As the late summer sun set over sleepy Surrey, the majority of the inhabitants of Greater Piddley were sat in front of their television sets, dinners in laps, staring forwards as if hypnotised. But one boy was not at all interested in the “Who Wants To Be A Billionaire – Celebrity Special” currently blaring out in the living room below; in fact, he was quite happy that big Uncle Hernia had shouted at him, threatened to give him “another scar to match the other” and sent him up to bed with no dinner just for “looking at me in that queer manner”. For this boy was Gary Yachter, and he was not phased in anyway by his uncle’s unjust actions, as tomorrow he was to go back to Bogports School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, where he had been a pupil for the last 6 years.
Gary sat at his desk by his bedroom window, gazing out at the purples and reds streaked across the evening sky. Above the spire of the local church and the roofs of muddle houses he could see a big billowy cloud, which looked from a certain angle, remarkably like a great big…..cloud. He was happy that he was a wizard and not a muddle, and he had always known that he was different to everybody else, mainly because he had an unhealthy obsession about boats, and he was even happier about the fact that soon he would be able to see his school friends again. Gary hadn’t seen any of his friends all summer, as Uncle Hernia and Aunt Poinsettia didn’t like “magic folk” and were sure to stop Gary from having any sort of fun during the holidays, as they were that sort of people after all. Little did they know that Gary had had plenty of fun this summer, in that the rash the Parsley family had all been suffering around the nether regions was due to Gary hexing their underwear; he took a great pleasure in watching them buy a new type of washing powder each week. Gary thought of his only real female friend a lot. Her name was Heronlyknee Lone-Ranger, and she was a muddle born witch, and the nicest person you could ever meet. She only had one leg, (the other was stolen by a peeved magical milking stool) but Gary was not the sort of person who would let this come between true friends, and he had even had the time to conjure her a prosthetic leg. This was no ordinary falsie, for it talked and tended to kick people of its own accord. Heronlyknee often talked to her fake leg, which she had affectionately named “Onetoe”! Gary also thought a great deal of his good friend Don Teesemey, and how he missed their little chats about “girls” late at night under the bed sheets in the dormitories. Ron was tall, thin with flame-like red hair, and always seemed to manage to get himself into untimely scrapes and misfortunes, mainly because he was a cake brained muppet. Because of this, Gary had affectionately named him “Scone”. Even though Gary hadn’t seen his friends for what seemed like an age, he still knew what had been going on in the wizarding world during the summer break, as he had received news via owl every weekend. For example, England had defeated Germany on penalties in the Qui-Dutch world cup (Qui-Dutch was a sport played at Bogports and all around the wizarding world consisting of throwing clogs though holes in the rotating arms of windmills whilst flying around on a broomstick. A “Searcher” on each time spent the whole match searching for the magical hole which would spontaneously appear in the surrounding dyke, and when found would place his finger in it, thus plugging it up. This was worth 150 points, and brought the game to an end.), and The Ministry of Magical Ruling had passed a new law that anyone wishing to own a Fire-Snorting Blug Blaster would need correct documentation, a licence and possibly a mental defect.
But Gary had received one piece of news which slightly dented his enthusiasm and contentment about returning to Bogports this year – a week ago his trusty owl Toupee had flown into to his bedroom window (literally – he was currently wearing a vetinary collar and had a broken wing) from Hermit’s house bearing a newspaper article talking of how the Dark Lord “He-Who-Is-So-Scary-And-Powerful-That-We-Cannot-Name-Him” had broken free from Marzipan, the most secure wizarding prison in the world, and was thought to be gathering his cronies and plotting world domination and muddle killing at this very minute. This put Larry on edge as the Dark Lord Volvomart had, whilst gaining experience of the muddle world working in a car dealership, murdered both Gary’s parents with the dreaded “Nevada Kevlar” curse, and then turned his wand on Gary. But for some reason Gary hadn’t been killed, escaping merely with a moon shaped scar on his forehead, as Volvomart had swung at him with a tyre-iron, and cracked open the baby’s skull leaving him for dead. Volvomart made off in one of the showroom’s vehicles, charming it to increase its top speed, but was stopped and arrested by The Ministry for “Improper use of Muddle Artefacts” and imprisoned once again in Marzipan. The Dark Lord had escaped many a time, each brief period of freedom saw him trying to finish the job he started and to kill Gary, but had been improbably thwarted each time by the teenage wizard apprentice and his friends. Each time he would have got away with it, if only it weren’t for those pesky kids.
Gary shuddered at the thought of it all, shook his head and decided to pack his trunk up, ready to catch the Bogwarts Express the next morning. He laid his school uniform, books and possessions out on his bed so as to make a list of what he needed to buy or replace at Disproportion Alley (the shopping district of wizarding London, where all stores were bigger on the inside than the looked from the outside) on his visit there in the morning with Don’s mum. Mrs Teesemey always insisted on taking Gary to Disproportion Alley and platform 7 1/3 at Paddington station each year, and enjoyed safely seeing off Gary and Don at the station. Gary smiled to himself, and in at the same instant he heard a faint hooting carrying across the evening sky. ‘An Owl’ he thought, and hurried to the window, leaning out and craning his neck. Again the owl hooted, and Gary looked all around, trying to see in which direction the owl was coming from. He knew that it would be flying towards his room, as he was the only wizard who lived in Greater Piddley, and it would probably be from Don or Heronlyknee and Onetoe, all about what they were to get up to when they saw each other.
Once more there was a hooting in the distance, and Gary leaned further out, eager to catch a glimpse of the messenger. Gary’s knees were now on the windowsill, his right hand steadying himself on the drainpipe. But he still couldn’t see the owl. Annoyed by the poor location and viewpoint available from the small semi-detached at Number 5 Gorse Street, Gary decided that it was time for some magic. He knew it was against the Ministry rules for him to use magic outside of Bogports, but ‘Who’s to know?’ he thought, ‘I’m the only wizard for miles around, what can go wrong?’ Gary stepped off the windowsill, rolled up his sleeves, and fetched his wand. He jarred the wand into the window to keep it open, before pointing his finger at the ground outside and shouting ‘Steppus Invisibilus’. A man walking his dog stopped and looked up towards Gary who ducked down below the sill so as not to be seen. The dog cocked its leg against the street sign at the end of the road, and wagged its tail. The man eventually lost interest and wandered on. When he was sure that the coast was clear, he stepped up on to the windowsill, and looked downwards. He could just see the glinting edges of a transparent platform that had formed, stretching like a pathway out into the open air. Gary, pleased with what he had just done, cautiously stepped out onto it. Luckily there was no casual passer by around who would be astonished to see a boy of 17 years of age with round, second-hand-looking glasses and floppy dark hair, seemingly walking on thin air, whilst shielding his eyes from the sun and looking into the distance. But that was what Gary was doing, as risky as it was.
Eventually he saw the owl, fighting with six magpies over the local shops. The magpies were surrounding the owl, and in turn were pecking at her, removing long, elegant snow white feathers each time, which flittered to the ground. It distressed Gary to see such a beautiful being in trouble, so Gary, never one to turn his back on a magical creature in need, fired a lightening bolt at the evil blackbirds, killing them instantly. The owl then gracefully swooped towards him, and perched on his outstretched arm. ‘Hoot’ it said, in a thankful manner. Gary smiled. Seeing that the bird was in need of a rest, he carried inside, and placed her on the perch next to Toupee.
He took the envelope from the owl’s claws, sat down at the desk and opened it up. It was, as he had expected, a note from Heronlyknee.
Hope you’re as excited as I am about going back to Bogports tomorrow! I can’t wait to get back to the library, I’ve read so much about a breast augmenting charm over the holidays, and I just can’t wait to concoct it! Anyway, how are you? It’s a shame the Parsleys are so uptight and strict – how are their rashes? I had fun finding that hex for you! I hope my owl, Hooter, brought you your birthday cake on time the other week, and didn’t eat any of it. Don told me to tell you that his owl unfortunately went through a jet plane engine on Wednesday last so don’t expect a present off him. I can’t wait to see you tomorrow, and guess what? I’m coming with you, Lon and Mrs. Weasel to Disproportion Alley! I need some more spell books! See you soon.
PS Onetoe says Howdy dooooooooo?
Gary penned a quick note back, thanking Hermit for her cake and her kind present of a pair of Dragon hide gloves, and then, stroking Hooter, sent his correspondence back to Heronlyknee. Hooter, hooting, flew out the window and off into the now, darkening night, happy that there were no more bloody magpies about. Realising how late it now was, Gary thought it best to pack up his things ready for the morning.
Reaching underneath his bed, he pulled out his trunk and opened it, then began to lay his belongings into it. He took a second to smooth out his Pontifindoor (the must respected and successful house at Bogports, founded by the Pope himself) Qui-Dutch uniform, and picked up his broom in his right hand. It felt good to be holding his Limbo 4000 again. Harry cast his mind back to the 240-70 victory last term over Raisinclaw, when he had nearly broken his neck whilst avoiding a Basher. And, even better, when he beat the SugarPuff searcher, Honey Monster, in the race to plug up the dyke. Those were the days. Gary was so fond of these memories that he patted his broom on the bristles, smiling, before placing it in its velvet case at the bottom of the trunk. The uniform followed, then Gary’s standard school robes, scarf and underclothes, his cauldron, invisibility coat, toothbrush, batteries, quill, ink and spell books. Gary looked at the contents but couldn’t help thinking that there was something missing. What had he forgotten? He looked towards the window, trying to jog his memory. What was it? Something was definitely missing but he couldn’t quite put his finger on it. And then he saw it. Propping open the sash window was his wand, a real beauty, fashioned from Mahogany with a strand of white cotton threaded down the middle. It was 9 and a half inches long and came with a free polishing kit when purchased before your twelfth birthday. Ironically this was the exact same type of wand used by Lord Volvomart, and this link between Gary and his arch-nemesis was known throughout the world, as they had both been featured in What Wand? Magazine shortly after he had purchased it. Of Course! His wand, no wizard worth his salt would ever forget his wand. Gary threw the long, slender, magical object up in the air and caught it again, rotated it through his fingers, and then picked his nose with it. It was his wand. He placed it in his pocket, being careful not to poke himself in a sensitive place as he did so. He failed and winced slightly. This was not the first time he had incapacitated himself in such a manner. He threw his mind back to a time last term when he Don and Heronlyknee were running (and limping) away from the Slorgmor that was guarding the entrance to the Chamber of Fire. He had unfortunately tripped on a loose paving stone and impaled his privates really quite hard. This allowed the Slorgmor to catch up with him and break his arm off, but by a stroke of luck he escaped and Madam Pompeii had managed to grow back his arm within a week. His goolies had taken a great deal longer to heal.
Gary winced again, before walking over to his bed and writing “Wand holster” on his list of things to buy in the morning.
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