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John Umland
Only in dreams.
Mon Nov 21, 2016 15:20

The sunlight was falling over the floor of Julian’s library in thick golden blocks and the air smelled like home: old books, black tea, a hint of India ink. It occurred to John that there was something wrong, some reason why he shouldn’t be here, but he ignored it. There was work to do…wasn’t there?

“It’s nice, isn’t it?”

He turned around and saw Lenore’s desk. The girl – woman? – witch who seemed to have said that, though, wasn’t Lenore: stronger features, lighter complexion, hair that was clearly just dark brown instead of black and which was so thick, shiny, and straight that John was put in mind of the back of a beetle’s wing. She was wearing Lenore’s white robes, though, and must have been much of a height with Julian’s cousin, because the chair put a crown over her head, too.

“Yes,” he said cautiously.

“Pity it’s not yours.”

“It’s ours,” he said.

The witch made a noise of clear contempt. “Please,” she said. “You heard Burhan. All of this is hers. You’re just the favorite help.” She smiled mockingly at him. “Not that I’m not sympathetic,” she assured him. “I can see why you don’t want to think about it. She couldn’t even begin to understand all the things in this room, but….”

John’s hands curled into fists. “Don’t talk about my sister like that,” he snapped, defending Julian automatically even as he thought it was probably true.

“Why are you always so irrational about her?” asked the witch. “Emotions aren’t relevant data.”

The witch offered him half an apple. He hesitated, fairly sure he shouldn’t take it but not sure why. Since emotions weren’t relevant, then, he took it from her. She looked sympathetic, now, as she put a hand on his arm. Her fingers were very long and she wore nail polish, the clear kind that made it look like she had a drawing of real fingernails over hers.

Suddenly, they were in a room he had only gone into once, a creepy sort of place lined with sleeping portraits. His companion gestured to them. “What do they all have in common?” she asked.

John looked around, too, seeing a chin like his sister’s here, a nose like hers there. “Money to burn?” asked John, thinking of how many more books they could have bought instead of having their portraits done.


John shrugged and his companion shook her head. “They’re all dead,” she said patiently, as though explaining things to a child. “Their time’s over.” William appeared over her shoulder, accompanied by Bertram and the Ollies from Sonora. There was something wrong with them, though; they were like those-eerily-lifelike-Muggle-dolls versions of themselves. “Do you really think that lot are strong enough to keep it all going if you really want it gone?”

John looked over each one of them. “No,” he said.

He woke up suddenly, alarmed and not sure why. Rubbing his eyes, John sat up, lit his wand, and groaned when he saw his clock. It was very early in the morning, even for him. Rubbing the back of his neck, which hurt, he pushed his curtains open and looked around to see if he had woken Jax up before realizing that his roommate was gone again.

What, John thought irritably, ailed Donovan, anyway? He had thought nothing of it when his roommate had vanished for a while after they first started living together, but this seemed to happen a lot. He supposed he could just ask, but Jax did not exactly encourage conversation. John had tried being as friendly as he knew how to be for a long time, but either the fifth year was the reason John no longer had a room to himself or the fifth year just didn’t like him for some reason.

At any rate, though, he was gone now. The moon was full, enough to get around the room by, but John put on the lights since he was by himself. Sometimes, when he couldn’t sleep, putting on the lights and working on something dull for a bit would soothe him. He shuffled through the books on his bedside table and picked up his folder on book club notes and plans. As he did, his eye fell on Laila’s yummy illustrations of political issues, dutifully recorded because it was his duty as club president, and then his eyes moved to the empty bed on the other side of the room.

No,” he said, for real and disbelievingly this time. Surely not. Surely not. That wasn’t even legal, was it? He knew his family had had a few intense debates on the subject of werewolves (his family was generally pretty inclined toward inclusivity, but it had to be acknowledged that Muggle parents, lack of magical talent in a magical family, a matched pair of chromosomes, and illegitimacy were not traits that could be passed along directly and intentionally to people who didn’t already have them), and those had happened because there were laws preventing them from doing some things. He didn’t know much about American laws, but he knew some prejudices were nearly universal in their world and did not see Mortimer Brockert as the progressive type. Schools largely could pick their students, he thought, at least in Canada, so…Surely not. He was tired if he was going that far out on a limb. At least, he thought, that meant he should be able to go back to sleep soon….

  • Dream onTasha DuBois, Sun Nov 20 17:36
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    • Only in dreams. — John Umland, Mon Nov 21 15:20
      • Is it a dream? (NANO)Farrah Welsh, Mon Nov 21 17:32
        Farrah looked up to see a school owl landing on her table at breakfast. She wasn’t expecting any mail from anyone back home, so she had no idea why she would receive a letter from home or who it... more
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