Thursday, June 30, 2011

Fast, loose and aria-belting: Professors after hours

by Laurel Garver, Ravenclaw

HOGSMEDE, INVERNESS--Think you know your professors here at Hogwarts? You just might be surprised what they get up to in their off-duty hours.

According to Cooper Bingley, golden-curled inhabitant of a Flemish-style portrait in the faculty dormitory, our professors get up to some pretty surprising stuff when away from the classroom.

Transfiguration professor Minerva McGonagall has never made any secret of her skill as an animagus. But you might be surprised how playfully she flaunts it when no one but the portraits are watching. Skinny Minnie, as she was known in her schoolgirl days, loves to stair rail surf in her fluffy slippers. While we're all tucked in our dormitory beds, she can usually be found sliding slipper-footed from staircase to staircase, top of the castle to the bottom, only to POOF--transform into her tabby cat form for a perfect landing every time.

Divination professor Sibyll Trelawney might have the gift of the inner eye, but her outer eye? Not so gifted. In fact, her eyesight is so bad, she's been caught not once, but a half dozen times snogging the portrait of Sir Cadogan. Granted, he is a dashing figure in his shiny armor, but surely his painted face could not have felt quite right.

Laughter might be the best medicine, but it is music that soothes the savage breast of our hospital wing matron Poppy Pomfrey. Both portraits and castle ghosts alike confirm that she loves to sing in the shower. Indeed, the ghosts gather three times a week to hear her belt out Puccini and Mozart arias.

"Madam Pomfrey's voice is an utter marvel of mellifluousness," said the Fat Friar, Hufflepuff house ghost. "It is a tragic loss to the musical world that she suffers such petrifying stage fright. "Alas, only we ghosts, portraits and occasional house elf ever have the joy of experiencing her tremendous talent."

Laurel Garver is Thestral Gazette's editor-in-chief and communications secretary for S.P.E.W. She sings in Hogwarts choir, dabbles in Mermish poetry and tirelessly campaigns for an intramural Pegasus polo team.

Which professor's off-hours activities surprise you most?

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Elves Gone Wild

by Renaliss Divine, Gryffindor

It’s no secret that things have been a tad willy-nilly throughout Hogwarts castle of late. Students are painfully aware of the headmaster’s absence. Even the teachers are having trouble keeping events close to the vest. But this reporter has witnessed firsthand encounters that cannot be dismissed or ignored.

The once loyal and faithful creatures we have relied upon to keep the castle’s day-to-day tasks running smoothly appear to have gone mental. Luxuries that students and teachers alike have grown accustomed to have been thrown into disarray. What game they are playing at remains to be seen.

Of one thing we can all be certain…the house elves are hereby out of control.

Since the inception of Hogwarts, house elves have lived comfortably within its walls and have been happy to go about the usual business of their station. That is no longer the case. And who is their would-be target, you ask?

First years.

Yes…as if the task of being a first-year witch of wizard were not daunting enough, they have now become the brunt of seemingly unending pranks, though others are inevitably affected as well.

The accounts seemed innocent enough at first. First years were locked out of Gryffindor tower when the Fat Lady insisted that the pass code had changed. Then the stairways continued to move, trapping a group of Ravenclaw girls, who fell into fits of hysteria. Professor Sprout herself was overheard telling another teacher about unspeakable rashes breaking out among her first-year Hufflepuffs after a routine Herbology lesson. No one knows when her classes will resume.

The most eye-opening accounts surfaced when this reporter herself witnessed the elves, who are normally quite evasive, hexing food and placing enchantments on personal items. Events became even more dicey when the girls’ lavatory exploded, flooding an upper corridor and drenching a group of first-year Slytherins. Teachers were summoned immediately to help with the clean-up.

While humorous in nature, these pranks are clearly uncharacteristic of these fair, gentle creatures. So the question is obvious…what could be possessing the elves to act this way? And who has the power to override our dear headmaster? You can rest assured that this reporter intends to find out. Stay tuned.

Renaliss Divine is a sixth year Griffyndor who enjoys concocting new potions that can cure any hair or skin ailment. She is a slave to fashion, especially when tweaking up a plain old uniform. (If you need to borrow shoes, girls...this is your witch!) She blogs as her alter ego, Renae Mercado, at

Who do you think is making the Hogwarts house elves behave so badly?

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Discovery: Mer-mating

By Runcel P. Yomeh, Hogwarts alum

HOGSMEDE, INVERNESS--The merpeople in Hogwarts lake have always been a point of extreme curiosity to the wizarding world. They are a notoriously secretive society, but this exclusive peek into their watery world was not at all a challenge to your top Magical Creatures Investigator. Gryffidor alumna Runcel P. Yomeh is pleased to present details in the formerly unknown mating ritual of the merpeople.

Most beings find love through physical attraction or mental connection. Not the mermaids—they seek it through violence. From the time they are able to hold a weapon, merpeople are trained in combat. Often mistaken as blood-thirsty and terrifying, merpeople can be very placid when no outsiders are around. But when a relationship is on the line, they must show no weakness. Love is found through hand-to-scaly hand combat.

It flares during mating season in early summer, when the waters begin to heat up. Females get a crazed look, like they ate too much gurdyroot. They flash the reflective underside of their tails to attract an audience. Males can't help but be drawn to this display—you can see the attraction connection in their slimy eyes. Once the female picks a worthy looking male out of the crowd, she grabs a spear, and the battle is on.

Males have no choice but fight for love, or die unworthy of it. They must defend themselves but not kill the female in the process; hold their own but not get killed themselves. It's a tricky balance that isn't always accomplished.

This reporter, through top secret witchy ways, got a firsthand look at the mating battle between one young female and her desired male.

The young male fought valiantly, not a scratch on him (she was a lovely match, after all), until the very end when his new mate pinned him to the mushy lake floor with her spear tip. But fret not, dear readers, this is how every successful mating battle ends. The male pinned to something by something sharp. (Though it's polite to avoid the heart or head if it's a win!)

There was a short, impromptu celebration for the couple immediately following the battle. The two then retreated to more private quarters to seal the deal.

Merpeople mate for life, much like hinkypunks. The new couple looked totally at ease with one another. But my investigation of the merpeople’s mating ritual was cut short. The giant octopus was not fooled by my disguise and I had to high-fin it out of there.

Next time, buckle up for the flight patterns of Hippogriffs vs. Thestrals. Who is really the king of the sky? The answer will stupefy!

Runcel P. Yomeh, alumna of Gryffidor house, holds a degree in Magical Creature Studies and prefers the quiet, stealthy life of investigating the unknown. She blogs as her alter ego, Colene Murphy, at The Journey.

Which magical creatures would you like Ms. Yomeh to investigate next?

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Cauldron Chatter: Cloaked Items

by Belicia Babble, Ravenclaw

It’s not just potions brewing at Hogwarts this year! Find out all the juicy details about your friends, classmates, and professors in my gossip column. Names have been cloaked to protect the innocent (and by innocent, I mean me!).

• Which colorfully-named Gryffindor girl has set her sights on a red-headed Keeper? Some late night spell casting might be in their future, but only if she can brew up enough love potion to snag him!

• Terror in the tea leaves! A Hogwarts professor has predicted the death of yet another student. I suggest he watch out for falling cauldrons!

• This Slytherin boy has found some admirers in a pair of first year girls, though more than one witch wants to know what they’re doing lurking around the halls with those scales.

• Which radish-wearing fifth year managed to charm her way into a high-profile Christmas party? It seems being friends with the #1 enemy of He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named does have its perks.

• Get ready for a duel! This pair of (allegedly) platonic friends was recently spotted having a full-blown row over school books. Turns out someone can’t stand the thought of not being first in Potions!

• This pigtailed Hufflepuff got a little jittery before last year’s O.W.L.’s, but now friends are saying she’s gone weak in the knees for a certain Herbology classmate.

• Which member of S.P.E.W. recently inherited a house-elf? If he believes in elvish welfare so much, why won’t he just free the poor creature?

• She’s at it again! This red-haired flirt was recently seen canoodling behind a tapestry with her fellow quidditch teammate. 10 points for Gryffindor?

• This Ravenclaw beauty may have a new beau on her arm, but the word around the castle is that she’s been weeping day and night over the loss of her “chosen” guy.

• A certain Slytherin alumni doesn’t want you to know the awful truth – he was raised by muggles!

• Rumor has it that a know-it-all sixth year couldn’t keep her eyes off one of the Gryffindor quidditch team hopefuls during their recent tryouts. The player in question looked a little confused by her attentions… but quickly decided that he’d like to show her a few more of his moves.

• This Hogwarts professor has been seen slinking around the greenhouses late at night. Let’s hope Professor Sprout sics a mandrake on him!

Belicia Babble is the Thestral Gazette’s loose-lipped gossip reporter. She lives in Ravenclaw tower with Prattle, her Pygmy Puff, and loves prying into the personal lives of her classmates. Rumor has it she also blogs as the slightly more discrete Lisa Galek at Read. Write. Repeat.

Which of these objects of rumor do you recognize?

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Ask Abby Gabby: Advice for Wizards and Witches

My name may be Abby Gabby, but there's no need to use the stupify spell to keep me from gabbing! My lips are zipped, so ask this Ravenclaw gal for advice and I’ll give you an answer!

Dear Abby Gabby,
My erm...mandrake plant has horrible acne. How should I clear it up? I’ve tried everything! It really hates being made fun of in school. Especially in potions in front of Professor Snape.
~Spotted in Hufflepuff

Dear Spots,
While I find it hard to believe your mandrake plant is taking potions with Professor Snape, I’ll play along because I am kind and generous like that and would never put a student on the spot. Ha, get it? On the spot?

Anyhoo, mix up this dandy little brew I conjured up several years ago while experimenting with muggle chemicals:
~2 drops of what muggles call “Windex”
~an eye of newt
~a drop of spider venom (you can get Aragog to donate some)
~a pinch of belly button lint

Mix it all together and say: Acnio Destructo. Then apply to your—I mean, the mandrake’s—face and let sit for four hours. Rise off with cool water. Tip: do not keep on longer than four hours or else your face may just melt off.

I assume NO responsibility for the consequences. But I must say, my face has been as clear as a baby’s bottom for quite a few years now.

Dear Abby Gabby,
I can’t seem to get rid of this pesky house elf that keeps following me around. Any advice?
~Paranoid in Gryffindor

Dear Paranoid,
Trick his master into giving the elf his sock. Then the elf will be free and out of your hair. Works every time. Tip: keep the house elf as a friend, though—you never know when you may need him.

Dear Abby Gabby,
I caught my boyfriend sneaking off into the Room of Requirement the other day by himself. I tried to follow him in, but it shut me out. What could he possibly be doing by himself in there?
~Confused in Slytherin

Dear Confused,
There are two possible answers to this one:
A. He is meeting another girl, in which case you have my permission to put a hex on them both.
B. He is, um, how should I say this, meditating. In which case, leave him be and give him a couple extra smooches at the end of the day.

Dear Abby Gabby,
The boy I like has a disgusting pet rat. It’s been in his family for years. I really want to go out with him, but I’m not sure I’ll ever get used to his rat. What should I do?
~Grossed out in Gryffindor

Dear Grossy,
What you need is a cat. A big, fat, orange cat. Every time you come around, the rat will run away. Then you can cuddle with your dreamy wizard without worrying about the nasty rat. Tip: keep a close eye on that rat—if it doesn’t keel over from old age in the next few years, you may have more than just a rat on your hands.

Thestral Gazette advice columnist Abby Gabby, a member of the Ravenclaw house, prefers to keep her true identity a secret (for the sake of her trusted advisees, of course). She loves divination, lending a shoulder to cry on, and quite possibly has the slightest crush on Professor Firenze. She blogs as her alter ego, Abby Minard at Above Water.

What questions do you have for Abby Gabby?