The Sorting Hat is supposed to be wise and in tune with the fluctuations of fate. But it didn’t see anything that day. Not a single spark of artificial magical consciousness alerted the hat to the fact that it was perched on the head of the girl who would disturb the very nature of magical existence. It didn’t pick up on the undercurrent of turbulence in the mind it was combing, nor was it startled by the way unsettlingly adult anger could spring so quickly onto the round face of a wide-eyed eleven-year-old.
Instead, the hat was quick to label Morgan as spoiled.
“What?” Morgan addressed the voice in her head, uncertain whether she had heard it correctly.
“Yes, spoiled and stubborn, but highly intelligent and independent. Hmmm…what should I do with you? Oh, and I see you are also very passionate, very driven – brave, even. With your creativity and willpower, you should do quite well in GRYFFINDOR!”
Confused but relieved to be free of the hat, Morgan skipped from the platform and headed over to the loudest table.
She snuck an involuntary glance at Theodore Nott. His grey, sunken eyes followed her trajectory to the Gryffindor table. She imagined there was some sign of recognition in them, at least, maybe even a little bit of regret. Maybe some unexplained disgust. There had to be something.
In the years to come, Morgan would often lock eyes with this boy as the two passed each other in a corridor or settled down on opposite sides of a classroom. Something unspoken would always remain between them. Such is the power of closure, or more accurately, the lack thereof.
It had only happened a month earlier. Morgan had wandered out of the stuffy, dimly-lit drawing room of the Nott mansion, leaving her parents to carefully sip gin or whiskey or something from crystal glasses under the gaze of sunken-eyed, crackling portraits.
The warm evening light in the garden allowed Morgan to quickly forget about what had been by far the dullest neighborhood reception she had ever experienced. Only in retrospect, several years later, did she fully realize the purpose of that gathering.
Mr. Rosier, an energetic, slightly scruffy colleague of Morgan’s father’s at the Archaic Potions Research Department, had invited the entire family to what he advertised as a simple afternoon tea with some of the most prominent wizards and witches in London.
Morgan’s mother, anticipating a flourishing artistic salón, had spent hours picking out the right dress. She ended up settling on something sparkling with a decorative clip for her hair.
An hour later she was twirling it in her hands absent-mindedly while sinking further and further into a dusty armchair. Once in a while she would wake up and nod politely as “the most prominent witches and wizards of London” discussed their suspiciously overlapping family trees, jealously argued about dividing property, and compared the achievements of their children and grandchildren. Had Morgan’s parents been in the country longer, they might have spotted a couple of wolves among the sheep, so to speak.
Scattered amongst the feeble old elitists were a few of an entirely different sort, with brighter eyes and harsher voices. They had names such as Lestrange and Mulciber and Black, and they looked the part. They were the first ones, the ones who had watched the Dark Lord rise and had been by his side from the very beginning to the very bitter end. Defeat was weakness, yes, but anger still kept them at the top, together.
To the uninformed Koshka family, the entire event seemed like a typical neighborhood watch, a grown-up version of sizing up the new kids on the block. And thus, through a series of polite conversational choices, Morgan’s family had maneuvered themselves into a Death Eater recruiting test. And they would have passed, had Morgan not been sorted into Gryffindor a month later.
But that afternoon, all was still going very well. Morgan’s mother was livening up after her fifth gin and tonic and causing for quite some entertainment with stories of Russia. Morgan’s father was entering a heated debate on wizard politics. As for Morgan, she was about to kiss the heir of one of the oldest Slytherin families.
* * *
She found him in a secluded corner of the garden, lounging under a decorative gargoyle and impatiently flipping through a thick book.
“Who are you?” Theodore Nott inquired authoritatively once he spotted her.
“Who are you?” Morgan retorted, crossing her arms.
He lowered his book in disbelief. “Me? I live here, this is my house.”
“Oh…” Morgan mumbled. “Well my parents are inside with your dad and all those old people...”
“They are so boring,” Theodore agreed.
“Hogwarts is going to be great,” he announced. “No parents, and I can finally do magic.”
“What, can’t you do magic yet?” Morgan taunted, feeling slightly resentful at the way she had to depend on this boy for entertainment.
“Of course I can,” he informed her, disgust at the mere suggestion written all over his face.
“I was hexing things when I was still inside my mother,” he added quite quickly, daring Morgan to disagree.
“I could already control it when I was two,” Morgan challenged him. “Most people can’t do that even by kindergarten…”
“That’s because they’re stupid. My dad already got two warnings from the Ministry because of me doing magic,” Theodore boasted, letting a little smile linger on his face for the first time.
“Ugh, it’s so annoying,” Morgan groaned. “Grown-ups do magic all the time. Why can’t we?”
“They're scared,” he shrugged.
Morgan plopped down in front of him on the grass casually, much less bored given the subject matter of their conversation, “How many spells do you know?”
“About fifty…” he assured her. “How many do you know?”
“Fifty-seven since yesterday…Do you know the one that makes things invisible?”
“Invisible? That’s for pussies,” he jeered. “I know how to set things on fire!”
“Who cares! Invisibility is great…” Morgan pressed. “You can make yourself invisible and do whatever you want! Or you can hide things…”
“Hmm…” He considered the idea. “You can make your parents invisible…”
Morgan pictured her parents reduced to a pair of voices and floating tea cups above the breakfast table and.
After a surprised pause, Theodore began laughing as well, his mind probably producing images of people being erased from existence. Just pop, and his father was gone, nothing but a smoking blotch on the armchair. Another pop, and Aunt Beatrice melted away, dragging those itchy dress robes into the abyss with her. Theodore liked the idea very much. He picked up the temporarily abandoned book and energetically, although with some physical effort, leaned the entire bulk of pages towards the left cover.
“It would probably be something with ‘visio’…” he mumbled, running a finger down the table of contents.
Morgan scooted closer and stared at the book upside down.
“But the opposite. Devisio maybe? Inconcess Visio?” she offered.
“No, that sounds wrong.”
“Oh, wait, I know!” Morgan spurted out “Not Visio but ‘appearance’. Appearance is, eh…’Vultus’ or something.”
Morgan leaned over the book, still trying to read it upside down. “Here, look under ‘Vu’…”
She glanced up and found that he was frowning, lost in thought. It was a surprisingly genuine expression, a strange vision on a brooding, fierce face such as his.
Morgan’s mind went blank.
The late summer sun was low and warm and it made all the colors around them soft and intense. The house seemed very far away. It was almost as if they were alone in the world.
So Morgan leaned in and kissed him on the cheek.
“What are you doing!” he cried out, jolting Morgan’s mind right back into place.
“I-“ Morgan stuttered. “I don’t know!”
He jumped up, letting the forgotten book slide to the ground and flip shut with a crack.
Morgan jumped up too, completely at loss for words and desperately wrestling with half-baked emotions. “Don’t you like me?” she pleaded.
This was not like her. She never made the first move for anything. People always came to her. And now…
“Moooorgan!” A shrill yet grainy voice came from somewhere very far away.
Suddenly, there were people everywhere.
“There you are,” her mother sighed. A thin, finely manicured hand appeared on Morgan’s shoulder accompanied by jingling and shuffling of robes. “Have you enjoyed yourself, dear?”
“Uhm…yes, of course, mother,” Morgan muttered, keeping her eyes on the ground.
“Isn’t she a pretty little thing!” a smokey voice gushed from her right. Hands ran through her hair. “Has she met your son, Mr. Nott? Where is that boy?”
Morgan’s mother tightened her grip on her daughter’s shoulder.
“Well, now that we have found her, I suppose we will be leaving. Thank you very much for a wonderful evening, do drop us that owl…”
The voices kept on exchanging pleasantries, but Morgan couldn’t listen.
It would take some time for her ability to focus to come back. She spent the coming month trying very, very hard not to think about what had happened, resorting to moodiness and tantrums as a distraction. It helped, but not much.
Strangely enough, the more she dreaded meeting Theodore again, the more she began looking forward to the moment. Every time she was bored, or came up with a new idea for a spell, Morgan thought of his smug voice challenging her to do better while simultaneously fishing for her approval. And every time she didn't get her way, she wished she could tell him how stupid everybody actually was...everybody except them.
But when it finally happened, seeing Theodore Nott again did not result in a reunion of too-good-for-this-world outsiders. Instead, it resulted in Morgan meeting reality and finding that if she wished to be an outsider, she was on her own.
By the time she took her seat at the Gryffindor table, the turbulence she had experienced for half of the summer had dulled down. It was almost with serenity that Morgan registered the hat bawl out “SLYTHERIN!” She pointedly stared at the dark clouds on the ceiling of the Great Hall as he strode over to the cheering Slytherin table. And then, she swore to forget him and to never let her guard down again.
In this moment, her greatest weakness was created. The one big thing that she wanted and could not have - the idea of a companion in crime, someone with whom she could take on the world and never be questioned.
As a holographic ideal, it would rest peacefully at the bottom of her mind for years, gathering strength and becoming absolutely unquestionable and utterly unattainable. Eventually, it would begin pulling all the strings, morphing into the symbol of everything Morgan was not allowed to be but knew that she was. Why else would she constantly suppress something, if there was nothing dark to hide?
The deepest conflict is the conflict with oneself, and Morgan knew this better than anyone. She would search for an outlet through dark magic, through rule-breaking, through anything she knew was bad. With a vehement bitterness, she would detest the Slytherins for being allowed to live it out freely. They could receive Theodore Nott’s smiles, they could discuss magic with him, they could plan to make the entire world disappear together with him. And she couldn’t, because she was – Morgan wasn’t sure what, really – maybe different, new, foreign, an outsider. Whatever the reason, it came down to one thing, namely that, due to some whimsical spin of fate, Morgan was alone.
Maybe if Morgan wasn’t sorted into Gryffindor that day, then nothing that came later would have happened. Maybe we would now be living in a blissful world of peace and understanding.
It may even be fair to say that if Morgan hadn’t been forced into picking sides so early, she would have never been torn enough do what she did, to rebel against the system and to take her rebellion much too far.
But actually, we digress. This was just the very beginning of her formative years. There was so much that the wizarding world’s newest villain had yet to live through, so many crucial coincidences and unexpected alliances still awaited her at that point… it would be reckless to pinpoint one incident, or one childhood crush, as the turning point. But it would be even more reckless to ignore the role Theodore Nott played in her story.
Well, here it is!What do you think?
Almost all of the characters are set up now and soon the story will properly start, with lots of action, drama and romance :D
I hope you guys like it so far... Reviews would be great!
Write a Review Underwater Morgana: Making the World Disappear