The Sugar Quill
Author: K. A. Flower  Story: The Legend of Sleepy Hollow  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.

He was tall, but exceedingly lank, with narrow shoulders, long arms and legs, hands that dangled a mile out of his sleeves, feet that might have served for shovels, and his whole frame most loosely hung together

Author’s note: Thank you to my mom who gave me the idea for using Sleepy Hollow as the main theme of this story. Also thank you to Teri Krenek for helping with the characters and Zsenya for editing this story. Based on the original, The Legend of Sleepy Hollow by Washington Irving. JK Rowling owns Nearly Headless Nick, Neville and other characters and places that appear here. All questions or comments should be forwarded to pepino51@attbi.com. ***

A pleasing land of drowsy head it was,
Of dreams that wave before the half-shut eye;
And of gay castles in the clouds that pass,
Forever flushing round a summer sky.
Castle of Indolence.

***

Hogsmeade was a small and quiet town in the middle of the Scottish mountains. It housed mainly farmers and artisans who went off on the weekends to sell their creations to the nearest city. However, there was a small village just outside of Hogsmeade – it was flanked on one side by the Forbidden Forest and on the other by a gurgling brook that lulled the villagers into a stupor. Sleepy Hollow was its name, and it was widely believed that it was enchanted. Other than rumors that some of its inhabitants were magical, there was a palpable air to the place that sparked with the power of the supernatural. Naturally many people in Hogsmeade avoided going there whenever possible because it was hard to leave once you arrived.

The schoolteacher of Hogsmeade and Sleepy Hollow was from Sheffield, where he aptly took on the name Neville Longbottom. He was a short, with sandy brown hair and glassy green eyes. His head was round and full, with rosy cheeks and dimples – his ears stuck out and his nose was short and snubbed. His clothing was baggy on his plump frame and he was always seen blustering about the town, making sure the children he taught made it to school safely in the morning and returned in one piece in the afternoon. Neville typically stayed with the parents of the children he taught, ,seeing as money was tight for the school and he barely had enough to feed himself.

Neville was also very curious about ancient sorcery as, being a wizard himself, he knew it would come in handy to know. For there had been a legend that still was told throughout the countryside that in the deep night on Halloween, a Hessian Trooper, once told to have been killed during the war of the Goblin Rebellions on accident, rode through town on his black steed, searching for his head. It had been removed by a cannon ball. He would travel up adjacent roads from the main and ride to the vicinity of the church where it was rumored his body was buried. Neville was very, very excited to see the headless horseman – for he had arrived in Sleepy Hollow only a while ago and had yet to see him.

Halloween had finally arrived in the village, and Neville was very lucky, for he had been invited to the annual Pumpkin Faire at Master Potter’s home at the end of Hogsmeade – the last house until the road to Sleepy Hollow. On the back of his horse Gunpowder, Neville arrived and laughed at the site of the Mayor and his wife waiting casually in front of their home and greeting their guests.

"Ah! Master Longbottom! What a pleasure it is to have you here!" boomed the voice of Harry Potter, the mayor of the village. His wife, Ginny Potter, had her arm looped through her husband’s and was smiling broadly. From the side of the house, Neville could hear music with a quick beat playing and much laughter. "I’m glad you could make it!"

"Oh, it is a pleasure, Mr. Potter –"

"Please, do call me Harry."

Harry’s smile widened as he walked with Neville and his wife over to the dancing, talking about how his children were doing in school and the normal talk of men in the village – old myths, Farmer Snape’s problem with ghouls in his granary, the usual. Eventually, they entered an orange-swathed dance pavilion with oak floors and a troupe of musicians atop a stage at the far end. In the far corner, he noticed a young and beautiful woman with brown hair standing, tapping her foot and clapping along with the music. She had a small smile and pale skin – Neville’s heart skipped a beat. However, he failed to notice that her arm was looped through her companions’ – a tall and lanky man with broad shoulders, red hair and freckles. They were both laughing and clapping together in rhythm, smiling at everyone around them. Harry, noticing whom Neville was staring at, nudged him gently.

"You’d be wise to watch for Ronald Weasley – he has a bad temper, he does," Harry whispered warningly, his brows furrowing with concern.

"But…who is that woman with him?"

"Hermione Granger? She owns the bookstore in town – she and Ron are engaged. Ron’s a barkeep," Harry whispered. Hermione and Ron were now coming towards them, still laughing and smiling.

"Harry! Ginny, m’dear," Ron said jovially, pulling Ginny into a hug. "And you must be Neville Longbottom, the new school master." He looked Neville up and down, gave him an appraising look before offering his hand. "Pleasure to finally meet you. This is my fiancé, Hermione Granger."

Hermione held out her hand too, and smiled shyly. Neville took it graciously, his heart fluttering. Eventually, the music kicked up again and the whole pavilion began to dance. Neville was asked to dance with a woman with wild black hair and brown eyes in a pink dress. He later learned her name was Parvati Patil, and she owned the local dress shop. Soon the moon had risen, and Neville, yawning, said his good-byes to the crowd. He fetched Gunpowder from the small boy putting other horses away in the barn, and hopped up.

Neville trotted his horse away towards the line of trees – the apple brandy he’d had making him feel warm and fuzzy. He began to hum a tune as he came upon a small brook that crossed the road, and ran into a marshy and glen, known by the name of Wiley's Swamp. A few rough logs, laid side by side, served for a bridge over this stream. On that side of the road where the brook entered the wood, a group of oaks and chestnuts, matted thick with wild grapevines, threw a cavernous gloom over it. To pass this bridge was the severest trial. It was at this identical spot that the headless horseman was feared to have been killed. This has since been considered a haunted stream, and fearful are the feelings of the man who has to pass it alone after dark.

As he approached the stream, his heart began to thump -- he summoned up, however, all his resolution, gave his horse half a score of kicks in the ribs, and attempted to dash briskly across the bridge; but instead of starting forward, the horse ran broadside against the fence. Neville, whose fears increased with the delay, jerked the reins on the other side, and kicked lustily with his foot: it was all in vain; the old animal started, but it was only to plunge to the opposite side of the road into a thicket of brambles and alder-bushes. Neville dug his heels into old Gunpowder, who dashed forward, snuffling and snorting, but came to a stand just by the bridge, with a suddenness that had nearly sent his rider sprawling over his head. Just at this moment, a soft snort by the side of the bridge caught Neville’s ear. In the dark shadow of the grove, on the beach of the brook, he beheld something huge, misshapen and towering. It didn’t move, but seemed gathered up in the gloom, like some gigantic monster ready to spring upon him.

Neville’s chest swelled with terror. What am I going to do? To turn and run now was too late; and besides, what chance was there of escaping ghost or goblin, if that was what it was, which could ride like the wind? Summoning up, therefore, a show of courage, he demanded in a stammering squeak, "Who are you?"

After no reply, he repeated his demand in a still more agitated voice. Still there was no answer. Once more he dug his heels into Gunpowder, and, shutting his eyes, broke forth a small prayer. Just then the shadowy object put itself in motion, and it suddenly appeared to stand in the middle of the road. Though clouds shrouded the moon, the form appeared to be a large horseman mounted on a gigantic black horse. He jogged along the blind side of old Gunpowder, who had now got over his fright.

Neville quickened Gunpowder in hopes of leaving him behind. The stranger, however, quickened his horse to an equal pace. Neville pulled up, and fell into a walk, thinking to lag behind, --the other did the same. On mounting a rising ground, the moon poked out from behind a few straggling clouds: gigantic in height, and muffled in a black cloak, Neville that he was headless. But his horror was still more increased on observing that the head, which should have rested on his shoulders, was carried before him on the saddle! His terror rose to desperation; he rained a shower of kicks and blows upon Gunpowder, hoping to possibly out run him, but the horseman kept up.

They had now reached the road which turns off to Sleepy Hollow; but Gunpowder, who seemed possessed with a demon, instead of keeping up it, made an opposite turn, and plunged headlong down hill to the left. The road led through a sandy hollow shaded by trees for about a quarter of a mile, where it crossed the bridge famous in the goblin rebellion of 1233; and just beyond swelled the green knoll on which stands the whitewashed church. 

An opening, in the trees now cheered him with the hopes that the church bridge was near. He saw the walls of the church dimly glaring under the trees beyond. If I can reach that bridge, thought Neville, I’ll be safe. Just then he heard the black steed panting and blowing close behind him. Another convulsive kick in the ribs, and old Gunpowder sprang upon the bridge; he thundered over the planks; he was now on the opposite banks. Neville turned and felt a pang of hope as the follower disappeared, but then realized that the rider was not a goblin…or even remotely human. It was a ghost, with a curly mustache and a ruff attached around his neck that could barely be seen in the inky light. He wore a scowl on his face as he pushed the steed closer to Neville.

"You’re a …a…ghost!" Neville shouted hoarsely, raising a finger and pointing at the offending rider. He pulled Gunpowder to a halt and turned him around completely. The ghost bristled and his horse gave a loud snort.

"Of course I am! You don’t honestly expect me to be a bloody Goblin, do you?" The Ghost said nasally, adjusting the pumpkin in his grip. "Sir Nicholas de Mimsy Porpington at your service, my dear fellow. I believe you are the school teacher of Sleepy Hollow?"

Neville merely opened and closed his mouth before his eyes suddenly became wide. "Nicholas? As in Nearly Headless Nick? You’re the Headless Horseman?"

Nicholas narrowed his eyes. "If I were you, I wouldn’t –"

"How could anyone be nearly headless?" Neville asked, his face crinkling into a smile. Nick began to turn a translucent pink. The pumpkin in his grasp was shaking – the black horse was quivering and snorting, his breath making pale clouds in the air. With a yell of frustration, Nick put his hand on his head and swung it to the side, where it was only connected by an inch of skin and sinew. Neville turned a sickly shade of green, before turning Gunpowder around and taking off at full speed down the road. However, Neville forgot to look back behind him – a whistling noise made him turn around in his saddle, only to be faced with a grinning pumpkin whizzing towards his head. He wasn’t quick enough to dodge it – a loud thwack! reverberated through Neville’s head as he was thrown off the back of Gunpowder and into a large and smelly puddle of mud. Large hooves shook the ground around him and Neville looked up – Nearly Headless Nick was sitting broadly atop his horse, a large grin on his face. But Neville’s head was swimming and a small rim of blackness was forming from the corners of his eyes inward.

"I was trying to warn you," Nearly Headless Nick began, smiling cheekily. "That I don’t appreciate ‘Nearly-Headless Nick as my name."

Neville didn’t hear anymore; couldn’t remember anymore. The blackness gurgled around him, and he knew no more.

The next morning the old horse was found without his rider; Neville did not show up for dinner that night or school the next day. But soon, people, concerned, went in search of him near the old church – all they found was a shattered pumpkin on the side of the road.

//
Write a review! PLEASE NOTE: The purpose of reviewing a story or piece of art at the Sugar Quill is to provide comments that will be useful to the author/artist. We encourage you to put a bit of thought into your review before posting. Please be thoughtful and considerate, even if you have legitimate criticism of a story or artwork. (You may click here to read other reviews of this work).
* = Required fields
*Sugar Quill Forums username:
*Sugar Quill Forums password:
If you do not have a Sugar Quill Forums username, please register. Bear in mind that it may take up to 72 hours for your account to be approved. Thank you for your patience!
*Comment:
The Sugar Quill was created by Zsenya and Arabella. For questions, please send us an Owl!

-- Powered by SQ3 : Coded by David : Design by James --