CHAPTER 4: Porte de Versailles

The Library of Lost Wands,

Epic Potterverse Fanfiction set in 1919

by Antonia Sara Zenkevitch,

Back to the beginning

Click to read the next chapter

Return to Chapter 3

Disclaimer

Plaintive hoots and rustlings came from the onboard owlery, joined by the clicks and bangs of carriage doors as strangers alighted or joined the train. They had arrived at Porte de Versailles in Paris. The clock chimed one. Late though the hour, suits and cloaks from many nations milled around the platform, their muted conversations sounding like the hum of an agitated beehive. Whispers were all the more guarded because not all on the platform were aware that the Eagle Engine and its carriages were different. Muggles believed this to be the metro line’s terminus. They were repelled from getting close to this triumph of magical engineering by an overwhelming fear of getting on the wrong train. They had no idea that the Eagle and the enigmas she carried would, in a few short hours, continue on through an archway which they could not see and along a track they believed to be bricked up and abandoned.

Muflatio charms were cast here and there to mask conversations. Such spells did not work entirely on those who could read minds and emotions. The atmosphere was tense and serious, determined, belligerent and optimistic all at the same time. War was on everyone’s lips. Conflicts past and still burning in the muggle world, peace treaties and the spoils of war. Lindsay was ever more aware that there were others, like herself, in the wizarding world, who knew all too well that battles in the non-magic world affected the magical world too. In the darkness of her cabin, she listened over the thunder of her heart for any clue that could unlock the secrets of the past years or what the future held.

Then, like a retreating tide, the passengers poured out of the station in a haze of steam. Three men clung to the shadows, talking in low, hushed tones. Lindsay caught their conversation and hesitated, wrapped in the dim light that curtained her window from view. Through the glass, Lindsay could see the men exchanging files. She recognised the taller, slightly older wizard as the Minister for International Cooperation, Leonard Spencer Moon, code name Moon, or simply ‘M’. The other two wizards had their back to her, but she thought she recognised the voice of Arnie Singh from Magical Cooperation.

“I fear the muggle war has not ended but has only changed. Indeed I sometimes question if it ever was purely a muggle war. ” the shadowed figure of Moon was saying.

“Do you think maybe the rumours are true? I’d heard there were dementor attacks, disappearances?” said a lanky, dark-haired wizard bending against the chill in the air.

“There is no clear evidence as yet.” the senior minister admonished.

There was a beat, a cough, the ruffle of papers.

“They’re calling The Muggle Prime-Minister ‘The Welsh Wizard’ after your last shift, Mr. Spencer-Moon,” said Arnie, his friendly voice familiar to Lindsay’s eve-dropping ears.

“I simply nudged proceedings by interpreting the thoughts of Clemenceau regarding his desire for a British-American guarantee of protection against possible aggression from his neighbours. It was Lloyd George that sold the idea to Wilson” answered Moon.

“Apparently, Lloyd George wasn’t that surprised when the portrait of old Ulrik at no.10 told him about the Ministry of Magic. Acted as if he expected the picture to announce a visit from Evermonde. Some say his great-aunt was one of us.” Arnie chuckled.

“Maybe, maybe,” said Moon, who exuded a calm authority the other two men were yet to master. “He was certainly excited when I told him how we travel here. He has been speaking about building a train tunnel under the sea to link France and Britain.”

“I’m surprised our Minister is permitting our help with this muggle peace treaty,” said Arnie, a clear note of bitterness in his voice, “Given that he passed emergency legislation forbidding us to get involved with the war. What is Evermonde playing at?”

Lindsay, not for the first time that night, heard something or someone outside her cabin door. She held her breath but a second later whoever it was had passed by. She refocused her attention on Moon as he spoke in measured tones;

“Evermonde knows thousands defied his order to let the muggles fight alone. Many, like yourself, felt obliged to help. The Minister would lose his position if he does not offer the muggle governments our assistance now. He also worries, I think, that if this muggle peace treaty doesn’t hold potion, more witches and wizards may take up arms. That would risk far greater infractions of the International Statute of Secrecy” he sighed.

“But you say the war has not ended, M? I suppose it won’t end until the treaty is signed.” Said the tall, leggy wizard.

“We may be in some sort of cease-fire but this paperwork is a form of war in itself” Arnie was saying, earning him a swift nod of approval from both men.

“Precisely!” Moon replied. “Civil wars, boundary battles and fights for independence continue, even close to home in the British Isles. In the 4 months it took to get to this point Germany has remained under naval blockade, her children dying of hunger.”

“So are children in many countries after the war,” Arnie answered with quiet passion.

“Quite so, starving people do not always make rational decisions, nor do grieving ones”

“Some of us lost people in the war, Sir,” said Arnie.

“We all lost heavily, some, like yourself, more than others. That is why we are here, to prevent, if we can do, more deaths” Replied Spencer-Moon.

“But you fear we cannot?” said the tall stranger, a note of concern in his voice.

“I fear there is more at play here than perhaps there should be. My first job, you know, was as a tea boy in the Department of Magical Accidents. It was then I learned to listen and to try not to judge, though non-judgement is not always possible, or even advisable.”

“But couldn’t you always tune into people’s thoughts?”

“It was then I learned to listen. It is not always the same thing as hearing.”

“Quite so,” said the stranger.

“Not judging is often the privilege of those who have lost little,” said Arnie.

“True. But it may also be the last defence of those who have lost everything.” Replied the Minister for International Cooperation.

“They have 24hrs?” asked their tall colleague.

A nod, a whistle in the dark, then “Journey well boys, you know the details of your assignment. Time for you to swap your tales with X and Y. ”

Goodbyes were said. Lindsay listened as the carriage door opened and closed and two pairs of footsteps moved down the corridor. The minds of both men were on dementor attacks and their loved ones. As she opened the door she heard soft breaths and noticed a faint smell of tobacco. Catching a reflection of a pale face in the polished wood panels she spun around, wand outstretched, but she saw no one. Nearby a train engine coughed into action, smoke stretching like the fingers of ghosts across the chill night air.

“I heard you both.” Said the now solitary figure of Leonard Spencer-Moon from the platform below looking up. “Your thoughts are loud this night. Fare you well.” And with this, he tapped his hat, turned sharply on his heel and disappeared into vapours of steam and coal dust.

Lindsay must have fallen asleep where she had sat, curled up against the circle of her window, but she was awoken by a shriek. Bleary-eyed, Lindsay checked her pocket watch. It was a little after half past three in the morning. In the distance, she could hear a dog barking and the strangled sobbing of a woman. Then a horrible, petulant voice ripped through the night air.

“What have you done with my wand, you mongrel? I’ll have your hide for this.”

“Woof” was the reply. The witch from Control of Magical Creatures had met the train in Paris to exact her revenge. Looking through the fogged up glass of her porthole, Lindsay could make out shadows taking shape in the darkness. That hateful witch seemed to be dragging the poor Pomeranian, Rosa, outside into a small half-moon of waiting figures.

“Someone give me a wand so I can perform the curse,” she demanded, malice curling her words.

“Now, Miss Bulstrode, please be reasonable, we do not want an international incident,” said Arnie Singh. Lindsay could make out his silhouette in the small gathering.

“Under decree 19 of our wizarding law this unregistered mutt who stole ministry information and my wand …” the witch Lindsay now knew to be Miss Bulstrode panted. Suddenly the officious witch was sent backward in a hail of sparks. Someone had aimed a curse at her. Lindsay could not see who had cast the spell but she heard the response; “There are confidential spells on that wand!” Miss Bulstrode shrieked. “Of international wizarding importance.”

“I hardly think”, said the calm voice of Percy Fleamont, “that records of the creatures you’ve sized up or killed could be any serious security threat to wizarding kind.”

Miss Bulstrode sneered “The beast is under my jurisdiction; I am the only one from Control of Magical Creatures here. It is for me to say.”

“Est-ce votre démocratie?” a French official asked the group at large.

It was Cordelia Fancourt who replied “No, Jean-Louis, my dear, it is not our democracy.”  Dorothia and Rosa’s friends were crowding around them in a shield.

“That dog savagely attacked me in the course of my work for the ministry!” pronounced Miss Bulstrode, pointing her finger at Rosa in a way that would have been comic if it had not had such lethal intent.

“Nous sommes en France. Rosa est une citoyenne français,” pronounced Dorethia, her voice shaking.

Suddenly, there was a furtive knock on her cabin door, followed by George’s strained voice, “Miss O’Brian?” Fearing the worst was about to happen, Lindsay flung the Aran shawl over her nightdress and opened the door. George, apologetic and urgent in his manner, passed her a small package. It looked like wet firewood in a lace scarf, buzzed like a gas lamp and smelled like rotten fish. Seeing that she did not understand and clearly in a hurry, George whispered: “If they can’t find it they can’t prove Rosa did anything.”

Lindsay now understood it was Bulstrode’s mangled wand she held in her hand. The same wand that Rosa had indeed stolen from the cruel witch from Control of Magical Creatures while passengers had been boarding at Kings Cross. This wet piece of wood and remembered spells was evidence of the dog’s petty crime. One, it seemed, that could cost the dog her life.

“But why me?” she asked, wondering why no one had thrown the destroyed wand out of a window while the train was moving.

“I knew your brother, Seamus,” George breathed in an undertone, “The wand needs to get to his Sophie.” With that pronouncement, he lunged away up the corridor into the darkness, as quietly and surely as a prowling cat, leaving Lindsay stunned.

This was too much to take in all at once. George had just told her he’d known her missing twin. She’d searched for eighteen months for answers to Seamus’ disappearance and, she knew inside herself, his death. Was this half-digested magical object now in her hands finally a clue to what had happened to him, or was George simply pulling her strings? She’d been close to her sibling but knew precious little of Seamus’ last months. She wondered what information, if any,  could be found out from the wand itself. Frustration boiled up inside her when she tried to work out who ‘his Sophie’ could be and what she could want with the splintered elm and dragon heartstring in her grasp.

The sound of barking bought her back from her reveries. The debate on Rosa’s future was continuing outside and Dorethia was crying, clinging to her now frightened dog.

“Yes, dear,” Cordelia was saying firmly to Bulstrode, “I quite understand what the regulations do say, but you see there is no wand so no proof Rosa stole one. Il n’y a aucune preuve; there is no evidence. None.”

“The eyewitnesses, madame …” an unknown official responded.

“They’ll tell you they heard an excitable witch making a scene while chasing a small dog, but if you’d like to wake up the rest of the train I’m sure they’ll be happy to answer your questions” concluded Fizzy, as he stood with one arm around Dorethia’s shoulders as she cradled the quivering fur ball. Cordelia stood on the other side, like centurions guarding their treasure.

“The regulations say that all magical creatures …” Bulstrode tried again.

“Must be registered, yes, but no one knows who you registered because you lost your wand. Le bâton est perdu. ” Cordelia’s voice had taken on a dangerously sweet tone.

Rosa was whining now as Dorethia was clinging to her cooing “Ma petite, ma petite. Elle n’est pas magique.”

“If the dog is not magical then she is nothing to do with the Department for Control of Magical Creatures,” said Arnie Singh, a note of triumph evident in his words.

“It ate my wand!” Miss Bulstrode spluttered.

The click of a train door, the clack of footsteps and a delicious smell of roses and violets announced the arrival onto the tense scene of Annie Quirrel. The air around her was suddenly filled with a sense of comfort and calm; Lindsay supposed this must be Annie’s famous charm. Behind her Amos Quirrel bobbed in her wake.

“Well, I do declare, what a gorgeous creature!” she said, the warmth in her voice cutting through the chill night air. “I don’t think we’ve been introduced” she added, scooping Rosa out of Dorethia’s arms into her own and giving the dog’s head a tiny kiss.

“Ro..Rosa” Dorethia stammered, to an answering ice-melting smile from Annie.

“Michael,” Annie gestured to a nearby attendant, “please would you show Rosa back to her cabin and get her a bone from the kitchen while Amos and I sort out this little confusion?” Annie continued, handing the quivering dog to Michael and patting Dorethia’s hand. One more centurion added to the guard.

The French official cleared his throat. “Assez!” he said, “I think if we cannot find the wand during the registration, we will draw a line under this whole affair.”

“Quite right, Jean-Louis” said Cordelia approvingly, “There are more important things than chasing around a dog with a stick. ”

Lindsay started to panic, wondering where could she hide the wand. She considered what might happen if they used the Accio spell to retrieve it. She couldn’t put it in the cabin’s safe because only the rightful owner would then be able to retrieve it, and that Lindsay most certainly was not. It would be a gift to the bloodthirsty Miss Bulstrode and a death sentence for Rosa to hide the wand there. Added to this, Lindsay would not and could not destroy anything that might lead to news about Seamus. She heard the door at the far end of the carriage open and knocking on nearby cabins, awakening the residents for wand re-registration. Lindsay did not have much time to waste and Rosa’s life may be at stake.

In the corner of her eye she saw a glint of silver as the occamy repositioned herself on her treasured pensieve. Of course, only her family could see this magical heirloom; only family could view or retrieve what was inside it. It would be the perfect place to hide the mangled magical thing in her hands. Still, Lindsay hesitated, knowing that if she put Bulstrode’s wand into the basin it was sure to pollute or destroy some of the precious recollections kept there. She would have no way of predicting which traces of lost loved one’s lives and which mislaid happy days she might lose forever. The occamy stirred, eyes watching expectantly, her beak open. Lindsay dropped the wreckage of the wand into the basin’s depths just as there was a knock at the door. She saw the mystical beast unfurl, diving after the wand and catching it in its talons before disappearing into the swirling, sparking electric mists of memories inside. Lindsay starred after it, forlorn and relieved all at once.

A second, more insistent knock on the door bought her back into action. Pulling her Aran scarf tightly around her shaking shoulders and touching her moonstone pendant, she opened the door.  A polite looking young wizard standing the other side was almost bowled over by Miss Bulstrode, who took his arm and waved it as if he was a puppet, pointing his wand into the room. Bulstrode’s fervor had obviously increased with each fruitless search of the Eagle’s passengers.

“Accio wands,” said the nasty little witch directing the silent wizard’s wand arm into the room, her expression wild. Only one wand flew through the air to be counted and it was Lindsay’s.

“I believe that is my wand you have there, Miss Bulstrode, could I have it back please?”

At that moment a fresh cry of outrage came from the far end of her carriage. It was Cordelia. “Oh No, George! Fizzy, Amos, anyone please come. Something has happened to George.”

Click to read the next chapter

Click to go to Index of Chapters

Click to read to next chapter

Illustrations

Lumos Links

 

 

 

 

 

 

CHAPTER 2: Cawsai Revellium

The Library of Lost Wands, chapter 2

by Antonia Zenkevitchcropped-the-train-az.jpg

Click to return to chapter 1

click to read next chapter

Click to view the disclaimer

 

Chapter 2; Cawsai Revellium

Was the person responsible for the disappearances near her now, in the close confines of this magnificent train? Lindsay wondered if she had seen them in the pre-journey chaos outside and if they were unpacking in a cabin nearby. Perhaps they or someone else was plotting the steps towards conflict even now. Trying to sow division in the magical community seemed all the more treacherous here on the Eagle. The train bought people together from across the continent and the world.

Beyond Amos Quirrel’s obvious Ravenclaw house pride, he and fellow magical engineer Jacque Marc Lumez had bestowed upon their beloved invention the names of witches from many magical houses of learning. They honoured those who had increased opportunities for magical travel, study, and cooperation. The engines under their charge pulled carriages called Ottaline, Helga, Evangeline, Nova Nerida, and Benedita. A passenger favourite was Fancourt carriage, named after the witch who had invented the lunarscope. Into this carriage the elegant woman of crinoline had ascended, very probably with her mint-stripped friend’s small dog hidden in her skirts.

Lindsay had heard Amos and his wife favoured a carriage bedecked in cranberry and sky-blue velvet. Maps of the world hung here, each bewitched with the homonculous charm so passengers could chart their own progress across the continent whilst also being able to track the current whereabouts of well- known magical explorers. This carriage was named ‘Sayre Story’. Its namesake was Isolt Sayre who used the alias, Elias Story to cross the Atlantic to a new life. It was she who had become a founder of Ivermorny School, where Quirrel’s wife had been taught many moons later. Some of Annie Quirrel ancestors had been Sayres. She had told Amos that her antecedent, Isolt, before leaving for the New World, had always wanted to be a member of the Hogwarts house he’d so loved being part of.  The story had touched Amos deeply.

Lindsay walked on until she found where her digs were to be. Wildsmith was a carriage bedecked with inventions once mocked, that the magical community had come to depend upon. Ignatia Wildsmith had come from a family of blacksmiths in Lancashire centuries ago, and invented floo power, which communities the world over now used to travel from hearth to hearth. The same substance helped power this magnificent train. Amos Quirrel often jested that both he and Ignatia had been ridiculed for their explosive experiments and sooty appearance. Yet across the centuries they had both, despite the incredulity of many of their peers, pioneered new modes of wizarding travel.

She turned her back against billows of steam and the shrill bellows of the nasty witch still uselessly demanding the recovery of a (by now well-chewed) wand. Close by the goblins and Fion Heinz chuckled among themselves. Grawgun giggled “Now look who is the wandless one.”

As Lindsay walked through the carriage doors, her red carpet bag jangling, the noise of passengers and engine preparing to depart dimmed. The hush was so complete it was as if someone had cast a muffliato charm. Cherry and rowan wood panels hinted of stories past and yet to be told as she found her way along the long corridor to her cabin. It was beautiful, all in hues ice blue, soft copper, forest greens, oak, and birchwood. There was a washstand with a sink ever full of fresh, warm rose water to one side of a softly upholstered coach chair which she knew would turn into a spacious bed at the flick of a wand. An ever- filling carafe of gilliwater sat alongside a glass on a small nightstand containing a safe which was bewitched with every magical concealment. Lindsay knew that when an object was placed inside only its rightful owners could retrieve it.

She shrugged off her coat and stowed her cloche on a high shelf. A tiny set of draws stood in the far corner of the little cabin. Above a compact hanging rail, a small, slowly revolving bookcase was suspended, its contents changing at intervals to meet the needs of the cabin’s resident. It reminded her of the library in Ravenclaw tower and made her feel immediately at home. She half expected to see the gallery of portraits of famous alumni of the house coaxing and cajoling each new house member. She had a flashback of huddles of students and portraits sharing knowledge on less known areas of magic across millennia. She wished she had a magical portrait of her brother to talk to, but she could hear his voice without one.

A glimmer of feathers and scales bought her back to the present. Intricate mother of pearl animal carvings stretched and gambolled playfully beneath the polished silver birch of her bedside table. Shaking herself, she carefully lifted her greatest treasures from her clanking bag. Two shallow basins called pensieves, full of memories. One was plain and imposing, with a ministry seal etched on its stonework. The other was more intricate, rough-hewn silver, decorated with a mystical bird called an occamy.  She placed both carefully in the safe, stroking the occamy as she did so. The occamy stretched out to accept her affection before curling into itself. Joining both pensieves were her official, ministry log book, a much-read personal letter dated January 1917 and a quill made from the feather given to her brother by an Augury.

An unpacking charm neatly arranged her few remaining possessions. Her own library lived at her aunts, but the majority of her life went everywhere with her. The grey twill dress, cotton blouse, velvet panel tunic, blue drape evening dress and a brightly beaded scarf hung near her coat. The cream Aran shawl that was once her grandmothers lay folded by her nightdress. Undergarments, a copper brooch, two decorative hairpins, one with an amethyst flower, a homemade lace bandeau, cocoa butter, soap balls, geranium rouge, and hairbrush were packed in draws beside her paper, quill, ink and a book on ancient runes.

Hers was a secretive, lonely role, the quiet spy sent to read the minds, not of national leaders but of ordinary people, seers, and fellow legilimens. As a young recruit, she was generally only sent to ‘take the temperature of a situation’ as her superiors called it. This was different; dangerous, personal. Her mission was to trace and validate a worryingly recurrent prophecy about events occurring now that would lead to both non-magic and wizarding communities across Europe falling into renewed conflict. While collecting and mapping seer’s visions, she’d identify then follow suspects aboard the train, trying to stay safe as she did so. After all, those missing had almost all been seen on the train or along its route in the months before they vanished.

She had to access the risks and, she hoped, dismiss them. Her own instincts and foresight told her it may well be otherwise. She must hide her mission, along with her own private need to find out what happened to her brother. If anyone asked, which they rarely did, her cover was also a long-term hobby of hers; the study of lost and hidden magical civilizations. According to her Aunt Enid, it had always been an interest of her mothers.

Splashing rose water from the basin on her face she exchanged her loose chemise, sash belt and long pleated skirt for her evening dress; ice gauze layering queen blue and deep azure that stopped at her ankles. She pinned the small copper brooch on one of her neat grey shoes and straightened her moonstone necklace. She glanced around, her gaze hovering as it often did on the place her family pensieve was hidden. Then she locked the cabin door with a firm “colloportus” and headed off towards the lounge car where passengers were to gather for the crossing.

She jolted along the long panelled corridors, stopping now and again, as other passengers were doing, to take in the scenery as the Eagle retraced the legendary Hogsmill river, passing Clapham and Merton, and racing past fields of ripe berries near its banks. As they were curving past Epsom Downs she overheard the be-laced woman from the Fancourt carriage talking to a friendly looking bronze haired man holding her arm. “Thank-you for your help, young man, I don’t know why we cannot simply apparate.”

The young man in question, having paused as he caught sight of Lindsay, answered his new companion. “As I understand it, it’s like Hogwarts, can’t apparate or disparate in it. Security, making sure people buy tickets and I suppose making sure we don’t all suddenly plop into the same seat in the dining car.” He smiled at the witch who giggled almost girlishly back at him. “I’m Miss Cordelia Fancourt” she said, tightening her arm around his. He returned the smile, answering “Pleased to make your acquaintance, Miss Fancourt, I’m Percy Fleamont.”

An angular wizard strode past them, almost knocking Lindsay down. He turned on the spot and stared at her without speaking. His jet- black eyes made her feel as though she’d plunged into a wall of ice. He would have been handsome if it were not for the sense there was something deeply wrong about him. Lindsay turned towards the window as an unexpected wave of nausea hit her. She saw his reflection in the glass; a canvass of ivory skin framed with charcoal grey hair, a small angry scar on this chin and lightless stare. It wasn’t the pantomime villain look of the wizard that raised Lindsay’s hackles, it was the sharp prickling of her skin when he had bumped into her.  She looked away, berating herself for not being more subtle about her gifts. Touching her moonstone pendant and straightening her hair, she mumbled something about narrow corridors and bumping into people. When she looked up he was striding away and the man called Percy was looking at her.

“Are you alright, Miss …?”

“O’Brian” Lyndsay volunteered. “Yes, thank-you, I was just slightly winded.”

“I’m Percy Fleamont.”

“I know,” Lindsay replied before thinking. Then she saw the happy confusion shade his features. Looking at Cordelia Fancourt she continued, “I’m sorry, how rude of me, I overheard your conversation just now.”

“Don’t be sorry, my dear, I love to be heard,” said the older witch.

A horn sounded, summoning all passengers to the lounge car just as an earnest-looking wizard in uniform hurried forward. His wand trailed several witches and wizards of various ages after him on hover charms. “Miss. Fancourt” called the wizard, “I said I’d help you on the corridors and such”.

“Oh, hello George,” said Cordelia amiably, ascending on her hover charm as if it were a throne before calling behind her as she was whisked away down the bustling corridor “I shall see you later, Mr. Fleamont, Miss O’Brian”

“You’ve dropped your pocket watch” Percy called, running after the hovering witches and wizards as the train jolted around a bend.

“Easy for some” she heard the wizard with the unsettling eyes say.

“Oh, look, mummy,” said an excited girl in a Hufflepuf scarf “It’s Eremite Borage’s house!”

Lindsay caught a glimpse of the hamlet of Badger’s Mount hidden near Seven Oaks. So, this was where the famous herbologist and hermit was known to live. Her twin, Seamus, a Hufflepuff,  had long since developed a quill friendship with the wizard, who sent him remedies for ailments and problems before they happened. Since Seamus had gone, Eremite Borage had transferred this gift-giving to Lindsay. Only this morning his tawny owl, Hopskin, had delivered a hastily wrapped parcel containing two mysterious bottles and a bezoar, each labeled in Eremite’s untidy scrawl; a violet bottle read ‘For you, at dinner’, while a bright green bottle bore the instruction ‘for the dog.’  Accompanying the parcel was a note saying ‘You’ll both have a lot to chew on. You’ll need the bezoar after Paris.’ She had never owned a dog but had written to thank him and wrapped all three items in a handkerchief for the journey. Now she remembered the hair-ball on the platform chewing the nasty witches’ wand.

It was a peculiar kind of foresight that Borage had. His visions were rarely without merit and the remedies and herbal magic he sent always proved necessary. When she’d awoken at 5am to Hopskin’s rat-at-tatting on her window at the Leaky Cauldron, she had taken the delivery tied to the owl’s foot without question. She knew now to take extra care. After all, the bezoar stone he had sent was a cure for most poisons.  Eremite was a skilled seer, like many others those now missing or dead, including Seamus. They had each been registered by the ministry as a potential information source.  Lindsay hoped the old wizard was safe.

Soon the train stopped at a small station near Maidstone, where the Medway River housed a community of River Witches. They carried many musical instruments with them, three wizards carrying one cello that seemed to be singing and moaning to itself as it was moved. More witches and wizards bustled in, brushing the light dusting of autumn rain from their clocks before the train was off again, steam rising as the Eagle chugged out of the station. They continued South until a ribbon of sea could be seen on the horizon. As the train approached the coast, staff in impossibly neat uniforms bustled up and down, directing all manner of things above their heads with their wands.

The rain had cleared, leaving glimmering puddles on the ground and a faint golden glow in the sky, promising a spectacular sunset. Passengers milled around expectantly, watching through windows as the white-gloved wizards in bronze and indigo were making all the last-minute safety checks. The attendants set out fire braziers, chairs, tables and baskets of blankets on the beach. Sand swirled up over the windows, fusing with them in glass-like a shield. Lindsay overheard the be-laced Miss. Fancourt saying to her companion “An adaption of the bubble-headed charm apparently, genius, quite genius, I don’t know how those boys thought of it.” They moved off from the window to re-join their party.

The passengers had amassed together like a shoal of fish flowing towards one of the far doors which opened into the salty air. They all poured out. Lindsay moved with the throng as they milled about outside before spilling onto the wide-stretching shore. Music was playing and house elves were moving between guests with huge trays of fire whiskey, butterbeer, buttered crumpets, and canapes. The evening air was a whirl of excited suspense and possibility. Children were playing while their parents chatted, the newly-weds giggled as they danced on the spot, serenaded by a couple of handsome river witches, the cello sounding far happier now the air was clear and filled with the notes of violins and laughter. Lindsay saw the somber family in the distance, the girl looking longingly at the games being enjoyed by her peers on the beach. One of the younger boys noticed her and pulled her towards the action before anyone could protest.

The music took on a lively rhythm and Lindsay caught sight of Fion Heinz and Percy Fleamont attempting some sort of Irish jig, not very convincingly. Never-the-less, she was smiling to herself when she came across the witch she knew to have been travelling with a wayward Pomeranian. The woman looked restless and worried. She was being comforted by the indomitable Miss Fancourt and a kindly-looking older man she did not recognise. Lindsay felt the prickle of eyes watching her and followed the feeling to its source. Over the shoulder of the elderly man, she saw the cold stare of the wizard she’d had such a forbidding impression of on the train. The music suddenly stopped and the chatter turned immediately into an air of silent, shared expectation. The cold stare looked away. She followed the new direction of his gaze.

A jovial, middle-aged wizard whose feet seemed to contain springs, was taking his place on a small podium that had appeared. It was Amos Quirrel. Beside him stood a well-dressed witch with sleek black hair and almond eyes; striking beauty that was not only physical.  She beamed in silent welcome. There was an aura about her and Lindsay realised shimmering waves were travelling out from the witch and covering the surrounding passengers. As the waves reached Lindsay she was filled with a warm, inviting sense of calm and belonging. So, this was Annie’s famous charm.

“My dears, my fellow explorers” enthused Amos Quirrel, his voice magnified by the wand he held to his throat. “Annie and I would like to welcome you on board the Eagle Line on this, our voyage of discovery. This dream has been made possible by twenty-two years of friendship, 8044 concealment and muggle repelling charms, together with the very best in anti-apparation and anti-theft magic. This magnificent train is able to traverse small oceans and vast mountain ranges. Any muggles we pass may sense a glimmer in the air and the elation that comes with adventure and romance. We are going to visit our magical brethren across the seas. We are going to see many commune magique from the seven and a half magical provinces of the continent.”

There were excited mummers from some of the youngest members of the crowd.

“Seven and a half magical provinces you say, as well you may. Look around you my dears, the half province is the one we make together on this train. This train and the rails upon which it travels were made in collaboration with our friends across the ocean; with my dear friend Jacque Marcio Lumez. It has required the cooperation of the international wizarding community. And so, I raise a toast to you, a magical province in the making.” He raised his glass in salute.

A cheer rose up from someone within the crowd. Amos looked quietly delighted as he wrapped up his speech.

“I ask that we, in a spirit of unity, cast the spell to raise the causeway from the seabed. My dears, raise your wands together and, on the count of three, intone with me; Cawsai Revellium”.

The atmosphere became electric as glasses vanished, wands lifted in unison and all eyes looked to the ocean before them. “one, two, three” chanted Amos Quirrel, his voice echoed by a rush of wind across the tumbling surf. “Cawsai Revellium” they chorused.

The waters shifted to reveal a causeway rising in the shallows at the ocean edge. The railway snaked to join and fuse with the rails upon the track raising from the seabed, gleaming white and silver beneath the waves. It hugged the bay and disappeared around the chalk cliffs towards Folkestone. The House Elves had disappeared, the owls in the Eagle’s owlery were softly hooting, waves lapped leisurely nearby. Slowly everyone made their way back on board, in small groupings or alone, as uniformed wizards whisked away all traces of anyone having been there, offering passengers assistance where needed.

Ahead of her Miss Fancourt was making quite a theatrical event of climbing back onto the train with her skirts and bustle.

“Thank-you, Michael, Thank-you George” she beamed to the two attendants helping her ascend. “Hogwarts knows how this train would run without you.”

Lindsay lingered for a heartbeat, closing her eyes as one more wave broke against the shore, then she quietly re-boarded the train. When she entered she saw Percy Fleamont gazing out at the ocean. His emotions seemed too full somehow, nebulous like a gathering storm.

There was electricity pulsing through everyone’s thoughts. The Eagle seemed to be vibrating with anticipation. The horn sounded again and they were off! The train sitting several inches into the water as culverts channelled and diverted the flow. Around and between the cliffs they went, while the sun slowly lowered in the sky. They darted through arches of white chalk reinforced with shining labradorite pillars. At Folkestone they turned towards open water, stopping briefly at an ornately carved gatehouse called ‘Cairn Point’. Here a number of efficient officials from Magical Transportation boarded to re-register each witch and wizard’s wand for the trip.  The group of Goblins glowered. Lindsay did not blame them. Goblins were not permitted by wizarding law to own or use wands, so o them this process was little more than humiliation and a show of undeserved privilege by wand bearers. Whereas too many witches and wizards saw it in terms of simple practicalities. Grawgun’s eyes and thoughts burned like hot coals.

The dining car’s glass-like panels shimmered and rippled like lakes as sunset and the open sea beckoned. Coronets sounded and a piano began to play. Lindsay watched the land slip away into a seemingly endless watery horizon. The sea stretched out on all sides as though she were sitting in a pool of liquid sun. Her fingers itched to paint it, but now was the moment to listen. Her fellow passengers would be less guarded in such surroundings, their inhibitions toppled by the view, plentiful food and drink and pleasant company. Now would be the time to take the temperature, and to help her confirm who it was important to watch more closely. She had no wish to intrude on anyone’s privacy more than absolutely necessary. She arrived early, chose a quiet table, picked up the menu and silently opened her mind to scan those around her.

Reading minds often felt like assembling lots of separate tastes into a recognisable meal. Less distinct thoughts could be read as scents, textures, vivid pictures or odd snatches of conversation. Sampling a room was a dizzying task for the senses. A smell or taste could derail a subject’s mental processes, taking their mind to another place, moment or state.  Thoughts and emotions were strongly connected and Lindsay would often feel others’ excitement, anger or crushing lows as if they were her own. Legilimens could become ill if they were not careful, and sometimes even if they were. Lindsay had learned to conjure a patronus early in life after she’d discovered that Dementors, given half a chance, would always seek out what her mother called “We soul-readers”. As a child she had preferred her brothers’ company, finding large groups of other children hard to cope with.  The ‘gift’, a dangerous thing; hard to control and potentially overwhelming, was a magical discipline to be used with extreme caution and respect for others and yourself.

She was near the unhappy family. She gathered, from a waiter’s mind, they were the Gaunts and the waiter in question – Michael was it? –  was as concerned as she was that the father of the family cast a long shadow over the rest of them. Over an almost alchemical, caramelised Soupe à l’oignon, Lindsay learned that the unhappy young girl liked unicorns and feared her father. Just as she was tuning into the mind of Mr. Gaunt, she heard the now familiar voice of Cordelia Fancourt addressing her.

“My dear, Oh no, that will never do. You can’t sit here all alone on a night like this.”

Cordelia Fancourt, dressed impeccably in dark velvet and shoulder cape, was accompanied by the witch whose dog had a taste for wands and the friend Lindsay had seen both women with on the beach. Barely waiting a heartbeat for a reply, Miss Fancourt flourished her own wand with a commanding “Accio table” and a nearby table came hurtling over to join Lindsay’s. Seconds later chairs flew towards them, leaving other diners to duck out of the way. “Oh, hello George,” Cordelia added, unsurprised when the young wizard came out of nowhere to help. Some very uncharitable thoughts were coming the older witch’s way from the table of goblins in the corner. They had been sat as far from everyone else as possible by a flustered maitre d’, who had insisted on waiting for Fion to vouch for them before they were shown to their table. Shortly after they had settled, a chair had whizzed by, narrowly missing Gringlehook’s left ear.

When everyone was comfortably seated at Lindsay’s table, George went to offer the Goblins some refreshments and check everyone was OK, while Michael continued serving nearby tables. Miss Cordelia Fancourt made introductions. Her friends were a Madame Dorethia Prewett and a Mr. Patrick Fizpatrick, who she called Fizzy. Lindsay could tell the three friends were fond of one another, Mr. Fizpatrick particularly so.

“Cordelia,” said Madame Prewett in mock outrage. “Nous sommes arrivés comme un cheveu sur la soupe. N’est-ce pas vrai?” To which her friend responded with a dismissive wave of her hand and a wry smile.

“We have always known how to make an entrance; a hair in the soup as you say,  n’est-ce pas vrai?”

“Touche” replied Dorethia

Looking into Madame Prewett’s worried face, Lindsay learned that the little dog she had seen on the platform was called Rosa. A picture of the Control of Magical Creatures notice flashed through Madame Prewet’s mind detailing how creatures could be ‘destroyed’ when considered a danger to others’ property. The elder witch’s mind was racing through how to hide her Rosa and the mangled wand of the unctuous ministry witch. The Pomeranian was currently in Cordelia’s trunk feeling very poorly after ingesting whatever horrid spells the wand had contained. Lindsay remembered the mysterious message and gift she’d received earlier that day from Eremite Borage. She reached into her clutch bag and pulled out the green bottle labelled ‘for the dog’ in the herbologist’s untidy scrawl. Forgetting that no one had mentioned the little dog out loud she whispered;

“This potion and a dissolution spell should help your friend”

She passed the little bottle marked to Madame Prewett under the table. It is a strange thing how some friendships begin, but a smile was the next thing passed around the table, and it became clear that a bridge had been crossed. They were no longer strangers, they were comrades in arms protecting a little fur ball called Rosa. Dorethia spoke of her visiting friends in the Cotswolds before planning to return to her home to Saint-Germain-en-Layne near Paris. Yet now she had to deliver something urgently to her niece in the Auvergne. Lindsay saw a flash of an image of the mangled wand race through Dorethia’s mind. The vision left as quickly as it had arrived and Lindsay could not be sure she’d seen it. After all, why would the witch want to deliver a broken wand to anyone? Especially if that wand might incriminate her beloved dog.

Mr. Fitzpatrick had bought his mouse, Fredrick, to dinner. He and Madame Prewett spent much of the meal tempting Fred with tasty morsels.  Cordelia, the eldest in the group, was the genial general of the feast, in charge of all operations from food to the smuggling of mischievous Pomeranians. It was clear the friends went back a long way. The problem with all this new found bon-ami was how hard it had become to read the rest of the room. Specifically, Lindsay needed to scan the man with the frozen stare.

She saw him now, sitting, a pipe in hand several tables away. Lindsay had a horrible sense that pipe was made of bone. The wizard was sucking on it. He appeared intent on the newlyweds who sat at a nearby table to him. The groom seemed oblivious to the obsidian eyes focused in their direction but the bride seemed pale, trying to hide her disquiet.

“Time for a tinkle,” announced Mr. Fitzpatrick with apparent glee, bringing her attention back to her table and her three dinner companions. “I wonder Miss O’Brian, if you would take care of Fred for a moment while I hop off for a bit?”

“Not at all, Mr. Fitzpatrick. Please call me Lindsay”

“Well then,” the wizard blushed, “You must call me, Fizzy, mustn’t she Fred?” The mouse in question had already curled up in Lindsay’s bag and was settling in for a long nap.

Cordelia watched as Dorethia unconsciously toyed with the little green medicine bottle in her hands. “Dorethia, dear, would you mind fetching a warmer shawl from my cabin? George looks busy and my legs. You know my legs,” she said loudly. Her friend looked grateful. “Toute Suite, ” Dorethia replied, and Lindsay was certain she was off to see a little canine in need of a cure for consuming malicious magic.

Just as Dorethia left, Percy Fleamont arrived. His eyes lingered briefly on hers before greeting Cordelia. While the two were in animated conversation about the day’s events, Lindsay took the opportunity to cast her silent spell; ‘Legilimens’. First, she tried to glimpse into the new bride’s mind to see what had made her go so pale but the witch was an obviously skilled Occulmens; able to shield her thoughts and conceal her emotions. Lindsay felt only a whirl of loathing accompanied by the oddest sensation of having chalk in her mouth. She cast the spell again, this time her mind hurtling into the thin-lipped wizard with the bone pipe.

Her vision blurred and the scene around her went black as if the light had been sucked from her sight. She found herself in a cramped, damp smelling room full of mildewed books. A boy in Hogwarts uniform reached out to wizened hands that held the pipe out to him. An old man’s words rasped out “Mind you learn well at school, boy. We’ll be having no squibs in the Filch family.”

She felt a tug in her stomach as she left his memories and cast herself back into the here and now. But she felt sick. Her head was starting to pound. The lights were suddenly too bright, the sound of knives and forks on plates echoed like church bells and the room was spinning. She still had the other bottle from Eremite wrapped in her handkerchief. She uncorked it and poured the violet liquid into her mouth, swallowing hard before gulping back a slug of delicious wine. Slowly the room came back into focus, a warm calming sensation radiating out from her middle. When she lifted her head Cordelia was there alone, concern was written on her face, looking in the direction of Lindsay’s gaze.

“Ebonine Filtch,” she mouthed with obvious distaste, “nasty piece of work if ever there was one, but he has friends in high places. Aah, here come Dorethia and Fizzy.  Where’s George with our roast dinners?”

Michael whizzed over, his wand held high, plates piled with Yorkshire puddings and glossy green peas hovering above him. Edging around the tables he deposited laden dishes in front of them before brandishing the gravy jug with a flourish. As his figure retreated towards other hungry guests, Dorethia Prewett sighed with contentment. “They’re all so good here,” she sighed, to no one in particular. “Micheal is a gemstone.” Lindsay passed her handkerchief for Dorethia to hide some scraps in for Rosa.

“I prefer George,” said Cordelia.

“Only because he’ll fetch your slippers for you,” answered Fizzy, winking at Lindsay, who was now holding a curious Fred after the mouse had decided she was a friend.

“If there is one thing I know, it is people, Fizzy. You know that.” Cordelia answered, as her friends nodded sagely. To Lindsay, she remarked, “I have a gift for knowing people.”

“That is very true,” confirmed Dorethia with a smile.

Lindsay learned quickly that on this train you did not easily dine alone. She had been claimed by the charismatic, enigmatic Cordelia Fancourt, the sprightly septuagenarian Fizzy and the dog-loving Dorethia. She had no doubt she would be helping to protect their wayward canine stowaway. Lindsay O’Brien, the keeper of secrets. What would she tell them of her own quests, official and personal, upon which she was embarking? She had a strong sense that Cordelia knew a great deal more than she would allow anyone to see, mind-reader or not, and that she may make a formidable ally if she chose to be so.

The meal was finished by a too gorgeous Tarte Tatin, which Lindsay rather thought she’d been finished off by. Fizzy had eaten the treacle pudding, while Dorethia had chosen fresh autumn berries and Devon ice-cream. Lindsay had not been used to this much food since her days at Hogwarts. After Dinner, there was more music and dancing. Percy Fleamont and Fion Heinz were playing wizard’s chess while Gringlhook and Grawgun kept score and took bets. The river witches sang a lilting love song while the newlyweds danced the last dance. Looking into the young witch’s mind now revealed nothing but love and moonlight and things approaching those the Legilimens had no wish or right to see. There was no sign now of Ebonine Filtch and the young woman seemed a great deal happier.

Lindsay was still feeling a little light-headed from her brief foray into the wizard with the bone pipe; she’d guess it was human bone from the sense of menace that seeped from him and the object. The thought made her shiver. It was time to go.

Her female companions had long since retired to their cabins, Cordelia had asked George to keep an eye on her and Fizzy, who was slightly the worse for fire whiskey.  The matriarch of the group would be maintaining guard on the mischievous Rosa, who Lindsay hoped was fast asleep, unaware of the danger she may be in for her moment of rebellion. The lounge car was quieter now most people had retired to their cabins or to the communal seating areas in some of the larger sleeping carriages. The game of wizard’s chess continued as Lindsay slipped out of the room and headed for her cabin. Behind her, a tipsy Mr. Fitzpatrick took to the floor on his own, dancing with his memories, Fred swaying gently on the old wizard’s lapels.

Go to CHAPTER 3: The Occamy Pensieve

Click to go to the chapter index

 

The Fantastical Journey Begins

 

 

zauberdof & flinsterhuf
Illustration of Zauberdof Flinsterhuf from ‘The Library of Lost Wands’ by Antonia Sara Zenkevitch

Fantasy and magical realism have long been a genre I feel at home in. The reader can both escape the ‘real world’ and question daily realities, observing the familiar from new perspectives. I am not personally into sparkly vampires. I am talking wonderous creatures and secret realms a breath away from the mundane. The pages of my favourite novels have taken me on uncharted journeys with people we all feel we know.  Many authors of this genre seem to be world-wise, mischievous and determinedly innocent but never naive. Many appear to have experienced much while refusing to completely grow up. This is a state of mind and sense of purpose I relate to.  Fantasy is a genre open to a lot of great fan fiction. In fact, many writers today cut their teeth this way, from Paul Cornell to Sarah Rees Brennam; Whovians, Sherlockians and Hogwarts Alumni abound in both popular fiction and quietly industrious imaginations.

The Harry Potter books and films, and more lately the first of the Fantastic Beasts series, have long since become one place of comfort and return to that belief in each of our abilities to affect the world around us.  (I’ve not yet been able to see ‘Crimes of Grindelwald’ or watch ‘The Cursed Child’ due to mobility issues but they’re on my list.) I reached a point where I needed a new adventure in Potterverse; or the magical world of the magnificent JK Rowling, but there was a long wait ahead for the author to work her spell. Meanwhile, stories and, even more persistently, characters started taking shape in my head and my fingers itched to give them a voice. I realized I had time and imagination. Add to that the gift JK gave to us all with her creation of a world so detailed and vivid we feel we can inhabit it. My unexpected foray into fan fiction had begun.

This fantastical journey began in a less fantastic way.  The project started in part as an exercise to get my ability to type and speak back, after a time when I’d not been able to speak or write much. (It’s a neurological thing. I have complex disabilities and chronic conditions.) Soon the characters were speaking for themselves and taking me on their adventures. They are always impatient with me, pushing me to catch up with them when I have to rest and when I cannot take that next step. Weaving words, whether into stories, poems or political rants, has always transported me, including after I lost the ability to walk unaided. String the right sentences together and you can go just about anywhere without the need to use your legs.  The same is true for reading; there are old bookshops and libraries I would happily live in for weeks if I could. It’s my hope that the words I write can help transport others too.

The story had to involve trains and travel. I believe JK first ‘met’ Harry on a train.  Like others in my family, I’ve always loved the adventure and romance of rail journeys, from (supposedly) zippy intercities to old steam engines. I was fortunate and blessed enough to see a bit of the world when I was a bit younger and have worked and lived in international communities as well as those close to home. All this influences my story.  Please see my disclaimer, regarding ownership of the material. Rowling’s penmanship crafted the world my characters live within. I’ve added my own voice and the characters that came to me have added theirs. Different adult personalities inhabit the same magical world in another era. Real (muggle) history is referenced from a year that, at time of writing, had not been part of the known stories from the world of Harry Potter. 1919 seemed a complex, hopeful, confusing, dangerous, epoch-shifting time, according to the history books, which are adjectives we could also use for today’s world.

I write from an adult(ish) perspective, so the story may not be suitable for much younger readers and is aimed at teens, young adults and older adults like myself whose inner child is very much alive and kicking.

The illustrations, believe it or not, were created using Publisher. I don’t have posh photo editing and digital art apps. I created them myself, both to go with the book and for a separate Ravenclaw gallery and story section.

Recently I decided to share what I’ve written. As it is a piece of fan fiction, I seek no commercial benefit.  I will also be encouraging readers to donate whatever they can to Rowling’s charity Lumos or to other charities dealing with hunger, homelessness human and animal welfare and disability. Check out the Lumos Links page for ideas or chose your own. There is also a section linking to other (non-fanfiction) writing I do.  If you like my work please consider giving what you think it is worth to one of these organizations. Alternatively, give a few hours of your time to a local foodbank or shelter, some clothes or toys in that are still in good condition to a favourite charity shop or old blankets to a local dog’s home. This is my way of giving. To quote Dumbledore:

“Happiness can be found, even in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light.” JK Rowling, from Harry Potter & the Prisoner of Azkaban

the train az
‘The Train’ Illustration for ‘The Library of Lost Wands’ by Antonia Sara Zenkevitch

Good company in a journey makes the way seem shorter. — Izaak Walton

***DISCLAIMER: Please note that this is a FANFICTION. JK Rowling and her associates own everything concerning The Harry Potter & Fantastical Beasts franchises. This fan fiction does have original characters and real historical references, but they and the plot are set within a world of another’s skilled creation. This fanfiction is not for profit. This fanfiction is for entertainment purposes only with entirely optional donations to charities (totally unconnected to the fan fiction author) encouraged. One such NGO highlighted, Lumos, was created by JK Rowling herself. Antonia Sara Zenkevitch as the author of this fanfiction work does not claim ownership over any of the ideas she has adopted from the magical world of JK Rowling, only for the new characters she has created. This is a piece of fan fiction that is not a part of the original authentic series. I am grateful to JK Rowling for gifting us all a wonderful world that millions feel part of; a world so tangible many feel part of us walks within it, or that it is active inside us; a world so powerful we believe again that we can change our own world. I created this fan fiction while battling extreme chronic illness and worsening disability, and Rowling’s world transported me and helped me fight.  I strongly encourage anyone who enjoys this work to immerse themselves in the books, films, and plays of the original franchise. ***