The Sugar Quill
Author: Astronut  Story: Mars is Bright Tonight...  Chapter: 2. Beats
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Beats

Mars is Bright Tonight…

 

A flying washtub involves one ministry worker in a war that did not concern her. 

 

Disclaimer:  I’m only an uninvited guest playing in this magical world.  Everything related to Harry Potter belongs to the talented J. K. Rowling.  The only thing I get out of this is a giddy, happy feeling.

 

Chapter 2.  Beats

2 beat n 1 a :  a single stroke or blow esp. in a series  1 c :  a driving impact or force  3 : each of the pulsations of amplitude produced by the union of sound or radio waves or electric currents having different frequencies

 

   - Webster’s New Collegiate Dictionary

 

                A week later a flustered and confused Kay found herself standing in a posh office before the Minister of Magic. 

                Weena Kay Defou, Space Divison,” the blustering Cornelius Fudge stated.  His attention was focused on the nodding Ministry worker to Kay’s left, but he managed to direct a benevolent smile towards Kay.  Weena, my dear, may I call you that?” He drove on without waiting for a reply, fiddling with a poison green quill on his desk.  “I hear you are making significant progress on your, er, spaceship.”

                Kay’s trembling alto broke the silence concluding his statement.  “Yes sir.  I’m nearly finished with the core, um- the engine, I mean to say, the power that allows it to fly.”

                Grey eyebrows rose to hide beneath the lime green bowler that Fudge had forgotten to remove.  “It can fly soon?” he questioned, eagerness in his voice. 

                “Yes.  I’ve already done an Artesian Well charm to provide the passengers with water, a modified bubblehead charm for air…”  With a hurried wave of his hand, Minister Fudge cut off Kay’s explanation.  Weena, we, I mean I, I am greatly pleased with your work.  I want your spaceship to be working as soon as possible.  You may have whatever resources you need, but I need it flying soon.  The sooner we…”  Overwhelming shock and the pounding of her own heart drowned out the Minister’s words.  No one had ever shown any interest in her project before now, besides Arthur who asked now and then about her progress during their casual conversations.” Every ounce of funding was tenaciously fought for and carefully spent.  Kay’s spirit soared and her face glowed with pride.  “…need a distraction.  Just because we are having a few dark days does not mean we shouldn’t do something grand.  It will get people’s minds off things, give them hope.  And you’ll have my personal thanks for vaulting the Ministry from our current misery into, um, space.  I will announce it straight away, with a proper ceremony and everything… you’re invited of course.” The newly minted hero of the Ministry did not notice as the aid beside her smiled sinisterly and nodded in approval. 

***

                A tired and stressed Kay dropped into a Ministry issue chair next to a table in the cafeteria.  Her eyes drooped, but she finally felt content.  The core had been complete according to the Minister’s schedule and at last her project was done.  A thorough checkout procedure would prelude the first test flight, which was scheduled to occur a few days from now.  Minister Fudge was already trying to commission the Weird Sisters to write a song to be sung upon the completion of the first flight.  Lost in her thoughts, she barely noticed Arthur’s arrival. 

                “Kay, I haven’t seen you in a while.  I’ve been meaning to congratulate you on your project.  I hear the Minister is making a big to do about it.”  He pulled up a chair with a screech and set down his cup of spiced pumpkin cider. 

                “I don’t remember the last time I was out of my office,” Kay replied with a wan smile.  “I finally finished it, though.  That wash tub is going to join the likes of Apollo and Soyuz.” 

                “A wash tub is a rather odd craft.  It sounds like a story my boys would come up with.”  A playful smiled tugged at his face. 

                “Well, yes, but I could have used a pickle barrel or a septic tank and it would have made no difference.  The import part is the core, and the umbrella of course.”

                “So how does this core work?”  Arthur’s face was more serious than usual, and he concentrated intently on her reply. 

                “The core is made from a bunch of wand cores I obtained from Mr. Ollivander.  A phoenix feather, a unicorn hair, and a dragon’s heartstring.  I’ve even included a few unusual cores that he was reluctant to let me have.  A single strand of Veela hair, werewolf fur, tooth of a vampire…any type of core I could find.”  She paused as her food arrived, a savory Salisbury steak.   “Each core emits a different frequency of magic, kind of like the frequencies on a Muggle wireless.  When all of the cores are functioning together, it creates a melody of sorts.  Except this melody is an emission spectrum of a high powered beam of magic.  It bounces off of the sail and is reflected downward.  This pushes the sail, and by extension the spacecraft, upward.  By conducting and controlling the beam, you can steer the craft.  Muggles are trying to do this with a laser and a light sail, but the laser has to be on the ground to work. Newton’s third law- or is it the first?  I digress, but anyway, it works for magic because we’re just converting stored energy and directing it, like a battery, not bouncing off particles and using momentum like a sail.”

At the mention of batteries, Arthur began talking about the tractor battery that he had just acquired from some farm near his home.  Enjoying her lunch and Arthur’s company, she was surprised when Arthur’s melodic voice abruptly stopped.  Looking up to find the cause of the disruption, she found herself gazing into the dark eyes of Walden Macnair, member of the Committee for the Disposal of Dangerous Creatures. 
                “Good day Miss Defou,” his smooth baritone voice was soothing to her ears. “I have heard of your project and wished to meet the woman of such intelligence behind it, but no one told me of your beauty.”  He took her hand swiftly into his and kissed it, tickling her skin with his dark mustache.  “Please call me Walden.”  

Sputtering to find a reply to possibly the most wonderful complement she had ever received, she was grateful when Arthur took charge.  Macnair, lovely to see you again.  I heard you were having problems with your eye after your heroic rescue attempt when the Death Eaters invaded the ministry.  Quite convenient you were working so late.”  Arthur’s voice was tight and his hands clenched around the edge of the table.  His eyes never released Macnair’s gaze. 

“Yes, although my eye is well enough to see Miss Defou’s obvious beauty.  I was wondering if you would be kind enough to accompany me to dinner tonight?  The latter was directed towards Kay as he softly caressed her fingers. 

“Yes, I...er…would be honored,” Kay replied at the same time Arthur responded, “She has plans.”

Kay’s head was dizzy with a swirl of thoughts and emotions.  She had just been asked out by a prosperous pureblood, a rare occasion for anyone of mixed blood, yet Arthur was reacting rather strangely. 

“Very well, I will pick you up at your home at seven.  Please be ready.  Our host would not like it if we were late to his grand party.”  With another kiss for her hand, and a tweak of his mustache, Walden Macnair left the stunned couple to finish their lunch. 

“How could you say yes to that…that…man!”  The outrage in Arthur’s voice was clear, and stronger than Kay had ever heard it. 

“He’s Walden Macnair and he obviously likes me, how could I not?  It’s not like I have a queue of men lined around the block waiting to take me out,” she added bitterly.

“He’s a Death Eater, Kay!”

“If he was a Death Eater he’d be in Azkaban!  I don’t understand you, Arthur.  Can’t you just be happy for me?” 

“Kay, listen to me.”  Arthur’s face was calm and serious.  “If you get involved with him, you will get hurt.  I don’t know what he wants you for, but it can only bring evil.”  His sincerity touched her heart, but too much of her was protesting his words.  She hurried away from him, out of the cafeteria where she could safely wipe away the tears that had been threatening to fall down her cheeks.  Her heels made a clickity-clack sound on the stone floor as she ran.  She glanced back once, only to see the look of sorrow and concern on Arthur’s features and the defeat evident in his posture. 

***

                Her date was over an hour away and already Kay’s stomach was turning with a tornado of butterflies.  She had tried to read the newest addition to her large book collection, To Rise From Earth, but she was too nervous to concentrate properly.  Instead, she decided to get ready, choosing her dress and shoes and laying them out.  Her dishwater blonde hair was already in a fancy French braid that had taken her nearly three quarters of an hour.  As she chose which pieces of jewelry to wear, a knock came at her rather weary, well worn door.  “A gentleman caller for you, milady,” it wheezed.  Beating down the frantic belief that every one of her clocks was an hour behind, she nervously opened the door.  Standing outside was Walden Macnair, wearing a simple black robe. 

                “Oh, dear.  I was sure you said seven.  I’m not ready yet, I need…” Kay’s nervous avalanche of speech was stopped short by Walden. 

                “I’m afraid I must have given you the wrong time.  You look lovely as you are.”  Looking down at her faded jeans and the oversized t-shirt that she often wore around the house, she made an attempt to object, but was once again interrupted.  “Time is of the essence, I’m afraid.  I would hate to have the party begin without us.”  At this, she caught a curious glimpse of fear in his eyes that did not match the circumstances.  He tossed a tacky plastic sculpture at her, which she caught out of reflex. 

                An abrupt jerk above the navel and a discordant swirl of color signified the portkey clutched tightly in her hand.  With a solid thump she found herself in a moonlit grove of a dark forest.  In the apathetic light of the waxing gibbous moon she saw shadows approach her from all sides. Their footsteps and the rustle of their robes created an eerie whispered cadence as the darkness closed around her.  Masked faces chuckled as she clawed at the ground, trying to drag herself away only to meet another wall of darkness at every turn.  Shakily, she climbed to her feet, but sank back to the ground upon gazing on the single unmasked face in the crowd. 

                Lord Voldemort was hosting a party, and Kay was the guest of honor. 

 

To be concluded in “Resonance”…

A very grateful thanks to sveltskye, and my apologies for my extreme tardiness. 

 

 

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