Foreword: It’s been quite a while!
HBP proved to be a wonderful inspiration, as I’m
sure many of you have noted as well. Here’s something I actually started pre-HBP and just picked
up a little while ago once more, motivated to carry on with it … though I must
accredit Helen, my beta, for making this piece what it is. She does a heck of a lot of work, ladies and
gentlemen, and she’s amazing at it.
The poem “War Is Kind,” by Stephen Crane, contains implied
sarcasm, as you may have realized from the title. The theme of this story is based on and
inspired by this tone of irony. I hope
you enjoy the poem as much as I have. On with the show.
War Is Kind
Do not weep, maiden, for war is kind.
Because your lover threw wild hands toward the sky
And the affrighted steed ran on alone,
Do not weep.
War is kind.
Hoarse, booming drums of the regiment,
Little souls who thirst for fight,
These men were born to drill and die.
The unexplained glory flies above them,
Great is the battle-god, great, and his kingdom –
A field where a thousand corpses lie.
Do not weep, babe, for war is kind.
Because your father tumbled in the yellow trenches,
Raged at his breast, gulped and died,
Do not weep.
War is kind.
Swift blazing flag of the regiment,
Eagle with crest red and gold,
These men were born to drill and die.
Point for them the virtue of slaughter,
Make plain to them the excellence of killing
And a field where a thousand corpses lie.
Mother whose heart hung humble as a button
On the bright splendid shroud of your son,
Do not weep.
War is kind.
Ginny had thought she wouldn’t be
able to nod off on the floor of the Great Hall: for quite a while, the soft
sleeping bags seemed too insignificant in the gigantic room, and the starless
ceiling too cold to lull her to sleep… and then, she woke with a jolt.
As she looked, bleary-eyed, about the hall, it was obvious
to Ginny that the majority of the other students had made assumptions similar
to hers. Many girls had grouped and
fallen asleep with hands still grasping their neighbors’. A few students had curled up alone, their
hands folded across their chest and their closed eyes swollen. A cluster of second- and third-year boys hadn’t even retreated to the warmth of their sleeping bags,
but their snoring heads met at the core of their circle. Everyone was in a deep slumber, as if
drugged. In fact, it was possible that
they all had been drugged; Ginny wouldn’t put it past the Hogwarts staff to resort to
enchanting their sleeping bags or mixed their water supply with an antidote for
insomnia. Yes, it must have been the
water, Ginny concluded, for Neville had spared Ginny only a mouthful before
their group’s goblet toppled over upon impact with his elbow. So, Ginny had apparently slept for a few
hours, as the ceiling of the Great Hall was still a deep navy blue, and the
blinking stars and sliver of a moon hung sleepily and comfortably as if the sky
hardly cared to change back to day again.
It could very well be dark forever…
At that moment, brutal realization struck Ginny like a
sudden smack across the face. They had
all been herded into the Great Hall the previous night at approximately eight
o’clock. The unlikelihood of once again
breaching Hogwarts’ protective barriers, which had been significantly fortified
over the summer during the threatened close of Hogwarts, had been confounded,
and Dark forces had stormed onto the grounds like a typhoon. All the staff and Aurors
on duty at the castle had secured the grand doors of the Great Hall during
dinner, Conjured water, snacks, and sleeping bags, and catapulted into action.
Worse had come to worst, and she, Ginny Weasley,
was boarded up like a kenneled dog while the rest of her family was out there, putting their lives on the line. Naturally, she wanted to as well. During past year she had advised and
encouraged Harry via a pair of charmed mirrors which Harry had inherited from
Sirius while the three were away. Although
she hadn’t physically been there at their sides (despite her pressing and
arguing last summer), she had helped as much as she could and had convinced
herself that their success was at least partially dependent on her. In her heart she knew she could do the same
for the Order, and that she should be on the grounds like her brothers. Maybe even her parents had joined. Ron and Harry and Hermione undoubtedly had
arrived on the scene too, passionately bound to the task of further erasing the
Dark things now swamping the grounds. I could lose everyone, I have to make sure
they’re safe, I have to go… !
She clambered to her feet and padded through the sleeping
bodies to the doors –
DAMN IT TO HELL. LET
Ginny wrenched the handles of the giant oak doors but to no
avail. Teeth clenched in frustration,
she groped for her wand and cried whatever vaguely relevant spell she could
think of. “Alohomora!…Bombarda…Reducto…Finite Incantatem!” The
doors absorbed each spell with a sizzle, leaving no trace of her attempts
behind, not even a mark. She pounded as
hard as her trembling fists would allow.
Without giving the sleeping student body a second thought, she swore at
whoever had concocted the ingenious plan to crib them like babies, where they couldn’t do a damn thing for the victims falling outside
like rain. An image formed in her mind,
depicting hundreds of gored and glassy-eyed Aurors,
teachers, and whoever the hell had gathered the courage come to fight their
cause, strewn across the red-tinted grass.
Maybe everything that was good had perished to gray, leaving the students
to fend for themselves – with the exception of… of those who had not arrived at the hall on time…
Pleading shrieks and
spells were heard at the doors, the nails of those left behind scratching
against the wood as they begged for entry.
Who would help them? Was anyone
standing guard? On the floor of the
Hall, children howled at the discovery that a dorm-mate or sibling was absent
from the turbulent sea of students. Many
students scrambled to the entrance and hollered spells at the doors in response
to the cries outside, but they soon discovered that their attempts were
fruitless. A gradual wave of
recognition washed over them, and little by little they stumbled back to their
sleeping bags, stunned.
Meanwhile, on the
other side of the doors, the screams died into soft moans, and frenzied
footsteps signaled their next resort: finding a good hiding place that would
prevent them from becoming target of the Death Eaters’ sick amusement. Five minutes or so passed by, and everyone in
the Great Hall began to breathe just a little bit easier. But only a little bit.
And then the attack
erupted somewhere in a nearby corridor outside the Hall as the enemy and some
locked-out student no doubt crossed paths , and the shouts soon spread
throughout the castle as discovered students made desperate attempts to evade
the Death Eaters’ bloody games. A hungry
howl echoed (at this, Ginny’s blood ran cold, as she thought of her brother
Bill) through the corridors, partially muffled by cries of Expelliarmus, Crucio, and the decisive Avada
of the prey, having lost their wands, had found their way back to the door and
pounded against the wood with a final rush of adrenaline before they
expired. A few begged unintelligibly for
the Death Eaters’ mercy.
This time, no students
inside the hall rose from their places but stared helplessly and noiselessly
into space as their comrades died undeserved,
un-heroic deaths. After silence on the
other side of the doors answered the silence in the Great Hall, skidding sounds
announced the dragging of a few chosen bodies out of the entrance hall, out
into the unknown. A chill crept across
the room as nearby Death Eaters spoke in disappointed tones of Voldemort’s orders to let the Great Hall alone but laughed
in anticipation of “the bonfire of the century.”
Ginny chewed her fingernails, reassured only a little by the company of her
dorm mates, Luna, Colin, and her brother’s friends, even Dean – but she would
have rather had just Harry… Meanwhile, Colin still searched frantically for his
At this point, Ginny would have given anything to have been
just a minute late, delayed by checking the boys’ dormitories for those missing
in action: Dennis Creevey and Euan
Abercrombie being only two of the dozen or so.
She would have rushed them all to safety, perhaps into the underground
entrance to Honeydukes… and then gallantly joined the
In her hysteria, she imagined she heard a distant thud, and
her thoughts jumped to the potentially limp body of her favorite brother Bill
plummeting to the ground with his wand loosely clasped in his left hand (her
mum had always bemoaned that lefties were cursed with shorter life spans). His
scarred lips are still shaped in preparation for the first syllable of Stupefy
intended for an enemy up ahead, but in vain; Bill has been attacked from behind
by a Death Eater too cowardly for a proper duel. Now, there Bill lay on the ground, trod on
and forgotten. The fatality became
very real to Ginny, and she writhed in grief-filled anguish against the
door. Not Bill. Please, no, Bill can’t die – he pushed so hard to recover for the wedding…
Fleur, with whom he’s so in love, whose unwavering support gave him the power to get this far… the daughter on the way… Percy’s empty seat
at the holiday dinner table was already hard enough as it was…
Ginny wheeled around and gave the door two more kicks, just
for the sake of finality, and she threw herself onto the floor, wailing with
fury. People she loved were being
murdered beyond these doors, and there was not a damn thing she could do about
it. Clutching her abused foot in the
darkness of the dungeon-like hall, Ginny could do nothing but cry out.
Meanwhile, the remainder of the student body dreamt of