Second Prize Winner - Andy Radical, Giant Opossum Tackler by Moose Lane

Andy Radical, Giant Opossum Tackler
A Parks and Recreation/Harry Potter Fic
shamelessly written by Moose Lane

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Note to readers: if you aren't familiar with Parks and Recreation, go watch the episode "The Possum" (season 2, episode 18). Also maybe "Time Capsule" (season 3, episode 3).  While you're at it, go ahead and watch the rest of the show, too.

If you aren't familiar with Harry Potter, what are you doing with your life? Fix it. Fix it right now.

 

Pawnee, Indiana: First in Friendship, Fourth in Modern-Day Witch Burnings. In the humble opinion of Parks and Recreation Deputy Director Leslie Knope, Pawnee is the Greatest City in America. Move over, Baltimore!

Pawnee may not have the largest magical community in Indiana, but it has one that is truly special, full of people who care and live out their lives happily. Well, aside from the witch burning thing, but that mostly stopped in the seventies. The last recorded witch burning was just one of Ron Swanson's ex-wife effigies, mistakenly reported.

Damn, they really need to change that slogan.

Pawnee, Indiana: Move Over, Baltimore!

But that is not the fight Leslie has come to tackle today. No, today is something much more serious.

--

Leslie stands in front of Ron's desk, hands on her hips.

"Ron, wizard secrecy is very important. It's been a part of wizarding life since the 1692 International Statute of Wizarding Secrecy. We can't just violate that for a muggle who wants to join the peewee quidditch team."

Ron catches a paperweight as it tries to creep across his desk and returns it to a stack of papers. "That statute was written by a bunch of redcoats. This is America. Besides, what's wrong with muggles liking quidditch? It's a great game. The peewee team doesn't even use brooms."

Leslie stares down at him. "It's not just the game, Ron. If muggles find out about quidditch, next they'll find out about—about floo powder, or Appalachian Ridgebacks."

Ron folds his hands on his desk in front of him. "Let muggles deal their own dragons. They're perfectly capable. The Department of Magic has its fingers in too many pies."

Leslie glances over at the clock in the common room, nearly jumping as the hand with her name inches across the dial towards Public Forum. "Oh no, I'm gonna be late. This discussion isn't over, Ron."

Ron grins.

"No! Don't you dare look smug!" Leslie yells as she runs out the door. "You haven't won! Dammit! Why won't they let us apparate within the building!?"

Leslie Knope loves her job with Parks and Recreation, she really does. She loves public forums, she really does. This is both the exact kind of civic engagement and hostile environment she needs to conquer in order to be the first female US Secretary of Magic.

She is just not, you know, feeling it right at this moment.

"I walked through the bushes behind the sign that says 'Stop! Poison Pimplyweed Beyond!' and now I have a rash!"

"I ate a vomit-flavored Bertie Bott's in one of your parks and it was disgusting!"

"There are too many owls in Slippery Elm Park!"

"No! There are not enough owls in Slippery Elm Park!"

"There are just the right amount of owls in Slippery Elm Park! And I hate it!"

"One of your gardening classes taught me how to de-gnome my garden, and I did it, and now all my gnomes are gone!"

"Uum," Leslie stutters into her Sonorus-charmed wand. "Is that a problem?"

"No!" the belligerent witch yells.

"Okay," Leslie sighs. "I guess, carry on."

Leslie is nodding sympathetically at a man complaining about how he ate a salad for lunch, and it was disgusting, when Tom bursts in.

"Heeey, Leslie," Tom smiles. "I have some news for you, but first, what do you think of these threads?" Tom spins in around, his muggle-style suit bewitched to glint as he moves. "Think Kanye would go for them? I mean, if I were allowed to market them to muggles. Just, as a what if—"

"What’s the news, Tom?" Leslie sighs in exasperation.

"Oh, uh, there's a opossum or something that bit Director Gunderson's dog at the golf course," he shrugs.

"Oh my God!" Leslie jumps out of her seat. "Tom, finish up the forum, I have to go take care of this!"

Tom watches her go, shaking his head at her boring, plaid, spell-less robes. He is going to make a fortune one day.

Tom invokes an amplifying spell with a flourish of his arm that shows off his coat's shine. "Just wanted to let you all know that Thursday night is Witches' Night at the Snakehole Lounge—"

"I HATE WOMEN!" A man screams from the crowd.

"Oookay. You're uh, you can all go home now."

Andy sits on a bench below the sign reading Shoe Shine and Wand Polish and tunes his guitar. "How about this one?" He takes a deep breath and—

"No, you have to close your eyes," April admonishes.

"Why?"

"Definitely not because I'm going to make a chocolate frog to jump in your mouth while you're singing," she promises.

"Oh, okay," Andy agrees and closes his eyes. "This one is about the Pit."

"The bottomless pit you fell into last year?" April asks as she inches a chocolate frog toward Andy's face.

"Yeah, that one!" Andy glows with pride, eyes still shut. "It was okay though, I landed on a flying rat king and rode it back out. Too bad Jerry fell in and disappeared during the groundbreaking for the new park."

"Who?" April asks, nudging the frog with her wand.

"Larry."

"Oh, yeah." Her fingers are right in front of his face but the stupid frog will not jump. "I wanna hear the song."

"Okay," Andy starts strumming, "The pit, I was in it, the—"

Just as the frog jumps, Leslie runs up shouting Andy's name. He opens his eyes and the frog lands on his cheek.

"Oo, chocolate frog! Thanks April!" He pops it into his mouth and sucks on it. "Want some?"

"Sure." She sticks out her tongue as the half-melted frog jumps from his mouth to hers. Leslie makes a squeamish noise. "Hi, Leslie," she smacks around the chocolate.

"Uh, hi, April. Andy! How are you at opossum-tackling?" Leslie asks.

"Um, the best?" Andy bursts, straightening up and wagging his eyebrows at April.

April smirks and rolls her eyes. "Isn't Control of Magical Creatures supposed to take care of that stuff?"

Leslie pouts. "Yeah, but you know those guys. C'mon, if we take the lead on this it will look really good for the department. I bet Director Gunderson will thank us personally for avenging his dog. He might even give us a commendation," she trails off dreamily.

"I'm in!" Andy jumps up. He pulls a rope across the Shoe Shine and Wand Polish booth, ignoring Kyle's protests that his wand is still caked with globs of polishing wax.

Leslie and Andy rush back to the Parks Department to grab their brooms, and nearly topple Ben as they zip out the door. "Sorry Ben! Gotta run! We've got a opossum to catch!"

Ben stares back, dumbfounded. "A opossum?"

"It bit Director Gunderson's dog!" Leslie exclaims, hovering in the hallway. He does not look convinced.

"Why are you dealing with it? Shouldn't we call, maybe, regular Animal Control?"

Oh Ben, beautiful, naive, muggle-born Ben. Leslie sighs, "Have you ever seen a opossum? With those teeth? And the eggs they lay everywhere—" she shivers. "No, this is definitely a Control of Magical Creatures problem. I'll see you later!"

Ben gives a confused wave as they take off.

They collect a crate and two Control of Magical Creatures employees-slash-professional-slackers, Brett and Harris, on their way out of the building.

"The opossum is called Fairway Frank," Leslie announces as they begin to apparate. "We should find him by the sixth hole."

"Wait, what did you say?" Harris asks as they touch ground on the putting green.

"Dude, she said we're gonna get Fairway Frank," Brett punches him in the shoulder.

"Isn't that the opossum that's, like, ten feet tall?"

Leslie scoffs. "What? No, that's ridiculous. There's no ten foot opossum in Pawnee—" she stops short at the sound of rustling and chattering behind her. She whips around and stifles a scream.

The opossum, yellowed teeth dripping with foamy drool, is at least fifteen feet tall. This thing is possibly more terrifying than the pack of Rodents of Unusual Size that lives in Ramsett Park. Leslie makes a mental note to update her list of "Most Terrifying Creatures in Pawnee" back at the office. The opossum rears up and hisses, and Leslie lets out a squeak of terror as she fumbles for her broom.

Abruptly, Leslie hears three screams behind her: two of Brett and Harris running away, and one of Andy shooting toward the opossum on his broom. 

"Andy!!"

Andy knocks the beast out cold and tumbles over its muzzle triumphantly. "Ha ha! Take that, Fairway Frank!"

Leslie coaxes Brett and Harris back, and they unlatch the sides of the crate. The panels fold outwards further and further until the edges reach bulk of the opossum.

"I don't think we've ever had to fit anything this big in these little crates before. Probably should have brought the medium-sized one," Brett mutters.

"Eh, it fits," Harris shrugs. "Man, these things are ugly."

"Not as ugly as you are," Brett cackles as Harris starts kicking him.

"All right boys, come on," Leslie chides. "We'll apparate Frank back to the courtyard at the Department of Magic."

Evelyn Roushland, Representative for Director Gunderson, holds back her robes and eyes the creature skeptically. "You certainly did a good job, Ms. Knope, but the opossum that bit the Director's dog was more... normal-sized."

"What?" Leslie exclaimed. "I mean, yes, that's what I assumed to, until we saw it on the golf course."

"There is a reason people usually skip the sixth hole. Regardless, the Director is still impressed. If you ever need a special favor, give us a call," Evelyn concludes, handing Leslie the Director's card.

A queasy feeling rolls in Leslie's stomach. She shuffles past April, who is watching Andy pose for the newspaper.

"Check it out, April! Andy Radical, Opossum Tackler!" He flexes his bicep.

"It's so gross, I love it. We should adopt it." She grins.

"Ann! Where are you right now! I have a problem and we need to talk about it," Leslie whispers urgently into the floo powder-lined fireplace.

Ann's expression hovers between a look of concern and an eyeroll. "I'm still at work, there was a bad case of vanishing fever going around and we had trouble locating our patients all day. Can I come over in an hour?"

"I don't know, maybe? Possibly? Sure, okay, meet me at the Parks department as soon as you can. There's a giant opossum, Ann!!" She pulls her head out quickly and goes back to pacing her office.

An hour later, Ann puts on her patient face as Leslie begins.

"Ann, you beautiful, tropical mermaid, I need your help." Leslie leans over her desk. "I caught the wrong opossum. But the one I caught is really big and monstrous, and has probably terrorized people, but I don't actually know that for sure. What do I do? Do I let it go? Do I let Control of Magical Creatures get rid of it? What if this opossum is innocent, Ann?"

"Um," Ann starts off, trying to piece through Leslie's story. "Is there maybe a way to find out whether the giant opossum has any complaints against it?"

Leslie's face lights up. "Oh Ann, you are just as brilliant as you are gorgeous. C'mon!" She grabs Ann's hand and races down to Control of Magical Creatures. The office is empty, so she ducks behind the desk and starts rifling through a file cabinet. Ann follows and scans a shelf of binders.

"Aha! Here it is! Fairway Frank!" Leslie tugs out the folder and spreads it out on the desk. "Oh my god, Frank ate someone's owl last year. And interrupted the Indiana State Golf Championships the year before. That seems pretty damning, right?" She turns around to see Ann peeking into a back room, shrieks and chittering coming through the doorway.

"You said it was a fifteen foot opossum?" Ann asked.

"Yeah, why?" Leslie follows her back. The room is full of cages, most empty but a handful holding indignant critters, most of them pretty freaky-looking. In the center stands a cage large enough to hold a fifteen foot opossum, but holds instead a small, yapping puppy.

"Huh."

They both stare at the puppy for a moment, until it suddenly shifts into a seven foot tall flobberworm. They scream and run from the room, barring the door.

"What the hell!" Leslie shouts. "Not only did I manage to not get the right opossum, but apparently I didn't get an opossum at all!"

Ann tries to catch her breath beside her. "Maybe we should use a revealing charm, and see what it really is."

Leslie nods. "Good idea. You go first."

"No way, this is your monster!"

"Okay, fine. But stick right behind me," Leslie gets up and inches the door open. She points her wand at what is now a boa constrictor testing the gaps between the bars of the cage.

"Aaaaaaaaaa! Aparecium!" Leslie flicks her wand wildly at the creature.

They watch with baited breath as the creature transforms into a hairless, bug-eyed, bat-eared creature with spines up its back.

"What the hell is that!?"

Ann seals the door with her wand as Leslie frantically digs the Director's card out of her pocket. She sighs with resignation, thinking of all the lost favors she could have been calling for.

"Just call him!" Ann yells.

"Okay, okay!" Leslie throws floo powder into the office fireplace and gets Director Gunderson on the other end. "Hi, this is Leslie Monster—I mean Leslie Knope! Who caught that monster earlier today. Well, the opossum. Well, except that it's not a opossum. Anyway, I think we need to call in Control of Magical Creatures from the State level. Possibly Federal, I don't know. Call the US Secretary of Magic, I'm sure you have his number." She nods a few times listening, then sits back into the room.

"Okay, we have to guard that thing until the President of the United States gets here."

"What?" Ann looks at her with exasperation.

"I don't know who they're sending! Just, we can't let it get out."

"Yeah, I got that much."

Not long later, Leslie and Ann both let out little screams at the sound of someone pounding on the office door.

"Leslie," April's voice complains from the other side, "Andy and I were sneaking into the building to steal the opossum so we could adopt it and keep it in our creepy basement, but then these people from Indianapolis showed up and they want it instead."

Leslie gets up carefully, making sure Ann keeps her wand pointed at the lock to the back room, and eases open the office door. "It's in there, it's back there, I don't know what it is, but it's in there."

"Don't worry, ma'am. We're from the State Department for the Regulation and Control of Magical Creatures. Now, could you show us the creature?"

"Yes, of course," Leslie says, composing herself and walking towards the back room. "I just want to point out that I'm not sure it even is Fairway Frank. Though if it's not, that means there are two very large opossum-things running around the golf course. But if it's not Fairway Frank, this creature might be innocent."

"Excuse me?" The Control officer asks, shifting her stance.

"What I mean to say is that we don't know for sure if this was the thing that bit Director Gunderson's dog."

"Let's just have a look at it, shall we?"

Leslie leads them to the back door, and Ann releases the locking spells. The Control officers stand on either side of the cage, considering the spiny, hairless creature.

Leslie points at it. "It was a fifteen foot opossum earlier today."

"Yeah, and I tackled it!" Andy boasts from behind her. April gives him a high-five.

"This is a chupacabra," one of the Control officers explains. "They've been known on occasion to shape shift. But it's incredibly rare to find one this far north; I've never seen one in Indiana before. We will take it and make sure it gets handled safely."

Andy gasps, then grins at April. "I tackled a chupacabra!?"

"I'm proud of you, babe."

"Good look," Donna remarks to Tom as he shows off another of his glimmering suits. "Kanye would go for it."

"TOLD YA!" Tom cheers. "I'm gonna start a new clothing line, Tommy Fleek."

"It could work," Donna considers. She sniffs. "Are those perfumed?"

"You know it," Tom struts.

Ben walks in and scans the office. "Where's—"

"Not only is there no precedent for this, it's against tradition, and it's also clearly against the rules!" Leslie bursts from Ron's office with Ron in pursuit. "But the point is, it's a risk for the witching community to allow muggles onto the quidditch team."

"The wizarding community."

"I prefer the term witching."

Ron huffs and crosses his arms. "Well then you're the one who has to go tell this child why she can't play on the peewee quidditch team. And then probably wipe her memory of the whole thing. She's six, by the way."

Leslie scrunches up her face at him. "Look, I wish muggles could play quidditch, but they can't!"

Ben glances between the two of them. "Um, muggles play quidditch all the time."

The office erupts in a chorus of gasps and disbelief. Ben holds up his hands defensively. "No, really, it's popular on college campuses. There are whole muggle quidditch leagues. Here—" he pulls up a video, on Terry's abandoned computer, of kids running around with brooms between their legs, throwing balls at each other.

"Ha ha, they look ridiculous," exclaims Andy. "I wanna play!"

"Besides, there are a few witch and wizard kids on the local muggle soccer team," Ben points out.

Leslie sighs. "Okay, fine. But for the record, I'm giving into Ben, not Ron."

Ron shrugs. "That's fine. I just don't want to talk to any parents."

"Andy! Come here," April beckons to Garry's computer. She pulls up a slew of pictures of chupacabras.

"Ew, gross, I tackled one of those?"

April sighs. "I can't believe we didn't get to adopt this thing."