Sole Survivor

(I do not own any characters created by J.K. Rowling. The rest are ficticious.)

Day One

I've spent the last four hours on a boat. The last thing I want right now is to be on a boat. So of course, Larry from the production crew is standing in front of us, explaining how in a few short minutes we're going to get off this larger boat and into much, much smaller boats.

We're somewhere out in the middle of the Tahitian islands, that much I know. However, none of us has a clue as to the exact location or name of the tropical island in the distance. Though I'm sure we'll all find out when the show goes live, and the internet fan sites dig for all the dirt they can. The seven other passengers on my side of the boat listen as attentively as I do; likewise, the eight strangers on the other side. We've come too far, and are in for too much, to not listen to the rules. Not that we could do much else; we've been forbidden to speak to each other until the game begins.

Larry makes sure we all have our headbands on. Just my luck, green. Not the most attractive color for me. I sneak a quick glance at the other team, and feel a little better. At least our headbands aren't orange. We sit patiently while the production team works on camera angles, lighting, whatever. Then suddenly, it's time to go. The cameras are running. Marcus Nash, the attractive-in-a-plastic-way host, starts running through his scripted speech. It's the same one you've heard every season; two teams, forty days, one sole survivor, with a million in cash in the balance. Marcus explains to the audience exactly what Larry recently explained to us; we have five minutes to scavenge our side of the ship for whatever provisions we can find, then we're off to Unknown Island on our tiny green boat. He gives the word, and the next five minutes are a frenzy of activity. There's no time to make introductions, but at least we're free to shout advice to each other. I team up with an attractive blonde girl to haul two boxes of supplies to the side of the ship. It feels like we've barely begun when a whistle blows, and we all have to stop lugging cargo and hop into our team's boat.

The row is hard. Probably about three hours total; we don't get to our beach until midday. But what a relief to get off the water and back onto dry land. I feel a bit queasy, but I don't think I'm as bad off as some. My blonde friend looks distinctly green around the gills. I feel guilty for a moment, because I can make her feel better with just an uttered word. I have to block those feelings, but it's hard. After all, I can't go around flashing my powers in front of Muggles. And I'm not here for charity; I fully intend to win the million. I mutter a quick spell under my breath and my nausea is gone.

Introductions are finally made. My blonde friend, Anna, is a thirty-year-old dance instructor. Not surprising, she's in fantastic shape. I know it will be a day or so before I have everyone's name down. Overall, they seem like a decent group of people, and I don't think there will be too many problems getting along, which is a welcome relief. After the excitement of the last couple of years, the idea of spending time with pleasant people on a tropical island almost seems like a vacation.

We decide to break up into groups, with the men constructing a rudimentary shelter and the women combing the area for food. Nothing like well-defined gender roles, but frankly I'm glad; I'm feeling a bit tired already, and heavy labor doesn't sound too appealing. Our supplies contain a frying pan and some utensils, but a limited amount of rice and canned goods. We'll definitely need to add some local specialties to the menu. As I browse through the underbrush, looking for edible plants, I think about the last couple of years, and how I got to be here on Unknown Island.

The short version of the story is that Voldemort lost. Of course, it was much more difficult living the story than telling it. When Harry, Ron and I graduated from Hogwarts, there had been some minor skirmishes, some rumbling, but nothing too serious. We knew ol' Voldy was out there somewhere, but since his failure to kill Harry in our 4th year, he stayed mostly in the shadows. It wasn't until three years ago, when we were all 20, that the hell really began. Death Eaters started a full-scale war on the Ministry. Harry and Ron, as Aurors-in-training, were quickly enlisted in the fighting. It was hard to know who to trust; anyone you spoke to could be passing that information on to the dark side. Friends became suspicious of friends, husbands and wives were torn apart. I heard about a number of old school friends who were injured or killed. I worked in the Information department of the Ministry; coded messages, secret passwords, very cloak-and-dagger stuff. So even though I was able to follow the news of the front closely, I also had to see a number of familiar names in unfortunate situations. Friends who you'd think would be on the side of good were uncovered as traitors, and some of the most suspicious people turned out to be our best allies. Who would have thought, back in school, that Slytherins like Millicent Bulstrode would be some of our best spies?

Of course, as everyone predicted, Harry was the one who finally killed Voldemort. It's been a year, and he still won't talk much about it; I suspect he was hurt terribly, and it probably messed with his mind. I don't really see him that often; I get together with Ron for coffee every month or so, but it's probably been six months since I've seen Harry. As for the rest of the wizarding world...Voldemort's minions left it in tatters. Recovery continues slowly but surely, but many of us were left without jobs or homes. I was one of the lucky ones; I knew how to get along in Muggle life, so I changed sides. I took an administrative job with a Muggle bank, rented an apartment in a Muggle building, bought my Muggle car. It was almost like immersing myself into a Muggle Studies class, and I found out pretty quickly that I couldn't stand it; I missed the magic. I missed flying. I missed a thousand wonderful things I'd taken for granted every day. So I came up with the idea to beat the Muggles at one of their own games. I'd watched it enough on television, and figured that with just the right amount of magic, I could win the million. Then I wouldn't have to worry about working a job to pay the rent; I could put all my efforts into helping rebuild the community I loved.

I spent a full two months in training. Learning new spells, modifying old ones, creating some from scratch. I read every book I could get my hands on to learn about island survival: what plants to eat, what insects to avoid. The biggest challenge was how to get my wand on the island and how to keep it with me. I could easily transfigure it into a luxury item, but people would grow suspicious if I carried a toothbrush or teddy bear with me everywhere. Finally, I hit upon the idea to transfigure it into a bikini top. Easy enough to wear all the time, not likely to get lost...although it was interesting learning to cast a spell by jutting my chest at things.

A burly older fellow named Bob comes around to us gatherers; apparently a temporary shelter is in place, and it's time for dinner. I look up at the sun, and I'm surprised to see that it's getting low on the horizon. My food gathering and woolgathering made the time pass amazingly fast. As I follow Bob back to camp, I catch a cameraman out of the corner of my eye. If he'd been following me all the time, he'd been very quiet about it. Maybe he followed Bob; I'm not sure. I'm going to have to keep a sharper eye out for them; the last thing I need is someone catching a small bit of magic on camera. That's going to be one of the hardest challenges out here - making sure nobody catches me.

We make it back to camp, and I see that a couple of the men are trying to start a fire by rubbing two sticks together. I see my first chance to be viewed as useful.

"Hey, guys, you look tired. I'll step in if you like." A good-looking fellow with dark hair hanging into his eyes looks up. He sizes me up, and I give him my friendliest grin. Slowly, he stands and gives me the stick he'd been furiously rubbing on another stick. The end looks charred; he got very close, but my reading taught me that fire is very difficult to start by this method.

I give it a good ten minutes' effort before I whisper my fire spell. Hey, I don't want it to look like magic!