Hi everybody! This is MDPM of the Season 3 Caerphilly Catapults. Hope you enjoy this rather unique endeavor. It was written for the Daily Prophet's collaborative writing contest to earn extra points for Round 6 of the Quidditch League Fanfiction Competition. See our profile for more info.
This story was written by Captain thosedarndursleys, Seeker AmazingGraceless, Keeper basscymru (our resident Welsh expert, thanks, Lottie), and Chasers Lee Chua and My Dear Professor McGonagall. According to the rules, we had to collaboratively create a story that at least mentioned our team or where they come from (in our case, Caerphilly, Wales). We do nothing by halves, apparently, so we have spanned centuries with the tale of the Green Lady of Castell Caerffili. Every section was written by a different member of the team - although some people's sections have been broken into two or more pieces.
Please read and review! :) GO CATAPULTS!
Many centuries ago, a grand castle was constructed by a powerful ruler, not far from the Welsh town of Caerffili. Gilbert de Clare was a violent, passionate, and jealous wizard, known as the Red Earl for his ferocious temper, his history of bloodshed, and his fiery red hair. He was married to a young and beautiful witch, Princess Alice of Angouleme, who, though she was a rather vain and silly creature, did her best to be a good wife to her husband as he ruled over his corner of the Welsh countryside.
However, Princess Alice was not only somewhat vain (her beauty was, after all, the envy of all who knew her), she was exceedingly clever—much more so than her fairly bull-headed husband. And, unfortunately for Alice, this left her with a burning ambition, and soon enough, she found that she could not simply let Gilbert rule Castell Caerffili and ignore her completely. Unfortunate, of course, because inactivity and boredom breed mischief—and, sometimes, misfortune.
One warm summer day, not more than a year after Gilbert and Alice were married, a trumpeting fanfare announced the arrival of the young, handsome wizard Gruffudd the Fair, the Prince of Brithdir. With the prince came a few select members of his court and trusted advisors, including Brother Humphrey, a dithering and round-faced monk (and a rather incapable wizard) who had remained in the good graces of Prince Gruffudd's court mostly by knowing which people to avoid and who to remain friends with.
As might be anticipated, Gruffudd quickly found the loveliest witch in the hall at the feast in his honor that night, and Alice—well, she had eyes in her head. The Prince's visit stretched longer and longer, from a few days, to a week, to a month, and finally through the whole of the summer.
Very fortunately for the conniving pair, Alice's husband was consumed for nearly all of this time with plotting a military campaign, and Gilbert had very little time for anything other than consulting his advisors. Wisely, Gruffudd offered Gilbert the services of his own men in order to buy himself more time alone with Alice.
In any case, neither husband nor wife missed the other too terribly, until one night in late August, when all went very badly wrong.
After a long day of riding through the countryside with the princess, Gruffudd returned to his chambers in Castle Caerffili to find most of his court playing at cards, and Brother Humphrey attempting to trim his hair with his wand. Brother Humphrey bowed to Gruffudd.
"My lord, how fare you this evening?" he asked in his doleful voice, as Gruffudd clapped him on the shoulder.
"I confess myself to be in love, Brother," sighed the prince. "No charm nor spell could cure me—I am besotted!"
Some of the royal advisors who had overheard snorted and shook their heads, but Brother Humphrey, being rather slow, had to stop and think for a moment. "A young woman has caught my lord's eye?" he asked.
"Not just a woman, by Merlin's wand, an enchantress of the highest caliber—a swan among geese!" He gave another contented sigh and dropped into a chair beside the fireplace. "And I shall tell you a secret—she has confessed to loving me in return."
"I am pleased for you, my lord," Brother Humphrey said slowly, his curiosity growing by the second.
"As fair as a midsummer's day—eyes like emeralds, and hair like spun gold!" Gruffudd beamed. "I could write songs of her that would mean nothing—nothing captures her, Brother, nothing could describe how ardently I adore her—"
By now, even Humphrey had managed to figure out who the prince was talking about. He sat down with the prince, turning his chair in such a way that their conversation would not be heard.
"Would I be impertinent to guess, my lord, that you are referring to the Princess Alice?" he asked curiously.
"Quiet, man," Gruffudd said quickly, sitting up and clapping a hand over his mouth. "Do you wish to have us all beheaded?"
It was, in retrospect, one of the more foolish things that Gruffudd could have said, because at the very thought of losing his head, Brother Humphrey went white as a sheet.
"N-n-n-no, my lord!" he stammered quickly.
"Then keep your mouth shut," Gruffudd snarled. "I won't have any fool ruining our plans." He looked around the room. "Have the men ready to leave tonight, after midnight has passed."
"Will we take—we will have one more in our company?" Brother Humphrey asked.
Gruffudd considered him carefully. "Perhaps so, Brother. Make yourself ready."
It was a pity that Gruffudd was too love-struck to see the furtive way that Brother Humphrey sidled away from their chat; he might have noticed his swift departure from the room. He might also have seen the way that Gilbert, beside whom Alice sat at dinner that night, stared at him, his eyes dark and full of hatred.
Harry and Ginny Potter walked hand-in-hand down a narrow pathway, lost in both the surrounding greenery and the stone walls in the distance. The Harpies were set to play against the Caerphilly Catapults the following morning, and the newlyweds had chosen to arrive a day early in order to take a tour of the area. They had never done much in the way of traveling, but as Harry gained seniority in the Auror Office, vacation days were steadily becoming more accessible, and they had finally chosen to seize the opportunity.
Ginny, noticing just how long it had been since her husband had spoken, broke the silence as they reached Caerphilly Castle.
"It really is beautiful," she said softly.
"It is," Harry looked at her and smiled; he could see the faded lines of tension on her forehead and took a moment to bask in the simple comfort they had achieved since the war's end. "And the amount of history here is mind-blowing."
Ginny let out a snort. "Harry, we haven't even gotten to the tour yet," she chuckled. "Don't tell me you actually read those guidebooks Hermione gave you."
"Of course not," Harry scoffed. "They're still sitting on the bureau at home." He gave his wife a cheeky grin before continuing. "But the Catapults have their own section in Quidditch Through the Ages. Did you know they have over eighteen League wins, not including their domination of the 1956 European Cup? I mean their players—"
Ginny felt a sharp twinge at the base of her skull.
Hearing his wife's anger, Harry did, indeed, stop.
Ginny had to forcibly stop herself from sucking her teeth.
"Would it kill you to be a bit more supportive?"
Harry's brow furrowed. "What do you mean?"
"Harry, I'm supposed to play against them tomorrow! Do you really think I need you throwing their successes in my face?"
"Gin, I didn't—"
But Harry couldn't get another word out. Ginny had already felt another twinge and turned away, her mother's temper spiking within her.
"Never mind, Harry. Let's just go."
Harry and Ginny made their way into the castle walls and hallways, both marveling at the second largest castle's impressive size ("the second-largest in Britain!" chirped the tour guide), admiring its artificial lakes and concentric defenses.
All the while, however, Ginny was rather subdued with pre-game jitters, especially after Harry's enthusiastic outburst about the Catapults. The Caerphilly team had been doing rather well, ranking third for the season thus far behind the Magpies and the Harpies.
Harry decided to break the awkward silence as they reached the top of the castle, which afforded a spectacular view of the surrounding countryside.
"Are you still angry at me, Gin-bug?" Harry whispered, placing a comforting arm around her shoulder and pulling her close.
Ginny merely leaned her head on his chest and replied, "Still annoyed to be honest, you pickle-eyed toad. It's my first game in the starting lineup with Gwenog 'Sewer Mouth' Jones, and she's threatening to strangle me if I mess up."
Harry let out a soft chuckle and a grin, saying, "You'll do great regardless. You faced down Bellatrix Lestrange and lived to tell the tale. Plus, I'll be rooting for you all the way. I love you, Gin-bug."
His wife giggled slightly and glanced at the deep, man-made lake in front of them and the vast greenery ahead. "This place is breathtaking. Let's do this more often."
Harry cupped her chin and looked into her eyes as they softly kissed. Just after they finished the kiss, they realized they weren't alone. A forlorn-looking young woman in a long, green dress floating over the battlements, near a tower in the southernmost part of the castle. By her demeanor, appearance and attire, they instantly realized that she was a ghost.
The couple's senses turned sharp as they walked briskly towards the apparition, doing their best to escape the attention of their fellow tourists. Two Notice-Me-Not Charms later, they ran towards the green-dressed lady, who had wandered beyond the cordoned-off parts of the castle.
Their approach was swift and the ghost they were following turned her attention to them. She inquired, "Who are you, kind sir and lady? Why have you followed me to these deserted grounds?"
"We are Ginny and Harry, travelers who visit your abode, my dear lady. We would like to respectfully ask for your time to know further of this beautiful castle. Who might you be, if I may be so bold to ask?" Ginny replied formally. Harry was surprised—Ginny was never formal with anybody.
"Why, I am the true lady of Castell Caerffili, Princess Alice of Angouleme, niece of King Henry III. Perhaps the both of you may keep me company for a while. Wandering around for centuries has been quite a bore without intellectual conversation or company," Alice remarked, a soft but sad smile on her lips at her two new companions.
Gruffudd and his loyal advisors hastened to leave Castell Caerffili in the hour after midnight, all packing their saddlebags and readying weapons in the stables outside the castle. Footfalls sounded outside the wooden stable door, and all drew their wands.
"It must be Brother Humphrey," whispered one of the men.
"Hush!" Gruffudd whispered, pressing his ear to the door. The crunching footsteps stopped just outside, and his heart jumped into his throat.
BANG. BANG. BANG.
Gruffudd's men looked around at each other as the thunderous knocks on the stable door echoed into silence. Gruffudd's heart began to race. Slowly, motioning to the men to remain quiet, he opened the door a crack.
Gilbert, ruddy-faced and wild-eyed, scowled at him. "Leaving already, eh, Your Highness?" he boomed, and there was echoing laughter behind him. Gruffudd opened the door further, and saw that there were no fewer than forty men circled around the stable, some bearing torches, other with wands and swords drawn.
He heard his own men move towards him, but signaled for them to halt.
"It seems there is no use pretending, Your Grace," Gruffudd replied, his heart pounding. He stepped out of the stable, forcing Gilbert to move backwards, towards his own men. "Where is the princess?"
Gilbert's face turned a nasty, dark red in the flickering torchlight. "The princess," he spat, "is no concern of yours, you pilfering toadstool!" He spat in Gruffudd's face and turned away.
"It would seem she is no concern of yours, either, Your Grace," Gruffudd replied. "Let her go; you have all you want—"
"I have killed her!" Gilbert roared, spit flying. "Killed her for her betrayal! Just as I will kill you now," he bellowed, swinging his sword around and pressing the flat side of the blade into Gruffudd's shoulder, so that he dropped to his knees, staring up at Gilbert. "Ha—tears in your eyes. For a woman. Pitiful," he snarled down at Gruffudd. "I shall not waste a spell on you. I shall sever your head before you can even blink—burn the stable," he barked to his men.
"No!" Gruffudd shouted, trying to get up, but Gilbert held him with the blade to his neck as forty spells arced through the air and landed on the thatched roof of the stable, which burst into flame with Gruffudd's men and horses inside.
Then, Gruffudd seized his opportunity—for a split second, Gilbert's attention was diverted long enough that Gruffudd managed to seize his wand and fire off a spell, directly into Gilbert's eyes.
He gave a howl of pain and stumbled backwards, taking down several of his own swordsmen, and Gruffudd leapt to his feet; his advisors were escaping on horseback, felling Gilbert's men as they rode by—twelve—thirteen—fourteen—and now only one remained unaccounted for.
"You won't get away!" Gilbert howled after Gruffudd, as he sprinted from the burning stable. "You can't escape!"
But Gruffudd had no intent of escaping; his broken heart had only one goal—following the frightened, robed figure that he could see running for the small wood that stood near the castle, clearly illuminated by the full moon's light. His feet carried him much faster than Brother Humphrey's did, and he reached the tree line only minutes after the monk.
"Humphrey!" Gruffudd roared, his voice echoing through the dark woods; the silver moon hung high in the trees overhead, illuminating the undergrowth with a grayish, ghostly glow. "Face your death! Lying serpent! Cowering traitor!"
He swung his sword in his right hand, his wand in his right, illuminated and casting another shaky, unearthly beam of light through the dark trees. As he trudged through the brush, he heard the baying of Gilbert's hounds; he and his men were coming closer. Gruffudd let out a howl of frustration and heartbreak.
There was a thud, and Brother Humphrey collapsed from behind a tree at Gruffudd's feet. "My lord, my lord—I beg—I crave your forgiveness—my lord—"
Gruffudd dropped his sword, stooped low, and seized Brother Humphrey by the throat, hoisting him against the nearest tree, pressing his wand to the monk's neck. "You've killed her! You've killed us all! Coward!" he screamed, his eyes streaming as the baying dogs got closer.
"My—lord—" Humphrey wheezed, but with a flick of his wand, Gruffudd conjured a length of rope that coiled itself in a noose around Humphrey's neck, hoisting him upwards with a sickening crack.
"Now you won't lose your precious head," he sneered, as the dogs came closer than ever.
His task complete, Gruffudd threw aside his wand into the undergrowth, and prepared to face his death.
Harry found he liked Lady Alice, despite her odd way of speaking, and quickly forgot that he was still in a bit of trouble with Ginny. She was still speaking in an uncharacteristically old fashioned manner, chattered away with the ghost, cracking jokes Harry didn't quite understand and charming Lady Alice with compliments.
After a bit of curious questioning (after all, their experiences in school had certainly indicated that there were ghosts who found it flattering to be asked about their deaths), Lady Alice told the story of her heartbreak and lost love, and to Harry's horror, her eyes filled with tears. Ginny gave her a sympathetic look as she said, "Please accept my apologies, it has been a long time since I last spoke of my past."
"You died of a broken heart," Ginny sighed. "Oh, how dreadful."
Lady Alice turned away, turning her gaze towards the castle tower that was nearest to where they now stood. She gave a soft sigh. "Yes…I suppose I did."
"But what happened to Gruffudd? Did he become a ghost as well?" Ginny asked, frowning.
"I know not. Alas, though I have looked for him, it seems that if he was killed…and I believe he was…it happened beyond these castle walls. I know not why, but I cannot leave Caerffili. I believe I am bound here by my own foolishness," she added miserably.
Ginny opened her mouth to ask another question, but Harry interrupted her.
"Well—" Harry glanced at Ginny for confirmation. "We could look for him, if you like. I mean, we have loads of time to kill, so..."
"Absolutely," Ginny agreed enthusiastically. "Do you have any idea—any idea at all—where he might be?"
"I have often thought that he—he could be in the forest, just beyond the castle boundaries."
"Excellent," Ginny said, grabbing hold of Harry's hand and dragging him away. "We'll check that place out first!"
They got a bit lost trying to find their way through the maze-like castle and out onto the grounds, and Ginny was soon teasing Harry. "I blame you entirely," she said, though she was grinning. Harry ignored her.
"Look," he said, examining the visitor's map uncertainly. "If we just...keep walking...that way, I think."
"Or..." Ginny said, tilting Harry's chin up from his unbroken stare at the map. "We could just walk towards those trees, over there." She skipped away, leaving Harry staring at her retreating back.
"Yeah," he muttered to himself, crumpling up the map. "Or we could just do that."
The forest was dark and dense. Harry shivered as an icy wind cut through the trees. Sunlight filtered through the branches, but it did very little to help. "Ginny," he said. "Can we hurry up and find this ghost already?"
"Shut up, and—wait. What's that over there?"
'That over there' seemed to be some sort of teashop, and Harry wondered who on earth could have chosen to open a teashop in the middle of the woods. "Er…well, let's see if they can help us."
As soon as they entered the teashop, they realised it was magical. The man standing behind the counter was making tea using his wand, an old woman was reading from a book that turned its pages by itself, and most importantly, a ghost was talking to the man serving him.
A ghost with a very familiar way of speaking.
Harry almost started laughing, right then and there.
"Excuse me…are you Gruffudd?" Ginny asked, approaching the ghost, who looked up.
He gestured to the man serving tea to stop, and floated over to the two. "I think that will do, Stephen. What travelers come here?"
"I'm Ginny Weasley, and he's Harry Potter," said Ginny, and she pointed to the big galoot who was about to burst out into laughter because of the absurd easiness of it all. The witch and wizard looked around in shock at the mention of Harry's name, but she ignored them.
"What can I do for you?" the ghost asked.
"Are you the ghost of Gruffudd?" Ginny repeated, now a bit annoyed.
"Yes, yes, I am the ghost of Gruffudd," the ghost said with a little bow, though his tone was somewhat bored. "I am all of what you have read in the works on ghost tours and such." He shrugged. "Stephen and Mary have tried to make more money by showcasing my haunting to wanderers."
"People don't come by here often," said Mary, by way of an explanation. "Not even magical folk. This is such a remote area. Sometimes I wonder why my grandmother didn't start a teashop closer to civilization."
"Well, we're certainly grateful that this teashop was here, or else we would've been lost in the middle of the woods with no shelter," Harry butted in. "And yes, we were looking for the ghost of Gruffudd."
"Why?" The ghost now sounded angry. "Do you wish to mock my pain? Ask about the legend that caused my death? I remained in the earthly world, only to discover that my beloved Alice was not here, waiting for me. So here I stay—I dare not go near the castle, for it reminds me too much of the loss I endured for love, but I cannot bring myself to leave the memory behind."
"What? You've never even tried to go up to the castle?" Ginny asked. She almost laughed at the Romeo-and-Juliet absurdity of it all—the stupidity on both sides, to never even try to check.
Then again, she thought, as she glanced over at those emerald-green eyes that were masked by glasses, love makes you crazy, and you do stupid things.
"I have not, and I shall never return there," Gruffudd said indignantly.
"But Alice's ghost is up in Caerphilly Castle!" Harry protested. "You've got to come with us!"
"I do not have to go anywhere with you, noble sir and gentle lady," Gruffudd replied stubbornly. "And what reason do I have to believe you?"
"He's Harry Potter!" Stephen said. "He's not about to lie to you for fun, is he?"
"Oh, Gruffudd, what if she is there? It'd be all you ever wanted!" Mary sighed. "And then maybe you could both come back here…"
"Please," Ginny begged, meeting the ghost's eyes. "You have to believe us. Alice misses you. Just come with us."
"Only because the lady pleads it, will I come with you," Gruffudd finally relented irritably.
Unbeknownst to Prince Gruffudd, Princess Alice was very much alive when Gilbert's men burned the stable down—Gilbert himself had locked her in a tower room and snapped her wand. Alice saw Gruffudd's men scattering into the night from her lonely perch—and then, in the early morning hours, she saw her husband returning, alive and alone. She knew then exactly what had become of her beloved, and wept bitterly.
She was left alone, isolated in the tower for days afterwards, with no word or message from her husband. Her food was brought to her by the aged elf servant, who was under strictest orders not to speak to Alice at all. Alice was bereft of company, left with only the few animals who dared wander indoors and the broken remains of her wand for company.
Then, after nearly a month, on one dark, gloomy day in October, Gilbert came into her tower room. "Well, my wife—" he sputtered into silence, startled.
"Are you startled, dear one?" Alice asked, rising from the cot in the corner. She was, she knew, as lovely as she had been on the day she had wed Gilbert—perhaps lovelier. She gave him a sweet smile and came to press a gentle kiss to his cheek. "Did you think I would become a madwoman? Lose my mind? Ah, but you know that I am no fool. I was wrong; I know where my loyalty belongs, husband."
Gilbert eyed her beadily for a moment. "Do you?"
Alice lowered her gaze and pursed her lips, looking up at him from under her lashes. Gilbert gave a triumphant laugh, and seized Alice in his arms, twirling her about. She smiled delightedly at him, even as she slipped her hand downwards, to his hip, and plucked his wand from his belt.
She pressed her lips to his ear and held the wand to his back. Then, she murmured the spell she had slaved over, with only animals and a broken bit of her wand to use for practice. "Avada Kedavra."
The curse, unfortunately for Alice, was so much more powerful with a whole wand that it shot through Gilbert, off the opposite stone wall—and she was not agile enough to dodge the jet of brilliant green light that hurtled straight at her chest.
It was the elf servant found them lying on their backs on the stone floor, their eyes wide and glassy, her mistress's gown pooled beneath the bodies like green velvet blood.
The strange group—saviour, warrior Quidditch princess, and ghost—began the trek back through the forest, finding their way by wandlight, and Caerphilly Castle was soon in sight once again. They marched triumphantly into the castle, avoiding the Muggle tourists with ease.
"Sir Harry, and Lady Ginny!" Princess Alice called out, upon seeing Ginny's mane of fire and Harry's black mop coming up the stairs. "Hath thee found him?" She asked, a small bit of worry in her heart. Then she saw the pearlescent figure that, until now, had been little more than a painful, passionate memory.
"Gruffudd," she said, suddenly quite shy.
"Alice," Gruffudd said, in a calm, reassuring whisper that said everything in that word. It said I love you, and it said, I won't ever leave you, and, you never gave up on me, and, always, all in one word.
Ginny smiled at the reunited couple, and Harry did as well. He placed his arm around her, a comfort that she herself had forgotten about. Soon, both couples, ghost and human, were kissing. Some of the tourists, magical and Muggle, came across this scene, although the Muggles, of course, only saw the humans.
The next morning, Ginny was walking to the locker rooms, Harry by her side, the two holding hands.
"I'm sorry about yesterday, Ginny," he said, looking into her fierce brown eyes. "I should've known that you'd be nervous, and I was a jerk about it, and I will always support you, Ginny—"
He was cut off by Ginny kissing him. When she pulled away, there was a mischievous grin on her face. "I forgive you," she said. "It's a silly thing to fight about, when our love is the most important thing. Just like it was for Alice and Gruffudd."
"I don't think those are exactly the most similar situations," Harry remarked. They stopped in front of the Holyhead Harpies' changing room. "Anyways, knock 'em dead, honey, and if that doesn't work, use the Bat-Bogey-Hex."
"Cute," Ginny said, before she bounced into the locker room, no longer so nervous.