Chapter 1 : Prologue: Homecoming
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London felt like miles away…
Why I chose traveling the Muggle way was beyond my wildest imagination. Perhaps it reinforced the past seven years of mystery and mystical wonder that no child could ever possibly imagine were real and not a large figment of my imagination? The carriage shook, and there was hardly a suitable route from the highlands where my school resided to London. Transportation on the ground for the Muggle World was far from being effective to get from one place in Great Britain to another. It would have been much easier to spin on the spot and picture the place where I desired to be, and then suddenly appear there. Alas, I suppose I chose to celebrate my roots, where I came from, at the dawning of a new era. 1778 seems in years, the more I had thought about it on the lonely horse and carriage ride, not that far away from 1761, the year of my birth.
Yet in seventeen years, the past seven being the most memorial of my life, I have grown and changed into more than just a loyal subject of Britain, but as a man with alliances and knowledge from places the commoner down the street or even the patient-handed artisan could not begin to depict. A large bump on the road nearly spilled my ink all over the parchment lying on my lap. A carriage was not a proper place to write fond memoirs of my years away, however I felt it necessary that night to record as much as I could possibly remember before my mind was swept off to do bigger things and would once again become preoccupied.
The quill tip was becoming increasingly dull as I wrote, my handwriting slurring across the page like a drunken man’s speech. How I longed for home, for the simplicity that was often considered a complicated lifestyle by those whom I had spent the best years of my life in their company. What better way to get something done than by waving a polished stick in the air and muttering a nonsensical phrase? Why you would possibly waste your time, I wrote, sitting in front of a washbasin rubbing your fingers dry, when as a man, or even a woman in the Wizarding World, you had far more freedom… more choice, more power.
It would terrify the souls and shake the very tricorns off the heads of men I had grown up with as a child who were now political leaders, apprentices, and Empire-pushers. Of course in my years away I had not forgotten what Great Britain was, or how it was expanding. India was within our Parliament’s vision… Africa looked mighty conquerable. Of course, notions such as empirical expansion had vanished from my mind as I was learning things that folks of my kind would deem more important. How to turn a tea cozy into a parrot, for instance… Somehow, Professors would often argue, turning inanimate objects into animals would one day save my life in the Wizarding World. I begged to differ; the logical part of my brain that refused to leave firmly insisted that such a notion was ridiculous.
I capped my ink bottle upon seeing the flickering lights of London drifting through open windows and candle-lit storefront windows. The sun was beginning to set, and it seemed as though we had made it into town just in time before the shop-keeps would pull the shutters closed and women in their petticoats would usher children inside for prayers and bed. It had been so long since I had made my way back to London. I chose not to return home for the holidays as Hogwarts was far more cheerful than the busy London streets, and the carriage ride in the snow would take a week if not more to return. I had not yet turned seventeen, and could not apparate at will. Home would have to wait until summer holidays.
The brick faced home squashed between two others of its kind appeared before me through the carriage window. A smile crossed my face and I folded the parchment in my lap before placing my writing utensils in my knapsack at my feet. How I couldn’t wait to see my mother’s face and tell her I was legal, and show her the things I had learned and just how they might benefit our family. The driver stopped, halted the horses and pulled my luggage down from the top of the carriage, tossing me the bags one by one.
As the back of the carriage traveled down the cobblestone street until I could no longer see anything more than a black shadow, I finally found it fit to take my stuff inside the foyer and light a small candle. The shutters had been shut, the curtains drawn. There was a solemn silence in the air. The house looked the same, the floorboards creaking underfoot as they always had… “Mama, I’m home from Hogwarts…” I take the chance of my voice echoing and bouncing off the wallpapered walls, the chance that it might wake my mother up if she is sleeping.
A shadow was flickering from the corner of my eye and I took off my tricorn, holding it to my chest. “Mama?” Where could she possibly be? I had known her previously to sleep at strange hours due to an illness that often left her bedridden. She knew from my letters I was due home today… Would she not have the decency to wait up for her only son to return home, quite possibly for good? Upon entering the dining room, I see it – lying on the table.
My heart started beating faster and faster in my chest. The letter glared at me, the parchment neatly tied with a red ribbon, the handwriting clear as day and elegant. It was not my brother’s handwriting, though so similar, for he had been dead and gone for several years now (I count not the exact number; it hardens my heart to think of it), and my mother did not have a patient enough hand to write so elegantly.
Part of me ached to open the letter right now and the other part wished nothing more than to refrain, and choose as though it did not exist. I slid the letter into my frock coat pocket, tucked in the corners of the dark deep fabric pressed up against the slot I had fashioned in the inside of my coat; if one were to open the coat and feel the underside of the buttons, one would discover a cleverly hidden, long slot in which a thin wooden rod could slide discreetly in. The paper hid there, its ribbon folding into the creases of my coat.
I heard no response and my fingers and toes began to tremble and shake with anticipation. Anticipation of the worst kind. I turned the corner and spotted a shape on the stairway. It was the form of skirts, wide and tapering off. “Maria?”
My sister’s expression was caught in my candlelight. She looked solemn and sad, a frown creased upon her face. “Ezekiel…”
“Maria, please tell me… Where is Mama?”
“Upstairs, Ezekiel, she’s upstairs asleep. Ezekiel, you’ve been gone for far too long.” As she descended the steps, the light dancing across her freckled cheeks, she took my hands, shaking and afraid, in her own. “Ezekiel, Papa has gone off to war.”
My eyes widened. Maria had no choice but to continue as my silence was the only response to reach her ears.
“He was called away.”
“He’s retired, Mari-”
Maria shook her head firmly.
“They called him back, Ezekiel. While you were away in your own little world, Zeke – Papa was called back into the world we live in every day. The real world. The colonists have been rebelling more. They declared independence two years ago, if you remember…” Maria’s face turned from sad and sympathetic towards me, into an expression of anger. I wanted to shrink under the power of her glare into my frock-coat. “You’ve been called off too.”
The letter felt like it was burning a hole in my mind. I had a desire to open it to see if Maria’s words were true.
“You’ve been called off to war, Ezekiel. All men of your age have that can physically fight for the King…you qualify.”
“The King… the King shouldn’t know I exist, Maria –”
Maria’s face contorted into a heavier scowl as I pulled the letter out from my pocket with trembling, awkward fingers. So if it was true, if the letter in my hand had not been written by my sister, but by one of His Royal Majesty’s men requesting my presence… I no longer wanted to be home from my glorious school. Perhaps I could disappear back into the Wizarding World… Perhaps, I could try.
“They do. He does. Deal with it. Papa is gone because of your absence. Live up to what’s expected of you, Ezekiel. You are not that special.”
With the whisk of her skirts back up the stairs, I saw no more of her within the reach of my candlelight. I peeled off the wax seal, removing the ribbon, and saw the truth before my very eyes.
I, Ezekiel Brighton, certified wizard from Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, have been called to war.
Setting: 1778, London, England. Middle of the War of American Independence!
So, I really shouldn't be starting this as I have two papers to write (one for archaeology and one for British History) but this plot bunny has been nagging at me since 2:30 am Saturday morning... and it's the first plot bunny I've had in years. Regardless, I'm doing it! It's a pretty unique fic, if I do say so myself, so I hope there are readers (like you!) out there who will appreciate the stories of a History Nerd. If you review, if you have any ideas you'd like to pitch, go right ahead, also - if you have any CC or questions/compliments/concerns, hit me with 'em!