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Messages - Tennessee Ogden

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Archived Applications / Tennessee Ogden
« on: 05/12/2016 at 20:12 »

Application for Hogwarts School


Name: Tennessee Ogden

Birthday: August 23rd, 1934

Hometown: Savannah, Georgia (1934-1948); Bantry, Ireland (1948-present)


Magical Strength (pick one):

Magical Weakness (pick one):
Conjuring & Summoning

Year (pick two): 6th, 5th


He couldn’t have prepared for the cold. The icy winds that swept in from the bay left his hair frozen solid and made his lips cracked and dry, the morning chill that seeped through the walls and covered the windowpanes in a latticework of frost; it was all foreign and unknown, and so, so different from home. Tennessee missed his old bedroom, with his tiny twin bed crammed next to Rhett’s, sheets askew and colored red with clay from the baseball field. He missed listening to the radio while his mother cooked, Flora’s peals of laughter as he imitated the announcer’s swanky Yankee accent. He missed fried okra and church and the neighbors from downstairs and Hank William’s greatest hits.

More than anything, Tennessee missed Savannah, that paradise of sweltering afternoons and shady spots beneath the oak trees and cool, dark swimming holes that stretched down and down to the depths of the earth. In his dreams, Savannah came to him as a woman; brown hair streaked through with golden sunlight, eyes as dark as night and a smile that lit the world from the inside out. She took him in her round, soft arms and whispered sweet words, words of comfort in a that slow, familiar drawl. Sometimes, when she was feeling coy or wayward, she would stick to the peripheries of his dreams, appearing just long enough to let him know she was there but disappearing before he could catch more than a glimpse of fluttering white skirts or a slender brown leg.

He felt her slipping away as each night went by, as the hungry Irish winter sucked every ounce of warmth from his body and refilled it with numbness and hunger. Nothing was real but the wind that nipped at his nose and the pangs of his stomach, blue lips and white fingers and breath fogging up the air. He prayed for a glimpse of her night-dark eyes when he drifted off into sleep, for a soft whisper in his ear or her hot breath on his neck; instead he got footsteps that echoed strangely through empty hallways, shrouded figures in tattered white dresses that followed him across misty fields, trails of dead leaves that led to derelict churches and rows and rows of empty pews. In his dreams, he would take a seat in the very front, right by the waterlogged altar, and pray and pray for forgiveness until the weak Irish sunlight woke him from his troubled sleep.


Savannah visited him that night. In this dream she wore a dark grey traveling dress, frayed at the edges but with a row of bronze buttons down the front that gleamed like tiny suns. In one hand she carried a carpet bag, packed full to the brim. They stood at the train station with a great black passenger car besides them but no passengers in sight.

“I’ve got to leave for a while,” she told him. It was the first time he’d seen her face in a month. He’d forgotten the way her lips curved upwards, the warmth of her night-dark eyes, the cloud of sun-streaked hair that floated like a halo over her head. He wanted to grab her, to hold her, to keep her from ever boarding that train, to be cradled in her arms and rocked to sleep, to a dream where she didn’t have to leave him standing alone on an empty station platform.

He said nothing.

“I was hoping you’d keep this safe for me?”

She was offering him her carpet bag. It wasn’t much: a few pieces of dusky leather sewn clumsily together, seams unraveling and stains abundant. But it was all she had and she was giving it to him, she wanted him to have it and Tennessee thought his heart might explode with pride.

“You won’t need it?” he asked. She couldn’t travel without anything at all. He imagined what lay inside the bag she offered him. Dresses, layers upon layers of muslin and cotton and lace, all white and airy. A hairbrush with a few curly strands still stuck to the bristles. A heavy, silver hand mirror. If he held it at the right angle and looked closely, he’d see a girl with sunlight in her hair and eyes as warm as night smiling back at him. 

“No, Tennessee. Not where I’m going.”

He lived for his name on her lips. He didn’t want to know where she was going. He took the carpetbag.


Tennessee woke from a dreamless sleep.

The cold still clung to the walls of the tiny room he called his own. A tinny Irish lilt blasted from the radio in the kitchen, announcing the results of a sports game or an election or maybe just the weather. It was a morning like every other morning, but Tennessee woke to a new world. He saw the Bantry farmstead for the first time; his mother in the kitchen, his father on the couch, his sisters still asleep in the other room. He stared and stared until his fresh eyes relearned every crack in the plaster ceiling and the tile pattern on the bathroom floor. He memorized the way the light slipped through the blinds, cutting a swath of molten gold across the warped wooden planks. He looked and touched and inspected and perused every inch of the cottage, then moved on to the barn and the sheds and fields and stopped just short of climbing through Ida’s window to look at her home too. He saw the way the blades of grass tried so hard to break through the frozen soil. He saw the prints of cows’ hooves trace lazy patterns through the muddy slush. He saw sunlight filter through the leaves on the branches, and the branches on the trees, and figured that Ireland wasn’t so bad after all.

After all, he still had Savannah’s carpetbag.


In the dream, for it was The Dream, distinguished from all of his many other dreams, Tennessee had watched Savannah board the train. He watched the train leave the station, chugging along disappearing rails in a billow of steam that smelled like peach cobbler. He watched until the train was a tiny speck in the distance, and he watched long after the speck had faded to nothing and all that was left was an outline of trees against a rose-gold horizon.

Only then did he open the carpetbag.

What was inside, he couldn’t exactly say. It was white dresses and a hairbrush and a mirror that showed a pair of warm-as-night eyes when held just so--but it also the way Savannah smelled at night and the sound of the bar down the street and and a leather bound volume of the history of Georgia. Or at least he thought it was a history of Georgia. It might have been a cookbook or a bible from his mother’s church.

Whatever it was, it filled Tennessee from the inside out. He could walk through the muddy fields on the Bantry farmstead and all he had to do was stretch out a hand and Savannah was there besides him, her warm fingers intertwined with his. He felt her soft, round arms drape across his shoulders at the dinner table. Her hot breath on his neck as he studied Joycelynn’s textbooks or shuffled through Agnes’ tarot deck. She whispered in his ear as they lay together on his bed, and he listened for hours until sleep finally took hold of his weary mind or the sun rose to announce another day.


Five months out of Savannah, and the southern heat still clung to Tennessee like spanish moss to an oak tree. His clothes smelled of sweat and hay and sunlight no matter how many times his sisters washed them. A warm Georgia breeze tousled his curls as he walked along the Bantry Bay waterline. Heavy lids and a lazy smile still spoke of sweltering afternoons in the shade of a wraparound porch. Tennessee was Southern charm bottled and packaged for foreigners, and Ireland couldn’t get enough of him.
“You take to Ireland like a duck to water,” his father told him, and it could have been a compliment if it hadn’t come from Sterling Ogden. Besides, it was a lie; Tennessee didn’t take to Ireland. Ireland took to him.

The world changed shape to accommodate the youngest Ogden boy. Opportunity threw its doors open wide at his arrival. He’d done nothing to change his ways; he still spoke with a slow, heavy drawl, proudly advertised the St. Louis Browns on a faded baseball cap, and played Hank Williams songs on a harmonica for anyone who would listen.

Charming, they called him. The townspeople greeted him by name as he passed, and he always humored them with an exaggerated drawl and a tip of the hat as he made his way to the general store where he worked Wednesdays and Sundays.
Sundays were special days for Tennessee. Every Sunday morning, he woke early and walked to the Catholic church In Bantry Proper for mass. Every Sunday morning, he returned to the farmstead cursing Catholicism and everything it stood for. He spoke about God like he spoke about baseball: endlessly, until Sterling retreated to the barn with a bottle and Abigail sent him to town to run an errand, just to escape his fanatic tirade for an hour or two.


“Howdy, Ailish,” he greeted, kicking open the door to the general store. Her name was three syllables on his tongue—Ay-uh-lish—but somehow sounded just right when paired with an easy smile and a gleam in his eye.

“You’re half an hour late, Tennessee,” Ailish scolded, but she sounded more amused than upset. He’d been late every single day since he started working at the general store, and she still handed him his wages and a soda pop at the end of each week. She was a plump woman with sharp blue eyes, an even sharper tongue, and an unfailing adoration of Tennessee and all his antics. “And that’s Mrs. O’Connell to you, lad.”
Tennessee didn’t bother with a response, already halfway to the storeroom with a handful of licorice sticks snagged from the jar on the counter. Ailish’s exasperated sigh was cut off by the door slamming behind him, leaving him alone in the cool, dim back room, where stock was kept and where Tennessee spent his afternoons lounging about for a salary.
“What do you even do at the general store?” Joycelynn had asked him once after finding him seated on the Ailish’s counter, playing harmonica for a gaggle of delighted Irish children.
“Be good-lookin’,” he’d replied cheekily. “It attracts customers.”

He attracted attention, if not actual customers. He was loud; his voice carried far and easy, and had a certain quality that made it stand out even in the hubbub of crowded street. Even when he was silent and still his energy demanded attention, taking up more space than he could possibly justify. Gazes naturally gravitated towards him, for better or for worst; praises as well as suspicions all seemed to land on Tennessee.

He couldn’t help it. His face-- wide hazel eyes a little too innocent, lips too prone to fleeting smiles-- was at once cherubic and impish, waggish and naive.

“Tennessee.” His mother’s voice was equally amused and reproachful. “What am I to do with you?”

The truth was, there was nothing that could be done about Tennessee, other than let him be and pray that he didn’t break something too important. 


The green-ness of Ireland never ceased to surprise him. It was unlike summer in Savannah, where plants and people wilted in the heat and the sun cast a sepia tint over the town. Ireland was uninterrupted green for miles on miles, rolling hills of grass dotted with barns and sheep and the occasional outcrop of craggy rock. This summer was so fresh, full of the promise of crops and harvests in the months to come. The land of opportunity was right here in Ireland, in the soil that he toiled and raked and planted, in the fresh shoots that poked through the dark earth.

We will be happy here, he told himself. We will make this work.


Tennessee was going to school. He knew what that was supposed to mean--strict teachers and early mornings and crowded dorm rooms full of loud, rough-housing boys--but he had no practical experience with education. The classroom, to him, was Ma’s kitchen with all the children crowded round the table, speaking over their mother’s instructions until she screamed at them to focus and they settled into a sullen, boring silence for the rest of the afternoon. His real education was found on the streets of Savannah, stealing plums from the tree that grew in the neighbor’s yard, fighting over the small baseball field that all the boys from the neighborhood flocked to.

He’d never hoped for schooling. He’d never really thought of it. There were too many children and not enough money in the Ogden household, so education was on no one’s mind. Then Ida brought the news home and he was forced to reconsider every plan he’d made for his future.

He’d seen the Hogwarts tuition--multiply that by four, and it was a small fortune that Ida had managed to sweet talk out of some poor sucker. He’d asked her how she’d done it--cornered her in the kitchen after he’d heard the news--but all he got was a vague reply that left him just as confused as before.

It stung more than Tennessee cared to admit. He knew he was in no position to be questioning the intent behind the gift, but he hated relying on someone else’s generosity. He didn’t want to be dependent on the whim of some rich old man’s pity, who saw them only as four American charity cases and a quick way to feel good about himself. Tennessee wanted to succeed, but he wanted it on his own terms, with no strings attached.

He kept this to himself. Ida was thanked, school supplies scavenged, bags were packed and on the first of September four Ogden children saw King’s Cross Station for the first time.


He stood on platform 9 ¾, staring at the bright red train. Savannah stood besides him. An unspoken conversation passed between them.

She could not go where he was going.

He did not want to leave her.

She would be waiting for him when he got back.

Maybe he should stay.

His future was on that train.

He took one last look at her, staring deep enough to drink in her lips and her curls and her night-dark eyes. This memory would have to keep until June. Ten whole months without her sweet whispers and secret smiles seemed too long a wait, but his treacherous feet carried him forwards and onto the train. He chose a halfway full compartment and took a seat by the corridor, studiously ignoring the wide window. She would be there on the platform, he knew. Wearing a soft white dress with a high collar, hemmed with lace and ribbon. She was staring at him with those warm-as-night eyes, her lips turned up at the corners, hair catching sunlight like a flytrap catching flies. Waiting to catch his eye.

Tennessee smiled at the boy sitting across from him.


With a piercing whistle, the train started forwards.


House Request: Gryffindor!

Personality: Tennessee’s careless behavior is often misinterpreted as levity; he doesn’t mean to be disrespectful, but he has a tendency to fail to see the consequences of his words and actions. Although polite with adults, he becomes more troublesome around children his own age, often escalating situations and taking jokes too far. He has no malicious intent in doing so, just an ignorance of his own impact on other people.

Tennessee can get along well with anybody. Wherever he goes, he’s certain to meet and befriend someone new, but tends not to develop deep or meaningful friendships. He’s a chameleon, constantly adapting to people’s perception of him.

Like many teenagers, Tennessee can be hotheaded and reckless. He’s never one to turn down a dare, especially in order to impress people around him. He’s not particularly mature, and definitely not responsible; he’ll choose quidditch and baseball over chores and homework any day of the week.


Tennessee Ogden was a terrible student.

Lots of things came naturally to him. Academics did not. The only subject he really understood was Divination, but that was simple magic, based on instinct and not skill. His sister could fly through her textbooks and homework, but Tennessee had to study hard just to maintain passing grades.
His friends didn’t understand why he bothered. They were hardly geniuses themselves, but they also didn’t have the motivation that he did: a sponsorship that threatened to disappear if he didn’t pass all his classes with acceptable grades. So while they slept in on Saturday morning, Tennessee snuck out of their dorm with an armful of textbooks and made his way to the grounds.

He settled on a patch of grass between two flowerbeds, sufficiently secluded to avoid interruption, and opened his ragged textbook to the first chapter. His quill scratched messy notes onto a piece of parchment as he slowly made his way through the text, struggling to understand what the author wanted to convey about wand technique. Midway through a particularly dense paragraph, Tennessee felt his mind begin to wander away from charms and towards the quidditch pitch--

“You blasted rat! Where are you?”

Tennessee jumped, startled, and watched in horror as his ink bottle toppled onto his textbook. A sea of black ink swept across the page, the little letters of the text disappearing beneath the stain. Joycelynn would probably have a spell to fix the mess, if he could persuade her to do him a favor.

A student stumbled through the flowerbeds, probably in search of the rat in question. Tennessee, his soggy textbook sitting in his lap, could do nothing but stare at the spectacle.

“Can I help you with something?” the boy demanded. He might have been threatening if it wasn’t for his stuffy nose. “It is not polite to stare.”

The situation might have been funny if not for the ruined textbook and the snot-covered sleeve.

“Sorry,” Tennessee replied. He did not sound sorry at all. “But what’d those flowers ever do to you?”


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