A/N: Unabashed fluff. To paraphrase
Katinka, angst and drama will recommence shortly in Disavowals.
There are advantages and
disadvantages to knowing Theodore Nott. YesÉI'm hedging. I go out with him.
Sort of. In a very technical sense. In a literal one, I talk to him, play music
with him, joke with him, and am occasionally caught in slightly compromising
positions with him by my little sister. But the furthest we've ever made it if
you want to be literal is the other side of the lake, under the willows, where
no one can see you on a cold day. (Because they're all inside anyway.) That would
be a disadvantage. My classmates would disagree. In fact, I know they do.
"But he's in Slytherin!" said Sarah disparagingly. We were sitting in
our common room, and Gabby was commenting on the good looks of a fellow
fifth-year. "How can you think that?"
"And I thought you were
going out with Chris," added Ellie.
Gabby shrugged. "Doesn't mean I can't look."
" Yes, but a
"Stuff like that doesn't
stop lots of people," Mai pointed out, looking up from her Transfiguration
book. "Look at Romeo and Juliet."
"Are you studying that
in Muggle Studies?" I asked, curious. Mai's from a wizarding family.
"Yup," said Ellie.
"We're looking at Muggle literature." She wrinkled her nose. "I
don't like it that much. Shakespeare's so old and boring. Who cares what they thought four hundred years
" But it's so
romantic," sighed Gabby. "'It is the east, and Juliet is the sun.'
How can you not love that?"
"They were a bit stupid
though," said Mai. "All that stuff about dying. Why not just run away
Sarah, who doesn't take
Muggle Studies, just looked puzzled. "Romeo and Juliet are those two whose
families hate each other and end up dying, aren't they?"
I nodded. "It is a bit silly. They only knew each other for five days.
I bet if they'd had to hide the fact they were in love for five months they'd
have got thoroughly sick of the whole thing and run away."
talking?" Sarah teased.
I rolled my eyes. "That
joke isn't fossilised, its star has probably gone supernova."
Gabby was still holding out
for romance. "But Anne, the language is so beautiful! How can you not think it's romantic?"
" I do," I agreed.
"It's beautiful and romantic and very, very, silly. But it's Shakespeare,
so that's okay."
"I still don't see why
everyone thinks some dead poet is that great," Ellie grumbled.
"We talked about that in
class," said Mai. "They reckoned he - what was it? - 'held a mirror
up to nature'. His plays sort of reflect what's happening in any time, so
they're still important."
" So find me a play that
reflects this stupid bloody war," Ellie said. Her aunt had been killed
over Christmas, and she was still tense. So was I.
"Henry IV," I said grimly. "Richard III. The Histories -"
Sarah adroitly turned the
conversation to other things.
Shakespeare made an
appearance that Saturday, when I was talking to Theo (yes, talking! Just
because we're teenagers and - well - we do hold coherent conversations!)
"Hogsmeade weekend next
Saturday," commented Theo. I was in my usual perch on the table, which
creaked whenever I shifted. One day it's going to break, but that day hasn't
come yet. "What are you doing?"
I shrugged. "I'll
probably go in with Sarah and Mai. I need some more ink, anyway. You?"
He frowned. "I don't
know. I might go, just for the walk. The teachers seem to think we have to sit
our NEWTs this year, the amount of homework we have. What time do we have to be
" Two o'clock. They're
cutting it short this year because ofÉ"
"...the war." Theo
sighed, shifting on the piano stool, and it creaked too. Everything in this
room was old, because so few people used this part of the castle. Hogwarts had
been made for more students than it held now. "Have I ever mentioned I
" No, do you
really?" I gave him a wide-eyed look of innocence.
Theo's lips twitched.
"Tell me, why did we have to be born right now? Why couldn't we be born
after the war, or before, orÉsomething?"
" The fault, dear
Brutus, is not in our stars, but in ourselves, that we are underlings." I
know quoting isn't really in my line, but if Theo was going to get
philosophical, I could get poetical.
He gave me a very puzzled
look. "What's that supposed
I smiled. "That the
problem is of our making, not anyone else's."
"Because I started the
war," he scoffed.
"No," I said,
"because if neither of us really cared what anyone else thought - if you
didn't care about what your family thought - then it wouldn't matter about the
war. Or not as much. But you do, and I do, a little, so it does matter."
" Well, I couldn't not,
so it's rather a moot point." Theo dismissed it, fairly enough. How can
you not care about your family?
"Maybe, but it is an
"Who said it?"
" That depends," I
told him. "William Shakespeare wrote the play, but Cassius has the
" Who and who?"
I raised my eyebrows. Surely
Theo had heard of Shakespeare. "You know, Shakespeare? Greatest writer of
the English language? Romeo and Juliet, Hamlet, Othello, A Midsummer Night's
Comprehension failed to dawn
on Theo's face. "Is he a Muggle?"
" Well, yes, but he's so
Understanding did dawn, and
Theo chuckled. "Famous in your world. Not ours. Of course I wouldn't know
him, if he's a Muggle. Why is he so famous?"
I groped for words, waving my
hands for emphasis. "He's - well - he's Shakespeare. His plays
areÉthey'reÉhe just is. No one's ever written anything better. He invented thousands of new words. He invented half the sayings
we use. He wrote the greatest speeches ever in English."
"Like what?" Theo
seemed genuinely curious. He wasn't usually this interested in Muggle things,
so I decided to encourage it.
"If it be a sin to covet
honour, I am the most offending soul alive. Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me
your ears. To be or not to be, that is the question. If music be the food of
love, play on. JustÉeverything. We have this dictionary of quotes at home, and
the Shakespeare section is about three times as long as anything else."
Theo blinked. "Well,
I've heard that last line, but I couldn't say where. And sayingsÉwhat sort of
"It's Greek to me, but
me no buts, dead as a doornail, more in sorrow than in anger, the milk of human
kindness, to be cruel to be kindÉyou name it, he wrote it."
Theo's eyebrows went up.
"Well. That is fairly impressive. I had no idea that a Muggle -"
"-could write something
like that?" I gave him a sharp look. I accept that Theo has some
prejudices, but lately I'd begun to think he'd outgrown all of them. It never
pays to assume things.
He scowled. "No,
actually. That a Muggle could have such a strong impact on the language that
"Theo, wizards make up
what, one percent of the population? Of course Muggle literature has an
"Yes, but on the wizarding
I shrugged. "Of course.
We can pretend we're separate, but think about it. Wizards have Muggle parents,
Muggle wives and husbands and in-laws. We live in the Muggle world, we're just
a cut-off part of it."
Theo gave me an oddly
appraising look. "I supposeÉweÉdo."
It bothered me a bit that
Theo didn't know anything about Shakespeare. I'm not the most literary of
people, but I'm familiar with his work. Sort of. I mean, reading Shakespeare isn't
something you think of doing much, although Eddie does for school. Besides,
Terry Pratchett or Jane Austen is more my thing.
Anyway, I wanted to prove a
point, so I owled my parents. I knew we had the collected works of Shakespeare
knocking around the house somewhere, and I asked them if I could borrow it. I
only remembered it was a hardback when Gwaihir dropped it almost in my
porridge. He does that when he thinks I'm not paying attention to him - not
ever in my food, but there have
been some near misses. This time he hit the spoon and splattered porridge all
over Brian Lochore, who was sitting opposite me. My hand flew to my mouth,
mostly to cover a smile.
He eyed Gwaihir darkly.
"It was that stupid bird, not you. Don't worry about it. Oh, thanks,
Dave Hewitt had just cleaned
him off with a quick charm. Gwaihir hooted and tried to snatch some of Jack
Mitchell's bacon. I shooed him off.
"Get away, you silly
thing, go to the Owlery!" He's too smart for his own good.
Gabby handed me my spoon,
which had ended up halfway down the table and been passed back.
"I hope that was
important," Brian added, nodding at the book.
I busied myself with my
porridge. "Just some light reading."
He made a disgruntled noise,
and I made a note to be seen reading the book at least once in our common room.
I would have given the book
to Theo at the DA meeting on Thursday, but we were too busy. Harry Potter seems
possessed, this year. We know why, too. Zacharias Smith muttered something
about Potter acting like he was trying to train us for our NEWTs. Everyone else
wished Smith would drop dead. He may be a fellow Hufflepuff, but he doesn't
know when to shut up. Potter just looked at him.
"No. I'm just trying to
help you stay alive. Myself, I think that's rather more important."
Zacharias was unimpressed.
"Why would you care?"
" Because I will not
watch anyone else die!" The answer was hard and fast and we all flinched.
Theo nodded. I don't think he
even knew he was doing it. I remembered some of what he'd said in his letters,
about his cousin.
So I didn't get around to
lending him the book that night.
I think I surprised him on
Saturday. I'd put the Shakespeare in my bag with my music, after curling up
with it in the common room a few times during the week - I'd even chatted about
it to Mai for a few minutes. I didn't know why I bothered acting like someone
was out to get usÉexcept that I felt I owed it to Theo. If it was common
knowledge we wereÉacquainted, the serious consequences would all fall on him.
I'd said to my classmates I had got the Shakespeare to read, so I did so.
That's one thing Theo's taught me. Always do what people expect. Nobody ever
gets suspicious because you're acting out their expectations. It's when you do
something they haven't mentally predicted that they'll get suspicious. This
allows you to get away with almost anything.
And he says I'm a corrupting influence.
So when I handed the book
over to Theo I was a bit sorry to let it go. It wasn't what I'd call an easy
read, but it was beautiful - Gabby had that right.
"I thought you might
like to borrow this," I told Theo, handing him the book.
Theo's eyebrows shot up
behind his fringe. Theo's hair is never what you'd call long, but it's never
really short, either. I don't know how he does it. I always have this vague
urge to find some scissors. Or to run my fingers thr - moving right along here.
"The Collected Works
of William Shakespeare?" he read
I grinned. "Just read
some, and tell me you don't recognise half of it anyway."
"Baroque Muggle plays
aren't really my thing," he said dubiously, but he flipped it open and
scanned a page. He frowned.
"What is, Baroque Muggle
music?" Not that IÕd heard anyone describe a playwright as Baroque, but I knew what he meant.
"The Romantic period,
you know that," he said absently, but he wasn't paying attention to me
anymore. He turned the page over, muttering something under his breath.
"Could I borrow
this?" he said after he'd turned another page.
"No, of course not, give
it back immediately."
He blinked and closed it with
a snap. "Yes. Anyway. Thanks, Anne."
"It was nothing." I
picked up my bag and stood on tiptoe to kiss him on the cheek. The fact that I
sort of missed has no bearing on this story and five minutes later is an
excellent time to return to it.
"I really should go
now," I said reluctantly.
"I suppose so,"
Theo admitted. "Parting is such sweet sorrow, and all that."
I shot him a very sharp look.
"You do know that's
"Of course it is!"
"Oh. Right. Hmmm."
He picked the book up off the table and frowned at it again.
Hah. Teach him to think
that Muggle literature isn't important.
That Theo was reading the book was evident from the questions I got
asked over the next few weeks. It was drawing very close to the end of term and
the OWLs, so I didn't think about the reasoning all that much. Theo had his
exams, of course, but they didn't count quite as much as mine. Even the DA was
temporarily halted to give everyone a chance to concentrate.
Theo, though, kept coming up
with queries that I knew had to be associated with Shakespeare. Some were of
the incredulous sort, such as "Did Muggles really think witches hung around on freezing moors making
potions?" Others were more technical.
"What's a cannon?" Theo asked one Saturday.
"It's basically a round,
you know that - remind me to try and find Pachelbel's, it's great -"
"I know Pachelbel's canon," he said in exasperated tones, "I meant
the weapon. It is a weapon, isn't it?"
"Oh, you mean a cannon," I said. "It's a type of firearm."
"ErÉgun? Like with
gunpowder? It's used to blow things up?"
"Well, I'd got that
much, but Shakespeare doesn't tell you what it is," he explained
patiently. "All it really says is that it makes a loud noise, there's fire
involved, and it causes a lot of destruction."
I was trying to find out what
was making the third key on my flute stick, and nodded, not really listening.
"Mmm. Yes. It
does." There seemed to be a fragment of parchment in there. Maybe if I
used the tip of a quill -
listening," came a severe voice from just behind me. I almost jumped, and
laid the flute carefully on the table.
"I was just
"On the wrong thing,
clearly." When I turned around Theo was close enough that I had to lean
back a bit to see his face.
"And what would the
right thing be?"
"What I was saying, of
course." He also just happened to be leaning with both hands on the table,
which meant that I was effectively trapped. Very subtle, Theo.
"You don't seem to be
concentrating much, either," I countered. That was not quite correct. He
appeared to be concentrating in great detail, just not on what I was saying.
"Ye-" at which
point Theo rendered further comment impossible and proved that he was, indeed,
concentrating on one thing, which happened to be me.
Not that this was in any way
upsetting. Quite the contrary.
As caught up as I was in
exams, I barely noticed that he hadn't returned the book. In fact I didn't
really remember until Bronwyn flew in my kitchen window one morning shortly after
we'd returned home for the summer holidays. It was a weekend, so for once in
what seemed forever most of my family was sitting at the table. Terry had gone
to stay at the house of a Muggle friend overnight. I noticed it, wistfully,
when I thumbed through the sports pages of the Daily Prophet. (Thanks to Theo, I could just about understand it,
but I still preferred football.)
"Hey, Viktor Krum's
signed onto the Tornadoes!" I commented aloud. I remembered Krum from the
Triwizard Tournament. A student of DurmstrangÉand Hermione Granger's partner to
the ball. Whose side was he on?
My family stared back at me
"Who?" asked my
father. "I didn't know they had any East Europeans lined up for the league
"Pass the jam?"
said Eddie. My mother handed it to me, and I passed it on.
Quidditch," I said weakly. "He's a Quidditch player. He was in the
Triwizard Tournament." Surely I'd mentioned it to them?
"What's a triwiÉtriÉthat
thing?" asked Nicola, looking up from her cereal.
"Wasn't that some sort
of sports competition at your school a couple of years ago?" Mum does try
to keep up with our world.
I opened my mouth, then
thought better of it. Explanations would doubtless devolve into events at the end of said tournament.
"Yeah. Yeah, that was
Dad, next to me, frowned at
the Prophet. "I'm never going
to get used to those moving photos."
I gave a hesitant shrug, and
turned the page. "I'mÉI'm still getting used to them myself."
Which was, of course, why my
first thought when Dad had shown me some photos from his brother in New Zealand
was that something must be wrong because they weren't moving.
Eddie snorted. "Moving
photos. They're not even in colour."
I pressed my lips together. I
didn't need to argue with him about the wizarding worldÉagain. I wished Terry
was there. She would have understood. Mum had struck up a conversation with Dad
about what everyone was doing today, so Nic alerted me to Bronwyn's arrival.
"Anne, there's a bird
hitting the window!"
She wasn't hitting it, but
she was flapping at the glass impatiently, risking tangling herself in the
potato vine hanging half over one corner. Dad was planning to trim it this
weekend. I folded my paper, pushed my chair back, squeezed past Dad, and
unlatched the window. Bronwyn shot in and settled herself on my paper. Owls are
like cats in some respects. If you're reading it, they will do their best to
perch on it. Or perhaps that's just Bronwyn. I shut the window and excused my
way back. Dad was eyeing Bronwyn warily. She was eyeing his toast.
"None of those owls look
"They don't bite, I
promise," I assured him. Bronwyn chose that moment to make her move, and
snatched half a piece off Dad's plate before he could blink.
"I take it you mean they
don't bite humans," Mum said dryly. "Want me to put another piece of
toast on, Jon?"
" I'll do it. Stupid
bird," volunteered Eddie, who was closest to the toaster.
"Come here, you silly
thing," I said, sitting down. Bronwyn had dropped the toast on the paper
to dissect it. It had landed on Cornelius Fudge, so I was philosophical about
it. "Hold still." She waited patiently while I untied the neat parcel
carrying the book - and, it was revealed, a note - from her leg.
" Can I pat her?"
"Sure, go ahead," I
said absently, pulling the paper off the book. I'd known what it was when I saw
it. Typical of Theo, making sure the weather wouldn't get to it.
"What is that, the
Bible?" asked my father.
"No, close," I told
him. "Shakespeare. I lent it to a friend."
"That's right, I
remember," my mother said, starting to gather up plates. "That was a long time ago. Did she forget about it?"
I'd just read the note that
came with the book. I startled everyone by laughing aloud.
"Is it a funny
letter?" asked Nic gravely.
You were right. I suppose. I do recognise most of this, and he is a very good
writer. If this is the kind of thing the Dark Lord wants to get rid of I know
he's insane. Although some of the poetry was rather silly. And the plays were
well-written, but the plotsÉnobody is that
stupid. No wizard, anyway.
This was meant to be a note saying here's the book and thank-you, so I'll
continue later. Send Bronwyn back, please?
"What? No, not really, Nic. Just veryÉveryÉwell, very typical."
"You have friends who
want to read Shakespeare?" Eddie, getting up from the table, sounded
"I do indeed," I
told him, still grinning. "And you know what, I have this awful feeling he
read the whole damn thing."
"He?" inquired my
mother. "Eddie, could you empty the dishwasher, please? It's still
"Not my job, it's Terry
in the weekends," he called back on his way out the door.
"He," I said
smoothly, offering Bronwyn my last crust. Why she likes toast, I don't know.
Gwaihir just steals my bacon. "Back to Theo's, please, Bronwyn, he wants
to write a letter."
She hooted at me in the
inflection that meant "No. I'm tired."
"All right, then,
upstairs with you. Gwaihir's in my room."
Hooting again in what seemed
to be approval, she took off, circled the room, and flew into the hall, causing
my brother to give a startled yell. I don't think our laughter helped matters.
Rising from the table, I
picked up book and note and made a quick exit before Mum decided I could do the
dishwasher. Dad called after me as I left.
"Anne. Can I borrow your
I looked over my shoulder.
"If you want to. Why?"
He picked it up, grimacing at
the smeared jam. The esteemed ex-Minister for Magic didn't look too happy
"I just thought I'd like
to know what's going on inÉyour world."
I regarded him thoughtfully.
That was new, for Dad. For either of my parents. They preferred to not know.
"Oh, good," I said
without thinking. I left before I saw his face.
My first misgivings had come
when I realised Theo had read the whole of Shakespeare's collected works. They grew into a full-blown decision
I'd made a mistake when he insisted in quoting - or discussing - Shakespeare in
every letter I got from him that summer. It was certainly interesting. I discovered
just how much I didn't know about Muggle technology. I mean, how was I supposed
to know what gunpowder was made of? I ended up going to the library to find
out. Then there was the half-page explanation of why Henry the Fifth was
totally unjustified in invading France. Not to mention his withering
deconstruction of why Othello and Desdemona were total idiots, and why Mark
Antony absolutely should have been in Slytherin.
I should have realised. Theo
and Shakespeare suited each other perfectly. Both were old-fashioned,
occasionally poetic, mostly predictable but sometimes surprising, and
surprisingly necessary in day-to-day life. Theo also took a positively
malicious delight in turning my own weapons against me.
Some people would call Theo's
new-found penchant for quotation a disadvantage; I didn't. It was mostly
amusing, and (don't tell him I said this) really sweet. Besides, I was the only
person he could quote at. For
Theo, who preferred to speak little but pithily, that would have been
frustrating. Not that he's ever lost his liking for Shakespeare. When Nicola
was visiting a few days ago, she threatened to find the person who'd introduced
him to it and stab them. (Theo was feeling eccentric that day and answered
everything she said to him with a quote. I would have owned up except I was
laughing too hard.)
No, there are disadvantages
to being Theodore Nott's - yes, well, girlfriend.
This isn't one of them.
A/N: For a couple of less relevant things. A few people
asked about my fencing Ð I fence, insomuch as I fence for anyone, for the
Central region of New Zealand. I came eighth in my section at nat U-20s (out of
seventeen, it must be noted.)
And to forestall commentsÉI
know Shakespeare would normally be described as an Elizabethan playwright. But
the Baroque music period covers
his time. Theo, as a good musician, thinks in music periods.