How we think it’d play out…
The sun hangs low in the sky, painting the sky a vibrant pink and orange just visible through the canopy of leaves in the Forbidden Forest. Aside from the gentle rustle of leaves and the canter of a centaur, all is quiet - until the sound of footsteps crunch along a leafy path. “Come on, Padfoot,” JK Rowling calls to her canine companion. From behind her, a black dog launches itself out of the bushes, chasing a striped, ginger cat.
“PADFOOT!” Rowling shouted. “Leave Crookshanks alone!”
The dog stops in his tracks, staring at the floor as Crookshanks bounds on into the Forbidden Forest. Padfoot starts growling and panting, looking from the forest floor up to Rowling, and down to the ground again.
“Shh, quiet. What are you looking at?” Rowling asks. Stepping closer to where Padfoot seems frozen, she sees a blue, glowing light slowly appear on the ground. “Curious,” Rowling says, crouching down to examine the phenomena. She looks along the length of the line, which is emitting a shimmering glow like the Northern Lights. It stretches beyond the trees, deep into the forest.
Gingerly, she puts her hand through the light. “I think it’s okay, Sirius.”
Together, they step over the Line. All at once, the temperature is a few degrees cooler, the light dimmer. Keeping touch with Padfoot’s tail, Rowling cautiously steps further into the forest, listening intently to the new sounds. Suddenly, an almighty meow followed by hissing makes both of them jump. “Crookshanks!” Rowling calls into the dark, and sets off towards the sound.
Running around a cluster of almighty tree trunks, she sees a flash of ginger cat circling an elderly gentleman, before it darts up a tree and out of sight. The man grumbles and hisses as he rubs his arms, a once-pristine white shirt now muddy and torn. “Oh, I’m so sorry about him – let me help you,” JK offers, stepping towards the stranger in the woods.
“I’m quite fine, thank you,” the irritated man replies, looking at Rowling for the first time. “Good heavens,” he says. “Are you her? Are you JK Rowling?”
“Yes, that’s me,” she replies, with a subtle roll of the eye. “I know who you are, too.”
“What in Middle Earth are you doing in Mirkwood? You shouldn’t be here.” He casts an uncomfortable glance at Padfoot, who bares his teeth at the man.
“What? Tolkien, we’re not in Mirkwood. I was just walking with– I mean taking my… dog for a walk – we’re definitely in the Forbidden Forest. What are you doing here?”
Both frown at the other, each refusing to budge, when Rowling remembers the Line. Her eyes widen, a smile forms on her face. “Impossible,” she gleefully whispers.
“What are you wittering about, woman? Tell me what’s going on here. I… I have something I need to get back to,” Tolkien snaps.
Rowling turns her back to Tolkien and begins to walk away. Her hand moves to her forehead as she walks, rubbing it in confusion. “Follow me,” she calls.
Tolkien mutters to himself, but trails behind her, throwing glances back into the wood whenever he is sure enough of his footing to spare a look. In the briefest of moments, they near the Line again, and as before, the closer they step to it the more prominent the light blue shimmer becomes. “This is a crossing,” Rowling explains. Tolkien’s eyebrows knit together. “A crossing between our worlds,” she continues, stepping backwards across it, Padfoot a second behind her.
“This side is my world, my Forbidden Forest. Back over there, you’ll find Hogwarts, you’ll find a school full of bright young Witches and Wizards. Beyond that, Hogsmeade, and the rest of the United Kingdom – but not the one that you were born in. One of muggles and magic.”
“Your world is not my world,” Tolkien says.
“No, it’s not,” Rowling agrees.
“Our magic is different. As is our evil,” he nods, a dark look crossing his face. At that moment, the Giant Spiders of Mirkwood gather at his back. Webs are woven behind him. Woodland elves appear in the distance. The gnashing and dribbling of orcs becomes a cacophony as the creatures gather at Tolkien’s right-hand side, and Padfoot begins to bark.
Stepping backwards, slowly, Rowling glances at the Line, wondering if anyone other than creators and major characters can pass through it. As the thought occurs that she may well be safe, she recognises the haggard form of Radagast the Brown across the Line. She swallows hard.
“Perhaps that’s the difference between us, Tolkien,” she hazards.
“What,” he snaps. “What is?”
“I don’t command my creations. They do not fight my battles, I fight my own. Look behind you, Tolkien. I wonder what would happen if you could no longer move – would they still respect you then?”
In the blink of an eye, Rowling pulls her wand out of her pocket, directs it at Tolkien and shouts, “PETRIFICUS TOTALUS!”
Tolkien freezes, and topples to the ground. As he does so, the sound of the creatures stops abruptly, each frozen in its master’s petrified mind. A smug smile forms on Rowling’s face as she puts the wand away and pulls out her timeturner. “Hold onto me, Sirius.”
A black paw wraps around her calf, and she turns the hourglass once. Time grinds to a halt for a moment, then winds backwards. Rowling and Padfootstand at the line once more, look at each other, and walk back the way they came.
PREDICTED WINNER: DRAW
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