The Sugar Quill
Author: JK Ashavah (Professors' Bookshelf)  Story: Dramatis Personae  Chapter: Default
The distribution of this story is for personal use only. Any other form of distribution is prohibited without the consent of the author.

dramatis

Author’s Note: This came about as the result of a stray inspiration particle and a suggestion by some of my friends, including Sweeney Agonistes, combined with being bored with schoolwork the month before my final exams.

My heartiest thanks go to the ladies of The Sugar Quill Writer’s Workshop Chapter 2, especially Kellie, Kaitie, Kizmet, Madeline, Ara, and anyone I may have forgotten, for your excellent feedback. Special thanks to Kizmet and Calliope for their wonderful beta skills, as always, to Elanor Gamgee and TQ for polish and inspiration.

For further background of Antony and Shakespeare, please refer to this, written for The Sugar Quill’s Canon or Fanon Character College Application Essay Challenge.

Disclaimer: I don’t own any of the people, places, or situations of the Harry Potter universe. They belong to J. K. Rowling, AOL Time Warner, and the publishers of Harry Potter world-wide, included but not limited to Bloomsbury Publishing Plc and Scholastic Books. I am not affiliated with any of the aforementioned, nor do I have their permission to do this. It’s simply a piece of fun, no harm intended.

The epigraph is from Shakespeare’s Othello, I, i, 65.

To Bond fans everywhere ...
especially those who put up with his invasions of chat.



Dramatis Personae
By JK

I am not what I am.
Iago, Othello


“Excuse me. Um. Is anyone sitting here?”

Raylene looked up from The History of European Wizardry, and with vague surprise noted the boy standing in the doorway of the compartment.

“Oh, sure,” she said. She quickly ran the conversation over in her mind and shook her head. “I mean, no, no-one’s sitting here. Would you like to?”

“Thanks.” As he entered, Raylene got her first good look at him. He was fairly tall, with auburn hair cut close to his head. Freckles were smattered across his nose and his eyes were wide, brown, and intelligent. He already wore his Hogwarts robes, and Raylene suddenly felt awkward in her Muggle jeans and short-sleeved blouse.

“I’m Raylene,” she said, standing up to help him with his trunk. “Raylene Faulkner.” She pulled her reading glasses off her nose, folded them into her shirt pocket, and offered a hand.

“Vincent. Vincent Edwards. Nice to meet you.” His voice had a slightly odd cadence to it, as though he’d spent time overseas, somewhere on the Continent, most likely.

“Are you just starting at Hogwarts?” Raylene asked, sitting back down. Having safely stowed his trunk, Vincent sat opposite her.

“Yes. This is my first year.”

Raylene grinned. “Mine too. I’m so glad to meet you. I thought I’d have a really hard time finding anyone. My brother – Drew – just finished Hogwarts and he made loads of friends, but he’s a lot more outgoing than me.” She realised that she was beginning to babble and fell silent with an awkward blush.

“You don’t seem too shy as far as I can tell.” Vincent’s voice was expressionless, and Raylene paused, wondering what he meant by that. Then his face broke into a brilliant grin, flashing white teeth, and he began to laugh. She coloured again.

“Sorry.” She turned a brighter red and, searching for an excuse to look away, fiddled with her bookmark.

“Don’t be,” he said, serious again. “I shouldn’t be laughing.”

She slid the bookmark between the pages and shut the book. “Do you have any brothers or sisters at Hogwarts?”

He shook his head. “My sister Sophia’s only six.”

“So’s my little sister Alyssa!” They agreed that this was an odd coincidence and lapsed into silence.

There was a period of uncertain quiet. Scenes from any number of children’s stories flashed past the window as the train streaked northwards. They left the suburbia of London and the scenes changed. Paintings of stereotypical farmhouses, cattle grazing beside them, shot past the glass and were gone. Fences demarcated farmlands, and an occasional village would whiz past on one side or the other, offering Raylene a snapshot glimpse into the life of the place for just a few moments before it was gone.

There was a strong, unhesitant knock on the compartment door. Vincent stood up and opened it. Raylene glanced over with interest, abandoning the cattle.

Vincent admitted a boy around their own age. He, like Vincent, was dressed in black robes. They were crisp and wrinkleless, looking as if they’d had an extremely skilful Ironing Charm placed on them. One arm was wrapped around the fluffiest kitten Raylene had ever seen. The cat was mewing softly and pawing at its master’s chest. He bent and let the cat jump onto the seat Vincent had occupied. It stretched, seemed to change its mind, leapt in a graceful movement onto the floor, and wandered over to Raylene, fixing blue eyes on her. She reached out to pat its head, and it purred.

“Like me?” she asked, scratching harder.

The boy looked over at her and smiled slightly, then turned back to Vincent.

“May I sit with you?” he asked in a soft Oxfordshire accent.

“I don’t see why not,” Vincent replied. He offered his hand to the boy. “Vincent Edwards. And this is Raylene Faulkner.”

The newcomer paused, his mind obviously working at something. “Is your mother Juanita Edwards?”

Vincent shook his hand and met his eye with curiousity. “Yes, she is. Are you familiar with Spanish aristocracy?”

Aristocracy? Spanish? That at least explained his voice.

The boy wrinkled his nose in a self-deprecating manner. “Only a little. Mother made sure I knew about any notable families likely to be represented in first year.”

“Read up on it, have we?” Vincent’s mouth twitched with barely hidden amusement and he rolled his eyes. “Know all about my family, I suppose?” The other boy flushed, a hint of rose rising in his bone-china face. There was some unspoken joke between the two of them, something Raylene didn’t understand.

“Can’t go associating with the wrong sort, can we?” he finally said. “One has to know who’s who.”

Oh, Lord. Raylene’s eyes widened involuntarily.

She had found it difficult to believe her parents’ warnings that there would be wizards at Hogwarts who would judge her based on her family, her name, her breeding, as though she were a pedigree Hippogriff. She knew such people existed; she knew they had formed You-Know-Who’s power base ... she even knew that they still remained. She had heard her parents discussing them at the breakfast table, heard Drew complain about them after work.

She had never thought she’d meet someone from one of those families. This boy looked so ... normal. Well, not normal. His looks were certainly striking, with almost white skin contrasting sharply with a head of slightly messy black curls. But she wouldn’t have known him to be any different from her if she’d passed him in Diagon Alley. She was beginning to suspect that he was, in fact, very different.

Was he one of those pure-bloods she had been so constantly warned about? Did her father, as a member of the Department of Magical Law Enforcement, count this boy’s parents among his sworn enemies? Even Vincent, an aristocrat by birth, seemed to have less pure-blood pride than this boy, if their conversation reflected their attitudes. Vincent had joked and teased, but the black-haired boy had seemed to mean what he said.

Vincent gestured towards the seat next to him. As the newcomer gave a small smile and took it, she found it hard to reconcile the way his face brightened with the image she was building of him in her mind.

She had never been able to understand the logic behind prejudices, but she could recognise them in these boys. In the new one, at least. She felt awkward, for despite her disbelief in the validity of prejudices, she had wanted to make a good impression. Some of her parents’ best friends had been met on train journeys to Hogwarts. She was out of place in this compartment, though. She, whose grandmother was Muggle-born. She, whose parents worked long hours at the Ministry of Magic. Even her brother had a desk job, at St. Mungo’s. She could never have, let alone afford to support, pure-blood snobbery.

“And you are?” she asked, trying not to let her discomfort reveal itself. The cat curled up in her lap.

Her feelings must have shown, because there was a glint in his eyes, and his fixed expression wavered around the mouth.

“My apologies,” he said.

He turned, offering his hand. Was that condescension in his expression? She looked resolutely into his eyes – which were an odd shade of blue, like glacier ice – and raised her chin slightly. She would NOT be looked down upon by this boy, no matter how important he thought he was.

“I’m Antony Bond,” he said.

The name meant nothing to her. Vincent paused for a moment, then a half-smile grew on his face. “Not quite as aristocratic, alas, as Edwards here, but both my parents have quite distinguished lineages.”

“You know, Bond,” Raylene snapped, unable to prevent herself from speaking the truth, “I don’t really care.” She wasn’t sure what she expected or hoped his reaction to be, but the brief guffaw she received was not it.

“Makalu!” The cat looked up at its master from Raylene’s lap and reluctantly got to its feet. It leapt lightly to the floor and, when its master took a seat, jumped into his lap.

“Neat cat,” Vincent said. “What breed is it?”

“Colourpoint longhair,” Bond replied, stroking the kitten’s ears. “My cousin Lucius gave her to me as a going-to-Hogwarts present.”

Great. This is just how I want to spend my first trip to Hogwarts. With an aristocrat and a pure-blood brat. Raylene sighed, picked up the discarded history book, and tried to read. She wound up only pretending. How should she behave in this situation? Make conversation and try to appraise her companions? Ignore the boys and just hope she didn’t run into them often?

The compartment door slid open without so much as a knock. Raylene, beginning to tire of the constant interruptions – couldn’t she just read a book in peace? – looked up and saw a pretty blonde witch with a nondescript brunette at her side.

“Oh, Antony,” the blonde sighed. “I’ve been looking for you everywhere! Would you like to come and sit with us?” The brunette simpered with her friend.

PLEASE do.

Bond looked up. “Oh, hi, Vanitra. No, I don’t think I will, thanks. I figure I should get to know some other people before we get to Hogwarts, considering the two of us will be in the same house and everything.”

“Humph.” Vanitra tossed her hair over her shoulder. “Well, I suppose I’ll see you at the Slytherin table, then.” She and the nameless brunette made a haughty exit.

What a shameless display of flirting. Honestly.

* * *


“Hey, Bond, what was that she said about houses?” Edwards asked. Antony, with Vanitra’s high-pitched whine still overwhelming his mind, slowly dragged his eyes from the compartment door through which she had exited.

“Oh –“ he said, replaying the conversation in his mind. “Oh, nothing. She just thinks we’ll both be in Slytherin because of our families, and I don’t see any harm in encouraging her.”

“Do you know how they sort you?” The girl, Faulkner, looked up from her book to ask the question, her eyes eager for news. Apparently, whatever was causing her to hold back from the conversation, she could not resist the urge of finding out the answer to the question Antony also pondered. He shook his head.

“No. It seems to be some sort of Hogwarts secret that no-one will tell. I asked my mother and Lucius.”

Whatever it was, it had better put him in Slytherin. He couldn’t imagine the look on his cousin Lucius’s face if he were put in Ravenclaw – or worse, Hufflepuff or Gryffindor! Was it really possible he’d only known Lucius a couple of years? And now, now that he finally had a chance to get away from the man, he was wasting it exchanging pleasantries with Vanitra Ridley and taking the snob act to the extreme? Was this the person he wanted to be at Hogwarts? Hadn’t he promised himself that once away from his family he would be himself?

And there was the little matter of the illicit tome, the Muggle literature, hidden at the bottom of his trunk, which he wanted so desperately to read. That didn’t fit too well with the pure-blood snobbery he had exhibited. It was tempting, very tempting, to change into the Muggle clothes (for his mother realised that at times one needed to pass unnoticed through Muggle areas) he had smuggled from home, curl up, and read his book – Shakespeare, that was the name of the author. No-one knew Antony here except Vanitra, and she would (hopefully) leave him alone for the rest of the journey.

It was tempting. Too tempting. Antony smiled and dug into his trunk, feeling for three specific things. The first, a large, leather-bound book, he extracted with great care. He placed it on the seat next to him and saw Edwards give it a cursory look. Antony loved his grandmother at that moment, for she had charmed the tome so when anyone but Antony looked on it they saw A Guide to Theoretical Arithmancy (which Antony had an actual copy of buried in his trunk). Antony, however, saw a gold-stamped signature and the title The Complete Works of William Shakespeare: Comedies, Histories, Tragedies, Poems. Antony shivered with anticipation and withdrew the other two things he needed: a green shirt and a pair of Muggle trousers – jeans, the shop sign had called them.

With a mumbled excuse to Faulkner and Edwards, Antony exited the compartment and went in search of somewhere to change. He returned with his clothes swapped: Muggle on, robe in hand. He was going to enjoy this, crazy as it was. You know, you really are just a little bit crazy. Most people would wear Muggle clothes then change INTO their Hogwarts robes, judging by Faulkner. He snickered to himself, re-entered the compartment, and received somewhat startled glances from Faulkner and Edwards.

The words on Edwards’s lips faltered. He looked unsure whether to be amused or perturbed, and the result was a sort of strangled guffaw and a politely puzzled frown. Faulkner did not moderate her surprise, but blinked several times, her mouth half-open. She seemed to remember herself and opened the book which she had been carefully not reading since Antony had entered the compartment.

He smiled at them, flung the robe onto the seat next to him, and sat, legs curled beside him, book in his hands. Makalu snuggled into the crook of his knees, and Antony opened the tome at last, skipping the introduction and finally, after years of waiting to read this great author, began to consume The Tempest.

* * *


When Antony alighted from the train, he stood on the platform and snatched the book up from the top of his stacked luggage, trying to catch a last few of the amazing words, the words which had held him entranced for hours. He had surfaced only for a brief dose of sugar and some words, less heated this time, with Faulkner and Edwards and, towards the end of the journey to change back into his robe and slip Makalu into the cat-carrier which had sat, empty, on top of his trunk all day. What magic this Shakespeare had woven; his words could ensnare the imagination and soul with a magic just as powerful as any which came from a wand, Antony was sure. What beauty, what eloquence … what … flow. He had to get some of the second play read.

“Firs’ years! FIRS’ years!”

“Hey, Bond,” Edwards tugged on his sleeve. “Think we should go over there?”

It was no use; there was not enough light to read by, there were too many things to manoeuvre and the jostling crowd had a too eager, excited air. The atmosphere was charged with anxiety and anticipation as old friends reunited and gabbled about their summer and new students gazed around, feeling nervous but unable to suppress an expectant thrill.

“Hm? Oh, yes,” Antony replied, closing the book, returning it to its place on top of the cat carrier, and moving with Edwards towards the gigantic man who loomed in the darkness, holding a lantern easily above their heads. They gazed up into the light, vaguely aware of a mass of black hair and an enormous figure attached to it.

What followed remained a blur to Antony, a series of disconnected images intertwined with the vividly green island in his mind on which Prospero and Ariel dwelt. He remembered a long black path, twisting along the edge of a woody mass that some of the students backed nervously away from. A brilliant mass of light as suddenly the final corner was rounded and the silhouette appeared of a mighty castle, its hundreds of windows glowing like warmer, brighter stars, each offering a thousand opportunities as to what lay beyond. Antony saw learning, friendship, and seven long years of his life, until he was seventeen (imagine!) laid out in the twinkling pattern of eyes with which the castle seemed to watch him. It was beautiful, peaceful - a scene that caused the groups of first-years to pause, awed by the majestic promise of it all, as the large man stood, beaming.

“Tha’s Hogwarts,” he proclaimed proudly.

“It’s gorgeous,” a blonde girl standing next to Faulkner breathed.

“It is such stuff as dreams are made on,” Antony murmured, unaware of even speaking the words.

There was silence. Then, somehow, the groups began to move again. WE are such stuff as dreams are made on, Bond, Antony told himself as he moved forward, trancelike, to take a seat in a boat beside Edwards, Faulkner, and the blonde. She introduced herself, he vaguely knew, but his heart and mind were on the castle, waiting before them with its promises and dreams.

* * *


When they arrived inside the castle, they stood in a long reception hall of a magnificence that befitted the castle’s exterior. As Antony stared around, observing his surroundings in the bright light of the hall, and still feeling the dreamy detachment of the ethereal, starlit passage to the school, a woman with a deep green cloak and severely pinned-back black hair appeared.

“Come this way, please.”

Another room, much smaller this time, its walls covered in portraits. A nervous wait. A great deal of muttering amongst students. The blonde engaging in earnest conversation with Faulkner. Edwards closely examining the portraits. Then the door opening, the woman re-entering (Antony had a vague perception of her introducing herself as Professor McGonagall), the students forming a long line, falling in between Edwards and a pair of boys with hair so red it burned into his memory.

Then it was a long, awkward walk through the middle of four tables at which sat hundreds of people, their eyes all on the first-years. Antony glanced upwards, remembering there was something special about the Hogwarts Great Hall ceiling and taking a gasping breath of awe. There shone thousands of stars, their beauty drawing him back to the magic of the initial approach to Hogwarts; he could see constellations and a thin sliver of moon.

Then they were crowded at the foot of the staff table. There in the middle was the headmaster, Dumbledore. And then a stool appeared, a hat placed on it in a position of honour. But what a hat! It was tattered and patched, covered in rips, scuffs, and dust. What was this hat? A rip opened and the hat seemed almost to be about to speak.

A speaking hat? No, he realised. A singing hat.

Once there was a time in which
I was a hat of youth,
A millennium ago
You’d say, with only truth
Hogwarts castle built, I saw
And heard the first new plans
That the Founders they did draw
For wizarding England.
There was Godric Gryffindor,
A wizard brave and strong
And dear Rowena Ravenclaw,
Whose mind was never wrong
Helga Hufflepuff was in,
Hardworking witch and loyal
And Salazar Slytherin,
His wit sharp as a foil.
Each of them had their ideas
Of whom they were to teach
And soon it became quite clear
This was unique to each:
Gryffindor the bold and brave,
Who chivalrous did act.
Ravenclaw the wise and grave,
The valuers of facts.
Hufflepuff’s were loyal, true,
Hard workers one and all.
Slytherin’s ambition used
And strived to reach their goal.
Gryffindor, he took me off
Taught me what must be done,
And so it is, that though you scoff,
I’ll Sort you every one!

Applause erupted from around the hall. Antony joined in the clapping. His trance was broken; careful attention was required to understand what was happening. So … we have to put the hat on, right? And it decides where we belong? Oh, please be Slytherin.

The black-haired witch (who had introduced herself as Professor McGonagall) stepped forward. In her hands she held a long scroll of parchment.

“When I read out your name, come forward, sit on the stool, and put the hat on your head,” she said, scrutinising the first-years critically through her glasses.

“Barz, Lachlan.” A nondescript, brown-haired boy shuffled forward and sat. The hat was on his head for a moment, then –

“GRYFFINDOR!” it cried. The students at one of the tables jumped to their feet, whooping. Lachlan Barz shuffled away towards them. As the next student came to be Sorted, Antony watched Lachlan move towards the Gryffindor table, where students moved aside to let him sit and began clapping and shaking his hand.

I hope my housemates are that nice to me, Antony thought. And I hope not many students have names that begin with ‘B’.

“Bond, Antony.”

That was him! Antony looked nervously to either side and saw Edwards wink at him. In that moment, he envied Edwards almost more than he could bear. How could the boy be so calm with all that was happening?

Antony stepped forward to the stool. He sat and felt the eyes of the entire school, even the first-years and staff, focused on him. The hat landed gently on his curls then slipped over his eyes and he found his vision filled with blackness which rustled against his eyelashes. He shut his eyes tightly.

There was a voice somewhere inside his head, and Antony recognised it as the one he had just heard singing.

“Hmm, what have we here, Antony Bond? An interesting mind you’ve got. Yes. I see a certain level of intelligence. My, a great level of intelligence. Hmm. But there’s hard work and loyalty there too. And courage. Lots of courage. A thirst to prove yourself, too. And I mustn’t forget the cunning and ambition, either. Definitely a challenge. I enjoy challenges.”

Antony found himself trembling. He tried to steady himself, but he was just too nervous. What if he wasn’t in Slytherin? Ravenclaw would be all right, he supposed, but Lucius would be displeased .... Please just tell me!

“Just tell you? In that sort of a rush? No, the decision must be made right, Antony Bond. Must decide. Very intelligent, I will say. A very wise young man you’ll become if you take the right attitude to learning, Antony Bond. But such bravery. Exceptional bravery, really.”

If you put me in Gryffindor, Antony thought at the Hat, I’ll HEX you.

Well! There’s only one thing I can say to that!

“SLYTHERIN!”

Antony tore the hat from his head, relief filling his mind. Lucius would be proud. And his mother would be, too. He would be a member of the Bond family, just like his father before him. His father who had died years before. I wonder if he can see me now, Antony thought as he walked, only half-aware of what he was doing, to the table at one end of the hall, at which students had clapped and cheered him as he was Sorted.

“Bond,” one boy said, standing up to shake his hand. “Excellent work. I’m Gaius Pitchford, Slytherin prefect. Wonderful to meet you.”

A flurry of handshakes followed, and by the time Antony turned his attention back to the Sorting, it was Edwards’s turn. Antony watched as the hat landed on the auburn hair. He waited, anxious again, but the hat said nothing. He wondered what it was saying to Edwards. Had his Sorting taken this long? It had seemed so quick to him –

“SLYTHERIN!”

Antony jumped to his feet and clapped as Edwards hurried down towards them and he moved over a seat to give his acquaintance somewhere to sit.

The Sorting seemed less torturous and drawn-out from that point. Faulkner and her blonde companion (Melissa Farrell) became Ravenclaws. The redheads who had stood in line behind Antony were Gryffindors. And the ranks of Slytherin were swelled by Vanitra Ridley (no real surprise), a brief acquaintance of Edwards’s by the name of Alexander von Senff, and a handful of others whom Antony had never met
.
“You hungry, Bond?” Vincent whispered as the Headmaster got up to speak.

“Now that you mention it.”

The Headmaster’s words were brief. Antony studied the man commonly called the greatest wizard of the age. He could believe it, in one way, for Dumbledore was a majestic figure in deep purple robes, his silver hair and beard seeming to shine. Yet he joked, was flippant even, as he talked. Antony had expected a graver man. The notices were simple enough: the forest on the grounds was forbidden (Antony shuddered as Dumbledore mentioned its possible dangers; after the moonlit walk he would believe the peril), a list of prohibited items was posted outside the caretaker’s door, Quidditch trials would occur soon, and there was a new Astronomy professor, the youthful Professor Vellian who sat on the left side of the staff table, smiling politely, his brown hair pulled back from his face.

“Now,” Dumbledore said, smiling benevolently over the student body, “enjoy.”

The tables were suddenly laden with food and drink and it hit Antony that he was here, finally. He reached for a platter of chicken, grinning. A new act in his life was beginning, the old drawing to a close. The stage was set, the actors waited in the wings, all it needed was the word of the director. Antony glanced up at the ceiling and sighed happily. Act Two, Scene One, he thought to the stars.

* * *
//
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