Chapter 2 : Chapter One: The Vow
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I was startled awake by the door to my house slamming shut. I raised my head out of my arm cradle and looked around tiredly, taking in the familiar surroundings of my house. I rubbed my eyes and moaned. I really, really, really hated waking up.
“Hey, Peyton! Where are you?” The voice of a young boy rang out through my house. I safely got out of the chair I was sitting in, which was actually quite hard, as the chair was very tall and I was only nine years old and small for my age.
“What is it, Conan?” I replied, my voice sounding strained because I had just woken up. I cleared my throat into my fist before calling, my voice louder this time, “I was sleeping!” A thin young boy came tearing around the hall corner and skidded to a stop in front of me. He accidentally dropped the book he was carrying as he stopped. I frowned up at him. Curse his taller-than-me-ness.
“Now look what you’ve done, Conan. You’ve gone and messed up the carpet, and you’ve dropped your book.” I gently pushed him to the side with my arm, picked up his book and handed it to him, and then fixed the rug that he had messed up. After that was done, I turned, arms crossed across my chest, to face my best friend Conan Hicks, a nine-year-old blond-haired-blue-eyed disaster with internal organs. He gave me the biggest, most sparkly puppy eyes he could manage and hugged the book to his chest lovingly.
“But Peyton,” he wiggled his lower lip in an attempt to get me to stop frowning at him. “I want to show you something really, really cool.” I rolled my eyes.
“What is it this time? I’m serious, Conan, if it’s another spell, I really don’t care. We’ll have plenty of time for that when we go to Hogwarts.” But Conan was shaking his head, then pausing, mouth slightly open, then looking a little confused and finally pleading. How he could do that all in less than five seconds, I’ll never know.
He flipped his book open and started turning pages until he finally stopped on a dog-eared page, and then opened his mouth to speak, but I stopped him.
“Conan Hicks, how many times have I told you not to treat books so badly?” I blew some of my blonde fringe out of my eyes so that I could give him my best disapproving glare. I had been honing my glaring skills for three years, and I was pretty good, if I do say so myself.
Conan flinched and hurriedly undid the dog-ear and smoothed out the page. “Please, can I show it to you? I mean, it is a spell, but it’s really, really cool and stuff.” I sighed, but decided to let him tell me about whatever it is he had found. How annoying could the thing he wanted to show me possibly be?
The answer to that question is pretty darn annoying. The last time he had been like this he had told me about Portkeys, which were pieces of rubbish that were used to transport people places. I much preferred brooms.
I finally decided to hear him out, so I spoke.
“Fine, Conan. What is it?” I almost instantly regretted asking.
Conan looked positively ecstatic, and despite my annoyance I couldn’t help cracking a small smile. Conan got so overly excited over magic. I could hardly blame him, though. Coming from magical parents, though I had never really known them, magic had been a part of my life since the very beginning. Conan, on the other hand, had Muggle parents. His mother, Melissa, and father, Keith, ran a small restaurant in town half a mile away.
Well, like I was saying, magic was a wondrous thing to Conan, and he wouldn’t even have known about it if my older brother Brent hadn’t come upon Conan performing accidental magic on a toad three years earlier. Before then, Conan had just been a kid in my kindergarten class who lived “down the way,” in the words of Brent. But after Brent had returned the toad to its normal size with a potion of some unknown origin, he had introduced Conan to me and he’d been sticking to me like Spellotape ever since.
Conan’s parents still didn’t know about their son’s magical-ness, as it was against wizard law to tell Muggle parents about their child’s magic before they got their letter. However, Conan now knew more about magic than I did. He had practically devoured all of Brent’s old school books. Brent was nineteen now and out of school, so he had no problem with Conan reading all his books, as long as he was sure to keep them hidden from his parents. Brent was now training to be an Auror under the head of the department, a man named Harry. Conan was really impressed that Brent was working with someone who was apparently famous. I didn’t buy into all that, though, and still didn’t know what was so great about Brent’s boss. It was a forced ignorance that I enjoyed.
But I’m getting off topic here. Back to whatever new magic Conan was so excited to tell me about.
“Peyton? Peyton, are you listening?” Conan whined. I sighed and turned my attention to him.
“Yes, I’m listening. Just tell me what it is already,” I replied.
Conan suddenly shoved the book under my nose and pointed to a large, pretty subtitle that I couldn’t see because, as I said, the book was right under my nose.
“Back it up, Conan.” He immediately retreated a few steps and I carefully took the book from him and looked at what he had been pointing at. “’The Unbreakable Vow,’” I read aloud, my brows furrowed slightly. It actually did sound kind of interesting... Hey, I’m only a kid and this is magic we’re talking about.
Conan was practically bouncing up and down with excitement, an annoying habit of his. “Yeah, and I wanted to do one with you!” I raised my eyebrows, handing the book back to him.
“Why?” I asked. Conan’s cheeks turned a little pink and his smile wavered.
“W-Well, we’re friends, and so I wanted to promise you something with it, and…” Conan had now lost all of his bounce and sounded very meek. His confidence had gone down the drain.
He really knew how to tug on my heartstrings.
I patted him on the shoulder. “Okay. I’ll do it.” Conan exclaimed excitedly, his happiness returning in an instant, and I had to smile again at his enthusiasm. “But it depends on what exactly I have to do.”
Conan grinned, his face lighting up again. “Nothing!” he proclaimed proudly, “You just stay there, and,” Conan’s cheeks turned a little pink again, “And hold my hand.” He got over his sudden weirdness and added, “And you really have to concentrate.”
“Oh,” I thought about it for a moment. It didn’t seem like it was too much, even though I had to concentrate… Suddenly, I began to feel lightheaded and my vision began to swim and then darken a little around the edges. I let out a low moan and felt like an idiot. “Conan…” My voice was suddenly a little weak.
Conan’s worried face entered my field of vision as I fell back against the wall. “What is it, Peyton? What’s wrong?”
“Go…” I began, “Go to the kitchen and get me a cookie or something.” Conan nodded, understanding flooding into his face. I heard him run off, as I had closed my eyes. I slid down the wall and sat down.
I suppose I should explain. You see, I’m diabetic, which means that I have to monitor my blood sugar and make sure that I keep it where it’s supposed to be. I should have checked as soon as I woke up, but Conan had distracted me- no. It wasn’t right to blame Conan. It was my own fault for being stupid. I always told Brent I’d be fine, and then I would go and forget…
“Here!” The scent of chocolate entered my nose and I opened my eyes. Conan offered me an uncomfortably huge chocolate chip cookie. I smiled a little in thanks and took a bite, while at the same time reaching into my pocket. I had to have a Muggle blood sugar monitor until I turned eleven and got a wand. There was a spell that would do the job without having to prick my finger.
I ate a few more bites of cookie and Conan sat down next to me. I hated having to prick my finger. Though I didn’t like to admit it, I had absolutely no stomach for blood. Regardless, I pricked my finger on the small needle of the bright yellow monitor and waited for the information to pop up on the tiny screen.
“Hey, Conan. Tell me about this Unbreakable Vow thingy. I want to know what I’m getting into.” Conan fiddled a little with his book, and then cleared his throat.
“The Unbreakable Vow is when a person vows something, or multiple somethings, to another person. If the person who made the vow breaks their vow, then they die.” I sputtered on my cookie and turned to stare at him, wiping my mouth on my shirtsleeve.
“They die?! Conan, I’m not sure that’s a good idea!” I heard the monitor beep and I looked down at the screen, read the information, and nodded. I broke off a small piece of cookie for myself and then gave the rest of the cookie, which was about half of it, to Conan. He took the cookie and absently bit into it, at the same time looking at me pleadingly.
“But Peyton, you don’t have to do anything, like I said.” Conan looked desperate, though the cookie took more than a little bit away from the effect.
“I don’t really fancy you dying, Conan,” I replied.
Conan rolled his eyes exasperatedly. “Neither am I, Peyton! But that’s the thing! I’ll just keep the Vow, and I won’t die. Simple. It’ll be something really easy.”
“Oh no you don’t, Conan Hicks. I roll my eyes at you, not the other way around!” Conan grinned meekly, and I forgave him. It was a simple mistake, but not one that should be repeated often.
I was still skeptical about this Vow thing, but Conan was so excited that I just couldn’t refuse him.
“Fine.” I was probably going to regret this later, but it was already done.
Conan smiled sweetly and polished off the last bit of his piece of cookie.
“Okay, now we just need a third party to cast the spell!” Conan was practically skipping alongside me as we made our way into my living room.
“Did somebody say party?”
Conan looked up excitedly. “Teddy!” The tall, lean Metamorphmagus grinned mischievously and got out of the armchair he had been lounging in and mussed up Conan’s already messy hair.
Teddy Lupin was one of my brother’s friends, and I didn’t approve of him at all. Though he was a seventh year at Hogwarts, he acted like a little kid. Except that he was tall, so that comparison didn’t really work. He was just so immature and he always-
“Hey, it’s the little miss!” Teddy moved too quickly for me to run away and in one smooth movement scooped me up and held me between the crook of his elbow and his side. I squirmed and fought, but Teddy was a lot stronger than he looked, and he didn’t look like a pansy to begin with.
“Put me down! Put me down!” I wiggled and squirmed until I had to stop because I was tired. I went limp and pouted, feeling like the little kid I am. He always made me feel so stupid and powerless! Teddy laughed, adding insult to injury.
“So feisty! I don’t know how you handle her, Conan!” Conan shook his head violently, sending his hair whipping around wildly. It was now even messier than before.
“I don’t handle Peyton,” he said gravely in one of his weird sort-of-serious moments, “If anything, she handles me.”
Teddy laughed again and put me down, brushing me off a little and straightening my T-shirt. “I suppose that’s true. Peyton’s a regular Rose…” There he went again referencing his too-large family. With me it was just my brother and me, but Teddy had tons of family because of Harry- the same Harry that headed the Auror department, just so that’s clear- being his godfather.
“I’m going to take that as an insult,” I said putting my hands on my hips and frowning up at him. Teddy guffawed loudly.
“Well, you’ll get a chance to meet Rosie, Al, Hugo, and all the others when you go to Hogwarts in, what, five years?”
“We are not six years old!” I huffed. Quick mental math was one of my strong points. Brent insisted that I go to Muggle primary school, and Math was my best subject. It wouldn’t really help me in the wizarding world, though.
Teddy looked positively shocked at my exclamation.
“Really? Then how old are you, little Miss Peyton? Seven? Eight? Two?” I squinted up at him and saw that he had put on mischievously twinkling purple eyes paired with a messy shock of grey hair. That boy always looked mad, what with all his crazy hair and eye colors. Conan and Brent seemed to enjoy them, though.
“Nine,” I proclaimed proudly. “Conan’s the same, but I’m three months and nine days older.”
Teddy nodded slowly and exaggeratedly, his arms crossed over his chest and a thoughtful look on his face. “So then that means that there’s only two more years until you two are off to the wondrous world of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Wow, you guys are really getting old.” Teddy’s solemn brown hair and chestnut eyes- he had donned that look for his two-sentence speech- disappeared into blue hair and light pink eyes. “Though Peyton could still pass as six, small as she is.”
I was about to protest angrily when Conan interjected, sensing what I had intended to do.
“Hey, Teddy, could you do us- me – a favor?” He knew that puppy dog eyes wouldn’t work on Teddy because Teddy was the one who invented the puppy dog eyes. Quite literally; his appearance changes weren’t limited to just his hair and eye color.
“Sure, buddy. What is it?” Teddy eyed the book that Conan was still clutching to his chest. He turned his hair a glossy black and his eyes a disconcerting blue.
“Well, there’s this spell, and it needs, it’s what I was saying before, the third party, and I was wondering if you would do it, because I really want to, with Peyton, so… Please?” Teddy looked positively dumbfounded and turned to face me, a questioning look on his face. His head was cocked to the side so that he looked like a big, annoying puppy of some sort.
I made a face at having to explain Conan’s mishmash of words, especially to Teddy. “He wants to do some weird spell called ‘The Unbreakable Vow.’” Teddy raised an eyebrow in surprise.
“Whoa, buddy! That’s a pretty tall order. A right complicated bit of magic that is.” Teddy stroked an invisible beard. Though he would freely change his hair and eye color, he never added any facial hair. I would wonder why if I cared.
“Would you be our Bonder –that’s what it’s called- please? Just something simple?” Conan begged, looking as adorable as humanly possible. Teddy scratched behind his head and made a thinking noise, his face screwed up in concentration.
“Uhh... Umm… Er… Hmmm…” Teddy shot me a look and then changed his eyes to a bright green and his hair to red. A spread of freckles covered his face over the bridge of his nose and his cheeks. “All right, all right! I’ll do it, but only because it’s you guys and I’ll do something really simple, something that’ll never be an issue.” Conan made an excited noise that was almost like a squeak. I rolled my eyes but followed as Teddy led us outside in an exaggerated march.
Teddy cleared his throat loudly and took out his wand. After turning his hair orange and eyes grey, he held out his hand for Conan’s book. He read the page, nodding slowly with a very serious look on his face, though it was hard to tell if he really was serious. You could never tell with Teddy. He then closed the book with a snap and instructed Conan and me to hold hands.
I stared at Conan, weighing the possibility that his hands were clean enough to make contact with mine. Then I told him to go wash his hands and he ran back inside my house to do as he was told. Better safe than sorry. I mean, it’s not like I was afraid of germs or whatever, but still.
I was then left alone with Teddy. Great. After trying to enjoy the country scenery that I knew like the back of my hand, I decided to try and make some idle conversation, as much as it annoyed me.
“What are you doing here, anyway? Brent’s at the Ministry, though he should be home any time now.” Teddy grinned, brown-haired and blue-eyed.
“Brent said that he’ll be back an hour later than planned. Through Dan, of course.” Dan was our large, mean brown owl. He preferred me over Brent, which was completely understandable. Brent was as bad as Teddy, except that he was a little more mature than Teddy was at some times, like when he was fretting over me. He had also gotten a little better since he had become a trainee Auror.
“What’s he doing that’ll make him an hour late?” I asked, upset. Brent was always late. To everything. Well, not everything, exactly, but you get my point.
Teddy shrugged, hands up with palms facing outwards in a sign of innocence. “Auror training stuff, I guess. What else would he be doing?” I pouted, making Teddy’s grin even broader.
Conan finally returned, his face flushed from running around. I rolled my eyes but held out my right hand as he had told me. He grasped it with his left hand and we turned to Teddy for direction. He was sniggering.
“Man, if only I had a camera!” Teddy lamented, still chuckling. “This is just too cute!” I scowled.
“Just do the spell!” I said, annoyed. Teddy sighed and stepped forward.
“No sense of humor…” He raised his wand and tapped Conan and my interlocked hands. “Do you, Conan Hicks, take Peyton Suskind as your lawfully wedded-“ I stomped on his foot, though it didn’t really do much damage due to the considerable size difference. “Kidding! Kidding!” Teddy assured me. “I’ll do the real thing now.”
He touched his wand to Conan and my interlocked hands again, this time keeping it there.
“Now, it said in the book that you, little Miss Peyton, shall ask Conan a “will you” question,” Teddy said. “You really have to concentrate; the vow is all you should be thinking about.”
I glared daggers at Conan. “I thought you said I didn’t have to do anything.” Conan winced.
Teddy jumped in and saved him. “I’ll give you one to ask, little miss,” he assured me. He thought for a moment and then whispered into my ear. I rolled my eyes but opened my mouth to speak.
“Will you, Conan Hicks, never intentionally kill me, Peyton Suskind?” I tried to focus all of my energy on those words, clearing my mind of most thoughts.
Conan blinked, momentarily stunned by the strange question, and then nodded vigorously before saying, his face strangely solemn, “I will.”
A thin tongue of flame began wrapping around our interlocked hands. I sucked in a breath, surprised, at both the flame and the feeling of my energy being drained. The tendril continued to snake around our hands, growing thicker and brighter until finally it created a glowing chain around our clasped hands. Its brightness suddenly increased, bathing all three of our faces in the somewhat freaky red light. Then the flame dissipated. I breathed a sigh of relief and blinked rapidly, as a little darkness had begun to creep into my vision. Conan also looked tired.
“There,” Teddy said proudly, pocketing his wand. “You two have made an Unbreakable Vow. Congratulations.” I let go of Conan’s hand and wiped my hand on my jeans. Both of us were sweating a little.
“So all you have to do is not kill me. On purpose, anyway,” I said, unable to fight the grin that began creeping onto my face. Conan grinned too, his shock over the odd question long passed, though he still looked a little pale from the whole experience.
“See, I told you, Peyton. It’s just that simple.” Conan looked up at Teddy, blue eyes sparkling, “Thanks Teddy!” The older boy grinned.
“Aw, it was nothin’. Anything for you two.”
I cleared my throat. “It was Conan who wanted to do the Vow,” I reminded him. Teddy’s hair was now white and his eyes were dark. He looked like a polar bear or ermine or something.
“Well,” he said, glancing at his wrist, “I checked up on you, and now I really must be going. My grandma Andie expects me for dinner in a few…”
“You don’t have a watch,” I pointed out suddenly, “Why’d you look at your wrist?” Teddy pouted, shoving his hands deep into his pockets.
“It looks cool!” he whined, turning his eyes aquamarine.
“Whatever.” I rolled my eyes.
So Teddy took his hands out of his pockets and handed the book back to Conan, who once again cradled it to his chest.
“Thanks again, Teddy!” Teddy grinned and messed up Conan’s hair again. Conan’s hair still hadn’t recovered from the last time Teddy had done that.
“I’ll catch you guys later! Have fun not killing the little miss, Conan,” Teddy said before he turned on his heel and Dissapparated. I winced at the loud noise.
Conan turned to face me. “So…” His eyes still shone with excitement.
“Well, I don’t know about you, but I’m going to go to sleep,” I said, turning back to my house. Conan scurried along behind me.
“Can I stay and read Brent’s book?” he asked.
“Who’s going to stop you?” I asked, opening my door and walking in the plain house. Conan followed along behind me.
“Thanks. I’ll just sit here,” Conan walked over to my old but comfortable faded green couch. It was a horrible color, but it had grown on me considering that it had been in our living room for as long as I could remember. Well, that actually wasn’t really long, but you get the point.
I locked the door behind us and then turned to head over to our single cream-colored armchair. It was also old, but very cushy. I settled in and sighed heavily.
Teddy and Conan had been able to get in with their extra keys, as our house had become impossible to Apparate into since Brent had been instated as an Auror-in-training. The locks were magical too, meaning that they couldn’t be picked and only special keys could be used to open them. It was a complicated bit of magic that some tall, redheaded guy with freckles from the Ministry had done. Conan had asked to poor guy about a million questions about Auror work, magic in general, and Harry, who the man apparently knew really well. What had his name been…? Weasel or something, I think. What a weird name.
I turned around in the chair until I felt comfortable, and then looked over at Conan, who was reading his book with passion.
Conan’s eyes raced across page after page. That Conan… he really, really loved magic.
He loved magic, I sometimes thought, a little bit too much.
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