Chapter 13 — Clockwork Mutiny.
Can I just mention here that Rowling capitalization rules annoy the hell out of me? I always consult Potterwords when writing HP fan fiction, but Rowling was not consistent, so when you are making up your own terms, you have to arbitrarily decide whether capitalization or non-capitalization looks more "Potterish."
I think I was pretty consistent in capitalizing "Clockwork." But I still go back and forth on "Hodag."
Out on the athletic fields, some kids were still playing games, and she could see David over near the aviary, unhooding Malcolm and letting the falcon soar into the blood-red sky. As the raptor passed over the woods bordering the academy's lawns, Alexandra saw a great black cloud ripple and swarm amongst the trees, accompanied by a cacophony of shrieking and cawing. Crows by the hundreds had settled into the branches, but Malcolm's passage overhead had unsettled them.
David and his bad-ass bird, stirring up
The shadows cast over his face by the roaring flames made his expression impossible to read, but for one moment, they made eye contact. Alexandra didn't know if Larry was somehow responsible for this, but she knew she would never beg him for help. So she just stared at him, and then the Clockworks swung Alexandra back, preparing to heave her forward into the fire.
Yes, Alexandra really is that stubborn — she would rather die then beg. We know that she will beg for her friends' sakes, but not her own. But Larry jumps into the pit and saves her with the transfiguration jinx, thus foiling Mr. Journey's latest half-assed murder attempt, and demonstrating that Larry, while a bigoted jerk, is not pure evil, nor is he gutless.
“That's highly doubtful,” said Ms. Grimm.
“Whoever it is has tried three times,” Alexandra said.
Ms. Grimm arched her eyebrows. “Three times?”
“At the Invisible Bridge, when Galen tried to eat me and Larry, and last night.”
If Alexandra had been hoping to surprise Ms. Grimm, she was disappointed. The Dean maintained her cool expression.
“You have an unfortunate habit of being wherever trouble happens, Miss Quick, and quite often, you are the cause of said trouble. I assure you, no harm will come to you from anyone else. I take the safety of all my students very seriously. But I cannot protect you from yourself.”
“Or from your cat, apparently,” Alexandra replied.
Ms. Grimm's eyes narrowed to slits as her forehead creased into a downward 'V.' “Once again, you are rapidly exhausting any latitude I'm willing to give you as a result of your unfortunate experience. Please return to class, Miss Quick.” Her tone did not brook further discussion, so Alexandra silently turned around and marched to the door.
“Guess it will be harder to kill me in the library, at least,” she muttered, just loud enough for the two grown-ups to hear her, before she exited the Dean's office.
Alexandra is (at this point with some justification) getting very upset at the fact that adults don't seem to listen to her. And of course she is completely failing to notice that she gets away with mouthing off to the Dean in a way no one else could. She won't figure out just how much latitude she's been given until book four, but yes, Lilith Grimm, as scary and authoritarian as she tries to be, has been going easy on Alex from the start. Which may have been one of her mistakes.
I always saw Dean Grimm as very smart and formidable, but not unflawed - she is not a master planner and manipulator like Dumbledore, whose schemes (almost) always play out exactly according to his designs. Dean Grimm makes plans, but there's often a very large hole in her plans - Alexandra. Who is too much like her mother, and thus a vulnerability to Lilith. Alex (as we'll see later) can provoke emotions that Lilith is usually able to control, and her unpredictability also tends to surprise Lilith more than it should, because rather than dealing with a headstrong little girl, Lilith keeps feeling like she's dealing with Hecate. And no, she really shouldn't keep thinking of Alexandra as a younger version of her mother. Goodness, we've never had adults making that mistake in the HPverse before, have we?
Anyway, at this point, Dean Grimm is definitely lying to Alexandra, because she knows damn well that these murder attempts aren't "accidents," and she knows who she's keeping an eye on.
Although David and Anna were now taking her more seriously, they still weren't convinced that Ms. Grimm was trying to kill her, or indeed, that anyone was.
“The Invisible Bridge could have been an accident,” Anna said, in study hall that night.
“And you said yourself you're the one who opened the windows in the attic so that cat could get at you,” David pointed out.
“And you did tamper with the Clockworks, with your dogger – I mean, your made-up charm,” added Anna.
“So it's all a coincidence? You think these things keep happening to me just because I'm troublesome?”
Her friends looked at each other.
“Not exactly,” said David hesitantly.
“We're certainly not saying you deserve bad things happening to you!” Anna added quickly.
“Fine!” Alexandra said. “Well, I'll behave myself and I won't cause any more trouble. Then you'll see.”
“That would be something to see, all right,” David said.
Alexandra glared at him, and caught Anna trying to stifle a giggle.
“In the meantime,” she declared, “I'm going to be researching the Dark Convention.”
She left her friends staring after her, as she left the study hall to head for her first detention in the library.
One thing I am noticing as I reread AQATTC is that, while David and Anna are around Alexandra pretty often, and thus forming an enduring friendship, Constance and Forbearance only show up when I want them to dispense some "Ozarker wisdom" or otherwise be their colorful selves. Which means I was really giving them short shrift in terms of developing them as important secondary characters (and hence, no surprise that for the first three books people kept telling me that they were pretty much indistinguishable from one another). This was initially a deliberate decision on my part — the Ozarkers tends to be reclusive and isolationist, so just the fact that C&F are hanging around with "furriners" at all, let alone a Troublesome girl like Alex, is very bold of them. But I probably should have included them in more scenes.
Anyway, this was a short chapter and something important did happen in it — another murder attempt — but at this point I needed to do more than just keep repeating attempts on Alex's life.
I noticed one bad POV shift in this chapter, and some somewhat awkward writing, but I also found a fair amount of descriptive prose that I thought wasn't bad, and which I have sometimes skimped on in later books.