Tag Archives: fantasy

Female Young Adulthood

Published / by SarahE / Leave a Comment

The Lie Tree

Frances Hardinge

She had tumbled off the safe, hallowed shore of childhood, and now she was in no-man’s-water, neither one thing nor another, like a mermaid. Until she dragged herself up on the rock of marriage, she was difficult.

Man oh man friends. I so connected with Faith. What a great portrayal of female young adulthood. The yearning for her father’s love and understanding. Longing to be something more than the people around her expected. Hiding a passionate nature beneath the poised, subdued young lady society assumed she was.

This book was set in Victorian England, on an island called Vale… That’s all I’ll say, because you can read the synopsis many different places, and what I’m must anxious to talk about is Faith, and my feelings about it ALL.

Let me now tell you all the different books I compared Frances Hardinge’s book to while reading…It’s setting was wet and desolate like the moors of Wuthering Heights. In the beginning, Faith reminded me of one of the meek female characters from Dickens; his “good women”. Faith’s mom Myrtle reminded me of both Scarlet O’Hara and Mrs. Bennet from Pride and Prejudice. I also kept thinking about an Agatha Christie book that I’d read that also took place at an archaeology dig ( I can’t remember the title).

So, most of these comparisons were happening at the beginning of the book, because as it went on all juxtaposition was forgotten. This book, yo…

There was a mystery going on, but really…

Faith was not strong, and nobody had ever taken advantage of that before. But now she knew the threat had always been there, lurking in every smile, every bow, every allowance made for her sex. A veil had torn, and here was the truth in all its ugliness.

I mean wow, right? What a perfect time period to write about feminine issues, and the vulnerable nature of females in a male- dominated culture. Civilized we call ourselves…

“This is a battlefield, Faith! Women find themselves on battlefields, just as men do. We are given no weapons, and cannot be seen to fight. But fight we must, or perish.”

I should’ve ended with that quote for effect.

Also, I can’t believe I didn’t think of this comparison earlier, but I think at the end, this book is most similar to Libba Bray’s A Great and Terrible Beauty .

This book just didn’t disappoint.

Harry Potter Feelings

Published / by SarahE / Leave a Comment

 

I liked the Harry Potter play… because Harry Potter was in it and I had moments in Hogwarts again. But this was fan fiction to help fill the void Harry Potter left in so many of our lives.

First, it was obvious JK Rowling did not write this. This was not her writing. The actions of the characters were out of character. The plot was too pleasing- too conscious of what HP fans would want it to be.

I didn’t hate this book. I was absorbed, but I was annoyed too. I was NEVER annoyed reading the other Harry Potter books, so if you’re going into this thinking you’re going to read another Harry Potter book you’ll be very disappointed, but if you go into this to satisfy your curiosity you won’t be too disappointed.

After I’ve been critical of another person’s take on the post- Hogwart’s Harry Potter world, I thought I would put my own fan fiction out there, because after you’ve read Harry Potter as many times as I have, you can’t help yourself… (it’s very first drafty, but it’s fan fiction, so that’s expected, right?)

Sarah’s Take on the post- Harry Potter at Hogwart’s World…

It ended with a bang and that was that. They went off together, buried their dead, grew up a little more, found jobs, got married, had kids. Found a semblance of happiness, and that was that.

The chosen one lay face down in the mud by the grave of his uncle. A bottle of fire whiskey lay just within grasp of his fingertips. The earth was still muddy from the burial that had happened earlier in the day. He had not been there to see his cousin and aunt. He had not wanted to make a spectacle of himself. He hadn’t seen them for 10 years.

There was a cat sitting on top of the tombstone staring down at the boy she knew simply as Potter. She hopped down gracefully from her perch. She put a paw on his back. He had changed; she could see that even with his face covered in mud. If it was possible he was even thinner than he had been at eleven. Seventeen years ago now. He had been half starved then, but so full of wonder at the magic he had just discovered he possessed. There was no wonder in the face she was looking at now. He was emaciated and sun- burnt. His lightning bolt scar, which hadn’t faded over the years, was even more pronounced in his taut skin that covered his forehead. A black beard was covering the bottom half of his face. A tear fell from the cat’s spectacled eye. Sadness never faded, and this boy had bared the brunt of it. The chosen one, the boy who lived, but what happened to him after all that was over. A few years of fame, a family, a bit of happiness; all false props in an imitation of a normal life, but what could ever be normal for Harry Potter. He had watched his mother and father killed at the age of one, was abused by the only family he had until eleven, and then was relentlessly pursued by a murderous psychopath that killed so many people he loved. Neither can survive while the other lives, the now famous prophesy linking two souls in a seven-year battle. How does one survive after that?

He stirred, and the cat transformed herself, now a gray- haired, upright, bespectacled, old woman. “Hello Mr. Potter.”

“Professor.” He smiled up at her. “Whatcha doing here?”

“I’ve come to see you Mr. Potter. People have wondered where you’ve gone. Your friends, your family. People care about you.”

He smiled at her again and carried on as if he hadn’t heard her. “This is my uncle’s grave. Vernon. He died. I came to show my respects.” He hiccupped, and grabbed the whiskey and took another swig.

“What has happened to you Harry? This is not the boy I knew, the boy always in pursuit of some mischief or another, always seeking justice.” Harry took another swig. “This is not Dumbledore’s boy, the boy Severus Snape died to protect. The boy your mother died to protect!” Harry laid back down on his back and stared up at the sky. He allowed a sad slow burst of air through his lips.

“I can’t be that boy anymore professor. I’m not a boy. I’m a man. A man that has seen the world and found it wanting. I don’t know how to live anymore. I feel nothing. No connection, no sense of purpose. I walk around like a poltergeist, every once in a while causing a disruption. I made Ginny unhappy; I made Ron and Hermione unhappy. They don’t understand. No one understands.”

He took another swig.

“They’re all dead. My connections. Dumbledore, Snape. They left me. They died, happy them. But I’m left here alone with what has happened. It doesn’t matter how many years have passed, every minute that goes by seals the past harder into my soul. I’m a living ghost. The boy who lived. I shouldn’t have lived Professor. I was meant to die and I didn’t. No future was written for me, and now I live in this empty shell that is my life.” He said all this quietly and calmly, while Professor McGonagall watched him. He rolled away from her to face his uncle’s tombstone. “Loved and never forgotten” it read. Never forgotten. The cupboard under the stares, starvation, slaps, verbal lashings, contempt. “Never forgotten”. He grew up with no love. Soul starved for some kind of affection, and then, suddenly, magically, on his eleventh birthday he had a life, people who loved him. Friends, a new home at Hogwarts, and he knew happiness for the first time that he could remember. But that happiness came with a murdering psychopath. A murdering psychopath that killed so many people, and they’d all given their lives so he could live. So he could be here in the mud with a bottle of whiskey. Why had they thought to die instead of live? Why did they have to make that sacrifice? He wanted them back. Why would they think he would want to live without them? They were the few people that he’d found that had loved him- love, something he’s spent his childhood living without.

When he’d married Ginny it had been in the first years after Voldemort had died. They were high with their sadness and success. They’d faced their own young mortality and won. They married, had adventures, fought dark wizards side- by- side, but then Hermione had gotten pregnant, and then Ginny, and the recklessness had had to stop. Another baby followed the first, two kids now. And the responsibilities piled on. Ginny stayed at home with the two little ones, while Harry worked, but day after day fighting the evil of the world was wreaking havoc on the life he had set- up for himself. He had Ginny, babies, the job he’d always wanted. He was famous. His two best friends were always by his side, but something was breaking inside him.

One night they went to check- up on a disturbance that had been reported. It was a slow night; so the three of them went, Harry, Ron, and Hermione together; like old times. They got to the house, knocked. No one answered, so Ron blew down the door. In the middle of the room sat a small child holding a spoon, around him people lay strewn out dead. The little boy looked up at them and smiled. They arrested this small little boy, and he was sent to Azkaban. He had never stopped smiling.

Weeks passed but Harry couldn’t get the image out of his head of the small, starved looking child surrounded by death, smiling. It kept him awake at night. He had to see this boy again. Maybe it would get him out of his head. He visited Azkaban, which was no longer run by Dementors, but fierce looking wizards and trolls. A dragon was chained at its gates. Harry was led down a long dank corridor of cells to the very darkest part of the prison, and there he sat- smiling. Smiling at Harry just as he had on the day they had found him surrounded by his dead family.

“I knew you’d come. You always come don’t you.”

“I don’t know what you mean.”

“We’re drawn together you and I. Our souls seem to search each other out.”

“I don’t know you.” He felt cold inside, but his head was screaming at him, and his scar prickled.

“You know me. You knew me the moment you saw me. I will always find you.” Harry’s scar burned like it hadn’t in years. Tears sprang to his eyes. He heard laughter through his pain.

“Darkness always has a way you dear naïve stupid boy. It lives in your soul. I can see straight through you.” He was hissing now, parseltongue. Harry hadn’t heard it uttered for so long, he hadn’t immediately recognized it. It couldn’t be! It couldn’t. Not this small child. His mind wasn’t working right. He had a horrible headache. He was tired, hadn’t been sleeping enough. The murder of the family had gotten into his skin, and now he was making up ghosts. The boy spoke parseltongue, so what! There were wizards other than himself who spoke snake. He left without another word to the boy. He had to get his head on straight.

He got sick all over himself as he approached the other door of the wizarding prison.

“Are you okay Mr. Potter?” The guard looked at him very concerned.

“I’ll be fine.” And with that he turned and disapparated.

He had gone back to his office, and adjusted the protections surrounding Azkaban. Put more guards around the boy’s cell. He never slept. Never went home. He searched high and low to find out more about this boy. But there were no records. The family that had been murdered were not the boy’s family. He had seemingly come from nowhere. Harry’s obsession grew until it became an ugly thing. He drank too much, worked too long, he snapped at everyone. His friends wouldn’t talk to him. Ginny wouldn’t let him come home. But he didn’t think of it. He pursued leads on his own without informing his office. He was half- mad, he knew it but didn’t care. He lost his job eventually.

 

Years passed and he lived on the cusp of society. No longer did he have friends or family, he lived a lonely isolated life pursuing an obsession. There were no clues though, nothing to link the murderous boy to the human race.

After waking up on a cold sidewalk on the outskirts of London on a foggy morning, Harry decided he needed to see the boy again. He disguised himself the best he could, and brought his invisibility cloak for good measure.

It wasn’t the same guard as before. That made sense. It had been nearly three years. When he asked the new guard if he could see the boy the guard showed no signs of comprehension. Harry’s tenuous grasp on his emotions snapped. And he screamed in the man’s face, “the boy! The boy who murdered the family with a spoon! I need to see him!” The guard continued to look perplexed. “There’s no boy here. Never has been as far as I know, and I’ve been here for a couple years now. Juveniles are rarely kept at Azkaban. Juveniles have their own prisons. Less harsh prisons. Only the worse of the worse get brought to Azkaban.”

“This boy murdered a family! How much worse can you get. Look I used to work for the ministry I asked that he be protected, have heightened security around his cell. He wasn’t to ever get out!” The guard looked at him warily.

“Sir I think you’re confused. You need to leave now.”

Harry blasted him with a stunning spell. He had brought his invisibility cloak knowing that this might be the only option he had. He threw it over his head and ran in the direction he remembered the cell to be. He reached the end of the hall and looked in the cell. A pointy- ear goblin was lying on the cot that had once held the small boy.

He was gone. Harry heard laughter coming from behind him, he turned but no one was there. There was laughter in front of him now. He knew that laugh! He whipped around. Nothing. Out of the darkness he heard a hissed whisper. I see your soul. Harry’s scar burned but he refused to give in. “Show yourself you coward! You’ve always been a coward. I will wipe you off the face of the earth like I did once before!” There was more cold laughter.

 

It’s not so easy boy. Do you really think you alone can rid the world of its darkness? I live in the husband that beats his wife. In the mother that buys cigarettes instead of medicine for her child. I blow up buildings, and kill school children. I live in too many people for you to kill all of them. You killed me Potter, and scattered my soul. I’m everywhere. No matter how fast light thinks it’s traveled, darkness always gets there first.  

 

Harry saw a figure now standing shrouded in shadow. He moved forward. The figure emerged, smiling, but it wasn’t the boy. It was a guard. He continued to hiss, how will you fight us all Harry Potter? How will you defeat me now? He chuckled quietly. I’m more impervious after death then I ever was in my mortal body. He turned slowly away. Harry stood where he was, keep your eyes open for me dear boy, I’ll always be around. And with that a shot of green light burst from his wand, felling the goblin, and the guard disappeared into darkness.

 

Harry felt his old professor’s hand on his back. He didn’t stir. He didn’t want to move. Since his last visit to Azkaban he’d left completely and rarely looked back. He went to the mountains above Hogwarts. His scar seared on his forehead continuously when he was around too many people. Too much darkness and despair. The further he got from humanity, the dimmer the pain. He’d lived like a muggle. Hunting and killing for his food, bathing occasionally in a stream. He had some peace. He ventured back down to earth occasionally; he wanted to keep an eye on his family. Make sure they were safe. A week ago he saw his uncle’s obituary. He had watched the funeral from afar, and come to his grave by the cover of night.

He hadn’t expected to be found.

“Mr. Potter I will not leave you here. I don’t know what has plagued you all these years. I don’t know how you must have felt after everything that happened. Lord knows you’re life has never been normal. But we need you Harry Potter. You cannot keep us away. You saved us all. Let us save you. There’s a job opening at the school. Defense Against the Dark Arts. You seemed to have a flair for it when you were in school. It’s yours if you want it.”

Harry turned over and looked up at her, “Its not still jinxed is it?” He gave her a wry smile.

“Not as far as I know.” She raised an eyebrow at him. “Longbottom’s been teaching it for years, but now that Professor Sprout has left us, he’s taking on Herbology.” She looked down at him, and gave him a rare smile. She had always looked old, but Harry had never really thought of her as being old, she had always had a spirit that made age irrelevant. She looked old to him now.

As if reading his mind she said, “I’m getting old Mr. Potter, or rather I’ve been old for a while, but I’m getting a bit too old to carry on much longer. I feel it in my bones. The school has meant everything to me. It has meant so much to so many, but I’m afraid with all the crime that’s been happening lately the ministry will take it over if I step down. I’ve been protecting Hogwarts the best I can, but the persistence for better protection and regulation is getting to be more than I can handle. Help us save the school. Let’s start a new era. Educate a new generation of thoughtful, upstanding wizards and witches. Don’t let Hogwarts fall. Let it remain the beacon it is!”

Hogwarts. He remembered the Fat Lady and Snape’s dungeon. Christmas decorations, and the Yule Ball. He remembered fighting the troll, and his first kiss under mistletoe. He remembered Fred’s dead body, Tonks, Lupin, Dumbledore, and Snape. He remembered riding a broom for the first time, and buying chocolates and drinking Butter Beer in the Three Broomsticks. Smuggling a baby dragon away in the dead of night.

“I can’t Professor. I just can’t. I’ve forgotten how to be that boy. I’ve lost the knack for living in this world. I just can’t be him anymore Professor, I can’t be Harry Potter anymore. He follows me everywhere I go. Can you feel him?” And Harry raised his hand to McGonagall‘s cheek. It was ice cold and shaking. “Can you feel him professor?” Harry put his face in his hands and wept bitterly. He wept for everyone and everything, and as his back shook with despair, Professor McGonagall was there again, with a hand on his shoulder.

“The world is hard Mr. Potter. It’s filled with tragedy. People do horrible things for unfathomable reasons. But we can fight it, together. We can teach fresh new minds to be our warriors. What did you and your friends dub yourselves all those years ago? Dumbledore’s Army? You were fighting dark forces then with education, were you not? That is how we win. Follow in the footsteps of Professor Dumbledore! You were never meant to be an auror. What satisfaction is there in only seeing the bad?” Harry kept his face in his hands, daring not to look up into his Professors face, not wanting her to see the man he feared he’d truly become.

“But I’m so tired. So wasted up. They’ll see through me. Know me for a fraud.”

“Use it, help them understand. Tell them what it feels like to live with the pain you’ve had to deal with. Tell them the consequences of fighting for a cause. It is Defense Against the Dark Arts after all! Help them understand what darkness really is. Only in empathy can there be true understanding.” She grabbed his hand now. His face was still downcast. “Look at me Potter! Look at me, and tell me you do not have even an ounce of that boy I knew still in you, buried deep in that hard soul of yours.”

“He’s still here professor. I feel him everywhere. I’ve seen him at Azkaban in a child Ron, Hermione and I had arrested. I’ve been trying to find him, and when I went back, he wasn’t a little boy anymore. He’s no one and everyone. He’s unstoppable. Even now my scar is burning. A bar fight probably, rape, who knows. He’s everywhere. How can I be a part of this world with the constant taint of his presence.” She squeezed his hand in a vice like grip, while he told her this.

“He’s not at Hogwarts.” She said with perfect certainty.

And Harry accepted this.

“But Professor, how do we fight the world? We can’t win this time. It’s not a matter of Horcruxes and daring anymore. He’s a disease and he’s contagious. The world will implode upon its own darkness, and what do we do about that? There is no cure, no vaccination to inoculate people from Lord Voldemort!”

“But there is Harry! Do you not remember anything Professor Dumbledore told you? Love Harry Potter! We fight him with love.” And she wrapped her arms hard around him. “Go back to your wife and children, and then come to me at Hogwarts. We will carry on Dumbledore’s legacy, we may not win, but we will die fighting. Darkness is not impenetrable, just look up Mr. Potter. Look at the stars! That light travels billions of miles through the darkness for us. They make quite a spectacle do they not?”

Harry looked up at the stars and felt something expanding in his chest; a long lost stirring, the heart of a child that had long ago been beaten into submission. In that moment a fog that had taken over his brain lifted, and he heard the words of the man that had meant so much to him, “Happiness can be found even in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light.” He smiled briefly, still feeling too much the weight of what had come before, and what was still before him. But he whispered into the darkness, “Lumos” and followed his old Professor home.