|A new Fountain of Magical Brethren
Author: BajaB PM
Replacing the Fountain in the Ministry of Magic should have been a simple affair, but this is the magical world, and nothing is ever simple. Oneshot of an original character, with a cameo or two from some of your favourites. Pre DH.Rated: Fiction K - English - Humor - Words: 6,752 - Reviews: 36 - Favs: 156 - Follows: 17 - Published: 01-06-06 - Status: Complete - id: 2740718
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
The Fountain of Magical Brethren
Artemis Orazio walked into his studio and closed the door behind him.
"Incendio," he said, waving a twisted old wand through the air.
A dozen lamps burst into life lighting up an extraordinary collection of half finished paintings, sculptures, statues, and other artworks piled on benches and jammed into the corners of a large room.
An elephant that appeared to be made out of butter looked back at him mournfully from near an overflowing bookshelf. There was also a collection of bits of wood and blocks of stone piled almost to the rafters at the far end of studio. Chisels, screwdrivers, hammers and various other tools were piled on one bench. In the middle of the huge room sat two rows of very large stone blocks.
Artemis dropped his pointed hat onto an old couch and sat down in a wooden chair facing the two rows of blocks.
As the pre-eminent artist of his age, he demanded, and got, the best materials to work with. This particular stone had been mined from a secret mountain site hidden somewhere in the highlands of India.
Nobody had worked this mine for thousands of years, believing some ancient God had died cursing the mine and the stone it contained. It was said that when the god died all of the statues made of this stone ran away, or died, or exploded or some other nonsense; stories easily dismissed as deterrents to thieves.
After spending a considerable sum, the mine was found, and these amazing blocks quarried out.
They looked like a combination of quartz, marble and granite, and were flecked through with gold. Mainly a grey colour, the slightest change of lighting caused a dazzling array of colours to shine back, as if a rainbow had been caught just under the surface.
Seven great blocks stood in the quiet studio, patiently waiting for the great artist to make them into the new fountain at the Ministry of Magic. The only problem was that Artemis had yet to decide exactly how he was going to do this.
Whenever somebody asked him how he managed to produce such great works as his famous 'The painting of Madam Boliver Eating a Strawberry Fudge Cake with Cream', he always replied with a phrase that had been much quoted.
"I do not choose what to make or paint," he would answer, "the material tells me what it wants to be."
This always impressed people and lent an air of mystery to his work, but in reality he usually knew exactly what he was going to do before he started. After all, if you were commissioned to paint a portrait, you could not hand in a picture of a unicorn with the excuse that the canvas wanted to be something else.
Now he sat in his chair staring at the blocks, as he had for the last two days, thinking about the best way to use them. Originally the Ministry had asked him to exactly recreate the old Fountain of Magical Brethren that had been destroyed, but he immediately rejected that proposal as beneath him.
"Besides," he had proclaimed to the shocked committee, "the old fountain was ugly and ridiculous."
Many wizards had secretly agreed with him, so his mandate had been changed to the modest "Recreate the fountain, with nicer statues this time, and if we could have it by next Hogswatch, that would be grand".
The problem was that it was a very hard thing to do, especially since nobody could agree on what a 'nicer' statue was.
With a sigh Artemis opened a small lunch box and took out his morning snack. Today it consisted of some sticky buns, a chocolate frog and a thermos of tea. As he sat eating his meal, he flicked through a tattered brochure entitled 'Welcome to the Ministry of Magic (Eighty Seventh edition)'.
The guidebook had a colour picture of the very fountain he was going to replace on its cover and another inside with a written description. "In the hall way just past the entrance you will find the Fountain of Magical Brethren. This magnificent fountain is made of a group of larger than life-size golden statues, standing in the middle of a circular pool. At the centre is the statue of the noble wizard and next to him is the beautiful witch. Together they embody the highest goals and spirit of the magical community. Grouped around them are a centaur, a Goblin, and a house-elf, all gazing adoringly at their role models. This represents the gratitude felt by all for the leading role humans have taken in creating a safe magical community. All coins tossed into the fountain are given to St Mungo's Hospital for Magical Maladies and Injuries."
Load of troll's droppings thought Artemis while licking some sweet sticky bun sugar from his fingers.
The witch had a vacant expression on her face that looked like she had never had an original idea in her life, and the wizard reminded him of that stuck up blowhard Gilderoy Lockhart who used to pester him, trying to have a one hundred foot statue made out of light, or water, or some other equally silly thing. As for the other members of the 'Magical Brethren', he doubted very much if any Goblin or centaur would favour a wizard or witch with an adoring expression.
If any centaurs ever pointed his bow at you, you would be thinking less of how close a brethren they were and more of how to leave the area very quickly.
Only the house elf was realistic. Its pathetic grovelling was the trade mark of its servitude. Most people never even noticed house elves and wouldn't know what they look like anyway.
Artemis tossed aside the book and unwrapped the chocolate frog. He had picked up the book at the Ministry as a source of inspiration, but it proved to be filled with nothing more than blatant self promotion and more than a bit of misinformation.
As he took the last bite of the frog something fell out of the empty packet and landed on the floor. Artemis leaned down to pick up a card with a small moving picture of a wizard on it. It was one of those cards that most young children, and quite a few older ones, collected in vast quantities. His own picture was on a card somewhere, although he doubted many valued his portrait enough to collect it.
This one however was not of him. It showed a wizard who wore half-moon glasses, had a long, crooked nose, and flowing silver hair, beard, and moustache. Underneath the picture was the name Albus Dumbledore.
"That's it!" yelled Artemis, leaping out of his chair so quickly crumbs flew all over the floor. "One of these drab, lifeless blocks will become the greatest wizard of modern times! Only I could ever do this great man justice, and the Ministry will forever have to walk in his shadow."
Excitedly Artemis raced down to where the blocks were silently standing and started quickly examining each one in turn.
Eventually he found what appeared to be the right one and shouted, "HA! Here he is. Hello Albus, nice to see you again."
The stone block made no reply, but Artemis didn't seem too worried about this and produced a long black crayon from a pocket in his robes.
For the next few hours he drew all over the block covering, it with strange drawings and weird glyphs. Often he would consult the card, then rub out whole sections and start again. He had to use a ladder to reach the higher parts.
Tangled amongst the undecipherable scribblings, there gradually appeared the oversized outlines of a man who looked quite a bit like the picture on the chocolate frog card.
Eventually the work seemed finished and Artemis satisfied.
He stood back, put the crayon back into a pocket, and smiled briefly at the now almost black block sitting passively in front of him.
"Well then, let's see how this turns out," he mumbled to himself. Then he clapped his hands together loudly and called to the workbench covered in tools. "Right you lot, to work!"
There was a loud rattle and almost every tool flew off the bench to attack the stone. Within seconds bits of the block were flying all over room. Smiling even wider now, Artemis headed back to the couch that sat at the far end of the room, lay down, and went to sleep.
Hours later he woke up with a start. He had been in the middle of a very interesting dream that involved carving four enormous heads into the side of a mountain made of butter.
The workshop was very quiet and it would have been easy to nod right back off, but the lack of noise brought him fully awake. Sitting up slowly he looked towards the work end of the studio and saw the tools had finished their job.
Standing up slowly he took a few seconds to stretch the kinks out of his back. He was getting too old to sleep on a couch it seemed. As he made his way down he looked at the newly created statue in awe.
It was magnificent.
Standing eight feet tall, and looking exactly as he had imagined, was a perfect likeness of Albus Dumbledore. It gleamed brilliantly in the light from the studio lanterns. The statue held its wand out in front, as if casting a spell, and its eyes even appeared to hold that famous twinkle.
"Excellent!" he laughed, walking around the statue examining it minutely. Here and there he ran his hand over the smooth surface, obviously searching for any flaw or imperfection, but not finding any.
"Well that's one done and a good day's work too!" he said, finally satisfied that no cracks or chips had been made.
Artemis collected his hat and lunch box from where they lay and headed home. Just before closing the front door completely, he took his wand out of his pocket and waved it at the lanterns. Immediately the room was plunged into darkness.
Outside, Artemis took an overly large brass key and turned it in the lock, then walked back down the street he had come up that morning.
The next day Artemis returned early, eager to get to work on the other statues. He still didn't know exactly what he was going to do, but the beginnings of an idea had formed after thinking about Dumbledore. After relighting the lanterns he was suddenly struck with the feeling that something wasn't right.
He stopped and examined the room looking for the source of this feeling. Everything appeared exactly as he had left it. His tools were piled on one of the benches, as usual. The bookshelf was overflowing. Even the elephant sat exactly as it had for years. The off cuts from the Dumbledore statue still littered the floor where they had fallen.
Since Artemis had neither a house elf nor an apprentice to do the 'uncreative' work of cleaning up, the rubble would lie there until he took care of it himself. That was one of the downsides of working alone, he reflected, but it still wasn't enough of a bother to be worth putting up with the constant intrusions and problems of an apprentice. Many people got angry at his refusal to even consider taking this talented boy, or that hopeful girl, but Artemis told them all the same story, "I make art, not teach it." A house elf would be just as off putting, with its sneaking around and spying, always on the lookout for a reason to do something for him; very distracting.
Artemis took out his wand and waved it over the
mess on the floor.
"Adama Garato," he muttered. Immediately all of the chips, dust and broken rock flew together to make a single solid block of stone, much smaller than the other blocks, but otherwise identical. There was very rarely any waste in Artemis's work.
As he was about to send the block to join the collection of other leftovers another inspiration hit him. Quickly he took out the crayon and started drawing on the smaller block. Soon it was almost completely covered in squiggly lines. He stood back and clapped his hands loudly.
"Attention!" he yelled. All the tools on his workbench stood up on their edges. "Be careful with this one, it's much more delicate," he instructed. Again the tools flew off the bench and started chipping and grinding away at the stone.
Satisfied work was progressing well, Artemis turned away and started examining the other blocks. One was a bit longer than the others and looked a bit darker.
"Yes," he mumbled to himself. "That one will do. Now I just need a model."
He turned his back on the stones and walked to the overflowing bookshelf. After a while, many of the books and magazines were lying on the floor and a frown had appeared on his face.
"Rubbish!" he yelled at no one. "Not a decent picture in any of them!" He threw another book down. "I am just going to have to find a real one."
The chipping and chiselling, which had been growing quieter and quieter, stopped altogether and the last of the tools flew back to join the untidy pile on the bench. Artemis rushed over as fast as his old bones would allow, and examined his newest creation.
Sitting on the floor amongst the remains of the stone block was a bird. About the size of a swan and with a tail as long as a peacock's, the phoenix was a nearly perfect reproduction of the one Dumbledore had as a companion for as long as Artemis could remember.
Chuckling to himself quietly, he waved his wand.
"Wingardium Leviosa!" he said, and the statue rose from the floor.
Under the gentle direction of his wand it rose up almost to the roof, and then slowly lowered down until it sat on the right shoulder of the wizard statue. Another wave of the wand and the feet of the bird seemed to clamp onto the shoulder.
"Perfect!" exclaimed Artemis; then another thought hit him.
Forgetting the newly joined statues he rushed back over to the bookshelf and started rummaging through a pile of old newspapers. After he had tossed almost half of the pile aside he stood up with a page in his withered hand. The article he was reading was titled "Outrage over centaur teacher at Hogwarts".
Smiling, Artemis tucked the page into a pocket, picked up his pointy hat and left the studio.
As he made the long walk from the gates of Hogwarts towards the main entrance, Artemis took the time to examine the school he had once attended as a youth.
It hadn't really changed that much. Many of the trees had grown or died, but the buildings still looked the same. He could clearly remember how daunting it had once looked to a young boy on his first day, with all of its many turrets and towers.
Now to his practiced eye it was even more impressive, a real feat of magical architecture.
Lost in distant memories of carefree days, he wasn't really paying attention when he reached the front doors. Suddenly a young woman rushed out and nearly collided with him.
"Oops, sorry," she said, struggling to manoeuvre around him, keep her balance, and maintain her grip on several books and a bulging school bag. Just then the overstuffed bag let out a loud rip and books fell out onto the ground. The books fell open as they hit the ground and Artemis caught a glimpse of an amazing assortment of pictures and drawings.
"Bother!" she said looking down at the bag. Quickly she put down the books she was holding, took out her wand, and pointed it at the hole.
"Reparo!" she commanded.
Quickly the hole closed as if it had never existed, but she was already waving her wand again.
The loose books on the ground jumped into the repaired bag, and the other pile leaped into her arms.
Before Artemis had managed to collect his thoughts enough to say a single word, she had expertly taken care of the problem and was on her way.
"Sorry again about that. Got to fly, bye," she said, not waiting for a reply.
What an extraordinary girl he thought to himself, watching her rush away. Then he turned and entered the school.
Some time later he was standing outside a classroom wondering if he should knock on the door again. Professor McGonagall had graciously brought him this far, but had not waited for an answer after knocking loudly.
Just as he was about to try again a deep voice called out, "Come, I await you."
Artemis pushed open the door and walked into a forest clearing.
Looking back behind him he could still see the hallway, but inside it was as if he was standing in a forest at twilight. Stars covered what should have been the roof.
"It is unusual to see a human's name in the stars, but yours has been revealed to me. Come Artemis, and be welcome," said the deep voice.
Artemis tore his eyes from the sky and looked at the owner of the voice.
Standing in the middle of the clearing was a magnificent centaur. He had white-blond hair and a palomino body, and practically radiated health and vitality.
"My name is Firenze," the centaur said. "Professor McGonagall has told me you have an unusual request for me. How can I be of assistance to you?"
Artemis shook his head to clear it from the effects of multiple shocks and the overwhelming presence of the centaur.
"I would like your permission to carve a statue of you," he said.
For a moment Firenze said nothing but turned his face up to look at the stars.
"Why would you need my permission?" he asked, not taking his eyes from the sky. Artemis shuffled from foot to foot like a child. The centaur was making him nervous.
"I could not find a decent picture of a centaur, and you are the only one I have ever heard of that lives where humans might easily be able to visit," he began. "In order to produce an accurate statue I needed to meet you in person."
A full minute passed before Firenze spoke again. He was still looking up at the sky, as if he was searching for something in the stars that twinkled where the roof should have been.
"Although I cannot be sure, it may be that this is the true reason I was made to leave my home," Firenze answered. "I have read your name low on the horizon and often wondered why few others have seen it. Perhaps, even though your purpose is great, the message was meant only for me."
Artemis was not sure whether this was a good thing or not. It sounded not too bad, but with non-humans you could never really be sure. Another minute passed silently.
Finally Artemis thought he had better be certain. "So it would be permissible if I took a quick sketch of you and then made the statue based on that?" he asked.
"Yes human. It would be well," replied Firenze, turning his huge head to look directly at Artemis. "But do not presume to have me pose like a show pony."
The last statement had a definite warning tone to it.
"No, no, not at all," assured the artist in his most reassuring professional voice. "I really just needed to see you up close to get a few details and make a few notes." He took a parchment from one pocket and a quill from another.
"You just stay there and I'll be done in minutes."
Quickly he began drawing frantically on the parchment, his hands almost blurring with speed as he slowly walked a full circle around the centaur. Once he had returned to his starting point he made a few more quick notes and then rolled the parchment up and backed towards the door he had entered.
"That's all I need then. Thank you very much. Appreciate your patience. Bye." His nervousness finally got the better of him as he tried to make his escape.
"Wait," boomed Firenze, turning to look directly at Artemis again. "You require another model for a different statue, do you not?"
Nervousness temporarily forgotten, Artemis stopped his
progress towards the door and gaped.
"I need a couple more, but how could you know that?"
"All truths are written in the stars. Only our will and arrogance stops us from finding them, and our ignorance keeps us from true understanding," explained Firenze. "The one that you seek is in this building. He is not as afflicted as the rest of his kind, and though you do not yet know what you seek, he will provide you with it."
Artemis was taken aback and took a second to gather his thoughts again.
"Where can I find this person?" he asked.
"I shall summon him. Wait in the hall and he will come to you. Go, and beware the rise of the red planet."
Artemis turned and hurried from the strange room with its mysterious teacher. Closing the door Artemis stopped to think about what he had just heard. Great Purpose, Firenze had said. That was very interesting. Suddenly there was a loud crack and a house elf stood in the hallway in front of him.
"Please sir," it squeaked in a typical high-pitched elf voice, "Professor Firenze said I should speak to you."
"Yes, yes. Please do," said Artemis.
Even though he did not own a house elf, he had met many before. Dealing with the short creature in front of him was much easier and felt more natural that his encounter with Professor Firenze.
"I have need of a house elf to act as a model for a statue I am making. Now just stand there while I sketch you," he said, taking another blank roll of parchment from his pocket.
"Please, sir," interrupted the elf. "How much will you be paying Dobby for this service sir?"
Artemis stopped unrolling the parchment in shock. He had never heard a house elf ask for money before. The slavery the race subjected itself to was legendary. Everybody took their service for granted, and yet here stood an ordinary elf asking for payment.
A closer look revealed the creature in front of Artemis was anything but ordinary, in house elf terms. The little creature had the large bat-like ears and bulging green eyes typical of his race, but instead of the customary rags, this elf wore a shrunken maroon jumper and several woolly hats. He also wore a different brightly covered sock on each foot.
"Just what kind of a house elf are you?" asked Artemis.
Dobby drew himself up taller, a look of pride on his face.
"Dobby be a free house-elf and can choose who he works for," he replied. "Dobby works in the kitchens at Hogwarts. He gets a Galleon a week and one day off a month!"
Seeing a look of pride on a house elf was another new experience for the aged master. The outside of Hogwarts might have remained unchanged for centuries, but the inside had definitely altered.
Nevertheless, Artemis had learned to be very flexible in his thinking, a requirement for any artist of his renown, and a house elf with attitude was nowhere near the most difficult client or model he had ever had to deal with. It was in fact quite a refreshing change.
"Well then Dobby," he recovered. "How about a whole Galleon for standing there exactly like that for a few minutes?"
"Oh a whole Galleon is too much for Dobby to be standing still sir." Dobby countered. "Dobby is wanting only a Sickle for that, and will clean the master's house too."
"Nonsense!" said Artemis, getting into the game. "Ten Sickles and I'll do my own laundry thank you very much."
"Dobby would not be doing standing still for anything more than five Sickles and insists on making master lunch."
"Done!" accepted Artemis, holding out his hand and grinning widely.
"Done!" agreed Dobby, shaking the proffered hand vigorously and smiling in return.
The lanterns were still burning brightly when Artemis entered his studio later that day after eating Dobby's promised lunch. He strolled over to the largest of the six blocks still sitting in the middle of the room then took out his crayon and the first of the two parchments.
The nagging suspicion that something wasn't quite right returned just as he was about to start. Once again he examined the room carefully, and again he could see nothing different. His tools were on the bench where he had left them. The bookshelf was slightly less overflowing since all the books he had pulled off earlier were still sitting on the floor. The elephant looked just as melted and mournful as usual.
The Albus statue stood silently with the phoenix perched on its left shoulder…. LEFT shoulder? He was certain he had put the bird on the right shoulder!
Suddenly afraid, he pulled his wand from his pocket and raised it defensively.
"Who's there?" he called out to the empty studio.
"I'm warning you," he bluffed, "I know you are here and if you don't come out immediately I'll turn you into a newt!"
Nothing moved and nobody answered. Wand still raised and ready, he cautiously walked around looking for potential hiding spots. After the fifth time he had jumped up pointing his wand into empty air shouting "AH HA!", he started feeling a bit foolish.
Eventually he accepted that whoever had been in the room was long gone, and nothing seemed to be touched except the phoenix. Putting his wand away he examined the statue.
Somebody must be playing a joke on me, he thought. Besides swapping which shoulder the bird was sitting on, Albus's face now wore a larger smile.
This he considered as final proof somebody was indeed having some fun at his expense. Having experienced more shocks today than in the last couple of years put together, Artemis knew he would get no further creative work done. Patiently and thoroughly he began reviewing his security. A few hours later, and after casting many spells and wards, it was unlikely even a Wrackspurt would be able to get in uninvited.
The next day he returned to find everything exactly as he had left it. Happy with the new arrangements, he rolled up his sleeves and got to work with the crayon, determined to make up for lost time. By the time he went home that night there stood two more completed statues.
The centaur stood with its face raised to the sky, peering into the heavens just as he had seen Firenze do. The house elf, while dressed a bit more appropriately, definitely resembled Dobby bargaining for his pay.
Artemis was extremely happy with his progress and retired for the day.
The next morning Dumbledore was wearing a party hat and blowing on one of those obnoxious whistles that unfurled like an obscene tongue.
Artemis fumed at the vandalism. For ten minutes he marched up and down, raging at the rafters, kicking piles of wood and stone, and even giving the elephant a hearty whack on its slippery trunk. Finally his temper cooled enough to let him think rationally.
Whoever had been playing this joke on him was obviously an accomplished wizard. If they had really intended lasting harm the statues would have been destroyed or stolen. They were trying, quite successfully so far, to upset him so as to disrupt his work. To show signs of anger or stress would be to reward the culprit's efforts.
Pushing aside his negative thoughts he decided the only thing to do would be to go on as if nothing had happened. That would frustrate these pranksters and maybe cause them to give up.
He still needed two more models for his planned quintuplet. The first order of business was to get a Goblin.
Everybody knew Goblins were generally a mean lot, and that they loved money. Unless you owed them, it was unusual to see one in a normal day. The biggest concentration of Goblins he knew of was at Gringotts bank, so a visit there was in order.
While he was out he would pay a visit to the famously beautiful witch, Madam Zabini. She would make an excellent model for his last statue he was sure.
When he returned later that day Artemis was in a foul mood. The security staff at Gringotts had taken exception to his watching the Goblins work. They had even gone as far as to confiscate the parchment he had been drawing on. Luckily, having spent over an hour looking at them closely, he felt could accurately reproduce the creatures without the aid of the notes.
Madam Zabini however, was quite a different matter.
She had turned out to be a prima donna and a right pain in the pointy hat. He had been forced to endure hours of her poisonous character when he really only needed a few minutes. Beautiful as her face may have been, her nature was rotten. He took out the dozen drawings of her in different poses she had insisted he make, and with a sigh tossed them into the bin.
At least the statues had not been tampered with while he was away.
Tiredly he took out his crayon and approached one of the blocks. Slowly at first, but with increasing speed as he got into the mood, he covered the grey block with hundreds of black lines that would eventually turn it into the statue of a Goblin.
Once he was satisfied he clapped his hands and watched the tools begin their work. After a few minutes, as the stone was slowly carved into the design had imagined, his thoughts began to drift. Without really thinking about what he was doing, he sat down on the old couch near the door, took out the last piece of blank parchment, and started drawing.
At first he thought he was drawing the young witch that had nearly knocked him down, but as he added detail to the picture he realised he had added a few years to her age. His enthusiasm growing, he concentrated on the image. With only a few seconds in his sometimes less than perfect memory, it was hard to recall her exactly, so he had to use his imagination to fill in the gaps.
Finally he had a picture that would make a great statue and still retained many of the girl's features. If life was kind, that young girl might even grow into the woman he was going to carve. Exhausted, Artemis lay down and went to sleep.
When he woke he was cold and the studio was silent. Rubbing the sleep from his eyes he sat up groggily. Then he remembered the Goblin. Stretching gently to loosen his cramped muscles, he stood and walked over to the new statue.
It was excellent.
Dressed almost exactly as the workers in the bank were, it had the characteristic swarthy, clever face, pointed beard and long fingers. One of its hands was sitting protectively on a moneybag hanging at its waist; the other hand was resting on its hip. The moneybag looked a bit bigger than he had planned, and the expression a bit meaner, but other than that, it was perfect.
When he turned around Artemis noticed that the Dumbledore statue had returned to 'normal'. It was wearing the correct hat and the phoenix was on the right shoulder, but the centaur was now holding a drawn bow and the house elf appeared to be bowing.
Artemis was astounded, and not a little afraid.
He had no idea how somebody could have snuck in while he was sleeping and performed such magic without disturbing him. Joke or not this was getting out of hand. Tonight he would write a letter to the Ministry asking for additional security. He would tell them he suspected Death Eaters had been trying to break in and he wanted the extra protection to ensure the almost completed work was not stolen or cursed.
An Auror arrived early the next morning and took up a position outside his studio door. Artemis was hoping whoever had been breaking in would see the Auror patrolling outside and choose to stay away. Keeping the man outside also meant nobody else knew what the statues looked like. Should any word appear in the newspapers of what he had created, it would lead back to whoever had broken in and seen the statues.
During the night everything had returned to normal, except the Goblin's pouch was bulging even more than it had the previous day.
Artemis ignored this and went to work on bringing the witch from his imagination into the real world. She was created with no more trouble than the other statues.
Now the collection was complete. While the pedestal and water fountain still had to be made, the majority of the work was over. Resetting all of his wards and spells, Artemis headed to Ministry to build the platform his design required.
Outside the door, the Auror did not see or hear anything unusual. He patrolled around the block and even flew up onto the roof, but did not find any signs of a disturbance. When his replacement shift arrived several hours later, he had nothing to report.
"Everything looks safe and sound," he told the young witch who was taking his place.
Artemis did not return that day, or the next one. In fact it was four days before he returned to the studio. Everything in the Ministry was ready for the statues. Nodding to the Auror standing guard, he entered his workshop and brought the lights back to life. He was rather nervous, but optimistic that the presence of an Auror would have put an end to the practical joking. He was wrong.
It looked like the wizard and the witch had been dancing a waltz and had frozen when the door opened. The other statues stood in a circle clapping their hands or cheering the couple on. It was an impossible scene caught in stopped time.
Artemis sat down heavily on the couch, defeated. The statues were due to be moved tomorrow and the grand opening was the day after that. He was quickly falling into a pit of despair. How could he stop whoever it was from doing this again? If he put the statues right, what was to stop the culprit from doing it again tonight? And how could they have been doing it anyway? The place was sealed and guarded. The only thing he could think of was that the culprit had never left, but he had searched thoroughly.
He stood up and walked around the dancing statues.
The young witch was laughing and the wizard had a very large grin on his face. A new thought crept into Artemis' mind. At first he rejected it outright, but it kept coming back. The legend said that when the god died all of the statues made of this stone ran away. He had thought it was nonsense, a story created to stop people from stealing stone, but what if it wasn't all a story? What if nobody had been breaking in and changing his statues? What if the stone itself was magical? New and exciting possibilities sprung to mind. Artemis took out his wand and really got to work.
Even before the curtain fell
to reveal the new Fountain of Magical Brethren, the crowd was
applauding. As the figures became visible for the first time, the
clapping faded away and an excited whispering took its place.
Standing on a slowly rotating pedestal in the middle of the
circular fountain, the familiar series of statues were arranged in a
circle facing outward, but they were all moving! The whispered
conversations and comments quickly rose in volume until the fountain
itself could not be heard. The Mighty Centaur scanned the sky
as if reading the stars. He would aim his bow upwards and shoot a
magical arrow of light that trailed a long line of beautiful,
multicoloured sparks before disappearing. The crowd gave an
appreciative "Oooooh" of delight as the sparks fell to the floor
and the centaur returned to his star gazing. Next stood the
Clever Goblin. This statue took a handful of sparks from a pouch at
its waist and tossed them into the fountain in front of the pedestal
where it stood. As the sparks disappeared in the water, coins would
fly up to be caught and put into the pouch. Smiling, the Goblin would
then rub both hands together happily and repeat the sequence. After
that came the Proud House Elf, a sight few had ever seen. It stood
proudly erect wearing simple clothes and a small beanie. As the crowd
watched, it bowed, took the hat from its head, and raised one hand as
if about to cast a spell. At a loud click of its finger, a wall of
the multicoloured sparks appeared, temporarily hiding its small form
from view. As the glowing wall fell into pool the crowd could see the
elf had returned to its former pose, ready to start again. The
turning pedestal next brought around the figure of the Young Witch.
Intelligence shone from her eyes as her mouth moved, casting a silent
spell. She was waving her wand to conjure a rainbow of sparks that
fell into the pool and broke into a multitude of small images. A
close look at the images would reveal a never repeating cavalcade of
people, places and creatures that quickly sank into the water and
disappeared. Finally came the Wise Wizard, in the unmistakable
form of Albus Dumbledore. At the sight of him many of the crowd
became very teary eyed and a few people even began to weep quietly.
The image was perfect. Its expression somehow showed the compassion,
wisdom and kindness of the real man. One outstretched hand held out a
wand that poured a torrent of sparks from its tip as it moved in a
small, complicated pattern. The sparks fell into his lower hand and
overflowed into the pool. On his shoulder sat a preening phoenix that
spread its wings and sometimes opened its beak as if in song. Moving
his head from side to side slowly, it seemed to every person
individually that Dumbledore was, for just a second, looking directly
into their eyes. Then a small mischievous smile would curl his lip,
and one eye would give a quick wink. Behind the figures, in
the centre of the circle, a solitary fountain of water rose to a
height above even the centaur's head before falling back down onto
itself in a roaring deluge. Multicoloured sparks were flowing through
the water of the pool and cascade. It was quite simply the
most magnificent fountain anyone had ever seen. When asked how
he had come up with such an interesting interpretation of the
original fountain, Artemis would smile and answer with a variation of
his well known theme. "The stone wanted to move," he
would say with a smile, "so it was this, or let it run
Standing on a slowly rotating pedestal in the middle of the circular fountain, the familiar series of statues were arranged in a circle facing outward, but they were all moving! The whispered conversations and comments quickly rose in volume until the fountain itself could not be heard.
The Mighty Centaur scanned the sky as if reading the stars. He would aim his bow upwards and shoot a magical arrow of light that trailed a long line of beautiful, multicoloured sparks before disappearing. The crowd gave an appreciative "Oooooh" of delight as the sparks fell to the floor and the centaur returned to his star gazing.
Next stood the Clever Goblin. This statue took a handful of sparks from a pouch at its waist and tossed them into the fountain in front of the pedestal where it stood. As the sparks disappeared in the water, coins would fly up to be caught and put into the pouch. Smiling, the Goblin would then rub both hands together happily and repeat the sequence.
After that came the Proud House Elf, a sight few had ever seen. It stood proudly erect wearing simple clothes and a small beanie. As the crowd watched, it bowed, took the hat from its head, and raised one hand as if about to cast a spell. At a loud click of its finger, a wall of the multicoloured sparks appeared, temporarily hiding its small form from view. As the glowing wall fell into pool the crowd could see the elf had returned to its former pose, ready to start again.
The turning pedestal next brought around the figure of the Young Witch. Intelligence shone from her eyes as her mouth moved, casting a silent spell. She was waving her wand to conjure a rainbow of sparks that fell into the pool and broke into a multitude of small images. A close look at the images would reveal a never repeating cavalcade of people, places and creatures that quickly sank into the water and disappeared.
Finally came the Wise Wizard, in the unmistakable form of Albus Dumbledore. At the sight of him many of the crowd became very teary eyed and a few people even began to weep quietly. The image was perfect. Its expression somehow showed the compassion, wisdom and kindness of the real man. One outstretched hand held out a wand that poured a torrent of sparks from its tip as it moved in a small, complicated pattern. The sparks fell into his lower hand and overflowed into the pool. On his shoulder sat a preening phoenix that spread its wings and sometimes opened its beak as if in song. Moving his head from side to side slowly, it seemed to every person individually that Dumbledore was, for just a second, looking directly into their eyes. Then a small mischievous smile would curl his lip, and one eye would give a quick wink.
Behind the figures, in the centre of the circle, a solitary fountain of water rose to a height above even the centaur's head before falling back down onto itself in a roaring deluge. Multicoloured sparks were flowing through the water of the pool and cascade.
It was quite simply the most magnificent fountain anyone had ever seen.
When asked how he had come up with such an interesting interpretation of the original fountain, Artemis would smile and answer with a variation of his well known theme.
"The stone wanted to move," he would say with a smile, "so it was this, or let it run away!"
Several weeks later, after the owls had stopped bringing letters of congratulations and praise, Artemis sat in the old chair in his studio. He was eating strawberry sponge cake and looking at the remaining blocks of the special stone sitting on the floor in front of him.
What in the world was he going to do with them? He could never use them without lessening the impact and uniqueness of the new Fountain of Magical Brethren.
Maybe I'll send them back to the mine, he thought.
Or perhaps I'll just leave the door open.