The woman might come to serious harm."
"Very well, then. If you'll just take the Princess, then..."
sire. Royal prerogative, sire. A commoner cannot touch any Royal
personage, sire," the flunkey replied, with a relieved look on his face.
"This is treason!"
sir," the flunkey replied, with the manic smile of one desperate to
avoid changing a smelly baby. "Treason would be if I called you an
ugly, fat, resource-draining warthog with all the social skills and
charm of a pus-covered louse found oozing its way into your ear, sire."
and flunkey looked at each other. Baby Susan began to howl, her pudgy
little face contorted into that special, pink, grimace known only to
those with a very wet bottom and no means of changing the situation.
"I see," the King said.
"What I am doing is re-enforcing long-established cultural traditions, sire."
"And, I note, avoiding changing my daughter's nappy, too."
"Happily, the two do coincide, sire."
well. You win this round, flunkey. But be warned -- by the end of the
day, I shall have drafted an amendment to culture regarding the
changing of smelly babies."
"What would you like to change them into, sire?" the flunky asked, smiling at his own joke.
The flunky appeared wounded. "I shall go and inform the Long Gallery of your imminent arrival, sire."
"Good. Make sure there are peanuts. And popcorn. Might as well enjoy myself for a bit before putting the old bat out."
"At your command."
"Dobbin," the King said, turning. "I go to face danger. In such a case, I think you must care for my daughter."
regarded him implacably, one hoof casually scraping across the ancient
chapel flagstones, leaving a visible scar in the centuries-old rock.
"I see. And that's all you have to say on the matter?"
"Very well. Dear?"
The Queen turned.
"Susan is stinky."
The Queen grimaced.
"And your mother's hair is on fire."
The Queen clapped her hands to her face in horror and dashed from the hall.
"Well, I guess that leaves you free," the King said to the nanny. "And, er, do you change nappies?"
"Frequently, sire," the nanny replied.
"Wonderful. I shall leave you to it, then."
The nanny took the Princess and tapped her with her wand.
"Is that all there is to it?" the King asked.
"Of course. What else would there be?"
King," the nanny replied, patting him affectionately on the head. As
she had been his nanny, many years before, she was allowed to get away
"Now then, shall we go and have something to eat?" the nanny inquired.
"But the Queen's mother, she-"
"Yes?" the nanny asked, in a certain tone of voice.
"Tarnation, Nanny, the old bat's hair is on fire and I'm missing all the fun."
"Wencelas," the nanny said, patiently. "What have I told you about other people's misery?"
"That it's not there for my amusement," the King replied, sulkily.
"And didn't you feel good about yourself on the feast of Stephen?"
"So, what are you going to do now?"
"Send some servants to put the Queen's mother's hair out, and take my daughter up to her christening feast."
"There's a good King. You may have two helpings of dessert for being so good."
the nanny asked, a certain something in her voice that suggested that
certain kings might be getting their bottom smacked, if they weren't
The King sighed. He was aware that, in theory, it was
his kingdom and he could do what he jolly well liked. However, both the
nanny and Molly Weasley had seen to it that there were certain lines
that he didn't cross.
"Yes, Nanny," he replied. He watched as
the nanny turned away to arrange the princess in her pram. With a wave
of his hand, he summoned a flunky, who I shall refer to as Flunky Two
in order to avoid any confusion with the cheeky flunkey whom we met
"Take some men to the Long Gallery and put out the fire in my mother-in-law's hair."
Two turned in mid-stride, an impressive feat of bodily control that
nonetheless required a visit to the royal chiropractor shortly
"Er, go and get my camera, will you? Make sure you get a full record."
"If she should happen to burn for a few minutes while you get the hoses and everything sorted..."
"By your command, Sire."
Flunky Two limped off at speed.
"Now then," the nanny said, turning away and smiling at the King. "Are we ready for the feast?"
"Certainly," the King smiled.
"Then lead on, your Majesty. Chef Molly's finest awaits."
King paused momentarily, lost in a reverie of pork crackling, before
pulling himself together and, pushing the Princess' pram before him,
lead the congregation in a long, winding parade to the feast, a parade
only momentarily delayed by the King's discovery that a pram is not the
easiest thing to get up a flight of stairs.
At last, they
arrived at the feast, and took their places. The King glared pointedly
at a flunky until he shepherded the nanny away from the head table. The
King knew that she would watch what he ate, and that he would probably
be on the receiving end of a Significant Glare the following day, but
it was almost treason to eat at the royal table and not have more than
two helpings of Chef Molly's desserts.
And then, oh, and
then... When all the guests were seated, and Princess Susan was sucking
greedily on a bottle, and the attention of the room began to turn
inexorably onto the one empty table, with thirteen seats, that sat in
the middle of the room...
Then there came a loud knock on the door.
"Who knocks without?" the King asked, standing and speaking loudly.
"I, Seamus Finnigan, Senior Godfather."
the doors be unbarred and the child be blessed," the King replied, for
pomp and circumstance were necessary for such a momentous moment.
flunkies - including Flunky Two - dashed forward and began the long and
arduous task of unbarring the main door to the castle's dining hall.
After several minutes - during which the King abandoned ceremony and
popped a chicken nugget into his mouth - the doors creaked open.
there was space for him to have done so, Seamus Finnigan sauntered into
the room. His sandy brown hair was immaculate, his black suit flawless,
his tie a slash of green on his broad chest.
Half the women in the room swooned.
Wencelas Bones, on behalf of One Wish, Inc. I am here to offer you our
traditional baptismal gift to your child, the Princess Susan."
The King swallowed hastily, suddenly remembering that he had another line.
history is a proud one, Godfather, and I am grateful to be a link in
the chain. As I was, so shall my daughter be. Pray, enter, and dine
Seamus bowed. Turning as he rose, he looked back out through the doorway.
right now, you know the drill," he called, and the background hum of
the crowd increased in pitch. It was rare to see a One Wish operative
at all. The Bones christenings were the only times that they would all
gather in public.
First through the doors was a scruffy
looking wizard in a lumpy, misshapen set of robes that bulged in all
manner of places. He shuffled up to Seamus and stood at what, for him,
probably counted as attention.
"'M Mundungus Fletcher," he muttered, just loud enough to be heard. "I specialise in magical artifacts."
The crowd nodded. Godmother Fletcher would certainly bequeath Princess Susan with a powerful amulet or weapon.
through the doorway - and half the men in the room swooned - was a
radiant, slim, blonde beauty with waist-length hair and an iridescent
white gown. She beamed at the crowd, all of whom promptly fell head
over heels in love with her.
"Je m'apelle Fleur Delacour," she trilled. "Ma sp�cialit� est des charmes."
crowd sighed in unison. Clearly Godmother Delacour would be the one to
cast the beauty charms gifted to all Bones princesses.
middle-aged man was next into the room. Scarred about the face, there
was nevertheless something instinctively trustworthy about him - and
no-one wearing as much tweed as this man could possibly be a threat.
"My name," he declared, standing beside Fletcher, "is Remus Lupin. My specialty is Defence Against the Dark Arts."
few people exchanged glances at this. This would be the man to gift
Princess Susan with the reflexes and quick wits necessary in battle.
young couple were next through the doors. The woman wore a smart blue
skirt and jacket, and her bushy brown hair was tied back loosely. Those
men who hadn't swooned over Fleur were on the verge of doing so over
the new arrival, but one glance from her partner stopped them. Tall,
with flaming red hair, he was ill-suited to his scarlet jumpsuit, but
not one person in the room would have laughed at him.
were unnecessary - everyone in the land knew Ron Weasley and Hermione
Granger. They were the love specialists - their spells would make
certain that Princess Susan found her true love, if she so wished, with
the minimum of fuss.
"Bloody ow!" a loud voice carried through the doorway before the next pairing.
"Well stop pulling, then," the second voice said.
"Bloody chewing gum, for Merlin's sake. Do you know how hard that stuff is to get out?"
"Serves your right for having hair that long. You know what mum says-"
"Yes, thank you, Charles. Keep your trap shut, all right? I don't want any reports getting back to Malfoy about us being unprofessional."
had been remarked in the past how well the antechamber outside the
dining hall could amplify the voices of those speaking within it, but
would anyone dare to tell the two new arrivals that?
six foot tall each, bulging with muscles in an almost abnormal manner,
one of them deeply tanned, the other so freckled that he was nearly as
brown... The two redheads strode obliviously into the hall, still
bickering over exactly how some of the chewing gum in the mouth of the
short-haired man had found its way into the ponytail of the long-haired
man. Both men wore the standard issue red jumpsuit, but both had torn
the arms off to show off their impressive muscles. The shorthaired man
had a long burn running across one of his arms. The longhaired man had
a large tattoo of a veela woman, giggling and flirting on his bicep.
They stopped, and looked around them.
"What?" the shorthaired one asked, of the room at large.
"Ahem... We are Charlie and Bill Snape," Bill announced. "You may know us as... The Adventurers!"
There were a significant number of aahs and a few scattered oohs
from the crowd. While Godfather Finnigan had his adherents, and Ron and
Hermione were justly famous for their pairing of Prince Harry and
Princess Ginny, the Adventurers were far and away the most famous of
the Godmothers, taking huge risks to grant wishes, often at the last
possible second for those in imminent danger of dying messily, quickly,
or in the stomach of a large animal.
Such risks required brave
men, men with nerves of steel, men who'd grown up talking back to their
stepfather, the Potions professor of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and
Wizardry, for example.
Men such as these would teach Princess Susan all there was to know about adventure and adrenaline.
And, when she was older, possibly about whiskey.
to rumours, there is no such thing as a bad whiskey. There are only
good whiskeys and better whiskeys. It all depends on how many Galleons
you have and, more to the point, how many Galleons you can afford to be
overcharged when you're roaring drunk and the barman is still sober.)
was a blare of trumpets, surprising the trumpeters, and there swept
into the dining hall a vision in lilac, all blonde hair and toothy
smile. Very nearly an older Fleur, the image was only spoilt by the
fact that the man was, well, male. Those women who hadn't swooned over
Seamus now proceeded to swoon. Those who had swooned, and who were just now recovering, had a head start and reswooned.
the name, Gilderoy Lockhart. I expect you've read my books," the lilac
vision declaimed. "I specialise in Memory Charms. Very important for a
royal, of course. So many important things to remember, names of
countries, who's at war with who, and of course, the important things
like the young man's name and address."
He laughed heartily
and winked roguishly, but the joke was felt to be in rather poor taste
and he tailed off with a mildly affronted expression.
sloped into line next to Remus, and turned with the other One Wish
operatives to face the doorway, ready to greet their remaining
Next to enter was a tall witch, whose height was
only made greater by the tall pointy hat she wore. It would have been
hard to find a more typical witch, from the long black robes to the
hooked nose to the tip of the pointy hat. Only the tartan sash worn
across her chest suggested any departure from the strict uniform of
storybook witches everywhere.
"Minerva McGonagall, at your
service," she announced, with a decidedly Celtic burr to her words that
made her r's roll like a heavy rock on a steep slope. She bowed with
much gravity to the crowds, who nodded approvingly. Minerva McGonagall
was the longest-serving member of One Wish, Inc. and her skills with
transfiguration were known throughout the land.
member of the group strode proudly into the room. The flashy red
jumpsuit hung poorly on his gaunt frame, but there was something about
his bearing that suggested that, in his mind at least, he was wearing a
smart, pinstriped suit.
With a bowler hat.
And an umbrella.
"I, " he announced, "am Bartemius Crouch. From me shall the young Princess receive the gift of languages. "
proud-looking man's arrival was duly noted, but aroused little comment.
Languages, while useful, were hardly the stuff of legend. No, everyone
was much more intrigued by who the next entrant would be. It was only a
few months since the enforced retirement of Pomona Sprout, who had gone
a little dotty in her old age and gifted everyone with green fingers.
While this had led to much general amusement on the part of those who
found humour in other peoples' afflictions, the number of complaints
received from people who now had to wear gloves every day to prevent
people laughing at their emerald-tinted digits had led to Head
Godmother Draco Malfoy turning her into a small teapot, which sprayed
him with tea whenever he tried to make himself a cuppa.
was an air of expectancy that was only slightly spoiled by Seamus doing
a headcount of the One Wish operatives, sharing a shrug of the
shoulders with Lupin, and leading his colleagues to the empty table.
"Er, should we not wait...? " asked King Bones.
"He'll be along. Probably," Seamus said, with a sigh. "He's not great at Apparition, to be honest."
"Oh, well... Er, he? Surely there are two yet to arrive."
"Er..." Seamus looked at the others, as though recounting. Hermione, who could count rather quicker, turned to the King.
"There are eleven of us here, your Majesty," she said. "And one on his way, somewhere. We received twelve invitations."
"Ha!" the Queen said. "I knew it! Mother always said-"
the King replied. Impressively, the one word was enough to silence the
Queen. He had paid a considerable amount of money to arrange for a
Spell Maker to develop a silencing spell using only the word 'Dear' and
considered it worth every single Knut.
"We sent thirteen-" he managed, before being interrupted.
loud power chord played, although electric guitars were an
impossibility in a castle so dependent on magic. Smoke billowed across
the floor, although there were no fires lit in the room. The lights
flickered and strobed, although no wind was blowing.
"Oh bugger," Mundungus muttered to no one in particular. "It's the boss."
lights dimmed and a single spotlight fell on the doorway through which
the godmothers had entered. The flunkies had closed it after the
godmothers had sat down, but now everyone close to it could see it
vibrating, as though the spotlight was shaking it. The rattling as the
door shook on its hinges became audible, until suddenly the doors
toppled forward, falling into the room and crashing to the flagstones
with a slam like a god banging two blocks of lead together. Even worse,
on the way down one fell upon the dessert trolley.
The King groaned.
the dust and smoke cleared, the spotlight fell upon a tall, slim
figure, glimmering slightly in the light. The man stepped forward,
letting the light fall across his mostly handsome, slightly
He was blonde, so blonde that his hair was almost white, but that was far from the most noticeable thing about him.
may have been the jumpsuit, which was somewhat similar to the standard
issue jumpsuit worn by the less impressive One Wish operatives. But
this jumpsuit was velvet, and instead of a vivid scarlet was a glowing
It may have been the fact that the jumpsuit was
skintight, which in this case did not exactly emphasise the wearer's
muscles as emphasise the muscles that the wearer did not, in fact, have.
may have been the cloak, which hung from just one shoulder in the
manner of all arch-generalissimos everywhere and which was clearly
there purely for effect. This was also gold, although a slightly darker
shade which a less charitable person may have called 'brown'.
may have been the fact that the jumpsuit was highly abbreviated, so
that the arms did not in fact exist, showing off the wearer's arms. As
for the jumpsuit legs, well, they were cut high on the thigh and hugged
what could only be described as the wearer's pert butt. It was far and
away the wearer's best feature, and everything seemed to draw attention
to it, including his face.
The crowning glory, if such a term
can be applied to footwear, was the boots that the man was wearing.
Picking up the general gold theme, they were knee length with two-inch
platform soles and four-inch heels. Despite this, the wearer strode
rather than tottered into the room, the spotlight following him and
really showing off just how milk-white his skin was.
He strode into the centre of the room, and looked about him.
he began, and then his eyes narrowed. His arm snapped out, his gleaming
golden wand pointed at a small man who was about to bite into a chicken
nugget. The man's jaw closed on what suddenly was even less chicken
than would usually be found in a chicken nugget. But considerably more
nugget. His teeth shattered on the solid lump of gold.
can't abide interruptions," he purred. "I am Draco Malfoy, head
Godmother of One Wish, Inc. By tradition and your own law, I am to be
invited to every royal christening."
King Bones nodded nervously.
"I was not."
sent you an invite," the King said, timorously. He couldn't help but
glance down at the plate of chicken nuggets he'd picked up on his way
into the room. There was a definite golden tint to them.
to say," Malfoy sneered. "Still," he said, with a smile that comforted
no-one at all, "I can be forgiving. My staff will surely support me on
He turned his cold, grey gaze on the One Wish table. As
one, Malfoy's employees nodded, fully aware that their Christmas
bonuses relied on their keeping the boss sweet.
"You see? Now,
I see that there is a seat for me. And what a surprise, our newest
recruit hasn't arrived. I tell you, if the fool hadn't known how to
talk to that blasted teapot..."
Malfoy took his seat, and
helped himself to a serving of shrimp. The entire room seemed to
breathe out as one, and the feast began.
Your narrator does
not feel the need to go into too great a degree of detail regarding the
feast. Suffice to say that the lobster populations in the region were
badly depleted, and that chickens in the local farms had been working
overtime to provide all the eggs required. The less said about the
lengths gone to to obtain the gallons of milk used, the better.
the end of the meal, the flunkies stepped forward as one and waved
their wands. The dishes disappeared, and the tablecloths were returned
to their original pristine conditions. Princess Susan was brought
forward, and placed on a pillow before the King and Queen, who smiled
down on their baby daughter.
"This is your day," the King cooed. "Everyone is here to see you."
"Indeed," Malfoy said, stepping forward and breaking the mood. "Shall we begin?"
Queen fixed him with a frosty glare. "Yes, by all means. After all,
it's not like it's at all an important moment in our daughter's life.
Why on earth would we want to make a fuss of her?"
"Ttch," Malfoy sniffed. "She's too young to remember anything that happens today."
well, very well," the King announced, positioning himself between his
wife and Malfoy. "Godmothers, please, bestow your gifts on my beloved
The godmothers lined up. Seamus went first,
bestowing upon the baby the gift of friendship. Hermione and Ron
crossed their wands and ensured that she would be bless�d
in love. Bartemius Crouch made certain that she could easily learn any
language she wished. Lupin gifted her with quick wits and reflexes,
while Bill and Charlie instilled in her a love of adventure and daring.
Fleur passed on an old Veela charm that would allow the Princess to
dazzle with her beauty, even on a bad hair day. Mundungus was the only
one to offer a physical gift -" a powerful protective amulet that would
shield the young Princess from sickness and physical harm. McGonagall
blessed the young Princess with persistence and diligence, which are
gifts worth more than many would think. Lockhart was the eleventh in
line, and rather sulkily avoided his usual flourishes when presenting
the gift of good memory to the baby.
The last of the godmothers was Draco, smiling coldly as he stepped up and drew his wand.
the head of the company, the most powerful magics are mine to command.
I can weave fate and twist destiny. I could make this child the
greatest ruler ever known."
He smirked again. The entire hall was hanging on his every word. He revelled in his moment of power.
"But her parents are rude, and do not respect the ancient laws of their own country," he purred.
"Sir, you are mistaken!" the King protested. He would have risen from his seat, but suddenly Draco's wand was at his throat.
"I am never mistaken," Draco said, his cold eyes gleaming. "I am a Malfoy. I received no invitation-"
"We sent it. And we set a place for you-"
not interrupt me!" Draco snapped, bringing his wand down and
transforming the King's ermine-trimmed robes into gold. The King
slumped back heavily in his chair as the weight of the heavy metal
rendered him immobile.
"Now, Princess Susan," Draco said,
turning once more to the defenceless baby. "Remember this, child. Use
the gifts given by my other subordinates if you wish, but remember
this. Princess, King, Queen -- No-one has as much power as I!"
As Draco pontificated, the Queen caught Hermione's eye.
"Help him!" she pleaded as, being a Muggle, she could not defend her daughter herself.
can't," Hermione moaned, teeth marks bitten deep into her fingers, and
nail marks dug into her cheeks. "He's telling the truth about how
powerful he is."
"The only one who could stop him is Harry Potter," Ron said. "And he's still on his honeymoon."
"But I- Really?" The Queen asked. "But they got married six months ago!"
I say honeymoon," Ron said, clearly considering a horrible concept. It
was not immediately apparent whether this was his boss's ranting, his
boss's butt in hotpants, or the thought of the famous Harry Potter
involved in honeymoon-related activities. "Really, it's sort of more
like his wedding night."
"His wedding night?"
"It's all tantric, and time spells and that sort of thing. Hermione understands it better than me. He's not available, anyway."
"Oh," the Queen said. Then, loudly, "Won't someone help my baby!"
would have to be a fool indeed to take on a godmother, that or brave to
the point of insanity. Now," he said, turning once more to the
Princess, who had fallen asleep. "Sweet dreams, little one. Dalae Majora Delinque Ratarsi Phenomenae!"
There was a crack, a flash and a scream as the lights in the dining room went out.