The second and (in my opinion) weakest of the preludes. This is from my short-lived Harry Potter fanfiction project to reimagine the world as if the two worlds (wizarding and muggle) were more aware of each other and interacted more. This particular prelude was the least fun to write, even if I did like the character and wanted to revisit him when I got to the story proper. This, more than preludes 1 and 3, was written as a set piece. It set up the world and built upon what prelude 1 established, but didn’t have much “oomph” of its own. As usual with the Bits-n-Bobbles Tuesday posts this is largely unedited, so take it with a grain of salt…
Excerpted from the memoirs of Robert Bailey…
I remember that morning fondly. It was a briskly cool spring morning, with a cool breeze wafting in over the Ocean a scant mile away. The green of spring rose defiantly against the dark and brooding stones that clung closely to the shore, as if trying to escape from the lush beauty of the fields that defied them. A small platform had been constructed on those fields, draped in the reds, blues and golds of the nation of Abenbaring. Scattered around the area were a small battalion of news vans, with their respective reporters and their camermen milling about in the small encampment that had been formed. They were all there for Human Interest stories, and they knew it. None expected there to be anything of real import here. Another War Memorial, used to boost the image of a nation feeling fragile. Granted, Abenbaring was a young nation, and founded on dark pretenses, but it was simply more pomp and circumstance. I noted that a small group of people near the edge of this wagon circle refused to join the circle. I could only guess that they were some of the family members that would be memorialized today.
I had worked for the Daily Prophet for barely more than a year by that point. Their first “Muggle” reporter ever. They all seemed decent enough folks, but they hadn’t yet gotten the memo that us “Muggles” didn’t appreciate a term that only stressed how inferior many of their wizards thought us. I argued for months before heading to Abenbaring with my editor, and I finally convinced her to acquiesce. This story would be the first to come from “Robert Bailey, Reporter” instead of “Robert Bailey, Muggle Correspondent.” Thus, I was probably far more excited to stand there, with the cool wind to my back and my fingers poised for the speech to come, than many of my compatriots.
I checked my watch frequently in those final minutes. Ten minutes to go. Five minutes left. One more minute. A minute late. Then, after four minutes of slowly building grumbling from the assembled reporters, with a crack and flash, three figures appeared on the stage. I could not help but roll my eyes at the overly dramatic entrance, I quickly recalled my duty to note what stood before , an young man in a dark cloak was clearly there as a guard. His intimidating form stood stock still by the side of his mistress. He eyed the audience with a grimace, before crossing his arms and grunting in annoyance. It didn’t take a psychologist to know that he did not feel any of this was necessary or worthwhile. To the left side of the stage, stood an older man in a neatly tailored suit looking distinctly queasy. I remembered him from my history books, one of the first mundanes to join the government of Abenbaring. In fact, he was a former Nazi soldier who had defected to join the Dark Wizard Grindelwald thirty-five years earlier. He had since risen to lead the nation’s parliament as their current Prime Minister. From what some of the local reporters had said, this whole ceremony may have been his idea, though I’ve never since found any proof of this.
Finally, standing in the center of the platform, behind a small dais, was a middle-aged woman standing proudly. Guiden VanTassel wore a modest, maroon dress covered by an elegant deep purple cloak. She stood there calmly, viewing her audience with pair of eyes that were uniquely her own. One eye, a dark brown, seemed to burn like an old coal, remnants of a roaring fire long extinguished. The other, a bright and clean green, seemed to sparkle with wonders that only she could see, a bright future to come. Her party would have you believe that her eyes literally saw the horrors of the past and the wonders of the future simultaneously, granting her wisdom and passion both, but I doubt few took such talk seriously. She calmly cleared her throat and pulled out a finely carved, jet-black wand from within her cloak and pointed it calmly at her own throat. When she cleared her throat once again, it sounded as if she stood right next to me as she did of the more useful tricks I had seen amongst wizards, made it so much easier to hear what people said in these public speeches.
“Welcome, ladies and gentlemen, members of the press and the families of the men who died here thirty-five years ago on this very spot. We are here to mark our rememberence of those past events, which helped shape the world we live in today. The very course of history was forever changed when a bold and foolish man declared himself a god on these fields, and many noble young men died that day. It is these heroes that we are here to honor. I…” She paused for a moment, and glanced out towards the sea, and I noted that her eyes flashed with uncertainty. I was already preparing a note that she had forgotten her speech, so I could respectfully spin it later, when she began to speak once more.
“These fields, gripped in a winter that refused to let go, bore witness to a terrible tragedy. Young men, unknowing, faced against forces they could never have imagined. A vicious man and his unwitting army, an army of scared and intimidated soldiers, no different then the courageous young men who defied their master. They lacked the strength to defy Grindelwald, with all their mystic strength, when a few dozen men with no power but what they carried in their hearts stood against him.” She looked somber, and the shocked expressions on her companions made it quite clear that she had deviated from her prepared speech. These words were her own.
“These young men had a power that none of those wizards could muster, and many still do not. The world is in a period of unrest. The world that was born on these fields all those years ago is now facing growing pains. Far from here, in the heart of America, a legion of young men and women war amongst themselves, black and white robes clashing over the purity of their nation. In the heart of Africa, wizards who have never faced the discrimination of their mundane bretheren now rise to claim the mantle of leadership from the remnants of European colonists, only to find themselves attacked and tortured by white wizards who refuse to leave. Communists and Witches have united in Vietnam to turn the battlefields there red with blood. Across that very sea,” she gestured to the ocean which seemed to roil in response. “A war rages between a fool who does not see the horrors wrought by Grindelwald, or the terror he causes in that man’s name, and a terrified populace that suffers under his rebellion. In each place, the virtuous cringe away in fear, unwilling to stand against the terrible darkness that has descended upon this world. A veil of shadow descends upon us now, and we do not see it. If no one stands against these atrocities, then the terrible world that Grindelwald promised on these fields all those years ago will come to pass. If we allow this to happen, then we are no better then the men and women who killed in the name of terror in this place and we do a great disservice to the courage and strength of those men.”
She stopped and took a deep breath, composing herself after having been lost in her passion for that brief moment. The audience stood in silence, enraptured by the moment of real passion that had bled through the pomp and circumstance. Some of us already knew, on that cool morning in April, that we had just bore witness to our generation’s call to action. Soon, her words would be compared to Churchill’s Iron Curtain, or Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation. However, in that moment, we didn’t think of any of that, instead we waited patiently for her to speak again, and bring us back from the heights she had driven us.
“Now, today, we unveil a monument to those men. Those men who shall inspire new heroes, to deal with this rising darkness.” She reached behind her, and pulled down the sheet that had, until now, obscured the monument beneath it. It stood tall, nearly ten feet, and featured a young soldier, in ambiguous fatigues that bore no national insignia. The soldier stood tall and proud, a look of clear defiance marking his features. Beneath him, a plaque bearing a dedication. She took a deep breathe and finished her speech, “May this monument stand as a lightning rod for the heroes of the modern age.”
With those words, the Guiden stepped down from the dais and took a deep breath. Her Prime Minister started to walk towards her, clearly wanting to speak with her about what she said, but with a crack and pop, she disappeared before he could utter a word. Silently, the large man grabbed ahold of the older man’s arm and they too disappeared.
Hours passed, and slowly the reporters began to depart, as did the families. None seemed sure of what they had just heard, and many left with the expression of someone still processing what they had witnessed. I just stood there, staring at the monument. I barely noticed when the workers arrived to dismantle the stage. All I could think of was the chaos that I had left at home, the war that my own newspaper refused to talk about if it could avoid it, out of fear. I stood there, staring at the words etched on to the plaque, and I knew I couldn’t write my simple Human Interest story, not anymore. I needed to defy that man, the man with no name, Voldemort. I would write about this day, no doubt, but I would also write about that terrible man and how he needed to be stopped. I would take these words to heart and I would tell others of what I had heard and seen. I would remember what that plaque read:
IN MEMORY OF THOSE SOLDIERS
WHO DIED HERE ON MAY 4, 1945
YOUR SACRIFICE BROUGHT
LIGHT TO THIS WORLD