Welcome one, welcome all, to the second weekly Anne B. Walsh Fiction Friday! The selection I have prepared for you today comes from my Legendbreakers universe, and will probably be expanded into a larger story at some point. Its title is the same as that of the blog post, though it means something a bit different than usual...
In any case, today's story is longer than last week's, clocking in at 1000 words, right at the limit for a flash fiction or short-short story (both terms can apply). And if you want to leave a comment, please note that it has to go through moderation, which means it will NOT appear right away. With that sorted out, please enjoy the story!
Banners snapped in the warm summer breeze as the hum and buzz of chatter rose above the heads of the crowd in their eclectic costumes, lining up to pass through the gates of the kingdom. Gold and black shirts with chevron badges brushed against hardened leather armor, peace-tied katanas clinked companionable handles with unpowered laser swords, shields of every shape and design shot reflected rays of sunlight into unguarded eyes from across the parking lot. The Crossing Timestreams Weekend at the Lancaster Area Renaissance Festival was off to a rousing start.
Near the back of the crowd, a little boy sat on his father's shoulders, squirming with excitement. He and both his parents wore robes of basic black, though his mother's were crisp and spotless, tailored with exquisite exactness to her slim figure, while his father's were loose and stained in several places with unknown liquids, as well as being rather scorched about the cuff. Though the day was comfortably warm, the little boy had added to his own outfit an incredibly large moleskin overcoat, and the dark hair he had inherited from his father was artfully dampened and disarranged.
"There she is—I mean, there he is, Mummy!" he half-whispered as a particular figure came into view with the movement of the crowd. "Can I go and do it now, can I, please, please, can I?"
His mother raised one blonde eyebrow. "Your legs have not stopped working, so you can..."
"May I," the little boy corrected himself, not without a much-put-upon glance towards his father, who squeezed his son's leg lightly in sympathy. "May I go and do it now?"
"Yes, you may." His mother lifted him down to the ground, and the boy hoisted up the coat behind him and sped off.
"Colin!" he shouted towards the slender person in robes similar to his own, though with a rampant-lion patch in crimson and gold over the heart, who was currently snapping a photo of a group in glorious royal regalia with an enormous and old-fashioned camera. "Colin, Colin, guess what happened to me! Guess what, guess what!"
The person so addressed turned silvery eyes full of astonishment onto the speaker. "Dennis? What are you doing here? And how come your hair's all wet?"
"Because!" The little boy latched onto one slender, middling-brown hand with both his own, which were rather paler despite their summer's tan. "I was in the boat and I lost my balance and I fell out into the lake! And then something scooped me up and put me back in! It looked like a tentacle!"
"Oooh!" Colin, for so this person's name seemed to be (though the hips under the robes were rather wide and the chest against which the camera hung interestingly curved for such a name), squeezed the offered hands. "Do you know what it was, Dennis?"
Dennis shook his head hard. "Tell me, tell me, tell me!"
"It was..." Colin leaned in close to impart the thrilling truth. "...the giant squid!"
The pair shared a brief squeal of excitement over this, then sped off together through the gates, babbling at each other with glee. The boy's mother laughed indulgently, while his father simply shook his head, and together the two strolled forward to the ticket-takers themselves, presenting their own admission passes along with their son's.
Just inside the gates, a group of young men in similar black robes to those Colin and Dennis had worn were staring in the direction the two had bolted. The tall, gangly redhead seemed to be losing his fight not to guffaw, while the round-faced young man beside him, a ruby-hilted silver sword lashed into a scabbard across his back, had a diplomatic hand across his mouth. The fairest-complected member of the group, and the only one with a different patch on his robes (a coiled serpent of silver, rearing proudly against a field of green), wasn't bothering to cover anything, hooting in open amusement at the horrified look on the fourth young man's face. By his skin tone and features, this last member of the group was some relation to the person called Colin, though where Colin's eyes were the shade of the serpentine figure, this young man's could have been used as a match for the background.
The redhead was the first to see the visitors approaching, and coughed, drawing his friends' attention. The fair young man, turning, caught the woman's eye and choked on his laughter. "Sorry, Mother," he muttered, flushing brilliant pink.
"As you should be," said the woman tartly. "I taught you better than that."
"Well, judging by the outcome, you may have tried, but it didn't make much difference..." The blond boy shrugged. "Eh. Water under the bridge, or past the common room windows, as the case may be."
"Indeed." The woman slid her arm into her husband's grasp and turned her attention to the green-eyed young man, who was glaring at them. "Can we help you?" she inquired.
"What," demanded Harry Potter, gesturing in the direction where Colin and Dennis Creevey had vanished into the depths of the Festival, "did I ever do to you?"
Severus Snape looked down his nose at the younger man, drawing Narcissa Black's arm more closely through his. "You mean other than existing?" he asked coolly, drawing snickers from Ron Weasley, Neville Longbottom, and Draco Malfoy. "We can enumerate your crimes later, Potter. At the moment, I wish to enjoy my festival day with—"
"Excuse me," said a voice, making the whole group start. A young woman in jeans and a T-shirt smiled shyly at them, holding up a cell phone. "Your costumes are amazing. Can I get a picture? Please?"
"Of course," said Narcissa before anyone could object. "Behave yourself," she hissed at her scowling husband. "Those who look at the photograph will see only Severus Snape. They will not see you."
"Not anymore," murmured Draco under his breath.
Narcissa reached around to administer a maternal swat before the group dutifully posed.