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!"