Harry Potter 8: Contest and Giveaway

West of the Moon

[NB: Deadline extended to 4/4.]

If you follow pub regular Katherine Langrish’s wonderful blog Seven Miles of Steel Thistles, then you already know that Katherine has been travelling round the blogosphere in a virtual book tour [cough] including a guest post at Paradoxes tomorrow [cough].

Her West of the Moon trilogy has just been revised and released in a single volume from HarperCollins. I’m halfway through my own copy and I have to say–it’s breathtaking. A complex, emotional, well-wrought coming-of-age cycle. It’s also about Vikings, but not in the way you’d immediately expect.

So I’m delighted to announce that The Hog’s Head has two signed copies to give away.

Here’s how you get one:

The Harry Potter Franchise is just too good to stop. It’s not enough to hear the author tell us what she thinks happened–we want to read it, and we want to see it, right?

Spurious Press has issued a nonexistent call for proposals for Harry Potter 8, book and film. Since we’re all about confluences of awesome, the next volume in the series is crossover with Katherine Langrish’s West of the Moon trilogy. Read: the Wizarding World with Vikings. Though unable to write it herself, Katherine has kindly agreed to provide a title for the new volume:

Harry Potter and the Deadly Dragonship.

So, pitch me your version of that story. Harry Potter with Vikings. You can make it serious, tragic, hysterical, daft, or anywhere or anything in between. Have fun with it. Make me laugh or cry, or whatever. But I should warn you, Katherine’s told me that her Vikings won’t be all that happy to see the wizarding gang show up.

No limit on how many times you can enter. The more the merrier You get no points for length and detail, and may, in fact, get marks for brevity and concision. But don’t worry too much about that, and have fun with it. If you outline an entire ring cycle for the book, I will be impressed but won’t promise anything else. If you write an entire story, I’ll ask you to keep it somewhere else and put a summary here.

The contest runs from now till 4 April at 1300 UT. I will then choose several of my favorite entries, assign them a numerical order based on the order of the comments, and choose two with a random number generator. The winners receive a signed copy of Katherine Langrish’s West of the Moon.

Have fun. Go.

74 thoughts on “Harry Potter 8: Contest and Giveaway

  1. I’m not sure I understand the assignment. Are we to pitch an idea about Ms. Langrish’s Vikings or any old Viking. And aren’t Mr. Potter & Co. and the Vikings separated by about a millenium? How the twain shall meet? I also think the time turners are kaput after Book 5. Or is the Viking’s Dragon Ship a DeLorean? Vikings in the present day. Hmmm…..

    Reminds me of this…

  2. Must confess that I’d never heard of West of the Moon or Langrish before this. But a quick Google later, I believe that the trilogy is about Peer and Hilde, some trolls and some Vikings, right?

    But I too need to be clear about the contest rules. Especially about the use of the word “confluence”: is the expectation that Rowling’s characters should meet Langrish’s characters? As Bennu said, above: can we pitch stories about any old Vikings, or does it have to be Langrish’s Vikings? Because if the latter, I’d have to read the books, and in order to read the books, I’d have to get the books, at which point entering the contest in order to win the books becomes somewhat redundant.

  3. Well, in the temporary absence of Mr Pond, I’ll stick out my neck. It could be any old Vikings. As for the Potter contingent and Vikings being separated by a rather large stretch of time – you’re right of course, but come on, guys – this is fantasy! Time travel! Magic! Or even a hidden Viking valley-cum-fjord from which deadly dragonships issue at the dark of the moon on All Hallows’ Eve every second century… loaded with their very own wizards and ‘sendings’…

    Looking forward to whatever you come up with!

  4. A hidden fjord from which deadly dragonships issue at the dark of the moon on All Hallows’ Eve every second century … loaded with their very own wizards and ‘sendings”, eh?

    ‘Sendings’ sounds intriguing.

    Thanks for the explanation, Katherine. Now let’s see what we can come up with….

  5. The only quibble I would make, since I’m not planning on entering, is perhaps giving contestants a little more time? There’s been no entries yet & the deadline is Friday? Just a suggestion.

  6. This is how it starts:

    James, Albus and Lily are spending the summer vacations at Bill and Fleur’s cottage on the North Sea. They are joined by Rose and Hugo. One morning while digging for clams, Lily finds a small, thin, gold amulet buried in the sand. Rose – who has read up on Norse artefacts – identifies it as a guldgubber. Stamped on the guldgubber is the image of a ship. When James uses a Magnificantes vitro spell on it, the kids can detect the words Ormrinn Langi inscribed on the side of the ship. Rose says the words mean Long Serpent in Old Norse.

    The kids (Rose) learn that this was the name of the ship that King Olaf Tryggvason commanded during the battle of Swold at the end of the first millenium. During the battle:

    Hokanson’s ship, the Iron Ram, separated off Olaf’s ships, one-by-one, until only the Long Serpent was left. Olaf was defeated and jumped to his death, holding his shield for weight. It is said there was a blaze of light surrounding Olaf at his final moments and when the light was gone, so was the king.

    As with the deaths of King Arthur, Charlemagne and Sebastian of Portugal, King Olaf’s people did not believe his death and awaited his return for years.

  7. This is what happens next:

    Lily gives the guldgubber to Hugo because she likes him and will miss him when he goes for his first year at Hogwarts. Hugo is worried about the Sorting, because he wants to be in Gryffindor with James and Rose, and he definitely doesn’t want to be sorted into Slytherin, like poor Albus. He is dismayed when he ends up in Hufflepuff.

    While sulking one day in the Hufflepuff common room, he sees a portrait of Helga Hufflepuff in which she’s wearing a locket. The locket looks a lot like the guldgubber Lily found on the beach, complete with the image of a longship. When he tells the others about it, James and Rose and Albus sneak into the Hufflepuff common room one night and James uses the Magnificantes spell to magnify the ship. It has no name, but its prow is shaped like the head of a gigantic ram.

  8. This is how the chapter ends:

    Hugo brings out the guldgubber and holds it against Helga’s locket. As they both begin to glow, Albus whispers the words:

    “Níðhöggr nái”

    And his father, back at home, touches the scar on his forehead.

  9. This is not an outline – just a few paragraphs of the first chapter. For some reason, I can’t do an outline. So this is my pitch.

    It was a cool night on the moors and Harry cupped his hands to his mouth blowing warm air into them. With the full moon he could see the glint of silver off of Fang’s back as he romped playfully through the lavender bushes. Though the dog seemed to be going faster than usual – as if he was onto a scent. Harry was starting to regret his agreement with Hagrid. Taking care of Fang while Hagrid visited friends up North was not as easy as he thought. Fang loved midnight walks and nowadays Harry loved his peaceful sleep at a much earlier hour. But Hagrid was his friend and loyal was Harry. So he followed Fang up a jagged butte to a rocky plateau and waited for Fang who had stopped suddenly, sniffing the silent air. A whimper came out of Fang’s throat. Then all hell broke loose.

    A rumble in the ground below him shook Harry’s footing. The sound in the earth grew to a roar and the rocks on the cliff start to fall away. Harry reached for his wand unsure of a spell that would aid him. The ground heaved up and Harry was thrown on his back, losing his grip on his wand. Fang was jumping wildly, barking louder than Harry had ever heard before. Then slowly from the ground a dragon’s head emerged, larger than any dragon Harry had ever seen. Harry froze as he watched the dragon’s head, attached to a gigantic ship then rise up out of the dirt at least three stories tall, wood groaning and splintering, dirt poring off it. And a giant of a man, with blond wild hair and helmut, standing with one foot on the dragon’s head and a mighty sword in the air. The warrior yelled into the night air to the moon. A deep and throaty bellow of war it was, and Harry swore he saw fire come from the man’s mouth. The sword came down and pointed directly at Harry.
    “Hullo Harry.” benignly came from the side of the ship. “Hope we didn’t give you too much of a fright – this is my old friend, Erik.” said Hagrid from the side of the ship. “Say Harry – my friends here need someone small and fast to help them get something that they’ve been trying to win for centuries. Are you up for it?”.

    And so began Harry’s adventure with the Old Vikings of Minnesota.

  10. “Níðhöggr nái”

    And his father, back at home, touches the scar on his forehead.

    Uh-oh…. I don’t know what it means, but this can’t be good.

    I love it, Red Rocker. I want to know more!

  11. Do what Rose will do: Google it.

    I loved the Old Vikings of Minnesota tale, but surely it hasn’t been centuries! Half a century, max.

  12. This little thing popped up when I googled it….

    A hall she saw standing remote from the sun on Dead Body Shore. Its door looks north. There fell drops of venom in through the roof vent. That hall is woven of serpents’ spines. She saw there wading onerous streams men perjured and wolfish murderers and the one who seduces another’s close-trusted wife. There Malice Striker sucked corpses of the dead, the wolf tore men. Do you still seek to know? And what?

    Yes, and what.

  13. This post isn’t related to this specific contest, but is related to those interested in engaging in an academic treatment of philosophical themes in the Harry Potter corpus. Here’s a reminder of the upcoming deadline for an HP conference I’m organizing (and which I’m glad to extend through the weekend from the original date of 4/1 to 4/4), which Travis was gracious enough to post a few months ago:


    Hope to see submissions from some of you!


  14. This is what happens next:

    When class schedules are announced, the kids see the name “Prof. Heith” as the new DADA teacher. Professor Heith is a very old woman, bent and wrinkled, and walks with a staff that looks like a branch cut from an ash tree. She tells all her classes that they will not be learning the Ministry-approved curriculum this year. Instead, they will be learning galdrs. The first years (Albus and Hugo) will be learning three galdrs. The second years (James and Rose) will be learning six galdrs. She assigns them their first galdr: protection against the rain.

    In the meantime, Rose is researching how Helga Hufflepuff came to own a locket made from a guldgubber. Talking to Professor Binns, she finds out that Helga was not born in Wales, as they all assumed, but came from Norfolk, in the East. And that it was rumoured that her family came from across the sea.

    And back at home, Harry has decided it’s time to visit Dumbledore’s crypt to make sure the Elder Wand is safe.

  15. Bennu, that sounds like something from the Völuspá
    (one of the Norse poems which make up the Poetic Edda).

  16. That’s exactly where I got it Steve Morrison! I googled Níðhöggr nái and got this…


    You must be an expert on Norse poetry!

    And Red Rocker – the Elder Wand?! But I suppose that doesn’t necessarily mean that you resurrected Tom Riddle. The wand could have the effect on Harry all by itself. Or in the hands of an evil Viking!

  17. There’s evil. And there’s Evil. And then there’s Emeric the Evil. But perhaps I’m getting ahead of myself.

  18. This is all splendid, thanks! What Katherine said–it can be any Vikings. Or the WotM Vikings in particular if you want. The rule is: have fun and enjoy yourself. Nothing more complicated than that. If you want to write a first chapter, great. If you want to write a thirty word summary, great. Do what suits, and we’ll have fun reading it.

    I’m taking a page from cbiondi’s book and extending the deadline to 4/4. So, we’ve got the whole weekend to pitch.

  19. This is what happpens next:

    Al gets into a fistfight with Scorpio during Quidditch tryouts because Scorpio taunts him and calls him a baby because he can’t “sleep without his mommy”. James finds out that Al’s been waking up at night – and waking up everyone else in the 1st year Slytherin residence – yelling incomprehensibly. Al tells him he keeps dreaming about an eagle, a snake, and a squirrel. He says he can’t sleep because the squirrel keeps running back and forth between the other two, and keeps chattering. Rose tries to research this in the library but can’t find anything. But the next time they’re at Hosgmeade, she goes to the new Internet cafe, Beer’n Bytes, and Googles Al’s dreams. She gets the usual number of irrelevant answers, but she doesn’t have to look far until she finds something that makes her pause. She asks Al if he can remember what it was he said that night at the Hufflepuff common room. James tells her. She points at the screen and says: “Look at this!”

  20. Red Rocker’s on a roll.

    I think there should be some sort of secret magicnet. An internet that, like Diagon Alley, is only available to witches and wizards. Instead of Google, there’s Gargoyle. Instead of wikipedia, there’s witchipedia. Instead of Myspace, Myspell. Instead of Facebook, Floobook. Instead of Twitter – um.

    Now that I think about it – just a common cell phone could have aided the wizarding world a great deal in their fight with Voldemort. But then sending a patronus is sort of like a text message.

  21. Red Rocker @ 22: You’ve got me on the edge of my seat for your next installment! Your animal trio reminds me of Thoreau’s search in Walden for an animal trio: “I long ago lost a hound, a bay horse, and a turtle dove, and am still on their trail.”

    Bennu @ 23: I love your idea of a magicnet. For Twitter, how about Twinkle? (Or is that too silly…?)

  22. This is what happens next:

    “Nidhogg!” exclaims Al.

    Before the others can say anything, a giant shadow falls across the screen.

    “And what might ye children be wantin’ with a big ugly snake like that?”

    It’s Hagrid, who’s been surfing the Web, looking for dragon sightings. They tell him about the nightmares Al’s been having, and show him the guldgubber. He tells them that the best place to look for Helga Hufflepuff’s amulet is in the Hogwart’s Museum. He warns them to stay clear of anything to do with the Nidhogg.

    “But that’s just a Muggle myth” scoffs Hugo. “The world is not a tree, and there is no eagle and serpent and squirrel running up and down between them!”

    “Muggles or wizards, serpents mean trouble” Hagrid says. “You lot should know that better than anyone.”

  23. This is what happens next:

    The next day, after classes, the kids head to the Hogwarts Museum, which is in a large but short tower standing by itself some distance from the castle. They find the curator, Mr. Mim, standing on a ladder, polishing a large bronze bust atop a very high plinth. Nearly Headless Nick is there as well, talking to Mr. Mim.

    None of them can remember ever having been there before and they take the opportunity to look around. The Museum is a fascinating place. There are glass cases with the clothes and books and magical possessions of wizards going back hundreds of years. There are maps of unknown places, with rivers that have flowing water and trees swaying in the wind. There are more portraits than even at Hogwarts. The people in the portraits are mostly asleep.

    They show Mr. Mim (who is a very friendly, helpful old man), the guldgubber. He instantly recognizes that it’s from the Battle of Swold and pulls out a map that shows the naval battle. The surface of the map is actually covered in water, with little ships bobbing up and down in the waves. Mr. Mim points out to them the attacking fleets of the Kings of Denmark and Sweden, as well as the 11 ships commanded by Eirik Hakonarson. And he also shows them the 11 ships of the King of Norway, Olaf Tryggvason, roped to one another to make a floating fort. He points out King Olaf aboard his flagship, Ormrinn Langi, and then the ship next to it:

    “The Serpent” he tells them, “the biggest and fastest ship of its time. It was built by Raud the Strong, but Olaf killed Raud and took his land and his ship. Killed him in such a horrible manner that it’s still remembered in that land. And then built the Long Serpent to be even mightier.”

    And finally he shows them Eirik’s ship, the Iron Ram, which attacks Olaf’s floating fort from the flank, taking on and clearing one ship at a time until only Long Serpent is left. And as they watch, the little figure of Olaf jumps off the deck of the Long Serpent and into the water. But they never see him land because at the last possible moment there is a blinding flash of light. When they can see again, Olaf is gone.

    “Wow” says Hugo. “And they did it without any magic!”

    Mr. Mim looks at him for a moment, and then points at the Iron Ram. Standing near the steersman is the tiny figure of a woman, watching the place in the water where Olaf was last seen.

    “Volva” Mr. Mim says briefly, and rolls up the map.

  24. This is what happens next:

    The kids want to hear more, but Mr. Mim looks out the window and tells them there’s a storm brewing, and they’d best be returning to the castle.

    As soon as they step out of the Museum Tower, they realize he was right: the sky is dark with clouds and a powerful wind is coming off the loch bringing with it a blinding rain. It’s hard walking against the wind so Rose makes them stop. She pulls out her wand and tries the spell tempestate evanescere but nothing happens.

    They start walking again, but they can’t see where they’re going. Rose tries again pluviam desistere but again, it’s useless, the storm is too strong and she is only a 2nd year witch.

    But then she remembers Professor Heith droning on endlessly in DADA class about galdrs. She tries to remember the one they’re supposed to memorize about rain. It’s a long one – all galdrs are long , seven lines. not like the much more efficient modern day incantations – but their situation is desperate. She starts to speak:

    Battle-bold Frey
    Slayer of Beli..

    She stops, because she can’t remember the rest, but James pitches it with the next two lines, and then Al, and Hugo finishes it:

    calm the sky and sea

    The rain stops as quickly as it started, and the wind dies down. They look around them and see that they are standing almost at the very edge of the cliff above the loch. Rose is horrified but James says, with determination:

    “We have to go back to the Museum!”

  25. And then what happens?

    Hey – where’s all the other storytellers here? Not much of a competition with only two fish in a barrel. Come on people – Harry Potter and Vikings! What’s not to like? You know there’s two signed copies.

  26. Yeah – where is everyone? I’m pretty sure we’ve got people here who’ve dabbled in fanfic before. Here’s your chance to have some fun.

  27. Alas, I am nowhere near the storyteller that Red Rocker or Bennu are. I wish I was! But I really enjoy reading what you both have so far. Keep up the nice work!!!

  28. And this is what happens next:

    Harry returns to Hogwarts by night to visit Dumbledore’s crypt. This not being standard prcoedure, he has to break in to the crypt secretly. He apparates just outside the gates, and puts on his Invisibility Cloak. He doesn’t know the new custodian, and hopes that he’s fast asleep in his bed.

    Within the white tomb, everything is as it was the day he placed the Elder Wand back in Dumbledore’s hands. There is no sign that anything has been disturbed. He looks at the wand for a long time, wondering what he should do. Finally, shaking his head, every nerve telling him that this is wrong, he takes the wand from Dumbledore.

    As Harry takes the wand, Dumbledore’s eyes snap open and he shouts:

    “Thief, thief, thief Potter! We hates it, we hates it, we hates it forever!”

    Oops. Wrong saga. Hit the rewind button.

    As Harry takes the wand, he shudders with the horror of what he is doing. But he does it anyway, eludes the custodian Folkvar who isn’t asleep in his bed but patrolling the grounds, and apparates away as quietly as he came.

  29. Well, it is his wand anyhow. But I am struck by the fact that Harry took it out of Albus’ tomb. Harry’s gut is usually right – and I’m surprised he did it anyway. Even if Harry thought someone were to steal the wand for evil and wanted to protect it from misuse. Better to camouflage oneself with the cloak – and “let things play out” to identify and then confront the culprit.

  30. Had Harry, Ron, and Herminone not been so consumed with breaking out of Gringotts with a Horcrux, they would have noticed strange markings tatooed at the nape of the dragon’s neck that they clung to for dear life. They looked something like this:


    And little did they know that twenty-one years hence, this dragon they last saw by the lake where they jumped to safety would be joined by another with similar markings. Except this dragon would be bearing on its back a man as strange looking as he was fearless.

    With steel-grey eyes, a shaggy mane of tousled black hair, and drawn up to full height of nearly three meters, Goraidh cut an imposing figure. His long-awaited quest of meeting Somerled here and now for the Final Battle would need to wait yet more, for the other dragon had no master upon its back.

    What had gone wrong? Why did the other dragon have scars on its neck and legs, as though it had been kept captive for some duration? Where was Somerled? Taking out a piece of runestone he carried in his leather pouch, he studied it for a minute, looked out toward the horizon, and urged his own dragon on a course set for a place he knew not the name of, but knew well the location: Gringotts.


    “Hey, Al, what do you reckon is going on with those dragon sightings north of us?” asked Hugo lazily. “My Uncle Charlie says that it’s been hundreds of years since anything like this has happened.”

    “Dunno,” said Al with a quizzical look, trying hard to recall a story that his father had told him once about riding a dragon up north with Hugo’s Mum and Dad….

  31. cbiondi

    I initially thought you meant Goraidh Crobhan (Godred of the white hand), who killed the dragon on Islay sometime near the end of the 11th century. But upon further research I think you’re writing about Godred Olafsson (Gofraid mac Amlaíb), the King of the Isles, who lived half a century later and fought Somerled, Lord of Argyll and King of the Hebrides – and also his brother-in-law.

    Three meters would make him approximately nine feet tall. related to Hagrid, by any chance?


    Write on, fair cbiondi, write on.

  32. This is what happens next:

    As Harry is leaving Hogwarts’ grounds, James, Rose, Albus and Hugo are meeting at the scullery door which opens onto the cliff path. Fortunately all the house elves are asleep, except for the baker, Sigismund, who doesn’t care how many students go in and out the scullery door at night as long as his bread dough isn’t disturbed.

    The kids make their way to Hogwart’s Museum, where they encounter their first obstacle: the heavy wooden door is locked. They examine the lock by the light of a Lumos spell. It’s strangely made: where the lock should be there are two bronze plates, which appear to have no opening for a key. Each plate is embossed with the head of a bird. Rose immediately tries the Alahomora but nothing happens, except for a little snigger.

    “The birds are laughing at you, Rose.” says Hugo

    “Nonsense. They don’t look magical in the least.”

    “How do you know? They could be Norse magic. Like the galdrs.”

    “Norse magic…hmm” Rose says. She thinks for a moment, and then says: “Huginn!”

    Nothing happens, except for another little snigger.

    She tries again: “Munnin.”

    A louder snigger.

    Irritated, she yells: “Huginn and Munnin!”

    With a little bow each, the birds pull apart and the door to the Museum slowly opens.

  33. Thanks, Red Rocker and Jen, for the encouragement. I was apprehensive, as I’ve not flourished a storyteller’s pen since I was a bairn…so it’s been a few decades and I’m rusty.

    Alas, though, I’m buried in grading and so need to provide highlights of what I have in mind to augment what I imagined above as the blurb on the back of the book jacket that would entice people to buy it:

    *Red Rocker guessed rightly that Goraidh is to be related somehow to Hagrid. They both are descendents of a line of giants that once roamed the Earth.

    *The only kind of being who could manage and tame dragons were the giants. This is why Hagrid is drawn to them, but his partly human blood makes him somewhat inept as a dragon-keeper.

    *Al, Hugo, Rose, and James are going to get involved (of course) in the coming conflict between the Vikings and the Wizards, during which time Al will draw out the Sword of Gryffindor from a suitable location and earn his rightful place in Gryffindor House.

    *Goraidh indeed locates Somerled, where he’s been kept deep underground for centuries in a vault (the original vault for which Gringotts was actually constructed).

    *How has Somerled stayed alive all of these centuries in a Gringotts vault….? I bet you thought that Nicholas Flamel was the only known person to have made the Sorcerer’s Stone (emphasis on “known” here)!! You wonder why there is discord between Vikings and Wizards….. Those magical, meddling Wizards helped Somerled figure out how to create such a coveted and discord-creating unnatural stone….. (And of course it was an ancestor of Voldemort who helped him to do so…)

    *Why was Gringotts created by goblins to keep alive the secret existence of Somerled all these many hundreds of years? Might that have something to do with the fact that Somerled was the real first creator of the Sorcerer’s Stone?

    *While Al, Hugo, Rose, and James (of course with the help of Hagrid) get caught up in the capers of helping us to find out all of these fascinating bits of Viking/Wizard history, we shall see the re-emergence of Harry, Ron, and Hermione, who will be the ones to unravel the full extent of the mysteries herein. We all know, though, that it will be the illustrious Madame Hermione who saves the day with her wealth of intellect and fortitude. For this, she shall be rewarded with the mantle of the next Headmistress of Hogwarts :o)

  34. This is what happens next:

    The Museum looks different at night. Dark, of course. But also bigger. And it smells different. Older. A musty smell that they didn’t notice before. And it even sounds different. Faint rustling noises, like something moving furtively.

    “Come on everyone. Use your wands!”

    “Lumos maximus!” All the wands light up and they can see around them. They are standing next to the high plinth with the bronze bust. All is still, except for the shadows cast when the wands wobble in their nervous hands

    “We have to find Helga Hufflepuff’s display.”

    James looks around him and says “This place is huge. We’d better split up.”

    Hugo and Al shake their heads in unison and Rose doesn’t look too happy about that either. Al says scornfully “Wanker. Haven’t you watched any Muggle monster movies? It’s when the heroes split up that bad things happen”.

    “Don’t be such a scaredy baby, Al. It’ll take forever to search this place.”

    “What are we looking for anyway?” Hugo interrupts, because he doesn’t want to split up either.

    “We’re looking for Helga Hufflepuff’s medallion” Rose explains. “It’s got some magic – remember what happened when you brought out the guldgubber?”

    Hugo pulls the guldgubber out of his pocket. “It glowed. So did the one in the picture. Do you suppose there’s some kind of connection between them?”


    The voice speaking out of the darkness startles them, and makes them lose their focus, so all the lights go out.

    “What – Who was that?”

    “The wands, come on, quickly, get the light back. Lumos maximus!”

    They follow James’ command and light their wands (which are shaking worse than ever now).

    “Someone’s in here!”

    “Be quiet!” hisses James. “Listen!”

    But there’s nothing to hear, except for the noise of their own fast breathing.

    “Where did that come from?”

    “Maybe it was Nearly Headless Nick.” Hugo says. “He was here before.” He shouts: “Sir Nicholas, is that you?”

  35. This is just a sketch of what a story might be, very much the shortest outline I could make it. I know Rowling has said that only wizards can leave ghosts, but I always thought that rather shaky — look at all those excellent ghost stories! This is one, after a fashion.

    The Durmstrang ship the contestants arrived in was actually an old Norse ship (the Bloody Ax, it was called, after it had been seized from another band of Danish raiders, in token of how it was captured). Durmstrang itself is in the frozen northern wastes of Norway, atop a fjord on the Atlantic coast. Raiders had built a fortress there in times long forgotten when their kind, the Norsemen were in ascendancy, the Anglo-Saxons had just conquered England and driven the last of the wizards and witches into hiding. They had lived peacefully, in friendship with the Celts, but that was the end, for ever in the West, of co-operation and trust between wizard and muggle that the two had so long enjoyed. Shortly afterward the Witengamot passed laws about secrecy, and these led, as we know, centuries later to the International Statute on Secrecy.

    But that fortress on the Atlantic coast, and the network of caves it was connected to, had a long history, knew many owners, fell into disrepair many times, but a few centuries after it had been deserted in the Middle Ages, a band of wizards driven from their village by knights of the king on an errand of the Church, fled there and founded their own village. Later it grew to a whole town around the central edifice, at first merely a sort of feudal castle, complete with dungeons in the old caves, but later, in more civilised times, it gradually became no more than a seat of learning next to a quiet village, rather like Hogwarts and Hogsmeade. Yet Durmstrang did not fully shake the shadows of its past, a certain roughness of habits and sensibilities still lingers around it, and this is no less true of its ghosts than of its living faculty and students. (Not for it, through the long centuries, the relative peace, orderliness and prosperity of the British at Hogwarts and elsewhere.)

    And the flagship of the Vikings that sailed from there was put to good use to transport Durmstrang teachers on official business, and if anyone had second thoughts about raising those ancient sailors’ graves, they didn’t mention it. And so it was pressed into service, and all those rough old sailors haunted its decks, with all the good manners and restraint you would expect from fifth-century pirates. *They* certainly wouldn’t be told to show restraint on foreign visits by some jumped-up little wart of a Death Eater. All the same, Karkaroff and his staff made a great effort for the voyage, and somehow managed to leave for Hogwarts without a single Viking ghost left on board. Except, of course, one old, stowaway, Harald Ragnarsson of legend and fame — if being feared in Scottish coastal villages is a claim to eternal fame — who quietly hid in the captain’s private barrel of vodka while the other ghosts were being rounded up. And old trick, not big on dignity, but then Karkaroff had no subtlety, no appreciation for the past, no time for it as he thought.

    Harald had used to raid England, and liked it well, and he had an Anglo-Saxon wife (one for every coastline was his motto) and fond memories of the place. Those Anglo-Saxons were fair folk, he thought. And to boot, he never liked the “shifty-eyed” Krum, perhaps for no better reason that he was Karkaroff’s favourite. So he took a great interest in the proceedings of the Tournament, though he was very careful indeed never to show himself. He could have been very easily given away by any Hogwarts ghost who happened on him, and some damned pestilential little wench with four eyes even kept swimming around in the old lake. But he didn’t lack for cunning, and it took him only a very short time to find out what was going on, simply by listening to casual chatter. He thought he liked the look of Harry (or maybe just the name), but he thought Cedric was far too clean and noble-looking, he certainly wasn’t going to try to help Krum, and as for a girl competing, well, that was simply outrageous. A woman ought to know her place, and that was by the cooking-stove. (She was a pretty little thing though, and reminded him of bare-footed village wenches they’d chased across many a northern moor, their homes burning on the wind behind them. It was such a shame not to feel the sunshine and the hot blood flowing through one’s veins. He still feared the unknown beyond, but sometimes almost regretted staying on, as a ghost, in a mockery of life.)

    He couldn’t do much, but oh, the fun he had! Popping up behind a rock to egg the dragon back on to that brown-haired prat, momentarily distracting the Hungarian Horntail by flitting through its tail to help the Harald boy. This was looking life fun. But some odd things were going on: the old grizzled teacher, though he looked like just the right sort of cove at first sight, wasn’t what he seemed. That poor mad fellow — Harald saw the Moody teacher murder him in cold blood. That man wasn’t what he seemed, but it looked like nobody suspected it. Harald couldn’t do anything, though it troubled him. He did listen in on the boy’s adventure in the Prefects’ bathroom and made sure the boy figured out the secret of the egg — a stroke of luck that the four-eyed girl helped him out. He flirted a bit with the pretty little mermaid when they were all gone, but she was a cold thing, not a bit like the women he liked. Then flitting in and out of some rushes at the lake to distract the Bulgarian thickie — though my goodness he gave him a turn for a moment there with that stupid head — then frightening a bunch of Grindylows into the open water just when the wench was swimming by. Things were going well, the Harry boy was tied for first place, though with Cedric, whom he hadn’t managed to nobble. But he was quite getting to like Cedric, not such a spineless jelly as he thought him at first. Then the fourth task. And Harald didn’t like how much interest that Moody was taking in all the proceedings. The maze itself offered the best chance for hiding and spying on what he was up to. But nothing was actually lethal, nothing posed danger the kids couldn’t face. What was the secret? And why had Karkaroff’s mood changed so sharply? He drank three times the vodka now and still looked jumpy and miserable. But there was nothing for it but to wait. On the eve of the last task, he hid near the Cup, hoping to frighten off the “wrong” contestant if Harry shouldn’t make it to the Cup first. And he had a fearful appearance, to be sure, if the screams of all those villagers in times long gone were anything to go by. But as Fate would have it, both Harry and Cedric appeared at the same time, and there was no way of frightening one without being seen by the other. So he hid in the pedestal under the Cup, with just one of the horns in his helmet touching the Cup. And then came one of the most unpleasant sensations of his life — in fact, almost as bad as he remembered dying had been. And there he was, almost quite buried in the earth, helmet rolled away, unnoticed by anyone, in of all things a graveyard.

    As Cedric was murdered, he knew that the games and japes were over, that these fell people had no scruples or conscience or good feeling, that they would as soon murder something as swat a fly. Things were desperate, and unless he could do something, his Harry was as good as dead. He floated quietly to a headstone on the side and watched as the evil proceedings unfolded. He couldn’t do anything for Harry just yet, so he bided his time. When Harry and Voldemort’s duel started, he floated behind Voldemort and, completely invisible now, cast his cold shadow on that murderer, unsettling him a little, and — though we will never know — perhaps that is why the connection between the two wands went back on Voldemort’s wand. As the spell grew around Harry and Voldemort, old Harald was cast forcibly aside into the darkness, so he waited from the sides, as uncertainly as any of the Death Eaters. When the spell suddenly broke and Harry ran for it, Harald immediately doused the flames that had fed the cauldron, plunging the Death Eaters into temporary darkness, and giving Harry a few valuable seconds. Then he ran with Harry, flitting behind gravestones and distracting as many Death Eaters as he could, and just managed to touch Harry’s foot as the Portkey sailed through the air and they were transported back to the Hogwarts grounds. Harald again arrived ignominiously under the earth next to Harry’s trainers, but he was thankful enough for not being discovered.

    More adventure than in centuries of being dead, the old sailor reflected to himself as he sat in the now unused Captain’s quarters in the Bloody Ax. He didn’t know whether he had helped or hindered — maybe the boy would not have had a head start but for his meddling? But perhaps he had saved his life back there in the graveyard and honour was satisfied. He had even tried to hinder Cedric, so he had no regrets as to him. But after all, there was something unusual about the Harry boy — and about the great deal of interest everyone was taking in him. Perhaps — perhaps he ought to stay after all, and maybe keep a quiet eye on the boy. The forest was as good a place as any to live in, and the wild Scottish loch somehow reminded him of home. Yes, he had made up his mind — that was just the thing to do, he was still saying to himself as he was already swooping next to the capstan and down the anchor chain: he would stay, and watch over this young Harry boy as best he could. Here was something which promised more adventure than frightening a few timid noble boys at Durmstrang, and maybe it would prove to be more worthwhile too…

  36. Nice bit of historical revisionism, laddie buck. You might have gone a bit further and have Harald finally understand that the ravishing of village wenches, no matter how bare footed, is no longer done. The Viking lifestyle, as a whole, is now a matter of criminal court and not a lifestyle choice per se. Nice touch about hiding in the barrel of vodka, though.

    Bennu, we shall never know whose voice spoke in the darkness, because the clock has struck. The deadline was 13:00 UT, which as near as I can make it is 7:00 ET.

  37. Oh, an old sailor’s mind like Harald’s won’t be any less than a few centuries out of date with modern sensibilities, whatever the circumstances. But he has the capacity to change, like any of us. Further change must be left to future chapters in Harald’s watch over Harry. Perhaps Hermione or Luna or McGonagall’s example will change his mind about witches? Even in my short sketch, he grew to like the “noble brat” Cedric, after all, and before he died too. 🙂

    As to revisionism, I doubt whether we shall ever know the full truth of it, but this is a big world, there are many creatures in it, and many opportunities for chance to sway the course of little events. Even ghosts and foreigners had to choose sides, and here we have a fewllow who’s both, and desperately shy of being found out. He takes sides, like everyone did in this polarised conflict Voldemort created, but ultimately, who’s to say whether Harry and Cedric wouldn’t have ended up just the same even without his attempts at interference? As I say, we shall never know. But to me the story is more about this crusty old cove’s own journey, the redeeming value of a complete misfit, someone who is like a fish out of water, and for all his plundering and murdering in a more violent age, basically decent.

    I think, somehow, that in Arthur’s old car he may find something of a kindred spirit there in the depths of the Forest…

  38. Oh, and as I was in a bit of a hurry to submit, I obviously didn’t do any proofreading, so there are some embarrassing mistakes in there — most glaringly, I meant ninth-century pirates, not fifth-century pirates.

  39. The contest is closed, and the winners will be announced shortly, but don’t let that stop anyone from posting their stories. I certainly want to know whose voice spoke in the darkness. And the other ideas floating around here have been great as well. So, the contest may be closed but let’s keep the conversation open!

  40. This is what happens next

    The children stand frozen, listening for an answer. Finally, Rose says:

    “It was probably you, Hugo, trying to scare everyone.”

    “No way.” Hugo protests, but with just enough of a smirk in his voice that the others don’t believe him.

    “Whatever. Let’s start looking for the medallion.”

    They find the displays for the Four Founders very quickly – they are located nearby, in a large alcove. Set in four deep niches in the walls are statues of the Founders, all in their ceremonial wizarding robes (which haven’t changed that much over the years). They are holding their wands in their hands.

    “Do you suppose those are their real wands?” wonders Al.

    “No, silly. The wand is buried with the wizard – unless they will it to someone.”

    They stop before Helga Hufflepuff’s statue. She looks the same as in her pictures: a tall woman, with wide cheekbones, plaited straw-coloured hair pinned around her head; she looks stern as a statue, but with little laugh lines around her mouth.

    “She’s not wearing the medallion.”

    “Look in the display cases.”

    There are a lot of memoribilia in the display cases. Spell books, cauldrons, even an ancient broomstick or two. There is also a lot of jewellry – a lot of gold brooches and a few pendants. But no medallion like they saw in the picture.

    “I don’t think it’s here” says Rose. “I wonder where else-” she stops suddenly. “That’s funny.”

    Something in her voice gets everyone’s attention.

    “Look at this picture.”

    It’s a very small picture of Helga, in everyday 11th century clothing. She’s using a mortar to crush some herbs. She pauses to give them a friendly smile and a nod, before going back to her work.

    “She looks daft, wearing that hat”

    “Look at what it says underneath.”

    The lettering is intricate, and the ink has faded over time, but with a little effort they can still make out the name:

    Helga Raudsdottir.

  41. This is what happens next

    “Raudsdottir? Raudsdottir! Oh!” Rose shakes her head of bushy red hair, exactly like her mother used to when she was the same age. “I hate that Professor McGonagall hasn’t gotten internet access for Hogwarts yet. Honestly, when is she going to join the 21st century!”

    “What are you going on about, Rose?”

    “Don’t you remember what Mr. Mim told us about the Battle of Swold?”

    “Something about a bunch of ships and serpents. What does that have to do with this?”

    Rose just shakes her head in exasperation. But Al unexpectedly says:

    “That was one of the names he said, wasn’t it? Raud something-or-other?”

    Hugo looks at both of them, and then at the name on the portrait.

    “Do you think that Helga Hufflepuff could have anything to do with that battle?”


    This time the sound of that sonorous voice doesn’t startle them as much as it did the first time. James and Rose almost seem ready for it, and they both whirl at the same moment and point their wands up in the air.

    “There! It came from there!”

    The light from their two wands converges at a spot high above them, on the bronze bust on top of the plinth.

  42. And the winners are:

    Bennu and Red Rocker!

    The winners were chosen by three separate, differently configured entries in the Random Number Generator at http://www.random.org. (Really!) To claim your books, email me your mailing address at mr pond 4 7 at hot mail dot com, omitting all spaces and with the relevant symbols.

    Thanks to everyone who participated, whether in submitting the brilliant entries, or adding critque. Feel free to keep the conversation going. I’m enjoying this thread too much to let it die. Well done, everyone.

  43. What I principally want to know is how the stories ended.

    I counted four stories:

    Harry Potter and the Minnesota Vikings
    The ghost of Harald Ragnarsson and the Goblet of Fire
    Goraidh, Somerled and the second (first?) Philospher’s Stone
    Helga Hufflepuff and the guldgubber

    Could even Harry Potter win the Superbowl for Minnesota?

    What was Harald’s role in the ultimate downfall of Voldemort?

    Who was responsible for keeping Somerled locked up at Gringotts for a thousand years?

    Why is Harry’s scar bothering him after 19 years, and what does that have to do with the guldgubber Lily found on the beach – or the matching one that Helga Raudsdottir is wearing in her portrait?

  44. I am not worthy. But I will take the prize. 🙂 I would like to thank my editor, publisher and the judges for their sound, yet quirky, adjudication. And finally thank you to all Vikings fans everywhere – there is hope that someday, perhaps in this century, or the next, with Brett Favre, ancient and decrepit, still at the wheel of his dragonship – they will win a superbowl.

    Congratulations Red Rocker. To sate your curiosity – this is how The Adventure of Harry Potter and the Old Vikings of Minnesota ends….


    What can I say. It’s fiction.

  45. Congratulations to Red Rocker and Bennu – I only hope you’ll enjoy my Viking book half as much as I’ve enjoyed reading all the entries here!

    Many thanks to Mr Pond for hosting me.
    And long live the Minnesota Vikings.
    Oh, and keep it up if you can – I want to know the endings, too.

  46. Katherine, the best part of this was finding out about your books. I have a 10 year old whom I hope to get interested in them – after I devour them myself first 🙂

    The problem with keeping this up is that at the pace I’ve set for myself, it would take a long time to bring things to a close. I could just give the synopsis, of course, but that’s not as much fun. But if you really want to know the ending, the short answer is: there is no ending. Old evil abides, and new evil rises from the same sources: greed, pride, lust for power. Fortunately, good also abides. New champions rise up, and old champions return to fight the neverending battle between good and evil.

  47. Red Rocker – of course! That’s how it should always be.
    Cbiondi – hear hear! I loved your story too – and I have to say I also loved the way laddie buck’s Harald stowed away in the barrel of vodka.

    Great style, everyone…!

  48. Heads up (and shameless plug warning)– I’ve got one last surprise giveaway copy of West of the Moon, if you didn’t win one here or didn’t think you could do fanfic. All you need to do is comment on this post. Have fun!

  49. Congratulations to Red Rocker and Bennu!!!

    Such wonderful stories written here. I really enjoyed reading them, you all have such talent!

    This was one of the most entertaining posts to follow.


  50. BTW, I’m reading Troll Mill and while I’m enjoying it, there are critters in there which are as disturbing as anything JKR has come up with. To wit, lubbers (yuck!) and Granny Green-Teeth, who lives at the bottom of the Mill Pond. Ms. Langrish has a talent for disgusting textural detail.

  51. Finished Troll Mill.

    Loved the Nis – I want one for our house. Loved the troll princess:

    “Who but a a mother can understand a mother’s heart? Ah, the liitle ones. What a trial they are! How one suffers!”

    Loved the Kersten-Bjorn-Ran story. It’ll be interesting how much time Elli spends swimming with the seals.

    PS I prefer Gudrun to Molly.

  52. Actually, RR, if you go to the link @60, that’s where the ‘Clever Hans’ readers are posting. You’re not alone! There’s at least three other people…

    I just finished Troll Mill too, btw, and loved it. I agree with you about Gudrun; she has a more evident strength without being any less of a mum.

  53. Well I am right there with you Red Rocker. I didn’t like the story either. The repetitive aspect I think really threw me off.
    I thought the same thing, that no one on here wanted a copy of the book but then I figured it out and went to the link and posted there.
    It’s late…..

  54. I usually enjoy repetition, Jen, but only if the pattern changes a little each time, so that the story is told by what changes from one repetition to the next. A perfect example of this, for me, is Bach’s Cello Suite #1.


    The problem with Clever Hans is that nothing changes from repetition to repetition. He makes the same mistake over and over again. Thank God that Greta finally realizes that his learning curve is flat, and walks away. But for me as the reader, there is a sense of profound frustration not only that he doesn’t get it, but that he will never get it.

  55. I am in complete agreement Red Rocker. He will never get it and I just want to reach through those words and shake him by the collar to wake him up!
    Sadly there are people like this out there and I know at least one. These stories must be based off something in reality. It’s kind of like warning labels. They put those on there for a reason, because some poor shlub has actually tried doing what they are warning you not to do.
    Ah, some people…..

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