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Dear friends and family,

We finally have Internet and phone back so I can spend some time to send a more detailed message to you all.

Firstly, I'm sorry we missed so much, anniversaries, birthdays, graduations, so much going on at this time of year!

Sunday, May 22nd, started quietly. We had lost our big old dog Testimony a few weeks before. I had done my skydive two weeks before and we were all involved in a wedding for a dear friend one week before (I was Matron of Honor, Martin filmed it and Arthur and Tristan were ushers), so we were all catching up. Martin had just left to help a friend with some car repairs, Tristan and Arthur were upstairs playing computer games with their friend Luwell, and I had just laid down, feeling a little bleah. Drowsy, not really asleep, I heard this strange, deep roaring sound, getting louder. I recognized it, having missed a tornado by three blocks in 1981, and shot to the bottom of the steps upstairs, screaming for the kids to get to the basement NOW!

As they rounded the corner to come down the steps, they saw an old refrigerator that was out in the alley for recycling lift up and fly down the alley. At the bottom of the steps I was yelling "go, go, go" and they were almost down the steps into the dining room when the tree came through the upstairs window, spraying us all with glass. We sped down to the basement and huddled there for what seemed like an hour, but was really only 2 or 3 minutes, listening to the roaring wind punctuated by bangs and crashes.

Coming up from the basement was like coming up into a whole new world.

If you haven't seen the pictures yet, go to
http://www.facebook.com/search.php?init=srp&sfxp&q=Arthur+Quam&type=users#!/media/set/?set=a.1584081421806.70785.1828888195

It's hard to recognize things, the loss of trees make the neighborhood look so different!

The initial inspection by the insurance adjuster placed repairs at 62,000, but after the trees were removed we found more damage, including cracks in the stucco, so the final estimate is probably going to be about 100,000. Good thing we have insurance!

We are lucky. Over 175 homes are going to be pulled down, as too damaged to repair. Even those that can be repaired, some are uninhabitable while repairs are being done. While most homeowners have insurance, only one in ten renters have renter's insurance. There are families that have lost everything except each other. Only one person was killed in the tornado itself, and of the hundreds injured most were minor. The only injury in our house was a little nick from flying glass that Tristan fixed with a band aid, even though we were all picking glass bits out of our hair and clothes.

While the damage to people is the most important, sad too is the loss of trees. North Minneapolis was mostly built between 1915 and 1925, and lots of the boulevard trees were planted then. The huge old trees gave us shade and a feeling of solidity. So many trees were torn up or blown over, the neighborhood looks so different. Another sad note, as the tornado went over the Mississippi, it hit the Great Blue Heron rookery just north of the Camden bridge, and destroyed it. I haven't been able to bring my self to go see it, but a friend reports hundreds of dead baby herons.

We had been planning to go to WisCon, a Science Fiction convention in Madison we go to every year for Memorial Day weekend, but Martin opted to stay home to deal with things while I went to the convention with Tristan and Arthur. (I organize one of the major events and will be co-chair for the conference next year, so I needed to be there is at all possible) Well, we got to about 12 blocks of the hotel when the car made a very loud knocking noise and died.

Again, we were very lucky. AAA picked us up, took us and our stuff to the hotel and dropped the car off at a highly recommended place just 3 blocks away. Unfortunately the car was not repairable short of putting in a new engine. Thanks to the kindness of other conference attendees, we all got home by riding with others, but the conference planning committee said that if we hadn't found rides, they would have paid for a rental car for us.

People are really thoughtful, kind, caring and giving.

Our friends Teri and Tom gave us a truck, a 1992 Chevy S-10. It's so rusty that the box has been replaced by a wooden box and everything rattles like it's about to fall apart, but it gets us to work, so hey, who cares? It'll last until we can scrape up the funds to get something newer.

It took 5 days to get electricity back, which wasn't surprising considering they had to replace blown over and snapped poles, then replace the wiring from scratch. What made it even more difficult is that there were large areas that were impassable from the downed trees. When the crew came in to tarp our roof, they had to walk in the equipment three blocks because they couldn't get any closer with their trucks. It took until 6/9 to get phone service and Internet back, but the WisCon planning committee lent me one of the extra cell phones for emergency use. Did I mention how kind people are?

Two of Martin's brothers were all set to come up from Iowa with their chain saws, but we discouraged it, since there were lots of volunteers from the area helping out and with the streets so clogged with downed trees, extra people would not have been a plus. The Red Cross came through every day for 2 weeks, offering food and water, and last weekend a volunteer force of 400 people came around asking what they could do to help clean up. We've been doing our own clean up, but as a graduation present to Arthur and Tristan, I asked the volunteers to clean up the sidewalk that runs from the front to the back yard. The tree had been removed but there was lots of glass and debris left, and that was next on the list of clean up jobs. The volunteers did a great job cleaning it up, to Arthur and Tristan's great relief! (The insurance assessor said "You have about a dozen kinds of shingles in your yard and none of them are yours!")

Oh yes, graduation!

Arthur and Tristan both received their diplomas and yes, they are signed, I checked. We'll have a big combination graduation/house re-warming party when the repairs are done. Maybe next fall! We can have a big fire pit, we'll have lots of wood!

Note: 42nd Avenue Station also took damage from the tornado and are TEMPORARILY closed. As soon as they are open again we need to visit them long and often! Look for more info on their re-opening in 2 to 3 weeks.

One more thing, on the positive side: I was awarded the Everyday Hero Pride Award and got a shiny plaque Friday night and will get to ride in a convertible in the Pride parade in Minneapolis on June 26. Come and cheer, or better yet, come march with the bi contingent as a bi or ally!

Love to all of you who called and emailed and facebooked, especially those 57 messages on the Sunday after the tornado; I'm sorry you were all so scared but there was no way to get word out to everyone. Thanks especially to Teri and Tom for the wheels, Deb and Greg and Cheryl and Randy for the financial aid, Tim and Blake for the offers of chainsaws and demolition help (we may need you yet, how are you on tree removal?), the WisCon concom for the phone and assistance, Elise and Victor and the members of the Access crew and the Carl Brandon Society for their generous contributions (I'm tearing up again as I'm typing this, you guys have my heart!), Holly and David and Tom and Timmi and Betsy and Matt for getting us all home to Minneapolis from Madison, and everyone who has lent an ear as I obsessed about this.
Potluck (in 4 parts)

(one)
I will bring melons, both bitter and sweet.
Hing powder from Sri Lanka, peppers from Brazil and sage from Bear Lodge: pungent, hot, strong.
The smell lingers for hours.
We’ll tell each other stories of Manchester, Kiev, Dubai:
Hidden plots and secret works --
Computers flower in Nigeria
while anime tea steeps in a handleless cup on a window sill.

(two)
Hate dissolves in the waters of “Maybe so”.
Well, it’s possible.
Pour off the solution, use it to leaven the bread for our table.
The wineglass reflects candles on a cake, and me.
I’d wish to be noble, wise, brave and adventurous
But I’m farmer born, and ultimately,
we all write about ourselves anyway.

(three)
I will not pray to your deities
But I will learn their 9 billion names.
I will not adopt your ceremonies
But I will dance.
I will not wear your clothes;
I will eat, and read.

(four)
I still look for the door in the back of the closet.
It doesn’t have to be better, just different.

+++++

Some of the books/stories refered to in this poem:
"Zahrah the Windseeker" by Nnedi Okorafor-Mbachu
"My Heart is On the Ground" by Ann Rinaldi
(don't read "Heart" without reading this:
http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_qa3935/is_199910/ai_n8870801/?tag=content;col1
)
"The Water of Possibility" by Hiromi Goto
"The Sharing Knife" series by Lois McMaster Bujold
"The Nine Billion Names of God" (short story) by Arthur C. Clark
"The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe" by C.S. Lewis

What Happens In Vegas

This is a Harry Potter fanfic that is the result of my visit to Las Vegas about a year and a half ago. I love playing poker but the rampant greed, of both the visitors and the upper level managers/owners, really turned my stomach. Most of this story is true, especially the underfunding of the zoo, so technically its a MarySue. Sorry.

dedicated to my LMGs

PG-13


What Happens in Vegas

Ron had won the toss, so their first stay in the States was Las Vegas. Hermione tried to make it clear to him that stories of hitting the jackpot and being an instant millionaire were marketing tools, but while he nodded and agreed, she wasn't sure she was getting through to him.

She figured out the slot machines in their hotel the first night. They all had a similar pattern. You won slightly more than you lost until you reached a certain point, then you lost steadily with occasional big wins that never quite made up for the losses. If you could stop yourself when the losses began, and move onto another machine, you could make a modest profit. The trick was to quit when you were ahead.

The boys scorned her theory until they had nearly spent their nightly limit and she was three hundred American dollars ahead; then they tried it. It took a bit of time but they got most of their money back. Ron complained that it took nearly all the fun out of it, being able to predict the machines like that, and she wasn't using magic, was she? She nearly used magic on him then, in the form of a stinging hex, but she refrained. They did bicker in hissed and muttered tones until Harry pointedly moved a few rows away and a casino employee came over with free drinks and a jolly tone to smooth things down. Hermione didn't point out that the machines had charms against tampering.

They had a lie in the next day, trying to catch up with the time change as well as their drinking the night before. That afternoon they walked the Strip, taking in the amazing sights: the pyramid and the Sphinx at the Luxor, the golden lion at MGM, the skyline of New York, New York. They screamed through two rounds on the roller coaster, tried out the oxygen bar, and snickered at the medieval trapping of the Excaliber.

That night they tried roulette and craps, which Hermione concluded were true games of chance, though they did favor the house. Bored, she left the boys at the craps table and wandered about until she found the poker tables.

Something intricate and intense was happening here, she realized. She watched carefully as the table, starting with five players, slowly worked it's way down to two. The final winner, she was shocked to see, walked away with more than 45,000 American dollars.

She moved on to the next table, where the pattern of the cards was much different but the game was still called poker. The hierarchy of the card combinations stayed the same, but how the players got their cards and how often they bet had changed. She asked a passing casino attendant about it and was given a small booklet about the house rules for the different types of poker, but it mostly confused her, as it assumed a level of understanding she didn't have. She took it with her, however, as she collected her much poorer and somewhat sulky loves from the craps table.

The next morning Hermione tracked down the one casino gift shop that actually had books for sale, found four different books on poker and bought them all. She was half through the first when Harry returned from his endless search of decent tea with an almost acceptable black pekoe and the bright announcement of "There's a zoo!"

Hermione was unsure if Harry's love of zoos was entirely healthy, given his history. Then again, it was a harmless obsession unlike the other things he tended to brood on, so she decided, again, to let it be.

"It's got these rare apes and a special lion of some kind and a complete collection of all the native venomous snakes and reptiles! Can we go? Please?"

Really, he was adorable when he begged. Who could refuse him? Certainly not she and Ron, that was well established.

Too late for the zoo that day, they had dinner at a Japanese Steakhouse, where they shared the horseshoe shaped table with a newlywed couple and their friends, as the chef, at his grill in the centre, entertained them with flashing knives, flying food and a steady patter of jokes they didn't always understand. One of the wedding party was from Sherwoodshire though living for 6 years in America and he was definitely a Muggle, but Hermione wasn't too sure about his American wife. The wedding party was a jolly group, joyful about the wedding and friendly to all, and the trio enjoyed sharing the wedding dinner, a happy accident.

After the dinner the wedding party climbed aboard a party bus rented to be their moving celebration and the trio declined the invitation to join them. Full to bursting, Harry, Hermione and Ron leisurely toured the sights of Vegas at night. They drove their rental to Fremont Street and watched the light show on the huge, blocks long, street covering screens, took in the older signs and lights of the original gambling area, and then went to the Rio to watch the amazing suspended-from-the-ceiling parade. Back in the newer area, they saw the water show at the Belligio before snuggling into their own bed. They wanted to be at the zoo early, sure that in a city of wondrous sights and opulent shows, the zoo would be fantastic as well.

The zoo was not what they expected. The neighborhood was, while clean and well cared for, very working class. The zoo's tiny, three acre site was crammed with small enclosures. It was obviously underfunded.

But just as obviously, it was loved. The grounds and pens were clean and mended. The animals were content and well cared for. The snakes hissed at Harry about hot rocks and crunchy insects. The big cats lazed on ledges and and flicked their tails in content. The parrots and other big birds shrieked and whistled while the emus stalked about in an eternal snit, their big beaks making Hermione nervous about getting too close. The Barbary apes swung about or watched the people watching them, making Ron wonder aloud about who was entertaining who.

The best parts were the chickens and the children. A dozen peacocks and about a hundred examples of at least twenty different breeds of chickens ranged freely about the zoo, flocking to the people with the plastic cups of bird seed sold at the entrance. A shake of the cup would bring them running and a sprinkle of seeds would have them pecking about your feet. Ron had one feather-footed bird hop onto the table next to him in order to eat directly from his cup, and one diligent peahen followed Harry for the majority of their visit.

Most entertaining were the very small children, the toddlers determined to catch one of these feathery followers. The antics of children and chickens kept them laughing as they strolled about the small zoo. They even sat on a bench in the shade for over an hour, speaking little but content in the happy, relaxing atmosphere.

They stopped in the small gift shop as they were reluctantly leaving. As the boys messed about, debating what to get for friends and family, Hermione chatted with the attendant doing triple duty of selling admissions, seed and goat food cups and gift items, along with a mother waiting for her daughter searching for the perfect souvenir of their day. They were astonished that Hermione and her friends had stopped at their little zoo. She admitted that the chickens and children were her favorites and they all laughed together.

"It's very relaxing here," said Hermione. "After all the lights and noise on the Strip I was expecting something much flashier, but this was nice." She was trying to think of a way to bring up the fact that the zoo seemed short on funds, but wasn't sure how to do it without sounding like a offensive tourist, however, the clerk seemed to understand what she wasn't saying.

"We're a non-profit organization. We don't get any funding from the state or city, everything here is privately funded by contributions from individuals and some businesses."

"The hotels seem like they could help with funds."

"We don't get anything from the casinos. The big wheelers and dealers make sure nothing cuts into their profits. They do enough for the city, they say, by providing jobs."

Troubled, Hermione emptied her pockets of the Muggle money she had with her into the donations jar, and was sorry she hadn't brought more.

The trio stopped at a small Mexican restaurant on their way back to their hotel. They puzzled their way through the chalkboard menu with the help of the man at the counter, whose English was better than their Spanish. As they were waiting for their black bean and cheese burritos, he asked what they were visiting so far from the Strip, and his face lit up when Hermione said they had been to the zoo.

"Cheeckens, si! I go there with my little ones, they chase cheeckens! And pet goats! 'Daddy, can I feed goats?' 'No hijo mio, the goats too fat now!'" They all laughed, the goats had been immensely fat. Hermione hadn't been able to bring herself to pet them, their horns were too intimidating. It hadn't stopped the children, some who had draped themselves over the goats while scratching them and feeding them the little nuggets sold at the entrance. They goats put up with a lot from the children and so earned their well-fed look.

"The zoo clerk said the casinos don't give any money to the zoo. I thought that was surprising, considering the advertising they do as this being a family friendly vacation spot."

The counter man scowled. "Those people, they don't give nothing to nobody. The neighbor of my cousin, him, his wife and two sons worked at one casino. Laundry, cleaning, bus boys, si? They all working and their house burn down! Gracias a Dios, other children in school, no one hurt, but all things gone, si? Friends try to get for them money, they ask casino bosses, they say No! Ni un centavo! Greedy sons o- ", he mumbled the end of the sentence to himself, though Hermione had no trouble filling in the words she thought appropriate.

Their last stop that day was a souvenir shop filled with what Hermione thought was every bit of crap that could possibly have "Las Vegas" printed on it. While the boys loaded up with bladders that made farting noises and card decks featuring women with improbable breast sizes and men with even more improbable penis sizes, Hermione went out to sit on a bench in the sun and finish her third book on poker.

"Honey, you better be careful you don't get a sunburn with that pale skin of yours."

Hermione smiled at the woman standing a few feet away, lighting a cigarette. She was certainly the right person to warn about the dangers of UV exposure, as she was very tan and quite wrinkled under her heavy make-up. Her hair was teased up in a hairstyle fashionable in the States at least thirty years ago and she wore tight jeans and a short denim jacket that won't possibly close over the t-shirt that proclaimed her the 'World's Greatest Grandma!' The store employee name tag identified her as 'Hi! I'm Debbie! Ask me Anything!' Hermione had no doubt this woman would have an answer for anything anyone could think to ask.

"Thank you," Hermione replied. "I've been using sunblock everyday."

"You a Brit, honey? What brings you here?"

Hermione grinned, "Adventure. Romance. Curiosity."

Debbie grinned back. "Well now, I'm all for that! What cha been doing? Been here long?"

Hermione gave her a brief summary of their days in Vegas and made sure to mention the zoo.

Debbie laughed. "Did you chase the chickens or did the chickens chase you? I been meaning to get out there with my grandkids, mebbe we'll go this weekend. Did they get the water fountain fixed?"

Hermione, remembering the dust dry fountain, told her no, or at least it wasn't on when they were there. Debbie shook her head. "Prob'ly can't afford it. Wish they could, it helps to have a drinking fountain for the kids."

"They seemed quite low on funds. It surprised me in a city where money is so... important."

Debbie snorted. "The city won't budget any money without the go-ahead from the casinos. An' they don't give a shit, 'cuse my french, honey. Yeah, money's important, important it goes into their pockets! Well, they don't care about one old grandma thinks."

Ron and Harry came out then with their packages and Debbie gave them the eye. "These your adventure and romance?" Hermione blushed and Debbie laughed as she ground out her cigarette with a pointy-toed cowboy boot. "You go girl! Well, smoke break's over, honey, back to work. Watch that sun now."

Over the next several days Hermione, Harry and Ron drove out to Red Rocks Park, then to Hoover Dam and finally a long drive out to the Grand Canyon. It was all amazing and beautiful, but Hermione often found her thoughts going back to that little zoo and it's chickens and all the people, the ordinary people of the city, who loved them. What could she do about it? They had a strict budget of how much money they were going to spend on this vacation and she couldn't give much of it to the zoo. If only she could get a serious amount of money without wiping out their vacation funds.... She bent over the fourth poker book, an idea unfurling in her head as she studied odds.

Their last night at the hotel, Hermione sat down at the least expensive poker table, playing five card draw. When she had quadrupled her money, she moved up to the mid level Hold 'em table. She was visibly nervous, which made her fellow players smile indulgently, albeit in a predatory way.

They weren't smiling when she moved on to the next level table, taking a goodly portion of their money with them.

In the end, she couldn't bring herself to play at the high stakes table. Bets that high made her too nervous to concentrate on the cards. But when she cashed out, she had more than six thousand dollars.

Her boys were waiting for her outside the cashier's office, and offered her their arms as she emerged. Hermione strolled with Ron and Harry to their room, squeezing their arms and smiling happily.

"Blimey, Hermione," said Ron, "What are you going to do with all that money?"

"Oh, I already took care of that. I had them send the cheque to the zoo. After all," and she grinned wickedly at the surprise on their faces, "What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas."

Words!

Mrs. Quizzical was doing a meme where you request 5 words from her that she thinks of when thinking of me, and I'm to explain what those words mean. The words she gave me are:
Trio
Wales
writing
internet
sexuality/gender (yeah cheating. that's two words. :P)

So.

Trio
One of my two favorite 'ships in Harry Potter fanfic, and a love I share with Mrs. Q.

Wales
Haven't been there - yet! It's been a magical land to me since Mary Stewart's Merlin series. Eventually I'll make it to Great Britain and spend some time exploring, especially Powys and Glamorgan, hopefully with Mrs. Q!

writing
Yes, I do. It's actually an addiction.

internet
I love the internet. So much information at the touch of the button. And it has allowed me to meet and develop friendships with people I wouldn't have met without it. Like Mrs. Q.

sexuality/gender
Yes, that's cheating!
In RL I'm a bisexual activist and a transgender ally. It definitely affects my writing.

The Outer Alliance and Chapter 22

Thanks to a hateful online rant by a SF writer, a group of LGBT writers have formed The Outer Alliance. Our first group action is this September 1st Pride posting.

As a member of The Outer Alliance, I advocate for queer speculative fiction and those who create, publish and support it whatever their sexual orientation and gender identity. I make sure this is reflected in my actions and my work.

For those unfamiliar with my work, "The 8th Year" is Harry Potter fanfic. (I'm also working on several other writing projects, including a YA fantasy and a cookbook, but I don't feel ready to post any of that.) Most of my blog is friend locked because a lot of it is NC-17, but this chapter is PG-13. Let me know if you want to be friended in to read the rest of it.

Thanks to my betas, Leviathan and Mrs. Q. They do their best for me; any remaining errors are my own fault.

Harry and his world belong to J.K. Rowling. My fanfic is wishful thinking.

+++++

Chapter 22
"I'm hoping I won't be here long.”
Saturday, September 26, 1998

+++++

The next morning the 8th year Quidditch team, with the addition of Luna and Hermione, stopped to see Neville on the way to breakfast. His bruises were at the green and yellow stage and his nose still swollen. He was embarrassed by his appearance and the attention focused on him, but the others traded stories about their own stays in hospital and he felt less conspicuous. Harry, they all agreed, won the "most frequent patient" award.

"Pomfrey can put a sign on the wall, 'Harry Potter slept here'".

"'And here, and here, and here...,'" Ron continued, pointing at the different beds Harry used while recuperating under Madame Pomfrey's care. "Blimey, mate, they should just name the whole hospital wing for you!"

"Shut it, Ron!" mumbled Harry, embarrassed, but Malfoy laughed scornfully.

"That's not how you get wings named for you," he smirked. "You do it by giving whomping big piles of galleons."

"You'd know, wouldn't you, Malfoy?" snarked Ron.

"I knew you wouldn't, Weasel!" snarled Draco.

"Boys!" Hermione called them into line and they both clamped their mouths shut and looked away. The rest of the 8th years shared smiles and rolled eyes at the exchange.

Pomfrey chased them, including Dean, off to breakfast, assuring them that Neville would be released later that morning. Dean said he'd be back after breakfast to make sure Neville got back to the dorm.

"I'm not up to playing Quidditch today," he said apologetically. "While Neville's face was still swollen he breathed really loud and hoarsely. Then once in awhile he'd sort of hold his breath and then snort really loud when he started breathing again." The others laughed but Dean shook his head. "Laugh all you want, but it was impossible to sleep, waiting for him to start breathing again."

"S'alright," Ron said. "That's what we got extras for."

"What are you two doing with this rabble then?" Dean asked Luna and Hermione.

"We're going to London with Madame Indigo to buy some books," Luna said.

"The Lights game starts at 2 o'clock," Ron reminded them.

"We'll meet you at the Leaky by one then," Hermione assured him.

+++++


"Aren't we going to Foyle's?" asked Indigo as the cab turned onto Marchmont Street.

"We weren't planning on it, unless you want to go there after,"

"After what?"

"After Gay's The Word," Luna said, as the vehicle stopped at 66 Marchmont.

As they climbed out of the cab, Hermione took note of the somewhat perplexed and doubtful look on Indigo's face.

"Surely this doesn't bother you?" asked Hermione, disturbed that this could be a problem for a woman she considered a friend and mentor.

"On a personal level, not at all," Indigo replied. "I'm weighing the consequences here. On one hand, I go in with you and the Board of Governors fires me for taking students into a gay bookstore. On the other hand, I let you go in on your own, something happens to you, and McGonagall transfigures me into a bootscraper."

Hermione snorted and Luna said, "If teachers aren't allowed to use transfiguration as a punishment, that must apply to the Headmistress as well, don't you think?"

"I don't want to find out!"

Hermione asked, "Are you going to forbid us?"

Indigo rolled her eyes, "Oh yeah, and that's worked so well in the past, hasn't it? Remus and Tonks have told me about you lot, you know. No, let's go in. But I want you to know I really love my job!"

"We understand," Luna said, patting her on the shoulder. "We'll tell them we forced you."

"Right. And they'll believe that because?"

"We killed Voldemort."

"Oh, right. Forgot about that."

In the store the three of them split up and explored the store in their own individual fashions. Luna wandered off with no apparent destination, humming softly and occasionally touching the spines of the books as if she were greeting old friends. Indigo marched over to the main desk and began asking questions about teaching materials and resources.

Hermione wove a pattern through the store, getting a feel for the layout. History. Politics. Civil Rights. Arts. Fashion. Coming Out. Sex. Relationships. Pregnancy. Adoption. Parenting. AIDS. Legal issues. Media. Spirituality. Religion. Travel. International cultures. Lesbian studies. Gay Studies. Anthologies. Transgenderism. Drag Queens. Drag Kings. Gay Husbands. Lesbian Wives.

Hermione didn't go through the fiction section. She didn't want fiction, she wanted facts and figures. It had to be here. She woven through the store again.

"Can I help you find something?"

The woman was not much older than she was, but she made Hermione feel naive and inexperienced, which, she reminded herself, was ridiculous. The clerk had multiple piercings, tattoos, stylish eye glasses and multicolor hair that Tonks would have liked. But neither Tonks nor Indigo intimidated her by just a eye sweep up and down her body.

"I'm looking for the section on bisexuality."

"No such thing, dearie."

"No section?"

"No such thing as bisexuality."

"What?!"

"It's just a phase, dearie, for people afraid to come out all the way."

"I see." Hermione's voice would have froze the woman solid if she had been at all perceptive. "There are two books in specific I'm looking for: 'The Bisexual Option' by Fritz Klein, and "Bi Any Other Name', edited by Lani Kaahumanu and Loraine Hutchins."

"OK, dearie, let's just look them up and see if they are available." There was something in her voice that made Hermione think the clerk thought she was making them up.

They did have a copy of 'The Bisexual Option' and Hermione was glad of it; she had read it when they were staying at Lupin's but she wanted a copy of her own. She saw several other titles listed but none seemed available at Gay's The Word. The clerk made several other references to bisexuality being transitory, which bothered Hermione greatly. Was she just a stop along the way to gay for Ron and Harry? She didn't think so, but what if...?

Indigo had gathered several book lists as well as a hand written list of recommendations, and Luna held a copy of a thick book with tenderness and joy. Luna was also chatting and giggling with another clerk, this one with long hair and purple eyeshadow. Indigo herded them through the check out process. Indigo was obviously familiar with muggle money and even had a credit card, as did Hermione, and Luna surprised them both by having and easily using muggle money.

"If we don't dawdle, we can make a quick stop at Foyle's and still make it to The Leaky in time to meet the others before the London Lights game," Indigo pointed out.

"Are you going to the game?" asked Hermione, surprised.

"No, but I'll stick with you two until the others arrive."

Luna and Hermione rolled their eyes at each other but they knew the teacher had a point. They browsed through a small portion of the big (straight) muggle bookstore before heading over to the Leaky Cauldron. Since the rest of the 8th years weren't there yet they all ordered a bite to eat.

Ernest, Susan and Neville had stayed at Hogwarts, but the rest of the 8th year tromped in while Hermione and Luna debated dessert. They made quite a large group in the pub, and Indigo encouraged them to move along. After buying a supply of food and drink, they went out to the courtyard behind the pub to apparate away to the Quidditch playing field.

It was a much smaller field than the World Cup, of course, about the same size as Hogwarts' field. As the group climbed up into the bleachers on the home team side, a number of people pointed and whispered, first at Harry, then they began to realize who the rest of the people with him were as well. The attention began to make the group uneasy, and they made sure to put Harry in the center. Justin and Terry made it a point to sit above and behind the main group, giving them a better view to watch for problems.

Harry was staring intently out at the empty field, ignoring the murmurs around them. Ron and Hermione shared worried looks.

"I didn't think it would be so bad," muttered Harry to Ron.

Ron brushed his shoulder against Harry's. "Buck up, mate. Once the game starts, everyone will settle down."

“How did the game with Slytherin go?” asked Hermione, trying to get Harry's mind off the crowd.

Harry grinned and Ron groaned.

“Not the stunning victory Ron planned.”

“Our offense needs a lot of work. I kept the score down but we only scored twenty points to their ten when Harry caught the snitch.”

“So you won!”

“Yeah, but... I dunno, Hermione.”

“What?”

“I don't know if we're really doing them any good.”

“Ron. Is your team having fun?”

“Well... yeah.”

“Have they improved since they started playing?”

“Oh sure!”

“If it weren't for the Eighth Year team, would the house teams have any experience playing another team before they compete?”

“No, but -- ,” Ron was interrupted by the cheers of the crowd as the two teams flew onto the field.

The game between the London Lights and the Sherwoodshire Merry Men was intense but clean. The Eighth Years were unconditionally on the side of the Lights and cheered Cho on, screaming with delight when she out-maneuvered the Merry seeker and nabbed the snitch, ending the game with the Lights winning by 40 points.

Both teams and a number of their fans then repaired to a nearby Wizarding pub and took turns buying rounds of the local ale. It was after the third round when Harry turned around to avoid an overly enthusiastic fan to find himself face to face with Chang.

“Good catch, Cho!” he congratulated his former rival and crush.

She waved it away. “It wasn't anything special. I just got there first. Harry, I've been practicing the Wronski and I just can't get it. I almost lose my grip, no matter what angle I try it at. You pulled it off the first time you tried it! What am I doing wrong?”

Harry frowned. Cho was an excellent flyer and shouldn't be having trouble with a maneuver like that.

She continued, “Harve says women have less upper body strength and a weaker grip, but I exercize and I know I match most of the blokes on the team!”

Harry closed his eyes and pictured Cho on her broom. Mentally, he checked her posture, her arm position, her grip. “Cho, are you right or left handed?”

“Right.”

“This may be rubbish, but try advancing your right hand on the broom handle and keep your elbow tucked in. Lead with your right shoulder.”

“Krum rolls to the left.”

“He's left-handed.”

“Ah-ha.” Cho's eyes were slightly unfocused as she murmured his words to herself and went through the motions as she envisioned it. Then she grinned at him and said “I'll give it a try, but it sounds good to me. Harve always seems to have helpful suggestions for the boys, but he told me he doesn't like coaching girls. I'm the first woman on this team since he started coaching them 45 years ago.”

“Where's this Harve?”

She tilted her head and rolled her eyes towards a beefy, grey haired man with a walrus mustache. Harry thought he bore an eerie resemblance to Uncle Vernon.

“Why are you putting up with that, Cho?”

“It's a solid local team. A lot of their flyers have been brought up to the regional clubs. I'm hoping I won't be here long.”

“But you should be getting the same level of coaching as the blokes. It's not fair."

Cho shrugged and looked uncomfortable. "Harry," she said, "I've been meaning to tell you, I'm sorry."

"For what?" he asked, astonished.

"For coming down on you about the whole thing with Marietta and the D.A. It wasn't your fault, and she could have gotten us in a lot more trouble than she did. And you were right all along."

"You make it sound like I actually knew what I was doing. I was fumbling around like everyone else. I think the only one with a half decent grasp on things was Hermione."

"I suppose. At least I was right about being jealous of her."

"But I wasn't, I mean, I didn't think about her like that then!"

"Aye, but if someone had asked who was the most important woman in your life, what would you have answered?"

"Hermione," Harry admitted sheepishly.

"And now?"

"Hermione. It's been Hermione since First Year."

"See? Even when she wasn't your girlfriend, she was still your girl."

"Hey you two, what's got you looking so serious?" Dean intervened.

Both Cho and Harry shook their heads. "Just talking about what an idiot I was when we were younger," Harry volunteered.

"And how long he's been in love with Hermione."

"And don't leave out Ron; it's been just as long with him."

"Is that what all the fights were about? Aie, didn't think you'd all live through Fourth Year."

"Oi, Harry! C'mere!"

"True love calls."

"You mean bellows."

"Oh shut it you two!" Harry made his way over to Ron, feeling that one more unresolved issue had been laid to rest.

++++++

A/N: I mean no disrespect to Gay's the Word. I have no idea if they had a section on bisexuality either then or now. I know people like Hermione's clerk are still with us.

Both "The Bisexual Option" and "Bi Any Other Name" are real books. There are lots of others as well. I'll go ahead and recommend "Bi America" by my friend Bill Burlson; it's really good, and I'm not just saying that because I'm in it!

an 8th year update

I added Chapter 21 of the 8th year here and at Table for Three. It's only available here for my HP fanfic guests, so you havta sign in (and be friended by me) to see it.

The good news is, Chapter 22 is over half written already!

The Quidditch Pitch, part two

The Pitch has THREE of my stories up on their featured stories poll!
I'm completely blown away by this and want you all to go and vote for me. I hold out little hope that I'll make it, as I'm up against some great writers.

The stories nominated are:
'Infinite Incantatum' in the Drabbles category.
'Litany' in Dark Tales.
'In The Morning' in Menage a Trio

I'm competing against one of my betas, Leviathan, in the Drabbles category and worst of all, against Argyle_S in the Menage A Trio category. Argyle_S's story 'Mental, That One' is the story that started me writing trio! How can I even hope to win against that!

Anyway, go vote, however the writing takes you!

And more stories soon, I hope. Paid work is even more soul sucking than usual.

The Quidditch Pitch: OMG!

"There's a First Time For Everything" has been named a featured story at the Quidditch Pitch!
They even sent me a banner!
There's a little blue ribbon by my story!
It's been read 259 times! (But no one has reviewed it.)
Hee!

Deathly Hallows: more commentary.

The more distance I have between the first reading of "Deathly Hallows" and now, the more unsatisfied I am.

SpoilersCollapse )

The Deathly Hallows

We went to the downtown Barnes and Noble to a book release party and had a good time. Tristan won a HP coffee mug and they gave away gold and red tassels and Potter glasses and stickers and stuff. I was working next door to the bookstore when Half Blood Prince came out, so got my wrist band (to reserve a place in line) at 10 a.m. that day, but this year I wasn't so got the wristband when we got there at nine-thirty. Last time: # 10, this book: #232! Fortunately was next two a lovely couple from Georgia and had great conversation while waiting and started reading while walking to the parking ramp.

Stayed up till 3:30 reading, got up at 5:30 since I was going to an Arts and Crafts show. Fortunately once we were set up there I could read for most of the day and just take breaks when I was needed for selling stuff. Then after I got home I had to stop reading to go play poker and visit with friends who were in town: Bob from Wisconsin and Alan from Tel Aviv. But got up this morning and finished it this afternoon.

Spoilers and Deathly Hallows discussion hereCollapse )