Last Day at the MillAnd did the Countenance Divine,
Shine forth upon our clouded hills?
And was Jerusalem builded here,
Among these dark Satanic Mills?
Work in the cotton mill all my life,
I ain't got nothing but a Barlow knife,
And it's hard times in this old mill,
It's hard times in here.
"Hard Times in the Mill"Traditional folk song
The late afternoon sky was bright and clear, a mocking contrast to the dim, dark town. Dull brick row houses were crowded together, blocking the rays of the sun from the gardens, where only weeds seemed to flourish. The pavement was cracked by the roots of elm trees which had been planted a century before, when the town had flourished. Now they were gnarled and bare of leaves, even though it was summer. They were dying a slow death in a town which also had been dying since the end of the First Great War.
The source of th
Chapter I: The Company You KeepWendy's owl from Hogwarts arrived on August 12, 1971 at 8:30 a.m. She was at the shore cottage with her mother and sister when the large barn owl flew in through the kitchen window. It was the day after her eleventh birthday.
"It looks like you have a letter, Wendy." Her mother, Pandora, smiled over her teacup. Even her sister, Winifred, who never seemed interested in anything she did, looked up from her breakfast.
Wendy ran her fingers over the envelope. The paper was stiff, creamy vellum. In elegant script it was addressed to Miss Wendoline Athena Nott, Coral Cottage, Bree-by-the-Sea, U.K. She gently broke the red wax seal and read it out loud.
"Oh, mother, look! The term begins September 1! That means that I need to send my response back by " she scanned the letter and gasped "Today!"
"Well, it's not as if you are going to say no," Winifred mumbled. She had also received a lettera list of her required third year books and supplies.
Pandora waved her wand and a
Slytherin Sisters, Part IIPandora lay the photograph down on the table. The four girls in the picture continued to wave and smile, happy to be young and carefree on a bright spring day. She looked up at Eileen.
"Do you still see Brunella?" Pandora inquired.
"I last saw her about seven years ago. She was travelling to North America to do research for a book on Native American sorcery. She's still there as far as I know."
"She certainly is leading an interesting life," Pandora commented.
"Your father has had such an interesting career," Eileen told Pandora. The four girls were seated on the porch of the house. They were staring up at the evening sky, waiting for the stars to come out. Pandora had assured them that the skies were clearer and the constellations more beautiful when seen from the coast.
"Yes, he has. Daddy told me once th
Slytherin Sisters, Part IThe photograph of the four girls was faded and creased in the right corner. Eileen had blinked at the time the photo was taken and that was what she was staring at now, her dark eyes blinking while Pandora Lloyd-Jones surreptitiously made bunny ears behind her head. On the right Brunella MacInness smirked at the camera. Ethel Carrington took up the left panel of the frame, the one beauty amongst the three plain Janes. She laughed and waved, her coppery hair blowing in the breeze beneath the spidery script that Eileen had written in the top left corner: "Slytherin Sisters. Cornwall, 1954."
She had not looked at this photo in years. It had been tucked away in a shoebox on the top shelf of her closet along with some yellowed newspaper clippings. It was one of those things that she was aware of but had tucked away into the part of her mind with other memories that she wished to keep hidden. The invitation that had arrived by owl yesterday had made her go to the closet and seek ou
In My LifePart I: 1970- Severus is Ten
"Watch this, Sev!" Lily stood by the bank of the muddy river which flowed through Cokeworth. She cupped her hands and scooped up the water. She puffed a short breath over it, looked up at him and smiled. The bright sun illuminated her dark red hair and her green eyes sparkled with happy mischief.
"Guess who I am!" She did a swift pirouette, standing on the toes of her blue trainers. She momentarily lifted up a few inches into the air, scattering the water into droplets as she turned. The droplets momentarily transformed into glittering translucent gems which turned back into water as they hit the ground.
Severus stared, transfixed and momentarily struck mute by the vision.
"Well, aren't you going to guess? Don't you have any idea?"
"I can't say that I do!" he stammered.
"Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds! Honestly, Sev, that one should have
A Spot of LuckSeverus thought that he had arrived early for the Advanced Potions class, only to find that two of the tables had already filled with Ravenclaws and Hufflepuffs. He found a seat at an empty table and surveyed the room. Not many students qualified to take N.E.W.T. level potions. He was one of the chosen few who had continued to this level with Professor Slughorn's endorsement.
"You're a natural at potions, Severus!" his Head of House exclaimed as he reviewed his O.W.L. results and approved his sixth year schedule. "You and Miss Evans were among only four students who achieved an Outstanding on their Potions O.W.L.!"
The mention of Lily's name had made him feel ill. It had been right after their O.W.L. exams that the worst incident of his life had happened. In a moment of rage and shame he had called her a terrible, disgusting name. A name that was now finding more frequent usage among Slytherin students but which was still anathema to the majority of the Hogwarts pupils. Lily ha
Practical Potions Eileen squinted out at her backyard as she wrung out the grey, frayed dishcloth. Rain again for the third day in a row. It had soaked her herb garden and formed a huge, rusty pool around the tools which were leaning against the privy wall. Eileen frowned. She had asked Tobias several times to repair the broken gutter pipe. He had gotten so far as to bring the tools outside, then promptly deserted the project. For what? Some bottles of beer, a fight with the next door neighborit didn't really matter. The uncollected tools were now rusted and useless and the water from the broken gutter was soaking the privy roof and creating a muddy lake in what passed for a garden.
As a girl, Eileen had always welcomed rain. She liked the crystalline patterns that the drops would form on the window and would amuse herself
The FatherThe Father
Evelyn stood quietly at the threshold of the study, watching her husband pore over his books. She dreaded approaching him, yet saw no other way out of the situation.
"Just tell him. Stop being such a sodding coward!" The inner voice had been nagging her for two days, ever since her sister had extended the invitation.
Evelyn did not feel very brave. Soren's birth had changed their lives in a manner which neither one of them could have forseen. He had been a surprise. Severus had not wanted a baby. Her pregnancy had been marred by quarrels between the two of them which were so hurtful and mentally exhausting that she had done the unthinkable. She had left her husband. The separation had caused her anguish, guilt and anger, not only at her husband, but also at her mother who had surprisingly sided with Severus during the separation.
"A good wife belongs with her husband." They had reconciled. It had been slow and painful, but she felt the hurt and