Friday, July 15, 2011

I went, I saw, I wept

I'm a huge Harry Potter fan.
I was sad I didn't see it at midnight.
But me and the Man went and saw it today.
I cried three times.

The film was amazing. Wonderful. A brilliant ending to a brilliant cinematic attempt at capturing such a well-beloved story.
With minimal disappointment as far as missing one or two of my favorite lines.

In honor of the triumph, I'm posting a short story I wrote a few years ago. It's what we call a Harry Potter fan-fiction. I like to write stories about the wizards of Harry Potter from the point of view of "muggles" who may have come into contact with them.

And since Chapterhouse Lane is booked up with The Streets of Elangard no pun intended I thought I'd post the story here. Hope you enjoy.

Lemon Drops

The store was completely empty. I gazed over the counter and leaned on one elbow. The fingernails of my other hand drummed pointlessly on the polished wood, breaking the agonizing silence. Not that I expected customers at this time of night, since most of them were under the age of twelve, but it did get a trifle boring after nine pm.
I had the shop ready for closing; the floor was swept, the windows had been washed, and the toffees, bubble gum, jelly beans, chocolates, lemon drops, and tins of treacle fudge had all been restocked. But Biddle’s Sweetshop never closed until ten, on old Mr. Biddle’s orders. I made a face at the thought and gazed around the shop with half a mind to dust the rows of brilliant candy jars behind the register counter. Again.
            I moved over to the window beside the counter. The Bungalow Street shopping lane of Little Whinging was always desolate long before this time of night. Why couldn’t Mr. Biddle just close the shop at eight, or even nine? There were a million other things I could be doing right now. I’m sure it won’t make the slightest difference in revenue if we closed an hour earlier. I didn’t know anyone that would want to shop at a candy store after dark but moody mothers with chocolate cravings.
            I sighed at the clock. It read 9:38. In twenty minutes’ time, I could finally lock the door. Twenty minutes always felt like such a long time to me. I almost wished Mr. Biddle hadn’t gone home for the night. The sound of his shuffling feet and the sight of his rosy, balding head and crinkly eyes would at least break up the monotony.
            It wasn’t as though it had been a bad day. It had actually been a very good one; well, a very entertaining one at any rate. We didn’t have many customers other than our usuals, but the strangest things kept happening. Not in the store, but outside on the lane…
            People walked up and down Bungalow Street, tugging their children impatiently away from the succulent front window of the candy shop. Well, that was all well and good; I was used to little ones plastering their widened eyes and round cheeks to the front window. But I couldn’t help noticing a few people in the foggy autumn background, beyond the faces of the passing patrons. They were strange people…different. Weirdos, if I may venture. They weren’t as weird as the owls though. I had never seen an owl on Bungalow Street in my life, even at night. But that afternoon, I counted no less than twelve sightings.
Perhaps I just wished for something extraordinary and the slightest abnormality was a welcome treat. But the people I saw...
            I shook my head. What was so interesting about people in cloaks? Nothing whatsoever. Still, I couldn’t help remembering the energy I had felt emanating from them; not so much like feeling the heat on my hands from the furnace, but a strange happiness. These people had stood out from all the others and I admit I had a peculiar desire to leave the candy counter and join them.
            Ah well, it was likely nothing. I was just suffering from another mundane routine at the candy store and had felt desperate for any liberation.
            I picked up the feather duster from under the counter and turned to the glittering candy jars. I looked at the clock again. It was 9:41. I rolled my eyes.
            As I swept the duster over the silver lids of the jars, I heard the bell at the door of the shop ring. The duster paused. A customer? At this time of night? I looked towards the door, but the customer had already disappeared down an isle. It was probably Mrs. Thomas looking for respite from her six children. I moved to the back of the store to get her usual bar of Swedish chocolate and readied myself for the nice long “woe-is-me” session from Mrs. Thomas.
            But as I came back through the isles, I spotted the Figure. He was looking at a shelf and thoughtfully drumming his fingers on his bearded chin. At first I was alarmed, but my fear soon faded to interest. What a curious old man!
He wore high buckled shoes…now I haven’t seen those but in history books. His shoes, however, were not the strangest thing about him. He wore dark purple robes beautifully embroidered with golden stars. He was holding a purple hat of the same design in his left hand. His hair and beard were long and silvery white. He looked like how I pictured Merlin from the tales of King Arthur to look. I took a step towards him.
            He turned and my step faltered. He looked at me over half-moon spectacles and smiled. At least, I think he did. His beard moved a little. His eyes…bluer than I had ever seen, were positively piercing, but in no way malicious. I couldn’t help but feel my intrigue deepen.
            “C-can I help you, sir?” I stammered.
            “Yes, young lady, I was in a bit of an uppity mood and thought I’d nip in here for some lemon drops. You know, sort of the icing on the cake, or the froth on the butterbeer if you know my meaning.” His voice was deep. It caused all apprehension to leave me. His nose was crooked, but it only made his appearance all the more likable and fascinating.
            “Of course,” I said, though I had no idea what butterbeer was, and walked to a different isle. I found the yellow boxes of lemon drops, selected one, and brought it to the counter. He followed, taking slow steps. Who was this man? The thought kept biting my insides.
            “And how much do I owe you?” he asked, pulling a few coins from a pocket inside his cloak.
            “That’ll be one pound and fifty pence, sir,” I replied, typing the buttons on the register. He sifted through several strange coins in his palm, finally selecting the correct change. I accepted the coins and handed him the box of lemon drops.
            “Thank you indeed.”
            “You’re welcome,” I replied, plinking the coins in the register as he put his remaining money and his lemon drops back inside his cloak. “Might I ask what puts you in high spirits this evening? Strange things are about.”
            “Oh?” he said, his eyes twinkling. “What kind of things?” I felt a sense of satisfaction that I had his attention as if he was an old but deeply admired grandfather.
            “I saw owls; flying in daylight,” I looked out the window to the dark, empty lane. “And there were people on Bungalow Street…dressed somewhat like…like you.” I looked down at the counter.
            “Ah yes. Owls in daylight…strange people…an outlandish old chap coming to your store to buy lemon drops. Must have been quite a day.”
            “What do you think is happening?” I asked. The old man’s face softened. He must have been smiling again. It took him a moment to answer.
            “In the world we live in, things do happen, don’t they? Both good and bad. Some rejoice while others weep,” at this, he looked down, his face dropping in wistful recollection; then he brought his gaze up again. “But I would advise, should you continue seeing daylight owls and strangers on the street over the next few days, that you do not worry about them.” He leaned forward a fraction. “And though you may not know why…rejoice. Always choose to rejoice, Tiffany.”
            My heart began pulsating so loud I was afraid the gentleman would hear it.
            “How did you know my name?”
He only smiled again.
            “I’m sorry to cut our talk short,” he said, as though he had been by for afternoon tea, “But I must be off now. I have an appointment. Thank you for the lemon drops.”
“Er, come again,” I muttered weakly.
He bowed his head, then turned to leave the store.
            “But what is your name?” I asked, wanting him to stay around longer, but not wanting to make him late for his appointment. The old man stopped, half in the store and half out, poised with one hand on the open door. The wind tossed the folds of his purple robes.
            “Dumbledore. Albus Dumbledore.” He inclined his head again, and then departed. I hurried to the window to watch him go, probably looking a great deal like the children who so often peer at the sweets inside Biddle’s front window. The old man… Albus Dumbledore... was gone.
            The clock struck ten. I jumped at the sound of the chime. Gathering my wits, I moved to fetch the keys for the shop beneath the counter. I opened the drawer and picked up the key ring, then went to the door and locked it. As I turned back with the intention of turning off the lights, I heard a knock behind me. I whirled around.
            Mrs. Thomas, looking disheveled and forlorn, was standing there. Back to reality. I shook my head with a smile, unlocked the door, and went to retrieve Mrs. Thomas’s favorite Swedish chocolate bar and a stool.
            I never forgot the old man who came to buy lemon drops that late evening. Even years later, when I no longer worked at the sweetshop, I would walk down Bungalow Street of a night, hoping to see Albus Dumbledore again. But I never saw him. I suppose he only came to me because he was what I needed that night—a night when I failed to appreciate a few things about ordinary life.
            Still, every now and again, if I chance to see an owl flying, I glance over my shoulder to see if, perhaps, there is a friendly stranger nearby. Sometimes I would even carry a box of lemon drops.


La la said...

I was thinking about this story during the movie, I remember you reading it to me and Jas...

Darci Cole said...

That's so cute! I love it :-)