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05 January 2008 @ 01:47 pm
fic for lazy_neutrino: Lacking in Colour (Millicent Bulstrode, Anthony Goldstein, PG-13)  
Title: Lacking in Colour
Author: noticeably
Recipient: lazy_neutrino
Rating: PG-13
Character(s): Millicent Bulstrode, Anthony Goldstein
Summary: The first time that Millicent tunes into Potterwatch, she swears that it's an accident.
Warnings: None.
Author's Notes: the request asked for something that showed what the minor characters did in book seven. My goal - and, to be honest, I'm not sure if I actually accomplished it or not - was to sort of blur the house lines (see title) and show that not everyone has to be classified simply by their house association. I'm not sure if this is what you wanted, my dear mystery recipient, but I hope that you enjoy it nonetheless! ♥ Many thanks to virginia_bell for looking this over for me!

--

We could never learn to be brave and patient if there were only joy in the world.
- Helen Kellar

Millicent is silent as she walks into the Great Hall, trailing far behind her housemates, wandering along just behind Longbottom and Corner. She keeps her head down as she walks, fingers clasped tightly in front of her, not daring to look up. She doesn't want to see Snape sitting where Dumbledore should, doesn't want to see the wide, empty spaces sprinkled across the other tables. So she simply takes her seat at the Slytherin table and stares down at the surface, absently tracing little drawings across the old oak.

Daphne takes the seat to her left a moment later and looks at Millicent as though she's gone insane. "Millicent," she hisses, nudging at her. "What are you doing?"

"She's just being daft," Pansy snaps as she takes the seat across from the two of them. Flipping her hair, she adds, "She just doesn't understand how lucky we really are."

This catches Millicent's attention, and she raises her head to stare at Pansy. "Lucky?" she repeats dully, unsure of where this could possibly be going.

Pansy stares at her again, this time almost as though she really does think that Millicent is daft. "Yes, lucky! We're here in a very pivotal time, you know. Headmaster Snape is going to restore Hogwarts to its former glory and -"

Millicent tunes out the tirade, instead looking back down and concentrating on her drawing. Her fingers fly over the oak, and if she looks closely enough, she swears that maybe she can see the outline of a heart.

***

Millicent will never admit this to anyone, but she wishes that it was Professor Lupin teaching them this year. He may have been a werewolf, she remembers as she watches Longbottom scream under Cruciatus, but she thinks that it is Carrow who is the animal.

***

The first time that Millicent tunes into Potterwatch, she swears that it's an accident.

She had made the choice to sneak out of the dorm the night before - a dangerous thing to do, nowadays, but she was so hungry - and she'd overheard two fourth-year Gryffindor students whispering about it to one another just outside the entrance to the library. The only words she had been able to catch were Potterwatch, radio, and James Potter. It isn't much to work with, but then Millicent isn't half as stupid as everyone seemed to think that she is, and it only take her two tries to get her radio tuned into the right station.

She listens intently to the crew as they talk about Potter and his friends, as they talk about all the things - all the deaths - that she hadn't heard about. She thinks that she should go and tell the Headmaster what she's found, thinks that she should turn it off and pretend that she hadn't found it in the first place.

She doesn't.

***

Anthony Goldstein is the only Ravenclaw that Millicent has ever really had any interaction with. The fact of the matter is that they're both top near the top of the class in Transfiguration, and because of it, they've studied together on more than one occasion. She doesn't go as far as to say that they're friends, but she sometimes likes to entertain thoughts about what it would be like if they were.

Millicent doesn't have many friends.

"This is fucking ridiculous," Anthony whispers for what must be the third time in as many minutes. "We have to do something!"

"Like what?" Millicent asks dejectedly, watching with a morbid sort of curiosity as Ginny Weasley attempts to comfort a crying first-year Hufflepuff in the corner. If the gashes on the girl's arms are of any indication, she's most likely just gotten out of detention with their Muggle Studies professor.

"I don't know," he says quietly, leaning in close, "but there has to be some way to make things better around here. I wish we knew what was going on with Potter. Maybe that would help, you know?"

Millicent bites her lip, unsure if she should take the chance of telling him. But something in his eyes echoes with her - it's the same desperate look in hers, in Weasley's, in Longbottom's - and so she grabs her quill and scribbles four words on a small piece of parchment; Watch. Music. Potter. Black. Sliding the paper into the cover of his Transfiguration textbook, she ignores his confused look and leaves the library.

He's smart, she tells herself. He'll figure it out.

***

The second time - the third time - that Millicent tunes into Potterwatch, it's entirely intentional.

***

"We'll be studying the use and effects of Stupefy today," Professor McGonagall says briskly as she enters the classroom. She does not look at her students when she arrives at the desk, instead slamming a pile of books and parchment down.

The sound echoes around the room as a small murmur breaks out amongst the students. Up in the front of the room, Millicent notices Anthony lean over and mutter something to Terry Boot. A moment later he half-turns in his seat and looks back at her, the expression on his face clearly confused. Millicent shrugs in reply, unsure of what's going on.

Beside her, Daphne leans over. "Has McGongall gone insane? This is Transfiguration!"

Millicent stares at McGonagall and, noticing a still-fresh cut on her face, thinks that she hasn't.

***

Anthony disappears on a Tuesday, along with three other Ravenclaw boys. The Headmaster is upset, Millicent hears through the grapevine. The Carrows are furious. The other professors seem partly amused, partly worried.

Millicent is scared.

***

She doesn't listen to Potterwatch again, after that.

***

When Pansy shouts for someone to grab Potter, Millicent wants nothing more than to reach across the table and slap her. She probably would have, too, she thinks, if the other students in the Great Hall hadn't beaten her to it and - despite the severity of the situation - Millicent can't help but appreciate the sight of Pansy trembling under such scrutiny.

The feeling is short lived though. A moment later, Professor McGonagall is telling the Slytherins to leave the hall, and Millicent suddenly finds herself swept away in a sea of green and silver.

She walks with her head bowed, fingers clasped tightly in front of her. She does not look up, she does not speak. She is so utterly caught in her own thoughts that she nearly misses the sound of someone running and a frantic cry of, "Millicent!"

She turns just in time to see Anthony move towards her. "What?" she asks, looking at him tiredly. It's been almost a month since he went 'missing', nearly a month since she's seen him, and there's a part of her that's still angry, even if she does understand why.

"Where are you going?" he gasps, panting for air, almost as though he had run a mile instead of the few feet from his place at the end of the Ravenclaw table to where they are standing. "You - you don't have to leave," he says almost desperately, reaching out hesitantly towards her.

"They won't let me fight with them," Millicent says bitterly, turning away from him and glancing down at her silver and green tie with resignation. "I'm a Slytherin."

"That's not true," exclaims Anthony, sounding offended.

"You know that it is," Millicent replies, still refusing to look at him. She blinks back what she won't admit are tears and clutches her hands together tightly, refusing to let him see her fall apart.

"Then don't be a Slytherin," Anthony says suddenly.

"I - what?"

Anthony has a look of concentration on his face when Millicent finally turns back to look at him. She's just about to speak when, to her surprise, he suddenly reaches up and undoes the knot on his tie. "What are you doing?" she asks, confused.

Instead of answering her right away, he moves closer and does the same to her tie, tossing it on the ground beside his. "There," he says quietly, reaching out a hand. "Now neither of us has any colours."

Millicent stares at the tangled mess of bronze, silver, blue and green for a long moment, the tears suddenly spilling forth. Wiping them away with her sleeve, she reaches out and takes his hand, giving him a small, hesitant smile as he pulls her back towards the Great Hall.

Millicent doesn't know what she believes in, but she thinks that maybe it's time she found out.
 
 
 
lazy_neutrinolazy_neutrino on January 5th, 2008 07:18 pm (UTC)
Oh God, that is so gorgeous. I have a huge soft spot for Millicent (and also for Anthony although we know so much less about him). I love the low-key style you have developed here; the story is elegant and controlled, with lovely little gestures and details. And a happy ending. I don't think I could have wished for a story better suited to me. I wish I had written it. Thank you!
noticeably on January 12th, 2008 06:46 pm (UTC)
I'm so glad that you liked it! :D I was so nervous about writing minor characters - the most 'minor' I've ever written before was Colin - so it was rather challenging for me! I'm glad that it turned out all right in the end. ♥
(no subject) - lazy_neutrino on January 12th, 2008 07:03 pm (UTC) (Expand)
chthonyachthonya on January 5th, 2008 11:24 pm (UTC)
Why, oh why, did JKR not write a scene like this?

Beautifully written, beautifully characterised telling of what should have been.
noticeably on January 12th, 2008 06:47 pm (UTC)
Thank you so much! I'm really glad that you liked it. :D
snorkackcatchersnorkackcatcher on January 6th, 2008 12:18 am (UTC)
Interesting take on this -- and the sparse style is very effective (and possibly vaguely familiar, but we'll see after the reveal!).
noticeably on January 12th, 2008 06:48 pm (UTC)
Thank you! I'm glad you liked it. :D And I'm sure it was fairly familiar...T_T I am sort of bad at writing in a style that would give anonymity.
The Winged Poet: Ravenclawsciathan_file on January 6th, 2008 12:48 am (UTC)
This is lovely - your development of such minor characters is so wonderful and crisp. I really get a sense of them.

Simply beautiful. :)
noticeably on January 12th, 2008 06:48 pm (UTC)
Thank you so much! I'm really glad that you enjoyed it! :)
a little summer windslam_girl on January 6th, 2008 05:34 am (UTC)
Oh wow, I wasn't sure what to expect, never really having read these characters before in a fic, but that was just lovely. :]
noticeably on January 12th, 2008 06:49 pm (UTC)
Thank you! I'm glad that you liked it. :D
Alejandra (was here): knight busthat_september on January 6th, 2008 06:54 am (UTC)
I love this. I always knew not all the Slytherins turned tail and ran.

The interactions between Millicent and Anthony were done wonderfully and the writing in general was incredible. Thanks for sharing this.
noticeably on January 12th, 2008 06:49 pm (UTC)
That's what really got me excited about this prompt! I loved the chance to show that maybe some of the Slytherins had stuck around - I really disliked that about the book. :/

Thank you so much! I'm really glad that you liked it! :D
(Deleted comment)
noticeably on January 12th, 2008 06:50 pm (UTC)
Thank you so much! I'm glad that you liked it! :)
Anagnorisisnorisis on January 6th, 2008 01:19 pm (UTC)
Wonderful! Yes, I'd like to think that this really did happen in canon, if not with Millicent, then another Slytherin who is able to break out of the box.

Millicent will never admit this to anyone, but she wishes that it was Professor Lupin teaching them this year. He may have been a werewolf, she remembers as she watches Longbottom scream under Cruciatus, but she thinks that it is Carrow who is the animal.

Realistic, brutual and utterly brilliant, as are all the other details about what Hogwarts was like in that year. I love the ending, and I wish that was how it really happened. Very well done!
noticeably on January 12th, 2008 06:50 pm (UTC)
Thank you so, so much! I'm really glad that you liked this so much! :D
Aberforth!charming_goats on January 6th, 2008 04:26 pm (UTC)
Oh wow, I absolutely love this story. Fantastic work! *pimps on journal*
noticeably on January 12th, 2008 06:51 pm (UTC)
Thank you! :D I'm glad you liked it!
lyraslyras on January 6th, 2008 10:43 pm (UTC)
Oh, I love your Millicent! So utterly believable, so hungry, so alone. How awful that she's left behind when the others disappear into the Room of Requirement - although of course she would be. Lovely writing!
noticeably on January 12th, 2008 06:51 pm (UTC)
Thank you so much! I found her difficult to write (I really don't tangle with minor characters very often...), so it's really nice to hear that I managed it well! :))
La Reine Noire: Elegancelareinenoire on January 10th, 2008 05:50 pm (UTC)
Oh, absolutely brilliant! I love how you've managed to get to the heart of Millicent in a few sparse lines. And this was a scene I so wanted to see in canon and fits in perfectly with the sort of thing that Harry simply wouldn't have noticed. This fic is totally part of my personal canon now.
noticeably on January 12th, 2008 06:52 pm (UTC)
Thank you so much! :"> I'm really, really glad that you liked this so much! ♥
Alethia N. M. Black: [reading] enjoying the classicscaretta on January 12th, 2008 09:50 pm (UTC)
I hate to let this be the first thing I mention, baby, but you misspelled Helen Keller's name. XD

I love how you characterize Millicent. She is thrown into a different persona, I think, by the war; she has to be more introspective and think about things a lot more. She sees things, especially about the other houses, instead of focusing on her own. I also like how you inserted little scenes with Anthony in there.

I think the most symbolic thing about this fic is the tearing off of colors. I would have liked to see the rest of the students follow suit, but it would never happen. D:

♥ This makes me want to dabble in present tense. It's just such an amazing flow.
noticeably on January 13th, 2008 01:05 am (UTC)
BLAST. :( I just copied what the quote site had listed as the spelling. CLEARLY, NEXT TIME I WILL HAVE TO CHECK. :((( Bawling.

Thank you! :D I was worried about writing her - I don't usually write minor characters - so I'm really glad she turned out okay. I like the idea that not all the Slytherins are set in their views, you know? I like that there may be a few that are sort of unsure and wavering.

No, it probably wouldn't have. :/ That's why I picked the two characters I did - we know so little about them that it could be entirely plausible for them to do that.

*__* You should!! I love writing in present tense. I feel like it more puts you into the story. And you'd do well with it.

Thank you so much for reading this! :D ♥
and walk away: eiffel tower clouds yellow-gold-brown skbloodrebel333 on January 13th, 2008 01:25 am (UTC)
Oh, that was beautiful.
noticeably on January 13th, 2008 01:35 am (UTC)
Thank you so much! I'm glad that you enjoyed it! :D
Emilyaurorawest on January 13th, 2008 01:40 am (UTC)
Beautiful, beautiful fic. I love how much development you give to these two minor characters, especially because you do it in so few words! I absolutely think you accomplished your goal of blurring the house lines. :)
noticeably on January 13th, 2008 02:23 am (UTC)
Thank you so much! I am so happy to hear that, and I'm so happy that you liked it! :D
Dizzycaitlen on January 13th, 2008 02:07 am (UTC)
This was great. A fantastic, well put together, eloquent fic about minor characters that we never hear about. Well done.
noticeably on January 13th, 2008 02:24 am (UTC)
Thank you so much! I'm glad you liked it! :)
(no subject) - caitlen on January 13th, 2008 02:34 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - noticeably on January 13th, 2008 04:03 am (UTC) (Expand)
patron saint of neglected female characters: know-it-allrose_griffes on January 13th, 2008 03:46 am (UTC)
This was fabulous. Excellent work, and I'm so glad to have read it.
noticeably on January 13th, 2008 04:04 am (UTC)
Thank you so much! I'm glad you liked it. :D
Angelinangelinadb on January 13th, 2008 06:09 am (UTC)
Lovely. So human and empathetic. I always felt that the REAL story to DH was back at Hogwarts.
noticeably on January 13th, 2008 03:02 pm (UTC)
Thank you so much! I'm so glad you enjoyed it. :D And, yeah. I would have loved to have seen what happened to Neville/the students/the professors/etc in more detail. I feel like she could have expanded on that much more than she did. :(
(no subject) - ngelinadb on January 14th, 2008 08:18 am (UTC) (Expand)
muggle_profmuggle_prof on January 13th, 2008 02:09 pm (UTC)
Oh, I love the idea that the students COULD forget about houses when they got in the way.
Also loved how McGonagall decided she'd teach DADA since Carrow wouldn't.
noticeably on January 13th, 2008 03:03 pm (UTC)
I'm glad you liked it! And, yeah, McGonagall rocks pretty hard. :D
inkvoices: pokeinkvoices on January 14th, 2008 07:42 pm (UTC)
As far as blurring the House lines goes I think you did that in the opening section where straight away we get a sense of three girls who are all in the same House, but who all come across as different to each other, as individuals.

I'm not sure that I like the idea at the end that Millicent has to stop being a Slytherin to be able to join the fight, that she can't represent her House, but then at least she doesn't entirely enter on someone else's terms since Anthony doesn't give her his tie.

I did like your McGonagall and I really liked that Millicent's first reaction after listening to Potterwatch for the first time, before even turning it off, is to tell the Headmaster. Snape. It's DH, no one trusts the man, not even McGonagall if their fight at the end is anything to go by, but his Slytherin students still rely on him, Millicent and Pansy both. I like to think that that's because they trust he'll do what's best for them and not a learnt reaction ;o)

This is lovely evocative fic :o)
noticeably on January 16th, 2008 04:10 am (UTC)
I'm not sure that I like the idea at the end that Millicent has to stop being a Slytherin to be able to join the fight, that she can't represent her House

I was actually leaning towards the idea that house didn't matter in the end (as seen by Anthony not caring and trying to bring her back anyway/taking off his own tie). I suppose that it could be taken either way, though. I would have loved to have done it how you suggested - her going in with her Slytherin colors - but I don't think that would have happened canonically...? I don't know. :/ It's definitely a concept that I would love to explore in more detail at some point.

I'm glad you liked Minerva. She's a character I'm quite fond of, although I don't write her that often. And I totally agree with you about the Slytherins and Snape.

Thank you so much! :D I'm so glad that you liked it, and thank you for the lovely feedback. ♥
(no subject) - inkvoices on January 16th, 2008 04:13 pm (UTC) (Expand)
shiikishiiki on January 19th, 2008 11:44 pm (UTC)
Amazing take on these minor characters - I like very much the slow change in Millicent as she finds her way to what is right and what is wrong. Nicely written!
noticeably on February 13th, 2008 03:26 am (UTC)
Thank you so much! I'm glad that you liked it. :D
Virgers!  How are we doing with those explosives?tree_and_leaf on January 29th, 2008 07:30 pm (UTC)
This was lovely. I like the way you show Millicent developing towards resisting the Death Eaters, and also the interaction with Anthony Goldstein.
noticeably on February 13th, 2008 03:27 am (UTC)
Thanks! I'm glad you enjoyed it. ♥
abi z: hpazephirin on January 29th, 2008 11:06 pm (UTC)
I really enjoyed this. The mass Slytherin exodus in book 7 really annoyed me as an authorial choice, and I liked this remedy a great deal; it was also nice to see what was happening back at "home" while the Big Three were on the road. The character development here is excellent (especially for such a short fic).
noticeably on February 13th, 2008 03:28 am (UTC)
It annoyed me, too! I'm glad that you thought this worked well! I'm so glad you enjoyed this. :D
Traviskyuuketsukirui on February 8th, 2008 09:46 am (UTC)
I loved this. Wish there'd been a scene like this in the book.
noticeably on February 13th, 2008 03:28 am (UTC)
Thanks! I'm glad you liked it! :D
Beth H: HP hogwarts (bbb)bethbethbeth on February 8th, 2008 02:04 pm (UTC)
Very nicely done. Wonderful portrayals of Millicent and Minerva and even Anthony (who's never really hit my radar before this). I'll be adding this story to my recs page at the next update.
noticeably on February 13th, 2008 03:30 am (UTC)
Thank you so much! I'm glad that you liked the character portrayals in this - especially Millicent, who gave me a few problems. I'm glad that you enjoyed this. :D ♥
a lover, not a fighterfabien_aybara on February 16th, 2008 07:36 pm (UTC)
♥ For the Remus reference.
♥ For how well-written this is and how beautifully it flows and how everything you said was perfect and needed.
♥ For Anthony's kindness and Millicent's doubt and insecurities.
♥ For McGonagall.
♥ For how awesome you are for writing this.

Thanks.
noticeably on February 26th, 2008 05:23 am (UTC)
Thank you so, so much! :D I am so happy that you enjoyed this, and so pleased that the little details stood out to you. Thank you so much for taking the time to let me know. ♥!