Disclaimer: I don't own Harry Potter or the associated works. Deal with it.
Summary: See previous chapters
A/N: I AM A PUBISHED WRITER! One of my original poems is published on the front page of a book titled 'Forever Spoken'! Available on Amazon . com online shopping! Can you tell I'm excited?
If anyone is interested in the actual poem, tell me in a review, leave an address and I'll send it to you.
Roisin sighed and looked over her remaining homework. Due to the events of last term and her subsequent Petrification by a basilisk, Roisin now had a mountain of catch-up work to complete if she didn't want to repeat her second year. Roisin didn't want to repeat the year, and therefore resigned herself to the extra workload.
She had completed Charms, Potions, Astronomy and Herbology, but the remaining History of Magic, Transfiguration and Defense Against the Dark Arts, was going to take a while. When you factored in pre-reading for her electives Arithmancy, Care of Magical Creatures and Ancient Runes, it more or less ensured that most of her summer would be spent in schoolwork.
Sighing again, Roisin got started on her History of Magic Summer Essay. For once, it wasn't to do with Goblin Rebellions, but on the Witch Burnings.
It may have actually been easier to do Goblin Rebellions, as her History of Magic textbook had very little on the subject of Witch Burnings, despite its significance in Historical events. Oh, well. Roisin would just have to take what notes she could out of the textbook, then cross-reference and look up further information when she visited the O'Conner Keep in a few days.
Thinking of her ancestral home, Roisin smiled. O'Conner Keep was the home of the powerful O'Conner Clan, and the place where she spent most of her holidays away from Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. A magnificent castle in Ireland, nearly as old as the green hills upon which it was built, the Keep and surrounding lands was definitely Roisin's favorite place to be.
The chime of the Hall Clock brought Roisin out of her wistful fantasy. Midnight. She had another hour to do her schoolwork before her twin or parents tried to check on her to ensure that she wasn't up to any of her 'freakishness'. Oh, well, back to the grindstone.
'The Witch Burnings, by Roisin O'Conner
The height of Witch Burnings and Trials occurred in Europe during the 11th to 17th centuries AD. The more publicized Witch Trials include the Spanish Inquisition, who needed a reason to keep their power after 'purging' the Templar Knights, and the Salem Witch Trials, a brief period of hysteria almost thirty years after European Witch Hunts had started to wane.
Muggles had many ways of 'testing' accused men and women, none of which were particularly effective. Admission by torture was unreliable, although accepted as truth, as the suspect would say anything the Inquisitors wanted them to, no matter how impossible.
Other methods were ineffective, but resulted in the deaths of countless innocent Muggles, because true witches and wizards could use simple charms to escape.
In 'Trial by Fire' the victim was bound to a stake and burned alive. If they burned, they were innocent; if they survived, they were found guilty and executed. In such cases, a witch or wizard would cast a simple flame-freezing charm and fake their agony and subsequent death, while enjoying a gentle tickling sensation. Indeed, several of the Magical Community viewed this as a perverse form of entertainment, deliberately allowing themselves to be 'caught' and burned.
Another method was 'Trial by Water', or 'Swimming'. The accused was bound and weighed down, before being thrown into a large body of water. If the accused floated, they were guilty. If the accused drowned, they were innocent. Witches and Wizards escaped death by using a Bubble-Head charm, then transfiguring an underwater object to look like a human, before freeing and Disillusioning themselves and swimming away. While equally ineffective, this was not as widely enjoyed as a Burning.'
Covering another yawn, Roisin heard the fluttering of several wings outside, opening the curtain slightly and spotting a number of owls bearing letters and parcels flying to the the converted study several windows down. That window belonged to Roisin's cousin, Harry Potter, who had turned thirteen an hour ago, if the blinking 1:00 on Roisin's clock was correct.
Yet another owl branched off from the flock, headed toward Roisin's window. Noticing the heavy parchment, green ink and the design of the red wax seal, Roisin correctly assumed that it was the annual Hogwarts Letter. Opening the letter, she skimmed the contents. Dear Miss O'Conner, you are welcomed back for another year at Hogwarts…Train leaves September 1st… Enclosed list of books… Ooh! Hogsmeade permission form!
Hogsmeade was the all-wizarding village near Hogwarts, which students from Third Year and older were allowed to visit on alternate weekends. Having heard stories from the older years, Roisin was very glad that her Grandmother was considered her legal guardian in the Wizarding world. She didn't even want to think about the fuss Vernon and Petunia would put up as a prequel to bluntly refusing permission.
Idly, Roisin wondered how Harry was going to get permission to visit the village. If the Dursleys resented the fact that their daughter was a witch, they flat-out hated Harry for it. Harry was incredibly quick-witted and resourceful, but Roisin still wondered how he could convince her parents to sign the form, when they would probably refuse out of sheer spite.
Deciding to worry about it in the morning, Roisin went back to her essay, wanting to finish at least the first draft before going to bed. There was no point trying to finish an assignment when you were too tired to see straight.
Roisin slept in the next morning, and it was nine O'clock before she ventured down the stairs. Thankfully, her parents didn't expect her to do household chores since before her First Year, when they had briefly tried to lower her to 'Harry Status', which translated to somewhere between a House Elf and an indentured servant.
The idea had been dropped rather quickly upon the realization that Roisin wasn't nearly as nice as Harry, and was rather good with a cauldron. Another part was their attempt to blame Roisin being a witch on Harry, though Roisin didn't quite grasp that logic, and just act very stand-off-ish toward Roisin herself. Roisin felt slightly ashamed of herself for going along with that attitude instead of standing up for Harry, but habits of a lifetime are difficult to break.
Entering the kitchen saw the house's other four residents eating breakfast and focusing on the newsreader, who was reporting a dangerous criminal by the name of Sirius Black. Listening to the report with half an ear, Roisin frowned. Sirius didn't sound like a Muggle name, and there was an ancient, if traditionally dark, pureblood family by the name of Black.
She would ask her grandmother or friends when she had the chance, at least one of them would know something about it. In fact, Roisin was sure Draco had mentioned something about a Sirius Black last year, when comparing bloodlines with the son of the new Ambassador to England from somewhere. Draco's mother, Narcissa Malfoy, had been born a Black, so Draco would almost certainly know the gritty details.
The other boys in their year had been viewing the family tree comparisson as similar to a tennis match. Millicent had been listening for the sole purpose of making sardonic comments to Pansy and Desdemona. Roisin had tried to ignore them while finishing her Transfiguration homework, which, in hindsight, she was now regretting.
Roisin's attention was drawn back to the present when Vernon turned off the TV and drained the last of his coffee. "I'd better be off in a minute, Petunia; Marge's train comes in at ten."
Roisin had been skimming her Charms book for the dual purpose of studying and seeing how long it would take for her family to notice and throw a fit. Upon hearing her father's statement, Roisin dropped the book in horror. Dudley was ignored when he saw the title, shrieked, and fell off his chair while Roisin and Harry exchanged horrified glances. Harry was the one to actually vocalize the thought. "Aunt Marge? She's not coming here, is she?"
The 'Marge' in question was Roisin's paternal aunt, and just as intolerant as her parents when it came to anything out of the ordinary. She lived in the country, where she bred bulldogs, and thankfully didn't visit them very often, a fact that Roisin was profoundly grateful for.
Though self-preservation meant that she wasn't about to vocalize it, Roisin agreed with Harry. Aunt Marge was even worse a Muggle than her own parents, and even Fionna, Roisin's paternal grandmother, had been heard to despair over how she had ever given birth to such a disappointment, and wonder where she had gone so wrong.
Of course, Fionna had also commented more than once that the entire Dursley family (with the exception of her late husband, the black sheep of the family, and Roisin, a flourishing witch) was depressingly normal, but everyone unoffically agreed that Vernon and Marge took it to a whole new level.
But if Roisin was her Grandmother's favorite, Dudley was the light of Aunt Marge's life, and was automatically invited to the station with Vernon. Petunia declined for him, however, insisting that 'her Duddy' had to make himself all handsome for his aunt. Thankfully, neither parent noticed Roisin's openly skeptical expression.
As soon as their mother's back was turned, Dudley winced; no doubt anticipating one of Aunt Marge's smothering hugs. Making sure that Petunia had left the room, Roisin leaned toward her twin. "Nah nah na-na nah."
Dudley glared at her. "How do you know she won't head straight for you?"
Roisin gave up the fight against malicious amusement. "Because I'll be standing conveniently out of the way, and because Aunt Marge thinks I'm eccentric, and you're the apple of her beady little eye."
Dudley's glare deepened. "Think you're so great, don't you? Why don't you prove it and suffer through her hugs."
Roisin returned the glare with a condescending look. "A child could see through that ploy. To answer: I am secure in my superiority. Therefore, I find no need to prove it by humiliating myself. Especially for your benefit."
Dudley finally lost the glare, his expression turning desperate. "Come on, Roisin. I'll toss you for it?"
Roisin smirked. "Not likely."
Dudley resorted to threats. "I'll break that stupid stick of yours and burn your schoolwork."
Roisin shot him a withering look. He'd have to find her wand, first. Besides, she had convinced Fionna to transfigure a stick into an exact replica of her wand in her first year, just in case. "You don't know where my wand is, and I'm leaving tomorrow, so I can just re-do my homework at Nana's."
Dudley was obviously grasping at straws now. "I'll tell everyone about you and that…school of yours."
Roisin narrowed her eyes. Like anyone would believe him. "No." Dudley opened his mouth, but she cut him off. "And if you keep bothering me, I have photographic evidence of you and 'blankie', which is far more effective than any allegations of witchcraft."
Dudley glared and stormed off, the kitchen shaking with every stomp. Actually, Roisin didn't have a scrap of evidence to prove anything, but Dudley didn't know that. Sometimes bluffs worked even better than real blackmail, and there was no harm in using such methods, if it achieved the desired result.
Once Dudley had gone, Roisin ignored all her previous lessons on proper posture, and slumped in her chair. This was going to be an unmitigated disaster, no matter how you looked at it.
Well at least there was one bright side. Last year, Roisin's parents had struck a deal with her grandmother and extended family. For the first half of the summer holidays, Roisin would stay with her parents at Number Four Privet Drive. This was long enough to keep up appearances with the rest of the neighborhood and prevent any uncomfortable questions from outside sources.
Roisin spent the 1st and 2nd of August celebrating Lughnasadh in Ireland, came back for a week, again for the neighborhood's benefit, then went back to the O'Conner Keep until the start of the Hogwarts school year.
Finishing her breakfast, Roisin headed straight back upstairs to her room. Grabbing parchment and quill, she wrote out a quick letter to her Grandmother, warning her of Aunt Marge's visit. With any luck, it would reach O'Conner Keep in time to warn Fionna and whoever else was coming to pick her up. Aunt Marge was hard to deal with when you had adequate forewarning. When you weren't expecting her, it was simply trouble waiting to happen.
Roisin had finished her letter and sent it off with Hedwig, and had just returned to her Charms book when she heard a car pulling into the driveway, shortly followed by her aunt's loud voice. Listening closely, Roisin smirked, wondering how much Dudley would pay to make sure Aunt Marge's pet names for him ('Dudders' and 'neffy-poo') never became public knowledge.
The smirk left her face when she heard Aunt Marge calling for her 'little flower-bud'. Thanking every deity and lucky spirit individually and by name that none of her friends would hear about this, Roisin sighed and made her way downstairs. Best to greet Aunt Marge and get it over with.
Roisin made it downstairs just in time for Aunt Marge to release her brother from a second hug. For once, Dudley actually looked relieved to see her, even if Roisin did manage to escape her hug a lot faster that he had. Carefully situating herself behind her brother and therefore out of hugging-range, Roisin resisted the urge to kick Aunt Marge's favorite dog, Ripper, and steeled herself for at least an hour stuck in Aunt Marge's company.
Roisin had never been her Aunt's favorite twin, a fact for which she was greatly relieved. She was also relieved that her Aunt seldom cursed Privet Drive with her presence. Nevertheless, on the rare occasions that Aunt Marge did visit, Roisin always found herself counting the hours until she left again, and relishing any excuse to get away.
Not to say that there wasn't the occasional upside to her Aunt's visits. Roisin had not missed the fact that her Aunt was not the most observant of people, and frequently used her as a test dummy to practice snide or sarcastic remarks and subtle insults. Another high point was birthdays and such, when Fionna was usually visiting at the same time. Such instances were always amusing.
The day after Aunt Marge's arrival was one such instance. Warned by Roisin's letter, Fionna and Roisin's 'Terrible Twin' cousins had portkeyed to a few blocks away and walked to Privet Drive. The expression on her Aunt, brother and parent's faces was a memory to treasure as Mary and Seamus ran toward her, yelling in delight.
Petunia, always worried about what the neighborhood thought of them, instantly looked out the window to see if anyone had taken notice of it. Vernon and Dudley both winced at Roisin's appearance, confirming Roisin's belief that Fionna had been forcefully persuasive in getting the rest of the Dursley family to agree to Roisin's new 'Summer Arrangement.'
Aunt Marge started, obviously having not been informed of Roisin's visit to her Grandmother. "Mother! I didn't know you were visiting, too."
A thin smile touched Fionna's lips. "I'm not. I am simply here to pick up Roisin for the Lughnasadh festival. Roisin, go fetch your bag. Mary, Seamus, behave yourselves and go help her. Don't worry, Marge, you'll see her again before your visit here is over."
Aunt Marge sneered at Fionna's explanation, obviously displeased at something. "You mean you are encouraging my little flower bud in those heathen practices? Really, Mother, it just isn't normal, what will her friends think? Vernon, you can't be thinking of allowing this!"
Fionna frowned at both of her children, who squirmed beneath her stern gaze. "Those 'heathen practices' are your heritage, Marge Dursley, and Roisin's. Besides, it is a chance to get to know her other family, so I will hear no more protests."
Thankfully, Roisin chose this moment to make her re-appearance, bag in hand, saving the room from any further arguments. Taking her Grandmother's hand, she waved goodbye to the room at large. "See you in two days! Come on, Nana; tell me what everyone's been up too."
Lughnasadh was especially enjoyable that year. Roisin's admittedly much older friend, Sorcha, had decided that she and her hand fasted, Sean Muldoon, made a fairly good couple, and consented to marriage. This meant an extra celebration, the only downside of which was that it had Mary and Seamus bouncing off the walls, which in turn resulted in Roisin trying to avoid them.
Another surprise was that her oldest cousin, eighteen-year-old Aiden, had started formally courting another of Roisin's friends, Aoibhe, and had yet to hear the end of his younger siblings. The end result of this was that Roisin now had an accomplice in hiding, which made things a lot easier.
Lughnasadh passed all too quickly, and after the brief respite among extended, nurturing, family, Roisin was headed back to Privet Drive for four more days of Aunt Marge, and fourteen of her immediate family. Ugh.
Like all children and teenagers, Roisin loved getting presents. However, even she was forced to admit that Aunt Marge went a little overboard, even with the excuse that she saw Roisin and Dudley so little, that she loved to spoil them when she could. The fact was that while Roisin enjoyed presents, there were only so many things One could receive before running out of ideas for things they really wanted.
In contrast, Dudley had no such restraint, and delighted in the huge, expensive gifts Aunt Marge brought him, both boy and Aunt glaring at Harry, daring him to ask for something, as well.
The Dursleys of Privet Drive were taking Aunt Marge to some of the London attractions, followed by a trip to the theatre to see 'The Lion King Musical'. They chose a restaurant near a mall to have lunch, after which Dudley insisted that he had seen something he 'really really wanted' in one of the shops. Naturally, Aunt Marge insisted that they find this item for her 'neffy-poo' and took the three teens off to look through the shops.
Fifteen minutes later, Roisin was ready to scream with boredom. Taking a chance while Aunt Marge was busy criticizing Harry, Roisin was careful to keep her voice down as she informed Dudley that if they weren't out of here within half an hour, someone was going to be on the receiving end of the nastiest potion she could brew.
She actually meant that Aunt Marge would be on the receiving end of vicious stomach aches, but she didn't get the chance to finish before Dudley paled. Before he could reply, Aunt Marge noticed his pale face and called him up to walk next to her. Smirking at his escape, Dudley complied, 'accidentally' nudging her into a wall as he did so.
Roisin's response to her brother's 'nudge' as he pushed past her was thankfully inaudible, hissed through clenched teeth. For some reason, it also prompted a hastily smothered laugh from Harry.
Rubbing her hip where Dudley had pushed her into the doorframe, Roisin shot her cousin a nasty look. "What is so terribly amusing, if I may ask?"
Harry made a valiant effort to control his amusement, and then hissed himself, changing notes slightly. "Try something more like that." He paused for a moment. "Unless you really do think Dudley should throw a lemming at a windmill?"
Roisin blinked and started to smile. "Is that what I hissed? What did you just say?"
Harry grinned. "Literally, 'Seek bitter-tasting water and sink like rock'. Essentially, 'go jump in a lake'. Snakes go more for description than names when they talk."
That was an interesting bit of information. "So in Parseltongue, what would my name be? On that thought, what is yours?"
Harry gave an almost musical hiss, followed by a pause and then a lower hiss. "You are 'Night-flower-with-storm-cloud-eyes', I'm 'Speaker-with-eyes-like-fresh-grass'. Given last year's events, I'm a bit surprised you aren't upset about me speaking Parseltongue."
Roisin shrugged. "I'm also a Slytherin, so I can appreciate the humor of a Gryffindor lion speaking Slytherin's trademark. Besides, Parseltongue definitely has its uses. If you didn't speak to snakes you never would have made it into the Chamber to stop the attacks. You should never be ashamed of your gifts, Harry, just because others disapprove."
Her cousin smiled. "Thanks, Roisin. It's nice to know someone won't flinch and go pale whenever I hiss at something."
The conversation was broken up when Aunt Marge stomped over. "Rosie-dear, what are you doing with that scrawny little monster? Go and pick something you want while I see what Duddy is up to. Precious little tyke."
Roisin waited until Aunt Marge was out of hearing range, and then repeated Harry's hissed suggestion from earlier. Harry burst out laughing.
A/N: Sorry for the lack of updates, I have been beyond busy with TAFE, birthday plans, being newly published and a multitude of other things. Anyway, review and tell me what you think.
BTW, does anyone here like X-Men: Evolution? I'm working on a chaptered story in that fandom and would be interested in people's opinions.