In which John discovers very au-crack!
The room is cavernous and he can tell the walls are cold stone despite the tapestries and carpets, despite the desk with the magical quill and fine parchment. It had written across the paper: No real people admitted
. John looks up from the paper a little disappointed. He had really wanted to go to school again. He could have been quiet, free to study, investigate ideas with others, had a stable place to rest, perhaps teach in time. He had always valued education, loved to speak to those who wanted to learn.
The questions seem... odd. But he lingers a moment longer to consider how he would
Cheese. What kind of cheese did he like? Mild cheese, soft, with fruit or cut on crackers. Hard sharp cheese grated on vegetables. Pineapple cheese, rich and creamy. What kind does he like best
? He remembers when he had been a boy, on the porch with a cake plate of cheese curds, squeaking them in his teeth. It did not really work, but Robert had told him it was a feature of cheese curds. They were a treat from the world of the poor who lived in the hollow, given to his mother when she had aided them in some trouble about which he had not been told. Perhaps that was the time he had enjoyed cheese the most.
Would he kill Barney or Carrot-top first? He casts his mind back. He cannot come up with a single 'Barney' or 'Carrot-top' who was a viable target - neither outlaw nor child from his school-days, as the latter appellation suggested. He has no difficulties with murder, he thinks, but he would have to have a reason from someone he respects, and preferably a warrant. There will be no repeat of the Stillwell fiasco. Even then, the question asks which he would kill first
. He needs more information to answer the question, he decides.
The time? He takes out his pocket watch. It reads three minutes to ten. In the morning
. He is up uncharacteristically early and frowns.If you were Albus Dumbledore returned from the dead, which member of the Order of the Phoenix would you sexually harass? How would you harass them? If you are Albus Dumbledore, please answer as if you were Sirius Black.
He leaves this for the moment. The Dumbledore of whom he has heard would never harass anyone. As for Sirius... John doesn't know, but that is not the question.
For Slytherin he must name a bar. The Holliday Saloon, which he had actually named his bar, had been neither clever nor witty, but obvious. John badly wants to have been assigned to Slytherin. A bar name... Apparently someone had already considered 'The Order.' Bar Sinister.
For Gryffindor he must answer whether Harry should marry Fred or George? What an odd question - perhaps the most odd of the collection. While John doesn't actually know any of them, he knows of them by reputation. He had not been aware Harry had been sweet on either of the twins. He tries to remember what Mr. Vardenoe had said about twins in mythology. They were not two people but one, manifesting different aspects of one another. He had not elaborated, but John thinks of Romulus and Remus, Castor and Pollux and the Irish Nissyen and Evnissyen. It makes no difference which Harry marries. John is not particularly interested in the fact Harry is considering marrying a man. He himself never cares about what a person is, but who he is. He is an original thinker for his time and place. The revaluation of all values, Nietzsche had said. Gryffindor was Remus' House, but John could only approach it warily.
To be in Ravenclaw John must offer paperwork advice. He hates paperwork, and had chafed annoyed in George's drygoods store in Atlanta where, though he strove for politeness and hard work, he had occasionally lost his temper in impatience. He didn't like
it, though he had been grateful to have work before he went to school. He does want to be in Ravenclaw, however, after Slytherin. He believes in Education, Diligence, Study. All one can do, he thinks, is to begin on the papers and work steadily and accurately until they are finished. He has no pert answer.
He laughs at the Hufflepuff question - 'Prove you are not useless' - thinking of his diploma for dentistry, his awards in Texas, Wyatt's words about his shooting and card skills, the times he had stood by Wyatt when he needed him, the money he has won, the men he has killed. He excels at anything he undertakes, and he remembers Adele's words that he had proved himself 'not only once but again and again.' Whatever he is, he is not useless.
There is no need to address the issue of bribes, which strikes him as corrupt in any case. He may not join the school.
He returns to the bemusing query about Dumbledore. Sexually Harass? It is not a term he knows but, unlike many, it is easy to guess. He knows all about harassment and can easily add the concept of 'sexual,' though to him it also applies to the now-expected practice of acknowledging a lady's presence before being formally introduced. He thinks of the Order members he knows. Dumbledore?
It is unthinkable.
There is a faint soft bumping noise at the other side of the desk. A small fluff of cotton appears. Then a child's drawing of a face on what appears to be a soft toy, then more cotton, apparently representing a beard over some fuschia fabric. It is animated and at length a wrist shows between the strange little creation and the table.
bledore!" It proclaims, then bounces and swings back and forth. It has small stuffed arms with which it smacks itself in the chest and back. It speaks in a slightly squeaky, purposely childish voice, "Why is it unthinkable? There's never harassment for me! Never!"
John draws back a little, not quite alarmed but certainly mystified and inclined to disapprove, strongly. There had been no one behind the desk when he had entered, he knew. There was nowhere to hide. He doesn't speak, waiting for further events.
"Maybe you could harass me a little. Just a little?" The voice is not only childish but wheedling. "All kinds of harassment going on, but not for... Dum
"You aren't Dumbldore." John is certain. "And I have never sexually harassed anyone in my life. Not only is the thought repugnant, I wouldn't know where to begin."
Despite there being no
hint of invitation in John's words, which rang of finality, the figure disappeared for a moment and reappeared with a plain pink tubular puppet body. "Naked Time!" It squeaked, apparently hopefully.
John was speechless.
"Come on, harass me! No one ever thinks I will sexually harass Order members, but secretly I want them to harass me
. The question wouldn't be
there I wouldn't, if I didn't want
it. " It begged. It moved closer, towards the side of the desk.
But the arm extended, the strange little figure actually reaching him. "Do I have to Bother
you?" It bumped up against his arm, rubbed itself against him. It swung its arms against John. "Bother bother bother!"