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Entry #3

Discussion in 'Q4 2019' started by Xiph0, Nov 19, 2019.

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  1. Xiph0

    Xiph0 Yoda Admin

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    Violent Delights



    Andromeda could see now that this was a spectacularly stupid idea, and she clutched the drink in her hand as if it was the only thing that could protect her.

    It wasn’t crowded enough. The plan had been to hide in plain sight. But as she and Ted stood in robes and cloaks among Italian Muggles who were not at all in fancy dress as she’d expected and who had crowded beside the road to let parade floats rumble by, it was clear that the two of them were not remotely what would be considered “in hiding.” They were just in plain sight.

    They really should’ve gone to Venice instead.

    “This can’t be all there is,” she muttered quietly to him. “The Muggles have got to be off cavorting somewhere, at some bigger party.”

    It was strange to see apprehension in the eyes of Ted Tonks, who, as recently as a few hours ago, had nothing but confidence in their plan to flee to Verona.

    He swallowed and adjusted his grip on her freezing hand. “I think this is it.”

    The two of them ought to have done their research. Yes, there were plenty of people here in elaborate outfits, but the vast majority of them were in the parade, not the crowd. A horse-drawn carriage ambled by, carrying a group of people, and a young boy wearing a felt hat tossed a handful of confetti into the air. For a moment all Andromeda could see was a blur of white paper squares.

    “But, luckily,” he said, “this isn’t what we came here for.” He grinned and brushed some of the confetti out of her hair, and there he was again — optimistic to a fault. “But let’s hurry. And we should wear our masks.”

    “They’re looking at us like we’re mad,” she muttered, pulling the intricately painted mask over her face as Ted did the same.

    “Well, we bought the masks from their Muggle shops. So I don’t think we look mad, I think we just look like a couple of foreign wankers.”

    Andromeda’s lip twitched. It was true that the Muggles who were giving them curious looks simply seemed entertained, rather than bewildered. Perhaps it hadn’t been completely insane to assume that two young, giddy newlyweds could blend in wearing robes during Carnevale.

    “If anything, this,” he said, tapping the goblet in her hand, “is drawing more attention than anything else.”

    “Just let me have the things that make me feel better, Tonks.”

    Andromeda could hear muffled laughter behind his mask as he began pulling her through the crowd.

    She wasn’t exactly sure how the floats were rolling down the road, but the smells and sounds were similar to Muggle London’s motor cars. Music was blaring unnaturally loudly from places that Andromeda couldn’t detect. For every person in the parade or the crowd who looked like they were having fun, three others looked bored or cold. The weather in Verona today was depressingly British, and even many of the people who were larking about in fancy dress — cheap imitations of finery — had hidden their attire under drab jackets.

    This was Carnevale, the celebration of revelry and debauchery? She couldn’t even carry a drink without —

    There was a sudden jerk at her hand, and Ted collapsed in front of her.

    Andromeda’s scream emerged from her throat before she could stop herself. “Ted? Ted!” She fell to her knees, and luckily he appeared to still be conscious. She tucked her hand under his head, and he looked up at her.

    “Ah, now that’s not the ’Dromeda I know and love.” He laughed. “I prefer the woman who pretends not to know me when I fall over.”

    “I thought…” Her voice cracked. “I thought that they… ”

    “You thought one day I’d stop making an arse of myself? No, ’fraid this is the wizard you’ve pledged your life to.” He pulled the both of them up with a grunt. “Bloody pavement… ”

    “We have to get to the Porta Leoni now.” Her eyes darted across all the people who were giving them slightly alarmed looks since she’d screamed. “I don’t want to be out here, exposed, any longer. They’ve sent people after us, I’m certain of it...”

    “Well, where do you think I’m taking us? Come on, we’re almost there.”

    His voice was light, but Andromeda gripped his hand tighter and she began to lead the way herself. They’d been so reckless, so foolish, and it was going to get them both killed. The lie that had propelled them into this situation — that this risk was somehow important, somehow worthwhile — was beginning to break apart in her head. If Ted’s life was worth fighting for, the bravest thing she could’ve done in the midst of war was ignore him and let him fall in love with someone, anyone, else. What was romantic about putting an absolutely perfect person into a situation that could get him tortured and killed?

    He cleared his throat gently. “Turn left here.”

    “I know where we’re going,” she lied.

    “I know. I know you do.” After a pause, he added, “You weren’t scared enough to spill your drink, I noticed.”

    “Well.” She sniffed. “Not all of us stumble around like a Diricawl that’s been poorly transfigured into a person.”

    “Now, see, there’s the woman I fell in love with.”

    They turned a corner, and Andromeda finally spied the landmark they’d been seeking. An ancient Roman archway — built thousands of years ago and now bizarrely serving as the left wall to a kitschy gelato shop — loomed before them. The archway was crumbling and slightly dirty, but nonetheless awe-inspiring in its antiquity. It was no longer something you could walk through — anyone looking directly at it would simply see a solid wall on the other side.

    “So… how’s this supposed to this work?” Ted asked.

    “Follow me.” She crossed the street and approached the ruins. A thin black railing protected the archway from the public, but Andromeda easily swung her legs over it and hopped over to the other side, goblet still in hand.

    “The ground’s a bit lower on this side,” she said, looking up at the archway she was standing beneath, “so be careful you don’t stumble.”

    Ted made a derisive noise through his mask. “I think I can manage to jump a railing, thanks.” Still, Andromeda tried not to laugh as she watched him step as gingerly as possible, placing one foot carefully on the center bar before sitting on the top bar, then hooking one leg over it down to the center bar on the other side, before he was finally under the arch with her.

    “Better than the barrier at King’s Cross, that’s for sure,” he grumbled.

    Andromeda smiled at the memory. The first time she’d ever suggested to him that he might be the product of some ill-advised transfiguration was after she’d watched him crash head-on into the wrong wall at the station. It would’ve been a typical Slytherin’s encounter with a Hufflepuff, if Andromeda hadn’t been moved by a force she still didn’t fully understand to offer her hand and help him up with a smirk. That day had been the first time in her life she’d spent the journey to Hogwarts with someone other than her sisters.

    “Right. So.” Ted turned to Andromeda as they huddled under the archway. “You’ve still not answered my question. How’s this supposed to work?”

    She cleared her throat and clenched her eyes shut. “Tutte le strade conducono a Roma,” she whispered. She opened her eyes to see Ted looking around.

    “Er… was that meant to do something?” he said.

    “I don’t understand! That’s exactly what all the guidebooks tell you to say!”

    The corner of Ted’s mouth twitched. “I think your pronunciation’s a bit off.”

    “What?” she said, affronted. “No it isn’t!”

    He cleared his throat and repeated what she said, and the words did sound slightly different to her ears.

    Their surroundings changed with a sudden, jarring CRACK! and Andromeda gasped. The grey world they’d been in was suddenly replaced with one so vibrant that she could barely take in the scene before her.

    The noise hit her first. Andromeda had never before heard music and conversation drown each other out simultaneously. As people laughed and shouted over the accordions and mandolins, the players were somehow able to increase their volume, until people shrieked over the music, and the musicians met them in kind.

    She tried to make sense of the enormous courtyard and the blur of colors before her. Andromeda wondered if the wizards in Verona dressed in Renaissance attire every day, or if it was just for the occasion. Slowly, she tried to make sense of the details — the elaborate clothing and masks, confetti, fountains, puffs of smoke, the shop fronts that circled the courtyard.

    The crowd flowed and quivered and jerked and twitched — everyone was dancing, drinking, gesticulating, singing and shouting, all at once.

    Ted turned to her. “Is this the sort of cavorting you were looking for?” he asked, and she could hear his smile.

    Above the courtyard, an enormous cloud of colorful confetti exploded from out of nowhere, and the crowd cheered. Andromeda didn’t hesitate — she pulled back Ted's mask and her own, then drew him toward her and kissed him to savor the first moment in days she’d felt anything other than fear. From the moment they’d eloped and fled from Britain on broomsticks, a voice in her head had been screaming that she’d doomed them both. Learning how to sneak into wizarding Carnevale didn’t silence that voice entirely. But at least it paused for breath.

    *​

    Cent’ anni!” someone shouted, raising his goblet in a toast with his friends, and Andromeda stifled a gasp as red wine sloshed into the air and down her shoulder, soaking through her robes. The wizard turned with a semi-concerned laugh, his face partially obscured by a black Zanni mask. “Scusi. Scusi, signorina.” He offered a smile that seemed insidious beneath the enormous beak-like nose of his mask.

    He drew his wand, and Andromeda tensed. Ted pulled her back, but not before the wizard twisted his wand in an animated little spiral and tapped Andromeda’s sleeve to vanish the wine. “Scialla,” he said, laughing.

    Andromeda smiled weakly back as Ted tugged her away. “Right, cheers,” Ted said. “’Scuse us.”

    The crowd was pressing in on them from all directions, but Andromeda didn’t mind in the least. Wizarding Verona offered the most remarkable people-watching opportunities. She reached out her hand, unable to keep herself from grazing the stiff, starched neck ruff that a witch was wearing. The woman turned sharply — her face was painted a shimmering, startling shade of purple — and Andromeda stumbled back only to fall into another witch who had fresh flowers blooming from her robes and delicate phoenix feathers adorning her mask.

    “Sorry,” Andromeda gasped.

    People were sat all around the edge of an enormous stone fountain, and she and Ted squeezed into a cramped space. Occasional flecks of moisture dotted her arm as a group of witches shrieked and splashed several meters away, knee-deep in the water as they cackled their way through a tarantella dance.

    Ted pulled his mask back on, and Andromeda was happy to do the same. She needed something to hide her stupid grin as she watched these dazzling people contort their hands into shapes she’d never seen before to express a trillion different subtle messages as they talked, and the movements seemed to flow seamlessly from mere hand gestures into artful wand waving. The casting motions that people were using were unlike anything she’d seen in Flitwick’s class before — overly emphatic and complicated, downright labyrinthine. She found herself getting lost in the everyday magic people were performing.

    She jumped about a foot in the air as an enormous rabbit’s face entered her field of vision. A man clad in golden robes, who had likely transfigured his head, leaned down toward them and offered a plate of gnocchi.

    His ears and nose twitched in amusement as Ted and Andromeda stared, slightly horror-struck.

    “Er.” Ted fumbled in his pockets and brought out a collection of Italian wizarding coins. The rabbit-man shook his head, and Ted and Andromeda tentatively grabbed more food than they probably should have taken, before the strange wizard simply turned with a wink and left.

    Andromeda hadn’t realized just how famished she was. They both pulled back their masks again, devouring the gnocchi in seconds, and she was hit with a wave of exhaustion that she hadn’t allowed herself to feel since they’d arrived in Italy.

    “So, just to confirm, the plan is that we have no plan, correct?” she asked.

    Ted swallowed slowly. “We can pass out in the parks here. It happens all the time — people sleeping in the streets in wizarding Verona during Carnevale. It’ll be packed for days. That’s our plan — we lie low here, we figure out our next move. We just need to be on the move till the bastards get bored.”

    Her response caught in her throat, too bleak and unhelpful to say aloud: They’ll never get bored.

    Then Andromeda glanced up, and she stopped breathing. They hadn’t even had a moment to be afraid, hadn’t had a moment to flail helplessly, to wonder what could be done or how they could extract themselves from the doomed moment that they found themselves in now.

    Someone in black robes and an all-too-familiar bone-white mask was leaning in close to them, perversely touching Ted’s cheek. The Death Eater was close enough that Andromeda could tell he was a man — by his broad body, by the way he clasped both of their shoulders and leaned in. Ted’s hand twitched, and she fumbled to take it until she realized, foolishly, that Ted was going for his wand.

    “Tonks!” the man said, pulling off his mask. “Merlin’s leaking, flaccid knob, mate — I can’t believe you’re here!”

    Ted was paler than Andromeda had ever seen him before. “W… Warrington? Blimey, mate, what… what are you doing here?”

    “Same as you, I expect. Here on holiday! Nice to be out of school so we can see the world, isn’t it?”

    Ted winced as Warrington, who was clearly drunk, slapped Ted’s cheek good-naturedly. Warrington’s other hand was still painfully gripping Andromeda’s shoulder.

    He’d been in Hufflepuff, a year above Ted. Andromeda hadn’t known him to associate with anyone connected to the Dark Lord at all, and she began to doubt herself. The mask seemed awfully similar to the ones Death Eaters wore, but they weren’t particularly distinctive. It could just be a coincidence.

    "I've been following this group of witches and wizards around since I arrived two days ago." Warrington continued blathering on, wide-eyed and overly enthusiastic. "Truth be told, I'm not even completely certain they're Italian. I can't understand a single word out of their mouths, but they seem to like me. One of them's been carrying a wineskin everywhere he goes — a bloody wineskin! — and at this point I'm convinced it magically refills itself. And this witch, I carried her around on my shoulders all last night — Tonks, mate, she's got a friend, I could introduce you…"

    Ted was still deathly pale, but he shot Andromeda a look of bewildered amusement as Warrington continued to talk that so clearly said, “What is happening right now?" that her nerves got the better of her and she burst into manic giggles.

    Warrington stopped, confused, then grinned at the goblet she’d set down by her feet. “Having a good time yourself, I can see.”

    “Right. It was good seeing you, mate.” Ted’s shaking voice betrayed his light tone. “Best be off, we were actually just leaving…”

    Warrington’s face fell comically. “But today’s meant to be the most fun day, you can’t leave today!”

    “Places to go, people to see.”

    “Well, let me at least introduce you to my mates before you go,” Warrington said, waving to a group of people. A few of them waved enthusiastically and shouted back at him. Andromeda finally allowed herself to relax, but something caught her eye. A few paces from the group of friends stood a young witch, her back turned. The fabric of her black, pointed hat was fine and elegant, which contrasted starkly with the ragged tip of the point.

    A cat had chewed up the top of that hat a couple of years ago. Andromeda knew this, because it had been her cat.

    Andromeda grabbed Ted’s arm just as Bella turned and met her sister’s eyes. Bella pointed her wand at them with a look of crazed fury, and Andromeda twisted on the spot. Nothing happened.

    “Avada Kedavra!”

    Bella's curse was strong but her aim was not, and the stone fountain exploded. Dust and rubble filled the air, triggering a stampede as people screamed and ran.

    “Why can’t we Apparate?” Andromeda shouted, wild-eyed.

    “It’s either an existing charm or Bellatrix isn’t working alone,” Ted shouted back. “C’mon, we’ve got to — ”

    He seized up suddenly and fell like a rock.

    “Ted!” She crouched down to pull him up, and to her horror, she saw his wand levitate up, out of his robes and into the crowd. He looked up at her with wild eyes; his body had gone completely rigid. She took out her wand, but she was suddenly blasted back.

    Before Andromeda even hit the ground, she could already feel the Cruciatus Curse ripping through her body. Her screams mingled with her sister’s as Bella pointed her wand down at her.

    “Tell me he Imperiused you!” Bella’s voice was ragged. “Tell me you were kidnapped, tell me it’s not too late to save you!”

    Bella cast the same Unforgivable again, and another blazing round of pain pierced Andromeda’s body so acutely that she thought she might lose consciousness. Bella had the look of a loved one who was administering a searing Healing Charm that burned before it soothed, like she thought the Cruciatus might purify her corrupted sister.

    Andromeda’s limbs contorted in unnatural angles as she writhed on the ground, and she continued to twitch slightly even as Bella slowed the curse. Bella put her face in her hands and gave a horrible scream of agony that reverberated off the timeworn bricks around them. The crowds by the fountain were long gone; people were bottlenecked at the portal where Andromeda and Ted had arrived.

    Andromeda reached weakly for her wand on the ground, just a few inches away. But Bella gave a flick of her own wand and Andromeda’s wand flew into her free hand.

    “I’ll kill you first,” Bella said hoarsely as her eyes bored into her sister’s. Both of them were trembling. “I don’t even care about him. I’ll kill you first, because what you did was so much worse. Of course he wanted you, what Mudblood wouldn’t? You were the closest he would ever get to magic, you were perfect. But you just gave yourself to him like you were worth nothing.” Bella’s face was wet with tears. “And now you are worth nothing.”

    Andromeda, who was beginning to regain some of her strength, scrambled numbly to her feet. She didn’t even bother pleading, she knew it was useless. To Bella, she was already dead. All she could do was run, and she stumbled a few steps before her sister raised her wand.

    A sudden splash of a vibrant purple liquid drenched the side of Bella’s face suddenly, and she jerked towards the source. Ted dropped Andromeda’s goblet to the ground with a clang before flinging himself at Bellatrix. They scuffled on the ground briefly as Bella shrieked, both of them trying to gain control of her wand. But it was clear the drugs were quick, and a moment later, Bella stopped struggling. As her body slackened, unconscious, Ted pulled both his and Andromeda’s wands out of a pocket in Bella’s robes and got to his feet, breathing heavily.

    He turned to Andromeda with a stern look. “I don’t want you drinking that anymore. That stuff’s far too strong.” He took her hand and started walking briskly, pulling her down an alley.

    “I — I thought that — ” It felt like something was pressing on Andromeda’s lungs, and she was having trouble catching her breath. “I thought I might have trouble sleeping in a park.”

    “And haven’t you ever heard of a flask? I know wizards have them, I’ve seen Filch sneak sips all the time.”

    “Dreamless Sleep Potion can’t be covered or sealed up.” Andromeda was having trouble forming coherent thoughts and words about what had just happened, and she seized on the opportunity to talk about something simple, like Fourth Year Potions. “It has to breathe, otherwise it loses its potency. I — I don’t understand — how did you escape the Full Body Bind Curse?”

    “Someone nixed Bella’s spell and helped me up before they buggered off.” Ted gave a weak laugh. “Funny how it never occurs to your family that people might help us along the way.”

    Andromeda wasn’t sure whether Ted’s hand was shaking or if she was merely transferring her tremors to him. He looked at her out of the corner of his eye. “I’m sorry that you have to sleep in a park because of me,” he added softly.

    “Wait.” Andromeda blinked. “You can’t be thinking of staying here? Bella will wake up eventually, and what if there are others?”

    “No, no, I know. I’m just sorry for — for all — ” He grasped for the words, and Andromeda saw pain flicker briefly in his eyes. He shook his head. “Anyway, I’m not sure how we’ll leave. There’s a slight snag.” He pointed in the direction of the portal, where it seemed like the entire Carnevale crowd was still huddled. “Someone — likely Bellatrix — has magically blocked that entranceway. So we’ve got to find another way out of here, and quickly.”

    Andromeda bit her lip. “If it’s anything like Diagon Alley, there’s only one way in and one way out.”

    He swore. “Well, then, what have we got left? We ditched our brooms, and Apparition’s out… D’you reckon Italy has a Knight Bus?”

    “There is one more option.”

    Ted frowned. “Is there?”

    Andromeda glanced at a cluster of outdoor tables placed in the back garden of a small building. She approached it softly, then peered through the window to see what looked like a restaurant’s stockroom. It was completely dark. There was a fireplace in the corner.

    She pointed her wand at the window, and the glass vanished.

    “Floo powder,” she said to Ted.

    *​

    The two of them carefully climbed over a large wooden barrel as they stepped into the stockroom. Andromeda squinted through the darkness, carefully making her way past aisles of tall shelves, each one crammed with bottles, boxes and crates. Something was bubbling in a large black cauldron in the corner, and on the far end of the wall was a massive collection of dusty wine bottles.

    Andromeda continued towards the fireplace. Her gut twisted when she saw there was nothing on the mantlepiece — no fish bowl, no flower pot, no tarnished silver snuff box holding the glittering dust they needed for their freedom.

    Ted shot her a nervous look.

    “It must be around here somewhere,” she whispered stubbornly. “Wizards always have Floo powder by their fireplaces.”

    They began to scour the room as quietly as they could. They looked through any containers on the ground, large or small, and opened up little burlap pouches that were hung on hooks along the shelves. They gave up trying to read the Italian labels and simply began opening anything containing fine powder, hastily sniffing garlic, coriander, paprika.

    Andromeda felt her panic rising and started rummaging behind items on the shelves while Ted examined the area by the wine.

    “Andromeda…” he muttered. “Look at this.”

    She glanced across the room to see him holding a bottle in his hand. “This isn’t really the time to admire a fine Bordeaux, darling,” she said, frantically pushing aside a cluster of candles. Maybe this establishment was hiding their Floo powder for security reasons.

    He walked over to her and showed her the red wine. “All the labels look like this.”

    A handmade parchment label was affixed to the bottle, with some sparse, scribbled text. One line said: Salonicco, Grecia. And below that was an odd assortment of lengthy numbers: 40.651350, 22.961545

    She shook her head, frustrated. “I don’t understand. Why have you stopped looking?”

    “These numbers — they’re coordinates.”

    “Coordinates? But what could that —”

    “Andromeda. I think these wines are all Portkeys.”

    “Yes, I would have told you that by myself,” said an accented voice behind them, “if you had just come in the front door.”

    Ted and Andromeda whirled around to see an older wizard standing in the doorway with his wand pointed straight at them.

    “I wish you had not put me in this predicament,” he growled. He rolled his r’s slightly, wore a hat with a black feather in it, and had an airy white beard that quivered as he spoke. For some reason, it made Andromeda inexplicably nervous that he was wearing simple brown robes during Carnevale. “You are, I think, the reason for all this chaos today, no?”

    “We just want to get out of Verona,” Ted said, holding up his hands. “Just help us get out of your city, and the person who caused all this damage won’t have any reason to be here anymore.”

    “I think the fastest way to banish that person from my city would be to give up the people she wants,” the wizard said.

    Andromeda swallowed. Ted shot her a look of despair before he spoke up.

    “Then take me,” he said urgently. “It’s me they want. Just let my wife go. Please.”

    “Don’t be stupid, Ted… You heard what Bella said…” Andromeda closed her eyes. “It’s me they want. Let my husband go.”

    “Only Bellatrix wants you to suffer,” Ted said to her. “We both know what the Death Eaters really want, what You-Know-Who wants. They want to make an example of me. It’s me they want to kill.” Pain was flooding his eyes. “I’m the one who put you in this spot, ’Dromeda. You’d have a comfortable life if it wasn’t for me. I’ve… I’ve cursed you. So let me go.”

    Andromeda opened her mouth to protest, but the old wizard cut her off as he placed an empty wine glass in her hand. He gave a similar one to Ted, and the two of them looked up in confusion.

    The wizard sighed as he used his wand to uncork the bottle. “I did not say I would not help you,” he said gruffly. “I just said it would better for me if I did not. The Portkey will engage in a couple of minutes, now that I’ve opened the bottle.”

    Andromeda and Ted stared at each other while the wizard poured wine into Ted’s glass.

    “You’re not the first I’ve helped,” he said, gesturing to his wine collection. “These have aided many before you, many of them in more danger than you are in today.”

    “I don’t understand,” she said. “Why —?”

    “I happen to believe,” the wizard said as he filled her glass, “that love is a magic worth fighting for. I believe it conquers all.”

    Andromeda stared at him, dumbstruck. She gave an inadvertent laugh of disbelief.

    “Love conquers all?” she repeated, incredulous. “Love makes you conquerable. My husband is going to die because of me.”

    She felt phantom waves of pain briefly course through her, and she thought of Bella’s face.

    “’Dromeda.” Ted shot her a nervous look. “Let’s let the man help us — ”

    “I’ve painted a target on my husband’s back, just because I wanted him in my life,” she said, her voice shaking. “My sister is prepared to kill me because she thinks that I, a person who she deeply loves, is irredeemably ruined. Love propelled her after us. Ted could’ve survived this war if it weren’t for me, but now —”

    “Andi. Andi. My chances of surviving this war have always been slim.” Ted put his hands on her arms, the wine glass still in his hand. “I ought to have said ‘thanks but no thanks’ years ago to a war-torn society that wants me dead. It would’ve been the rational thing to do. But I’m a wizard; I’m not rational. I want this strange, mad, whimsical life of magic with you. And you want it too, admit it.”

    Andromeda wiped her face even as a softer round of tears started to fall. “The Blacks have never been known for their sanity.”

    “That’s never been clearer to me than it is right now.” He grinned at her, and she gave a weak laugh. He turned back to the wizard. “We haven’t talked you out of it now, have we?”

    “No.” He frowned, glancing between the two of them. “But it is strange that you tried.”

    “Ah, well, she’s been through a lot today.” Ted gave her a sad smile, and she took his hand. “What do you say, Andi? Cent’ anni? A hundred years?”

    He raised his glass, and their wines suddenly glowed silver.

    She clinked her glass against his, but not before she gave an exasperated groan. “You’re still not allowed to call me Andi, no matter how married we are.”

    Ted started to laugh, and it was the most magical thing she’d seen all day. They drank deeply and quickly, and with a sudden jerk, they were gone.
     
  2. BTT

    BTT Viol̀e͜n̛t͝ D̶e͡li͡g҉h̛t҉s̀ ~ Prestige ~

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    This was pretty good. You've definitely sold me on Ted and Andromeda being in love, for sure.

    I think it's worthy of comment that you've distanced yourself from canon both by setting it in a different place and a different time. The first is pretty clear, and you make use of it with Carnivale in Verona. (Even if I don't quite get why it's Verona and not Venice, especially if you draw attention to it in the story.)

    Still, I feel like the pacing was a bit weird, in terms of his role in the story. You do this odd thing with the tension where you ramp it up when Ted falls for the first time, which turns out to be nothing; when the weird costumed waiter shows up then he turns out to be harmless; then there's Warrington, who they freak out about but turns out to be mostly harmless; then Bella shows up and she is very much not harmless, if disabled by a single potion from Ted. I was expecting Warrington to be the one who freed Ted, but whoever that dude was is left up in the air. There's a few false starts before you get to the bit I was expecting from the beginning - them being found out.

    Other than that and your minor abuse of italics to convey shouting, though, I have no real complaints. Easy 4/5 from me.
     
  3. Shinysavage

    Shinysavage Madman With A Box ~ Prestige ~

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    First random comment out of the way - I was convinced that you'd made a massive error with Ted, or at least that this was an AU, because he's a Muggle; no, I just completely mis-remembered. So I've learned something today, if nothing else.

    Onto the actual story...this is definitely my favourite. The chemistry between Ted and Andromeda is great, their banter believable and charming while never feeling jarring against the more serious emotional moments later on. Well done. On which note, Andromeda's concerns about the relationship are a nice counterpoint to the similar yet different ones voiced by Remus in HBP/DH.

    The Carnevale scene is very impressive for the most part, but I felt I was relying more on my own memories of Verona and Venice to create the sense of place rather than it being conveyed by the writing; the party atmosphere comes across very well, but if I'd never been to Italy, I feel like I wouldn't really have had much to work with. However, the finer detail of the party and the characters, and the portkey shop were very nicely done.

    Technically, I think this is the best of the crop as well. No errors that I spotted, it's well written, and a good sense of character even from the minor ones like Warrington.
     
  4. Blorcyn

    Blorcyn Minister of Magic DLP Supporter DLP Silver Supporter

    Joined:
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    Protagonist:
    Andromeda Tonks is a fantastic example of a protagonist. I'd go so far as to say that I'll be referring to this as an example of how to do things well in fanfiction.

    She's likeable, she's well characterised and she's interesting. She's flawed. She's got an overwhelming goal and an incredibly obvious flaw. She's pushing forward and pulling back. She's utterly compelling. I care for her in five minutes more than I ever cared for Tonks in an entire series.

    Antagonist:
    Again, (and this is the theme of this review) you've shown how antagonism should be done right. Bellatrix is a super-strong death eater and fierce and violent and cruel. A lesser author would've played her as a mortal danger and call it a day. You don't do that. You show her pain, you show her motivations. You make her fierce and you make her only one part of the puzzle. Poor Andromeda is antagonised by everything. Everything you've placed in this perfect story is perfectly designed to stress her out. Every joy the product of something designed to push her to an ultimate conclusion, of embracing her love, and accepting that it was worth dying for.

    Plot and prompt-use:
    Simple, complex, elegant in context and emotionally messy for the characters. Incredibly well-paced, with twists and turns galore. Hurtling, head first for a conflict and a real 'whiff of death'. This is brilliant. This is aspirational. I absolutely love it. I didn't expect such a completely complete story in so little words as this. Further, you set it in Italy, and the culture comes across clearly. The faux carnival and then the magical. The divide is startling, the witchy behaviour canonical. You create that secret culture that JK intimated. These are the witches and wizards of the philosopher's stone. It felt positively medieval in a good way. The setting is vivid. Making a reader imagine a crowd is difficult, and in my head the street was packed. The imagery of the carnival and the fight were vivid and logistically well-co-ordinated. Everything you did, you excelled at.

    Theme:
    Built on Romeo and Juliet, your inspiration shows through. These two lovers from two rival camps. The resonance is there, the setting is there, the family difficulties are there. You come away believing the love of Andromeda and Mr. Tonks. I didn't even remember Mr. Tonks was a wizard before I read this, I had to go and double-check.

    Climax:
    I won't go on. Climax and resolution were great. The way Bellatrix was beaten by not expecting even a speck of human decency to a muggle-born, sensational. Small details building to a cohesive whole, and an old wizard facilitating their escape. In a short story, it didn't feel like ex-machina. It felt like a well-deserved endorsement of love's right to survive. A pleasant outcome for them.

    Dialogue:
    Love how this comes back as their little toast, and declaration of love.
    Love how this ends up being half the reason they're able to escape when I initially assumed to be alcohol.
    Your dialogue is, again, aspirational to me.

    The lines above absolutely sublimely characterise Andromeda and her relationship with Tonks sr. You make it clever, and you make it so that each line serves multiple story-purposes and sounds like a conversation. Neither of them is being straight-forward and explaining their motivations, but their concerns become all the more clear for their deflections. This feels like a relationship.

    Setting and narrative and Copy-edit and prose:
    Your prose is quick, well structured, not-purple and edible. There're no spare words, the style is masterful and the setting is full and vivid. I didn't spot egregious errors in punctuation or spelling or anything like that. Your grasp of structure and your ability to instil it into such little space and make it feel packed and quick and riotous is nothing less than exceptional.


    General Opinion:
    You even set it in Verona you salty sea-biscuit, you.

    Yeah, gonna have to give this a 1/5...
    In terms of how critical my review is and what it offers for you to improve on. I view this piece as an education that you were kind enough to offer us. I'd love to know who you are and read your other stuff.

    Inspiring, aspirational stuff.
     
  5. Sorrows

    Sorrows Queen of the Flamingos Moderator DLP Gold Supporter

    Joined:
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    I've always thought Ted and Andromeda had a story worth reading, (or writing.) This was a fine example why. You made something special here

    You use the setting really well. It took me till the end to get why it was set in Verona when Venice seems like such a magical setting but fair play. I like the contrast between the muggle and magical carnivals. I do think the actual setting was a little under described.

    The little touches of Italian wove in nicely, particularly cent’ anni, and the way it circled around to Andromeda's main dilemma.

    The relationship at the heart of this is beautifully realised. I cared about what happened to these two because you got me invested in them remarkedly quickly. Most of this is down to their banter, which is sweet and loving.

    Criticisms

    There arn't many. I found the pacing quite uneven. The original fake-outs highlighted Andromeda's anxiety but it also ment when Bellatrix caught up to them there wasn't too much time to focus on her and she was dispatched very quickly. It is a shame as she is well realised and her motivations compelling.

    The dispatch method was also a bit illogical. It was well telegraphed to be sure, but I am not sure why Andromeda would decide to take Dreamless Sleep when sleeping in the open and actively being hunted by death eaters. I'm also no sure why she would carry it in a goblet rather than something less spillible and why she would neglect to tell Ted what it was.

    I found the fact they had zero plan strange. There is a limited word count to be sure, but it feels like if they had no plan it would be because a) the original plan was disrupted, or b) there relationship was found out and they had to leave in a hurry. Giving this elopment a little more footing would have been nice

    Overall this is one of my favourites. If you haven't written a full story yet, you should.
     
  6. Halt

    Halt 1/3 of the Note Bros. Moderator

    Joined:
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    This was a bloody good read.

    Ted and Andromeda being married and in love was not only believable, but you've written their relationship to be almost aspirational. Something people (in the real world) should not only admire, but actively emulate. I feel that needs to be called out because that's a terribly difficult thing to do across all mediums and I applaud you for it. Their chemistry (especially, but not limited to their back and forth) was particularly charming.

    Andromeda was extremely likable here. I was instantly invested in her and she's compelling in a way few characters in canon are. That you managed all this in so short a piece is impressive.

    In terms of culture, you really nailed it here. Setting it in a different time and place works very well, and the Carnivale was quite distinctive in my head despite having never been to Italy. The festive atmosphere of everyone around them contrasted nicely with their inner tension of being found out.

    This is easily my favorite entry this competition.

    I also liked some of your ideas for magic here, especially the wine bottles as portkeys. That was clever---up there with last quarter's nail polish designs.

    Very competent technical writing, no complaints from me.
     
  7. Ched

    Ched Da Trek Moderator DLP Supporter ⭐⭐

    Joined:
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    8,072
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    Andromeda and Ted in Italy, sounds fun!

    I'm immediately curious as to what's going on here. They're dressed as Wizards but in a Muggle area at a parade, and they're surprised that there isn't more going on. That in itself raises a lot of questions - Ted is muggleborn, so whatever it is surprises him as well, and they're dressed as wizards in a muggle area attempting to hide.

    Oooh, Carnevale, and newlyweds implies this was the past, so... yeah, alright, this is fun. But then we go from fun newlyweds on vacation to Ted falling over, and see how stressed Andromeda really is beneath it all.

    I like that Tonks got her clumsiness from her dad. Great touch, that.

    Good mix of anxiety and humor in the pacing so far. Feels realistic, like two people out to have fun but also stressed and aware that danger might appear. The way the story alternates but genuine fun (the couple) to real fear (from Andromeda) is tantalizing and makes my head spin in a good way as we find out she's over-reacting to most things but then... what if next time it's real?

    And then it is real - with Bella's appearance - and yet something about the pacing here frustrated me. I loved how sudden the onset of violence was, but I feel we needed another line of description or action before the "Why can't we apparate?" because... it's like the stone fountain exploded, other people screamed and ran, but Andromeda and Ted just stand there and muse on the fact that they can't apparate. Their reaction is missing, I feel.

    The GOBLET was full of Dreamless Sleep? Feels odd, but at least you explained that it can't be bottled/covered up or it loses potency. That's a neat idea. It didn't need to be swallowed though to work?

    Neat idea here, with the wine ITSELF being the portkey. So anyone who shares the bottle gets ported somewhere else. Good OC there too, in the wise old winemaker helping them sort their emotions.

    Fun story. I like. Not sure what else to say.
     
  8. FitzDizzyspells

    FitzDizzyspells Fifth Year DLP Supporter ⭐⭐

    Joined:
    Dec 4, 2018
    Messages:
    142
    Hm. I’m not sure how to feel about this story. There were some good, creative ideas here, but the story is ultimately overshadowed by several flaws.

    Your world-building isn’t strong enough. The prompt was foreign magical regions set outside Britain, but I'm only counting ~16 paragraphs that actually have to do with wizarding Verona. Let me put it this way: Imagine if Andromeda and Ted had had an ally that guided them through wizarding Verona, who kept them safe, and who simultaneously introduced them to this delightful community. Imagine the traditions your newlyweds could’ve learned about, the homes they could’ve entered, the families they could’ve met. You’ve built this extraordinary little secret Italian borough, but you didn’t explore it at all. It makes me a little wistful.

    There's not much magic in here, either. There's the (pretty straightforward) magic portal, we see a wizard vanish the wine from Andromeda's robes, we see some unsettling human transfiguration, we see a couple Unforgivables, and we see Andromeda vanish the window. At least you ended the story with the Portkey wines -- that was a nice touch that finally made it feel magical in a last-minute way.

    Second, major flaw: Okay, so…. is this a story about the destructive power of love? Because you touch on that theme in such a brief, fleeting way that you’ll miss it if you blink. The Romeo and Juliet allusions only glaringly point out that Shakespeare made that point much more effectively than you did. The minute Andromeda’s anxieties swell into a monologue (a clunky one, IMO), you almost immediately cut her off and tell her, “Stop stop stop stop, love conquers all, now kiss!” If you actually believe that love is a good thing, then ffs give Ted a better counter-argument. It’s one paragraph! And then she’s suddenly on board?? How?? If Ted wants to truly convince Andromeda that what they’re doing is worth the risk, he really needs to earn her conviction, and in the end… does he, really? IMHO, he doesn’t.

    Also, if I were you, I would reexamine the story’s outline and rework the odd pacing. The rhythm is… strange. The story starts out slow, then the action accelerates and resolves way too suddenly, then abruptly veers off into a side quest. Try to overhaul the beats if you can.

    For example: Where, exactly, is the climax? Do you have... two? (nice) At first, it feels like the climax should be Bellatrix’s attack, but our star-crossed lovers get over that jarringly quickly and jump right into another plotline. Is the climax Andromeda’s speech? Is it Ted’s? Because, as I said, neither speech packs the punch that I think the author is aiming for.

    Here are some more issues I have, big and small:

    • I can’t really hear Ted’s accent in this story. I’m willing to bet Nymphadora Tonks got “wotcher” from her father, but I’m not hearing that regional voice. Your Ted has a general informalness to him, which is nice, but in some lines he sounds as formal as Andromeda does, so be careful. If you go back and read Ted’s scenes in DH, you’ll see that — in just a few pages — JKR expertly gives him this voice that’s somewhere between working-class and middle-class. It’s casual but straightforward, warm but firm, and I’m not always hearing that here.

    • I’m not entirely sure why you’re forcing A and T into masks. I mean, c’mon… masks? Is this couple a witch and wizard or not? They have human transfiguration, Polyjuice Potion, and Concealment Charms at their disposal, so why the hell are they relying on masks (which, jesus, they are annoyingly terrible about putting on, and taking off, and putting back on, and taking off again, before the masks just suddenly disappear entirely) for camouflage? You also describe some of Ted’s facial expressions when he’s supposed to be wearing a mask, which is literally impossible for Andromeda to see.

    • You’re using the words “sudden” and “suddenly” too often as a crutch for shifts in action. I just did a Ctrl+F — nine times in 5,000 words is too much.

    • Also, it really bothers me that A and T never thank the old wizard for helping them and for not turning them in. I mean, when a god from the machine enters your life, the least you can do is say thank you.

    • It nagged me that the passphrase at the Porta Leoni was in Italian and not the original Latin, which would’ve given it more of an old-world feel befitting the wizarding world.

    • I was surprised Bellatrix didn’t mention a love potion when she was desperately rattling off possible things that Ted might’ve done to force Andromeda into this situation.

    • You have the Portkey wines glow silver, but in canon, Portkeys glow bright blue. Ironically, you would know this if you had carefully read the DH scene where Harry meets Andromeda and Ted Tonks.

    All that being said, I did enjoy this story, and I do think you have something special here. You should definitely put in the effort to fix these flaws so you can execute these ideas in a way that works.
     
  9. Niez

    Niez Slug Club Member

    Joined:
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    Hello :)
    Well crafted. Good theme, solidly written, appropriate use of the prompt. The issues I have with it are minor, and honestly I only touch on them because otherwise I would have nothing to say but 'good job', and that's against the rules.

    First of all, props for that cheekiness, bordering on pretentiousness. Verona, Carnival, star crossed lovers, Violent delights? My, my. I can appreciate it. I do think you go slightly overboard with the drama at times, however. This bit in particularly;

    Then take me,” he said urgently. “It’s me they want. Just let my wife go. Please.”

    “Don’t be stupid, Ted… You heard what Bella said…” Andromeda closed her eyes. “It’s me they want. Let my husband go.”

    “Only Bellatrix wants you to suffer,” Ted said to her. “We both know what the Death Eaters really want, what You-Know-Who wants. They want to make an example of me. It’s me they want to kill.” Pain was flooding his eyes. “I’m the one who put you in this spot, ’Dromeda. You’d have a comfortable life if it wasn’t for me. I’ve… I’ve cursed you. So let me go.”

    It almost reads as a parody of the 'I'd die for you' 'no, I'd die for you more!' trope often found in fiction. I understand this may be intentional, but dramatics play better on the stage than on a fanfiction story, so I'd suggest being a tad more subtle - at least on this snippet.

    I am happy, once more, to say that the entry was almost flawless in terms of grammar and obvious typos, something that it's always nice to see. Your ‘key moments’ could perhaps be improved, however. You don't really sell Bella appearing in the middle of the crowd and casting unforgivables as the truly shocking and frightening thing that it should be. Yeah, ok, it 'triggers an stampede' but this short description is really lacking in terms of setting, and more importantly, selling the scene. Where is Andromeda's overwhelming panic, that moment where your limbs freeze and anxiety becomes almost a foreign being in your chest? Where is the mass of bodies colliding against each other in their retreat at the flash of that sickly green light, moving in between the two lovers, or perhaps even pushing Andromeda further away from her husband's prone body? That sort of thing (perhaps written better) I think is required for realism, as well as the presence or at least one or two security guards, calling for calm and trying to figure out what exactly is going on, against the screams and shouts, and the occasional bang of failed apparition. Describe the chaos is perhaps what I'm trying to say, instead of merely putting it to one side to focus on the confrontation between sisters. Also, I have to say that Andromeda takes the Cruciatus like a champ. Harry wants to die the first time he is subjected to it, and we all know he has a high-pain threshold the lad.

    As an aside, I noticed a recurrent use of dashes. I'm not suggesting an overuse, God forbid, but I did indeed noticed their presence, whereas usually I don’t, so perhaps you'll find that useful.

    Lastly, the ending feels a bit abrupt. Maybe you wanted to play on the poison in the play (was it also in a bottle of wine - I don't recall), perhaps trying to make the reader think that the wine wasn't a portkey after all, and that the two lovers are about to bite it. Alas we know from the books that Andromeda has a child, meaning that the ending was always known. I'm just not sure exactly what we get out of the whole thing, other than the Blacks took more drastic actions against Andromeda's perceived betrayal than just removing her from their tapestry, and of course, that the pair of young ones are - as all newlywed couples - very much in love and also a bit foolish.

    In any case, by its theme and use of the prompt, boldness (cheekiness) and execution it really deserves a 5. I will give it a 4.5/5 because I’m a twat and because those little details I mentioned. Well done madam (or sir, I suppose) for writing a very good snippet. Hopefully we'll see more of it in the future, toodles and all that good stuff.

    EDIT/PS: It's almost cute how you can immediately tell who wrote it just by their review. Unfair criticism is a far bigger giveaway than unwarranted praise, you silly goose you.
     
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