CHAPTER 3: The Occamy Pensieve

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

Back to chapter 2

Disclaimer

The way back from the feast was uneasy. She felt someone watching in the shadows. The glassy dining car had been magically enlarged with panoramic views of the star-spangled heavens and countryside at night, distant towns and cities glittering as they rolled by.  In contrast, the long, narrow corridors were full of shades and whispers now.  Whoever was following her in the gloom, they were fearful of her too, she could feel it. She turned quickly in the direction of the prickles under her skin but saw no one. She heard the click of a door and a sharp intake of breath. Under the light of her wand, the moving pictures on the carved panels seemed to speak of sinister happenings.

Her cabin seemed a little lonely after the company that evening. As she closed the door into her own world, a title winked at her from the bookshelf; ‘Que Vestir O Verde Brilhante’, written by Castelobruxo Herbologists, Catina Faron & Moises Navarro. It had been one of Seamus’ favourites, given to him long ago by Ermite Borage. With a pang she thought how much her twin would have appreciated the day; Rosa the dog’s escapade, the glimpse of the famous Hufflepuff herbologist’s home, Cordelia Fancourt’s bonhomie, the channel crossing, and all that endless sea and sky. She found herself chuckling to herself, feeling him suddenly close.

She opened the safe, touched the last letter he had written her, then placed the family pensieve on the nightstand. It was made out of an ancient occamy shell, pure silver and sea tarnished. The occamy crest of copper and bronze was adorned by stones and engravings, some which seemed to come from forgotten alphabets. Inside memories whispered to her, some in unknown languages as if awoken by the lives of those who had travelled before her as well as the adventures yet to be written. There were times when it seemed to hum and sing to her. A low thrum no one else heard. When she was lonely she would go to sleep listening to its chorus of interlaced reminiscences.

It is the custom to bury pensieves with their owners or to empty them, but family legend has it that this pensieve had been washed up at the feet of a great, great aunt three days after burying it with her sister at sea. This tale went on to say it had washed up many centuries before that in a stream in India. It must have belonged to an ancestor, the magical basin had long been enchanted so that only relatives could see or pass it on to the next generation. This she knew to be true. A permanent tongue binding curse prevented anyone from divulging its existence to others. When it appeared to someone, they had become irrevocably family. Yet only those who had the gift of magic could use it. When Lizzie O’ Brian had first become ill with Seer’s fever and had to go to St. Mungo’s hospital, she had given it to her children as a way to stay close and guide them with her memories even when she could not be there in person. It was their family’s greatest secret and its greatest secret keeper.

She tenderly kissed the crooning occamy’s head and bade goodnight to those loved ones whose memories she carried with her. She took out the second pensieve. This was grey stone and pewter and carried the ministry of magic logo. It was enchanted with all the usual muggle repelling and undetectable charms. This was only used for collecting, examining and organising the memories and predictions Lindsay collected for the department of mysteries, because what went in was not private.  her colleagues and superiors at the ministry with the correct clearance could access the contents.

She raised her wand to her temple and siphoned off the information she had gathered during the day. The recollections spun like threads of silver silk; like dewy spiders’ webs shimmering in mist, then swirled with those collected in different times and places. Soon, she’d examine the webs and patterns that would begin to form. For now, the threads swirled in and out of one another in the bowl, fizzing and popping occasionally when memories connected. Images raced by on the surface like the faces and landscapes reflected in the windows of the rushing train.

She set them aside, remembering what her mother had taught her. “Don’t get lost in the visions of others or in yesterdays,” she heard her mum say “and forget to live your own life, today.”

Lindsay, back in her here and now, sighed, opened her ministry logbook and began to write. As she did so the words disappeared into the page, leaving nothing behind them;

Report for 16th October 1919,

No known seers on the Eagle. No readings that are obviously directly related to the primary mission but there is a ‘temperature’ building. I have collected several samples which have been stored in the pensieve. Will proceed as planned. Do we know anything about the Gaunts or the Filch family, in particular, Ebonine Filch or his father?

There are eyes on me. I am not the only ministry official on this train. Can you confirm there are Aurors on this route, and who they might be tailing?

She waited for a beat, as her words vanished, then fresh words appeared on the page. A response to her question had come from her department;

We will liaise with relevant departments and tell you what we can. Ebonine Filch is rumoured to be compiling a book on ancient and original wizarding family trees. What is your interest in him?

Lindsay scratched out her reply by wandlight, the distant hooting of owls in her ears;

A bone pipe, possibly human and a memory of a father who does not like non-magic people, especially those in his own family.

For a long time, there was no reply, so Lindsay continued:

He seems particularly interested in one witch on the train who is a skilled Occulmens.

Still nothing but the haunting voices of restless birds and the rattle of the train.

So, if the Auror office isn’t looking into him, perhaps they should?

The reply came quickly;

Thank-you for your information. Be assured we will liaise with the relevant departments. You should be aware Ebonine Filtch is a friend to the ministry. Are there other people of interest?

A ‘friend to the ministry’, Lindsay thought to herself wryly.  Well, if that was not a warning off, nothing was. She would have to watch the bone-pipe smoking wizard like a hawk but do so quietly.  She re-read the message and decided on how to answer the last question. She began writing again:

Possibly.

What do we know of the Gaunts? His children are scared of him.

A minute before receiving the response;

Scared children do not provide reliable evidence.

Lindsay inhaled very sharply before writing her reply;

Respectfully, children’s fear should always be enough to, at the very least, take note of.

‘Note taken.’ was the terse response from the faceless ministry official to whom she submitted these reports. Lindsay was pacing the floor when more writing appeared:

There have been reports that a dog viciously attacked one of our ministry witches yesterday at King’s Cross. They made off with a wand carrying classified information. Have you seen such an animal on the train?

‘No’ was Lindsay’s immediate reply. Well, she hadn’t actually seen her on the train, so it wasn’t a lie exactly. She added that she had witnessed an incident in which an entirely unharmed ministry official had chased a small dog down the platform. There was no response. After signing off she pondered the exchange. She had wondered why Dorethia seemed to be fretting about passing the dog-chewed wand on instead of getting rid of it. Now she considered there might be important, ‘classified information’ a ‘Prior Incantantum’ spell might uncover. She’d instinctively trusted the trio of elders who had befriended her, and trust given quickly was rare for her. Despite this, she was already aware that the two women had secrets.

And, whatever veiled warnings she had been given to the contrary, she would remain watchful around the bone-pale Ebonine Filtch, the Gaunts and others, including that peculiar bronze-haired wizard, Percy Fleamont and the newlyweds.

Lindsay sunk back into velvet cushions inhaling a scent of hyacinths, feeling the faint echoes of the honeymoon hopes of this cabin’s previous residents. Hot cocoa and a sugared violet had been left for her by a thoughtful house elf. As she sipped the creamy concoction her eyes flicked back to the occamy pensieve. She never travelled far without it. In part, this was because it was important to be able to separate the thoughts and recollections of others from her own. Pensieves also made it easier to organise and evaluate ideas and predictions, like books in a treasured library of forgotten minds.

A kindly teacher in her first year at Hogwarts had taught her to use her pensieve when her visions or other people’s worries and opinions were disturbing her school work. It held the past hopes of her mother and great aunt’s younger selves, their struggles and loves. It held Lizzie O’Brian’s glimpses of her journey into motherhood and of Lindsay, Seamus and Syd, their cousin, Aunty Edith and Uncle Harris.

The occamy was stirring, tiny bubbles rose from the surface of the pensieve’s basin to hang in the air like moons. She reached out her hand to hold one. It broke upon her touch, cascading up her arm and into her mind, taking her back to her mother. No longer a series of bright fragments and shadows that can be the echoes of early childhood. These were complex journeys seen through the thoughts of those she loved, woven into a patchwork of broken time.

Some of Lizzie’s ancestors, the McMillans, had washed up in Ireland during the Scottish clearances and two of their daughters had married local Irish lads whose history they said was tied ever to the Emerald Isle. Things had been tense, strained, as they will be when the powerful take land from one group to give to another group they’ve already taken land from. And yet the years went by, threads woven then frayed, like the ancient family tapestries Aunt Enid would clean lovingly each spring.  Lindsay, who had Irish blood but no Irish memory,  had asked her mum to explain the long troubles that lead to the Easter Uprising three years before. Her mother had replied: “I’ve never known, my treasure, but the whole gubu has always felt like a game of wizard’s chess to the likes of me, with not one of us knowin’ the powerful hands moving us around the board.”

She had explained to Lindsay that it was as much the British government’s brutal response to the uprising that had unified half the Emerald Isle against further British rule. Lindsay knew that in January 1919, a few short months before this journey, the South had declared independence and bitter war was raging . She had no doubt that she had family members on both sides of the conflict and she worried for them, but they were family she had not known since she was a small child.

Her mother and aunt had lived in a community that had never really recovered from the potato famines. Poverty and the memory of it had plagued them for generations. The sight of edible food shipped off while people there had to live on a failed crop of blighted roots were haunting memories that one never spoke of. Muggle relations had grown more strained during the Great Hunger. Those who knew of the family’s magic did not understand why they did not conjure the community more food. They did not understand what the wizarding world knew through Gamps’ Law of Elemental Transfiguration; that food could not be created from nothing nor transfigured from unrelated items. The magical community helped in the few ways they were able but they had also struggled with hunger and suffered persecution.

Lindsay’s mother Lizzie Anne had been the youngest. Never physically strong, Lizzie was often thought to be away with the fairies. Sometimes she quite literally was. Other times she was travelling through others’ emotions, something that affected her greatly during hard times and travelled with her after. She was mostly joyful but when the clouds came they bought storms. Her elder sister, Enid, who was quick-witted and steady, would never show signs of magic except for a fierce empathy some non-magic people have which is more healing than a vat of skellegrow. The two were exceptionally close. Two peas in a pod.

Enid married a fisherman when she was 19 and moved to his Scottish homeland with him, sending muggle money home when they could. By that time a young and beautiful Lizzie had caught the eye of the postmaster’s son, Fred O’Brian, and was working out how to tell him she was a witch. She’d told him after they’d married and it had not gone down well. Lizzie had stayed with the intention of raising a family the way she and her sister had been raised, with one foot in each world, magic, and non-magic. Fred had other plans. As soon as the twins learned to walk they started showing signs of magic. Fred would try to bully their nature away with gruff words, everyday judgements, and the withdrawal of any sign of affection.  When Lindsay and Seamus turned three Lizzie smuggled them away and took them to live with her sister, Edith and her husband Uncle Harris in Scotland.

Uncle Harris, Lindsay thought with a bitter-sweet sigh. His ever-present warmth was ever with his family despite often been away at sea during her childhood. He’d bring back stories of monsters as Enid cut back his grizzled red beard by the fire, complaining it was “stiff with salt” to which he’d grin and declare himself “Neptune of the seas.” Her quick reply was always peppered with laughter. Lizzie would say he’d probably seen Merpeople and he’d try to convince the children he was one. Like Enid, Harris, though not magic himself, had always encouraged and delighted in signs of it in his niece and nephew. He quickly realised neither they or his own young son, Syd, were interested in net-mending and long nights and days at sea. Yet he made them toys and trinkets from shells and rope and spun the most fantastical tales.

One day their Neptune did not return; a shipwreck not far from the coast had claimed him to his other home. Young Syd was rocked to sleep by his Aunt Lizzie, his cousins nearby as they told him the story of the Merpeople and how his daddy was with them now. Enid still talked to Harris now in her daily activities and his warmth was still in the house.

Lindsay smiled as a rush of affection for her aunt swelled. Mrs. Edith McGilliguddy. Strict as she was, had loved the children as she loved her own son. It was Aunty Enid, widow, muggle and close friend of various saints, who helped encourage Seamus in his herbology and guided Lindsay in managing her emotions through her art. When the youngest of the brood, Syd, expressed the will to go into law, Enid worked and saved to make it happen. Meanwhile, Seamus and Lindsay had mixed healing potions for local pets to help raise money for their cousin’s studies.  Enid, alongside Lizzie, made sure all three children had a foothold in both the magical and non-magic worlds with an unswayable conviction that “The Good Lord makes all of us of equal worth. He can find what he’s doing better than we folk, ye ken.”

So, they had grown together in a house that smelt of wood, old books, brewed herbs, singed spells and the wild animals Seamus and Syd took in, much to the joy of Lizzie and the pretend annoyance of the house-proud Enid. Their family had two women at the helm, an uncle, who though gone was ever with them and three and cousins growing up as siblings. It had been a loved life, if sometimes a hard one, Lindsay thought as she lay on the velvet covers of her cabin bed in Wildsmith carriage. She had to keep reminding herself where she was. She recalled the long weeks when her mother seemed so distant.

Her mother thoughts had got lost in time before. She had lingered too long in someone’s past, regaining consciousness just in time to fight off a Dementor’s kiss. Lizzie had advised the children to always have something sweet and stodgy on hand to eat in case of an emergency, preferably chocolate. “Memories are akin to occamies,” she would tell them, dishing out slices of steaming clootie pudding to eager hands. “Like those mythical beasts, they’ll fill all available space if you let them to it.”

Lizzie Anne Macmillan had been a Ravenclaw who was quick to think and slow to anger. These were character traits she’d passed to her children, but she would often have visits to St. Mungos Hospital where healers would skilfully retrieve her and untangle her thoughts. At these times a quiet abstracted distance would occupy Lizzie’s eyes between moments of laughter. Her daughter felt it, as did Syd, who had inherited the quiet, fierce empathy of both his parents.

Lindsay popped another bubble, letting memories swirl together once more in the pensive, smiling at her latest memories of Syd, Lizzie and Enid on a picnic by the sea. Past and present merged in Lindsay’s mind as ripples lapped idly at the window of her cabin. Another bubble floated to the surface of the pensive to rise and break over her in a wave. She was entering Ravenclaw tower for the first time. Watching the owls swoop over the astronomy tower. This had become a refuge for her, a place where she and her unusual gifts were welcomed. She had made close friendships with those who celebrated their diverse talents, first within her house, then outside it. Seamus O’Brian had been sorted into Hufflepuff due to his love and care of plants and creatures. Yet the two spoke as often as they ever had, though they lived in separate houses. Few of those she grew to trust seemed to mind the conversations she had with her brother, Seamus, though they could only hear her side.

Lindsay drew her wand and siphoned away the amassing memories, transporting herself back into the gently rocking train.  She touched the wooden table before her, willing herself into the present. Somewhere she could hear a cornet and its player but she could not quite surface from the glimmers of her family’s past. She did not know how long she sat there, both lulled and kept awake by the rythmn of the train jolting over the tracks, her hand on the table rooting part of her in the present. She was dimly aware of someone outside her door, of hushed voices and the sound and feel of the train come slowly to a stop. They had arrived at Porte de Versailles.

Paris, where the world’s future was being decided. The words from Eremite Borage’s note came back to her as she felt the bezoar he’d sent her in her pocket. A cure for poisoning. He’d warned her with his usual foresight that she’d need it ‘after Paris’. She knew she would need the cure soon.

Click to go to CHAPTER 4: Porte de Versailles

Click to go to Index of Chapters

 

 

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

Lindsay wondered if the person responsible for the disappearances was near her now, in the close confines of the train. Had she seen them in the chaos outside, and if so, were they now unpacking in a nearby cabin. Perhaps they were plotting the steps towards wizarding war as the vanished seers had warned. Trying to sow division in the magical community seemed all the more treacherous here on the Eagle. This great engine 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 international 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 stowed away under 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 while other branches of her family tree knew America before the Europeans came. Annie had once 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 from the Department of Control of Magical Creatures 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 became 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, 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 tall 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 hat 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 back into itself around the silver eggshell. 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. 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.

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. Large jet- black pupils in hollow 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 the Eagle train’s uniform hurried forward. His wand trailed several witches and wizards of various ages after him on hover charms. “Miss. Fancourt” called the young wizard, “I said I’d help you on the corridors and such”.

“Oh, hello George,” said Cordelia amiably, ascending onto the hover charm he’d conjured as if it were her 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” Lindsay heard the wizard with the unsettling eyes say as he turned the corner and vanished. The train rumbling on as conversations and thoughts came to her in flashes.

“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 Eremite 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 had 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 now missing or dead, including Seamus. They had each been registered by the ministry as a potential information source.  Lindsay hoped the puzzling 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 a glass-like 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.” She and her friend moved off from the window and out of Lindsay’s earshot 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, hot buttered crumpets, and canapes. The evening air was a whirl of 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 sharp 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. Then 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. 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 onboard the Eagle Line on this, our next 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 only 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. The tracks 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 seemingly grey labradorite pillars that shone gold and green in any glimmer of light. 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. To Goblins, this process was little more than humiliation and a show of undeserved privilege by wand bearers whose law prohibited any other magical creature from the same magical advantages.

Grawgun’s eyes and thoughts burned like hot coals. Lindsay saw him whispering to Gringlehop and Inglehart. He seemed very animated. Whatever it was they were discussing, Inglehart was not in agreement. He snarled angrily at the other two, darting swift glances up at their wizard companion who was a short way away from them talking urgently with two officials. Amos Quirrell bounced into view and ushered the trio of Goblins and Fion into a side-room.  This time Lindsay was not as convinced by their host’s smile. Like the chiming of a far off clock, she knew this moment would play an important part in what was to come. A shadow passed across her mind and flitted away.

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 slipping away into a seemingly endless watery horizon. The sea stretched out on all sides as though she were gliding across 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 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 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 meal. Less distinct thoughts could be read as scents, textures, vivid pictures or odd snatches of past conversation. Sampling a room was a dizzying task for the senses. A smell or taste could take a mind to another place, moment or state while she was reading it.  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. While eating 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 tunning into the mind of Mr. Gaunt, she heard the now familiar voice of Cordelia Fancourt addressing her.

“My dear Miss O’Brian, 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 dress 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 for 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 “Yes, it is quite true, with you we always make an entrance.”

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 to Madame Prewett under the table. It is a strange thing how some friendships begin; 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 willful fur ball called Rosa. Dorethia spoke of her visiting friends in the Cotswolds then visit the magical communities on route before planning to return to her childhood home of Saint-Germain-en-Layne near Paris. Yet now she had to deliver something urgently to her niece in the Auvergne too. 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 and pallid stare 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 the little canine in need of a cure for chewing on a wand full of malicious magic. She trusted the potion she’d been able to offer would help.

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. 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 to mask the sour taste of the potion. 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 a bucket-sized 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 she was collecting 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. My cat is even more cunning and wily than I.”

“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’ Brian, 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. Two of 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 this Legilimens had no wish or right to see. There was no sign now of Ebonine Filtch. The young bride 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; her own bones chilled. 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.

Ahead of her whispers gathered in long shadows.

Go to CHAPTER 3: The Occamy Pensieve

Click to go to the chapter index

 

Featured

CHAPTER 1: The Wyverns of King’s Cross Station

the eagle engine
‘the eagle engine’ digital collage and sketch on publisher by Antonia Sara Zenkevitch

The Library of Lost Wands

by Antonia Sara Zenkevitch

 disclaimer

Click to go to Prologue

Click to skip to next chapter 

Chapter 1; The Wyverns of King’s Cross Station

Above a sea of busy humanity, two dragons whirled watchfully in the sky, stretching their wings against the damp chill in the air above the station. They awaited the ticking clock. Soon they themselves would signal adventures to places hidden from the muggle world and known only to a few. King’s Cross stood against a pale pewter sky, wrought in iron, red bricks, glass, and defiance. Built to be the hub of a rusting empire, it had become a waiting room of lost worlds as people waking up from war and deathly epidemic, discovered renewed rhythms of life on the cusp of the new decade.

In the bustle outside, only a witch’s eyes could see the wyverns circling the great clock as it ticked towards seven. This witch was Lindsay Amata O’Brian, raven-haired, blue-eyed and slight like her beloved twin brother had been. Above her, the great clock chimed the hour and she quickened her pace. The wyverns were becoming restless, barbed tails swishing as a tiny belch of flames erupted into the autumn morning. It was almost time. She felt unfamiliar eyes and minds directed towards her. Working for the Department of Mysteries as Legilimens, she could read others’ thoughts and emotions and so did not trust easily. Stopping to buy hot chestnuts, she popped one into her mouth and smiled, tucking the bag into her pocket and checking her ticket. Just half an hour before the train would depart.

A stack of yesterday evening’s muggle newspapers fluttered in the morning drizzle. She grabbed a copy of ‘The Globe’, her quick eyes scanning the pages. There it was on page 14; news that British delegates were gathering shortly for the first council meeting of the League of Nations. She folded the paper, putting it in her carpet bag next to her copy of ‘The Daily Prophet’. This was a very different kind of publication. Delivered by owl and featuring photographs that moved. The front page featured a self-important looking man gesticulating grandly at the reader. The headline proclaimed “Ministry of Magic Meddling in Muggle Peace!” Unsurprisingly,  though the magical community had been forbidden from taking part in the Great War of the Muggles, thousands of wizards & witches had ignored the ban to protect their non-magic neighbours. Now it appeared ministry wizards were whispering in the ears of those at the peace negotiations.

There were other whispers too; troubling murmurs and prophecies of a wizarding war to come. It was her job, in seven short days, to get to the root of these predictions.  Like most true seers, she took visions of the future with a pinch of salt, believing the future, like the present, was capable of change. Completely accurate prophesies were comparatively rare, yet many predictions offered valuable and dangerous insights into possible tomorrows. Whenever prophecies came in clusters,  with seers forecasting similar patterns or events, the odds increased. Over the last seven years, registered seers had been disappearing and meeting with strange accidents. A fierce determination boiled inside her; one of those seers had been her twin, Seamus. He had always been better at divining the future. She had always been best at reading minds and emotions.

She took in a deep gulp of air and released it in a hot rush. Early on this autumn day, possibility scented the humming air around her. The station was awash with black hats and coats bobbing about like bubbles in polyjuice potion, lending a cloak of anonymity to tides of humans. Even the indignant hooting of owls went largely unnoticed as a steady stream of people slipped through a brick column between platforms 7 and 8 into a hidden world. She wore her grey cloche low, shielding her eyes from billows of steam while pulling the wide collar of her coat tight about her. Absently fingering the moonstone in rose gold that hung about her neck, she stepped forward. On October 16th, 1919 Lindsay O’Brien walked through the portal to platform 7 ½, King’s Cross Station carrying only her wand and a red, clanking carpet bag. Everything was about to change.

High above King’s Cross, the wyverns circled. There before her in all its promise and glory was the Eagle; one of the engines that pulled trains and travellers between the most secretive magical communities of Europe. The whole train was designed and engineered by fellow Ravenclaw alumni Amos Quirrel and Belgian Beauxbatons alumni Jacques Marc Lumez. The two brilliant muggle train enthusiasts had created the feat of magical engineering now shining before Lindsay. Long, sleek lines stretched in shades of twilight and midnight blue. A bronze insignia of an eagle was emblazoned upon its flanks, the great bird’s wings shifting; ready for flight. Elegantly curved culverts graced the base of each carriage next to shining bronze wheels that looked like clocks. The Eagle always ran on time. Hundreds of rounded windows reminded Lindsay of enlarged portholes. Yet one compartment appeared to be more window than anything else, steel framing glass that seemed to subtly ripple. This, she knew, was the dining car, which the brochure had informed her was magically extended to offer a small dance floor and bar.

Not, thought Lindsay sternly to herself, that she would have time to spare for dancing, though something told her she was lying to herself.

Lindsay surveyed her fellow passengers from under her hat. There was the usual assortment of travellers. The train would be busy. During the recent muggle war,  St. Mungos Hospital had treated a fair few injuries caused by witches and wizards being mistaken for a missile or enemy craft and shot at. As a result, no-fly bans were imposed, with many still in place across the continent. Yet there were those who chose the Eagle for the sheer opulent joy of it. Ahead of her, she spotted bright-eyed, eager newlyweds seeking luxury and romance. There would be muggle born train enthusiasts reliving childhood holidays and explorers on quests to find rare magical beasts. There would also be those who may pretend to be these things to hide other, more secretive purposes.

She could see the usual smattering of recent graduates from various wizarding schools, setting out or returning from explorations. Some of the recent Hogwarts leavers preparing to sample the magical world were easily detected. Their parents waved packed lunches at them as if a couple of cauldron pasties could last the trip. The same parents cast protective spells on anything they could wave their wands at, reminding themselves of first journeys to Hogwarts and the infamous Sorting Hat, but this was not platform 9 3/4. Wizarding schools all had closely guarded secrets. Along with several magical communities, they used protective charms to stop visitors arriving by apparition, or use of unauthorised portkeys. The train offered a way to monitor who came and went. It allowed those with apparition sickness to travel and provided a way for the adventurous to meet like-minded people and discover new places, including those they did not yet know existed.

At the far end of the sleeper, near the engine, was a carriage for families. In the distance she saw a sombre looking group inch into it, the children flinching at an older wizard’s words. Lindsay briefly caught the eye a young girl in the group before she disappeared from view. All around her passengers bustled, while house elves wearing a livery of starched white table clothes carried heavily laden trays, rattling bags, and outraged owls. An Owlery carriage was located to the rear of the train. Three witches from the Department of Control of Magical Creatures were scanning up and down, issuing permits and probing for stowaways. Lindsay did not recognise them; the Department of Mysteries in which she worked operated by its own rules and rhythm, connecting with other departments only when needed. The official closest to her was barking orders at a small family in front of her. She could see beneath the surface of this witch’s mind, to twisted thoughts that belonged in the wizarding prison, Azkaban. A bony finger pointed upwards to an ominous sign suspended in mid-air. Silence fell as they all read.

By Order of The Department of Magical Transport & The Department of Control of Magical Creatures
 Please have your wand and ticket ready for registration prior to boarding the train. Wandless and underage passengers must be registered on a responsible witch or wizard’s wand.

All magical beasts and beings must also be registered before travel.

Prohibited or unregistered magical beasts and beings may be destroyed by order of the Ministry. Owners will be charged for this service. 

Wishing you a lovely journey!

 THE MINISTRY OF MAGIC

Please be aware that smuggling nifflers, dragons or other magical creature deemed dangerous to passengers or their property is a serious offense.

 

A contingent of goblins moved forward. They were chatting in hushed tones with an accompanying wizard who was casting the charm, “Wingardium Leviosa” upon a selection of heavy trunks, floating them ahead of the group as they talked in intense undertones. Lindsay watched as the goblins were halted in their progress by one of the witches from the Department of Control and Regulation of Magical Creatures.

Speaking solely to the wizard, the ministry witch said, “Are these creatures yours?”

“No,” replied the wizard, then, upon noticing the witch’s raised brow, continued “we are travelling together.”

“You need to register any magical creatures you are taking before embarkation” the witch continued, probing each of the goblins, as a coil of measuring tape snaked around them. A quill and giant ledger danced in the air next to her left ear, taking down their particulars. “Name?” she barked.

“This is Gringlehop…”

“Not them,” she interrupted, her reedy lips pursed as her wand prodded one protesting goblin in the ribs “The Ministry requires your name.”

“My name is Fion Alba-Heinz” the wizard replied with a hard stare.

“And where are you travelling to?”

“Odessa, for business”

“Wand please” bayed the officious witch who, having finished probing the goblins, touched the end of her wand with his. “Alder and dragons heartstring, 12 ½ inches unyielding, carrying three goblins” stated the witch as her quill scratched furiously away above her left cheek.

“Actually,” Fion said, “I won’t be carrying anyone, Gringlehop, Inglehart and Grawgun each have two legs they are thankfully perfectly capable of using, you see.”

The three goblins laughed at this but the ministry official ignored the comment.  “Mr. Heinz, it is incumbent on me to read you the following”. She flourished the same scroll Lindsay had seen her use during the registration of magical cats and owls, and read aloud in an imperious voice

“This creature or creatures have been registered to your wand for the duration of your journey. Carrying them aboard ministry approved magical transportation makes you fully responsible for their every action whilst on-board. At no point during the journey can they be left unaccompanied, except in the crates provided. Please do not bring any hazardous magical creatures into the dining car. It may be necessary for you to re-register creatures at certain checkpoints, according to local laws. It may be necessary to destroy any creature that does not comply with these recommendations. You will be billed for this service. By bringing them onto the train you agree to these conditions.”

“Can my colleagues and I go now?” Fion Heinz said through clenched teeth.

“You may board the train now” she replied, waltzing off towards an attractive witch in her sixties wearing a mint green striped skirt and cradling a wriggling ball of fur. Lindsay was delighted to notice the dog grab the official’s wand, leap from the arms holding it and bolt across the station yapping merrily. Predictably, pandemonium followed. The fluff ball hid behind a pillar and started tearing into the wand with joy. Passengers jostled this way and that trying to dodge the sparks, blasts and bangs emitting from the mangled wand.  One or two confused passengers even drew their wands, ready for a dual. The ministry witch became preoccupied when a large man with a wobbling moustache blocked her path. The little Pomeranian scuttled away with its prize.

When Lindsay looked around, the goblin party had disappeared into the train. An elegant octogenarian, sporting a towering bun under an absurdly delicate lace hat, was being helped onto the train by two white-gloved attendants, six trunks and several crinolines floating in her wake. She haled the witch in mint stripes who was now chasing her Pomeranian down the platform. Lindsay thought she saw a tail wag beneath one of the elegant witch’s huge petticoats. The great witch and her skirts vanished from view.

Lindsay refocused on the emptying platform. There were the quiet souls here; whose air, like Lindsay’s, was of calm observation. Enigmas and assignments took them across borders known and unknown. They may camouflage themselves by blending in with the dragon hunters, vacationers, and engineering enthusiasts, or pose as honeymooners, or clerks, but they were here. Legilimens like herself reconnoitred information, aurorers; the world’s dark wizard catchers went about their tasks. Lindsay O’Brien knew those the aurorers were tailing were never far away. While she took in her fellow passengers, she was aware she too was being watched by both friend and foe.

Above her the wyverns called out, whistling and chuckling, their fire-belches mingling with the steam on the platform. The train would soon depart. Little did Lindsey know that this journey would change the course of wizarding history.

Click to go to Chapter 2

Click to go to the Chapter Index