Chapter 2 : The New Zealand School of Magic
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My trunk was packed –though considerably lighter than usual- for my last month at Te Kura Kaupapa mo te Mahi Atua (The New Zealand School of Magic). Puhi sat atop of it unhappily in her cat cage and I reviewed my worldly possessions before making my way outside to find my father.
After a couple of minutes I found him absentmindedly running his fingers through the bird feed, distractedly feeding the doves in their aviary.
“Daddy?” I asked hesitantly, clearing my throat.
He looked up and I was shocked as I registered his red-rimmed eyes.
“Oh, Daddy.” I said as I walked over to hug him tightly.
He gripped me tightly and sighed into my hair.
“I’ll miss you is all” he said sadly.
“Daddy, I’m only going for a month or so and then I’ll be back” I smiled at him receptively.
“For a day or so” he said grumpily – like a toddler not getting his way. “And then you’ll be gone again – for two years. In another country and living with your aunt.”
I’d sent an owl off to my aunt – she wasn’t really my aunt, she was actually a rather eccentric old friend of my mother’s who lived in a small village in the UK – to ask if I could stay with her while I was in there. Her head had appeared excitedly in our fire place –much to the horror of Naomi, who quite literally fell out of her chair – informing me that she would be delighted and looked forward toward it. I smiled fondly at her and accepted her congratulations on my acceptance; returning the sentiments.
“I know Daddy, I’m going to miss you too” I said hesitantly, my own eyes beginning to water. I was horrible at expressing my emotions – even to my father.
“Okay.” He said after moment. “We’d better get going”
* * *
After an hour’s drive my father and I arrived at waterfront, a few muggles were bustling around quickly trying to get out of the winter chill as soon as possible. Off to the side, near one of the piers was a small fish and chip shop.
My father lugged my huge trunk into the small doorway while I followed behind juggling Puhi’s cage precariously. I greeted Ryan (the squib who ran the fish and chip shop), who had looked up hopefully before half heartedly waving a hand and muttering a quiet hello before turning back to the magazine he’d been idly flipping through. We squeezed into the small alleyway and walked down towards the pier which was impenetrable for muggles, and found 150 or so students standing with similar trunks near them chatting with friends and family. A colossal ship towered over everyone awaiting our departure.
I turned to look at my father once my trunk had been stowed in the ship. I looked up at him forlornly before awkwardly looking down, playing with the handle of Puhi’s cage.
“Well... I guess I’ll see you later, Daddy” I said awkwardly.
“Goodbye sweetie, I’ll see you later.” He said as he pulled me into a hug.
“Lucina!” I heard a voice echo from down the wharf.
“Hey, Tayla” I greeted my friend, as she planted a kiss on my cheek and smiled at me cheerfully.
She gripped my arm and pulled me towards the ship “Let’s go find seats” she smiled.
“Okay, Bye Daddy” I said over my shoulder, while he waved chuckling.
“Goodbye, Mr. Stone” Tayla called over her shoulder, with a small flutter of her fingers.
I followed through the crowd as her shoulder-length hair swung erratically around her face as she moved agilely through the crowd – Puhi’s cage colliding painfully against my knees.
Tayla was the only other magical student in my year. She was my best friend (actually she was really my only friend in New Zealand, what with being so isolated from muggle society and the magical community being so minute) and we shared everything, even the small cottage that acted as student housing. Unlike me, both of Tayla’s parents were magical, as were their parents before them and their parents before them and so on and so on. Her ancestors had been gifted Maori prophets and her recorded family history told her that they had been part of the original Maori fleet coming from Hawaiki in 925 AD. She revealed a lot of her heritage in her rich brown skin and green eyes that shone out her round face as well as her talents in Divination and Astronomy. She was kind hearted, exceedingly clever and generous young woman destined for great things.
We walked through the down the ship various passage ways that we’d come to know after a few years until we found an empty cabin. I sat down and let Puhi out her cage – she immediately began to groom her fur back into a more respectable fashion all the while eyeing me irritably; she really hated that cage.
“So,” began Tayla, “How was your holiday? I swear, they should give us longer than a week. It is just not enough time. I mean I had to catch up on a few assignments as well as see all the whanau and catch up on some clearing” Tayla’s family ‘cleared’ spaces, which was ultimately blessing them with ancient Maori magic. “.. I didn’t even get started on Transfiguration...” she continued, giving me the details of all that had happened in her short week at home. Distractedly, I toyed with the now worn acceptance letter from Hogwarts in my jacket pocket, letting my thoughts wonder nervously towards what her reaction might be. I started knowing on my lip.
“Hello? Luce’?” Tayla broke through my riviere.
“Sorry, what?” I asked.
“How was your holiday? Naomi still being Naomi-ish?” she asked, laughing.
I nodded distractedly.
“Kei Wiwi, Kei Wawa” she smiled, shaking her head at me fondly.
“You are away with the fairies.” I said, shooting her own remark back at her and laughing with her.
“Well, actually...” I began. “I have some news.” I said smiling a small, nervous smile.
“I, uh, got accepted into that international exchange programme” I told her, biting my lip and presenting her with the letter.
She quickly got to her feet a hugged me tightly,
“Oh Luce! That’s wonderful!” she gushed.
She pulled her head back and looked at me sadly, “I’m going to miss you.”
“I’ll miss you too” I said, barely meeting her eyes; I really need to work on this emotion thing.
“It’s going to be so exciting! When do you leave?” she asked.
“I leave in less than a month” I said, biting my lip again.
“Oh.” She said with renewed embraces before taking her seat opposite me once more.
I felt the ferry tug forward, it must be two o’clock. And we began our three and a half hour journey to the New Zealand School of Magic, excitedly discussing the various adventures ranging from likely to completely ridiculous.
* * *
When the ferry was about twenty minutes from arriving, Tayla and I got out of our seats to go out to the upper deck and watch the school come into view. Sort of a tradition of ours.
Feeling the icy wind tear through my body and my hair fan out behind me was nice, in a comforting sort of freezing way. The sun had made a rare winter appearance; just in time to set as it lazily dyed the sky a vivid red, Tayla turned and smiled at me with the red sky outlining around her head like a bloody halo. We watched as the school came into view.
The New Zealand School of Magic was situated on a small rocky isle in Auckland’s Gulf Harbour. The main area – the hall, the classrooms – were several buildings clustered together and faced out to the harbour, greeting us with the promise warmth and food while the small twinkling lights of our homely cottages sparkled behind it in a neat little line along the coast, overlooking the bay. This was all –ofcourse- impervious to muggles; though with the island being a nature reserve visitors were scarce and should a muggle venture too closely, they simply forgot why they were there in the first place.
We felt our selves jostle slightly as the ferry gently came to a stop and made our way down to the wharf with the other masses of students. As we descended onto the wharf with rest of the student body, I began the short walk up the rocky cliff face alone while Tayla went to tend to her prefect duties.
I strolled slowly up the small winding pathway that lead to the main building, stroking Puhi while she huddled into me away from the chill. I took in everything for the last time.
I looked around at the many different students going about their business, chatting excitedly and moving animatedly. I turned to look at the wide expanse of ocean once I reached the top. The ocean stretched out in a vast expanse of blue, small rocky isles littered the sea sticking out haphazardly. It shimmered slightly in the setting sun while the wind gently stirred the surface. Birds flew to their rocky sea-side nests – settling in for the night. The long stretch of white sand lined the shore of the darkening blue sea and fluffy toitoi plants blew cheerfully in the breeze.
I sighed quietly and turned away. I was really going to miss this place. While the rest of the student body headed into the main hall, I veered off towards the rows of cottages.
The cottages were cosy little two bedroom nooks and were arranged so that the female student body were on one side of the island while boys were on the other. I walked slowly down the worn cobblestone pathway till I came to the familiar cottage that Tayla and I shared.
I gazed at the cosy little dwelling from the end of its cobblestone pathway. A ran my fingers over the names Tayla and I had engraved into the charming baby blue muggle letterbox that we’d put up back in third year in an attempt to personalise our cookie cutter cottage. It now had little collections of wild daffodils decorating the base of the letterbox, I pushed the little red flag back down as I opened the little hatch and pulled out a small stack of envelopes. I turned to look at the cottage; a plume of smoke chugged merrily out of the brick chimney that adorned the terracotta shingled roof. The pale pathway matched the cottage’s sandy stonework – currently dyed a soft pink from the setting sun - perfectly while an evergreen vine wound its way up the left side of our cottage and framed the inset white bedroom windows that sat above adorable little flower boxes – white roses outside mine and frangipani outside Tayla’s – that bloomed in their respective seasons. I strolled down the pathway, mourning the fact that I would never again see the wild flowers that bloomed down this pathway and their heady scent that saturated the air in spring time. I turned the brass key in the matching white door’s lock and shuffled inside. The front room was flooded with comforting warmth from the fire that crackled merrily in the hearth – Puhi jumped down, stretched lazily in front of the fire and basked in the warmth. Squashy armchairs lined the walls under the bright lamps that we had spent many late nights studying (not really) and talking the night away.
I turned off toward the right walked into my bedroom and I collapsed onto my bed, looking around at the yellow walls and dark furniture. My trunk sat waiting to be unpacked in front of my mahogany wardrobe while my bedside table held a collection of knick knacks – a few candles, a picture of my parents and a conch shell that I’d found during an early morning walk along the shore.
I was really, really, really going to miss this. I let a few tears glide down my cheeks as I thought over my years here before sighing and getting up to go to dinner.
I walked slowly into the hall and glanced around at the large round tables the students were seated at. The large hall was decorated modestly with a few thick pale candles in their wrought iron holders and arched windows were placed intermediately around the room. Large Maori carvings accented the place, tying it into the marae that stood next door.
Tayla was sitting at one of the round tables near the front of the hall chatting with one of her fellow prefects; I made my way over to them and sat down quietly with a smile in greeting at everyone else at the table.
Before any real conversation could begin our Headmistress, Professor Araki stood clearing her throat.
“Welcome back to another exciting term my young leaders.” She said with a smile.
“I hope you all enjoyed the short winter holiday and are ready to fill the three baskets of knowledge and gain greater enlightenment through education”
She always said things like this (a lot of the time I had to refrain from rolling my eyes). She was very philosophical and liked to use Maori metaphors in her speeches. This metaphor stemmed from the Maori legend where the God,Tane obtained the three baskets of knowledge (Tua-uri, Aro-Nui, and Tua-Atea) from the heavens and brought them back down to share with humanity.
After some quiet murmurs, she knocked her fist loudly on the table and we joined her in a quick prayer; blessing the food before a delicious spread appeared on the table before us.
When we were full and ready for sleep, Tayla and I made our way towards our cottage. I stared up the moon as we walked admiring its beauty.
“I never got your fascination with the moon” Tayla mumbled quietly.
“I love everything about it” I told her, not looking away from it. “I love that it can be so far away, yet feel so close. I love that somewhere, someone will look at the same moon at some point regardless of their age, gender or anything else. It’s an equaliser – it doesn’t change no matter where you are” I glanced at her sideways with a smile.
She rolled her eyes and shook her head fondly at me
“Yeah, yeah Confucius” she said sarcastically as she unlocked the front door and walked inside.
I laughed as I said goodnight to her, before scooping up Puhi and heading off to bed.
The following day brought with it a mixture of chaos and excitement while students busied themselves with beginning of term classes. I idly made my way through my classes checking off with each teacher the requirements of my leaving for my exchange. When the end of classes finally rolled around Tayla and I made our way to the Headmistresses office, my letters from Hogwarts clutched tightly in my hand.
I knocked quietly before walking into her small office.
“Kia Ora, Girls.” She greeted us warmly. “What can I do for you today?”
“Well, Professor” I began, “I’ve recently been accepted into a overseas magical exchange programme”
“Ahh yes. At Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry” she said looking at me knowingly.
“You already know?” I asked, surprised.
“Yes, naturally they sent me an owl for a reference as well as an owl informing me of your acceptance”
“Oh” I said dumbly
“So are you excited?" she asked in a friendly tone.
“Yes and nervous” I laughed breathlessly.
“Well I must warn you, the way they practice magic in the UK is very different than down here”
“Really? Different in what way?” Tayla asked interestedly.
“Well, for example, they use wands”
“Oh yeah, I saw that on my equipment list and wondered what that was” I said quietly, casting a quizzical glance at Tayla who merely shrugged.
“Yes well I hardly expect you girls to know being that we practice wandless magic here. But a wand is a magical instrument which allows a witch or wizard to channel their magical powers, magic is considerably easier to perform and more powerful with a wand however being that we have never used wands in New Zealand, we do not have a wand maker to supply them.” she said simply.
“Oh.” We said in chorus.
“In addition to the magical incantation we already use with wandless magic, a specific movement of the wand is used in conjunction with the incantation to perform spells.” She continued. “Hogwarts campus is considerably larger than our school but I can assure you, Lucina, Albus Dumbledore is a wonderful wizard and Hogwarts is run exceedingly well”
“You’ve been there?!” I asked incredulously.
She laughed, “Long ago, yes. I visited to teach a lecture on wandless magic” she smiled.
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