About Me

I find it incredibly hard to talk about myself sometimes, but here goes: I am a student that's deeply involved in my studies. I play several games and I love to write. Enjoy!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Star Spangled Spells; Letters About Letters

Sorry this took so long; busy, busy! I expect we'll get back into the flow of Wizard101 things soon with the announcement of Zafaria--might I just say that I see a Mammoth pet in Ice's near (-or-very-distant) future! ;)

Letters About Letters

When Jason appeared outside the Institute, he saw Moxie leaning over a pile of packages and letters, "Now we know why Boreas was late."
    Jason smiled as he picked up a pile of letters addressed to him. One from Luna Lovegood, a few from his roommates, and a fairly lengthy one from Hermione. He would read them later, when he would be able to write fresh replies. He had received a blue and silver knit scarf from Mrs. Weasley, a blanket from Grandmother Matilda, a small silver wristwatch from Luna (she said it was customary in the British wizarding world), and oddly enough, a very large book of Charms from Professor Flitwick.
    "No Prophet though," Moxie concluded, sorting the letters into stacks for Jason and stacks for her. "It looks like I need to meet with the President in person today," Moxie muttered from behind a piece of paper, "Wants to discuss how I'm going to handle this Death Eater take over. So you and Diana will be here by yourselves for a bit--where did that girl get off to?"
    There was a loud crack and Diana appeared on the pavement. "Sorry, wanted to stop at home. Mom and Dad wanted to give this to Jason," she explained, handing him a brown paper bag. Jason ripped it open impatiently and what he found confused him. "It's a watch, I think," Diana muttered, "Dad said it's made of Crop Watcher straw and Mom said the glass marble in the middle used to be in one of her old Divination books. She bewitched it to tell time--I suppose she thought it'd be funny... or meaningful?"
    Jason was honestly touched. The watch Luna had given him was nice, but Jason thought he'd wear this one more often. It was a watch from home; from people he considered family. "Oh, look at the time," Moxie snapped, looking into the sky, "I'd better be off."
    There was a crack and the next instant she was gone. "Your parents have any news?" Jason asked, tapping his wand on the Institute's white wooden doors. A weak click escaped and the door swung open.
    "No," Diana admitted, "but Mom didn't look herself when I stopped. Wasn't exactly pleased I passed my Wizarding Exam without her there, I think. Dad was happy though, and he told me he was invited by the President to that meeting Moxie left for--wouldn't tell me what it was about, of course."
    "Moxie said that he wanted to know how she was going to deal with the Death Eater take over," Jason said, "Probably wants to convince her I should stay here for the school year."
    "She'd never let that happen; you told her what your dad's letter said," Diana nodded to herself. Jason was positive Moxie would rather chew on a raw Bezoar than let the President tell her what to do, anyway.
    Jason and Diana had planned to go to the library and do some quick studying, but Jason stopped in front of the Feast Hall's doors. Something was scratching on the door from the inside. He nodded quietly to Diana and pulled his wand out, "Alohomora!"
    The door popped open quietly and a small letter floated out. "Thank you," it said simply before floating toward the stairs, "Oh, I suppose I could ask you. Is Vivian Moxie available?"
    "No," Jason said, bewildered, "She--she had to go speak with somebody."
    "Ah, well, I am a howler from..."
    "Peter Halliwell," Diana said darkly, "I recognize your voice. You can give us her message." She looked defiantly at Jason and shrugged.
    "Very well," the Howler made noises that Jason figured was it clearing its throat, "I hereby resign my post..."
    "Incendio!" Diana hissed. The letter exploded in flames, though the message seemed to echo for a few seconds until the letter was completely reduced to ash. "I think that was putting it lightly compared to what Moxie would've done with it," Diana said simply.
    Jason tipped his head curiously at the dining hall's door. There was still a small sound coming from within the room. With his wand held out in front of him, he gingerly prodded the door open.
    Thousands of howlers spun in midair to face a very startled Jason and Diana. The floor had a carpet of non-enchanted letters and a steady stream was still flowing in from a paper jammed fireplace. "Colloportus!" Jason shouted, backing out of the room as the howlers floated toward him.
    The great white doors slammed behind him. Chattering and the ripping of paper filled the air as the magic letters flew into the doors. "We'd better get a hold of Moxie," Jason said breathlessly.
    There was a loud crack from outside and the door flew open, sunlight flooding the dark entrance hall. Moxie walked in quietly and froze in the doorway. Jason looked puzzled, "Well come on in, don't act like a stranger." He turned and saw Diana, wand outstretched toward Moxie, "What are you doing? It's Moxie, Diana!"
    "Dad told me exactly what was going on at that meeting," Diana said quietly enough so that only Jason could hear her, "The President was checking leading officials in the wizarding community for Imperious Curses or Polyjuice. He told me I should be extra cautious."
    "Roger's right," Moxie said calmly, "Go ahead, Diana. Verify my identity."
    "My middle name?" Diana said shortly.
    "You told me you didn't have a middle name.." Jason hissed. His best friend pointing her wand at his closest thing to a parent wasn't easy on his nerves.
    "Diana Selene Moone," Moxie answered. Diana's arm fell to her side and she released an exasperated sigh. "Though, honestly, we don't teach much past Reducto in your year. It would have been interesting to see how long you would have made it," Moxie commented, smirking.
    "You'd be surprised by how much we learn in passing, then," Diana smiled. She gave her blonde hair a flip and pointed to the dining hall, "You've got quite a bit of mail to go through."
    "I had a feeling. How many howlers do you suppose?"
    "More than ten," Jason smiled. He looked past Moxie into the daylight and saw an owl quickly approaching, "Incoming." The owl wasn't one Jason had ever seen before, but it clutched a golden envelope in one talon and a rolled up newspaper in the other.
    "About time," Jason and Moxie said in unison, holding out their hands to retrieve their respective parcels. The bird, however, dropped both items into Moxie's hand, spun around their heads and flew away. "It must have been confused," Jason explained, reaching for the golden letter.
    "No, Vivian Moxie," Moxie said quietly, reading the face of the envelope. She looked at the Prophet and the golden letter dropped to the ground, her hands more concerned with scouring the paper.
    "Did I just see...?" Diana spun around to Moxie's side, her eyes immediately running up and down the paper.
    "Yes," Moxie said grimly, "Severus Snape named Headmaster of Hogwarts." She dropped the paper on the ground. The picture on the cover was the familiar, smug face of Professor Snape. Jason had an overwhelming feeling of doom; there was no hope for his private requests now.
    Moxie bent down and ripped open the golden envelope, "Severus Snape... Governor's unanimous choice... Seventh Year schedules to be mailed soon... Sincerely, Amycus and Alecto Carrow, Deputy Heads. If they've sacked Minerva they will have me to deal with, those cowarding--"
    A hooting filled the hall as yet another owl flew over their heads. It was wind battered and had punctured the note it gripped in its talon. This time, however, the note was dropped on Jason's head. He grabbed and unfolded it in the same movement, "It's from Professor McGonagall.. She said she got my requests to the governors before the Ministry switched the members. They had reached and finalized a decision, she's not sure what that decision was though. Also, she wants you to calm down. She'll talk with you later; she's off to discuss the details of... the disappearance of Hermione, Ron, and Harry!"
    Jason looked up to find that Moxie and Diana were already rushing up the wooden stairs to Moxie's office, "We'll use the shortcut; don't want to keep Minerva waiting!" Jason shook his head absently and trotted after them.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Star Spangled Spells; When It Happens, You'll Know

Sorry this is so delayed. The next couple of chapters will have a bit of a time warp on them; I want to move things along. Enjoy!

When It Happens, You'll Know

    It had been nearly two months since Jason read his father's letter. As Egan promised, Moxie had explained everything. It was a long and confusing tale, but Jason noticed that once she had gotten it all out, she was back to her usual self. The week after, Moxie whisked Diana and Jason to Canada for a month.
    When July rolled around, she returned them to Salem for the annual Independence Day festivities. Moxie noted that Gladys had already been replaced--after a thorough investigation of her office--by her Secretary, Madeline Pike. She was a strong headed girl, though she had been Imperioused by Gladys for quite some time. Moxie assured the other Cardinals and the President that Maddie was fine now and that no Wizarding Revolution would take place.
    In Canada they had found a replacement Divination teacher, though some changes needed to be made at the Institute. A Mermaid, Ghrendahline Mhrillch, had agreed to relocate and teach the subject, so long as she had an underwater room.
    But Jason could not help but feel the looming Death Eater take over getting closer. It was August now; a month until school would start, and he still had not gotten a letter from Hogwarts with at least his needed supplies. The mail had been slow all summer; a quick hello from fellow students, the Daily Prophet every other weekend, and an invitation to Ron's brother's wedding which had been delayed. The wedding was taking place the day the letter finally got there, and Moxie said it was too late for her to arrange anything.
    Jason had told Diana about the letter his father had written and expressed his worry more than once. "Don't worry about it, Jason," she would tell him calmly, "When it happens, I think you of all people would know. Your dad said your Inner Eye would be super powerful, maybe it's not too late to embrace it?"
    But Jason had tried that. He could teach himself Arthrimancy, but every time he attempted to read a Divination text book he found himself feeling silly and getting frustrated. His Eye was no longer an option, and he would have to rely on "good old fashioned wit" as Moxie called it.
    But there was a light at the end of the tunnel. Jason birthday was tomorrow, August 2nd. He would be a wizarding adult and able to practice magic freely--though when they were with Moxie, she never protested when he used spells for menial labor. Moxie and Diana were being very quiet about their plans; they didn't bother lying that they didn't have any because Jason knew that they always did something special for him.
    So Jason rolled over on his side and fell asleep in his bed. He slept deeply that night. He didn't hear Moxie running up and down the halls, the portraits screaming to each other, or the storm that had suddenly appeared over the Institute. He only woke the next morning due to Diana's shouting at President Jefferson.
    "Now, young lady, you have no right to tell me what to do!" Jefferson shouted as Jason pushed open the portrait door.
    "In case you haven't heard, Women's Rights became an actuality in the last century!" Diana hissed. She grabbed Jason's night robe sleeve and pulled him toward Moxie's office. "Malleus Maleficarum," she said quickly before Tituba could start a conversation.
    The portrait swung open and Jason saw Moxie. She looked a mess; her hair was going in all directions and her eyes were red with lack of sleep. "The Ministry's fallen," she said simply, looking up from the Daily Prophet, "Everything will change. Pius Thicknesse will replace Scrimgeour, with a ProMagic regime all the way. There is no news on Hogwarts, as of yet.. I worry that the governors are probably feeling weak and the school has little hopes."
    "Well," Diana commented, "That beats any surprise we had planned for you." They all laughed, though Jason felt uneasy. He must return to Hogwarts. "Anyway, let's all get ready," Diana said excitedly, "You've got a Wizarding License to test for!"
    And they were off. Moxie and Diana had actually pulled out all of the stops and were dressed and ready before he was. "What exactly did you mean by test?" Jason asked as he followed Moxie and Diana out of the Institute.
    "The Exam Master will test you on the basics of magic; Practicality, Knowledge, and finally Defense. I don't think you'll have any problems," Moxie explained, "They teach some pretty advanced stuff over at Hogwarts; this should be nothing more than review for you. Unfortunately, I'm not permitted to teach the subjects at the Institute; they want to catch students on the fly."
    Moxie gave the sky a sweeping look; she was worried about Boreas, as she hadn't seen him since she sent out the staff newsletter. With no sign of the bird, she hooked her arms around Diana and Jason and Apparated with a crack. They reappeared in a dark, damp alley.
    "Well, this is lovely," Diana muttered, stepping out of a puddle of what she hoped was water.
    "Sorry," Moxie said quietly, "Had to shift course at the last second. Space is so crowded around here. Point Me!" Moxie's wand spun in the palm of her hand toward the crowded street ahead of them.
    After several minutes of wandering and Moxie consulting her wand--which no Muggles seemed to notice--the group finally found the Office of Wizarding Affairs, cleverly disguised as a run-down DMV to the Muggle eye. A single, lumpy faced witch sat at a desk toward the front of the very cramped building.
    "Jason Crowe, here for his Wizarding License Exam," Moxie told the woman. She didn't seem happy to have customers, but she pointed to a door to the left and instructed Moxie and Diana to wait there. With another grunt she led Jason through a door to the right and slammed it shut behind him.
    "I am Sophia Prax and I will be your Exam Master for today," Sophia rattled off; Jason figured she had given this speech already today, "In order to test your ability we will be putting you through three tests: the test of Knowledge, of Practicality, and lastly, of Defense. If at any time you feel incapable of completing the task at hand or I have reasonable doubt in your abilities, the test will end. You may begin... now."
    The room Jason stood in lit up suddenly, momentarily blinding him. He had his wand drawn, but realized he did not need it once his eyes had adjusted. A figure of stone stood at the wall opposite Jason; when he got close to it, it spun on its platform and looked Jason up and down, "Which came first: the phoenix or the flame?"
    Jason looked oddly at the statue. This was exactly a question the Bronze Eagle had asked him around Christmas last year. "Uh.. a circle has no beginning," Jason answered.
    The stone man nodded curtly and spun again on his pedestal. The room shifted around Jason and he now stood in the middle of a box painted in the starkest of whites. "Congratulations on completing the test of Knowledge," Sophia's voice boomed monotonously, "You will now be testing on your Practicality with magic. Your task is simple, yet difficult. You must change the color of the walls to their direct opposite. A color wheel will not be given to you, and any colorblind wizards should speak now."
    Sophia coughed awkwardly, "Very well, you may begin... now."
    "Simple yet difficult?" Jason said to himself. He held up his wand, cleared his throat and spoke clearly, "Multicorfors!" Immediately the walls in the room shifted from a bright white to the darkest of blacks. Moxie was right; this test was extraordinarily easy.
    "Very well," Sophia said, boredom evident in her voice, "The test of Defense will now commence. If at any time--"
    "Just get on with it!" Diana's voice sounded through the air.
    There was a crack and scratching in the darkness. Jason lit his wand and wove it in the direction he heard the sound. The lid of the container popped open when the light hit it. Slowly a hand pulled a body out of the deep chest. A head quickly followed, and the face it had caused Jason's heart to skip a beat.
    Harley Charleston now stood before him with the stupidest grin on his face. Jason noticed that he was holding his wand funny, and upon further inspection, noticed that the wand was really nothing more than a stick. It looked like something Jessica had blown up on accident and donated for use here.
    "Dah!" Harley shouted, a jet of light shooting way over Jason's head. Jason quickly realized what was going on; this was not Harley Charleston, this was a Boggart. The Doppelganger Harley shot another spell at Jason, which he blocked with a quick Shield Charm.
    "Riddikulus!" Jason shouted. The creature's figure hunched and dropped the wand. This Harley had aged significantly and was babbling nonsense.
    "Very good, Jason!" Moxie's voice called out. "Well, it was nice seeing you, Sophie. Where do I sign?"
    "I'm afraid it's not that easy, Vivian," Sophia said darkly. Her voice was much deeper, and she seemed to be convulsing in her chair, "Expelliarmus!"
    The wand on the floor of the testing room shot at Jason, causing his wand to fly somewhere behind him. "Drink it now, you idiot!" a man's voice shouted from Sophia's body.
    "No!" Moxie shrieked, "Not you, too?" She lifted her wand and sent the Polyjuiced Sophia flying into the wall. Diana rushed to the viewing window. The Boggart had pulled a vial of the darkest liquid she had ever seen out of its pocket and swallowed all of it in one gulp.
    Cold instantly filled the entire building. A sickening rush of air caused Jason to look up into the hooded face of a Dementor. He was instantly reminded of his father, and he would have cried had the tears not frozen before they could get out.
    Diana's voice brought him back to a quickly saddening reality, "Expecto Patronum!" She had somehow run back through the building and was pulling Jason out past the stone man while her Long-horned bull Patronus rammed into the Dementor-Boggart. It gave a wail and quickly retreated into the chest, which was sucked into the wall. Jason grabbed his wand and stood, running out of the Exam Sites with Diana ahead of him.
    Moxie ran past them, mumbling complex spells under her breath. Minutes later she joined Jason and Diana in the lobby, accompanied by a very tall, slender woman whose hair was pulled back into a tight bun. Her glasses sat lopsided on her nose, "Please forgive me, Vivian! He ambushed me when I was opening this morning, absolutely demanded to know if his appointment was today!"
    "Not your fault at all, Sophia," Moxie commented, handing Sophia a tissue, "He must have been in a terrible rush with that Polyjuice Potion for him to be so disfigured."
    Jason cleared his throat; he was very annoyed. Being attacked by a Dementor and another person out for his life wasn't exactly what he was looking forward to on his birthday, "Who exactly was he?"
    "Professor Halliwell," Diana muttered. She looked lost, "That's two teachers now. How are they getting past you, Moxie?"
    "I knew about Louise. Peter, on the other hand, that's surprising. It does explain why he broke down crying when we announced that Dumbledore  was dead--tears of joy," Moxie too looked a little sick to her stomach.
    There were several minutes of silence before Sophia finally snapped to a realization, "I nearly forgot! You passed--both of you!"
    Jason and Diana smiled, though Diana's quickly turned into a frown, "I'm not of age for three more months, though!"
    Sophia giggled, "Nobody really cares, dear. There's no Magical Enforcement Squad here in the States; we really just keep this office open so that there's some sort of records out there!"
    Moxie smiled and gave both of her pupils a hug. They sat and talked with Sophia for a few more minutes before her next appointment arrived, "Again, congratulations. I'll send an owl out as soon as I'm done with this one." She smiled sweetly and led the nervous looking boy and his mother toward the back of the building, "We're doing a little reorganizing in the back, so we'll just see how you are with a Written Test..."
    Diana nudged Jason and laughed as they all exited the building. "Owl.. that reminds me! The Prophet was releasing a special edition this afternoon. That would explain why Boreas was gone. We'd best be quick getting back; he's a thick bird and won't wait around for long." Moxie Disapparated with a crack and Jason almost worried for a minute. He was too accustomed to Side-Alonging with her.
    "See you there," he said cheerfully as he Apparated with a snap, leaving Diana grinning widely on the sidewalk.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Star Spangled Spells; Seeing is Knowing

Seeing is Knowing

    Gladys led Jason into an overgrown field of what looked like corn. Jason flung random curses and jinxes toward Gladys as they ran; however, none seemed to meet their target. The Dark Mark had faded away from the sky, but Jason still saw the jets of black soaring overhead.
    He stopped dead in his tracks. This was not his best judgement. Death Eaters were flying around above him and he was more worried about whether or not his Curse of the Bogies hit Gladys. Jason spun around, looking to retrace his steps, but found that he was lost. Every stalk of the plant looked the same, and Jason felt that the fields were probably enchanted.
    A rustling from his left caused Jason to snap his wand into the air. The point was nearly an inch from the face of a Crop Watcher. It looked nothing like the one Jason and Diana had fought in the Forest; this one had a sad look in its hallow eyes, and was not nearly as thin.
    "Help me," Jason whispered to the beast. It swayed with the wind and a crooked smile formed on its face. The Crop Watcher began to cackle madly--Jason had done something wrong. He spun on his feet and ran in the opposite direction, looking back only when he felt a blast of heat from behind. Flames were flying into the air from Gladys's wand; she had Metamorphed into a Crop Watcher to trick him.
    "Oh, don't be afraid, Jason!" she screeched. The jets of black were now circling them just above the tall plants. "We don't want to hurt you," Gladys said calmly. She looked much younger than earlier, which made Jason feel uneasy.
    "Expelliarmus!" a blast of red light threw Gladys onto her back and her wand into the air. Charlie ran up and planted himself ahead of Jason just as one of the black jets materialized before them.
    "Brother," a voice said cooly from the column of smoke, "Long time no see."
    Charlie grunted a reply. He was white as a sheet and Jason could feel the hatred between the two. They looked almost identical, except for the fact that Harley stood a few inches taller than Charlie. "Mother's been asking about you," Charlie said matter-of-factually.
    "Finally getting over that Confundus?" Harley jeered, "Should've made it stronger."
    A jet of red light flew from Charlie's wand, but Harley deflected it at the last second. "Ah, still a sensitive subject?" Harley smiled. He rose his wand and Jason saw his lips move, but whatever he said was drown out by a loud gong-like ringing. Moxie appeared behind him with her wand outstretched; a glowing, silver Shield Charm was vibrating with power.
    Harley looked less than pleased and rose his wand to his throat. "Ah, another old bat I should've finished a long time ago," his magically enhanced voice boomed.
    Jason looked to Moxie, "Where's Diana?"
    "Right here," she whispered from right behind him. She was invisible, probably by Moxie's doing.
    Moxie let out a hallow laugh, "And what makes you think you could've finished me? I've known your plans since that night, Harley. You're like an open book to me."
    A very angry white light began shooting at Moxie's Shield. It was not coming from Harley's wand, and Gladys was still unconscious on the ground behind her partner. This spell was coming from a very slender woman in very frilly black robes. "Ah, Louise. I was wondering when you would be getting here," Moxie commented.
    The woman spun, her dress billowing around her. Jason and Diana gasped when they saw that it was Madam Louise from the Institute. "Don't tell me you've got the Inner Eye, too, Viv?" Louise's smile was vicious.
    "I'm afraid only two of the assembled have that ability, Louise. I'm just gifted with the terrible ability to smell a rat when I see one," Moxie spat, "You didn't honestly believe that asking him those questions every summer didn't go unnoticed?" Her wand was down, but the shield was sustaining itself.
    Madam Louise scowled, "Honestly, I thought I had you there." Somewhere in the conversation Harley had found the time to wake Gladys, and they now had their wands poised on Moxie and Charlie, too.
    "Do not draw your wand," Diana whispered into Jason's ear as his hand slid to his side. He felt her hand wrap around his forearm and Diana snapped into view, "Canarius!" A spiral of yellow light shot through the bubble, the deafening sound of  birds filled the quiet dusk. Louise and Gladys fell to the ground in surprise, but Harley was wiser. He tried his hardest to break the Shield, but his spells only pierced it once Jason and the other three had Disapparated in four loud cracks.
    Jason had no idea where he was going. Diana had Apparated away with him as soon as her Taxi Summoning had left her lips. His feet hit firm ground and his knees buckled as his body found itself. "Mom!" Diana's voice rang in Jason's ears, "Mom--the Dittany!"
    Jason took a deep breath; both of his lungs were there. He opened his eyes--yes, those were there too. If it wasn't for him, then it was for someone else. Moxie; it was the only thought that ran through Jason's mind. He had so many questions.
    Jason sat up straight, greeted by the face of Diana's mother, Lucy. "Hi Jason! Having a good summer?" she said cheerfully. Even in very depressing times, Lucy seemed to be extraordinarily happy, like somebody had removed her ability to be sad.
    "Not him, Mom!" Diana hissed. She was kneeling next to Charlie, "He's got a nasty cut on his face--just give it to me!" She ripped the bottle from her mother's hand and began dripping it over Charlie's forehead.
    "Thank you, Diana," he muttered, rubbing his temples. "You need to practice that with them, Vivian," he added jokingly. Moxie was staring out the window and nodded weakly.
    Jason walked up behind her, "So... where are we?"
    "Moone Ranch, somewhere in Texas. Roger refuses to tell me specifically where," she answered absently. She spun and looked Jason square in the eyes; her's were watering, "There's something you need to know. I know you have questions, but I can't answer them... yet."
    She pulled an envelope out of her purse and hesitated before offering it to Jason. "No, Moxie!" Charlie snapped, "Egan said to wait until his seventeenth..."
    "Egan said that as soon as he needed to know," Moxie hissed, "He should be told." She shoved the letter into Jason's hand and stared at the paper with disgust. With a sweeping look at Lucy, Diana, and Charlie, she left the room.
    "I'll get her something to drink," Lucy said quietly, but with a very wide grin. Charlie also stood and excused himself, though he stopped and stared at Jason as he passed through the doorway.
    Diana climbed into a chair and looked expectantly at Jason, "If you thought I was going to leave you were sorely mistaken."
    Jason grinned and opened the letter. The smell of wildlife filled his nose as he removed a piece of yellowing parchment.
    "My dear son," Jason read, "I know that at this time you probably do not think very highly of me. I also know that you have many, many questions. And now the most prominent is how do I know all of this if I am supposedly dead. I am sure that you, like your mother, do not think highly of the Divining arts--but they do exist, Jason.
    "Your Grandfather Crowe was a bearer of the Inner Eye, a trait that runs very deep in our blood. Grandfather's was not a powerful Sight, but mine is. Believe it or not, yours is even more powerful than mine. The Eye grows stronger as it passes through generations. We say that we know very little of Divination, that it is a very obscure art. This is, for all extensive purposes, a lie.
    "If anybody knew the true power of Sight, Seers would never live the quiet life that everybody is entitled to. But that is not the point of this letter. You have a very powerful Inner Eye, Jason. An Eye that is capable of Seeing wonderful or devastating events.
    "And again, I realize that you do not fully appreciate the Divination arts, and I thank you for that. By not accepting a gift you didn't know you had, you have successfully squashed all usefulness Harley Charleston sees in you. That is why he acted the way he did so many years ago.
    "I had Seen him coming months ahead of time. Moxie may have mentioned my extreme nervousness when your mother announced she pregnant. I was not worried about you being a Squib; I loved your sister for everything she was, not what she should have been.
    "I was heartbroken I could not save your sister and mother, but I knew I had to get you away first. You were a much too powerful weapon should they ever get you into the hands of the Dark Lord. When he realized that I had moved you, he was furious. He chased me to the Canadian border where he Cursed me beyond limits I thought possible.
    "I am only sane when I am Seeing things. Through the years I have developed the ability to ignore my Sights and write these letters. Moxie and your Grandmother have both found and read theirs by now, and I have one final warning before I leave you to wander the abyss I have been thrown into.
    "You must, above all things, return to Hogwarts this year. It is vitally important you are kept under the school's control, and though your Grandmother will protest, she knows what must happen. The Death Eaters will gain control of the British Ministry and Hogwarts--this is information you must not share with anybody. Why walk right into their trap, you may wonder.
    "You are less of a threat to them when they have a mock control over you than when you are here, with Moxie. She will answer any further questions you have; I feel my time writing this letter coming to an end. Lovingly, Egan Cro..."
    Jason looked up at Diana, his eyes burned with held back tears, "It ends in random scribblings. He couldn't even finish his name because of... because of Harley." Jason dropped the letter and sobbed. He had felt nothing but hatred for this man, his father, because of the cowardice his actions were described as. Now Jason couldn't help but hate himself.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Star Spangled Spells; Rigorous Rivalry

Rigorous Rivalry

    Jason was amazed at how quickly the assembled witches and wizards could organize and raise the dueling tent that stretched through the center of the area. Inside, a long platform ran through the center of the tent. On either side bleachers had been set up and people were filing in. Diana seemed more concerned with four large thrones that had appeared at the back of the tent.
    "Those are the Cardinal's Thrones!" she hissed into Jason's ear, "All four; that means they'll all be watching, except, you know, for Gladys.."
    This entire occurrence didn't sit well in Jason's mind. It was almost as if Gladys and the people at the Market had been expecting Moxie to arrive. But Jason felt that Moxie would win this; she was one of the most acclaimed witches in the States, after all.
    Three loud cracks drew applause and cheer from the assembled crowd. The other Cardinals had arrived and were waving with wide smiles to the people. "The round one--with the top hat--that's the Eastern Cardinal, Paul Quinn," Diana said, pointing to a very squat man in a black suit and matching top hat.
    "Which one is she?" Jason asked, pointing at a woman in a pale yellow sun dress.
    "Morgan Tracey, she's the Western Cardinal. Spends too much time in California; I think her brain's been sun dried," Diana said with some venom in her voice, "Passed a decree last week that put a quota on the amount of Southern beasts allowed into the area; Dad was furious."
    The final Cardinal, the Southerner, was not standing and waving to the crowd. Instead, he had seated himself in the chair and had a very sour look on his face. In fact, it was this sour look that seemed to jolt something in Jason's memory, "What's his name?"
    Diana looked sideways at Jason and back at the Southern Cardinal, "Charlie Charleston." Jason tensed immediately, his hand hovering over his wand. "But don't worry, Jason," Diana whispered urgently, "Charlie's nothing like Harley--he even issued a public statement on behalf of the Charleston family when Harley was accused; Harley was disowned and the Charlestons submitted themselves to a full search. Moxie was one of the investigating witches.."
    "Okay," Jason said quietly, nodding to himself. He turned on his heels and sat on the bench closest to Moxie's end of the platform. There was an ominous ringing and the crowd fell silent. The three Cardinals stood, each with their wands raised.
    "Do you both, under an Unbreakable Vow, agree to duel cleanly and in accordance to rules established by the First Magical Council of Statesmen?" Charlie recited clearly. Jason noticed that he didn't have the accent that most Southerners had, but he sounded very eloquent.
    "I agree!" Gladys squealed, turning her back on Moxie.
    "Yes," Moxie nodded grimly and also turned away from Gladys.
    "On my count, you may begin dueling," Morgan said dreamily, adding a completely unnecessary giggle, "Three, two, one!"
    Paul's wand erupted with a golden light that sounded like fireworks. Moxie and Gladys spun on their feet. The golden light seemed to circle around the duel and caught wayward spells before they could affect anybody in the audience. Gladys was playing offense, sending numerous flaming spells at Moxie.
    Moxie had, however, taught Charms longer than any other at the Institute and was expertly deflecting them with a combination of Shield Charms and quick Transfigurations.
    "Same old, Viv," Gladys taunted, sending a rather nasty flame at Moxie, "Always playing it safe!" The platform under Gladys's feet gave a sickening crack as she threw a ball of blue light at her opponent.
    "Protego!" Moxie shouted. A wall of light blocked Gladys's spell and sent a deep ringing through the tent. "Just thought I'd let you get the big ones out first, Gladys!" Moxie called back. She twisted her arm in an unnatural fashion and her Shield Charm rocketed toward Gladys. It slammed into the Northern Cardinal with a force so strong that she was thrown onto her back.
    Jason and Diana cheered as Gladys struggled to stand again. "Nicely played," Gladys chuckled, shifting back into her dueling stance, "But I can do better--Expecto Patronum!" Silvery light spiraled from Gladys's wand and quickly formed her large bear Patronus. "This is something I learned from a man over seas; I think you'll like it. Incendio!"
    The Patronus bear exploded into flames as it stood and lumbered over Moxie. "Now show her what you can do, my pet," Gladys seethed, rolling her wand between her hands. Moxie's wand was a blur as she began to weave spells together; Jason could hardly make out what she was muttering to herself.
    "Cor Amoveo!" Moxie called as the bear swung down upon her. Before the fire made contact with Moxie, the bear fell into itself and reformed facing Gladys. It gave an ugly, fiery roar and charged for her.
    "Arrgh!" Gladys screeched. She wove her wand over her head, the fiery bear was sucked into a thin stream that gathered at its tip. With a grunt, she threw the jet of roaring fire back at Moxie.
    "Duro!" Moxie's spell Transfigured the flames into a long shard of stone. The magic continued to go up the flames and did not stop when it reached Gladys's wand. Gladys screamed as her hand and the sleeve of her robe changed to stone and the spell finally halted.
    "Why did you do it?" Moxie shouted. Jason noticed she was trembling.
    "Do what?" Gladys cried in obviously forced innocence. She gave a hallow laugh and looked around at the crowd, "And this is the woman you want to lead you in your Revolution; a crazy old bat that makes the most ludicrous accusations..."
    Moxie's wand danced in the air and Gladys's mouth magically snapped shut, "Don't act like you haven't played a part in the events as of late, Gladys. You seem to forget that our government--the one run by Muggle and Magic alike--requires that all Animagus and Metamorphmagus be documented.
    "Anybody that speaks with me on a daily basis knows that I would never side with such an extremist view, and many were perplexed when I agreed to lead the charge. You see, Gladys, I did some research when I was suddenly named the leader of this campaign. A little birdy told me that they had seen your name on a list of Registered Metamorphagi, so I dug deeper.
    "Now, I admit I have no privileges to government files, but I knew a man with a functioning Pensieve and he suggested that I take a trip down memory lane. And then I remembered when this whole rivalry started--our sixth year at the Institute, when we shared the Lincoln suite. The term we studied Switching Spells you made us all obnoxiously aware of the fact that you were a Metamorphmagus."
    "That means nothing here, Vivian!" Gladys laughed.
    "Oh, it means everything! There are ancient laws prohibiting a Metamorphmagus to steal another person's identity; we all know, however, that when you were named Northern Cardinal, you put yourself above the law--why else would you feel the need to differentiate your regulations from your colleagues?" Moxie said, pointing to the three other Cardinals, all of whom were watching with rapt attention.
    Paul stood from his throne, his brow wrinkled causing his face to look even smaller, "Is this true, Gladys?"
    The Northern Cardinal's head was on a swivel as she looked between her colleagues and Moxie. Jason thought she might cry when her face twisted into a hideous grin. There was a sickening crunching sound as Gladys's arm shriveled to her side and regrew, free of it's rocky tomb. She held her wand into the air, "Morsmordre!"
    The golden bubble of light evaporated instantly, and a huge hole was ripped into the ceiling of the tent. People scrambled from the stands and Morgan and Paul Diapparated with loud cracks. "Cowards!" Charlie hissed, his warped and crooked wand shooting spells toward Gladys.
    The Northern Cardinal had found new strength and was blocking numerous spells at a time, all while grinning at the large skull and snake in the sky. Black jets of smoke began to spin in the sky, and Jason had difficulty counting them all, "Are those... American Death Eaters?"
    "Don't stick around to find out," Moxie said urgently from behind them. How had she gotten there? "Diana, take him to the ranch," she whispered, taking a cautious look at Charlie, "I have a feeling the fruits of another rivalry are about to sprout..."
    A jet of red light slammed into Moxie's back and she fell limply to the ground. Gladys was smiling menacingly a few yards away. "You!" Jason shouted. He felt a hot rage growing in his temples. Gladys spun and ran off, Jason immediately taking off after her.
    "Jason! No!" Diana shrieked. She knelt down by Moxie and pulled her wand out, "Rennervate!"
    Moxie's eyes snapped open and she sat bolt upright, "Got me from behind didn't she?" Diana nodded her answer. "She never was much used to going by the rules," Moxie commented, "Better get rid of that quickly.."
    Moxie's wand produced a gust of wind that blew the mark out of the sky, though the swirling back jets of smoke remained. "Is Jason already at the ranch?" Moxie asked, the amount of concern in her voice startled Diana.
    "Uhm, he... Well.. Jason ran after Gladys when she Stunned you."
    Moxie's jaw clenched and her eyes took on a frantic expression, "Charlie! The field--they're luring him to the field!"

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Star Spangled Spells; A Skip, A Hop, and A Jump

A Skip, A Hop, and A Jump

    Jason slept through the graduation ceremony, but Diana told him that he hadn't missed much. The entire ceremony was more or less Moxie just signing everybody's Wizarding and Witching Licenses and giving them their final grades.
    Some time into the afternoon, Jason walked into the Grand Hall. It was bare in comparison to how it had been in the past. A single table with three chairs around it was in the center, with Moxie and Diana occupying two of them. "I see you finally decided to join us?" Moxie smiled over her tea.
    Jason didn't return the favor. He was still preoccupied with what had been written in that letter, and his Grandmother's sudden turn on Dumbledore. In the past, Matilda had fully supported Jason's attending Hogwarts. Her change of heart coupled with Moxie's troubling meeting with the President didn't sit well with Jason--something was up.
    "Oh, this came for you," Diana said, pushing a bundle of mail towards Jason, "The owl flew in the middle of the ceremony. Dropped the bag right on Lee Schnider's head." She was exceptionally cheerful this morning, and it almost bothered Jason. But he pushed his annoyance behind him and looked at this mail.
    A couple of letters from his roommates, inviting him to various activities. One letter held a notice from the Howarts library, explaining that he had never returned a book about magical boils. Finally, Jason ripped open a golden envelope and read the letter aloud, "'Dear Jason Crowe, The Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry staff would like to extend a congratulations to you on another wonderful school year. We are proud to announce that Hogwarts will again be open during the 1997-1998 school year. At this time, staff announcements are still up for debate. With this in mind, please presume that all teachers will hold their post for next year when signing up for your classes. As a Seventh year student you are permitted to choose all of your classes. Keep in mind that to attend any N.E.W.T. level course you must have acquired the proper O.W.L. testing results. Included is a form that should be completed and returned as soon as possible. In magic, Hogwarts.'"
    This had lifted Jason's mood, but seemed to put a damper in Moxie's. "Staff positions are up for debate," she muttered, "Nothing mentioned about Minerva being Headmistress?" Jason scanned the letter again, but found nothing. None of the attached papers said anything either, and the requirement for N.E.W.T. level Transfiguration was still at Professor McGonagall's Outstanding level.
    "Have a pen on you?" Jason inquired. He wanted to fill out the forms quickly; the sooner he got everything in, the better the possibilities he could get an independent study. Moxie summoned one and whipped up the New York Times to scour the wizard articles (rose colored glasses had to be worn).
    It took Jason a little over an hour to write up his requests and additionally his inquiry for solo studies. He had achieved the highest O.W.L.s in all of his subjects, so he would undoubtably get those, but the solo studies made his stomach uneasy. They would need to be approved by the Head of the school, and if that was Professor McGonagall, he would have it in the bag. If it were not her, well, he had to hope his marks did the talking for him.
    "So Moxie," Jason said, tucking the letters into the return envelope, "What do you have planned for us this summer?" Diana looked up from her summer homework intently, too.
    "Oh, I thought we'd keep it simple this year," she muttered from behind the newspaper. Diana looked completely disappointed. "And then I remembered that's not us at all," Moxie said happily, dropping the newspaper.
    Diana perked back up immediately, "Something exciting, I hope. You know, I haven't been to Europe. Or well, anywhere outside of the Institute and Texas, that is.."
    "Seeing as Jason's birthday is coming up next month, I'm afraid we can't go too far," Moxie explained, "He'll need to get a Wizarding license right away. And there are certain... developments in Wizarding law that I need to keep a close eye on."
    "Like what?" Jason asked unflinchingly. Moxie looked slightly taken aback, and then her features softened. Jason thought that, in that second, Moxie looked very old. Her vibrancy seemed to escape her.
    "With recent events in mind, the government would like more control over the wizarding world here in the States. They would like to begin that with more control over the Institute," Moxie sighed. "For its entire life the Institute has been run free of the judgement of the Muggle government. Because of the open communication, the wizarding community here in the States saw no need for two separate governing systems: one for Muggles and one for wizarding kind.
    "Many leaders in the wizarding community are now calling foul on the President and would like to separate. Of course, they have christened me as the leader of this charge--without my knowing. The President was furious, but I can't say I blame him. With Voldemort on the loose and now Dumbledore dead, even the Muggles know that something terrible is going to happen," Moxie released a defeated sigh. Jason and Diana looked helplessly at each other.
    Jason stretched a hand to Moxie, and she accepted it with tearing eyes. Diana held in a cry and began laughing, "Oh gods, look at us. We used to be the biggest trouble makers and now we're all wallowing on about laws that can't be written"
    Jason and Moxie joined in the laughter. Diana was right; they couldn't dwell on such depressing subjects at a time like this. They talked for a few more minutes about school and plans for the next year; Diana tried several times to coax her exam results from Moxie. Conversation could have gone on for hours, but was interrupted by an opening window and the hooting of an owl.
    It was Moxie's owl, Boreas, and he had a Daily Prophet clutched in his talons. Moxie yanked the paper from the bird and Jason immediately gave Boreas his letters, "Straight to Hogwarts. Don't let anybody stop you." Moxie skimmed the Prophet, and finding that there was no Wanted notice in her name, closed it up.
    "I think the first leg of our journey will be to the Midwest," Moxie plucked her glasses from her nose and dropped them into her purse, "I'd like to find out who let those Crop Watchers out of their sight."
    "Ugh, I hate Apparating to the North," Diana whined.
    Jason knew that the states were magically divided into four sections, with a Cardinal Witch that usually set the magical standards for each. From what Jason had heard about the Northern Cardinals, he knew that it wasn't just Southern rivalry that made Diana feel the way she did. The current Northern Cardinal, Gladys Winshire, insisted on everything being done in three's. So to Apparate to the Northern states, one had to hop, skip, and Apparate in mid-jump to pass the magical boundaries. It usually did cause people to look ridiculous.
    "Yes, and we'll have to get Jason familiar with the area before we can leave. Incredibly dangerous to Side-Along into the North," Moxie said, waving her wand in the air. In seconds, a large book was soaring towards them and landed softly on the table. "Tap this page with your wand," Moxie explained, opening the book to the page she wanted on her first try, "That should help your wand guide you."
    The picture was a large cornfield surrounded by small farms. "The Farmer's Market," Jason read. He tapped the picture with his wand and felt it vibrate slightly in his hand.
    "We'll go first, so you get the general idea," Moxie nodded to Diana. There was small circle of flames behind them; Moxie had opened a small Apparation field. Diana glided toward the ring, skipping a step in front of it, hopping into the ring, and finally jumping and Disapparating with a snap.
    "Looks simple enough," Jason commented as Moxie stood. She approarched identically as Diana had, but when she Disapparated there was a much louder crack. Jason stood, shook himself of worries and repeated, Apparating away with a sharp snapping sound.
    The Farmer's Market was a very small village. The layout was similar to that of a fairground; one building had a large floating sign that read "Portkey House" and Jason heard the whooshing and flashes of blue light that usually followed Portkey travel. The ground was covered in hay and the sound of conversation and animals filled the air.
    Diana and Moxie walked up behind Jason. "If they aren't wearing a hat, they probably shouldn't be trusted," Moxie commented, giving a very dirty look to a man covered in hair, "People will try to sell anything here."
    "Well it is the season for duels, Vivian!" a shrill voice called from behind. Jason felt Moxie's grip tighten on his shoulder.
    "Gladys!" Moxie called back with obvious mock surprise. The two women embraced, allowing Jason to take in the infamous Gladys Winshire. She was a tall woman who appeared to tower over Moxie's petite stature. Gladys's hair was long and braided, but very white and Jason suspected magic in its roots.
    "Oh, Vivian, it's been too long!" Gladys smiled, "Remember when we were school girls? Goodness, we haven't seen each other since the last reunion! Remember everybody's face when they saw that you were in charge! Oh, and how they all simply died when they found out I was the Northern Cardinal's undersecretary?"
    Moxie nodded with the fakest of smiles on her face. Jason suspected a rivarly between the two women, one that Moxie had long past let go of. Gladys, however, seemed to be holding on for all it was worth. "Oh, it was a grand time, wasn't it?" Moxie commented, pulling herself from Gladys's vice-like grip.
    "You know," Gladys's eyes became slits, "We never did get that dueling rematch. Like I said, I had a cold that day!"
    "Oh, Gladys. I don't think so, not today. I've got Jason and his friend with me and we were just about to go see about some..."
    "Nonsense!" Gladys shouted, her nostrils flaring, "Have the dueling stands set up immediately and alert the media; the Northern Cardinal and the Headmistress of Salem are about to duel!"


Friday, September 16, 2011

Star Spangled Spells; Hot Stuff

Hot Stuff

    Diana was right; with a wand, the Apparating Taxi Cab was a much more enjoyable ride. The entire car disappeared with a very loud crack just as the dragon in the apple released a display of fireworks. "Darn it. I love the 7 o' clock show!" Diana whined as she gathered her bags full Muggle clothes.
    They had spent two hours in the Underground. Jason had a wand; he felt complete with it tucked safely into his pocket. Diana was prepared for whatever journey Moxie would take them on this summer--though Moxie had protested and said that two large winter jackets were more than enough. But now one thought stung them all in the back of their brains as the taxi cab landed with a thud.
    Had the forest regrown? Moxie paid the driver and started up the hill. Jason's heart fluttered when he saw branches full of thick leaves. Hawthorne Forest, of which he knew absolutely nothing, would continue to serve as the States' only purely magical forest.
    Moxie gasped, breaking Jason's serenity. Diana dropped her bags and whipped her wand out. Deep in the center of the forest a huge fire was crackling, several figures dancing around it. "Crop Watchers," Moxie hissed, her wand had also found its way into her hand.
    The creatures dancing around the billowing flames were wearing green burlap sacks and tired old blue jeans. A few had what looked like straw hats, but upon closer inspection, Jason realized that the hay appeared to be a part of them."What.. what are they?" he asked.
    "Terribly stupid things," Diana muttered. "When they're tame, they're harmless. These must be wild though--at least, I've only seen wild ones get this excited about their own flames."
    "They breathe fire?" Jason said in awe.
    Moxie took a step forward, "Yes; wizarding farmers use them to keep away irritating birds and insects; much like a Muggle farmer's scarecrow. Like Diana said, when they're tame Crop Watchers only use their flames as a last resort. These, however, seem to be enjoying themselves.."
    Moxie rose her wand high above her and muttered an incantation. A bubble of water grew from its tip and had quickly engulfed the entire forest, "That'll keep them from starting more. You two work on killing the flames, I'll handle the beasts."
    Moxie Disapparated, leaving Diana and Jason to handle the fires. "Those are big flames," Diana said in awe, "And if I remember correctly, a Crop Watcher's flames aren't normal fire; they burn hot and cold, so Aguamenti probably won't do it. But I don't think I know a stronger Charm.."
    Jason laughed, "You were doing one just earlier today. Twain couldn't stop complimenting you on it." Diana looked lost. Jason shook his head and pointed his wand at the fire, "Aqua Eructo!"
    A huge ball of water shot like a cannon from Jason's wand; Moxie's spell must have been increasing the water elements in the air, because this was far stronger than Jason had expected. The water slammed into some of the smaller flames, dousing them immediately. When one was gone it lifted and fell into another. Together, Diana and Jason's spells had rolled out most of the smaller flames.
    "We'll have to tackle the bigger one together!" Diana shouted over the roaring of the water. The Crop Watchers were still dancing around the flames; where had Moxie gone off to? Jason hadn't waited long for the answer, as a pack of wolves ran past Diana and Jason into the clearing.
    The Crop Watchers scattered, but the wolves were faster--and maybe weren't real wolves. Jason watched as one wolf leapt into the air and crashed into the bone thin Crop Watcher. In a matter of seconds the wolf dematerialized into a white mist and engulfed the creature, exploding with a loud howling noise.
    As magical as they were, the wolves were not invincible. After only a few of their friends had been defeated, the Crop Watchers turned and scorched the wolves in bright blue flames. One Watcher had been chased to the edge of the clearing and turned to face the two teenagers.
    It stared at them both with a flame like fury building in its hollowed out eyes. Jason and Diana jointly shivered, as the creepiest thing of the creature was its laugh. Jason felt paralyzed, but Diana seemed unphased. She threw her ball of water into the Crop Watcher, expecting it to snap in half with the impact. However, it merely covered itself in fire, turning the attack into nothing more than steam.
    The creature threw the flames at Diana; she blocked them with a watery Shield Charm. "Agh!" Diana hissed, dropping her wand. The flames had boiled her shield and burned her forearms and she fell limply to the ground.
    Jason was still paralyzed. When the Watcher ran toward Diana, Jason's mind clicked. He still had his wand. He still had control of the ball of water. Jason's spell threw itself toward the Crop Watcher. Unable to both protect itself and keep hold of Jason for a second time, the creature released Jason's limbs and protected itself in a suit of fire again.
    "Protego!" Jason shouted as he fell backwards. The flames the Crop Watcher threw were absorbed like water in a sponge, but the Shield immediately melted away.
    There was a loud crack and Moxie was standing several yards to his right. "Don't look into its eyes!" she shouted fiercely, a jet of light shooting into the even larger fire. The flames froze in time and were quickly covered in a layer of ice.
    Jason looked to Moxie; she was covered in soot and the trim of her dress was still smoking. "Get Diana... go to Matilda... tell her I need help," Moxie instructed, shooting more rays of light at the Crop Watcher and the quickly melting iced fire, "Now!"
    Jason sprinted for Diana, grabbed her shoulder and Apparated with a short snap. Jason felt particularly squeezed this time; he had not been the one in charge of Side Along Apparation before, and he prayed that Diana did not get splinched.
    The two of them landed with a thump in the middle of a wide room. Jason's senses first picked up the chirping of many birds; Grandma's atrium. When his eyes finally adjusted he looked up, greeted by the face of his grandmother--looking bitter as ever. "Now what?" Matilda hissed, but her face softened when she caught sight of Diana.
    "Moxie... Hawthorne Forest... help!" Jason pleaded between breaths. He still felt like he was being pushed on from all sides.
    Matilda pulled her wand out of her night robes and nodded curtly, "Dittany's in the cupboard." There was another deafening crack as Matilda Disapparated. The birds continued to chirp from their cages as Jason stumbled to his feet to find the Potion cupboard. He tried to Summon it, but found that he could not take a breath deep enough to speak anymore.
    Everything became a labor as Jason threw open the last cupboard and pulled out a vial of brown liquid. He opened his mouth and spilled a few drops onto his tongue, immediately feeling a burning in his chest. Had he splinched a lung? He fell next to Diana and dripped the liquid over Diana's arms.
    Once they had finished healing, she woke with a start. "Where are we? What happened?" she questioned, sitting bolt upright, "Your hair."
    Jason ran a finger through his hair; it was still there. He stood and found a mirror, shocked by what he found. The tips of all of his hair seemed to be dyed a silverish color. "What did it do to you?" Diana questioned again, walking up behind him. Jason couldn't honestly answer. He told her about being paralyzed, and shielding against the flames.
    "Oh no," Diana sighed, "You didn't use a normal Shield Charm, did you? Don't you know? Well, I would suppose not. Crop Watchers aren't natrual in England, so I don't suppose they'd teach you about them." Jason was bewildered.
    "The flames they breathe steal magical energy," Diana explained, "Without them, they wouldn't be able to summon the flames. That's why I used water to shield myself--yes, I got a little burned, but I effectively shut myself off as an option for power. They hate water, Crop Watchers, that's probably why that one went so berzerk.
    "But I can only imagine how powerful that Shield Charm was if it actually aged you," Diana muttered, poking at Jason's new silver hair. There was a crack, the squealing of some birds, and Moxie was standing behind them. "Incoming," she said with mild disgust.
    Another sharp crack and Matilda was standing in the room, "How dare you do that to them! You had to know when you arrived in the forest! Why didn't you just call the professionals?" She threw Diana's bags and wand to the ground, and continued to shout, "This is the last straw, Vivian!"
    "Last straw, that's a good one given the situation, Matilda," Moxie cooed. Moxie and Matilda were covered in burn marks, their hair was filled with black soot. Jason tossed Moxie the Dittany and Matilda began screaming again.
    "He's just a boy! I would bet my life that he gets into all the trouble he does because of your upbringing! A Death Eater almost killing in a duel at Hogwarts--I told you he should go to the Institute, he's safer there..."
    "Yes, he would be safer there under my eyes."
    "That is not my point, Vivian! I'm not surprised Dumbledore is dead--yes, I said it, don't give me that look! He's always welcoming problems into that school. First the werewolf teaching classes, then the Ex-Auror. That building actually saw some stability under the Umbridge lady," Matilda was red as a tomato.
    Jason slammed his fist onto a table, his knuckles white, "Grandmother, I thought we'd discussed this already."
    "You are done telling me what to do, young man. I don't care what your mother wrote, your father would have wanted me to take care of you, it's only natural!" Matilda hissed, turning on Jason. She was much larger than he was and he had to back away for fear of being squished.
    Moxie cleared her throat and reached into her purse, withdrawing a very old and decaying envelope. She handed it to Matilda without a word. Matilda tore into the envelope and scanned the letter quickly. Her face went from bright red to blanch white. She looked from Moxie to Jason--who knew nothing about the letter--and back to Moxie.
    With a defeated sigh she ripped the letter in half, "You know the way out." Without looking at Jason she shifted into her finch Animagus and flew up to the ceiling, lost in the sea of real and magical birds she kept.
    For maybe the first time in his life, Jason saw Moxie shift awkwardly on her feet. She picked up the letter and tucked it away into her purse again. She placed the Dittany on the endtable and nodded to herself, "We should get back to the school. I'll have reports to sign, letters to send."
    "And graduation in the morning," Diana mentioned.
    Moxie's eyes grew, "I had nearly forgotten. In that case, meet me at the gates--I'm in no shape to Side Along tonight." There was a crack and she was gone.
    Diana grabbed her bags, "Well, this might be my most exciting summer break yet." She smiled coyly and Disapparated with a snap. Jason looked up to the ceiling, his grip tightening on his wand.
    "I'll see you before school starts," he said firmly, "Like always." He nodded and Apparated away with a snap.


Thursday, September 15, 2011

Star Spangled Spells; New World Wizardry

Welcome to chapter 3; sorry I didn't get to post it yesterday! The page will be updated with details if you're looking for them. Enjoy!

New World Wizardry

    Once Diana had changed into Muggle clothes, she and Jason lugged her trunks down to the Grand Hall. The great room was no longer full of desks and testing students, but now had several fireplaces jutting out of the walls, students disappearing into them with flashes of green light.
    Neither had to look hard for Moxie; she was leading students into a large circle of flame and Disapparating with them, Apparating into another circle seconds later. Teachers sprinkled the hall, assisting where they needed to. Professor Twain took Diana's trunk and threw it through a fireplace, again complimenting her Aqua Eructo charm. Eddie sheepishly skirted past them mid-conversation and disappeared into a fireplace.
    "Hi Jason!" two voices chimed from behind. He turned and was greeted by the identical faces of the Witney twins. Brother and sister, Whitney and Whitnie, were dressed in identical stark white traveling cloaks. Their white hair was almost glowing in the sunlight, "So good to see you again. We were just waiting for father and mother."
    Jason shifted on his feet, the Witney's weren't exactly the best people around, but they were highly respected, just as the Malfoy's were in Britain. "Hey," Jason forced a smile, "Nice to see you, too. Er--how was your year?"
    Thankfully, before they could answer the Herbology teacher grunted for them. Their private ride had arrived and was waiting. "Have to rush, sorry Jason," Whitney said, smiling innocently.
    "Maybe we'll see you later this summer?" Whitnie flashed an identical smile and they departed to the back of the hall. A driver in a white suit was waiting in the large doorway. He was very tall, and Jason suspected that he was less human than people hoped.
    "Vile little rats," Diana muttered from behind Jason. She hated Whitnie with most of her being (what was left hated Whitney); their families had been feuding longer than anybody dared count. The Witneys and the Moones were both pure wizarding families, though the Moones decided to take the high road and not make it a point of interest. Witneys, on the other hand, would never be seen amongst the likes of Muggles or half-bloods. Dirty by association seemed to be the family motto.
    "Ignore them," Jason said, "You don't need anymore trouble with them." He turned and looked back toward Moxie. She was done Apparating students out and the last fireplace was being tucked away by Madam Louise, the Divination teacher. Jason tried his best not to talk to the woman; she was constantly asking Jason if he had had any Sights or Visions over the school year, to which he always denied. Divination was a silly subject, in his opinion, and Madam Louise was terrible, always predicting that Voldemort would rise again, and now that he had, that he would come after the Institute.
    "Jason, Diana!" Moxie called, "Let's get a move on." They hurried toward her, now dressed in a simple dress rather than her billowing navy blue robes. She was not smiling and looked preoccupied. Her conversation with the President was obviously bothering her.
    But she wasn't going to let Jason and Diana see her while she was down and she feigned happiness. She held out her arms, "We'll have to Apparate just outside the city. New Anti-Apperation fields being set up everywhere, I'll explain later. Louise?"
    Madam Louise spun, her frilly white robes swishing up into the air around her. "Yes, Viv?" she said sweetly with a toothy grin. Only now did Jason realize that she was heavily made-up and her hair was bigger than usual.
    Moxie's jaw clenched, "Close off these rings once we're gone. Make sure Sandy gets everything locked up. Thank you."
    "Not a problem, Viv!" Madam Louise shouted merrily, "And do be careful; I foresaw some nasty things happening tonight!"
    But the last half of Louise's warning was cut off, as Moxie couldn't stand listening to another word and Disapparated with a loud crack. When they landed on solid ground again, the scent of wet earth filled Jason's nose. "Moxie," Jason asked, "Where are we?"
    The forest they were standing in had recently been burned and drenched in water. Moxie and Diana looked around, their mouthes open in shock. Moxie looked gravely at Jason, "This is--was Hawthorne Forest, the only purely magical forest in the States." She gave the burned trees another concerned look. "We shouldn't stay long," Moxie muttered, pulling her wand out, "Herbivicous!"
    A vibrant green ring began to pulse from the tip of her wand, wrapping around any trees that got in the way. "It will take some time," Moxie said contently as the trees began to lose their blackened crusts.
    "Anyway," Diana said with forced cheerfullness, "We should get Jason into the city. I don't think he's visited before."
    She was right; Jason wasn't even exactly sure where they were now. The sun appeared to be in the same place it had been when they left the Institute, so they must not have traveled far. Moxie tucked her wand back into her purse, "We'd better be off then, might not get a cab if we're late."
    So they marched through the burnt forest and nearly ten minutes later found themselves staring down on the bustling city of New York. Moxie had drawn her wand and pointed it into the air, "To call a wizarding taxi. Canarius!"
    A jet of yellow light soared into the air, chirping loudly. Jason almost thought Moxie had tried to summon a swarm of birds, the sound was so deafening. When the sound finally died away, what replaced it was the coughing and choking of the junkiest yellow taxi Jason had ever seen.
    Diana audibly gagged upon seeing it and Moxie's lips were pursed tightly, "Always the one that tries to be inconspicuous." The car stopped and the back door popped open, the sound of metal on metal made Jason flinch. Diana and Jason got in first, and the inside of the car was surprisingly clean. Jason figured there must have been an Undetectable Extension Charm inside the cab, as it felt like the three of them were sitting in the back of a stretch limousine.
    Sitting in the divers seat was a very large man with short, curly brown hair. "Where to?" the driver grunted in a surprisingly girlish voice.
    "The City Within," Moxie said, snapping the door shut behind her, "And make it fast."
    "My pleasure," the man grunted again, pulling a lever and slamming his foot on the gas. Jason's body slammed into the rubbery seat and he could not, despite his best efforts, turn his head. Diana and Moxie sat with their legs crossed, both trying their best not to laugh.
    When the car came to an abrupt halt, Jason was ejected from his seat and rolled on the floor of the car, "What the heck was that?"
    "Vehicular Apparation," Diana laughed, offering her hand to Jason. He pulled himself up and looked out the window; they were now in the middle of very cramped traffic. "I think a wand helps stabalize things, and since you don't have one..."
    "Right here will be good, driver," Moxie interjected, pulling open the car door. She stepped out and was followed by her pupils. When Jason looked back, the junky old cab had disappeared and a Muggle taxi pulled into the open space.
    "Loons! Get out of the road!" the driver shouted from inside his car. Moxie gave him a sour look and pointed her wand at one of his back tires. Jason heard the sound of ice and saw that a layer of frost had formed on the rubber, and Moxie was smiling viciously.
    She led them to the even more crowded sidewalk and stopped in front of a bare brick wall. "My, it does look like it could rain today," she said loudly, to no one in particular. The commuters continued on their walks as if Moxie, Diana and Jason were not there.
    Jason looked blankly at the wall and scanned the crowd to his left and right, "What's supposed to--"
    Before Jason could finish, a trickle of water began to run down the brick wall. What was a trickle quickly became a steady stream, and within a minute the wall was completely soaked, any longer and it would crumble away. Instantly, the water stopped flowing and the wall began to dry--Jason swore he could hear the sound of electric fans. There was a doorway shaped blot of water on the wall, and Moxie walked straight through it.
    Diana followed suit and disappeared when her face met the brick. This was just like the Hogwarts Express Platform, Jason figured, and he walked confidently through the wall. Where Jason was expecting a street much like Diagon Alley, he found what appeared to be a mirror image of the street they had just left.
    Except for the witches and wizards flying around on brooms and taxi cabs Apparating in the middle of the the once full-of-cars street and the numerous dazzling explosions of light all over. This side of the wall seemed to be under some sort of darkness spell, as the sky was deep blue and filled with stars.
    "Welcome to the city within the city," Moxie smiled, noting Jason's awed expression.
    The streets were lined with hundreds of shops with different purposes. The left side of the street was filled with the funnier and happier looking shops and near the end Jason could see an Animated Broadway sign which sang bits of songs from shows playing that night.
    The right side of the street seemed to have a more serious tone, ending in what Jason guessed was the Wizarding equivalent of the Stock Market--goblins were getting out of Apparating taxis and walking straight toward the building.
    The most interesting object on the entire street, however, stood where the streets met. A huge bronze apple revolved slowly, messages and news headlines spun around it in the opposite direction. Jason's attention, however, was focused solely on the metal dragon that occasionally popped out of the hole near the top of the metallic fruit.
    "That's the coolest part," Diana said excitedly, looking at her watch, "It'll shoot fireworks off every hour to help keep time."
    "Which reminds me," Moxie interrupted, "Don't get separated. Time is weird in the Underground; I knew a witch that got lost and stumbled into a side street, when she finally found her way back out she was 300 years in the past."
    Jason could have stood there and watched the foot traffic forever, and judging by how Diana held his arm, she would have too. But Jason looked to the shop to his immediate left; the sign read "New World Wands" and had two silver wands that shot jets of light into the sky. "There's the wand shop," Jason said, clearing his throat; he sounded just a little too awed for his liking.
    Moxie put her small round glasses on and nodded, "Yes, but I'm sure you've run low on...funds while you were at school. We had better stop at the bank first." This immediately caused Jason to wonder where they could fit a bank here. Moxie took off down the right side of the street, Diana dragging Jason behind her.
    They passed many people who said their hellos to Moxie, and several teenagers waved fervently at Diana. Moxie had nearly reached the huge bronze apple when she turned on her heels and stopped at a wooden archway. There were beavers carved into the wood and a huge bronze beaver head was fixed in the center of it all. "Identification?" it said in a bored tone.
    "Vivian Moxie, withdrawing money on the behalf of Jason Crowe," she said, holding her wand up to the beaver's shining nose.
    It took a big sniff and gave a content sigh, "Aah, pinewood. They don't make those very often anymore! Very well, how much?"
    "Come to think of it, I have no idea how much a wand costs now-a-days," Moxie muttered, "Mind running the numbers for me?" The beaver head nodded and began to mumble to itself. Numbers and words ran across its black marble eyes, when they stopped, it nodded curtly and opened it's jaw. A slab of wood was ejected into Moxie's waiting hand.
    "The Beaver's Lodge thanks you for your business," it gave the motion of a bowing head and went inanimate a minute later. Moxie handed the slab of wood to Jason, "We'd better get going. I think she's been closing up shop early, lately."
    And she marched off back toward the wand shop, Diana and Jason trying to keep on her heels. "What exaclty am I supposed to do with this?" Jason asked, shoving the wood into his sweater pocket.
    "There's a spell," Diana said breathlessly, spinning around a man that was juggling starfish, "That turns it into the amount you withdraw. The goblins that run the Lodge are... different. Depending on who's withdrawing, they might give you the wood token or the beaver might actually give you coinage. Dad was expecting to get a wood slab and it ended up spitting out Galleons for ten minutes."
    Diana and Jason stopped behind Moxie, who was staring up at the wand shop's sign. Jason thought the shop looked a lot simpler compared to the others on this side of the street; in fact it looked like Ollivander's shop back on Diagon Alley. "This woman, is she related to Ollivander?"
    At that second the door was slammed open and a crooked old woman stood silhouetted against the lights inside the shop, "Did somebody say Ollivander?" Her eyes looked wild and Jason thought he had insulted the woman, and just as he was about to apologize she burst into tears.
    "Oh, I'm so sorry ma'am!" Jason pleaded and attempted to rush up to her, but Moxie blocked him with her arm and shook her head curtly. The woman gave an unbecoming snort and looked up at the trio.
    "Did you know him?" she asked quietly. Jason shook his head; he had not ever gotten his own wand. The woman hobbled forward and got uncomfortably close to Jason's face, "Are you a Crowe, by any chance?"
    She rushed back into the shop before Jason could answer, but Moxie pushed him in after her, "Just go. We'll be waiting out here when you're done." Diana and Moxie took seats just inside the door and Jason headed after the woman toward the back of the shop.
    "My name is Jessica Wald," the woman said to Jason as he approached her. She was searching a huge, yellowing book, "Amelia Delair, 12 and a half inches, yew with a melted gold core. Didn't know I used metals in my wands? Did you? Nooo, Ollivander's not the only one with tricks, you know."
    "But Miss Wald, my mother's wand was almond--"
    "Egan Crowe! Almond wood with a Unicorn hair core, ten inches on the nose. Terribly feeble wand, I didn't want to sell it but it fit him like a glove and you can't deny children that looked like him!" Jessica wove her hand in the air dismissively. Jason had been using his father's wand all those years?
    Jason wasn't fond of the story of his father. He ran away when his wife and daughter were being attacked. He came back and took what he could and abandoned Jason. If Moxie hadn't told Jason that Egan had been driven mad by his guilt, he definitely would have hated his guts.
    "I even tried to get little Alexandria a wand," Jessica smiled sweetly, pointing at the name in her record book, "Child couldn't make a spark, but I gave her one anyway. An experimental wand, elm wood and a strand of silver. A wonderful wand for Divination studies..
    "But you," she looked at Jason. Her eyes were grey around the pupil and seemed to light themselves; Jason had the oddest feeling that she was reading into his soul. "I've never placed a wand in your hands, have I? No, but by the looks of how you hold your hand, you've been using your father's wand.. Terribly dangerous you know?" Jessica clasped her hands behind her back and continued to examine Jason.
    "Come with me," she beckoned, hobbling deeper into the shop. It was cold and dark, the light coming down from the ceiling was cast from broken wands, which Jason could only assume wasn't safe. "Here we are," Jessica called from a few yards ahead.
    She was standing in front of a huge shelf; a sign pinned to the side of it read 11+ inches. "You're so tall, you'll need a longer wand, like your mother," she grabbed a box at random and pulled the wand out, "Oak and gryphon tail feather. Extremely rigid. Give it a good wave, I think it'll be stubborn.."
    Jason gave the wand a shake, causing some sparks to fly from the tip, "Uhm.. Duro!" Jason pointed the wand at a potted flower; it turned to stone quickly and Jason smiled. However, the spell had been too strong and made the rock extremely dense, crushing the podium it was sitting on and falling straight through the floor.
    "I'll fix it later," Jessica  said reassuringly, tucking the wand back into its box and placing it back onto the shelf. She grabbed another box at random and pulled the wand out; it was a light wood with a streak of metallic color winding its way up the shaft, "Apple wood and wendigo vein. The last one was too flowing, perhaps this will work."
    Jason took the wand and like the last it sparked a couple of times. "Flipendo!" Jason said, pointing at a chair that wasn't tucked under a table. The chair leaned forward and immediately toppled back into its original position.
    "Ah, perhaps not the best. Apple's not exactly known for being an assertive wood," Jessica muttered, tucking the wand away again. Again she reached randomly into the shelf and pulled out another wand box. Upon opening it, she realized it was empty. "Well, that's not good. Accio wand (she looked at the box number) 875,439!" she said clearly, her own wand spouting a blue light in her belt.
    "While we wait for that one to show up, let's try," and for the first time Jessica considered which wand she would pick out, "Let's try this one."
    She pulled out a rather long box and gingerly opened it. There was a black silk cloth wrapped around the dark wood wand, and Jessica handled it with the utmost care. "This is one of my more recent works. Very experimental, but I know a few Mending Charms and Viv's out front if anything goes wrong," she smiled slightly and offered the wand to Jason, "Hazel wood and an onyx and silver thread core. Perfectly balanced, it's a logical wand--doesn't over think it's orders, just acts; give it a try."
    Jason wrapped his hand around the wand tenderly. This wand did not emit sparks. Instead, it spit out a single, glowing, black feather. Jason pointed it into the air above him, "Avifors!" A jet of dark light shot from the wand, and a flock of birds quickly materialized and flew around the high ceilings. Jason was grinning widely and gave the wand another twitch; the birds dove back into the tip of this hazel wood with an onyx and silver thread core wand.
    Jason looked at the wand in his hand and gasped; there were several small silver birds on the wand now, and silver had filled some of the wider cracks in the handle. "Looks like it likes you," Jessica said happily, tucking the box under her arm and leading Jason back to the large book filled with names. She quickly jotted down Jason's name and details.
    "Miss Wald," Jason pushed, "If you don't mind my asking, why did you start crying when I mentioned Mr. Ollivander earlier?"
    Jessica stopped writing and looked up at Jason, "Garrick is my older brother. We had tried to run Ollivander's together when I lived in Britain, and then I met my husband. Jeff was a fool to drive a wedge between my brother and I, but I was the bigger fool for letting him. With my wand making experience and his ability to gather raw materials we thought we'd be the next big thing in the wand making industry. My brother's wands, as you know, are far more famous, however."
    "And your husband? I haven't seen him at all since we've been here," Jason pondered.
    "Attacked by a Wendigo when he tried to gather some of its hair," she scowled, "A fool, like I said. He's at Saint Hudson's up in Canada; Wendigoes are terrible creatures, I'd even say they rival Dementors. Oh, but how can I explain this... Where Dementors drain your happiness, Wedigoes will drain any ounce of sanity you might have, and their bite is infectious. Jeffery was halfway through transformation before he finally found his wits and Apparated to the hospital."
    Jason winced at the thought of going mad, and again at the thought of being bit by something. He nodded grimly as Jessica closed the book and started for the front of the shop. Moxie stood when she saw Jessica through the shadows, "Well that was hardly no time at all compared to how long it took me!"
    Jessica scoffed, "Viv, that was our first day of business and your father had decided to drag you in the minute before we closed."
    "We still went through three different sizes before we found the right shelf," Moxie grinned.
    "I'll give you that. It's easier to match size when they're older," she was now fumbling with an ancient looking cash register. "Now, about the cost.."
    This caused Jason to jump. He had almost fogotten about the wooden slab, and quickly pulled it out of his pocket, "Er, here." He laid it on the counter and stared at it awkwardly. Jessica stared at Jason expectantly. "I, uh, don't know the spell," Jason finally admitted.
    "Oh!" Moxie laughed, "I nearly forgot. Thought I sent an owl to Filius about it years ago. It's Aurum Mutare; only the person for whom the gold is intended can use it on the wood."
    "Otherwise the spell just rebounds and makes things gold colored," Diana chimed in, "Dad left one on the table once, when I was younger. Took a month to brush the gold off my teeth.."
    Jason nodded and pointed his new wand at the slab of wood. Before he could even say the spell, his wand had emitted a golden hue and the composed slab of wood Transfigured into thirteen shining galleons. "Did a right good job with that one," Jessica smiled at Moxie, and Jason wasn't quite sure if she had meant herself with the wand, or Moxie with himself.
    "Indeed," Moxie smiled warmly, thinking the same as Jason.


Monday, September 12, 2011

Star Spangled Spells; Salem Witches' Institution

 Here's chapter two, where the Institute is finally introduced. This story has it's own little page tab now (up near the top of the page) where you can check details on characters and some locations. If you're looking for an outline for how these first five chapters will be posted, you can expect one Wednesday, Friday, and then some time Saturday. I hope you're enjoying reading, because I sure enjoyed writing (and continuing!).
Salem Witches' Institution

    Seconds later, Jason felt firm ground under feet, and again felt the sick-to-your-stomach feeling of being pulled in another direction through space and time. Jason heard two loud cracks and finally his vision caught up with him; he and Moxie were standing side by side in a deserted field. "They're getting quicker, what with all of the events as of lately," Moxie muttered, waving her wand in absurd circles over her head. A bubble of enchantments grew down upon them from the sky, "Hopefully that'll get them off my tail. Oh, I hope Dedalus doesn't get into too much trouble.."
    Another quick flick of her wand and her silvery wolf Patronus flew into the air, "Let Sandy know we'll be a bit late. Oh, and she should administer the O.W.L exam." The wolf ran in a circle, as if chasing its tail, and then finally sprinted off toward a grove of trees where it faded into the sunlight.
    Jason looked at the ground around him. The lid of his trunk had been splinched off in the quick getaway, "Well, I suppose I needed a new one of those, too."
    Moxie tutted and shoved the contents magically back into the trunk, holding them there with a membrane of air. "I guess we should tack on another one of those Wanted notices," Moxie smirked, putting a very small pair of glasses on her nose, "Guess I'll just have to use my fireplace."
    Moxie held her rather short pine wand in the air, cleared her throat and said, "Accio...Fireplace from my office!" A bright blue light erupted from the tip of her wand, glowed brightly for a few seconds, and then faded away. Keeping their eyes on the sky, Jason spotted the falling bricks first.
    "In coming!" he shouted, scrambling backward as the first brick slammed itself onto the dirty ground. Forty-nine more fell in quick succession, followed by two logs that slid themselves quietly into the mantle. Moxie smiled, obviously proud of her work. Jason was just glad a wayward brick hadn't knocked either of them out.
    Moxie quickly lit the fire, "And follow us home, will you? I don't need fifty bricks falling through the roof in my office." She threw in some Floo powder and the flames turned green and stopped emitting heat, "Salem Witches' Institute, Salem, Massechusets, United States of America!"
    Jason gripped his trunk handle and threw it heftly into the fire, which disappeared in a flash. "You first," Moxie said, leading Jason into the flames. As soon as all of him was in the fireplace, he felt himself spin quickly, stopping only when he was spat out in a very long room with a very high ceiling. Students in navy blue uniforms stopped scribbling on their papers to look up at him, bewildered. A tall, round woman hurried toward him muttering under her breath, "First your trunk, now you... in the middle of exams, no less... no sympathy for the nervous kids... get up, already!"
    Jason got quickly to his feet, smoothing out his Hogwarts robes. He looked around the hall; most had gone back to their papers. One girl was standing in the great open doors  on the far end of the hall, waving frantically to Jason. "Diana Moone! Shut that door immediately or I'll shred your exam right now!" the round witch screeched, shoving Jason and his trunk out a side door in the hall.
    "I'm not even taking this exam, Professor Cromwell!" the girl said loud enough for everyone to hear, closing the great white doors behind her.
    Jason heard a loud crack from inside the hall, quickly followed by the round witch's voice again, "Oh, honestly! Let's just give them all T's right now!"
    "Sandy, dear, you need to lighten up. You're not being graded on administering a silly exam!" Moxie's voice rang out, but she quickly corrected herself, "Alexander, I would not rip that to pieces if I were you; you will need all the O.W.L.s you can get."
    There was more chattering from Sandy as she escorted her boss out of the hall through the same door as Jason, "Laundering around the school, disrupting classes.. I won't have any of that this year!"
    Moxie turned swiftly, causing Professor Cromwell to jump, "Sandrah, let me worry about him. I am the Headmistress, after all, but I suppose you know more about my job than I? By all means, I'm open to advice." This seemed to have shut up the woman and she scampered back through the door, snipping at a couple of students that had apparently been looking around the hall. "We had better go to my office and talk. There are some teachers here that still haven't quite coped with Voldemort's rise, and now Dumbledore's death on top of it all. I had to send Professor Halliwell home early; broke down crying at the feast this morning. Terribly emotional man," Moxie muttered, striding down the hall.
    Jason looked around; little had changed about the Institute. The wooden walls and floors still felt like home, no matter how many months he spent away. There was no House system at the Institute, so silvery, silk banners were hung around the halls and from the exceedingly high ceilings; stars of red and blue rained from them, disappearing long before they ever reached the ground.
    The students all adorned navy blue robes, except for their prefects and Head students, who sprinkled the sea of blue with their deep red robes. Teachers wore mostly stark white robes, though the Herbology teacher (a runty little wizard) usually wore brown robes to keep the dirt he worked with commonly from staining his robes. Though Jason couldn't help but think that Moxie had explained the robes were Stain Proofed.
    They marched up several staircases before finally reaching a dead end. A lone portrait hung on the wall, the picture of a woman sitting on a rock greeted them with a bored look, "Well that was fast, the fireplace flew through here not half an hour ago!"
    The woman was tall, even sitting down, and had deeply tanned skin. She had an assortment of dried vegetables and fruit braided into her thick hair, complimented by her earthy garments. "I hope you got out of the way fast enough, Tituba. I do apologize if one of the bricks nicked you," Moxie said smoothly. Tituba had been the school's "founder," and from what Jason had learned had set chaos upon Salem Village hundreds of years ago when she admitted to being a witch. With her own admittance she accidentally revealed the identities of several other practicing witches and wizards, who all found themselves put up to the infamous trials. In an act of repentance, Tituba opened the Institution as a safe haven for fleeing magic-doers. However, she was only in charge long enough to Confund any records and was then executed by her own refugees for revealing herself and so many innocent others to Muggles.
    Many headmasters and headmistresses had tried to destroy the painting and replace it with another, but Tituba's frame was known to curse and bewitch those that touched it with mal-intent, so Moxie had put up with her for all of these years. Surprisingly, the portrait witch had grown bored and allowed Moxie to remove the spells, so long as nobody could attempt to remove her again. In secret, Moxie had told Jason that there were more deserving American witches and wizards that could guard the Head Office, but that Tituba had suffered enough in her life.
    "Malleus Maleficarum," Moxie said, tapping the frame with her wand.
    "I swear I didn't read it to that child!" Tituba's portrait screeched.
    "For the third time now, it's the password!" Moxie hissed, "Why did you set it so if you can't stand hearing about it?"
    Tituba crossed her arms, "I have some.. memory relapses, you know. It's terribly boring, being stuck to one frame forever!"
    "Well, perhaps if the other portraits could stand the sight of you, they'd let you in. But for the time being, will you please open up?" There was a click and a rush of air as the portrait slid sideways on the wall, revealing a stone archway. Moxie rushed Jason through and Tituba's portrait slid back into place once they both crossed her threshold.
    Moxie's office was a perfect circle. Her desk was stationed on the side of the room opposite the portrait hole, in front of a very tall window. Moxie had a unique way of decorating the room; snow was falling from somewhere in the much too high ceiling and there were several pine trees in very small pots. The trees were rather small at the bottom, but grew exponentially as they reached higher into the room. The fireplace Moxie had summoned earlier was stuck into the wall again, flames alternating between red, white, and blue. Next to the fire was a very large dog bed, and in it sat a panting wolf, looking happily up at Moxie and Jason.
    "Hey Balto!" Jason said, taking a seat on one of the snow dusted chairs. The snow was not wet or cold and it seemed to rather stick to the furniture than Jason's robes. Moxie's desk was adorned with several picture frames, most of which had pictures of family in them. Jason spotted a few of him, which seemed to be in the biggest frames. They were also moving, meaning they were wizard pictures.
    Moxie had opened one of the wider pine tree trunks and took out several books, and opened the one she placed on top of her pile. "I've got a meeting with the President at 3 o' clock, so if we want to get you a new wand today, we had best wait until after that. Your room should be untouched, and I expect," Moxie looked at Jason over her round glasses, smirking, "That Diana will be dying to see you."
    Jason blushed slightly. Diana Moone and Jason had practically grown up together and over the past few years, Moxie had become suspicious of amorous feelings, which Jason vehemently denied. Regardless, he still wanted to see her as she was probably having a fit not knowing all of the details of the past twenty-four hours.
    Moxie had busied herself with a small mirror on her desk; her Witch's Glass. It allowed her to freely converse with others that had them, though sometimes messages got crossed and you could quickly be talking to an Herbalist about a shipment of books that never arrived while they screamed at you for waking their Mandrakes.
    Jason stood and excused himself from the room. It was a quarter past two, so Diana would be in the middle of a class. That gave him plenty of time to unpack his trunk and change out of his school robes. He only had to go down one staircase to come upon the dormitory hall, which seemingly went on forever. Not being a student, he luckily didn't have to share his room with any other kids and Moxie had hired a portrait to guard the door to his room. This also forced his room to be the first in the hall; extremely helpful.
    He turned and looked up into the painted face of Thomas Jefferson, "Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness."
    The portrait Jefferson shot him a stony look and swept his arm across him in a very dramatic fashion, the portrait swinging open. Jason stepped into his room; completely untouched since the last time he had used it, except somebody had obviously tidied up. Long strings of tar black feathers hung from the ceiling, and the mural he had painted with his wand of a huge crow was still flying happily around the wall, pausing only to see who had intruded upon it's solitude.
    Jason quickly unpacked his trunk and dug in his dresser for a different change of clothes. He settled on the most Muggle things he could find, that way he wouldn't need to change again when they left to buy his wand. He exited through the portrait hole; three o' clock. Moxie would now be busy with the President (who was much more involved with the American wizarding world than the British Prime Minister was with it's own), so maybe he'd try to find what class Diana was taking.
    Jason decided upon checking Muggle Studies first. Diana was from a very pure wizarding family and she was always fascinated when Jason came home with things from his grandmother's house. That was another idea--sending his grandmother Matilda a letter.
    Diana was not in that class, and the teacher had gotten rather uppity that Jason was poking his nose into such a prestigious class. Feeling he was not wanted, Jason neglected to inform the Professor that he had the concept of telephones all wrong as he walked away from the door.
    Luckily he did not have to check many more classrooms. Diana was in the middle of a Charms demonstration, drenching her partner with the Aqua Eructo charm. She was, however, a little scatter brained and several large jets escaped before she could completely shut off the charm. A very thin, very old man Jason knew as Professor Twain was still beaming, however, "Great job, Miss Moone!" He gave a wave of his wand and the wet students were hit with a dry breeze. The bell rang and he shouted at them to enjoy their summer vacation as they left.
    Diana jumped with joy when she saw Jason and quickly hurried up beside him, whispering crazily, "Jason, you have to tell me what happened. Dumbledore, was such a great wizard, how could he be fooled that easily?"
    "I'll explain later. Moxie's got to take me to get a new wand--I told you, I'll explain later!" Jason persisted before she could question what happened.
    "I'll get Mox to take me with. She's decided to bring me along on whatever trip you two are taking this summer and I honestly need some new Muggle clothes," she rolled her eyes, "Mine are getting too short. Gosh, you must've grown about three inches!"
    They walked back down the hall toward the Muggle Studies classroom. The hallway was full, but somehow managed to not seem cramped. "Do me a favor?" Diana asked before turning to enter the classroom; Jason nodded. "Find Ptolemy and give him this," she held out a small potion vial with a thick green liquid inside of it, "He got into my Potions bag and has been changing colors every time he goes to clean himself. Scared himself out of his wits this morning."
    She nodded curtly and entered the room, the teacher had already started droning on about machines that made Muggles very violent; cars and "a strange little device called a toaster." Jason rolled his eyes and started for Diana's dormitory. He wasn't entirely sure how he'd convince the portrait to let him in without the password, but he was sure he'd figure something out.
    All dorm rooms were guarded by a portrait of a various President, and most dormitories could hold up to 10 students. Students were then usually clumped first by year and then by the portrait that guarded their dorm. Jason distinctly remembered Moxie having consistent trouble with the Andrew Johnson dormitory, the students of which always thought they were entitled to take whatever wasn't theirs.
    Diana was in the Andrew Jackson dormitory, so hopefully entry would be too hard. As Jason approached the portrait, he realized that it was snoring loudly, "Uhm, excuse me?"
    President Jackson lifted his head slowly, smacking his lips together. "Password?" he yawned.
    Jason shuffled awkwardly, "Well, you see, I'm supposed to give this potion to Diana Moone's cat, Ptolemy. I don't suppose you'd let me just slip inside?"
    "Slip inside?" the portrait roared with laughter, "You're brave, trying to get into my dormitory with an excuse like that!" President Jackson was fully awake now and slipped some round glasses onto his hooked nose and peered down at Jason, "I'm afraid I can't let you in. Now hurry along to class, I'm sure somebody's got a last minute exam to give a fool like you!"
    A hand appeared from the side of the portrait, obviously not native to Jackson's. He leaned toward it, and a mouth appeared, whispering quickly. The hand and mouth disappeared and Jackson sat back in his armchair, looking rather embarrassed, "Please do excuse me, Mr. Crowe! I've been meaning to get new glasses painted for a while now. Please, do come in!"
    The portrait swung open like a door, revealing the very untidy dorm room inside. Diana's room was shared between six other sixth year students, but it didn't seem that any had familiars. "Uhm, Ptolemy?" Jason muttered, President Jackson's portrait snapping shut behind him.
    A pile of clothes against the far wall began to rustle, and Jason instinctively moved for his wand. Much to his hand's dissatisfaction, there was nothing but air. Seconds later, a small, fluffy cat head appeared, purring with happiness. Jason had to stifle a laugh; the cat was neon pink. "Well, come here," Jason muttered, uncorking the small vial of green goo.
    Ptolemy, however, was less than willing to gulp down the potion. Jason spent several minutes wrangling the cat, causing Jason to suspect that it was a little more cat than Diana knew. Finally, he got a drop of the goop into the cat's maw. Ptolemy gave a violent shutter, and the neon pink color began to drain from first its tail, down its spine, and finally disappearing completely from the tips of its whiskers.
    Jason released the now straw yellow Ptolemos and unhitched the claws from his shirt. He scratched the cat behind the ears; it was a quarter to four, another fifteen minutes before classes would be done for the day. Ptolemy began to rub against his head against Jason's leg, and Jason pat his head absentmindedly.
    This dorm room was odd, now that Jason actually looked at it. It seemed to be built in tiers; the one Jason was standing on the lowest. The next level up was lined with desks and other hobby items. The third, and final, tier held six identical beds and formed a U-shape around the entire room. Jason figured that each dorm looked the same, now he doubted that. Maybe once all of the students were away for the summer he and Diana could offer to "clean up."
    Lost in thought, Jason lost track of time. Some odd amount of time must have passed as he pet Ptolemos and gazed out the windows of the Andrew Jackson dorm. The bell rang and brought Jason back to reality; he would need to leave now. It would be terribly awkward trying to explain why a boy were sitting in the middle of a female dormitory.
    He quickly left, President Jackson apologizing again as he walked out of the portrait. Students quickly flooded the dorm hallway, all smiling and happy that the term was over. Voices boomed over head, "Next term will begin August 31! Don't forget to do your summer assignments! Class registration owls will arrive later this break! Floo Networks and Apparation Check Points are now open in the Grand Hall!" And then the message repeated.
    Students in red were shouting over the chaos of the hallways, and Jason had to hold several comments to himself as over eager kids rammed into him. He pushed for his room, President Jefferson had thrown haste to the wind and was scolding several students for trying to get into his chamber, "This is a private room; how dare you try to break in!"
    Jason stood back, hesitant. He knew the biggest thug, Eddie Price, and all had wands drawn. Jason didn't have to wait long for assistance, however. Diana came charging up to Eddie, her Prefect cape swishing around her feet. "Edward," she spat, her face was stone.
    "Outta the way, Moone. You can't tell me what to do anymore," Eddie said defiantly, pointing his wand at Diana. Jason knew that this, out of everything he could have done, was definitely the worst. Before his primitive brain could even register what had happened, Eddie was flat on his back. Diana had transfigured his robes into swamp gunk and his shoes into frogs and his goonies were floating upside down.
    "I had better not see you here again," Diana whispered with her wand still pointed at Eddie, "Or I will let Moxie know what you've been up to. And you know how much she... enjoys hearing about you." She gave her wand another flick and Eddie and his friends shot down the hall, parting the crowd as they went.
    "Thanks," Jason sighed, walking up to Diana. He smiled up at President Jefferson, who had resumed his stiff stance, "Figured they've tried to get in before. You know they nearly set fire to the portrait this Christmas? Moxie sent me a letter; told me she'd given them all detention until Easter."
    Diana smiled and finally put her wand back into her pocket. She looked at the portrait and frowned, "It's gone again."
    "What?" Jason looked at the portrait, too. It was still hanging there.
    "The portrait," Diana looked into Jason's face, "I think Moxie's put some sort of Fidelius Charm on it. Every time I find out about it, the Charm must shift and it disappears again. I don't think Eddie knows your room is back here, I think people assume Moxie's keeping something really valuable; why would she hide it, otherwise?"
    Jason shrugged, "Well, believe me. There's nothing much but some old clothes and my bed." He spoke the password and Jefferson swung open. Jason grabbed Diana's sleeve and pulled her through the passageway, though there was some weird resistance holding her back. Jason gave the room a glance, everything appearing to be in place, "And if understand the Fidelius Charm, you should be a Secret Keeper now."
    Diana mocked flattery and dropped herself into the chair at Jason's desk. "You have a Witch's Glass?" she wondered aloud, picking up a small hand mirror on the corner of the desk. It was a round mirror in a very delicately designed metal frame, but the glass didn't show a reflection. Rather, when one looked into it, they saw swirling mist and a gray bleakness that seemed to go on forever.
    "Oh, yeah," Jason muttered, "It's only linked to Moxie's, though. Speaking of her, I think she'll be done with her meeting by now. Try giving her a call."
    Diana stared into the glass, "Uh, call Moxie?" The mirror began to ring like a phone and the mist inside the glass began to swirl into a weird shape, finally forming the firm outline of Moxie's face.
    "Yes, Jason? Oh, Diana! How did you?" Moxie questioned.
    "Long story," Diana said, equally confused, "Jason was, uh, wondering if you were finished with the President?"
    "No, she wasn't," a voice drawled from nowhere, and the President's face also appeared in the mirror.
    Moxie sighed, "I told you, Bill, I can't tell students not to use magic where ever they want, that's their parents' jobs. Perhaps you should write another Wizarding Law to restrict us further?" There was the sound of shattering glass and the President's face faded away. "Always such a hot head when it comes to magical laws," Moxie muttered, "We'll be ready to leave as soon as I get everybody counted for."
    There was another shattering sound and Moxie's face disappeared. Diana put the Glass down and looked at Jason. He was staring at the floor, "Something's wrong."