Foreword: This isn't a complete chapter. It's a scene I've been working on, and it's kind of fragmented. I'm posting what I have so far to see if anyone here will give me any feedback on whether I'm handling the characters right.
Something to keep in mind; This scene is an attempt to get a feel for writing the characters of Uncle Arthur, and to a lesser extent, the Weasley twins. It's important to remember that Arthur, the character, is not Paul Lynde, the actor who played him. So don't expect sexual innuendo or gay jokes. Arthur never used any.
I was terribly melodramatic, wasn't I? My "operation" to get to know Hermione Granger better was to sit at the same table in the castle library occasionally. Nothing more, really. We traded advice about lessons, but I found out that she's not an easy person to get along with outside of lessons. She's much too focused on her homework for that, and doesn't seem to truly understand why classes and homework wouldn't be the driving force of everyone elses' day as well. In the end, my plan fizzled because of that. I found that she's pretty much the same with her friends, always pushing them to complete assignments and study more. At least, that's how it appeared to me from my own observations and the school grapevine.
I was also very disappointed when I was able to watch Harry Potter and Ron Weasley. On the surface, both were rather lazy and unmotivated, which accounts for Hermione's badgering of them. I'm rapidly coming to the conclusion that Harry's main objective in school is to fit in and blend into the background. No one I've ever talked to has ever heard if he has any long term goals. They seem to assume that life will just work out for "the Boy Who Lived" and do not spend any time thinking about "how".
For me, that brings up a real mystery. He's not at all the kind of guy I've ever admired or even thought of going on so much as one date with, yet I still feel this sense of attraction. Why? I don't believe in love at first sight, and after musing on it, I don't think that love has anything to do with what I'm feeling.
Maybe I should talk to mother about it?
No, not yet. I should be better at figuring out this kind of thing for myself, so I'll hold off on calling her.
Personal relationships can be boiled down to three truths. The first truth: you choose your friends. The second truth: your enemies choose you. The third truth: there is no choice about who your family members are.
Grand-uncle Arthur is one of those people that have to be seen to be believed, but after you've seen him, you realize that ignorance is bliss. As small children, my younger brother and I adored him because his sense of humor was on a level we could appreciate. As we got older and our tastes in jokes got more sophisticated, our fondness for the man remained, but our fondness for his jokes did not. His idea of "funny" was grade-school level, and although we grew up, he never did. His penchant for bad puns and juvenile practical jokes earned him the title of "The Clown Prince of the Cosmos" from Grandmother Endora. As you might expect, he was tickled pink.
Knowing that my family members come and go as it pleases them regardless of whether it's permitted or appropriate, it was probably inevitable that Uncle Arthur would come to see what his grand-niece was up to when he was in the area. I was so shocked at the suddenness of his appearance that it caused a small lapse in my acting.
Could I have reined him in? In a word, no. It's important to remember that while I'm considered an adult in mortal society, I'm still a young child by Witch standards. I lack the power and control to even dream of opposing a Warlock of Arthur's age and experience. He's easily able to spank me both figuratively and literally if I tried. So I really was helpless to stop him when he came to call.
As students streamed into the great hall for breakfast, and accompanied as usual by Luna, Tabitha approached her normal place on the bench at the Ravenclaw table. Curiously, instead of the usual place setting, there was a large covered platter on the table before her.
"Luna? Did you order something special for me?"
"I don't remember ordering anything for you, but with all the wrackspurts in the tower, I may have forgotten about it."
"I'll take that as a 'no'. So you didn't, and I know I didn't. I suppose there's only one way to find out what this is about." As all of the students nearby watched in curiosity, Tabitha gingerly reached out to lift the lid off the platter. "This might be one of the Weasley twins' pranks, so be ready to jump away."
As she slowly lifted the lid away, there were gasps of shocked surprise from all around. A human head was revealed, sitting on a bed of lettuce. There were more gasps when it suddenly smiled and winked at her.
Tabitha was less surprised. "Oh. Hello, Uncle Arthur."
Luna timidly asked, "Is he a ghost, Tabitha? He looks awfully solid for one."
"No, this is Arthur, my grand-uncle on my mother's side. He's as big a practical joker as the twins, except he only has half their maturity."
The head took on an expression of mock hurt. "Tabitha! My favorite grandniece! You wound me!" Suddenly, a headless body dressed in a conservative white shirt, natty tie, and plaid suit appeared, stretched out along the length of the table next to the platter. A handkerchief tastefully concealed the top of the neck. "Look! I'm beside myself with the pain!"
Luna murmured, "Oh my. He's qualified to join the headless hunt and he isn't even dead yet."
Tabitha threw him a flat stare. "Unless Cousin Serena settled down and got busy when I wasn't looking, I'm your only grandniece. Did you have to pull the old 'head on the platter' gag on me? You've been doing that one since before I was born."
"What can I say? The classics must have their due! It just begs to be dusted off occasionally." Both head and body disappeared in a flash, to reappear firmly attached in the normal manner a moment later, standing beside the girls. This display of what seemed to be wandless magic caused the rest of the room to fall into wide-eyed silence.
"And just what is it that brings you to my boarding school today, uncle? Surely you have better things you could be doing."
"Better than visiting my darling grandniece? Pish-posh. But if you must know, I'm here in Scotland on an errand."
"Are you going to enlighten me?"
"Of course! Do you want the long version or the short version? Although I have to warn you, the long version is in Aramaic."
Slapping her hand to her forehead, Tabitha suppressed a groan. "I'll tell you what. Unless it directly involves me, you can keep it to yourself."
"Oh, poo. You're no fun today, Tabitha!"
With a wave of her wand, Tabitha banished the platter and lid and summoned a regular place setting for herself. This resulted in even wider eyes among her housemates. Seating herself, Tabitha turned to her neighbors and asked, "Could someone pass me the milk?"
Arthur clapped his hands. Tabitha found herself with a cow standing uncomfortably near to her, its head peering over her shoulder. After a moment of hesitation, the cow began to graze on a serving dish that was piled high with pancakes. Arthur beamed at Tabitha. "There you go, dear! Help yourself!"
Tabitha hid her face in her hands.
Arthur giggled. "Sorry, I just can't help milking a joke!"
While all of this had been going on, there had been a great deal of consternation at the head table. None of the instructors had a clue as to how the mystery man had managed to apparate inside Hogwarts, or how he seemed to effortlessly perform magic without a wand in sight.
"There has to be a trick," muttered Professor Snape. "This can't be happening the way it appears to be."
His colleagues nodded in agreement.
"Well, I really should go to greet our unannounced guest and find out what his intentions are," proclaimed the headmaster. With that, he left the dais and approached the strange man. It was at that moment that the man clapped his hands. After a time of being taken aback by the seeming apparition of a barnyard animal into his school, he addressed him. "Pardon me, sir. May I have a word?"
Arthur turned to him with glee. "Of course! 'Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious.' There, that should hold you for the rest of the week!"
Nonplussed, Dumbledore gaped like a fish. "Er… I meant to ask if I might speak with you for a moment."
"So, how would you rate this new prankster, brother of mine?" George asked of his inseparable companion.
"I can only give him three wands out of five, my handsome identical twin. While his execution is flawless, the pranks themselves are quite basic and lacking in that certain je ne sais quoi," Fred answered.
"When did we learn to speak French, dear brother?"
"Oh, is that was that was?"
"I guess that answers my question."
Across the room Uncle Arthur smirked as he snapped his fingers, while allowing himself to be lead away from the Ravenclaw table toward the head dais.
"Well, Gred, shall we attend to this undoubtedly sumptuous repast?"
"Indeed we shall, Forge. After all, breakfast is the most important meal of the day."
Neither of the boys paid any heed to the fact that they had each selected a grapefruit half, despite it being a fruit that neither had ever eaten before and which was not normally on the Hogwarts menu. Fred was the first to dig into his with the small spoon that had come with it. A long stream of juice promptly shot from George's grapefruit, hitting him squarely on the center of his forehead.
"WHAT THE HELL?" cried out George, as he searched for a napkin.
Fred looked at the spoon in his hand, and then at the large citrus fruit half in front of him. He tentatively poked the spoon into the top if it again. Another, lesser stream of juice erupted from George's meal, this time hitting his chin.
George didn't need a compass to see the way the wind was blowing. Feeling a little vengeful, he jammed his spoon deeply into his own grapefruit. He was rewarded when a heavy stream of juice shot from Fred's fruit, instantly soaking his hair with the tart substance.
The pair looked at each other for a long moment, and eventually George stated, "Okay. I have to give him a four out of five this time."
They began stabbing their fruit violently in an impromptu squirtgun war, accompanied by a chorus of guffaws from their table mates. Across the room, Arthur had to lean against the wall to support himself as he brayed in laughter, while the rest of the students in the room began tittering and the instructors wondered just when the facility had become an asylum, and why no one had informed them.
After Dumbledore managed to calm Arthur down enough to conduct him the rest of the way to the head table, he said, "I am Headmaster Albus Dumbledore of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, and these gentlemen and ladies are the staff of the school. I fear that we have not yet had the pleasure of making your acquaintance, sir. If you would be so kind, please introduce yourself and explain what brings you to our castle in such an unusual manner."
"Aw, how could I not cooperate with such a polite request? My name is Arthur. I'm afraid that I cannot share my family name; it's been so long that anyone has used it, I've quite forgotten it, or even if we ever had one. As to what brings me to here..." Arthur began a very long, detailed and informative explanation of his errand in Scotland. It did little good for the bewildered staff, however, since, as promised, it was entirely in Ancient Aramaic.
While he was in mid-speech, Tabitha excused herself to Luna, and quickly walked to the door to the nearest corridor. Once there, she stopped near a portrait of a living room with a wing-backed chair in front of a cheery fireplace. The person whose frame it was had apparently gone somewhere else. She then spoke to the air. "Uncle Arthur! Please! You're going to ruin my research project!"
The picture immediately had a new figure, as Arthur blinked in, reclining across the chair with one leg over its arm. "Tabitha, Tabitha, Tabitha. You should know better than to believe that these people are going to remember a thing when I decide to leave, so why spoil my fun? Still, these wizards are a dull bunch, aren't they? Maybe I should just move along. I really do have an errand to run. I'll be seeing you, dear."
With that, he was gone. Tabitha strolled back to the great hall to finally eat her breakfast in peace. Which was an idea she had to abandon since all of the people and furnishings in the hall were upside down on the ceiling, and room's inhabitants were asking each other how they got up there and when it had happened.