A good armchair is much the same in the muggle and magic-using worlds. It must not be so narrow that one’s knees feel confined. But it must not be so wide that one accidentally bumps into it several times while walking through the living room each day. A fine balance must be maintained so that one may sit and read for more than 20 minutes without feeling discomfort from it being too hard or irreversible drowsiness from it being too soft. The upholstery must be distinct. But it must not have a pattern so distracting that it would give a chameleon an aneurysm.
Augusta Longbottom had a good armchair. That she was not very comfortable at the moment had nothing to do with her chair, and everything to do with the book she was reading.
“Preposterous” she muttered.
Normally, she was not the type of woman to waste her time on the scandalous scribblings of a notorious gossip-monger like Rita Skeeter. Part of her, in fact, wanted to be able to proudly say she had not so much as glanced at “The Life and Lies of Albus Dumbledore”. But a larger part of her wanted to hate it. She wanted to hate each and every word, and she wanted to know exactly why she hated it so she could tell anyone that brought it up quite plainly what made it such a load of rubbish.
“Absolutely preposterous” she repeated.
A sudden howling from the kitchen startled the fat pony that was grazing in a picture on the wall directly across from the armchair. It snorted apprehensively. Mrs. Longbottom lifted her eyes from the page and looked over the rims of her reading glasses in the direction of the wailing kettle. She closed the book, took off her glasses and placed them calmly on the low crescent-shaped table beside her wand and a large red handbag.
Picking up her wand from the table she made a measured sweep , “Accio teatray.”
An ovular, bronze teatray flew into the room and landed beside the book with a slight clatter. The teapot resembled a gargoyle with glowing green eyes and sharp talons that were clearly responsible for several deep scratches in the tray. It’s highly articulated musculature seemed at odds with the simple floral pattern of the cup. A dark liquid hissed out of the teapot’s snarling mouth as Augusta poured herself a cup. Before the tea had much of a chance to cool, she brought the cup to her lips and sipped.
“Death Eaters,” she thought to herself, ”but nothing I shouldn’t be able to handle.”
By this time a knight had joined the pony. His gasping breaths due to the obvious haste with which he responded threatened to drown out the terrible clanking of his armor.
“Worry not…milady,” He paused to breath, “ I shall help…you rout…these… vile rapscallions and…drive them away, screaming like…a herd of banshees that… stepped on a… thorny… hedgehog “
“Don’t be ridiculous, Sir Cadogan,” Augusta replied crossly, “I will deal with them myself.” Her eyes softened ever so slightly around the edges and she added, “Just, please go see to my grandson.”
The knight hesitated for a moment before mounting his horse. The pony cantered uneasily while he fussed with his helmet. Augusta continued drinking her tea, and looked around the room taking a mental inventory. After it was clear to Sir Cadogan that she was not willing to receive his aid, he performed a quick salute with his sword and spurred the pony into the forest at the edge of the frame.
As Augusta drank the last of her tea, the front door opened forcefully and a tall robed figure leaped into the room, looked around quickly and aimed his wand directly at her, “Stupify!”
A bolt of bright red flashed from his wand and was absorbed harmlessly into the armchair. Augusta made a mental note to send a box of Sweet Mutaginger for her old friend Regina Stormwick, who had been kind enough to stitch protective runes into the fabric with spell nettle fibers.
She flicked her wand primly, “Petrificus Totalus”
The wizard’s face retained its shocked expression as it toppled onto the hard wood floor. Augusta rose slowly and slung her red handbag over her shoulder. She walked to where a bright blue pot sat in a corner of the room. Out of the pot, a snarled mess of dark green leaves contorted into vague expressions of agony. She picked a few of the leaves. As they were separated from the spiny stems they shrieked pitifully and writhed between her fingers.
“This isn’t going to be pleasant. But you’re an Auror, Dawlish. So I expect you’ll be able to deal with it.”Augusta said.
“I bought this Horrificus for my grandson. He has such a talent for herbology.” she explained. “It’s evidently a very useful component in potions. But as I understand it, consuming the leaves with no additional preparation causes powerful sensations of pain and fear. I’m not sure if not being able to scream will make that easier or more difficult to bear.”
Augusta mumbled incantations as she rolled the leaves into a ball. “Geminio” she concluded and the small green mass duplicated in her hand. “I’m sure you’re familiar with Protean charms,” Augusta stated holding up her right hand, “What you may not know, is a Portkey created with a Protean charm will seek out its twin. I will have this one in my possession. And very shortly,” she said holding up her left hand, “the other will be somewhere within your small intestine. I also cast a few additional enchantments to make sure it doesn’t pass through your system too quickly and to hinder detection and removal.”
She placed the second ball into his mouth, “Glutio Folium.”
“In a few moments you won’t be aware of anything but your own misery.” Augusta said, “and even though your suffering may seem to last forever, the effects of this plant last a day or two at the most. So let me explain what I expect from you very clearly.”
“I simply cannot let my son and his wife suffer any more than they already have. Nor will I allow Death Eaters to extort my grandson’s obedience if and when ‘He who shall not be named’ tries to harm his parents. I need someone to protect them in St. Mungo’s by any necessary means. I’m sure you will have no trouble being admitted, but it’s up to you to find a way to remain there. Be creative. If not because you know Frank and Alice and know how much they have suffered, then do it because if I hear otherwise, I’ll activate this charm and feed it to a very large ruminant with extremely sharp horns.”
Without another word, Augusta Longbottom stepped over Dawlish’s unmoving body, retrieved her hat from its perch and walked out the open door.