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(Note: final version, thanks to my beta [livejournal.com profile] wemyss

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The Sergeant-Major saw them as they crept through the rocks. He sighed. He never liked the idea of killing children. But he had seen, several times over, what these children could do. He was a veteran of three years' standing, and had seen dozens of comrades injured or killed by apparently harmless wizards or witches.

Good thing these two seemed inexperienced. Their attempt to hide among the rocks was pathetic. The Sergeant-Major kept very still until they were in position; then he rose and let his SMG speak, briefly. Boy and girl were both almost cut in two.

It had been a long, weary, cruel war. The killing had started in Britain, spreading across Europe without logic or reason. It had taken a while before terrified governments even realized that they were under co-ordinated attack; and as for it coming from witches and wizards... that had not been admitted, not even been hinted at, until sightings and rumours had become universal, And quite right too, thought the Sergeant-Major. If, as late as three years ago, the general population had been told that wizards and witches really existed and that they were our enemies, we would all have thought April the first had come early.

Bloody Hell, we've come a long way in three years. We started with defensive measures and investigations; and these were met with wildly increased violence and terror. Each governmental measure was met by mass murder; and still we could hardly see the enemy. Even when we captured a few... which began to happen more and more frequently from 2003 on, when the new scanners had come into general use... even to keep them prisoner, by whatever means, had proved incredibly dangerous. And so had negotiating with them. The Sergeant-Major had taken part in a few of those encounters. He had the impression that some wizards, given the chance, would defect and help; but some wound up dead, and others turned out to be traitors. It was at the end of 2003, faced with the collapse of the whole system of wizard incarceration, that the order had gone out: no prisoners.

It was a long nightmare. One could never be certain that any area had been cleared of wizards. Every time that the forces moved out of a region and into the next, suddenly a city quarter would be levelled by that vicious magical fire they had, worse than napalm, or a schoolful of children and teachers were found dead with not a mark on their bodies. Helpless statisticians had piled up the numbers, loss after loss, till some areas had become nearly deserted. London had lost half its inhabitants. Leicester was virtually abandoned. Edinburgh and Carlisle no longer existed, and all of Scotland had been raked as if by the Black Death of old. Outside Britain, beautiful Bruges and prosperous Frankfurt had been reduced to ghost towns, and the raging war in the banlieues of Paris had shrunk the immense French capital by miles. Mourning, screaming, despair, were commonplace, and often not enough living had been left to bury the dead.

Bit by bit, a picture of the enemy had been formed. It was clear that the wizards of Europe were under the complete control of a monstrous being whom they did not want to name. Many were terrified of him and aching to get out from under his rule, but his supporters were practically all-powerful and any open rebellion ended swiftly and badly. It would have been useful to be able to exploit the dissatisfaction of many wizards or witches to bring them over to our side, but in practice this was impossible. The Sergeant-Major had seen it himself. They had a prisoner who had seemed promising, indeed, who had stated to befriend him. Then another man was brought in, who also seemed to want to surrender, and the two were put in the same cell. The next morning the cell was empty, except for a great splash of blood, and a number of guards and civilians had been murdered in the path of the escapee. Many other similar experiences convinced the Sergeant-Major, as they had convinced many others, that you could not safely deal with wizards at all; could not confine them, could not negotiate with them, could not treat them as equals. And the casualties kept mounting.

The Sergeant-Major snarled without realizing it. He was thinking of the pundits who even now, when reality ought to have been sufficiently clear, still argued for negotiations and peace. Who would anyone negotiate with? Nobody had ever heard of any alternative to the wizards' Nameless Tyrant; from things learned from questioned prisoners, any resistance against him in the wizarding world had been levelled long since. And who could trust any individual? No, this was war, and war to the finish.

And now the finish was very close, very close indeed. One by one, wizarding areas had been found, destroyed, or sealed off. A huge daisy-cutter bomb had destroyed the Leaky Cauldron, sealing the entrance to Diagon Alley for ever. Ton upon ton of napalm had been poured on a site in Hampshire, and a tactical nuclear device had been detonated inside a mysterious hole in the ground in London, which was strongly suspected of being the seat of the enemy so-called "Ministry of Magic". The Sergeant-Major had a man under him who had been there. He told him how the ground had shaken, and how after a while a few atrociously injured and burned wizards had come creeping out of various holes and had all been cut down by waiting detachments.

Above all, the military had learned how to locate concealed wizarding establishments. The Ministry of Magic had been little trouble: every man, woman and child within a couple of miles had been killed in various ways - they might as well have drawn a target around themselves. But now, as soon as anyone suspected that a wizarding establishment of any kind was in a given are, hundreds of troopers were spread across the area, according to a precise pattern. They were all connected to computers at Central Command. Then two things happened: either the electronic map showed an unaccountable gap among the troopers - and that was the magically protected area, which was then saturated with explosive, napalm and gas - or else a group of troopers suddenly vanished and died. And that, alas, was just as diagnostic of the presence of wizards. At least the troopers knew that they would swiftly be avenged.

One by one, hideouts and fortresses were destroyed. Slowly, the grip of terror was released from region after region. The Continent was already practically returned to normality; and London, among other places, was nervously starting to recover. Scotland - poor Scotland; Scotland had suffered worst, and there would be no end to it until the final plague spot was cleansed.

And so the Sergeant-Major crept slowly among the stones, as hundreds of his fellow-soldiers were doing across several square miles of ground. Curious, he thought, how these appallingly dangerous missions never failed to draw thousands of volunteers. Or maybe not so curious, after all. How many people had the wizards killed, after all? At least seventeen million so far? How many grieving fathers, brothers, friends, sons, cousins, colleagues, lovers, students, teachers, did that make? How many men ready and willing to risk their lives for a hope of vengeance?

His communicator beeped, and the Sergeant-Major smiled grimly. He thought of his nephew, dead among his fellow schoolchildren without a mark on his body; of his best friend's beautiful young wife, raped and tortured to death with magical images hovering over the body to show how it had been done; of a whole district of his native city, burned down with thousands of victims inside. He thought of the comrades he had left behind, dead, mutilated or mad; and of the stories he had heard. He knew that even as he turned to go back to base, the first aircraft were already taking flight from distant bases, to reach heights that no wizard could match. In a half-hour maybe - and he could hardly wait - the first waves of bombers would reach Hogsmeade and the haunted ruins beyond, to drop explosive death from the sky. The wizards would not even know that vengeance had reached them, until the first explosion. And they would be given no rest. Wave after wave of bombers would drop explosives, napalm, poison, every known kind of deadly device. And the last plane would carry a nuclear device.

There had been a lot of discussion about this, but in the end everyone had agreed. The wizards must be give no opportunity to recover. Unless they were uprooted, there was no hope of peace. And peace was what everyone ached for.

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Anastasio Attanasio, alias Ricky, was the youngest of five children, each born a few years after the other. Some had left home and rarely returned; and when the youngest, Maria Alba Caterina (or Ketty), boarded the Zeppelin for Beauxbatons, there was nobody to keep an eye on him when his father was at work.

Inevitably, what followed was a week of highly surprising and different homecomings.Read more... )
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A man crossed the threshold. He wore a costume made mostly of chain mail, which jingled slightly as he walked, in a simple design of red, white and blue, with a white star on his chest. His face was partly covered by a blue helmet with a great letter A inlaid in white metal, and wings on each side. He carried no aggressive weapon, and none were in his belt, but most of his left arm was covered by a round, massive shield of solid metal.

There was something about this man. At first glance, he looked absolutely enormous, as if anyone else would have to look up to him. But as he strode into the entrance hall, it became clear that he was only an ordinary kind of tall – six foot four, possibly; certainly not the giant he had seemed. Not physically. But the impression he made did not diminish; everyone kept looking at him, even as he walked up quietly; and when he looked at Dumbledore for the first time, and Dumbledore looked back, it was as though they recognized each other.

The stranger removed the shield from his left arm and raised his right in a sign of peace. Dumbledore answered the salute. “Sir,” said the man in a polite voice with an obvious American accent, “are you in charge of this place?”

“I am,” answered the old wizard. “My name is Albus Dumbledore, and I am the Headmaster of this school. And as you have made it thus far, I have to take it that you are also a wizard of some sort, sir?”

“A wizard?” said the tall man wonderingly. “That is why we were dragged to this place, then. I see…”

“Well, Headmaster, I am not exactly a wizard,” he went on, “but I and my companions do have powers beyond the ordinary. You can call me Captain, if you like. I’m a soldier. I take it you are magical yourselves?”

“This is the School of Magic for this country, sir,” answered a rather bewildered Dumbledore.

“Well, that’s good – it will make it easier to explain our situation. I’m afraid I come from somewhere else – you might call it another world. My friends and I were in transit between worlds, when our ship… it had taken a lot of blows … suddenly lost control. We had to stop here, or be destroyed between the worlds.”

“I see. Where are your companions?”

“They stayed with the ship, some three miles south-east of here. I volunteered to scout the land – see why we had been dragged to this spot.”

Dumbledore was thinking. “Captain… I do have to tell you that our place here is rather secret. For compelling reasons, magical schools like to be private and discourage Muggle visitors. Have you done anything that might lead outsiders to us?”

After a second’s thought, Captain America answered. “I am pretty sure not, sir. Of course I did not realize that I might be making trouble for anyone… but it gets to be a habit to look for pursuers and witnesses, and I am sure there weren’t any.” Suddenly a grin flashed across his face: “Tell me,” he asked, “is this secrecy of yours the reason why I had to fight all sorts of impulses to turn back all the way here?’

“It… is indeed,” said Dumbledore, startled. “Actually, if you could feel them, I am very surprised that you made it here.”

“I am trained to fight mental control – trained by experts. As soon as I realized what was being done to me, I set my mind to going exactly where they did not want me to go. That’s another habit a soldier gets.”

“I hope you did not get the wrong impression, Captain. The wards aren’t there to do anyone any mischief. They are here to protect us… and indeed, to protect outsiders from us. A Muggle without powers, falling among wizard children in an enchanted castle, might be harmed by sheer chance.”

“Well, sir, I will admit that I was on guard. But I’m not really worried about you or your intentions. I am just here to find out where we are… to ask if we can stay… and to see whether anyone here would be willing to do something to help us go home.”
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I just had this almost-drabble idea and thought I'd better write it down before I forget it.

Read more... )
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...but four years ago I wrote this piece of verse, and I don't think I ever published it on this blog. Read more... )
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A songfic by F.P.Barbieri

It was typical of Harry Potter that it took him decades to even realize that he had a good singing voice. Battered nearly out of any confidence by ten years with brutes, then shovelled with practically no preparation into the frontline of a war he was expected to win alone, he had not exactly had the time to develop any real self-confidence, or the simple and human interests of other boys. The realization came slowly, with much doubt and no outside help; but when he felt he could do so without disgrace, he sang a song to the woman he loved.

Soon it became a habit, a kind of ritual. When he found a song he really liked, he would go to her and give it to her, for her and her alone, as a kind of gift. And so it was this night; a warm, pleasing, starry June night, just like the night the song itself spoke of. And his voice rose in the moonlight, warm, caressing and strong.

In a night such as this, so full of sweetness – he sang – it seems as if grief did not exist. A little wind breathes, like a caress – just enough to move the grass and bring the flowers to bloom. His voice rose, both in tone and power, until it reached the top of his range; and then fell into a cradling weaving motion as delicate as the hands of a lover: “Ginny, if you are sleeping, please, dream that I am kissing you; and this song will sweeten your sleep, so tender, so quiet.” And then it rose again, speaking of the perfume of the spring flowers, rising along with his words until the trees claim them both.

And the song went on: Ginny, if this song disturbed you, I do beg your pardon. You cannot hold back love, beloved ladies; because to love you cannot be wrong. And if you are still sleeping, Ginny… The song rose and wove itself in the night air, till it died out like a star hiding itself.

And then Harry turned and left, walking away among the gravestones. Behind him remained a simple marble slab carved with the face of a beautiful red-haired young woman, and the words and numbers that would have said, even to someone who knew nothing of the war, that she had died much too soon. And in the buildings of Hogwarts just downwind, people started again to talk, and the older students told the younger ones who he was, and why he came to sing among the graves.


Note: the song in question is the magnificent Roman serenade, Nina, si voi dormite. Here it is on Youtube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yiW8uX2vzB4
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- The first chapter in the Adventures of Anastasio Attanasio -

When he was three, Anastasio Attanasio, fifth and last child of an old and famous wizarding familyRead more... )

A drabble

Jul. 8th, 2009 10:01 pm
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Dear Harry,
I hope the letter’s behaviour did not startle or disgust you. It is a little spell that Mother taught me – the exact opposite of a Howler. We call it “sealed with a kiss”.

Yours for life,

Dear Ginny,
I never mind being kissed by you – even by proxy and by a piece of enchanted paper. I only wish you could have enchanted it not to do so in my aunt’s presence.

Yours just as much,
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(Note: my thanks to my beta, [personal profile] wemyss)

Cathy - by F.P.Barbieri

“What makes Lord Voldemort powerful,” said Dumbledore thoughtfully, “is the way his followers use him as an excuse.”

Harry looked at him in bewildermentRead more... )
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A man and a boy sat on the roof of a great grey mansion that frowned like a harsh master over the small terraced houses that surrounded it on every side. The air was hot and sultry, a bitter unmoving summer sulk, hot and secret with the makings of a storm; a thick, low, grey wall of cloud hung closely above them; and the city stretched before them with its mass of lives, each little group withdrawn behind its veil of brick and glass.Read more... )
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The time was passing, and Harry was on tenterhooks.Read more... )
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I wrote this a year or two back, but I did not publish it until now because I had an idea of making it the first chaptered of a longer fic. However, my well-known problems with long fics have reared their ugly heads; so, for the present, I have decided to present it as it stands.
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…true enough, Headmaster. They tell a lot of stories about me. I let them talk. In days like these, it is much better to be feared than understood. Read more... )
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A crime to outlive him, part 9
By F.P.Barbieri

Part 9 – epilogue

“Wow,” said Hermione thoughtfully.

She was tempted Read more... )

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Part 8 - guilt

Harry Potter looked up and realized that the sky over Hogwarts had cleared.Read more... )
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Part 7 – The great oak

The hills that carve ancient Brittany are not high, but wild and lonelyRead more... )


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