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Chapter 6 — The Mors Mortis Society

When Alexandra received her invitation to the MMS at the end of book one, I hadn't planned much beyond it being a secret Dark Arts club.

As I delved into the MMS, I was beginning to invent "new" magic, straying further from Rowling canon. Being somewhat of a purist in my own way, I spent a lot of time agonizing over what I would and would not introduce into my world.

“Charlie's your familiar,” said Constance.

“A curse drawn by a familiar goes to its witch,” stated Forbearance.

That made Alexandra frown again. Anna started to disagree with them, which led to an argument about the nature of curses. Alexandra didn't much like the idea that Charlie could go and get her cursed, though she certainly didn't want Charlie cursed either.

I've always viewed familiars as more than pets, and I think this is consonant with traditional witchcraft lore, though Rowling never did much with her animals. Apparently the Weasleys didn't think it unusual for a rat to live more than a dozen years, and Hedwig and Crookshanks occasionally showed signs of more-than-animal sentience, but Voldemort seems to be the only one who ever actually worked magic through his familiar.

She still hated her uniform, but it looked sharper now than it had at first. Some of the other girls had helped her figure out how to make it fit her better, and Beatrice had grudgingly taught her a Polishing Charm for her shoes.

Something Alexandra continues to let pass unnoticed. She thinks of herself as being unpopular and despised, but people actually help her. She could have made a lot more friends if she were willing to make overtures herself. This is, in fact, one of her biggest flaws — part of being such a loner that she won't ask for help. She's got her father's charisma, but she hasn't learned how to use it.

However, in this chapter, with Anna being unhelpful (and whining about the JROC), Alexandra finally resorts to seeking Darla and Angelique's help, which was an opportunity for more lines from everyone's favorite jarvey. (I swear Honey is one of my most popular characters.)

Darla snorted. “You're about as secretive as Honey.” She sounded resentful and smug at the same time. “Everything you do, the whole school knows about it.”

“Blabbermouth! Lip-flapping babbling jabberjaw!” screamed the jarvey from across the room.

Bearing in mind that Alexandra Quick takes place years after Harry Potter, I've always assumed a certain amount of transference of magical "technology." Hence the MMS coins, which may or may not be based on a spell invented by a certain Muggle-born witch for communications between members of another secretive club a few years earlier...

Alexandra is making lots of mistakes in this chapter. Obviously, deciding to get involved with the MMS is the first, but of course she'd do that. She's curious and naturally drawn to forbidden things. In the meantime, though, she's allowing herself to become estranged from Anna, who is not bearing up well under Max's bullying, and Alexandra hasn't yet learned to respect her friend's strengths without showing impatience at her weaknesses. She's also brushing off David and the Pritchards. And even taking shots at Angelique when she sees a vulnerability. (Note that while Darla has often been a bitch to Alex, Angelique occasionally teases her but has never actually been mean.) So yeah, this is another chapter to check off in the "Alex is a shitty friend" column.

She makes her way to the Mors Mortis Society meeting, and finds Stuart Cortlandt and Torvald Krogstad have been invited, along with Darla and Angelique. And Tomo. And Maximilian King. So despite Blood Quills and Mortal Contracts, the MMS so far looks like your basic "secret" club full of punks and posers. Which is exactly what they're supposed to look like.

I liked this chapter, mostly for the bits of wizarding lore I got to drop into it, and because I think I was showing the evolution of Alexandra's personality and her relationships — not a very positive evolution at the moment. My plan was to let her walk up to the edge and make herself almost completely unlikeable, before her conscience gets the better of her.


( 6 comments — Leave a comment )
Jul. 7th, 2013 05:58 am (UTC)
I also love it when honey cracks in. My favorite line was when honey blurt out:"Goodness look at those ROLLS!"... Had funny interludes if childhood when I read that....
Jul. 8th, 2013 05:08 am (UTC)
Yeah, Honey is definitely one of my favorite characters. If Angelique returns to Charmbridge (perhaps as Anna's new roommate?) now that the school in New Orleans has sunk into the swamp, I hope we get a scene or two with Honey providing the usual commentary.
Maciek Paprocki
Jul. 24th, 2013 04:50 pm (UTC)
Nitpicker alert
Just to put it straight: Hermione did not invent Protean Charm, she just did a complex bit of spell layering, making the coins warm up whenever the date was changed.
And I'll use this occasion to congratulate you on your superb writing! Alex became one of my favourite characters and I'm waiting impatiently for her fifth year.
BTW, are we ever going to see Dean Grimm lose a magical duel (not counting Ben Journey's tricks)?
Jul. 25th, 2013 01:05 am (UTC)
Re: Nitpicker alert
Dean Grimm lose? Maybe if she duels Abraham Thorn...
Maciek Paprocki
Jul. 25th, 2013 08:56 am (UTC)
Re: Nitpicker alert
Yes, even Abraham Thorn. My problem with Dean Grimm is simple: she has seen time and again that treating Alex as a little child only leads to trouble and yet, she is still quite condescending and unwilling to admit Alex might have been right once, twice or more than that. I have this inner urge to break the haughty and Dean Grimm is one of the haughtiest characters out there. I know she manages one of premier schools of magic in Wizarding America, she's one of the most powerful witches and so on... but still, taking into account she was the quiet and studious one of the Grimm Triplets, she's quite snotty and treats Alex as if she was a great deal younger than she actually is. After four years of dealing with Alex, any teacher could see that this attitude is not going to work. In my view, Lilith Grimm is an effective manager and strict disciplinarian, but a poor educator.
Just one more thing: what's up with Ms Shirtliffe? I understand that she dislikes Alex' hotheadedness, brashness and lack of inner discipline, but at times it seems like she just has mood swings and lashes out at Alex. I believe her behavior might have alienated Alex a bit: I waited for the scene when Alex finally starts to confide in her, and I got it in AQATSA. Then, when Alex is finally approachable and starts divulging something, Ms Shirtliffe behaves as if she didn't care and leaves Alex alone with her Great Work. AQATTC established that Ms Shirtliffe has a sense of humor and can even accept some badmouthing from Alex: I always enjoyed that scene when she explains patiently to Alex why doggerels are detrimental to her magical development. I know that her patience might be wearing thin after four years of dealing with Alex, but this attitude of friendliness was something Alex could be actually won with. Just some of my ramblings.
BTW, is Ms Shirtliffe Dean Grimm's favourite employee?

Edited at 2013-07-25 08:57 am (UTC)
Jul. 25th, 2013 10:28 am (UTC)
Re: Nitpicker alert
Ms. Shirtliffe does have a few secrets of her own. As for Dean Grimm, she certainly hasn't always chosen the best way to deal with her troublesome niece - partly, as you learned in the last book, because she sees too much of her sister in her.
( 6 comments — Leave a comment )

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