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."