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The House of Books by Nimblequill
Format: Short story
Chapter 1: The House of Books - Chapter 1
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The House of Books – Chapter 1
It was a warm night inside a small library where a young woman called Anna was filling a plain white wall full of crayon markings.
On the right of the room stood a row of computers and on the left bookcases stretched the wall. The books were systematically categorised, labelled and colour coded.
Anna was stood between two bookcases and drawing on the white plaster wall. In her left hand she held a hand full of notes and markings that she was transferring onto the wall.
She wore ripped jeans and a brown leather jacket with a bushy ginger fur collar. Around her shoulder hung a worn leather satchel. Everything about her looked worn. She was covered in a beige dust. Her boots that were once black had turned beige from sand and her face was smudged with dirt.
Around her ankles, a small dog was curiously sniffing around. The dog had a perky curled tail and floppy ears. The Phil was just as dusty as it’s human companion and just as unfazed by it. Its nose that was eagerly following a sent on the stone floor was covered in sand.
Around her neck Anna had three wands dangling from a cord. She grabbed one of them and pointed it at the markings on the wall and she started muttering spells. Without any luck she put the wand in the satchel and grabbed another one from around her neck and tried out some other incantations. The wand sputtered and the tip caught fire. Swearing she tried to extinguish the flame by slapping the wand against the wall. While cursing at the wand she threw it away. She grabbed the last one from around her neck. The wand was made of ash; it was jet-black and covered in golden patterns. Anna was about to wave the wand when Phil discovered something in the shadows on the opposite side of the hall. A yappy bark echoed through the hall, startling Anna just as she was about to wield the wand. It seemed to startle the wand just as much as her as it rocketed out of her hand, ricocheting off the walls and knocking some books off the shelf, which fell towards her. She quickly jumped out of the way.
“ Phil!” She shouted accusingly, and she went to follow the wand that was rolling across floor. On the opposite side of the hall, Phil was standing in front of a massive slab of stone that had just separated from the rest of the wall like a door. On the wall a small symbol in the shape of an owl appeared.
He was happily wagging its tail and looking back and forth between the gap in the door and Anna as if to say that was the way to go. Anna picked up the wand and came over.
“ Ah, well done,” she said as she walked past him and peeked around the door.
She grabbed the stone door by the side and pulled to open it further. Slowly the heavy door opened as stone grated on stone.
The door opened to a huge colourful room with pillars along the sides. The walls were painted with colourful images, symbols and patterns. Towering over them were tall wooden racks filled with scrolls and bound books. Doors and staircases let off to other areas giving the impression that the place was infinitely large and ongoing.
“ We found it,” Anna whispered, her breath stirring the dust in the air. Next to her, Phil had planted his already dusty bum in an even dustier spot on the floor, looking up at her whilst growling.
“ Alright, you found it,” she admitted. “ Nineveh.”
David was making his way down China Town in New York City. The streets were packed with tourists but they were all walking around David in a big arch. They must have thought he was homeless in his stinking clothes with his long un-kept beard and oversized overcoat with bulging pockets. He took a quick turn down a side alley and walked down the sloping street as he took his wand out. He waved it in front of two brick buildings as he approached, which upon his gesture started moving apart, creating a small gap through which David slit without losing momentum. He had just entered the black market of magic. As he walked down the brick steps of the narrow alley he saw posters on the walls offering services or requesting services. He kept a special eye out for the ones about magical creatures. David made his living through capturing and selling magical creatures of all shapes and forms. He stopped dead in front of a poster half ripped from the wall offering a 1000 Dollar. He straightened the poster against the wall to read the heading.
“ Wanna catch a werewolf,” a low grungy voice said behind him. David started and quickly turned to face the man with his wand out, ready to defend himself.
In front of him stood a tall bald man with a bird tattooed just above his ear. The way the man was smiling at him sent shivers down his spine.
“ Not worth the risk,” David said as he lowered his wand. He quickly walked away from the man not wanting any trouble.
The place was filled with a mishmash of stalls and buildings. David walked up to what looked like a disused ice-cream place with a rusty counter. He placed three metal cubes on the counter. They looked like Rubik’s cubes made out of metal if Rubik’s cubes were carved with ruins rather than colours.
Behind the counter, a bored woman leaned on her elbow with fist disappearing in her chubby cheek. She didn’t even bother looking up from her crossword puzzle. “ What are they?” she asked monotonously.
“ A hippogriff and two boggarts believe it or not,” He answered taking out his wallet.
The woman got off her elbow and gave the old-fashioned till a whack with her wand, which made the money draw pop out. Licking her fingers she selected a couple notes from it, slammed the till shut and handed him the notes without looking at him after which she promptly returned to her crossword puzzle. “ Next,” she croaked.
David looked behind him but nobody was waiting so he quickly counted the money she had given him.
“ $100? No way! For the boggarts maybe. Not the hippogriff!”
She didn’t bother opening the till and just grabbed a 50-dollar note from the sweaty cleavage of her ample breasts and handed it to him. “ 150, now leave,” she said.
Slightly appalled David stared at the damp note.
“ Listen, if you don’t pay me properly I’ll take my talents elsewhere,” He said angrily.
The large lady snorted, finally looking up at him, “ Go on then, you and your amazing talents, don’t waste them on me.”
“ 200,” he said defiantly. “ And that’s me being nice.”
Her croaky laugh gave him goosebumps. “ Ha, ha, you can take the 50 and take your business elsewhere. Nobody wants boggarts anyway.”
He angrily swiped the moist note from her chubby hands and turned away seething.
“ Here are some empty ones,” the woman croaked after him, taking some empty cubes from the cupboard and dumping them on the counter.
Frustrated David turned back and grabbed three more cubes.
“ Try catching some werewolves. I’ll pay you 500 bucks.”
“ They’re going for a thousand on the poster.”
“ I need commission too.”
He leaned into her but she was still focussed on the crossword puzzle. “ You know they’re just regular people for most of the month,” he told her.
She looked up and smiled again, revealing rotting teeth and putrid breath, “ You and I do what we need to get by. Now make me some money, honey.”
Fighting his gag reflex he turned away from her, walking away fast hoping to find some clean oxygen along the way.
Suddenly David was choking as somebody had grabbed him by the collar and dragged him towards the brick wall. He was slammed into the wall and pinned against it with a strong big hand on his throat. It was the brutish man from before.
“ Word on the street is MACUSA is identifying all the impure.” The man growled.
“ What are you suggesting?” David gasped. Despite hardly getting any oxygen he tried to stay composed. The man leaned in closer, sniffing him. David turned his head away in disgust; pale with worry he tried to throw the big man off him. Rather soon it became clear that David didn’t stand a chance against this guy. With one hand he was still trying to remove the vice grip the man held on his throat but with the other he was searching his robes for his wand.
After a long pause, the man smiled, “ Your parents were No-Majs.”
Finally managing to locate his wand he quickly pointed it at the man's feet, “ Lacarnum Inflamarae.” Promptly the man's shoes caught fire making him jump back and yelping.
“ But I’m clearly not,” David smirked as the big guy desperately tried to put out the flames. He ended up throwing off his boots, which continued to burn a few feet away.
Without a witty comeback and red with anger and embarrassment the big guy stalked off in his socks.
From behind him, he could hear a rotting cackle. The woman behind the counter of the disused Ice cream stand was laughing. She held out a leaflet to David. “ Talking about MACUSA, they’re recruiting poachers to catch the Monster of Nineveh. Good money.”
“ What do they want with the monster of Nineveh?” David asked, even though he thought he should have started with, what is a Nineveh? But he felt that might make him look incompetent. After all, he was quite experienced with your everyday monster.
“ Nineveh guards the secret library of some kind of ancient king,” she said, “ I can only assume they’re desperate for knowledge. You up for the job?” She asked, giving the leaflet another wave.
“ How much?” David asked suspiciously.
“ 20.000,” She said, her eyes twinkling.
“ 20.000 dollar, “ David said unbelievable.
“ No, no. This is honest work,” she said smiling slyly, “ 20.000 Dragots.”
David’s stunned silence was obviously entertaining her as she smirked at him.
“ Jeesh, what is that monster guarding?” He asked stunned.
“ Oh, only all the knowledge in the world. If you believe that sort of thing.”
Montgomery was a tall stern looking wizard in his mid-forties dressed in a posh set of wizarding robes. Everything from the side parting in his hair to the shine on his shoes looked carefully calculated. The items on his desk seemed positioned there with the help of a ruler and he was just carefully placing a stack of paperwork in his briefcase. His wand, which he hardly needed in his job, was snugly held by the penholder in his briefcase. His office was grand with heavy tall bookcases lining the wall, a big mahogany desk with a tall leather office chair. Montgomery was the head of the International Magical Trading Standards Body. “ Don’t aim for Minister for Magic. Money is power. The one truly in charge is the one who controls the funds,” his father had told him. So here he was, is in his big important office, nose deep in figures all day doing the job his father had procured for him.
He carefully draped his cape over his arm and with his briefcase in hand he left his office. Walking down the stairs instead of taking the lift (he had to try and get a little bit of exercise at least) he made his way down three floors to the atrium. On his way to the fireplaces lining the long wall, he saw the Minister for Magic Mrs Granger and he could tell from her body language that she was in a hurry. She was talking to the one and only Harry Potter, Head Auror and an unspeakable called Ellis. Potter for some reason had grown a beard. ‘Ridiculous’ He was still wearing his coat and looking rather windswept as if curses had been flying around his head all day. ‘ Probably had.’
Her voice sounded stressed, “ Apparently dark forces are crossing the Atlantic.”
After hearing that Montgomery slowed down, trying to catch more of the conversation.
“ The actual words were Epidemic,” Ellis corrected the Minister.
“ Go through your paperwork and see if you can find anything that links? This might be her, Harry,” the Hermione urged the bearded wizard.
Montgomery didn’t know who “her” was but he was intrigued non-the less. Ellis had spotted him so he curtly gave her a nod and continued as best as he could as if he hadn’t been eavesdropping.
“ Is it sunset already? Mr Scrivenor?” Ellis asked. He slowly turned to her.
“ Indeed it is,” Montgomery said with a tone of finality, he didn’t really want to hang around for a chat so he hoped they would pick up on his reluctance to participate.
“ Any idea what you’re going to be yet?” Harry asked. Montgomery wasn’t aware that other people knew of his endeavours to become an Animagus. Somehow it felt like an invasion of his privacy. The animal he would transform in if he were successful was something deeply intimate. He had had dreams of the transformation and if they were any indication as to what he was going to change into, he wasn’t sure if he was going to share it with anyone at all, other than the Department of Magical Law Enforcement of course.
“ I’ve had a vision of sorts,” he answered reluctantly, on which they all looked at him expectantly, waiting for him to continue. “ Daddy won’t be pleased,” he muttered.
Thankfully the Minister seemed to notice that he didn’t want to discuss the matter any further and changed the subject.
“ I need to discuss funds for increasing the security around the west coast,” she said looking at her watch.
“ You’re not going to stop a disease with guard trolls,” Harry interjected.
“ I’ll return at my earliest convenience,” He answered the Minister whilst turning to leave.
“ Does anyone know where you are going in case it goes wrong?” Ellis asked worriedly.
“ It isn’t going to go wrong,” he said calmly.
“ You say the incantation Amato, An”- Hermione started but he cut her off, barely containing his façade of control, “ I know the incantation, Minister,” He sneered, “ I’ve been repeating it for months.”
“ And you drink the potion after,” she still felt the need to add.
“ Yes, I’m well aware,” he said walking away.
“ Don’t forget the convention tonight!” Hermione called after him.
“ Minister.” He called back already halfway in a fireplace ready to use the Floo Network.
“ If he doesn’t get stuck somewhere half a snake,” Harry said stroking his new beard.
“ He was in Gryffindor actually,” Ellis said looking at the empty fireplace Montgomery just disappeared from.
“ He was not!” Harry said scathingly.
“ He was,” Hermione admitted, “ He graduated at the end of our first year.”
“ What do you think he’s going to turn into?” Harry asked eagerly.
“ I don’t know, but, if you could please go over your paperwork and see if you can spot any links,” she said impatiently while putting her coat on. “ I’m off to St Mungo’s.”
“ Anything in particular I’m looking for?” He asked her.
“ It’s just a hunch, Harry,” She said moving towards the fireplace as well.
“ Yes, but your hunches are usually right,” He called after her.
“ I need an objective view,” She said from the fireplace, grabbing a handful of Floo powder. Before throwing it down she quickly added, “ And don’t forget the convention tonight!” She threw down the powder while stating her destination, “ St Mungo’s.”
“ I’d totally forgotten,” Harry said looking around. He realised Ellis and him were left behind. Ellis seemed very star struck being left alone with him. “ Who’s coming?” Harry asked to fill the empty awkward silence that spread between them.
“ The Supreme Mugwump, the Ambassador of MACUSA, Head of Hogwarts, Head of”- Ellis quickly started reciting the guest list trying her best to impress him. She’d probably learned them all by heart, one of the reasons why she was Hermione’s favourite employee. But Harry quickly interrupted as an evening with all these big shot Wizards made him feel horribly unprepared, not to mention he wasn’t looking forward to a dreadful boring evening. He might be able to convince Ron to come though.
“ Oh yes, I remember now. I better go find my formal robes.”
“ Okay, eh, I like the beard,” she said sheepishly.
“ Thank you, Ellis.” Harry nodded his head and headed to the elevators leaving Ellis a bit breathless. She realised a bit late that was the end of their talk, she had already taken a breath to continue the conversation and quickly turned her half turned word into a quick, “ bye.”
David was falling rapidly down a stone shaft, knocking down dust and small rocks that made it impossible to see. He’d been trying to throw off some kind of curse when the ground had split open underneath him. He felt his body leave the tunnel and quickly shouted, “ Arresto Momentum!” hoping he was pointing his wand in the general direction of the ground. He was a bit late casting the charm as he only slightly slowed down before slamming into a bookstand that knocked the air straight out of him. He bounced of the stand on the ground where he lay gasping for air and holding his back.
“ Ouch,” He gasped. He rubbed the dust out of his eyes. He was completely covered in dust and his hair and beard were horribly singed from fighting off curses.
Once he opened his eyes he still couldn’t see, as it was pitch black, but the air smelled old and stale.
“ Lumos,” he ignited the tip of his wand. Above him in the ceiling he could see the opening of the shaft he had fell from. Pointing the wand around him he saw a dark stone tomb. In the middle of the room was a raised platform on which he had fallen. Tall staircases lead down on all four sides. He was grateful he hadn’t hit the stairs. Looking around to see what he had fallen on he saw a golden bookstand holding a massive, thick, golden book. He carefully walked towards it holding out his lighted wand. He had just spent months trying to track this place down and days actually fighting his way past curses, he was going to assume the book was up to no good.
Holding his arm out as far as possible and keeping himself far back he pointed his wand on the pages. Nothing happened. He could see hieroglyphics. He stepped a little closer. The golden pages were filled with hieroglyphics but he couldn’t read them, so he had no way of knowing what they said. He quickly poked a page with his finger. Nothing happened. He touched the page with his finger, put his whole hand on. Nothing. He turned a page to see if there was anything that wasn’t hieroglyphics but the next page was just hieroglyphics too. He wasn’t going to push his luck. The book might try and set his eyes on fire or something. He came here for the monster of Nineveh. He had come this far, he wasn’t about to get sidetracked. He took a step back from the book and tried to cast light around the room by waving his wand.
“ Nineveh, where are you Pookie, Pookie?”
He saw a stone door at the end of one of the steps so he made his way down, rubbing his sore back but prepared for any further curses.
Anna was sat in a large room with ceiling-high racks full off scrolls and books. Light streamed down to the floor from the tall windows where thick dust was drifting visibly in the sunlight. Anna was covered head to toe in dust and cobwebs herself. As she walked past the rows she pulled off anything that sparked her interest, unrolling it or quickly flipping through the pages. Every now and then a book disappeared into her satchel, yet none of these books seemed to be the book she was looking for.
Phil was relaxing in the sunlight, lying on his back with his lips falling upward making it look like he was smiling. You could tell from the streaks in the dust that Phil had been there a while and was following the sun’s pattern on the floor as it moved by the hours.
Suddenly Phil rolled on his stomach and started growling
“ What’s wrong Phil?” she asked as Phil started stalking toward the end of the room. Anna started following Phil, carefully taking off her right leather glove. With her now bare right hand, she grabbed the black wand with golden markings from the string around her neck and a coral stun gun from her bra.
They moved through a big archway towards another massive room where they saw a scruffy man walking towards an owl on top of a candelabrum. He was holding a strange metal box, kind of like a Rubik’s cube but with ruins rather than colours. The man was trying to coax the owl.
“ Come here spirit,” he said sweetly.
The man seemed to think the owl was the mythical guardian of the library.
“ That’s not Nineveh,” Anna said, pointing her wand at him.
The sound of her voice startled him so badly he screamed and whipped around holding his heart. The owl was startled by his sudden reaction and flew off.
“ Nooo!” he shouted running after the owl but it was too late. He was livid and rounded on Anna. Looking at her he got a funny look in his eyes as if something dawned on him. He slowly pointed his wand at her. Once Phil had gotten sight of the metal box in his other hand he started yapping like crazy.
“ I’m not Nineveh either,” Anna said amused.
“ You just so happen to be here too?” David said sarcastically.
“ In the most secret library of all time?”
“ It’s not secret, it’s Mythical.” She corrected him, putting extra emphasis on ‘Mythical.’
“ So mythical it took me ages to find,” He retaliated.
“ It wasn’t that hard,” Anna said.
“ Days of curse-breaking to get in!” David shouted, spit flying. With his singed beard and clothes Anna thought he looked quite comical.
“ There’s a Muggle entrance on the east side,” Anna stated dryly. David seemed stunned. At lost for words he said, “ A whatta? You mean-“
“ A non-magical door,” She offered, helping him.
“ You’ve got to be kidding me.” He said devastated.
“ Hmm…” Anna held her wand up and Phil continued to growl menacingly. “ Wizards are always so easy to overlook anything or anyone dissimilar.”
David had trouble grasping the situation, he was still pained by the fact that there had been a far easier entrance, “What? And, who are you?” He barked at her, which made Phil growl even louder.
“ Anna, you?” She smirked.
He seemed to think about it for a bit, until he finally decided to share his name, “ David.”
“ Pleased to meet you David, but,” she started to move towards the hallway letting her wands aim drift. This set David on edge.
“ Why are you here? The monster’s mine!”
“ Calm down, I’m not here for a monster,” She said, “ I’m trying to find ‘The Book of Thoth’, Have you seen it?”
“ What is a Thoth?” David asked back uncomfortably wiping the sweat of his brow.
“ ‘He’ was an Egyptian deity.”
“ S’got Egyptian stuff on it?” He asked sheepishly.
“ Hieroglyphics, yes.” She answered trying really hard not to sound too superior. Something she struggled with.
“ Big and gold?” He asked.
“ You’ve seen it?” Anna asked disbelievingly. She’d been wandering the halls for months trying to find it all the while living of a ration of breakfast bars.
David pointed to a dark stone hall behind him.
“ Wicked,” She said instantly changing her tone. “Well, off I pop,” Ignoring the fact he still had his wand on her she put the tip of hers against her palm and pushing it in with her other hand, the wand disappeared in her palm, leaving David speechless.
Shocking all three of them they heard a harsh screech that reverberated through the walls.
“ I think your spirit is that way,” Anna said dryly while hosting up her satchel and moving towards the dark stone hallway. Phil quickly followed giving David’s metal box a wide berth.
Anna and Phil entered the tomb that David had mentioned. The heavy stone door closed behind them leaving them in pitch-black darkness. The air felt heavy in her throat.
From her satchel, she grabbed a pair of bronze goggles. On the side they had some dials to interchange the lenses. Anna flipped a dial and twisted the main body of the lens. Through the lenses, she could see the room clearly. On the top of a large stone platform stood a majestic bookstand.
She made her way up the stone steps towards the book.
“ Oh, such a beauty,” She said to the book as she leaned over it touching the heavy gold cover and taking in the beautiful hieroglyphics. She ran her finger over the title, “ The book of Thoth, I’ve finally found you,” she whispered.
“ Hang on,” Diving back in her satchel she took out an ordinary-looking cell phone. Unlocking the camera she got ready to take a selfie with the book.
“ Do you want to be in it, Phil?” She asked while she swiped through the menu to switch on the flash, but the room remained silent. Phil seemed to have left.
“ Phil?” She asked again. There was nobody else in the room with her.
“ Oh, I see, the copy isn’t good enough for you is it?” She shouted after him, “ Don’t cause any trouble!” She warned him, though she doubted Phil would have been near enough to hear.
David walked down an alley of bookshelves, holding his wand out at the ready. That screech they had heard hadn’t come from a small bird. That noise had come from something huge.
David felt uncomfortable. He had the nasty feeling something might be following him. When he couldn’t stand the feeling any longer he whipped around to try and catch the perpetrator.
But there was no one there. For an instant he thought his own shadow might have moved, he did another double take. He felt like his heart had just stopped as his voice was caught in his throat. His shadow had seemed oddly misshapen. When I looked again it seemed normal. His eyes must be playing tricks on him. Taking deep breaths to try and calm himself down he waited a few seconds to lower his heart rate, which currently seemed to feel like a herd of wildebeests stampeding against his chest.
He had just about managed to get himself together when the creature screeched again.
Quickly turning back towards the sound he started to chase it with his wand out.
He entered a room with a huge domed skylight, columns lined the walls and on the first-floor balustrade sat a majestic spotted Owl. But it wasn’t your average owl; the owl was as big as a small van. The feathers on its forehead looked like a star.
The creature screeched at him, a sound that nearly cut straight through his eardrums. The eyes of the creature were so dark they seemed to absorb all the light. Its beak looked razor sharp.
Owl spread it’s massive spotted wings and launched itself of the balustrade. David braced himself as the monster, the size of a small plane, came swooping towards him.
“ I was desperate for a new profile picture.” Temporarily the room lit up as Anna used her flash to take a photo of herself with the book. She was just about to look back at it when the ground started to rumble slightly. From a distance, she could hear the guardian screech again. In her long time here she hadn’t met the guardian yet, but she was starting to feel a pang of guilt sending that man over to it.
She was just about to look how the photo turned out when she heard a doglike yelp.
“ Phil?” She shouted. Just then the ground started shaking. Ducking to the floor to stop herself from falling off the platform she heard a heavy rumbling behind her. She turned around as best as she could and shone her phone’s light ahead of her, her heart sank. The platform split open in front of her and swallowed the stand and the book. She lunged at it to try and catch the book but with the ground shaking so hard she just got thrust against the floor. Her phone got knocked out of her hand and went tumbling after the book. “ No!” Leaving her in absolute darkness with only the thunderous noise of the floor breaking and pieces of ceiling falling down around her. She quickly put on her goggles and struggled while half rolling down the stairs towards the stone door.
The door broke off its hinges and she saw it just in time. She managed to dive out of its way, barely being able to balance on the shaking ground.
She made her way through the opening as quickly as possible.
“ Time to go Phil!” She shouted trying to catch her companion’s attention.
She ran back towards the main hall where she spotted three human figures in long heavy cloaks bracing themselves from the shaking ground. They spotted her and pointed their wands at her. “ Where is it?” One of them growled. She couldn’t even make out which one because most of her attention was drawn on the heavy bookcases toppling over and making sure she was out of the line of fire.
“ Where is what?” She shouted back, “ And what did you do?!” She grabbed her own wand from around her neck. “ Phil?” She was still desperately trying to locate her companion.
“ We didn’t do this,” One of them said, definitely a woman.
One of the guys had a bookcase topple over on him that was part wood with heavy books. The man was buried under a mound of books and scrolls. While they were busy trying to dig out their friend admits the earthquake Anna quickly made a run for it, getting away in the confusion.
“ Phil!” She shouted, her voice was sounding a lot more hysterical as she was starting to panic in earnest.
“ We need to get out,” She heard a familiar voice say. From a side corridor, the guy she had met earlier came running towards her.
From what she knew about the library from roaming around it for weeks was that the place was like a maze. The rooms moved, the hallways ended up in different places and the library seemed to be endless. With new rooms added every day, as new knowledge was discovered. She had no idea where the exit was.
“ What did you do?” She rounded on him.
“ I caught the monster,” he said covering his head as the ceiling was starting to come apart, showering him in small rocks. Ahead a wall had collapsed and showed a desert outside. They both clocked it and started to clamber towards it.
“ Phil!” She tried again. She turned back to him and asked, “ What do you mean, you caught the monster?”
The floor was starting to shake so violently they had to crawl. Desperately they tried to get to the exit.
David took out his metal box and showed it to her.
“ You caught the guardian spirit of Nineveh in a metal container!” She screeched outraged. “ It’s not a Pokemon!” (The Pokemon Company)
Finally, she spotted Phil as he jumped out from the shadows, being a lot lighter and having his weight more evenly distributed on four paws he made it across the shaking ground a lot easier and quicker than them.
“ Phil!” she shouted relieved. Phil ran out ahead of them turning back and barking to try and egg them on. Around them the heavy walls were starting to come down, the exit was still so far away.
“ We’re not going to make it,” Anna said desperately as a bookcase fell over in front of them, nearly crushing them. Books showered everywhere.
“ Why is the place collapsing?” David asked, trying to push himself up.
“ Nineveh is the library. The library is Nineveh. Release her, or we’re all going to die!”
David grabbed his wand from the inside of his coat and tapped the metal box. The blocks moved apart and a light erupted from the middle. From the box, a gigantic spotted owl was released. The instant the spirit was freed the ground stopped shaking, though walls that were compromised continued to collapse. In the distance, they could hear some thumps from bookcases or walls that were still toppling.
The massive owl rounded on them letting out an outraged ear-splitting shriek. On its forehead Anna could see a tuft of feathers making the symbol of a seven-pointed star. The beast was menacing yet beautiful.
Flapping its wings and thundering towards them David and Anna flattened themselves against the floor covering their faces. With a deafening screech, the owl stepped over them and towards the exit. Once outside it managed to get lift and took off, gliding in the twilight and disappearing in the distance.
Everything around them started turning into sand and merging with the desert.
“ No, no, no!” Anna was desperately grabbing the books that had fallen around them but they turned to sand in her hands.
David got up and brushed the sand off of his clothes.
“ You! Why did you tell me to let the beast go? Now I have to find it all over again,” He hissed at her angrily.
“ What is wrong with you? We weren’t going to make it out!” She said incredulously.
Phil was sat shell-shocked with a mound of sand on his head. The sand was slowly trickling down and bending his ears all floppy.
Anna started searching through her satchel. She had put some books in there earlier. She grabbed them out. The books she had taken from the library shelves were still intact.
She saw that David had taken one of them and was intrigued by the title.
“ Toa,” he said, running his hand over the title.
“ Well, looks like the ones I took are mine now,” she said. She held out her hand to take the book back. This guy cost her The Book of Thoth; she wasn’t going to let him take any other books from her.
He gave it back to her and she quickly put it back safely in her satchel.
They braced themselves as the ground underneath them shook, as the ground had become unstable from the vanishing library.
Phil gave out a warning growl as three people in black cloaks apparated around them, wands out and pointing straight at them. Within seconds they had David disarmed. Anna hadn’t even bothered to counterattack and quickly ducked down to flip the dial on the buckle of her satchel before one of the robed wizards grabbed it away from her, forcing David and her back to back. Before David could do anything else he was stunned.
Chapter 2: The House of Books Chapter 3
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Gathered around a phone in Harry’s office at the ministry, Harry and Ron were laughing loudly and eating some sandwiches while playing back a video.
Dudley’s son had sent Harry a video. Harry and Dudley weren’t close, but they had always tried and made sure their children got to know each other and made friends. Apparently one of Dudley’s neighbours was starting to show signs of magic. In the video, Harry and Ron could see a little five-year-old girl bewitching Dudley’s hair, and turning it purple.
Saying Dudley hadn’t particularly enjoyed having a wizard for a cousin was an understatement, and he had been perfectly happy getting to live life without the fear of waking up with a pig’s tail or a tongue larger than his own head.
When he had moved into his new neighbourhood he had actually asked Harry to run “background checks” on his neighbours, as he knew Harry was some kind of Magic Policeman. Of course, Harry had no authority to run background checks on Muggles but it had been enough for his cousin to confirm his neighbours weren’t magical. Dudley wasn’t happy finding out he was living next door to a witch, especially considering she was turning his hair a violent shade of purple. He knew he should probably send his cousin a message asking if he needed his hair turning back, but maybe he’d just watch the video a couple more times.
“ His face!” Harry roared with laughter as he watched the expression on his cousin’s face turn from shock to absolute horror on the video.
Ron snorted out half his sandwich.“ Play it again.”
The door to his office opened and Montgomery came walking in.
Gasping for air Harry asked, “ Hey Monty, how did it go?”
“ Play it again,” Ron asked again hardly taking note of Montgomery.
“ It’s Montgomery, if you can be bothered to struggle your way to the end of my name.”
Harry barely took noticed it. He had replayed the video sending him and Ron into a fresh fit of giggles.
Wiping away tears Harry said, “ Sorry, you were saying?”
“ The minister’s asked me to meet her here,” he said curling his lip at their unprofessional behaviour. He couldn’t help but give the stack of paperwork on Harry’s desk a meaningful look.
“ Hermione is coming?” Ron asked frightened.
Both of them straightened up faster than the speed of light and tidied up the desk. Ron hid the food in Harry’s drawer earning him a disgusted look from Harry, but Harry was too busy pretending to go through his paperwork to say anything.
“ I’m doing it, I’m doing it,” Harry shouted just as Hermione came rounding the corner. She stopped in her tracks looking at the suspicious lot.
“ Minister,” Montgomery said importantly, in a tone that made it seem he was above all of them.
“ Monty,” she acknowledged him. The shortening of his name clearly annoyed him but Hermione didn’t take any notice.
“ Ron, what are you doing here?” she asked suspiciously.
“ I came over to check out Harry’s new beard, “ he said honestly.
Stroking his beard Harry quietly mumbled, “ I’m trying it out.”
Thinking for a moment if he should continue, Ron did, “ And then Harry showed me this video of Dudley,” he said with a big grin. Harry and Ron couldn’t resist any longer and burst out laughing.
“Dudley’s neighbour is a witch!” Ron shrieked happily.
Harry turned around his phone to show the video to Hermione.
“ Wait for it,” Ron said his voice full of glee. The video sent them roaring with laughter again
Hermione tried her best to stay professional but the corners of her mouth twitched. Montgomery stayed stony-faced.
“ I’m not sure about that beard Harry,” she said casually. “How is your phone even working here? I thought the ministry had too much magical interference.”
Harry stroked his beard uncertainly, “ I’m just trying it out.”
Ignoring Harry, Ron said, “Dad made a magic blocker.” He pointed at a small rectangular device in the corner.
Suddenly they all heard a “vzzzt, vzzzt.” Looking around for the origin of the sound all of their eyes landed on Montgomery. To everybody’s surprise, Montgomery proceeded to casually take a Muggle mobile phone from his pocket leaving all three of them with their mouths hanging open.
Montgomery was struggling to unlock the phone so it became clear to them he wasn’t as familiar with it as initially seemed.
“ Need a little help?” Harry asked tactfully but still shocked.
Montgomery looked at him, deciding that if he was going to be seen with a Muggle phone in his possession that he had picked the right crowd to do so. He handed over the phone and Harry opened the screen which he noticed wasn’t password protected.
“ It’s an email, do you want me to open it?” Harry asked, trying really hard to sound casual.
“ Don’t read it,” Montgomery said, which Harry took as permission to open the email. He quickly handed back the phone so he couldn’t see the email itself. Montgomery took it looking at Harry as if he dared him to laugh.
Squinting at the text and holding the phone at arm's length to allow his farsighted eyes to read the message he sighed.
“ Unfortunately, I have some other business to attend to. I’ll catch you at the opening of the convention minister,” he said bowing his head to her. He turned to Harry, “ I’m not sure about the beard either, Potter.”
With that, he turned around and left them all stunned in the room.
They were wizards. They didn’t use Muggle objects. Hermione only sometimes used a landline to communicate with her parents, and only if she was too busy to stop by.
Harry had a phone solely to stay in touch with the Muggle side of his family. He would primarily use owls but this way Dudley’s family could contact him through his mobile phone. Ron didn’t own any, but his father was a massive fan of anything to do with Muggles so he was no stranger to seeing them but none of them had expected to see a respected wizard of an old pureblood wizarding line to casually carry around such a typical Muggle gadget with him. It had obviously only got reception in Harry’s office because Harry had been using his magic blocker.
“ Well,” Hermione said quietly, still staring at the door Montgomery had just left from.
“ That was unexpected,” she said dryly.
Harry sat back in his chair frowning and stroking his beard. “ Your friend from the department of mysteries said she liked it.”
Anna rushed back into the room with her arms full of wizarding robes. Phil was trotting behind her with his furry ears bobbing. He jumped on the bed, turning in a couple of circles, before settling down on the covers.
“ I’ve got you some robes,” Anna said to the room in general as she dumped the robes next to Phil on the bed. She headed over to her bag, which she noticed was open on the magical side. She dug deeper into it to pull out an outfit for herself and rushed towards the bathroom.
“ Woa!” David yelled, quickly covering himself with the towel he’d been drying himself off with. With her voice caught in her throat, she quickly closed the door. After an awkward few seconds, Anna’s brain was slowly starting up again after that initial crash.
“ are you still in there?”
“ Obviously,” he said. He sounded just as embarrassed as she was.
“ Use the lock, you’re naked and everything.” She said impatiently.
“ Did you notice anything different?” He said joking.
That took her aback. “ What? Sorry, I was distracted, noticing other… things.”
“ You’ve been in there for ages, get out, I need to get changed,” she said sternly.
David came out of the bathroom in a white fluffy bathrobe, clean and freshly shaven. He’d also tried to give himself a haircut, which sort of worked.
Worked very well, actually, Anna decided. Her brain, which usually ran a hundred miles per hour, had kind of abruptly stalled.
Come on say something, she thought as she inhaled to speak, but she couldn’t think of anything witty.
“ You were going to say, dashing? Handsome? Wickedly sexy?” He flaunted. David was enjoying the fact that he had the upper hand for a change.
Annoyed, Anna managed to find her voice. “ You still have a bit of shaving cream on your chin,” she said and walked into the bathroom making a point to loudly lock the door behind her.
“ Thank you,” he mumbled as he wiped his chin. There was indeed some shaving cream on it. “ But other than that, good right?”
“ Your robes are on the bed.” He heard her muffled voice from the bathroom.
“ Okay,” he said, dropping it. He turned towards the bed to see the heap of robes and Phil staring at him. He struck a pose. “ What do you think?”
Phil sat up, barked and started wagging his tail.
“ Exactly!” Said David, as he gave the dog a grateful bow.
An hour later they both arrived in front of a tall building office like building. Anna was wearing a tunic with trousers combination. Around her neck, she wore a beige fur, which David noticed looked a lot like the fur collar she had on her leather coat. And for some reason unclear to David, she had decided to leave one of her fingerless gloves on.
As weird the combination sounded, David thought she made it work. What he didn’t understand is why she had turned her hair blonde.
He was wearing the navy blue wizard robes she had brought him. He hadn’t asked her where she had got them from, but they felt very expensive.
He wasn’t looking forward to going to this convention and being surrounded by all these fancy people.
“ You’re alright with your illegal charmed phone but you’re not okay with making an unauthorised port key?” He asked her staring at the imposing building in front of them.
“ There are loopholes, it’s not illegal,” she said as she walked through the automatic doors.
David sighed, “ Maybe, they’ll have free food at least,” and he followed her through the doors.
Inside they both tentatively walked through the metal detectors, not sure if security was using them or not. Past the detectors stood a very bored wizard with the metal probe. He asked for their wands. Anna pulled out her golden one and David presented his python one.
David did a double take, he thought he’d seen Anna pull her wand from her sleeve like before but the tunic she was wearing didn’t have any sleeves. Before he could think about it too much he saw that the bored wizard was checking a long guest list. Two names on the list lit up as he scanned their wands with his probe.
“ Scrivenor,” the wizard said as he let them pass. David looked at his wand but before he realised how suspicious he was behaving Anna grabbed his arm and let him through.
They went up in a lift and as they exited they entered a huge room with a stage at the end of it. Dotted through the room, there were many information stands and in the middle a long buffet table. Inside there were a lot of tall tables around which little groups had gathered.
David had already spotted the buffet table and was making a beeline straight for it when an old witch who was holding the arm of a ginger man stopped them.
“ Who are you?” the old lady asked them, surprised to see someone she didn’t recognise.
“ I’m Anna,” she answered.
“ I never forget the faces of my students,” the old lady said looking from Anna to David.
“ I never went to Hogwarts,” David said, while Anna muttered something about ravens. The older lady looked at him suspiciously.
“ She’s getting on a bit,” the ginger man said apologetically.
“ What was that, Weasley?” she snapped at him. She might have been old but her hearing seemed to be functioning just fine.
“ Nothing headmaster,” he said quickly.
“ I suppose I should get back. Before you know it, Peeves will have destroyed it, the students have set it alight or some dark wizard will have cursed it.” She said while winking at David.
“ Sound like a great place,” David said, smiling at her.
With a friendly nod, the ginger guy led the older lady away.
David turned to Anna only to find she was gone. Deciding he’d better try and find her, he swerved his way through the masses trying to avoid eye contact with anyone.
Montgomery looked stressed as he surveyed the crowds looking for her. While on edge he jumped horribly when he felt the tap on his shoulder.
“ What are you doing here,” he hissed at her. She let him behind a table where they were reasonably out of sight as they were blocked by the huge ornamental bouquet on the table and a large banner to the side.
“ Well, for one thing, I need your phone. You’ve read my message right?” She asked, not bothering to keep her voice down.
“ I did, actually,” he said rather chuffed. He knew she thought he didn’t really know how to use his phone. He looked around to make sure nobody was watching them. Relieved nobody paid them any attention he pulled the phone out of his inner pocket. “ I don’t know why you gave it to me in the first place,” he said while he handed her the phone.
“ Just trying to stay in touch,” she said casually as she opened the screen.
“ You never do,” he said accusatorily.
“ It’s not password protected?” She said looking up.
“ It’s not what?”
She sighed and quickly said; “I’m going to borrow it for a while.” she started avidly typing away on it.
“ Why?” he asked annoyed.
“ I need to log into my account,” she said.
“ It took me ages to set up my account, why are you changing it?” he grumbled.
“ Because I lost mine,” she snapped just as annoyed back at him.
“ Get a new one. I know you take money from him from time to time,” he said accusing her.
“ I can’t buy a phone with galleons. Why do you even care, you never use it,” she said not denying his accusation while pocketing the phone.
“ Why did you come here? You know he’s here. That disguise isn’t going to fool him,” Montgomery hissed at her.
“ I know, I know. I just need to find someone and then I’m gone,” she looked offended.
“ If he sees you I’m going to hear about it for months. It’ll be my fault. Just you wait,” he said failing to keep his voice down.
“ Don’t worry, you won’t get associated with me.”
Before he could say anything back she pushed past him and out of sight. It surprised him how she could vanish so swiftly and silently. Like a cat, she disappeared amongst the crowd.
Giving up, David sighed deeply thinking on what to do next when he heard a familiar voice behind him say, “ you alright?”
It was the ginger man who had escorted the elderly witch earlier. He was having a butterbeer and was standing beside a tall wizard with dark hair, a beard and round glasses, in front of the buffet table. David was happy to see he’d made it to the free food at least.
“ Yea, I just lost my date,” he told them.
“ Ah, join the party. My wife’s too busy chatting up important people,” the ginger man said.He looked a bit embarrassed.
“ My wife’s not even here. She’s reporting the Quidditch final. Her job is so much cooler,” the bearded wizard said.
“ You’re an Auror!” The ginger guy yelled out.
“ I should have tried to become a Quidditch player,” he said regretfully.
“ You would have totally rocked that.
“ Thanks, man, ” the man said while dejectedly taking a bite from a cracker with cheese.
To David’s surprise, they both jumped up and yelled, “ Ooh Quidditch update!” From their back pockets, they both grabbed what looked like a golden galleon. Looking at them the bearded wizard let out a jubilant, “Yes!” and the ginger guy groaned a frustrated, “ No!”
“ What is that?” David asked intrigued, looking at their galleons.
The bearded wizard gave him the golden coin and said, “ My wife is keeping us updated on the score.”
The coin was slightly warm to the touch and as he looked closer he saw that it wasn’t a real galleon. Instead of a serial number on the edge, the coin was displaying the score of the Quidditch match.
“ Looks like Neville’s brought his coin too,” the ginger wizard said.
The two wizards waved to somebody behind him. As David looked around he saw a short wizard happily waving a similar golden coin from a couple of tables across.
“ Anyway,” said the bearded wizard, getting David’s attention back, “ What does your date look like?”
“ Eh, brunette,” David started, “ No wait, blonde. With a small dog.”
“ We’ll keep an eye out for her,” the bearded wizard assured him.
“ By the way, I’m Ron,” the ginger wizard said holding out his hand.
“ David,” he said as he happily shook his hand. He turned to the bearded wizard.
“ Nice to meet you. David,” he said as he firmly but friendly shook David’s hand.
“ Git incoming,” Ron whispered as a tall blond wizard made his way towards them.
“ Hi, Draco. How’s Scorpius?” the bearded wizard asked. David noticed that Ron didn’t seem to like the blonde wizard but the other guy seemed to get along with him.
“ Fine. Longbottom says you know the score?” Draco asked. His voice was icy.
“ 50 to 230,” the bearded wizard said.
“ Brilliant,” Draco seemed smug as he grabbed some olives of the table.
“ You didn’t ask who’s ahead,” Ron said annoyed while taking a sip of his butterbeer.
“ It’s obvious,” Draco drawled.
Ron turned to David. “ This is Draco,” he said gesturing to the blonde wizard.
Draco slowly looked David up and down. David had no doubt he was being judged. Finally, Draco offered him his hand, “ Draco Malfoy.” He said importantly. David shook it while repeating his own name.
“ By the way, “ David turned to the bearded wizard, “ I didn’t catch your name, who are you?”
Ron spat out a mouthful off butterbeer spraying some innocent people walking past and Draco choked on an olive.
The bearded wizard couldn’t help but look at his toes while flattening his fringe but David could have sworn his mouth corners twitched.
“ You don’t know who this is?” Draco asked between coughs in a high chocked voice, still somehow managing to look dignified.
David felt a horrible sinking sensation; he’d been here for 10 minutes and he’d already messed up. He’d probably been talking to some high and mighty official, someone everyone knew and now he had blown his cover.
Ron was coughing as well and waving his hand in an apology to some onlookers who he had accidentally sprayed with butterbeer. The front of his robes were dripping.
“ This is,”- Ron started but he didn’t get to finish his sentence as the bearded wizard started wiping his front with a napkin, “ Ah, thank you, Harry.”
The wizard proceeded to give a Draco who had now turned slightly blue a slap on the back, which finally dislodged the olive.
“ I’m Harry,” he said, “ I work in the Auror Department.” He went on to stroke his beard as he turned to Ron, “ looks like the beard is working.”
Ron and Draco were still looking at David incredulously.
“ Sorry, “ David started, “ I’ve been travelling for a while. I’ve only just arrived in London.” Which was technically true, David thought.
Harry didn’t seem bothered at all. If anything he looked flattered.
“ Were you travelling on a different planet?” Ron asked.
“ If you want to know who anybody is inside here, go and ask her,” Harry said while ignoring Ron. He pointed at a witch with a bushy bun on the top of her head. “ She’s learned everybody on the guest list of by heart.”
“ That’s my wife for you,” Ron said proudly.
David recognised her from the front page of the Daily Prophet. “ That’s the Minister for Magic,” he said impressed.
“ You know her?!” Ron asked surprised.
“ Looks like Granger is more famous than you now,” Draco said casually, but it was clearly meant as a dig towards Harry.
“ Just say that Harry sent you, she’ll help you. She likes showing off anyway,” Harry said.
Just as they were talking about her, the Minister made her way up a small stage in the middle of the room. The room fell instantly silent but she still decided to point her wand at the throat and said, “ Sonorus.” Amplified slightly, her voice rang through the room.
“ Welcome, welcome to the opening of the 2020 International Warlock Convention. In this day and age where magical cooperation is above all valued more than anything, we hope to create even tighter bonds with our neighbours, friends and business partners.”
Ron gave a big yawn and pulled out his coin. “ Any new updates?” he asked bored.
Harry didn’t respond as he was pretending to be listening to the Minister. David could tell he was pretending as his eyes had already glossed over.
“ D’you know, the International Warlock Confederation had never been more important in keeping the statute of secrecy with the current global Muggle technological revolution,” Draco said sternly.
Ron pretended to snore. “ Find somebody who cares,” he said.
Harry finally gave up pretending to listen and waved over a woman with a short ponytail, which happily bounced around as she walked over.
“ Hey Ellis,” Harry said quietly, trying to be respectful of the speech the Minister was giving in the background. Though they hadn’t been the only ones who had kind of zoned out.
The woman seemed to be absolutely beaming and speechless that he had called her over and used her name.
Just then a silence hit the room where everyone had turned around and was staring at Harry expectantly. When they looked around back at the minister they found that she had stopped her speech and was looking at Harry expectantly. Being completely caught off guard Harry was stood rooted like a deer in headlights.
“ A couple of words please, Harry?” The minister repeated, indicating Harry to join her on the stage to speak to the guests.
Harry had clearly not been expecting this. Ron let out a snort and patted Harry on the back.
“ Go on mate, kill it,” he sniggered.
Harry slowly and unsurely made his way to the small podium and stepped up.
He whispered something to the minister but as his back was facing David, so he couldn’t make it out.
“ People like to hear you speak,” the minister mumbled back and David could just about make out that Harry replied he wasn’t a show pony.
“ So,” he started, but the Minister put her wand tip on his throat, which interrupted him.
“ Sonorus,” she said as she used the amplifying charm again.
The sudden increase in the volume of his voice caused it to crack, leading to a cough.
“ Thank you,” he mumbled to the Minister.
“ So, eh- well- Welcome!” he stammered uncertainly. “ Welcome, again to the 2020 opening of the International Warlock Convention.” It was quickly clear to everyone in the room that Harry had not prepared a speech at all. The minister stood behind him looking nervous as if she had regretted her decision.
“ Welcome, welcome,” Harry repeated. “ The…erm…” he said looking around for inspiration, his eyes landing on Draco Malfoy. “ The International Warlock Confederation has never been more important in keeping the statute of secrecy with the current global Muggle technological revolution,” Harry said, copying what Draco Malfoy had just told him. “ But eh,” a cheeky smile appeared on Harry’s face as if he’d just recalled something.
“ Before we all tuck into the free food and sip on some bubbly, I would like to say a few words. Just to quote a legend: Nitwit! Blubber! Oddment! Tweak!” Harry said brightly.
A lot of people laughed but there was also a lot of nervous laughter by people who felt like they didn’t get it.
“ Brilliant,” Ron said laughing out loud.
“ Is he , a bit crazy?” David asked quietly.
Ellis along with a load of other people was applauding.
“ He’s a genius,” she breathed.
“ He’s a bit mad, yes,” Draco said dryly.
A new round of laughter rang through the room as the Minister was casting Harry a murderous look. Harry was giving her a look back that seemed to say something like, you shouldn’t have put me on the spot then.
As soon as Harry stepped off the podium he was swarmed by a load of Wizards and
Witches who wanted to talk to him. He turned to Ron. “ Want to join me?” he mouthed.
“ But there’s cheese,” Ron said, like a puppy being pulled away from a treat.
“ Please,” Harry begged.
“ You want some cheese?” Ron asked, holding out a triangle of cheddar to David.
“ Yea, alright.” David took the cheese triangle and being as hungry as he was he wolfed it down. Just then he spotted Anna. She was bent over a phone in a room filled with Wizards and Witches with Phil dutifully sat by her feet.
With a mouth full of cheese and biscuit he tried to communicate to Ron that he’d found his date. Ron was pigging out himself just about managed to give him the thumbs up.
“ Hey, what is that?” David asked with this half a mouth full of cheese. Anna turned around to face him and looked at him disapprovingly. David quickly put his hand in front of his mouth and tried to quickly swallow away the cheese.
“ What does it look like, a phone.” She snapped, quickly checking her watch before turning her attention back to the phone.
“ I know. I thought you lost yours?” He asked finally managing to clear his mouth.
“ I got another one,” she quickly checked her watch again, “ At seven every evening my phone backs up my photo’s to my account.” She was swiping the screen in an attempt to refresh it.
David checked his own watch; it was one minute past seven.
“ Can we do this somewhere where all the magical people can’t see us?” David whispered to her.
She scared him when her head snapped towards him with a dirty scowl.
“ What are you suggesting?” She hissed.
David cautiously took a step back.
“ Just that we don’t want to attract any suspicious attention, is all,” he said without moving his mouth.
Without taking her glaring eyes off him, Anna reached to table next to her and grabbed the drinks menu. She put her phone inside the drinks menu, which made it look like she was deciding on what drink to have. She raised an eyebrow as if to say, “ happy?”
David gave her a little nod to which she slowly but still glaringly turned her focus back to the phone.
“ Ah, here they are,” she said. On the screen appeared a photo of Anna in front of the cover of a large golden book.
“ Why did you need a phone? Couldn’t access your photo’s on your computer?” David asked.
“ My laptop is in my bag,” she said while zooming in on the picture.
“ I thought it always came back to you? Didn’t you say?”
“ When I want it to, yes. But it doesn’t go with my outfit and what would it look like if I go lugging about a massive laptop in a room full of ‘magical people’? Most of them don’t even know what a laptop is. Most of them don’t even know what a phone is,” She said impatiently waving the menu with the phone in his face before diving back into the picture.
“ Then, where did you get a phone in a room full of wizards?” He asked.
“ Not all wizards live completely excluded from the non-magical world. Look at this,” she said tilting the phone so he could see.
“ Somebody’s found the book before me,” she said as she pointed out the graffiti on the cover. In black ink, it read ‘ Cuthbert B.’
“ This person must have read the book,” David said excitedly.
“ Maybe he knows what it said,” Anna said just as enthused.
For a second they were face to face smiling at each other, but it didn’t take long for it to get awkward. Anna scraped her throat and David quickly checked his watch.
“ Listen, I don’t have a lot of time to waste. We need to find the library.” He said quickly.
Anna was about to answer when she froze. David turned around to see what she was looking at.
The room fell silent with anticipation. The wall on the left side of the room distorted as if it was a bubble and somebody was trying to push through. The air around them felt electrically charged as magic fought magic. Defensive charms were being ripped and finally, a group of bald witches and wizards clawed their way through the fabric of space and time. Their faces obscured by that weird dark shadow that seemed to permanently linger despite the room being well lit. From their dark, heavy cloaks, the wing tattoos over their ears, and the obscuring shadow, it was clear to David and Anna that these people belonged to the same group that they had come across in the Library earlier. Ten of them clawed their way through and more were coming before the guests in the room finally recovered from their initial shock and prepared to fight back.
Harry the Auror was one of the first to respond, drawing his wand and deflecting the first barrage of curses cast his way.
Within seconds the Minister for Magic was by his side with her wand drawn and screaming, “ Harry, who are these people?”
“ They followed us,” David whispered panicked as he grabbed Anna’s arm but let go immediately as they both had to dive opposite ways to avoid a curse that left an ugly scorch mark on the floor where they had just been standing.
David rolled out of the way grabbing his new wand from his inside pocket. He looked up to see if Anna was okay when he saw she was on her feet being approached by one of the intruders. Like some kind of ninja, she kicked him in the groin followed by a kick in the face. She quickly frisked his wand from his hands as he collapsed groaning.
“ You okay?” Anna asked as her eyes found David.
He wanted to answer but then Anna had to turn away from an oncoming curse cast by a witch. She managed to deflect it just as it was about to hit her neck while at the same time disarming her with her newly won wand. The witch growled as her wand was jerked out of her hands. Anna expertly flung her new wand under the feet of the witch, causing her to trip and fall, landing rather painfully on her tailbone.
In the middle of the room, between knocked over tables Harry was surrounded by five shrouded figures, but like a master, he managed to deflect and attack without even stopping to think, though his wand was glowing from the strain.
David was just in time to spot the hooded wizard attacking him from behind. With his new wand, he tried his best to disarm the wizard but the aim of the wand was just a little off causing him to miss. He wasn’t quick enough to avoid the curse flying his way but at least it didn’t manage to hit him full on, but it was enough to topple him over a fallen table.
On his back, he managed to catch a quick glimpse of Anna who was twirling around the fur that had been around her neck. It had apparently been a magical fur collar for it was deflecting magic like a shield.
David got back on his feet ready to defend himself again. The intruders seemed to be herding Anna and David closer, circling them, which in turn, confirmed his suspicion that they were the targets. Slowly Anna and David were pinned between the buffet table and a circle of intruders. One of the wizards launched himself at Anna, and from the distinct start of the turn, David realised he was going to try and disapparate with her. David tried to stun him before he could get to her but either the stunning spell missed or it wasn’t strong enough because it did nothing to slow the man down. At least it managed to make Anna aware she was being pounced. She grabbed him by the arm and with the momentum of the man’s jump, she flung him over her shoulder, smashing him on top of the buffet table. The table instantly broke under the force of the landing, showering the man in food and drinks.
The guests of the convention were finally starting to get the upper hand and the intruders seemed to come to the conclusion it was best to retreat. One by one they started disapparating. Behind them, the wizard who had been flung on the table was trying to escape but the ginger wizard called Ron managed to stun him mid-twirl and Harry the Auror was quick to bind him with the incarcerous spell.
Somehow this left all the remaining eyes in the room on Anna and David.
“ Months of preparation for this Convention!!!” Boomed the voice of the Minister for Magic as she came charging towards them, seething.
“ Who are you? I mean, really? I learned by heart every face and name that would be attending today, and you, you were not on the list!” She hissed. Her eyes darted from one to the other. Her face was red with anger and bushy locks of hair had escaped her bun like angry tentacles.
“ You’ve ruined my Convention!” She shrieked.
“ Hermione,” Harry cleared his throat, “ Minister?”
“ WHAT?” She snapped, making everyone in the vicinity of Harry take a precautious step back. She finally seemed to come to the realisation that she was the Minister for Magic and maybe she should compose herself. She took a couple of shaky breaths, which seemed to calm her down.
David looked at Anna to see if she had a plan but she seemed to be staring at someone in the crowd. When David followed her gaze he saw she was looking at a very stern, tall man. The man looked cold and imposing with his silver hair and green and gold expensive robes. When the man opened his mouth his voice was deep and reverberated through the room.
“ These two trespassers do not belong here. You need to revise your security Minister,” he said with a deep drawling voice. Everyone in the room fell silent. If possible the Minister for Magic turned an even deeper shade of red.
The man turned to Harry, “ Take these two to the ministry. Their presence engendered this troublesome event.”
Harry didn’t seem to be happy to be told what to do but he didn’t object.
In a dangerous whisper that seemed to carry through the room but just as strong as his full voice the man added, “ The circumstances are quite suspicious, wouldn’t you say, Potter?”
Phil appeared from under the crashed buffet table and stood between Anna and the man growling menacingly.
“ Wait, what?” David said, surprised. He seemed to have come to a realisation. “ Potter? As in… ‘The Harry Potter’?” His jaw dropped. This whole time he had been talking to ‘the boy who lived’, ‘ the boy who vanquished the Dark Lord’, 'The one who ended the war' and David hadn’t recognised him! Right then, he felt like he could sink through the floor from embarrassment. How could he have been so stupid?
Throwing the man who had been speaking a disgusted look Harry turned to David.
“ Just Harry will do David,” he said, slightly reassuring David with a hint of a smile.
“ All right guys,” Harry said while stepping in between them and holding out an arm for both of them. David, still in awe cautiously took his arm. Anna bent down to grab the growling Phil off the floor, which led to a little increase in volume of the growl. She then hooked her free arm through Harry Potter’s.
Harry turned to the rest of the room and said casually, “ Sorry to leave the party early.” Anna and David braced themselves as Harry started the turn to disapparate them out of there. For a moment they couldn’t breathe. The world turned dark and matter seemed to compress them. Then it turned light again, and David and Anna gasped for air.
Chapter 3: The House of Books Chapter 4 and Chapter 5
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The House of Books Chapter 4
“ Don’t mind Scrivenor, he likes to think he’s already the Supreme Mugwump before the votes are even cast,” Harry said while he walked around his desk to sit down in his chair. It seemed they had apparated into Harry’s office at the ministry.
“ Take a seat,” he said kindly while conjuring a simple wooden chair next to the one that was already there.
David cautiously sat down while looking around the office of the famous Harry Potter.
Papers were strewn across his desk and the wall behind him was pinned full of newspaper articles, pictures, maps, notes and wires connecting dots.
“ Mr Potter, it’s a great honour to meet you,” Anna said while sitting down.
David cleared his throat. At least Anna had managed to find her voice. David was going to have to search a little harder to find his back.
“ I’m very grateful to meet you,” Harry smiled at her. “ Means I don’t have to sit out that awful convention. Although, it turned out a bit more action-packed than I’d expected.” Harry’s green eyes were twinkling behind his signature round glasses.
David gave himself another mental facepalm. The glasses, how could he have missed the glasses?
“ I didn’t know you had a beard,” Anna said. David was very affronted by her bluntness.
“ … I’m trying it out,” Harry said. He didn’t seem to mind.
“ You don’t think we’re guilty?” David asked. He finally managed to find his voice.
“ Of what?” Harry asked while scratching his beard thoughtfully.
“ Engendering… whatever that man said.”
“ Supreme Mugwump candidate Bancroft Scrivenor,” Harry said it with such contempt, David had the impression he was leaving a lot of things unsaid. To his surprise, Anna snorted. David looked at her. She didn’t seem to want to explain so he looked back at Harry.
“ Why were those Scourers after you?” Harry asked.
“ They’re Scourers?” Anna asked surprised.
“ I think so, “ Harry said while fishing out a piece of paper from the pile on his desk and skimming through it.
“ Is that ‘fancy’ for Mercenaries?” David asked timidly.
“ Wands for hire,” Harry clarified putting his note on top of the pile. “ Though I don’t think they were trying to kill.”
“ We ran into them at the Library of Nineveh,” Anna said.
Just then a gust of wind blew through their hair as the Minister for Magic apparated behind them. While pocketing her wand she asked, “ Ashurbanipal’s Library?” She joined the conversation as if she hadn’t just appeared out of thin air.
“ Minister, you’ve decided to join us? What about your convention?” Harry smirked, but he respectfully stood up for her so the other two followed his example.
“ You’ve found the Library of Ashurbanipal?” She repeated, ignoring Harry.
“ Months of preparation,” Harry mimicked quietly.
“ Yes, thank you, Harry!” She snapped back at him.
“ What is this Usher-Banana Library?” Harry asked.
“ The Mythical Library of Ashurbanipal, King of Assyria. He commissioned a Grand Master to build him a temple of knowledge,” the Minister explained importantly. She didn’t seem to need a book for reference.
“ Originally, it was built in his Capital Nineveh. But the library moves and has appeared throughout the ages under different names, and in different locations. The Library of Nineveh,” she listed. “ The library of Alexandria-” David and Anna exchanged a meaningful look as the Minister mentioned Alexandria. “-The Library of Pergamum, The Library of,”
“ Is this a very long list, Hermione?” Harry interrupted.
The minister scowled. “ The last time somebody found it was in 1840.”
“ And what is so special about this Library, other than that it can change locations?” Harry asked.
“ The library contains a copy of all the knowledge ever recorded,” Anna said. The minister took a deep breath and looked at her hopefully.
“ Is it true?” She asked.
“ Muggle, Magical, it does not discriminate,” Anna said looking at the slightly fanatical glint in the Minister’s eyes. Finally, somebody in the room that could appreciate how wonderful and special this library was. They understood each other.
“ Don’t tell her where it is; we’d never see our Minister again,” Harry said dryly breaking their moment.
“ Harry, why do you think the Scourers want it.” the Minister said impatiently.
“MACUSA wants it,” David piped up.
“ Yes, I know,” the Minister said brusquely.
“ Okay,” David quietly sat back down.
Harry stopped and stroked his beard thoughtfully, “ Why does MACUSA want it?”
“ They’re trying to find a cure for the epidemic that’s raging the country,” the Minister said. “ I don’t think it’s a disease though.”
David was shocked. He’d been away for a couple of months; he hadn’t heard anything about a disease. “ What’s wrong? What disease?” He asked panicked.
The Minister stopped. Apparently, it wasn’t an easy thing to share. David thought the information might be confidential but she finally said, “ Wizards and witches are losing their magical ability.”
The room fell silent. David’s heart started racing, and a shadow fell over Anna’s face as she retreated a little.
“ What? Just… randomly?” David asked eventually.
The minister seemed to be struggling as if some part of this was affecting her personally.
“ It seems to be affecting half-bloods and Muggle-borns,” her voice cracked on the last word. She cleared her throat and finished, “ mostly.”
“ So, that’s why they’re implementing a No-Maj register,” David thought out loud. He remembered that guy cornering him and asking if his parents were No-Majes.
“ MACUSA is trying to protect them, but they’re not sure from what, yet,” the Minister said. Harry had conjured up a glass of water and offered it to her. She gratefully accepted it and took a big gulp.
Harry turned to the wall behind him with all the newspaper clippings and said, “ In England, there are two known cases of Muggle-borns that have lost their magical ability, so far. So, I guess it’s crossed the Atlantic.”
“ You’ve been doing your homework,” the Minister said with a raised eyebrow.
Harry slyly looked at her over his shoulder, “ I do more than you give me credit for.”
“ Stop stroking your beard, it looks ridiculous,” the Minister said, the corner of her mouth twitching.
Harry pursed his lips as if to say, ‘ Make me’.
“ Why were the Scourers after you?” The Minister turned back to Anna and David on a serious note.
David and Anna exchanged looks. Anna gave David a little nod. Something that didn’t go unnoticed by the Minister.
“ They think we have the library,” David said.
“ What,” Harry snorted. “ Just like… in your back pocket or something? An entire library?” He asked incredulously.
“ Harry, for how long have you been a wizard?” The Minister snapped bossily. “ Things can transport or change size.”
“ David caught the guardian spirit of the Library,” Anna said.
“ How?” The Minister asked, turning to David.
David felt put on the spot as suddenly all eyes were on him. He pulled a metal cube from his pocket. “ I use it to catch magical creatures and monsters,” he said uncomfortably. Hermione reached over and took the cube, tracing the ruins with her finger.
“ You’re a poacher?” Harry asked.
“ No,” David quickly defended.
“ You sell them for money?” the Minister asked.
“ Yes… Okay, I guess you could call me a poacher,” David admitted.
Harry cautiously took the metal cube from Hermione for further inspection. After turning it between his fingers he said, “ So, you caught this magical Guardian Angel of Nineveh like a Pokemon©?” He asked. (©The Pokemon Company)
Hermione looked at him surprised.
“ What? I have kids,” Harry shrugged giving the cube back to Hermione.
“ So the library is in there?” the Minister asked turning back to David offering him back his cube. He waved it away, indicating that she could keep it.
“ No, I released it,” David said embarrassed.
“ Did you get paid first,” Harry asked.
“ No, the whole place was caving in. We were going to die,” David explained.
“ Not such a very good poacher then,” Harry said under his breath.
“ So,” the Minister said trying to get everyone to focus again, “ The spirit is tied to the actual place? What happened to the spirit?” She asked.
“ It flew away,” Anna answered. “ The library moved again. But the books I took from the library didn’t move with it, which means those copies no longer exist in the library.” Anna seemed to realise something as her voice got more excited. “ These Scourers might be trying to obtain a copy of certain information to destroy evidence.”
“ I think that’s an accurate assumption,” the Minister said thoughtfully. Suddenly turning snappy she said, “ Now, why were you at my convention?”
“The opening of the international Warlock convention,” Harry corrected her quietly, but Hermione ignored him.
Anna started. Like a deer caught in headlights, David could see her brain working a million miles an hour trying to find an excuse. The Minister and Harry Potter were carefully observing her. Anna seemed to come to the conclusion that lying wasn’t an option and said, “ I was trying to find a friend.”
“ Who?” The Minister asked.
As if on cue, a woman came running in, out of breath as if she’d just ran up a couple of stairs. She was slender and dangly with a very short ponytail from which hair was flying out. She wore thick-rimmed spectacles that had slit halfway down her nose.
“ Ellis Titterington,” Anna said dryly while casually gesturing towards the woman who had come racing in.
Out of breath, Ellis panted, “ Minister, I can explain everything, it’s not what you think!”
The Minister turned to Anna with a dark expression on her face. With a voice full of suspicion she said, “ Ellis is an Unspeakable.”
“ I… we…” Anna tried, but eventually, she gave in. The truth was definitely a whole lot more innocent than whatever the Minister was thinking. “ I was going to ask Ellis for a Portkey,” Anna admitted.
Ellis let out a high squeaky noise. She’d obviously had not wanted to opt for truth.
After a very awkward silence the Minister spoke in a dangerous low but forced calm voice, “ An authorized one, I hope.”
“ With your permission only,” Ellis bowed her head, whimpering, “ Of course, Minister.”
Harry who didn’t seem too fussed about the potential amount of laws being broken asked, “ You two know each other?”
“ Anna helped me obtain certain items to get me into the Unspeakable program. She’s an expert on magical objects,” Ellis said. She seemed afraid to meet Harry’s eyes, even though he was casually leaning on his desk, not looking threatening at all. His reputation seemed enough to intimidate people.
“ So,” Harry said turning to Anna, “ A treasure hunter?”
“ For want of a better job title,” Anna answered.
“ You’ve relocated the Library, yes?” the Minister asked. Ellis seemed flabbergasted by the conversation.
“ We think we have an estimated location, yes,” Anna said.
“ Why were you in the library?” Harry asked.
Anna seemed to have decided to throw al secrecy out the window. Throwing her arms in the air she blurted, “ I was trying to find the book of Thoth.”
The Minister let out an excited squeal.
“ You two should hang out,” Harry smirked.
The Minister ignored him and asked full of excitement, “ Did you read it? What did it say?”
Through gritted teeth, she answered, “ I didn’t get a chance to read it because somebody locked the guardian spirit of Nineveh up in a box!”
“ Oh,” the Ministers voice fell after which both witches, simultaneously, threw David a filthy look.
“ But we found out somebody else read it,” David said quickly, “ They might be able to tell us what it said.” Hopefully, he looked from one to the other.
“ The Minister just said”—Anna started, but the Minister interrupted.
“ You can call me Hermione.”
“ Eh, thank you,” Anna seemed thrown off guard, “ The last person to find the library was nearly 200 years ago,” she finished.
“ Show Hermione the picture,” David piped up. He looked over at Hermione who was giving him a very dark look. “ Show… show the Minister…” David added feebly, apparently the invitation to go on a first name basis was only extended to Anna.
Anna took her phone out, but as she tried to unlock the screen the phone started glitching out.
“ Hang on,” Harry said. From his desk drawer, he took out a little device, which he placed on the table and switched it on. Anna’s phone instantly stopped glitching and Anna unlocked it.
“ Nice selfie,” Harry said as Anna scrolled through her gallery to her photo with the Book of Thoth.
Hermione let out a triumphant, “ Ha!”
“ What?” Harry asked.
“ We know him,” She said.
“ We do?” Harry looked sceptical.
“ Of course you do,” She said, “ He’s taught you for 6 years.”
“ Cuthbert B… Professor… B…” Harry was thinking hard with his face scrunched up, then his face relaxed. “ Oh, I didn’t know his name was Cuthbert.”
“ What?” Hermione said dryly, “ You thought his first name was Professor.”
“ Who’d have thought,” Harry said smiling.
“ Well, he did have a great wealth of knowledge to share,” she said.
“ If you could stay awake long enough to listen to it,” Harry smirked.
“ He was a professor?” David asked curiously.
“ He still is,” Harry said turning to David.
“ He is alive?” Anna asked disbelievingly.
“ No,” Harry continued.
“ Not technically,” Hermione added.
Harry and Hermione looked amused from Anna’s frustrated expression to David who simply looked bewildered.
“ Professor Binns is a ghost,” Hermione said finally.
David was still left in the dark but Anna seemed to have finally caught up with the other two. “ Ah,” she exhaled.
“ You need to go to Hogwarts,” Hermione said.
A paper aeroplane memo came flying through the door that had been left open after Ellis barged in. It smoothly did a loop and landed in front of Harry on his desk. Harry picked it up and opened it. With a pompous voice, he said, “ Scrivenor requests the presence of these two.”
“ Bancroft?” Anna asked. She seemed very reluctant.
Harry had passed the memo to Hermione who looked at it and said, “ No, his son. Montgomery.”
Harry and Hermione exchanged looks. Anna looked nervous.
The door leading into Mr Scrivenor’s office was ornate and heavy with a brass knocker. Phil was happily trying to get a whiff from the room beyond by sniffing the crack between the floor and the bottom of the door. Anna nudged him to the side with her foot and knocked, ignoring the brass knocker.
“ Enter, “ said Montgomery in a clipped voice.
Anna and David entered through the door with Phil on their heels.
They entered a grand office with a high ceiling and tall windows lining the opposite wall. The room had 4 heavy bookcases in which the books seemed colour and height coded. In the corner stood an antique globe. Now that David thought about it, everything looked like it had been placed there with the utmost precision. In front of them was a majestic desk with a tall leather office chair. The man sitting in the chair was facing the window so all they saw was the back of the leather chair. There were no guest chairs in this office.
Anna stopped midway the room on the expensive red carpet and seemed to have no intention to move any closer so David stopped next to her. Phil was happily moving across the room sniffing things.
The desk chair slowly turned around to reveal a man in his mid-forties. Montgomery was smartly dressed and everything from his posture to his voice was clipped and posh.
He ignored David and was looking at Anna over his touching fingertips.
Phil came walking past with his nose glued to the floor, trying to pick up scents. The man’s eyes followed Phil and he curled his upper lip in displeasure.
“ You know I’m allergic to dogs,” The man said.
“ Monty,” Anna said in greeting.
“ It’s Montgomery, if you could possibly struggle to the end of it,” the man said exasperatedly.
“ Scrivenor,” Anna said instead, seemingly refusing to use the man’s preferred name.
“ Anna-Rose,” Montgomery said in acknowledgement.
“ Just Anna, if you could possibly not struggle to the end of it. It brings up bad memories,” Anna said curling her lip.
“ Daddy isn’t pleased,” Montgomery said changing the subject.
It took a second for David to realise the implications of that small sentence.
“ Wait… you’re”- David said shocked, with his eyes darting from one to the other, but Anna interrupted.
-“ One does not choose their family,” Anna said quickly, trying to avoid the subject.
David was not ready to drop it. “ You’re related to the Mugwump guy?” His voice had grown a bit louder than he had intended.
“ He’s not elected yet,” Montgomery said sitting back in his chair. “ There is still time to vote for someone else,” he said frowning.
Montgomery thoughtfully looked at David. “ Who are you?”
“ David,” he answered while walking over the shake his hand.
“ Montgomery Scrivenor,” he answered importantly, taking David’s hand. As soon as he let go his face scrunched up and Montgomery sneezed.
“ Bless you,” David said.
“ Excuse me. Dog fur,” Montgomery said, sounding like he had a cold. He threw Phil a nasty look, which caused the little furry creature to start growling at him.
“ Phil,” Anna said sternly. Phil gave a little muffled bark/growl as if he wanted to have the last word and then continued exploring the office.
“ Big desk. Bigger even than Harry Potter’s,” Anna remarked.
“ I have a desk job, might as well have a big desk,” Montgomery said with a cold smile, gesturing at his desk. “ Why were you still at the convention? Surely you didn’t come just for my phone, or you would have left straight after you got it,” he said annoyed.
David snorted and wasn’t quick enough to cover it. Montgomery came across as quite conservative or old-fashioned. Not really one to be seen waving about No-Maj gadgets.
“ What?” Montgomery asked sharply.
“ Nothing,” David said quickly, but he felt like he needed to explain. Carefully he said, “ You just don’t strike me as the type to have a mobile phone.”
“ I’m not,” Montgomery said defensively. “ She gave it to me, to stay in touch,” he said it as if it was the most ridiculous idea ever.
“ We never do,” Anna said dryly.
Montgomery stood up changing back the subject. “ Father is livid. He’s already sent me a raging howler, screaming my ears off, asking if I knew that you were going to be there.”
“ He wasn’t happy to see me?” Anna asked sarcastically. “ I couldn’t tell.”
“ I’m the one who has to listen to the man for the next couple of days going on and on about how you ruined the convention and compromised the election,” Montgomery said while pacing the rug in front of his desk. “ If people would’ve found out,” he said imitating his father’s heavy, stern voice.
“ I’m sorry I don’t care more,” Anna said monotone.
“ Rosie, what are you doing in England?” Montgomery asked, stopping to face her.
David noticed how he refused to call her Anna.
Anna decided to avoid the question with a question and asked, “ How is your Animagus form progressing?” She walked over to a huge globe in the corner and gave it a turn.
Montgomery leaned against his desk, crossing his arms. “ It’s fine. The transformation is still very uncomfortable, “ he said dismissively. He gave his nose a rub as he was still struggling with his allergy.
“ Why are you here? Weren’t you in Russia, somewhere, nicking a tablecloth?” He fired back at her.
“ Yes,” Anna said stopping the globe from turning by planting her index finger on a particular spot in Russia. “ Was that the last time I texted you?” She asked looking at him.
“ Yes,” Montgomery said rubbing his nose.
“ And you hoped I was dead,” Anna said smiling sarcastically as she turned back to playing with the globe.
“ Of course not!” Montgomery said annoyed but he was interrupted by another epic sneeze.
“ Bless you,” David said quietly, but both of them ignored him.
“ You have enough misfortune already for me to wish you dead,” Montgomery said matter of fact.
“ Well, thanks for the phone, but we’re on the clock, so, if you don’t mind,” Anna said as she started walking towards the door.
“ You two are heading off together, are you?” Montgomery said surprised. His eyes looked David up and down judgingly, making David cross his arms defensively.
Eventually, Montgomery turned to Anna. With a heavy sigh, he pulled a letter from his inside pocket and offered it to her.
“ Father wanted me to give you this,” Montgomery said.
Anna looked at the letter as if she knew exactly what it said, and she didn’t like it.
After a long silence, Montgomery said, “ The Oxford offer still stands.”
Anna slowly walked over and took the letter. She looked at the addressee, turned the letter over, and without reading it, ripped it in half.
Seething, she dangerously hissed at Montgomery, “ If he thinks he can just get rid of me.”
Suddenly they heard the brass knocker.
“ Mr Scrivenor?” Ellis asked tentatively from behind the door.
“ One more thing, before you go,” Montgomery stopped them while ignoring Ellis. Eying Anna carefully he said, “ Father seems to have mislaid his wand… three years ago.”
The tension in the room seemed to mount. Anna slowly turned to face Montgomery but for some reason, she was slightly smiling.
“ I was just borrowing it. Without asking,” she said finally.
David had the feeling about a million things were being said between the two without a single word being spoken. These were two minds on par but at war with each other. Electricity seemed to spark between them. David had heard about competition between siblings but they seemed to have taken it to the next level. The tension became so thick David was finding it hard to breathe.
Anna made a show of placing her two palms together. David noticed she was still wearing the leather glove on her left hand. Now that she made a show of it he could finally see how she had been getting her wand. The glove stopped just before the wrist and might have been an elegant one, except for the fact that the fingers had been removed. The leather looked weathered and worn. Very faintly, you could still see small golden lines making symbols and patterns across the glove, but most of them had faded over time. To his surprise, with her right hand, she pulled the golden wand she had been using from the palm of the glove on her left hand.
David’s chin dropped to his chest. All this time he thought she had been pulling her wand from her sleeve. He quickly turned to Montgomery to see his expression. Surely that quick-handed bit of magic had impressed him.
Montgomery hadn’t moved and David couldn’t make out his expression.
Anna tossed the golden embossed wand at Montgomery with a graceful arch and he caught it without taking his eyes of his sister.
Anna started making her way to the door and David gave Montgomery one last look to see if he had responded yet, before following.
Just as they got to the door Montgomery spoke, “ I seemed to have mislaid my wand as well.” David and Anna both turned back to him. He was rolling the golden wand between his fingers.
Anna let out an annoyed sigh, “ I don’t see why you want it back? You seem to be getting along with your new one.”
“ Yes,” he said slowly. “ But it was a family heirloom. Granny keeps asking me if I keep it well polished.”
The two seemed to be having a showdown of who would look away first. Eventually, Anna turned to David.
“ David,” she said, taking him by surprise.
“ What?” He said half choking. He pulled the slender wand with python markings from his inner pocket. “ This is your brother's wand?” He mouthed upset. He didn’t know why he was mouthing; Montgomery could see him just as well.
“ You gave it away?” Montgomery seemed slightly hurt.
“ Yes,” Anna said as if it meant nothing.
David quickly walked over and gave Montgomery his wand back. The minute it left his hands he already missed it, not to mention how naked he felt without a wand at all.
Montgomery took the python wand in his hand and waved it around as if casting a spell, seemingly feeling how the wand lay in his hand. While following the progress of the wand Montgomery’s eyes fell on David. Dropping his wand arm he gave David a hard look.
“ Are those my robes?” He asked.
David was really uncomfortable now. Caught in the office of a man who’s robes he was wearing and who’s wand he had been carrying, yet he had known nothing about it.
Anna was smirking, seemingly enjoying the fact that her brother had been a bit slow on the uptake.
“ You’re staying at the Leaky Cauldron,” she stated simply.
Montgomery was annoyed, and after a short pause he snapped, “ Yes.”
He went back to feeling the wand between his fingers but his mind wasn’t really focussing. After a long pause, his eyes snapped back to David.
“ As you two are travelling together, keep it, Mr… what was it?”
To David’s surprise, Montgomery was offering the wand back. Anna narrowed her eyes at her brother.
“ Just David,” he answered while taking back the wand gratefully. But the fact that he wouldn’t share his last name seemed to make Montgomery suspicious.
“ Very well, keep it David. I was never really all that fond of old Grandfather,” he said casting David a suspicious look.
As David was holding the wand he could feel a little shiver pass down the core of the wand that reverberated down his own spine, followed by a little whoosh as if the wand had accepted him.
An urgent rap on the door by Ellis’s knuckles startled everyone in the room.
“ Mr Scrivenor?” Ellis said a little stronger, from the other side of the door.
“ Just a second,” Montgomery said without raising his voice. He turned to David and said,” Tell Ellis Anna will be right out.”
David felt awkward being asked to leave, not to mention really curious to find out what he wanted to tell his sister in private, yet he was also grateful to leave the room and all the tension within it.
Anna was left behind with her brother.
“ Be careful, Anna-Rose. That man, there is something about him,” Montgomery said but to his surprise, his sister smiled; a sly sort of smile, as if she had bested him.
“ You can’t tell?” She asked raising an eyebrow. “ You’re getting slow brother mine,” she taunted. Montgomery looked at her, speechless.
As she finally walked through the door she smiled arrogantly and said, “Keep up. You’re my only competition after all,” before closing the door behind her.
The House of Books chapter 5
Ellis, David and Anna were quickly making their way to Hermione’s office. David wanted to have a quick chat with Anna about what had just happened but he didn’t want to say anything in front of Ellis. Instead, he checked his watch again. They had wasted so much time. He could have been halfway across the North Sea by now.
Ellis was guiding them through the halls and spoke to them occasionally over her shoulder.
“ The minister will get you two to Hogwarts so you can ask Professor Binns about the book. In the meantime, I’ll contact the department of transport about a Portkey. Where to?” Ellis rattled.
“ Alexandria. Egypt. Thanks, Ellis,” Anna said quickly.
They made it to the Ministers office where Ellis stopped and turned to Anna.
“ I’ll see you in a bit,” she said and walked away with her short ponytail happily bouncing behind her.
Hermione had apparently heard them coming as she opened the door for them by magic, letting them in.
“ I can’t believe you have a ghost as a professor?” David blurted out before he could stop himself.
“ You went to Ilvermorny?” Hermione asked.
He felt uncomfortable as Anna was observing him, waiting to see what he would answer. He wished she would stop trying to read his mind.
“ Yes,” he said after hesitating briefly.
“ You don’t have ghost teaching there?” Hermione asked intrigued.
“ No, but it sounds exciting,” he said smiling at her. It was grateful the Minister was warming up to him a bit. He was determined to try and stay in her good books.
“ It’s not, trust me. We also had a centaur teaching at one point,” she added.
“ No way!” He exclaimed, although he was secretly grateful that no Centaurs had taught at Ilvermorny at any point.
“ Not anymore, he returned to his heard after the battle of Hogwarts.” Her voice seemed to fill with pride at the mention of the centaur.
Hermione walked over to the fireplace and grabbed a pot of Floo powder of the marble top. She threw some powder in the fire and the flames roared up green.
“ You need an official invitation to enter the grounds of Hogwarts. Most Witches and Wizards have their original Hogwarts letter, but since you went to Ilvermorny…” she let the sentence trail away as she turned to the fire and said, “ Headmaster’s office.” Hermione kneeled down in front of the fireplace and stuck her head in the green flames.
David’s heart had started racing and panic sweat started pouring down his forehead and back. Not knowing what else to do he hastily turned to Anna.
“ I can’t go to Hogwarts,” He whispered urgently.
“ Why?” She asked frowning.
“ I’ve…” He hesitated, he really didn’t want to tell her, but he saw no other way.
“ I’ve got a trace on me,” he told her reluctantly, turning a bright shade of red. He was unable to meet her eye so he quickly checked on the Minister. Hermione was still chatting to the person on the other end of the fire.
“ Why, whom did you peeve off?” Anna asked quietly.
“ Anyone under 18,” He said closing his eyes embarrassed.
“ You’re not allowed to go near children?” Anna asked surprised.
“ Not-, no-,” He was struggling to explain, “ Not near large groups of them. The spell activates near large groups of children.”
To his horror, a look of dawning crossed Anna’s face as she looked at him and made a noise, “ Hmm,” as if she understood.
“ What, hmm?” He asked defensively.
“ Nothing,” She said looking away. David dreaded to think what she thought he had done.
“ What nothing? You went ‘Hmm’,” he hissed at her.
“ I understand,” Anna said simply.
“ What? What exactly do you understand?” He snapped.
“ Why are you getting fussy?” She snapped back irritably, finally looking at him.
“ I’m not getting fussy,” he said, spitting out the word, “ Look, the reason why I’m traced-, the reason-, it’s just not what you think,” he managed eventually.
“ Why, what do you think I think?” Anna asked annoyed. He didn’t want to know what she thought at this point.
“ I thought, you thought, that I-, look, whatever you thought, you thought wrong,” he rattled.
“ I’m probably not even thinking what you think I’m thinking,” Anna snapped back.
“ You took one look at me, and went ‘hmm’,” He said frantically gesturing.
“ I just happened to be looking at you,” Anna said exasperatedly.
Taking a deep breath he finally said, “ It’s just not what you think okay,” ending the discussion.
“ Okay,” Anna said. Though she didn’t sound like she was ready to drop the subject.
For a moment they stood next to each other in silence while the Minister had her head in the green flames.
“ Though it probably is, I’m hardly ever wrong,” Anna finally said, unable to resist.
Before David could retort Hermione pulled her head out of the fire.
“ Two people going to Hogwarts?” She asked. As Hermione looked over to them her face fell as they looked like they had just been having a fight. David quickly straightened his face pretending like nothing had happened.
“ Just me,” Anna said.
“ You’re not going?” Hermione asked David surprised.
“ I’ve-, I’m… I need to-,” He tried but his mind had gone blank.
“ I find him off-putting,” Anna said, as her excuse.
David was livid, though he tried not to let it show he knew he couldn’t hide it from his face.
“ Oh,” Hermione said even more surprised. “ Eh, let me just…” seemingly unable to find the words she pointed at the fire and stuck her head back in.
David rounded on Anna and quietly mouthed, “ Off-putting?”
Anna just shrugged and mouthed back, “ –had to say something.”
“ You could have gone with: had to wash my hair,” He whispered while mimicking washing his hair.
“ Why didn’t you say you had to wash your hair?” She said, throwing it back at him.
Shocking them both out of their heated but silent discussion Hermione asked, “ Why were you never invited to Hogwarts?”
Anna seemed caught off guard. It didn’t help that David’s head whipped around to face her in surprise.
“… I’m… Self-taught,” she said eventually.
Hermione stuck her head back in the fire.
David frowned at Anna.
“ I thought you were in Ravenclaw?” He asked finally.
“ As so many times, David, you thought wrong,” Anna said, avoiding the question.
“ But you-?” Before he could finish his question Anna angrily snapped at him, “ Don’t you have some hair to wash? Or go and help Ellis with the Portkey.”
Her snappy response offended him.
“ Fine,” he spat at her. He left the Ministers office barging through the door.
“ McGonagall says an escort should do-. Where has he gone?” Hermione asked surprised.
“ He’s gone to wash his hair,” Anna said without missing a beat.
“ Everything all right Minister?” They heard a posh voice say behind them.
Montgomery had stuck his head through a crack in the door. Anna had the distinct impression Montgomery was keeping an eye on her. He was probably making sure she wouldn’t blab about their family relation.
“ Ah, Monty, we need an escort for Anna-, eh, Anna what?” Hermione asked.
“ Just Anna,” she answered giving Montgomery a look that said, ‘ See? I didn’t say anything’.
“ Why don’t you ask Potter? He was looking for a way to procrastinate,” Montgomery drawled while entering the room properly.
“ Harry isn’t here, is he? You are,” Hermione said annoyed.
“ As much as I would love to help, Minister, I’m up to my eyeballs in work,” Montgomery said importantly.
“ Why are you dawdling here then? Off you go, work, free your eyeballs,” Hermione said pursing her lips.
Montgomery seemed to realise he didn’t have a comeback to that, on top of that he’d also lost his excuse to be in the room. With a curt nod, he left silently and very awkwardly. Because he hadn’t disapparated Anna had the impression he was just waiting outside the door. The door that he had left partially open.
“ Harry!” Hermione shouted.
To Anna’s surprise, Harry apparated nearly instantly in front of them.
“ That was fast,” Hermione frowned at him.
“ Well, thank you,” Harry said cheekily.
“ I didn’t call you in the middle of something?” She asked suspiciously.
“ Not at the moment, no,” He said innocently.
“ The head of the Auror Department…” She left her sentence unfinished but Harry seemed to pick up where she was going with it. Annoyed he said, “ You asked for me!”
“ I know, I know,” Hermione said quickly. “ Ms Anna needs an escort to Hogwarts.”
“ Excellent,” Harry said quickly. “ I haven’t been since James accidentally set his dormitory on fire. I’ll get us some brooms,” Harry said bouncing with excitement.
“ Or you could apparate. It’s quicker,” Hermione said frowning.
“ Nah, we’ll fly,” he waved her comment away as he had already made his way halfway towards the door.
“ It would take hours,” Hermione raised her voice.
“ That’s alright. St Mungo’s hasn’t gotten back to me yet,” Harry challenged her.
“ I could authorise a Portkey,” Hermione said taking out her wand.
“ Hermione,” he whined. “ I would kill for some fresh air.”
“ You could use the Floo to Hogsmeade,” Hermione said. Determined to list all the more appropriate forms of transportation.
“ I want to test my new broom,” Harry said finally, giving Hermione puppy eyes.
“ Fine,” she threw her arms in the air. “ It’s like I’m working with six-year-olds.”
Harry ignored her and turned to Anna.
“ You can fly my Firebolt. Nothing can replace my Firebolt but I really want to test my new Light Crusher,” Harry said full of excitement. “ Ginny won't’ let me fly because of the Muggles. I’ll go get them.” He nearly skipped out of the room.
“ Eh,” Anna said, she wasn’t sure how to break the news to him, as he seemed so excited.
“ Oh, hey Monty,” Harry said as he opened the door.
As Anna had expected Montgomery had been standing outside, eavesdropping.
“ It’s Montgomery,” he mustered with as much dignity as he could while being caught behind a door.
“ Monty-? .. gomery,” Hermione quickly recovered, being surprised to find her colleague behind the door.
Clearing his throat he walked back in the office.
“ I’ve just cleared my schedule,” he improvised.
“ What?” Hermione looked confused.
“ Turns out I wasn’t that busy after all,” he said pulling his wand from inside his pocket.
“ You’re not?” Hermione was sceptical.
“ I’ll just apparate us,” he said while moving closer to Anna.
“ But Harry-?” Hermione started but she never got to finish.
“ Good evening,” Montgomery interrupted her as he grabbed Anna’s arm and disapparated them.
Montgomery and Anna landed on a hillside. Anna tumbled forward and had nearly fallen over if it hadn’t been for Montgomery who grabbed her by the scruff of her neck and pulled her back up.
“ Sorry to drag you away from what seemed a great bonding trip with your hero, but you and a broom?” He said.
“ Oof,” Anna grunted while swallowing back down the content of her stomach.
“ Ah, yes, that never get’s any better,” he awkwardly rubbed her back which he quickly turned into a pat.
“ I prefer my Siddhi,” Anna said while stretching her back.
Montgomery turned to the massive gate behind them with two massive boars that stood on either side.
“ Welcome to Hogwarts,” he said frowning darkly. “ I never thought I’d come back to this place.
Back at the hotel room, David was staring at his watch. Longingly he looked at the Portkey on the table that Ellis had made for them. Deciding it would be easier to find the library if he waited for Anna, he impatiently plopped down on the bed.
He noticed he had dropped down next to her bag. It hadn’t returned to her and was patiently waiting for its owner’s return or to be called. The bag was open and he pulled on the opening a bit more to have a peek at its contents. Inside were the laptop and some breakfast bars. He closed the flap and clasped it back shut. On the clasp, there was a disc dial that could be turned. One way it was an 'M' and upside down it was a 'W'. Could it mean ‘Man’ or ‘Woman’? He thought, or ‘Witch’ or… what was that British word for No-Maj? ‘Muggle’?
He turned the dial till it said ‘W’ and the dial clicked into place. He opened the flap. It had worked. The bag was now revealing it’s magical content. He was surprised to find the other leather glove that belonged to her right hand lying in the bag. Why wasn’t she wearing both? Witches and their weird fashion sense, he thought. The bag had been magically enlarged on the inside, warping the light that fell inside it, casting deeper and darker shadows. He found it hard to see inside so he had a little rummage. It sounded like things were toppling over, so he quickly stopped that. His fingers closed around something with wheels and as he pulled it out it turned out to be a tiny vintage YAMAHA motorbike with mud splashes all over the wheels and it’s brown seat and mint coloured fuel tank. The bike could fit in the palm of his hand but looked like a perfect realistic miniature. He put it back in the bag and pulled out the Book of Herbalism by Toa, that Anna had taken from the library.
The bag toppled over and from it, a written manuscript fell. Intrigued he opened it, hoping it wasn’t going to be some kind of diary. It seemed to be a notebook where Anna kept her notes on magic. He felt relieved, he didn’t think Anna was the type to keep soppy diaries.
He flicked through a couple of pages to try and get an idea of what he was looking at. From what he could tell it was full of intricate magical theory. She had been deciphering and mapping magic, calculating it with complicated formulas.
The more he looked at it the more he was fascinated. He found some notes about different magical streams and how the movement affected these different currents. He flicked through and found a section dedicated to how the length, bendiness and the core of the wand affected the flow of Magic, how the incantation affected the streams and even which parts of the brain became active while using Magic.
He had never learned about any of this. This was some advanced, theoretical, in-depth study of Magic. Reading these notes he was convinced Anna was a high functioning Witch and he wouldn’t want to get on the bad side of her wand.
Flicking through some more pages he found some charms and spells that had been dissected using her theory. He found one with which he felt confident with. It was just a simple levitation charm. He pulled out his new wand while quickly reading through the notes. He looked at the pillow behind him and went, “ Wingardium Leviosa.”
He’d been able to do the charm before, of course, but he was surprised how much understanding the flow helped him visualize and made the charm even easier.
His new python wand seemed to work a lot better after Montgomery had given it to him.
He quickly flicked through the pages hoping to find something he didn’t know so he could try the theory on something new. He found a page with a hand-drawn picture of those leather gloves she owned.
He was excited to learn that the gloves were a magical pair. They both had a symbol on the palm of the hand that created a portal between the two. Allowing for one thing to move from one palm to the other. He realised that when she had pulled the golden embossed wand from the palm of her hand, it had come out of her bag because that was where the other glove of the pair had been. From what he could read, the portal was activated through closing the circle by pressing the palms together.
He picked up the glove to have a closer look when he found another notebook underneath it. Without shame, he quickly pulled out the book to see what this one was about.
He quickly found that this book wasn’t about simple charms and spells. This book featured dark magic. He skimmed through the pages, finding one that had been crossed out and corrected many times. It focussed on a curse that seemed to rip your skin off. The formula had many recalculations. Just reading about it made his eyes water. When he got to the incantation he was starting to feel sickly. It felt like nails were digging into his skin, pulling on it from the inside out. Shocked he pushed the book away while catching his breath. His heart was racing. He certainly hadn’t expected that.
Even though he was horrified he was still fascinated to read more.
Thinking it might be safer to just skim through the pages rather than to actually read them he picked the book back up, flicking through the pages to get an overview but never lingering too long. Still, his stomach turned, the curses seemed to get darker and more gruesome. He was starting to feel a little bit scared of Anna. He decided that she was definitely not one he wanted to challenge to a duel.
Suddenly his eyes fell on the ‘Avada Kadavra’ curse, the curse that killed with a single green flash of light. He had heard about the unforgivable curse, of course. David’s profession wasn’t really your average 9 to 5 at the office. Due to the nature of his line of work he was often confronted with dark magic.
Anna seemed to have had trouble figuring out the Death Curse. There were so many recalculations and corrections and the final pages were ripped out. David concluded that Anna hadn’t been able to figure the curse out. His eyes fell on the final paragraph before the ripped pages and found himself compelled to read it. He couldn’t take his eyes off the words. He could feel himself getting weaker and his vision was starting to get darker as if he was about to black out. He couldn’t stop reading though. Getting scared he forced the book shut with his hands. Finally, he was able to close his eyes but for a second the words seemed etched in his retinas until they slowly faded. David was sweating and was swallowing hard to stop the urge to throw up. Shakily he stood up to clear his watering eyes and to wipe the sweat of his brow. He didn’t think the theory about curses could affect a person this much.
Leaving the books on the bed he went to the bathroom to splash some cold water on his face.
After he did, he could feel strength returning to his legs. He moved back to the bedroom and to his horror he saw the leather bag was vanishing as its owner had apparently called it.
“ No, no, no, no!” He shouted, running to try and catch it, but he was too late. The bag disappeared into nothingness. He hadn’t had time to put the notebooks back in the bag. Anna would find out that he had been going through her things. What if she decided to use one of those curses on him? Picking up the books he frantically thought about what to do with them. Eventually, he shoved the notebooks under the bed.
In the grand castle of Hogwarts, Montgomery and Anna were waiting in the Headmistress’s office. They stood there with an awkward silence stretching between them. The walls were lined with portraits of previous Headmasters and Headmistresses sleeping in their frames, filling the room with gentle breathing noises and the occasional snore.
Anna had never been inside of Hogwarts, or the Headmistress’s office, and her eyes were wandering the room, checking out all the neat trinkets scattered about. Anna was a collector of magical objects, and this room was full of nifty little knick-knacks she would love to explore. Not being able to resist Anna stretched out her hand to touch a delicate, golden scale.
“ I would prefer it if you didn’t,” Montgomery said curtly. In the quiet room, his voice sounded unnaturally loud.
Scowling at him she stood back in front of the desk, waiting quietly.
Eventually, Montgomery couldn’t handle the awkward silence anymore and said, “ I’ll go and see if I can find her, shall I?” It wasn’t really a question; he was already halfway towards the door. At the door leading to a stone escalator, he turned to her, “ Try not to touch anything.”
Anna resisted the childish urge to stick out her tongue to him as he stepped onto the rotating, circular, stone steps.
Anna turned back towards the room an instantly spotted an old frayed hat on top of the shelf behind the desk. She had heard about that hat. It was an old wizard’s hat that had once been owned by the famous Godric Gryffindor. The Hat had been given brains so that after the founders’ departure from this world, the Hat could take over the job of sorting the students into the four houses.
For a minute Anna tried to resist the urge but eventually gave in. She rushed past the desk and reached up to pull off the Sorting Hat.
Feeling overwhelmed by doubt, she hesitated. Without trying, you never know, she thought eventually. Feeling reckless she shoved the Hat on top of her head.
Nothing happened. Absolute silence. She’d been holding her breath with anticipation but now disappointed, she let it go. She moved her hands towards the brim to pull the Hat off when it suddenly started speaking.
“ Clever mind. Brave too. Lust for knowledge and power, a desperate need for acknowledgement,” it started in an old, deep voice. Anna’s heart missed a couple of beats. Her stomach felt as if it had twisted itself in a knot with nerves.
“ But I’m afraid neither the bighearted Gryffindor nor the open-minded Ravenclaw would have been able to see past your inabilities,” the Hat said sternly, which felt like getting stabbed in the heart. “ But, “ the Hat said more kindly, “ it is my opinion you might have found a warm welcome in Hufflepuff’s house-“
“ Anna!” Montgomery hissed frantically, interrupting the Hat.
Anna quickly pulled off the hat and saw Montgomery stand in the doorway with eyes wide as saucers. “ I can’t leave you alone for three seconds,” He whispered desperately. He pulled out his wand and quickly charmed the Hat out of Anna’s hands and back on top of the shelf. Anna quickly made her way back in front of the desk just as the Headmistress McGonagall followed him around the corner as fast as she could while wheezing and shivering slightly. Before saying anything she stopped dead in the middle of the room, she pointed her wand at the fireplace and conjured a roaring fire. Turning to Anna she said, “ Sorry about that. Professor Binns was sleeping in his armchair. I had to walk through him three times before I finally got his attention. I thought he had died again.” Turning towards the stairs she snapped, “ Come on Professor, you’re even slower than I am.”
The old, wrinkly ghost of professor Binns came floating through the stairs and then the door opening and into the room. He seemed a little confused as to what had brought him here. With a vacant expression, he stared at Professor McGonagall. She impatiently directed him in Anna’s direction.
“ Good evening Professor,” Anna said calmly.
“ Good evening, Ms…?” He started, but he didn’t recognise Anna. He frowned deeply and looked confused.
“ Anna,” Anna said helpfully.
“ Yes, yes of course,” he stuttered quickly. He then looked around the room confused again.
“ Professor,” she said firmly, trying to keep his attention, “ I was wondering if you could tell me about the Book of Thoth. It is my understanding that you’ve seen it?” She took a step closer, looking at him with hungry eyes.
“ Oh,” he piped, “ The Wise Magician’s book,” his voice quivered with mystique. “ Yes, I’ve read it.”
Montgomery couldn’t help but exchange an excited look with his sister. He too seemed intrigued by the Book.
McGonagall’s voice pierced the room, “ The book of Thoth?” She asked for clarification.
“ You know about it?” Anna wished she’d have kept better control of the look of surprise on her face. She felt McGonagall might find it rude.
“ Of course I do,” her aged voice said, “ I am an Animagus after all.” McGonagall swelled with pride.
Anna turned back to the ghost, “ Can you remember what it said?”
“ Dear Ms Anna-Beth-,” he said croakily but Anna quickly said, “ Just Anna.”
“ Hmm?” The ghost looked at her, surprised to find her in the room again.
“ Never mind. The book…” she impatiently waved for him to continue. For a second he seemed lost but then he remembered what he was talking about.
“ The book was several hundred pages long, I don’t recall the whole of it.” He closed his eyes, thinking hard.
“ Do you remember where the book guides the reader to?” Anna coaxed. “ The location, and the treasure?”
Professor Binns still had his eyes closed while thinking. He floated still in the air. McGonagall coughed lightly, filling the empty silence in the room that was full of anticipating people hanging on professor Binns’ every word. Even some of the sleeping portraits had woken up and were slyly listening in on the conversation. Professor Binns remained quiet for what felt like a whole minute. Anna was starting to think he had fallen asleep.
“ The book said,” he finally began, startling everyone. “ Find his consort Seshat, who guards the house of Books.” Squeezing his eyes even further shut he seemed to be reaching far back in his memory. “ Offer her the Key, and she will guide you to the Great Amun-Ra, who, upon deeming the visitor worthy, may choose to bestow the Jewel of Creation. The Jewel crafted by the Wise Magician himself.”
Professor Binns finally opened his eyes and was greeted by the astonished faces of his audience.
“ Ha,” Montgomery laughed sarcastically, after a short silence. “ Easy. We’ll just leave that task in your capable hands, shall we Rosie?” Montgomery mocked.
Professor Binns looked like he seemed to remember something and started to head towards the door.
Ignoring Montgomery Anna quickly said, “ Did you ever find it?”
Professor Binns turned around and looked at her hungry expression with Pity in his hollow eyes. “ I never searched for it.”
“ Why?” Anna asked incredulously.
“ To receive the Key from Seshat requires a human sacrifice,” he whispered darkly.
Montgomery snorted but the rest of the room fell silent. Professor Binns turned around again, and floated out of the room, possibly back to his nice, comfy armchair in front of the fire.
“ I must admit, I thought the process of becoming an Animagus was lengthy, difficult and wrought with danger, but this is a step further than that, isn’t it?” McGonagall said quietly, her voice quivering.
“ You don’t think it possible?” Anna turned to her.
McGonagall seemed to think that was funny. She turned to Anna and said, “ My dear, I’ve seen an 11-year-old boy thwart the most dangerous wizard time and time again. I’ve seen him sacrifice himself, and get back up to lead a prosperous life.” The woman swelled with pride as she spoke but then she turned serious. “ Impossible, no. Ethical? Hmm, maybe not so much.”
“ There can be different interpretations to human sacrifice though,” Anna said, unable to give up on her book.
“ Is there?” Montgomery asked dryly. “ I thought it was pretty finite.”
McGonagall seemed to see some truth in Anna’s words.
“ I suppose that depends on how Seshat interprets it. I wish you good luck, dear. If there is one thing I’m certain of, whether or not there be gods, they are not above cruelty.”
Montgomery led Anna through the great double doors towards the gate in the distance.
They had quietly walked from the office of the Headmistress down the castle.
“ What did it say?” Montgomery asked, finally breaking the silence that lingered between them.
“ You were there,” Anna said absent-mindedly. “ Human sacrifice, key, Seshat, Amun-Ra, Jewel-,” she listed but Montgomery ignored it.
“ I meant the Hat.”
“ Oh,” Anna hadn’t expected that. Inadvertently she cast her eyes down.
“ The Hat, did it… speak?” He was almost afraid to ask.
Anna kept quiet, and Montgomery didn’t feel it was appropriate to repeat the question. He wasn’t even sure he wanted to hear the answer.
Eventually, Anna said, “ …It did.”
Their shoes made crunching noises on the grass and soil.
“ …And?” He asked. Part of him was dying with curiosity, yet part of him was afraid of what she was going to say.
“ Hufflepuff,” She said without emotion.
“ Really?” He asked surprised but Anna didn’t answer. She just kept staring out towards the gate in the distance and picked up the pace a bit.
Montgomery took longer strides to keep up and laughed.
“ What?” Anna snapped.
“ The Hat wanted to sort me into Hufflepuff too,” He admitted, gleefully. He didn’t know why he was revealing it, but for some reason, he seemed happy he’d gotten his deep, dirty secret out.
“ It did not!” Anna blurted.
“ I refused,” he said stubbornly.
“ You can do that?” Anna turned to face him.
“ I insisted to go to Slytherin, you know, like father had wanted,” Montgomery explained. “ I asked the Hat if it had any idea who my father was, and what father would say if I came home wearing Yellow,” he said ridiculously.
“ But, the Hat never sorted you in Slytherin,” Anna reminded him.
“ No, it said Slytherin was out of the question.” He frowned as if the past conversation still filled him with dread. “ I asked for Ravenclaw instead, but it said I wasn’t open-minded enough, yet,” he said incredulously. “ If I really didn’t want to go to Hufflepuff, Gryffindor might be the only one to tolerate me. So I came home wearing red instead. Father had never been so disappointed. What a failure I was, ” he said disgustedly. “ Of course, you were very kind to outdo me on that part 16 years later.”
“ Right,” Anna said annoyed.
“ Thankfully, he felt a bit better about Gryffindor as it became the house of the legendary Harry Potter.” Montgomery sneered, adding some jazz hands.
“ I should have just gone to Hufflepuff. I never felt at home in that miserable house Gryffindor.” Montgomery’s voice was full of resentment. “ You should have heard father regarding my Animagus.” Imitating Bancroft’s low, sneering voice he said, “ ‘ At least turn into a proud Lion then!’ Months of preparation, and I’ve failed him again.” He sighed painfully.
“ What is your Animagus?” Anna asked, suddenly curious.
“ Ironically enough, a Raven,” Montgomery said through a painful grin.
“ A raven?” Anna said shocked.
“ Father is furious.” Mocking his father again he said, “ ‘ A bird!’ Honestly, you’d think I transformed into a chicken.”
Despite herself, Anna laughed and Montgomery smiled at her.
“ I was quite proud actually…” he said.
“ Raven. Tricksters, ill omens,” Anna listed. “ The villain in every children’s story.”
“ It reminded me of you.” He said simply.
“ Thanks.” she pursed her lips.
Montgomery chuckled but then turned serious.
“ The Sigel of the House I thought you’d go to if you were to attend Hogwarts… If things had turned out differently,” he added quietly.
Anna was speechless. She didn’t know what to say. Not at one single moment did she think the conversation would have ended up with him saying something nice. Surely he was having a go at her, but he seemed serious.
“ Resourceful, creative, clever. There isn’t a problem in the world too difficult for you to improvise a solution,” he said looking at her. Anna couldn’t make out his expression but he didn’t seem to be joking.
“ Is that… a compliment?” She asked eventually.
“ Maybe. Maybe I’m just getting sentimental in my old age,” he said looking away from her.
They had finally made it to the gate. It squeaked and grated horribly as they pushed it open, and closed it behind them.
He held out his arm for Anna so they could disapparate out of there, but Anna held up her hand.
“ No thanks. I left my other Siddhi at the Hotel. Finally,” she added as caught sight of her satchel that was hanging from a tree branch.
She walked over to fetch it Montgomery said, “ You know, Father never mentioned the unexplained expenses from his vault.”
“ I doubt he noticed,” she said dryly while reaching up.
“ Maybe,” he doubted.
Finally getting her hands on her bag she opened it and took out an intricate carved wooden hoop. It was the size of a dinner plate but when she spun it through her hand like a wheel, it expanded to the size of a hula-hoop.
“ Vayu Gaman Siddhi,” Montgomery said looking at the wooden hoop.
“ I didn’t know you knew about Buddhist magic?” Anna asked surprised.
“ I know about a great many things, sister dear." He took out his wand, and with a great whoosh, he transformed into a raven. He cawed as he swooped over her, and took off through the night sky. A black feather fluttered down past her face.
“ Show off,” she said.
She held the hoop over her head and pulled it down past her chin. Her face disappeared into thin air.
Chapter 4: The House of Books - Chapter 6
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The House of Books Chapter 6
In the hotel room, Anna’s head popped through a similar hoop that had been lying, where she left it, on the desk.
“ What the...!” David shouted as he choked in the smoking potion he was drinking from his hipflask. He doubled over coughing.
Anna’s disembodied head seemed to have grown from the middle of the desk.
David’s potion had spilt down his new robes.
As if it was nothing special, Anna crawled through the hoop ending up on the desk. From atop it, she asked, “ Have you got the Portkey?”
Recovering he stared up at her. Slowly he pointed at the black sack on the table, containing the Portkey.
“ Yea,” he said strained as he was still slightly coughing.
David started again as, seemingly out of nowhere, Phil jumped on top of the desk with Anna.
“ Where on earth did he come from?!” He shouted.
Anna filled David in on the details of the conversation with Professor Binns, after which they tried to catch a couple of hours of sleep before sunrise.
David woke up hanging sideways from the armchair with Phil snuggled up on his lap. Anna was already up and back in her regular jeans and hiking boots. She was putting her bomber jacket on which had the fur collar reattached to it. While rubbing his stiff neck he also noticed she was wearing both leather gloves.
Phil was snoring in his face. His little whiskers were quivering with every snore.
“ Hello little buddy,” he said while gently waking Phil.
With a big yawn, the little creature woke up, stretching out on his lap. His ears were all floppy, as he drowsily looked around the room at all the activity.
“ He likes you,” Anna said while she popped some books back in the bag.
Phil walked over to greet her.
“ Funny,” David mused. “ Animals usually don’t like me very much.”
Anna picked up Phil and they both gathered around the Portkey. Without touching it David pulled the bag off it, revealing a small bust of Albus Dumbledore.
“ Is that Merlin?” David asked, after which Anna threw him such an evil look that he thought it was better to keep is guesses to himself.
They both lay a finger on Dumbledore’s hat after which the Portkey gave them 3 seconds before, with a powerful jerk behind the navel, it whizzed them off to Alexandria.
They landed unsteadily in front of The Bibliotheca Alexandrina, which was stood on a magnificent site alongside Alexandria's ancient harbour. The 11-story building was characterised by its circular, tilting form.
As soon as he was balanced, the first thing David did was check his watch. He was really starting to feel anxious. He needed to find that monster fast.
“ Right, so last time I found the entrance by looking for the Owl symbol, and then curses started flying around. So, I thought it was a good indication that that was the way in.” David started looking around. “ It was hidden underground in a buried ruin. It took me weeks to fight through the main curse, but I’m sure I can do it faster the second time. Where do you think we can find ruins here?” He finally stopped rattling and looked around at Anna. She hadn’t moved but was staring at him with her eyebrow raised. From behind her, across the open plaza and the reflecting pool, arose the massive facade of the modern library of Alexandria, inscribed in more than 120 known human scripts.
“ Or… we take the No-Maj entrance,” he said, feeling rather stupid.
“ Shall we,” Anna said dryly.
They entered the building where a security guard stopped them, “ No dogs allowed.”
Discreetly they turned away. Anna was rummaging through her bag when she told David, “ A confundus charm should do it.”
He pulled out his wand and as nonchalant as possible, pointed it and whispered, “ Confundo.” The guard instantly got a vacant expression on his face. When David turned back to Anna he saw that she had put a small cap, especially for dogs, on Phil’s head.
“ Don’t leave your children unattended,” the guard said vacantly as she walked past with Phil in his little cap. David assumed he must have seen a little toddler pass by.
Once inside the big hall, Anna removed the cap from Phil’s head.
“ Go find the entrance,” Anna told him. Phil darted off and disappeared between the legs of the many people visiting the library.
Together Anna and David walked through the rows of books. They had passed a couple of rows before David turned to her.
“ So where do we start looking?” He asked.
“ We don’t,” she said to David’s surprise. “ Phil is going to find it for us. He’s good at detecting magic.”
That didn't do anything to calm David's nerves. He impatiently looked at his watch. He had a day at best; he just had to hope nothing "eventful" was going to happen.
After browsing some books Anna suddenly stopped. As if she just suddenly realised she’d forgotten to eat she grabbed her stomach. “ We could get falafel,” she said with hungry eyes.
David hadn’t been listening as he had his own questions.
“ So,” he started tentatively. “ Do you experiment with Magic a lot?”
Anna turned around and looked suspiciously at him. Her eyes bore into his and he realised too late that she was probably trying to read his mind. He quickly broke away and looked at the spine of a book instead. Delicious, love to cook, the spine read. Apparently, they were in the cookbook section, which explained why Anna had suddenly grown an appetite.
“ Why do you ask?” Her voice grew dangerously low, almost like a growl.
“ Nothing, I just… nothing.” He had seen her move from the corner of his eyes. In a reflex, he looked back at her to make sure she wasn’t drawing her wand. He regretted it immediately as she stared at him intently.
“ You’ve read my notes,” she said.
“ Don’t read my mind,” he snapped at her as he averted his eyes. He didn’t know how much credibility he had being mad at her for prying when he had technically been snooping around her stuff.
“ I don’t need to,” she whispered. “ Your face looks guilty. You went in my bag and helped yourself to my herb supply”.
He was surprised that she had found out about the herbs. Stupidly, this made him look at her again and her eyes locked back onto his. Bringing her face nearly nose to nose to his she said, “ You’ve read my private notes, and now you’re wondering if I’m an evil dark witch,” she said challenging him.
“ Do people often think that?” He accused her, refusing to back down.
“ Look, I know I’m not the easiest person to be around, but that doesn’t mean I’m immediately evil. The world isn’t that black and white,” she hissed.
David looked outraged. “ There were notes about a curse that rips your skin off,” he said a bit louder than he intended.
Confusing him even more, Anna laughed. David became uncomfortably aware that their argument was starting to attract some onlookers.
“ Yes, I cracked that one. I’m quite proud of it,” she smiled.
To her surprise, David grabbed her arm and pulled her into a room that had been locked to get a bit more out of sight. The room seemed to be under construction.
“ What do you mean, you cracked it?” David asked under his breath.
Looking around and catching on that they should keep their conversation more private, Anna said more quietly, “ I was trying to find the Skatert-Samobranka.”
“ The who?” David asked bewildered.
Anna looked at him impatiently. “ It’s a tablecloth with magical properties. It was last owned by an annoyingly powerful Russian wizard.”
“ Why was he annoying?” David asked despite himself.
“ Before he passed away he put a lot of very dark curses on his properties so they couldn’t be stolen,” she said pursing her lips.
“ Let me guess, you were one of those people trying to steal his property?” He said raising an eyebrow.
“ Well, yes,” she said simply. “ It’s a brilliant item and he wasn’t going to need it in his grave.”
“ What does it do?” He was getting intrigued now. He was almost forgetting they were in a hurry.
“ If you treat it well, it produces food,” she said.
Stunned by her answer David was silent for a second.
“ But, I thought that was against the law of Magic?”
“ You mean the five principal exceptions of Camp’s law of elemental transfiguration,” she rattled.
“ That you can’t materialize food out of nothing,” he clarified. He might not have known the definition in quite such detail but he knew about the law.
“ Exactly,” she said triumphantly. “ It is in direct discordance with the exception to the law, that’s why it’s considered a very special tablecloth.” Anna looked very proud.
“ And you’ve got it?” David asked intrigued.
“ I gave it to Ellis to research in the Department of Mysteries. It got her the job and as an extra bonus, she hasn’t been hungry since.” She said smiling.
“ So, one of these curses guarding the special cloth was the skin ripping one?” He asked, putting two and two together.
“ Yes, I analysed it to enable me to construct a counter curse. It’s not that hard once you know the basics.” She might have said it like it was nothing but David could tell she was pretty chuffed with her accomplishment.
“ So this is what you do? You collect magical objects?” He asked eagerly, also feeling relieved she didn’t seem to be a crazy dark witch.
“ It’s never boring,” she said.
“ What is so special about The Book of Thoth? Does it break any laws of magic?” David asked. For the first time, he found he had a different reason to be interested in the Library, other than to catch the Guardian spirit.
Anna explained, “ The book itself is special because it holds the secrets of ancient magic, written by the Egyptian god of Wisdom and Magic. Muggles describe the book to contain two spells, one to understand animals, and one to understand the mind of the gods. It contains directions to the Jewel of Creation.
These Egyptian Gods were powerful magical beings, who could pass down their magical abilities through artefacts or body parts.”
“ Ew… The Toe of Thoth,” David scrunched up his face in disgust, imagining a severed toe hanging from his neck.
“ You’ve perhaps heard of The Eye of Horus,” Anna said suggesting he was getting the right idea.
“ So, are you saying the Egyptian gods were actually wizards?” David was sceptical.
“ They could have been Wizards with immense power; yet, their Magic is very different from what we’re familiar with. Who knows, maybe they were gods. They certainly were considered as such during the reign of their civilisation.
In any case, they were the masters of Human-Animal transfiguration,” Anna said finally.
For a second David felt hopeful. If the magic in that book was different, maybe there was hope. He frowned while he wondered why Anna would want the book.
“ You want to become an Animagus,” he concluded out loud.
“ And you want to cure your lycanthropy,” Anna stated.
David felt as if those few little words had just knocked the air straight out of him. His stomach seemed to tie itself into an uncomfortable knot and he was struggling to breathe. How could she know? How?
“ STOP reading my mind,” he rounded on her seething.
Anna instantly took a step back, realising she had gravely miscalculated her move.
“ I wasn’t,” she hurried to explain. “ I saw the scar on your shoulder when I walked in on you in the bathroom.”
“ I fell off a broom as a child,” he said quickly. His response was readily available, as he had used it many times. Anna wasn’t buying it though. She had looked apologetic before but now she looked like he had insulted her intelligence.
“ You obsess over the date and what time zone you are in even though your mission wasn’t given a specific time limit. Plus, your watch has a lunar dial,” she said, challenging him.
“ The time limit was as soon as possible,” he growled back. “ And this watch is an heirloom.” He pushed his wristwatch in her face.
“ Your parents are Muggles, and that watch is magical,” she snapped, pushing his hand out of her face. “ The time limit is as soon as possible because…” midsentence she grabbed her phone and opened an app. She turned her phone to face him, showing a lunar calculus app. “ You only have 26 hours until the full moon,” she finished.
“ I am not a werewolf!” He spat at her.
“ So I suppose the pixies have been stealing my Wolfsbane and Aconite then!” Anna scoffed.
Guilty as charged David’s hand instinctively reached for his hip flask.
Anna didn’t stop there; she seemed to feel the need to show off just how clever she was.
“ You’re not out of money because you’re funding an expensive drug addiction. Those receipts from Twinxies Herbal shop are for your Wolfsbane potion.”
“ Stop pickpocketing me,” he said desperately.
“ I haven’t, I remember it from the first time I looked in your wallet. I have an eidetic memory.”
Desperate for her to shut up he punched the wall and turned away, breathing shakily. Anna gave him a second to catch his breath before she asked, “ Have you been taking it regularly?”
Not believing he was having this conversation he eventually nodded.
“ Right,” Anna said. “ Good,” she added a few awkward beats later. “ So, falafel now?” she was rubbing her grumbling stomach.
David snorted, but there was no mirth in it. “ You’re such a hateful, arrogant...,” he started but she cut across.
“ Right, sorry… Do you want to talk about it?” Anna sat down on a dusty chair.
“ No! I don’t want you to know about it at all!” He rounded on her.
Anna nearly knocked the chair over in her haste to get back up. She held up her hands and said, “ We’ve all got secrets David. It’s not my fault I’m good at deducting them.”
“ You and your stupid legilimency. Do you find it hard to make friends?” He sneered.
“ There’s no need to be mean,” she said with a red flush on her cheeks. David could tell he had hit a sensitive spot, but he had no intention of going easy on her.
“ Do you find that people think you’re an insufferable know it all!” He barked.
“ David,” her voice turned stony.
“ Browsing through peoples thoughts, picking out the juicy bits, spitting it back in their face, arrogantly flaunting about your superiority,” he listed mercilessly.
“ David please,” Anna was growing angrier.
“ You had no RIGHT!” He shouted as he drew closer.
“ I can see you’re angry, but, I don’t know how to do emotion,” Anna said stepping away, in the same way a cobra might move back to get ready to strike.
“ Oh I’m sorry,” he laughed sarcastically. “ Am I making you uncomfortable? Try having someone completely disregard your privacy.”
“ I don’t understand. I don’t care that you’re a werewolf, isn’t that a good thing?” She asked.
“ But I care! I don’t want anyone to know. I don’t want people to think I’m a disgusting, vile monster. To see that look in their eyes.” From his coat, he pulled his wallet and threw it at her.
“ Here, have my wallet,” he said. He took off his backpack and threw it at her next. “ Have my bag. You seem to know everything already. Nothing left to hide. Or do you have any questions?” Finally getting close enough he grabbed her face brought their faces nose to nose. “ Go ahead, have a look,” he said as he forced her to look into his eyes. She looked shocked.
Being as angry as he was he missed that from inside her top she pulled out a pink device.
He asked screaming in her face, “ Nothing more from the great...?” when he was cut off by a jolt of electricity coursing through his body. Losing control of his jerking limbs he fell to the floor, hitting his head on the dusty chair, knocking him out.
Hermione stood behind the bench in the courtroom facing the international confederation of Wizards. On her right flank stood Harry and on her left the representative from MACUSA. A couple of hours ago she had been addressing most of the people in the room over a glass of bubbly, yet now the mood had grown dark.
“ Something terrible has crossed the Atlantic,” she told them. “ Something or someone is stealing magic.”
A wave of panicked whispers travelled through the room. Hermione looked around the sea of people trying to make out any suspicious reactions.
“ What do you mean?” An older gentleman asked. Hermione looked at him and recognised as the Hexenmeister from Germany.
“ I mean,” she said firmly, “ that there are at least two known cases in Brittan alone.”
Another wave of whispers ran through the room. Hermione shared a look with the representative of MACUSA.
“ There are more than 30 recorded cases in America,” Hermione finished. It was like she had dropped a ticking bomb in the room. First, the whole place went silent and then a panic broke out. People started shouting questions, trying to be heard over the uproar.
Hermione and Harry exchanged a meaningful look after which Harry left the courtroom.
David woke up in a dusty room with a lingering smell of paint and something fried. He was slowly starting to remember how he ended up in that room and the argument Anna and him had had. He tried to get up to see if he could find her. His head felt like he had fractured his skull and he saw stars dancing around. He finally spotted her sitting in the corner on that same dusty chair that had knocked him out, holding his wand and a pink device.
“ What in the name of Merlin was that?” He asked her croakily, slowly sitting up.
She held up the pink device and said, “ Stun Gun. It’s a Muggle device that shoots 46 million volts through your body. Nice and compact.” She gave the stun gun a little shake.
“ You electrocuted me?” He asked raising his eyebrows.
She pursed her lips. “ You were being very rude.”
“ You couldn’t just have stunned or petrified me, or something?” He complained.
“ My wand was in my bag. For future reference, I keep this in my bra,” she said defiantly and she put the stun gun back, through the neck of her shirt, in her bra.
David looked shocked. “ Noted.”
He finally found out where the fried food smell was coming from when Anna picked up a container next to her.
“ Falafel?” She asked, offering him the container.
David tried to get up with a lot of groaning.
“ You went and got some falafel? How long was I out for?” He asked rubbing his painful skull.
“ Quite a while, and yes, I didn’t want to be seen dragging a body out,” she said while selecting a piece of falafel.
“ What do you mean, out?” He asked, but Anna didn’t bother looking at him or answering him. He walked over to the door and opened it to look outside. Looking down the library through the windows he could see it had gone dark and the library looked closed.
“ You didn’t bother waking me?” He accused her.
“ Nope,” she said simply. She had finally found a piece she liked and took a big bite.
Sighing deeply he picked up a bucket, put it upside down on the floor and sat down across from her. Everything was hurting his head, the light in the room, the big lump from where he had hit his head, and all that time he had lost being out cold.
“ The library’s shut. Phil is still looking,” she said while rummaging through her bag. She pulled out a flask with the purple Wiggenweld potion they had made earlier. David took it and took a big gulp. He felt instantly better.
“ You first transformed at Ilvermorny, and that is why you are not allowed near large groups of children.” It wasn’t a question, more of a statement, but she said it gently.
“ Will you please stop reading my mind,” he said exhausted.
Anna offered him the container with falafel. He only just noticed he was very hungry as well. He gratefully took the box and wolfed three pieces down at the same time. With his mouth full and struggling to chew he looked up at Anna. She seemed to be biting her tongue.
After swallowing the falafel with great difficulty he finally admitted, “ I was bitten while I was at school.” He looked down at his shoes, as he simply couldn’t get himself to look at her to see her reaction.
“ While breaking the rules and running about outside after hours with my friends… I was attacked,” he managed with great difficulty. He never talked about it. He had never told anyone. Anna had probably already seen it in his mind, which was why he wanted to say it in his own words. As if that would somehow make it less bad. Make him seem less stupid.
“ There was so much pain,” he said as he remembered the beast attacking him. He couldn’t get himself to describe it any further. He had always tried very hard to forget that moment, after years it had even stopped showing up in his nightmares.
“ A week later,” he continued quietly, “ I woke up and found out that myself and the Teacher who saved my life were both infected… I wasn’t allowed to return to the school. Obviously. I… I had to leave my wand there.” He inhaled deeply as he was determined not to cry. He felt overrun with guilt. He came to the conclusion that putting it into words wasn’t making it any less bad.
Anna gave him a moment before she said, “ Your parents were Muggles. No-Majes. They were doctors.”
David pictured his parents. He hadn’t thought of them in a long time.
“ When they found out I was a wizard they were so happy.” He smiled painfully.
“ You went to live back with your parents after you were expelled,” Anna said carefully.
He wasn’t sure if her knowing was making it harder or easier.
Thinking back on his parents sent cold shivers down his spine. Rubbing his arms he said, “ They were trying to find a cure. If I hadn’t been a Wizard, I would have never been bitten, and my parents…” He had to stop as his voice nearly cracked with emotion.
“ The cage broke,” Anna said quietly.
David exhaled through pursed lips. He didn’t want to remember that day. He didn’t want to remember how he felt when he woke up and he had finally outgrown his cage. If iron bars hadn’t been able to keep him in, his parents had never stood a chance.
Suddenly his heart stopped dead as out of the shadows Phil appeared excitedly barking. David tumbled of his bucket and sent the last pieces of falafel flying.
Tumbling of the bucket he swore in shock from the floor.
Phil spotted David on the floor and sensed he was sad. He crawled on top of his chest and started licking his face.
“ Aw… not the mouth,” he said muffled.
“ Isn’t he an adorable little Brownie,” Anna cooed.
“ Because he’s the colour of chocolate and all sweet inside?” David laughed.
Frowning Anna said, “ Yea, why not.”
David was a bit confused by her response but let it go as Phil started barking again.
Anna stood up from her chair and said, “ Looks like he’s found the entrance.”
Harry was stood over the unconscious Scourer tied to a chair. Fabienne Bianchi, one of his Aurors, handed him a goblet filled with a clear liquid that looked like water. In fact, it was water with a couple of drops of Veritaserum, a truth potion that compelled the drinker to speak only the truth. With a worried look, Hermione entered the room and stood behind Harry with her arms crossed. She had brought Montgomery with her for some reason.
Carefully Harry pored some of the liquid in the side of the mouth of the Scourer.
“ Rennervate,” Harry said while pointing his wand at him. Instantly, the man woke up and stared blankly in front of him.
“ Why did you come to the convention?” Harry asked him.
Flat and monotone the man started speaking, “ We were after the book.”
“ What book?” Harry asked. The man was struggling to fight the Veritaserum. The inside of his mouth started to light up, like a fire had been lit inside.
“ What book? Who are you? What is so special about this book?” Harry asked urgently.
The man was struggling and Harry had to bring his ear closer to catch the book title the man managed to bring out.
“ He’s choking,” Fabienne said worriedly.
“ He’s- what?” To his horror, Harry realised that she was right.
A thin tongue of flames wrapped itself around the man’s neck. The man was turning blue.
Harry turned around, “ What’s happening?” Harry took a closer look at the contents of the goblet. The sense that he’d messed up big time washed over him like a cold shower.
“ This is Veritaserum right?” He asked Fabienne.
“ Yes, I gave it to her,” Hermione piped up which slightly eased Harry's mind. But was wrapping itself around the man? Hermione drew closer to the man who’s life force seemed to be draining.
“ He died,” Harry said, pointing out the obvious. He was so stunned at what just happened.
Hermione looked white as a sheet.
“ The unbreakable vow,” Montgomery said quietly.
“ An unbreakable vow of silence,” Harry added.
“ They go to extreme lengths to stay secret,” Hermione added.
“ These Scourers aren’t messing about,” Fabienne said worriedly.
“ But I think it’s safe to assume they’re going to continue to try and get to the library,” Harry said, transferring the precious liquid from the goblet back into a flask. He seemed shocked. He’d never seen the effects of the unbreakable vow being broken.
“ Which means we’re going to the Library,” Fabienne said.
“ I should come,” Hermione said quickly. It was clear she really wanted to see the library for herself. She was the Minister for Magic and this was a job better left for the Aurors, but she looked at the people in the room, daring them to challenge her.
“ Get Michael and Ophelia,” Harry told Fabienne, referring to his most trusted Aurors. She promptly left the room to fetch her colleagues. Harry followed her out with Hermione at his heels.
“ Wait,” Montgomery said. Harry stopped in his tracks, which nearly caused Hermione to bump into him. Impatiently he looked around at Montgomery.
“ I’m coming too,” Montgomery said. He looked panicked.
“ No, Monty. This is a job for my Aurors,” Harry said sternly. Montgomery’s eye twitched as Harry accidentally used the abbreviated version of his name.
“ If they’re going to the library, they’re going to Anna-Rose,” Montgomery said stubbornly.
“ Who?” Harry asked confused yet impatient.
“ Anna,” Hermione quickly clarified.
“ I need to come as well,” Montgomery said firmly, standing up tall and drawing his wand.
“ You’re not an Auror and why do you care so much?” Harry raised his voice, copying Montgomery by drawing his wand.
Montgomery seemed to struggle to get his words out, but eventually, he said, “ She’s my sister.”
Harry’s jaw dropped in shock.
“ Wha?” He managed. Harry turned to Hermione to share his surprise, but to his annoyance, she seemed a lot less surprised by this. As if she had already guessed it.
Irritated Harry collected himself.
“ Fine! But don’t get in the way,” he snapped, as he stomped out of the room ahead of them.
Chapter 5: The House of Books - Chapter 7
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The House of Books Chapter 7
Anna and David had finally made it inside the ancient Library of Alexandria. Anna passed tall stonewalls with carvings on them. The drawings were colourfully painted. They depicted the 10 plagues, which was rather grim. She passed an image of a man who seemed to be mid-scream, covered in boils and with his hands in the air, in agony. The depiction sent shivers down her spine. She turned to Phil who was closely following her.
“ If you ever need some scary inspiration,” she said, brushing her lit wand tip over the man’s plague chest.
Looking back ahead she could see David had found the big guardian Owl. He too was using the Lumos spell to light the area around him. The Owl was staring suspiciously at David from a high perch near the ceiling.
“ We’re just coming for the book and then we’re off. We don’t need another fiasco,” Anna told him.
“ We can’t just leave the library here for the Scourers! We have to take it,” David reasoned.
The Owl let out a menacing screech. It didn’t seem to agree with David.
David quickly held up his hands and said, “ Take it, gently,” he added. “With care.”
The Owl tilted its big massive head. Which actually made it look quite adorable, despite its sharp beak the size of a small rowboat.
David seemed to be lost in thought as Anna moved between the bookcases with ancient scrolls and parchment.
“ Do you think-“ David started.
“ All the time,” Anna interrupted; David ignored this.
“ Do you think if I were to get infected with this disease the Minister talked about… I’d stop,” David seemed to hesitate with what he was saying. “ Do you think I’d stop being able to transform into a werewolf?”
He sounded cautiously hopeful. Anna didn’t answer immediately so he added, “ Only Wizards or Witches can become werewolves.”
She still didn’t speak.
“ There are no No-Maj werewolves,” he tried again.
“ Because,” Anna finally said, “ Muggles are more likely to die of the injuries sustained from a Werewolf attack.” Her voice was soft as if she was afraid her words might break him.
“ But the transformation is magical, without magic, no transformation, right?” David insisted.
“ You want to give up your magic on the off chance it might cure your Lycanthrope?” She asked rather coldly. All pity and concern had left her voice.
“ If it would, I could just live as a No-Maj. Maybe train to be a nurse. Do something good. Make peoples lives better,” David irritably. It was easy for her to judge him as she didn’t have to live with this horrible condition. It was alright for her to be all ‘ I don’t mind you being a werewolf’, but there was a difference between being one or being alright with one.
“ You don’t need to change; you just need to stop thinking the whole world is against you. If you want to be a nurse, train to be a nurse,” Anna said angrily avoiding his glare. He didn’t understand why she was getting angry.
“ And what would I do during the full moon and patients end up with a big fat wolf on their ward?” David said outraged.
“ Yea, maybe your bedside manner would stink, but what if magic is the only thing that is keeping you alive during the transformations?” Anna asked.
David fell silent. He hadn’t thought of that. He felt like she had knocked the floor from under his feet.
“ Listen,” she said a little kinder, “ I can’t speak from experience about the transformations, because that does seem awful, but with the Wolfsbane potion at least you’re still yourself. You just find yourself in a form that has extra strength, speed, agility, shock factor and albeit a lot of hair. Exactly the type of thing I’m trying to find this book for.”
“ You want extra hair?” David smiled despite himself.
“ Can you help me look?”
He could tell she was trying to sound a lot less impatient then she was. David decided to drop the subject. He looked around.
“ The look of the library has kind of changed,” he said.
“ Yes, it’s adapted to the location. It's based on what it was when it was Located in Ancient Alexandria,” Anna said while walking through an arch to a different area. David followed.
“ Is it that gold one of there?” David asked. He’d just noticed the book as the light of his wand tip reflected on the shiny gold cover.
Anna gasped excitedly as she hurried over. She wasted no time and opened the book immediately; scared she might get interrupted again.
But just as she was flicking through the golden pages, suddenly her hair was blown into her face by a curse that came sailing over her shoulder, singeing some loose strands as it went. Before he could think, David grabbed her arm and pulled her away from a second curse headed in her direction. She accidentally ripped a page out of the book as David dragged her away and the book itself fell to the floor with a big thump.
“ The book!” She screamed desperately.
“ Leave it,” He told her. He jumped out to counter-attack feeling confident Anna and her superior ability would have his back.
As he stepped out from between the bookcases he instantly knew he had made a mistake. He wasn’t facing one or two Scourers, but twelve. They were scattered across the great room. In the distance, the Owl let out a harsh screech and David could hear it’s powerful wings flapping as it took flight.
His eyes were searching the place for an escape route to get out of the line of fire. For now, all he could do was dodge as curses came sailing over his head.
“ David!” Anna screamed.
David thought she sounded very panicked and definitely not in control like he had thought.
He quickly sent some stunning spells across the room in the hope they would hit some targets. In the heat of it all, he was quite pleased with how well his new wand worked. He kind of wished he could have read through Anna’s notes on the stunning spell, as that would have probably made his wand work even better.
Being a bit too late at shielding himself with the Protego charm and got a nasty laceration on his arm.
Before he knew it Anna had jumped in front of him and ducked to the floor. Trying to become as small as possible with her back to the oncoming curses. To his surprise, she had charmed her leather coat to repel the curses, as they seemed to bounce right off it. Whilst trying to shield as much of them as possible with her coat she helped David behind a bookcase. Scrolls and books were knocked out and some of them spontaneously combusted. Anna wasn’t given the opportunity to say anything but the look she gave him said plenty. David was pretty sure she thought he was a mental case with a death wish for them both. A heavy book got knocked out of the bookcase and hit him on the back of the head. They were both desperately looking where to move to next as they were slowly being surrounded.
They needed to get to a better place to launch a counter-attack, rather than being cornered like a fox by a pack of dogs.
David looked around when Anna drew a sharp breath. When he followed her eye-line he was relieved to see Harry Potter run through the archway, followed closely by three Aurors as well as the Minister for Magic and Montgomery Scrivenor. He also saw a woman bearing the emblem for MACUSA followed by a gentleman wearing a long tunic and a fez.
Suddenly it was nine against twelve and David felt like their odds had become a lot better. He jumped back into the fray, eager to put his new wand back to the test.
Anna tried her best to avoid oncoming magic in search for her brother. She had seen him come through the arch. She knew he wasn’t a good dueller. The only reason she could think of why, on earth, he would have come along was because he knew she was there. Which annoyed her to no end. She had spent most of her adult life tracing and hunting down dangerous treasure. She didn’t need nor want his help. Though, fair enough they had actually gotten themselves in quite a pickle today. She supposed she should suck up her pride and be grateful… maybe… just a little bit.
Across the room, she could see one of the Aurors duelling one of the Scourers. Anna’s eyes were drawn to the Scourer as he took a small flask from his robes and smashed it on the library floor. The liquid inside it evaporated upwards creating a drawing in the air that reminded her of Chinese characters. He then used a spell she had never heard or seen before, which seemed to blast the characters forwards towards the Auror. The Auror got hit square in the chest and looked windswept. He stopped in his tracks and looked surprised. As if something had drained him. The Scourer laughed manically and ran off to attack someone else. The Auror tried to shake it off and waved his wand to catch the man as he ran away, but the magic didn’t work. Nothing happened. He tried again but still nothing.
Anna looked around for help and saw that Hermione and the man in the fez were looking through the shelves, desperately searching for something whilst trying to defend themselves.
David had managed to team up with Harry Potter and his other two Aurors and they were just about managing to fend off the other eight Scourers.
She finally managed to find her brother. He was currently duelling two Scourers but wasn’t doing very well. They had managed to knock him to the ground where he looked like he was disorientated with ringing ears from the blasts. Anna rushed over to try and help. Thinking desperately what she could do to help. What could she use?
Montgomery tried to get up but before he got very far they blasted him back to the ground, smashing him through a bookcase full of scrolls. As she got closer she saw to her horror that one of the Scourers smashed another one of those flasks in front of him. The liquid evaporated in the air forming these gaseous Chinese markings.
“ No!” She screamed, as the Scourer finished his incantation and sent the curse flying towards her brother. Not knowing what else to do she threw herself in the path of the oncoming curse and her brother. It knocked her off her feet and sent her flying against him.
“ Anna,” Montgomery said worriedly. He was as intelligent as her. He knew what she had just done. He grabbed her by the shoulders to look her in the face.
Suddenly Anna felt something burn into her hand. She took a drew a sharp breath as the pain registered and looked down in her palm. Inside was a black burn with raw edges in the scape of a stylised scarab beetle.
“ Human sacrifice,” Anna mumbled. She quickly stood back up and tried to stun the Scourer, but nothing happened. She took Montgomery’s wand away from him and tried the stunning spell again. Nothing. She ignored the piteous look Montgomery was giving her and shoved his wand back in his hands. He quickly casts a shield to deflect a curse.
She shook off the horrible sinking feeling in her stomach and ran to what felt like the middle of the room.
“ Phil, it’s show time,” she shouted. She waved her wand in a big showy fashion and started shouting out an Egyptian curse. It loosely translated to ‘ He will be miserable and prosecuted’.
The room slowly started to bathe in darkness. Anna repeated the curse a little louder drawing the attention of the others in the room, making sure they knew she was responsible. She waved her wand again.
A blood red liquid started to form underneath the feet of the Scourers.
“ Blood!” One of them shouted and she slipped as she tried to get away from the thick crimson liquid.
The room started to darken even deeper.
“ Lumos,” one of the Scourers tried desperately. But despite his wand tip lighting up the light wouldn’t disperse.
Anna repeated her curse again, her voice resounding ominously around the room.
“ It’s Egyptian magic,” David realised. “ It’s a different kind of magic.”
Anna could almost feel the wave of panic spread through the Scourers. She waved her wand again and the darkness that had descended on them solidified and turned into thousands of massive buzzing flies. Anna had a fly free zone around her but the rest was being swarmed. Harry Potter and his crew covered their faces and tried not to panic. The Scourers tried desperately to repel the flies but failed. Their magic wasn’t working on this.
Anna repeated her curse again while waving her wand. Instantly the flies disappeared, shrinking into nothingness with a sharp buzz.
One of the Scourers had the idea to attack the source and came charging at Anna with his wand held high, growling ferociously he was apparently still deciding what curse was best to use. He stopped in his tracks as a big fat locust landed on his face. Freaked out he pulled it off and tossed it away from him. Suddenly all around them books and scrolls started flying as millions of Locusts landed and hopped around the place. Everything was covered. Everyone but Anna, who seemed to be left alone, was screaming. The locusts tormented even the Guardian Owl. It let out an angry screech and flew off. The library dissolved into loose sand around them and they were left in a large empty crevasse. But with the Owl the locust plague didn’t disappear. Not until Anna repeated her curse again and waved her wand. The locusts took to the air and disappeared. Everyone took a moment to recover until one of the Scourers screamed out. A hunched character, unrecognisably deformed by the plague had approached him. His skin had turned black and he was bleeding from open sores on the skin and from the mouth and ears.
The Scourer pulled up his sleeve and saw his skin blackening. One by one the Scourers quickly disapparated, escaping the horror.
Breathing menacingly the figure slowly turned to Hermione. He seemed to pause for a second. The figure started transforming.
Hermione’s breath caught in her throat as she started to recognise the man forming in front of her. She knew him. She saw him in her nightmares that still plagued her sometimes; the eerie high voice, the nose like a serpent, the tall stature and the pale skin.
“ Harry, it’s him,” Hermione breathed. She could barely speak from fear.
The atmosphere grew frosty as everyone around the room froze. No one could believe their eyes. This couldn’t be happening.
Somewhere, vaguely they could hear Anna screaming for Phil, but they couldn’t take their eyes of the figure manifesting in front of them, all but one man. Anna saw the comprehension dawn on Harry Potters face. He quickly crossed the room to position himself between Hermione and the frightening form of Voldemort forming in front of him.
Harry aimed his wand and horrified Anna recognised the wand movement necessary for the counterspell.
“ NO, DON’T!” She yelled.
“ Ridikulus!” Harry’s voice boomed across the room.
“ PHIL!” Anna rushed toward the deflating figure of Voldemort.
Collapsing, Phil rapidly shapeshifted through some mismatched forms. Anna managed to grab a hold of him.
“ Phil! Come on buddy, shake it off.” She shook him and with great difficulty, he transformed back into his dog form. One of his eyes and ears were twitching horrible and he tried to shake it off the way you would see a dog shake of water. He was severely weakened and the shaking toppled him over. Anna lifted him in her arms and stood back up.
Harry turned around and gave Hermione a one-armed hug and a kiss on the top of her head. “ You alright?” He asked her.
Hermione was as white as a sheet. “ A Boggart,” she managed with a shaky voice, with Harry’s arm around her shoulder.
“ A Brownie,” Anna clarified. “ He never fully formed as a Boggart. He’s a great shapeshifter but struggles with scaring people.”
“ I think he was spot on,” Hermione said weakly.
“ It’s a common fear, the Dark Lord rising,” Anna said simply.
“ For a good reason,” Harry snapped angrily.
They heard a cry behind them.
“ Ashford?” Harry asked turning to his junior Auror. It was the Auror who had been hit with that weird Chinese curse earlier. He was frantically trying to produce magic.
“ Wingardium Leviosa! Reducto, reducto. REDUCTO!” He tried desperately. He looked up at them with tears streaming down his face. “ No! It’s gone!” He broke down and cried.
Harry quickly rushed over to his pupil holding him back up.
“ I’m going to bring him to St Mungo's,” Harry told the room at large. “ Did we at least get the book?!” He asked angrily with a hint of desperation. He looked at Hermione and the man in the fez hat.
The man looked taken aback and cast a look around himself. “ Have you seen the library?” he asked, indicating that with the enormous size of the library it had been like finding a needle in a haystack.
“ It couldn’t be summoned,” Hermione added quickly. “ And with everything going on and the limited time we had, we haven’t been able to find it.”
Harry was clearly irritated but was trying not to show it. “ Fabienne, Ophelia, stay with the minister,” he told his other Aurors.
“ Yes sir,” they both responded quickly.
Harry turned to Anna and frowned. “ I saw you get hit. You should go too.”
“ She’s fine,” Montgomery said quickly and he went to stand next to Anna.
David looked very confused by this but Hermione seemed to understand.
Hermione turned to the man in the fez. “ Could you take us to your office, Asim?”
Chapter 6: The House of Books - Chapter 8
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The House of Books Chapter 8
The traffic was crazy in central Cairo as Asim was leading them through the middle of a road, avoiding cars, towards a tall building across the street. It seemed like a normal office building but the middle was completely deserted and unfurnished until they got inside. Apparently, the middle of the building had been disguised as unused but it actually held the Ministry of Magic in Cairo.
They walked through a long hallway lined with tall, granite fireplaces, up the stairs to the second floor.
David cast a side-glance at Anna who was still carrying Phil. He had never felt so stupid. As a magical creature poacher, he was supposed to be the expert on monsters, yet he had somehow failed to recognise a boggart even though it had been right under his nose the whole time.
Anna caught him frowning at her.
“ What?” she snapped.
“ How did I miss that Phil is a Boggart,” David grumped quietly, trying to keep the rest of the people out of their conversation. Anna wasn’t keeping her voice down, though.
“ He’s not. Not fully formed anyway,” she said.
“ What does that even mean?” He asked.
“ When brownies are ill-treated by wizards they turn into Boggarts. But Brownies are quite helpful creatures, especially Phil.” She planted a big kiss on Phil’s furry forehead. Phil looked up at her sleepily.
David and Anna were left in a large reading room while the others went on to meet with the Minister in his office.
The walls were lined with books. This annoyed David. He’d seen enough of libraries to last him a lifetime. Anna put Phil on a chaise longue and he quickly fell asleep, snoring loudly.
Anna was scanning the book titles when Montgomery came walking in. David and Anna both looked up expectantly. Montgomery looked grave; his voice was heavy when he spoke, “ Michael Ashford got the full blast of it. He’s lost all magical ability.”
“ Is there a cure?” David asked.
“ I don’t think it can be cured. You can’t give someone Magic.” As he said it he looked at Anna with pity in his eyes.
David quickly realised Anna had been hit with the poison as well.
“ Are you okay?” He asked quickly.
Anna didn’t look at him, nor respond to him. She seemed transfixed by her fingernails as she was pushing back her cuticles.
“ To address the elephant in the room,” Montgomery started while itching his nose. He seemed to struggle terribly. “ You have my eternal gratitude for your immense sacrifice.”
Anna finally looked up. She looked stunned and speechless.
“ You do realise, this means we have to give up on the possibility that any latent magical ability is going to reveal itself,” Montgomery continued carefully.
Anna froze on the spot and turned a bright shade of red as she looked away.
“ Hmm? Wait. Sorry – what?” David was confused. He was staring from one to the other.
Montgomery was shocked. He realised he had said something he shouldn’t have. He came to the realisation that Anna had never told David.
“ Oh…” Montgomery said guiltily.
David rounded on Anna, “ What’s he saying?”
Anna didn’t respond. Montgomery seemed very uncomfortable by the situation he created. On top of it, he seemed to be suppressing a sneeze. He didn’t seem to be able to cope and started to head for the door. Anna still hadn’t responded and the silence seemed to stretch between them. The tension was mounting. When Montgomery got to the door he turned to his sister wanting to say something, but he couldn’t think of anything. Rubbing his nose he left the room frowning deeply, leaving Anna and David alone in the room again.
David looked incredulous.
“ But I’ve seen you do magic,” he said disbelievingly.
Anna seemed to grab all her courage and quietly said, “ Have you? Actually?”
David couldn’t believe it; he racked his brain and going back over all the situations they had been in together.
“ I’m an illusionist,” she said. “ I can do tricks to make people believe they are seeing magic.”
“ But, your bag?” David blurted.
“ I collect magical objects to compensate for my lack of magical ability,” she said monotonous, without looking at him.
“ You deflected all those curses,” He pointed out the door as if that’s where he had seen her do it.
She stroked the fur collar on her jacket. “ Nemean Lion mane and leather.”
David looked like she’d slapped him in the face. He knew all about Nemean Lions of course. It was an ancient Grecian breed of Magical creatures long gone extinct. Their skin was known to be impregnable and had been used throughout the ages as armour. It could stop anything from non-magical weapons to vicious curses. Nemean Lion fur was extremely rare and probably worth a fortune.
David looked up from her jacket and remembered something else.
“ But you’re a Legilimens,” he said.
“ I’m observant. I can see connections and draw conclusions that seem to be pretty accurate, most of the time.”
“ Things you had no way of knowing,” he said angrily. “ How I was in Pukwudgie.”
She finally looked at him as she got some of her confidence back.
“ Of course you’d be,” she said proudly. “ I’ve read everything there is to know about every magical school in the world, hoping anyone would accept me. Pukwudgie is the house for potential healers,” she said.
“ Then how did you know I was into healing,” He answered just as quick.
“ The books I pulled out of my bag that day - to see if they hadn’t been reduced to sand- the book you were drawn to was Hua Tuo’s book on magical herbology,” she said as if it was obvious. But it wasn’t obvious to David.
“ So?” He snapped.
Anna looked annoyed as if he’d dared to insult her intelligence.
“ He’s a well-known name amongst healers. You know a lot about herbology. When we were making the healing potion in the hotel room you identified the potion I was trying to make just by knowing what herb I told you to use.”
He was kind of impressed by her deduction skills but he wasn’t convinced yet.
“ How did you know I was expelled?” He asked.
“ The wand is the wizards passport. The wand you had the first day we met wasn’t yours. You didn’t even like it. By the look of its scruffiness, you hardly took care of it and your aim was off by a good five inches, it wasn’t your wand. Conclusion, you nicked it because you don’t have one. I’m quite familiar with the procedure myself.”
Her talking about wands reminded him of a simple fact.
“ I’ve seen you stun a man with a wand,” he said.
“ All forms of magic leave traces. Because the wand is the tool, it is full of trace magic of all the spells, charms and curses it has helped to channel. If I’m impeccable in my execution and ask for something the wand has performed before, my own nugatory amount of magic is sometimes enough to produce a semi-decent spell. Or… it used to be.”
David just couldn’t believe it. His mind just couldn’t fathom it.
“ But-“ he tried stubbornly, but Anna had had enough. She had been humiliated enough, she was exhausted and the subject was difficult enough as it was.
“ I’m a Squib, David,” she said finally.
David was stunned. For a couple of seconds all they could hear was the clock ticking from the wall in the corner.
Before he could think properly what to say he blurted out, “ Did you just use me for my magic?”
Anna frowned at him. She took a moment to form her words.
“ At first, yes. But I really did hope we might find a solution for Lycanthropy in Egypt.”
David was speechless. She’d managed to bring things back to him being a werewolf and he didn’t like it.
“ You regret being a wizard, but I would give anything in the world to be a witch,” she said smiling ironically.
“ You lied to me,” he said quietly. His voice was unsteady.
“ I never lied. You saw what you expected to see and never questioned the signs that suggested otherwise.”
David felt a dangerous anger bubbling up inside of him. Somehow she had the nerve to blame him.
“ Not saying anything and allowing the lie to live is still LYING!” His voice grew louder with every word. “ Do you know how many occasions I took extra risks, because to me you were such an amazing powerful witch, and I thought you had it under control,” he seethed through gritted teeth.
“ I thought you were just a little bit crazy,” Anna said simply.
“ This isn’t a joke, Anna!” He barked.
“ Have I disappointed you?” she rounded on him. “ Does it upset you I’m a Squib? Because you’d be happy to know there is a special club in the world for people I’ve disappointed with my lack of magical ability. They’re called ‘Family’!” She shouted.
“ Stop it.” He turned away from her.
“ You can join them,” she taunted. “ And turn your back on the failing, low life, pathetic Squib. Desperately holding on to anything magic.”
“ Shut up!” He roared.
In two steps she made her way over to him. Shocked he took a step back but she had grabbed him by the collar.
“ Don’t for a second think I need you for your magic. I can find the jewel on my own,” she said dangerously, before pushing him away.
She stormed to the door.
“ You can’t be serious?” he said angrily while catching up quickly.
“ Back off!” She shouted. His body automatically froze as he just saw her take out her pink stun gun. Every single nerve ending in his body still remembered the pain vividly.
“ Don’t make me use this again,” she said pointing the pink device at him. “ Excuse me for not disapparating,” she jeered. “ BECAUSE I CAN’T.”
David noticed that Phil had groggily made his way over to Anna. She picked him up off the floor and stormed out the door leading to the hallway, letting it slam shut behind her.
David sat down in the seat that Phil had just vacated and put his head in his hands.
He breathed heavily. He wasn’t sure how the situation had managed to escalate this badly. Whenever he was alone with Anna for too long a fight just seemed inevitable. David was half entertaining the idea to go after her when Montgomery popped his head around the door leading to the office.
“ Anna?” He asked timidly. He looked as if he was kind of relieved to see she was gone.
“ We had a fight,” David said slightly muffled because his head was still in his hands. He heard Montgomery’s slow footsteps cross the room and he felt a weight sit down next to him. David finally looked up when he heard Montgomery sniffling. For a second he thought Montgomery might be crying but he just seemed to be struggling with his allergy.
“ I’m afraid people skill doesn’t really run in the family,” Montgomery said, sounding like he had a slight cold.
David didn’t know what to say to that. He didn’t want to be rude, but he had a feeling Montgomery was talking to fill the awkward silence, more than anything.
“ She was daddy’s pride and joy, so intelligent, so quick to master skills. She was always so annoying, outdoing me at every turn. She would get sorted into Slytherin, uphold the family name. Father couldn’t stop raving about her. Everything was always about Anna-Rose,” he said very measured. As if he was too good for bitterness. When David wouldn’t respond Montgomery continued.
“ But, the magic never showed itself, the letter never came. Shoved off to a Muggle boarding school. Listed under a new name, so she couldn’t be associated with the family. She tried to go home, but Father made it clear there was no place for her in the magical world.
He was wrong, as he is about many things.” Montgomery smiled and he looked over at David.
He still didn’t know what to say back. All of this wasn’t helping at all. If anything a horrible guilt was starting to bubble up inside him.
“ Personally, I think it was a blessing in disguise,” Montgomery continued, suddenly very grave. “ With the entitled way the family raised us and her exceptional skill, perceptiveness and intelligence, she could have easily gone the other way.”
David hadn’t been expecting him to say that. After a couple of seconds, he asked, “ Do you mean… like, she could have gone dark?”
“ We found the notebooks hidden in the hotel room. I can only assume you read them,” he said simply.
“ She was breaking a curse,” David found himself defending Anna.
“ Well, we’ll never know either way,” Montgomery shrugged, scratching his nose.
“ Why are you telling me all of this?” David asked suddenly suspicious.
Montgomery looked up surprised as if he had done something wrong without realising.
“ I’m just making conversation until the others come out. Like I said… my people skills leave a lot to be desired.”
David looked at his watch and his heart started to pound painfully in his chest. He would have an hour at best until the full moon would be strong enough to start affecting him. He needed to get away from prying eyes.
“ I need to leave,” David said abruptly as he got up off the Chaise longue.
Montgomery looked very guilty as if it had been something he said. But David didn’t have the energy to think up an excuse and he certainly wasn’t going to share the truth.
Montgomery let out a sneeze. “ Excuse me,” he sniffled.
“ Bless you,” David said absentmindedly.
“ How am I still sneezing,” Montgomery complained sounding stuffy and wiping his nose.
David knew. His condition could sometimes trigger allergies.
“ Phil sat here earlier,” David said quickly, taking a step away from Montgomery.
“ Phil isn’t even a real dog though, he’s a Boggart…” Montgomery let the sentence trail away as he looked up at David.
“ A Brownie, actually,” David said as he remembered what Anna had told him.
Montgomery ignored this.
David saw Montgomery’s mind racing in the same way he had seen Anna’s do, many times. The thought process, like a code breaker, going through a million possible combinations, coming to different conclusions until the final one finally slotted into place.
David could see the conclusion forming in Montgomery's mind.
Montgomery turned white as a sheet as he slowly stood up.
David couldn’t have this conversation again. His whole life he’d kept his secret to himself, it was bad enough that Anna had figured it out but he wasn’t going through that again. Without knowing what to do he quickly left the room, dashing back down the stairs. An hour wasn’t a lot of time to find a safe place in a busy town he didn’t know.
With thick goggles on Anna was driving on her SR250 Yamaha Motorcycle with brown leather seat and mint coloured fuel tank. It was old, scratched, covered in dirt and awfully loud as they made their way on the dirt road from Cairo leading to El Ashmunein. Anna’s satchel was slung over her shoulder and leaning on her back. From the bag, Phil’s head popped out of the opening and he too was wearing similar, thick goggles. His mouth was open and his tongue was happily flopping out of the side. They were both getting very dusty from the sand the Motorcycle was kicking up. The Motorcycle started sputtering as if it had run out of fuel.
Anna switched off the motor and rode out the momentum before coming to a stop. She grabbed her phone from her inner pocket and opened GPS. There was no signal and she got off the Motorcycle holding her phone up high. She walked around in a circle like this trying to catch a signal.
“ I should’ve gotten this one charmed as well,” she said while giving her phone a frustrated shake.
Sighing deeply she shoved the phone back in her pocket.
The sun was setting but it was still very hot. She wiped the sweat off her forehead and considered for a second taking her coat off. She decided against it as her coat was practically her armour and could protect her from potential threats.
Phil jumped out of her bag when she moved it over to pull out the page she had accidentally ripped out of the Book of Thoth. She held it up against the setting sun.
“ I think we’re here. What do you think?” She asked.
Phil barked excitedly and started sniffing the air.
She opened the lid of the fuel tank and reached back into her bag to pull out her jar of Floo powder.
“ Oh no,” she complained as she held the jar upside down over her hand. Nothing came out as she had run out of Floo powder. Annoyed she chucked the jar back in the bag.
On the handlebars of her Yamaha, there was an old-fashioned bicycle bell. She started ringing it and with every ring the Motorcycle shrunk a bit. She kept ringing the bell until it had shrunk to the size of a small toy. She put it back into her bag along with her goggles.
Anna crouched down next to Phil and she pulled off his goggles too.
“ Do you have any shapeshifting transportation to offer?” She asked him as she affectionately tousled his ears.
Phil looked up at her with his big eyes, thinking. Then he squinted his eyes and started transforming. In front of her, now, stood a dodgy, half zombie camel. It let out a horrible loud grunt and Anna felt slightly queasy as the smell of rotting flesh entered her nostrils.
“ I’ll walk,” she said struggling to hold down the falafel she had eaten earlier.
Phil transformed back into his dog self and happily bounded after her, as both of their footsteps sunk deep into the sand.
Chapter 7: The House of Books - Chapter 9
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The House of Books Chapter 9
David managed to find a reasonably cheap hotel in central Cairo. The room had no air-conditioning, was small and smelled musky. He could see that housekeeping had had trouble getting rid of the stains on the carpet. There was a sink across from the bed and a shared toilet in the hallway. At least his door locked properly as he quickly locked it behind him.
He crossed the room to close the moth-eaten curtains. For a second the twilight hit his eyes and it felt like his retinas were on fire. A pounding migraine set him gasping on the bed. He quickly pulled out his hipflask and took a big gulp. Even this recent freshly brewed concoction of the Wolfsbane potion tasted horrible.
He took another look at his watch, squinting past the dancing specks of light in front of his eyes caused by his painful migraine.
He didn’t have long. His breathing was laboured as he got up. He slowly managed to remove his clothing, which he folded and laid on the bed. From his backpack, he pulled a pair of stretchy bottoms. If years of monthly transformations had thought him anything, he knew it was best to be dressed in case he needed to relocate quickly, to avoid transforming back butt-naked somewhere unplanned. It had happened.
The room was so warm that droplets of sweat were dripping down his chest and back.
Shaking he sat down in the corner with his bare back against the cooler wall, leaning his head on his knees, waiting.
He was deep in thought when a tap on the window startled him. Uncertain he got up and moved to the source of the tapping. He peered through the curtain and was instantly hit with another wave of painful pulses that felt like his brain was being forced through his skull from the inside out. He quickly closed his eyes and resisted the urge to throw up. He’d still managed to catch a glimpse of the handsome owl that sat outside the window.
Keeping his eyes covered with his hand he opened the window for the owl. A letter was strapped to its leg. He carefully removed it, though his movements were slightly clumsy due to his shaking. The owl screeched at him reproachfully. Once he got the letter the owl flew off quickly, managing to fight its own way around the curtain.
David closed the curtain behind the owl but left the window open, hoping it would cool down the room with a non-existent breeze.
David sat down on the bed and looked at the letter. The envelope bared the official stamp of MACUSA. He opened the letter and with a pounding head, he read the neatly written text.
Dear Thomas Bryant,
(Looks like his newest identity failed to fool MACUSA, they knew exactly who he was).
We’ve been made aware that you have gone above and beyond to recover the Guardian of Nineveh for the Magical Congress purposes. Even though the mission to recover the book of Toa has failed due to the limited time the Magical Congress representative on site had to locate it in the vast library, we do recognise your part in locating the Library. For this service, we would still like to reward you for your efforts and hope that you would be interested in future commission work for the Magical Congress of the United States of America. If you wish to accept the reward please present this letter including your unique reward code 8569 to the Wizarding Resources Department, level 101 at the Woolworth Building 223 Broadway, Manhattan, in New York City.
Head of MACUSA W.R.
His eyes skimmed through Bernadette Fisher's writing but quickly zipped back to the title mentioned in the letter, the book of Toa! Had they been looking for the book of Toa? But it hadn’t been in the library at all. He remembered Anna had unknowingly taken the copy from the library along with another big pile of books she had wanted to read later. He knew she had it because it had been the one book he had been interested in as well, as it focused on his favourite subject, Herbology.
Which meant that that was the book the Scourers were after. They weren’t trying to get to the library. They were trying to get to Anna. Turning white as a sheet and feeling slightly like his spirit had left his body he realised that they were still trying to get to Anna.
Without even knowing what he was doing he threw his shirt back on without buttoning it up.
He felt an annoying prickling sensation crawl across his legs up towards his chest, from the tips of his fingers up to his face. The fur was starting to appear.
Panicking he quickly tried to apparate back to the ministry.
He wasn't very good at apparating at the best of times, but he hoped that with his new wand he'd be able to manage it. It would be the only way to get to the Ministry unseen.
For a second his body entered the crushing void of apparition but he was roughly flung back into the room. He crashed into the bed. Gasping he got back up. He couldn’t apparate in his wolf form; he’d already started transforming. He caught his reflection in the cracked, grubby mirror; his ears were growing and turned pointy.
He thought quickly. He was, maybe, three blocks away from the ministry? He ran to the door and unlocked it, rushing out. He tried to cover his face and not catch anyone’s eye.
He didn’t meet anyone on the stairs or down in the lobby.
Once he stepped outside on the rough gravely street he realised he was barefoot, he looked down to feet that were changing shape, growing longer and claws growing where once he had nails. His balance moved to his phalanges as the metatarsals extended into the characteristic digitigrade shape.
He dashed across the street hoping to pass for a crazy, hairy person in a pair of slacks and a loose shirt. He could feel his spine curving and his sense of smell heightened.
Sprinting as fast as he could he made it back to the ministry. He could feel his body growing stronger as his strides doubled in length. He felt the vicelike pain in his jaw as the teeth grew and the jaw stretched. He rushed up the stairs, taking the steps 5 at a time until he got to the entrance of the ministry. He burst through the double doors into the reception hall, lined with granite fireplaces. Inside the reception hall were a lot of employees who were all shocked by the sight of this half man, half beast. They soon got over their initial shock and started pulling out their wands, threateningly coming towards David.
“ Minister? Hermione? Monty?” David growled. His voice had started to distort. Soon he’d lose the ability to speak at all. Surprised by his own instinct he let out a deep howl of frustration. He could only howl with a snout. Which meant his snout was already forming. “ Incarcerous,” one employee shouted, sending binds flying at David and wrapping around him tightly. He expanded his chest and felt the ropes straining against him. With his strength still growing he managed to snap a few ropes.
Startling everyone a green inferno erupted from one of the fireplaces and from it a heavy cloaked form came shooting out, skidding across the floor in a cloud of dark ashes. Coming to a stop the man stood up coughing heavily. He was quickly back on all fours, retching.
“ Urgh, that was way too far by Floo,” he complained rubbing his stomach.
" Why did I go by Floo?" He wheezed. He looked up at all the commotion in front of him.
“ Harry Potter,” David growled. He desperately hoped Harry would be able to recognize him.
A wave of “ Harry Potter? The Harry Potter?” crossed the room, through the employees as they were temporarily distracted by the celebrity in front of them.
“ D-D-David?” Harry stuttered, looking at the half man in front of him. “ Oh, this isn’t good,” he said dryly.
“ Help,” David managed, still fighting against the binds.
“ Okay, let him go,” Harry said, his voice deep and strong.
“ But he’s a werewolf,” one of the employees whimpered.
“ Yes, I can see that, I have eyes, and glasses,” Harry added dryly. “ Let him go; don’t make me tell you again,” he said in an authoritative manner. Harry was pretty sure he had no authority in the Ministry of Cairo but his bluff paid off as the employees backed down. Harry quickly slashed the ropes with a flick of his wand and grabbed David by the arm, dragging him up the stairs with him.
“ Quickly, before they find out I have absolutely no authority here whatsoever,” He whispered at David. “ You’ve taken the wolfsbane potion?” He asked worriedly.
“ Yes,” David said but his 'yes' quickly turned into an ear-splitting growl as the pain of the transformation took unbearable proportions.
“ Hermione!” Harry shouted as he supported David’s weight under him who was now well over 7 feet tall.
The door to the reading room banged open as Hermione came rushing towards the commotion wand at the ready.
“ Harry! What?” Hermione looked from Harry to the massive man-wolf growling in pain. Her face turned white as a sheet.
“ It’s David,” Harry clarified quickly. He shoved David in between them to carry into the office. Surprised and still unsure, but mostly horrified Hermione helped David in the office with Harry.
Inside were the Aurors Fabienne Bianchi, Ophelia Reed, the representative of MACUSA, Montgomery, the Egyptian Auror Asim and a short, hairy chubby man who David assumed was the minister for Magic in Egypt. The Aurors and woman from MACUSA pulled out their wands along with Asim. The minister of Magic from Cairo hightailed it to the door ready to run.
“ How dare you! In my office, you take this beast!” He shouted at Hermione.
“ Yes, thank you, Minister,” Harry said annoyed and quickly closed the door pushing the Minister out of his own office.
“ David… has he taken the wolfsbane potion?” Montgomery asked holding out his wand just in case. It surprised Harry that Montgomery recognized David. He had transformed past a point you could recognize him. He could have been anyone.
“ The book… Toa. Anna,” David’s voice rasped. He hated the beastly sound of his voice, but he had to before he lost the ability to speak altogether. It was already nearly impossible to wrap his lips around the words with his forming snout. To his immense relief, Montgomery was quick on the uptake, and way ahead of anyone else in the room.
“ Anna has Toa’s herbology book?” He asked.
David nodded; he had never felt so much gratitude towards someone.
Harry still looked like he needed to catch up but Hermione exclaimed, “ They were never trying to get to the library. They were after you!”
“ Where’s Anna?” Harry asked grabbing the fur on the side of David’s face, bringing him closer.
David was growling in pain with every breath. He tried to speak, but it was hard with the big sharp teeth and a mouth that wasn’t as flexible. His eyes turned to Montgomery hoping he’d understand.
“ Jewel,” David finally managed.
“ What jewel?” Hermione asked desperately.
To David’s relief Montgomery again was quick on the uptake. “ Professor Binns mentioned she had to find Thoth’s consort Seshat at the House of Books to obtain the Jewel,” he told them.
Confused, nobody knew what to say for a second.
“ Any know what that means?” Harry asked exasperatedly.
Everyone’s eyes turned to the door as they heard a sharp rap of knuckles on the wood.
Annoyed, Harry opened the door revealing a red angry, fuming Minister.
“ Do you know where the House of books is?” Harry shouted, towering over the man.
“ The Library? We just found it and you lost it!” The man shouted back in his thick accent.
It quickly turned in to a frustrated shouting match, as Harry shouted even louder, “NO Not the library, the house of books, something to do with Thoth.”
“ There are temples dedicated to Thoth! Now can you lock that beast up?” He screeched.
Harry slammed the door shut again while saying, “ Thank you, minister.”
“ Harry!” Hermione said disapproving Harry’s rudeness.
“ Phone,” David growled barely audible.
Harry was so surprised by this request it took him a second before he reached into his pocket, pulling out his phone.
David reached out to take it but noticed his fully formed claws. He tried to speak but no words came out, just a beastly growl. Frustrated he let out a howl that shook the windows. Collectively the people in the room gasped with a mixture of fear and pity.
Montgomery had figured out what David was trying to do. With the hairs still standing up on his neck and Goosebumps from that ear-splitting howl he stepped over to Harry, taking his phone.
“ Do you have that blocker thing?” Montgomery asked.
Harry quickly pulled out the small device that blocked magic and switched it on.
Montgomery quickly gave the phone back. “ I need the inter-connection-web.”
Harry couldn’t help but smirk as he took his phone back and turned roaming on.
“ Try: Temple dedicated to Thoth,” Hermione said looking over Harry’s shoulder. They all drew nearer.
With the transformation complete the pain had stopped and David could finally breathe easier. The representative of MACUSA had poked her head around his upper arm to see past him on the phone. She tucked her hair behind her ear thinking it was her own hair tickling her face but then she realised it had been his fur. There was a slight awkward moment where their eyes met and she looked shocked by his wolfish features. She quickly rearranged her face and looked back at the phone without stepping away. On his other side, he felt something brush past his arm. When he turned to look he was just in time to catch Ophelia brushing her hand through his fur.
“ So soft,” she whispered under her breath.
For a second David couldn’t even focus on what was going on. He was standing in the middle of a room in his wolf form and no one was fighting, screaming or trying to kill him. There were no pitchforks and torches.
“ El Ashmunein,” Asim said pointing at the search results. “ That makes the most sense. I can apparate us there.”
“ Let’s go,” Harry said.
“ Animals can’t apparate,” Montgomery pointed out, looking at David.
“ He’s a werewolf,” Asim said, surprised Montgomery was even suggesting taking David.
“ Exactly, we could do with the extra muscle and teeth. Most magic just bounces off, just like with Giants, plus it’ll scare the pants off of those Scourers,” Harry said looking around the room daring anyone to challenge him. Everyone seemed to see the logic in that and didn’t object, though Asim still looked weary.
Hermione crossed the room to the door and pulled it open revealing an even angrier Minister for Magic. He was so livid he looked like a boiling teapot, ready to explode.
“ Minister, we need a Portkey to El Ashmunein,” she said, her voice slightly higher than normal at the sight of his fuming face.
“ Minister!” he said outraged.
“ Now!” Hermione said a little firmer.
In the darkening sky, Anna walked through the dry undergrowth and rubble through the ruins. Tall pillars arose around her as she walked through the Portico following Phil. The little creature made his way to the open-air museum where they found two huge Baboon statues. Phil stood still and stared at them intently. Taking Phil’s cue Anna walked up to the stone Baboon and showed it the scarab on the palm of her hand. She quickly took a step back as with a great crunching sound the stone baboon stood up, revealing a stairway, carved out of the rock, leading deep into the ground.
Anna grabbed a fake wand from her bag and pressed the button on the side. The tip lit up just like a real wand would if she had used Lumos. She wouldn’t even be able to pull off a simple wand-lighting charm like Lumos now, but thankfully Anna was used to cheating when it came to magic.
Holding her imitation wand aloft in front of her she walked down the steps. The stairway seemed to go on forever and the air around the small circle of light the wand admitted was a deep black. No light reached down here.
She nearly tripped as the stairway finally evened out into the floor. Phil had merged with the deep shadows, but she could feel his presence. For other people this looming sense of being watched was a chilling one, but not for Anna, as she knew it meant Phil was near and ready to jump in to help.
Moving forward she got to a stone door. On the door was a carving of a big owl that looked very familiar. It reminded her of the Guardian of Nineveh. Below the owl carvings were ruins and one of the symbols looked just like the stylized scarab on her hand. Carefully she put her palm against the scarab and she could feel the door getting warmer under her touch. The cracks of the door lit up and slowly the door swung open, revealing, to her surprise, yet again the Library of Nineveh. This was the oldest version of the Library, she realised, the House of Books.
Torches lit the tall stonewalls and Anna was startled by a loud Screech.
From a high perch, the Guardian Owl of Nineveh stared down at her.
“ All this time,” Anna breathed. “ The guardian of Nineveh, the Guardian of the house of books.” Anna smiled at the Owl. “ Hello, Seshat.”
The giant Owl remained motionless. Staring at her with her gleaming yellow eyes.
Anna showed the Owl the scarab on her hand. The owl tilted her head and readjusted on her perch. Finally, she spread her wings and came gliding down. Before she hit the ground the Owl transformed into the shape of a woman wearing a leopard skin dress and a headdress with a seven-pointed star and inverted horns. She might have taken the shape of a woman but she didn’t look human. There was something otherworldly about her. Barefoot the woman walked towards a speechless Anna.
Stopping a stone throw away from her, Seshat started drawing a symbol on the floor by touching the floor with two fingers. The markings were like a shining golden light and took the same shape as the stylised scarab Anna had on her hand.
Seshat straightened back up and smiled at her.
Suddenly they heard footsteps running towards them. Seshat’s head whipped towards the source of the sound. She retreated a couple of steps before transforming back into the giant owl and flying high out of danger’s way.
Anna just about managed to instinctively roll away. She was flat on her belly on the floor before she even realised she was being attacked. An oncoming curse sailed overhead.
“ Give us the book,” a rough voice shouted.
One of them got to her in a matter of steps and before she could get up to defend herself he pulled her up by her satchel. He locked his arms under her armpits, around her chest. There was a woman in front of her with her wand and reaching for Anna’s satchel. With the momentum the man had pulled Anna up she swung her legs upwards knocking the woman square in the face. Apparently, the swirling shadow covering her face did nothing to protect it, as it was just there to obscure the face. The woman was launched backwards.
Anna tried to free herself from the man holding her in a suffocating grip. He was holding his wand in his right hand. Right-handed. Noted, she thought. She tried to kick back into his knees and dug her fingers as deep as she could between the tendons in his lower arm. He screamed in pain and finally, she managed to wriggle free.
The man had a hold of her bag and with the strap diagonal over her shoulder, she was still restrained.
He pulled her back and forced the tip of his wand in her neck.
“ Give us the book,” he growled in her ear.
Thinking quickly Anna flipped the switch to ‘M’ on her bag and ducked out of the strap.
“ Anna-Rose!” She heard her brother’s voice yell as he came running down the stairs.
The Scourer was distracted by the newcomers and Anna took the moment to assess the situation.
10 Scourers. One woman knocked out. One man, he had her bag but hopefully wouldn’t be able to figure out how to get to the magical contents before it would return to her.
He was bigger and a lot stronger than her but he would have trouble aiming, or even producing proper magic after she dug her fingers between his tendons. If she stayed out of reach she could avoid being attacked by him.
Three more were on route to her but had gotten distracted by the newcomers.
Anna turned her attention to them next. She saw her brother following behind Harry, Ophelia and Fabienne.
Behind Montgomery came something unexpected. A big hairy beast, a werewolf. David bounded down the steps on all fours in his werewolf form. He was huge. He was as big as a grizzly bear, with shaggy dark brown fur and a long vicious looking snout, with sharp teeth as long as her index finger. As he charged through the open stone doors he let out an unearthly roar, like a combination of a bear and a dragon. Instantly a chill travelled through the room as the Scourers collectively experienced a ‘Nope’ moment.
Anna felt overcome by gratitude and warmth as she saw David had come back for her. She also felt super proud as he was embracing his transformation and all the Scourers were probably pooping their pants right now.
Following behind David was Hermione, who herself looked like she was just as scared.
David and Hermione may have been on the same side but that roar had chilled her bones just as much as the Scourers.
In her hands, she held a small metal cube and her eyes searched the room. Once Hermione’s eyes locked onto the big spotted owl flying and screeching overhead, Anna realised what she was going to do.
Anna sprinted towards the symbol Seshat had drawn on the floor as Hermione flung the metal cube towards the guardian spirit. The owl let out an indignant screech as she metal cube captured it and warped it inside.
Harry, Ophelia and Fabienne pointed their wands upwards to cast shielding charms to protect the room from the caving ceiling. The structure was starting to sink in on itself as the walls turned to loose sand.
Anna dove towards the symbol and planted the palm of her hand onto it just as it started to sink like quicksand. Anna was surrounded by a glow as the symbol accepted the key on her palm but it continued to sink. Taking her with it.
“ Anna!” Montgomery yelled as he saw his sister slowly sinking in the sand. He jumped up in the air imagining his arms as wings and soon he could feel the tingle up his spine as he transformed into a big black raven. His now feathered wings caught lift and he flew over to try and grab her with his claws.
In his bird form, he was too small to carry her weight. Desperately he clung to her coat as she sunk. Anna disappeared underneath the sand. He lost his grip as she got sucked under and was flapping his wings wildly to free himself from the quicksand. He eventually managed to create enough lift to break free.
The rest of the floor had remained solid. It was only the area that had been drawn on by Seshat that had sunk into an abyss. The sand kept sinking in and Phil jumped in after Anna. Montgomery landed on the solid ground and shook the sand from his feathers before turning back into his human form.
Chapter 8: The House of Books - Chapter 10
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The House of Books Chapter 10
Anna fell down from a high ceiling, followed by a dark shadow. She fell feet first in a big pile of soft sand that broke her fall. It was pitch black around her. It took her a moment to realise the darkness was Phil in his shadow form.
As a shadow, he had formed a protective spherical form around her, which was stopping the remainder of loose sand to fall on top of her.
She could hear it fall and slide off the shadowy cocoon and was quite certain Phil had just saved her from becoming buried alive.
Once the falling sand had turned into a trickle Phil turned back to his dog form allowing Anna to see her surroundings. They had sunk into a massive chamber with black walls and a black ceiling. The walls were lined with huge columns and at the end of the chamber stood a four-story-tall statue that stood with his left foot in front of the right as if he was about to walk off.
He held a long sceptre in his left hand, which was a long staff with a forked end and a stylised animal head at the top. In his right hand, he held a cross with a handle named an Ankh. On his head, he wore two plumes. She recognised the god from his attributes. It had to be Amun-Ra.
Anna looked up at the ceiling where she had fallen from, but it seemed to be made from solid stone. Nothing indicated it could turn into quicksand. The rest of the tomb looked sealed, without any doors or windows.
Together Phil and Anna slid down the huge heap of sand until their feet hit the stone floor.
Her eye line was now level with the pedestal of the statue, which was beautifully carved and painted with depictions of Amun-Ra’s history. In the middle was a representation of himself with inside his chest a blue-ish glow.
Anna cautiously rushed towards the statue as her sandy footsteps echoed through the chamber. She stopped in front of the giant Amun-Ra towering over her. She was expecting something to happen but the statue remained lifeless and still.
“ I need to get back,” she told it. “ My friends are back upstairs.”
Still nothing. Amun-Ra continued to stare at the opposite end of the chamber.
Anna looked in front of her at the glowing blue light and realised it was an oval turquoise the size of a small chicken egg. It was carved like a stylized Scarab just like the one on her hand.
It had worked before, she thought, and she put the palm of her hand over the turquoise.
With the sound of an egg cracking the scarab broke free from the pedestal. Full of horror, she looked at it in her hand.
“ Those moments when ‘whoops’ doesn’t quite cover it,” she told Phil who was looking at her with an expression that asked exasperatedly: “ What did you do?”
There was a weird noise. Some kind of hiss that grew stronger. Like a billion insects crawling closer.
To her horror that was exactly what was happening. From the ceiling, billions of scarab beetles came rushing down towards them. The black walls reflected blue, turquoise and green as the beetles crawled over it with their structural coloured shells.
Her scream wasn’t loud enough to be heard over the immense noise that the rushing insects made.
Phil looked horrified which was quite an achievement considering Phil was a near Boggart. They both looked for an escape route but before Anna could even turn a full circle in search for an exit they were overcome by the first wave of beetles. Anna covered her face and held her mouth shut tight. Next to her she heard Phil yelp which turned into a sinister roar. He transformed into his shadow form, throwing off the beetles.
It felt like one of the beetles was eating its way through the skin on her chest, digging its way to her sternum. While still holding her breath she swung her arms around and tried to wipe the beetles off her but more just took their place, crawling over her and through her hair. Her sternum felt like it was on fire. Suddenly, through her eyelids, and the thick layer of beetles that was crawling over her face, she saw a bright light. As if it was coming from her chest. It got brighter and out of nowhere, it was as if the neurons in her brain escaped and expanded through the room. She was harvesting some godly power and collecting it in the bright light on her chest. Her mind soared like an Ibis, roared like a lion, snapped its jaw shut with the strength of a crocodile, reared its head like a cobra, and screeched like a hawk.
All of the power warped inwards towards her chest and one moment everything around her had been buzzing with power the next the light dimmed and the room turned to absolute silence. The beetles were gone as if they had never been there.
Anna looked down and lodged in her sternum was the turquoise scarab, the jewel of creation. It wasn’t glowing now. Anna touched it to see if it would come off but it seemed to have merged with the bone underneath the skin and was now fused in the middle of her sternum.
Confused she looked up at the statue of Amun-Ra. In an answer, she could hear sand fall behind her.
When she turned towards the sound she saw a light come from where a hole appeared in the ceiling. Part of it had turned to loose sand again and had created an opening for them. Like sand in an hourglass, it trickled down from the ceiling.
Thinking back on the power she had felt earlier she focused on the Ibis. With its small head and long curved beak and graceful wings. The jewel started glowing on her chest as she called forth the ability of human to animal transfiguration. In her mind, she spread her wings and before she knew it she had transformed into an Ibis.
She was grateful no one was around to see her because as soon as she transformed she crashed into the floor bumping her unusually long beak.
Flapping furiously she tried again and managed to create some kind of lift but she was still trying to figure out the steering thing and she quickly veered off back to the ground. Phil in his shadow form started to move towards the opening and Anna finally managed to take wing and follow him. A couple of flaps in, she was starting to get the hang of it.
The sand falling down on top of her slowed her down a bit, but she eventually managed to fight her way through it and together with Phil they burst back into the evening sky above. She emerged above the ground in the open-air museum.
David had been controlling, hiding and holding back his entire life. Trying not to be seen, trying not to frighten people but most of all trying not to be considered a monster.
It felt wrong and he felt guilty but as he roared and one handily swung a Scourer across the room as if he was nothing, part of him appreciated the power and he kind of enjoyed it. Yet as his eyes followed the body sailing through the air he saw Hermione dodge out of its way. From the look on her face as she crawled back up, he wasn’t sure if she was more horrified by him or the chaos of duelling witches and wizards around them.
“ Look out!” She suddenly shouted while looking at something behind him.
He whipped around to find a Scourer advancing on him with a raised wand brandishing a chain of fire. It emerged from the tip of his wand and he slashed it around like a whip.
David couldn’t actually perform any magic in his wolf state and had no way to defend himself against a magic fire.
Out of nowhere something white and feathery crashed into the Scourers face. As David looked closer he saw it was a bird with a black head and neck and a long curved beak.
The Scourer managed to beat it away from his face with his free hand but the Ibis latched on to his arm with its beak. The bird started to glow turquoise and transformed into a huge animal, something taller than a human.
The Scourer started screaming in pain and as the turquoise glow subsided David could see an enormous lioness that had the man’s arm trapped between her crushing jaws.
The lioness started shaking her head, trying to rip off his arm but another Scourer sent a curse flying at her, trying to blast her off. The curse, however, harmlessly bounced off. But it had been enough to lightly distract her and she let go of his arm.
The wounded and bleeding Scourer quickly crawled out of her way and the lioness let out a frustrated roar.
She turned to face a different Scourer, the one holding Anna’s satchel.
Ferociously she leapt towards the man holding the bag. The man readied his wand, but before he could launch a curse a big black raven attacked the hand holding on the shoulder strap. Out of shock and pain, the man dropped the bag and with great difficulty, the raven managed to pull the heavy bag out of his reach. With the oncoming lion, the man didn’t dare to chase it.
“ Impedimenta!” The man shouted, brandishing his wand, but the jinx didn’t seem to affect the lion.
“ Confringo!” He shouted desperately, but again the curse just harmlessly bounced off.
Before the lion could make it to the wizard he quickly disapparated.
Frustrated the lion let out a mighty roar and rounded on the rest of the room looking for a target, but the fight was over.
Harry had managed to stun two and had restrained them with ropes. Three others lay in motionless heaps with claw marks as if they’d been tossed aside like ragdolls. Fabienne had petrified one and Ophelia was clutching a nasty burn on her arm. She was doing better than the Scourer she’d been duelling with as he lay on the sandy ground with horrible burns all over his body. Hermione had stunned one of the Scourers but she was sporting a puffy black eye and her hair seemed to have exploded out of her bun.
The Scourer who nearly had his arm ripped off by the lioness was trying to crawl to his wand but Hermione spotted him and quickly stunned him as well.
Now all there eyes seemed to focus on the lioness, not knowing where she came from and whether she was friend or foe.
Anna was nervous as she saw Harry Potter aim his wand at her. In the heat of the moment she’d managed to transform without giving it too much though, but for a second she was afraid she might not be able to transform back. What would she do then? Live out her life as an animal?
She closed her eyes and thought hard of what it felt like being in her own body. Behind her eyelids, she saw that same turquoise light and she felt her weight balance back to her feet.
When she opened her eyes she saw a baffled Harry Potter staring open-mouthed at her. He turned to Hermione to see if she could make some sense of it. Hermione was already halfway towards her with a look of happy excitement on her face, which looked a little scary with her wayward busy hair sticking out.
“ The Jewel of Creation, you found it! Oh by Dumbledore! Can I see it? Where is it?” She stumbled over her own words in excitement.
Anna looked down her chest and opened the top button on her shirt, which was enough to reveal the stylised scarab turquoise. Hermione gingerly touched it.
“ It’s stuck,” she said surprised.
“ To be passed on only through death,” Montgomery said as he came closer. “ What?” he asked as everyone seemed to be raising an eyebrow at him. “ That’s what is written about it,” he clarified. “ So, how many animals can you transform into?” He asked. Hermione looked at her hopefully.
“ I’m not sure yet,” Anna said.
“ Hermione,” Harry said, pulling Hermione’s attention back to the problems at hand.
“ We need Obliviators,” He said looking at the edges of the open-air Museum. It wasn’t far from El Ashmunein and some might have spotted the wizards battle going on.
“ If you go to the Ministry in Cairo and get help,” Harry told Montgomery and he quickly nodded and disapparated.
“ Ophelia, St Mungo's,” He told her but she started to complain. “ You don’t know what kind of dark magic made that burn, Mungo's, now,” he said firmly. She scowled at him but disapparated all the same.
“ Fabienne if you could help me get these back to the Ministry in London,” he said, gesturing at the restrained and unconscious Scourers. She nodded and started levitating the bodies closer together for apparition.
“ One escaped, Hermione,” he said, his voice full of concern.
“ I know, but maybe we can get some information out of these,” she said trying to sound positive. It was clear her act didn't fool Harry but he didn’t say anything.
“ I’ll make a Port-key,” she started but Anna interrupted.
“ No need. I left my other Siddhi in my hotel room in London,” Anna said pulling a wooden hoop the size of a dinner plate from her bag.
Hermione looked confused as to where the bag had come from. The last time she had seen it the bag had been with Montgomery but the hoop quickly distracted her.
Anna gave it a jerk and with the momentum the hoop turned in her hand, growing to the size of a hula-hoop.
Hermione’s eyes grew big. “ I’ve read about those,” she exhaled excitedly.
The sound that escaped Harry’s throat was something between a snort and a groan. Harry didn’t know what that wooden hoop was but he was sure Hermione knew all about it. Unfortunately, they didn’t have time for Hermione to play ‘Wizardpedia’.
Harry’s impatience had not escaped Hermione and she quickly contained her excitement turning brusquely professional. “ Okay, well, I’ll see you in London,” she told Anna, as she started moving towards the exit of the outdoor museum with her wand drawn. “ I’ll start obliviating.”
David was feeling cold and feverish as he exited Charing Cross station. Despite wearing a warm jumper and it being a mild 15 degrees outside he was slightly shivering. It had been boiling on the underground or the Tube as the English called it, but even on the train, he hadn’t been able to shake off the cold exhaustion emanating from the very core of his being. The transformations always took their toll with the amount of energy they expelled, like a night long seizure.
It was only three days ago that they had entered the House of Books and had managed to obtain the book of Toa on Herbalism, but from his stiff and sore muscles, it felt like the transformation had only happened yesterday. He had been tucked away in his room in the Leaky Cauldron to recover and hadn’t seen anyone since.
The head of the Auror Department had invited him personally, and Harry Potter was not a man you could refuse, so he made his way across central London, along the busy streets and crowded underground stations.
David could apparate even though he’d been expelled before he could take the course. He had managed to teach himself but without a proper wand, the risk of something going horribly wrong was always very great. You didn't want to mess up when it came to apparition, the consequences were too gruesome.
He did have a proper wand now but he wasn’t going to try with his energy level this low. He’d probably just end up taking his head and his wand arm and leave the rest behind.
His parents had been doctors and he had always had a fascination for herbology and potions, and with constantly having to brew the incredibly complicated Wolfsbane potion he had become a reasonable good potioneer, but that was about all he had going for him.
He made his way along Whitehall until he got to a dishevelled looking red telephone box. He entered it and dialled “62442” as Harry had instructed him in his letter. He followed the prompts and was issued a visitors badge as the telephone box descended into the ground. Once in the atrium, his wand was subjected to a quick check and after passing approval he made his way across the atrium towards the elevators. He passed an enormous fountain and from the jets of water arose an elegant marble phoenix. Its wings were graciously curved up to the ceiling as if it was rising from the flames, and its long swishy tail curled down into the spraying water.
Around the basin of the fountain was a long line of names. David assumed it must be a memorial for those who lost their lives in the Second Wizarding War.
David entered the elevator and pressed the number two button. The elevator started to rise and a cool voice said, “Level two, Department of Magical Law Enforcement, including the Improper Use of Magic Office, Auror Headquarters, and Wizengamot Administration Services.”
“ David, how are you feeling?” Harry asked jovially as Anna sat on the visitor's chair by his desk. She swivelled her chair to face him.
David nodded, as saying “good” would be a downright lie.
“ I was just wanted to give you two an update on the situation, please take a seat, David.” Harry gestured to the empty seat next to Anna and David sat down.
“ So, I was just telling Anna that the Scourers were working for a larger entity that has managed to hide their identity well.” Harry sounded frustrated but continued.
“ Hermione found the potion in the book responsible for extinguishing magic and we’re drawing up laws along with the World Confederation that certain key ingredients will be strictly monitored. This way we’re hoping to make it impossible for them to make more of the potion by tracing, regulating, and restricting the components.” Harry’s frown deepened as he continued, “ Some of the best potioneers at St Mungo's are working on an antidote, but so far there is not a lot of hope.” Harry stopped as there was a quick rap of knuckles on the door.
“ Yes,” he said.
Through the door came Ellis. Nervously she stopped just past the door. “ Mr Scrivenor is just waiting for you in his office,” she told Anna.
Anna’s face didn’t reveal any emotion as she got up to leave the room. She softly brushed her hand over David's shoulder as she passed him and her touch seemed to instantly warm him.
As Anna entered her brother’s office she wasn’t expecting to find her Father there. The sight of him left her with a sour taste in her mouth.
Bancroft was sitting in Montgomery’s tall leather office chair and her brother was standing a step behind him.
Their father managed to make every room thick with tension and he gave her a cold stare over his interlaced fingers.
Anna didn’t close the door behind her and took a single step forward and not anymore.
After a calculated silence, Bancroft finally spoke. “ You’ll be happy to learn I’ve arranged for you a position in the Wizarding world. No need to scavenge about any longer.” Before Anna could respond he sat back in his seat and continued. “ Your notebooks were found in the Leaky Cauldron,” he said and Anna froze. Bancroft seemed to enjoy the fact that he had caught her off guard.
“ Thankfully,” he continued, “ the Minister for Magic, “ he lingered on the individual words with contempt, “ was very impressed and sent them to the Headmistress of Hogwarts.
She too seemed very impressed with your theoretical knowledge of magic, so much so that she would like to introduce a new subject at Hogwarts,” he paused for dramatic effect.
Anna couldn’t believe her ears, and these words were coming from her father's mouth no less.
He continued, “ Vocational Magical Theory, for students in year 1 to 3; and Magical Construct and Counter Construct for Years 3 and above.
Montgomery,” He concluded alerting her brother.
Montgomery jumped, as he hadn’t expected it. He quickly pulled out a heavy piece of parchment. Bancroft took the parchment and quickly skimmed over it with squinted eyes. He put the parchment face upwards on the desk and slid it to the end towards Anna.
Slowly Anna walked towards the desk as a tense silence filled the room. She stared at the contract.
“ You’re offered a teaching position at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry,” Bancroft said importantly.
Anna looked longingly at the piece of parchment on the desk. Her whole life she had wanted to go to Hogwarts. She had held the school in such high regards and never being selected to study there had been the biggest failure in her life. Now she wouldn’t be a student, she would be the teacher. Happiness like she had never felt before erupted inside her yet her face showed nothing. She wouldn’t give Bancroft the satisfaction.
Then she realised something and looked the man straight in the eye.
“ Don’t’ you think that by giving me a position teaching Magic, that it will very soon become obvious I can’t do Magic?” She said brusquely.
“ You were one of the unfortunate victims of the Scourers poison attack,” he said without missing a beat. “ You valiantly sacrificed your magical ability to preserve your noble brother’s life. Nobody who reads these notes will ever doubt you were anything but a powerful, talented witch,” he said sternly. As always his voice commanded such authority. Anna wasn’t surprised how easily lying came to him. Her stomach twisted and she felt sick. There had been a time she would have given anything to hear her father say the words ‘powerful, talented witch’ in association with her, but she had never imagined the anger it evoked in her.
“ Wow,” Anna finally managed under her breath.
Standing behind his father Montgomery frowned, this less than enthused response was not what he had expected. Yet he too felt a little ashamed about what his father had just said.
“ Professor Scrivenor,” Bancroft said, proudly playing with the words, completely miss interpreting Anna’s response.
“ Anna,” she said coldly.
“ Excuse me?”
“ Thanks, but no thanks. I’d rather just be Anna,” She told him, straitening her back and holding her head high. He had denied her the family name so many years ago he could keep it. She wanted nothing to do with it.
“ If that’s all? Well, even if it’s not,” she said as she confidently walked to the door and exited the room leaving Montgomery and Bancroft behind stunned.
“ Here you go Ellis,” Harry said as he offered a notebook to Ellis. David was still sat in the chair opposite Harry and apparently getting Anna hadn’t been her only business.
David’s eyes were drawn to the notebook as he quickly recognised the leather cover. It was one of Anna’s notebooks on Magical Theory.
Ellis nodded her head to David as she passed him and left the room with the notebook.
David’s eyes followed Ellis as she left the room, uncertain what to say. “ I…” he started but he changed his mind. “ Listen, about those notebooks”-
“ The dodgy notebooks filled with dark, secret magic?” Harry interrupted. From his tone, David wasn’t sure if Anna was in trouble so he started, “ Yes. Look, I don’t think Anna meant any harm.”
Harry’s face remained a stony mask so David continued, “ I believed her when she said she was trying to counter dark magic. I read through some pages and while applying her theory I found my wand-work actually improved.” He tried to sound upbeat and casual.
Harry let the awkward silence persist before breaking out into a grin.
“ Yes, so thought the Minister for Magic. Anna is currently being offered a teaching position at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Magical Theory something or other.” Harry trailed off not knowing the finer details of it.
“ Oh,” David said. He was surprised to find himself so disappointed. He should be happy for her. He was happy for her. He didn’t know what he had imaged would happen next, he hadn’t had the opportunity to think about it, but it saddened him that he wouldn’t get to see her. She’d be working in a school; he wouldn’t even be allowed to visit her due to the trace he had on him.
When he looked back at Harry he found him observing his reactions intently. David quickly tried to lighten his mood.
“ Personally, I think it would have bored me to death,” Harry said. “ But I guess that there are students like Hermione who love burrowing their noses deep into those theoretical textbooks. At least it’s nothing like the Defensive Magical Theory by Slinkhard,” Harry said curling his lip.
“ Right,” David nodded, though he hadn’t a single notion who Slinkhard was.
“ But anyway, back to you,” Harry said changing direction. “ I could actually do with a strong connection across the Atlantic. A liaison with MACUSA.”
For a second David was completely stunned. He wasn’t sure, but it sounded like Harry Potter just offered him a job. Him? A werewolf? Still feeling incredibly weak he didn’t feel like he could do anything at the moment.
“ Oh,” David managed finally. “ I don’t actually have any connections in America, I kind of cut off all ties due… well, you know, unless you count the underworld,” he blurted out honestly.
“ Perfect, just the man I need,” Harry said jovially, surprising David.
“ I couldn’t,” David found himself saying.
“ Why?” Harry pressed.
“ My affliction”- David started monotonously but Harry cut across, “ Your monthly superpower?”
For a second David didn’t know what to say. Sure he had felt powerful when he was a werewolf but that was nothing compared to how lifeless he felt now. He wasn’t sure how to feel about being appreciated because no one had ever appreciated his wolf form. He was a monstrosity, a dangerous creature.
He smiled painfully, not quite managing to feign happiness.
“ Listen, if it wasn’t for the excruciating pain during the transformation I’d ask you to turn me on the next full moon.
Mind you I’m no stranger to pain. I’ve gone through some horrendous transformations. Twice in my life, I transformed into somebody else with the help of some Polijuice potion- illegally, I might add – and both times the transformation was horrible, but I’m sure that’s nothing compared to what you go through every month.
But as you’re already a werewolf, and have no choice in the matter, you might as well use it for something good, right?
You were amazing out there,” Harry encouraged. Sitting back in his chair he continued, “ You could start part-time, and strategically plan your days off.”
David couldn’t find the words to express his gratitude at being valued and appreciated. He felt, for the first time since he was bitten, that maybe he’d found some friends.
“ I’m flattered, I honestly am… but I.. I can’t,” he said finally, not quite meeting Harry’s eyes.
He couldn’t explain why, but he wasn’t ready to be so openly accepted after hiding and being shunned his whole life.
Imagine a number of people he would have to have his werewolf chat with, in a steady workplace.
Harry was visibly disappointed as he sighed. “ Right, well… If you ever change your mind, you know where to find my office.”
“ Thank you,” David said tiredly.
Harry kindly nodded at him, which David took as his cue to leave.
David stood outside of the dishevelled red telephone box after having exited the Ministry. Part of him was considering walking back to the Leaky Cauldron, as it wasn’t that far, but he was still very tired and it was only one stop on the Underground. As he started walking he was still considering if he’d benefit more from the fresh air or a seat on the train when he was suddenly shocked from his ponderings by a tap on the shoulder. He turned around to see Anna holding two takeaway cups of coffee. Beside her Phil was sitting on his hindquarters, happily wagging his tail.
“ Coffee?” She offered, holding out one of the cups.
David gratefully took the coffee. She walked with him knowing that he was heading for the Leaky Cauldron, which made up his mind that he was not going to take the Underground. Phil happily trotted beside them.
“ I’m sorry you’re still a werewolf,” she said. David realised this was the first time they had talked since the fight they had. He wanted to apologise but couldn’t quite find the words, so he said, “ Ah well, I’m not sure I wanted a big beetle sticking out of my sternum anyway.”
Anna snorted. “ Could have been worse. Could’ve been an eyeball.”
“ Or the Toe of Thoth sticking from your forehead,” David joked.
They both laughed and instantly David’s mood lifted.
After a silence where they both sipped their coffee David asked,” So… Professor?”
“ I didn’t take it,” she said without even being surprised he knew. David couldn’t help but feel relieved.
“ You didn’t take the teacher position at Hogwarts?” he asked surprised, though part of him just wanted her to confirm she wasn’t moving to Hogwarts for the better part of the year.
“ I’d be teaching the most boring subject in school: Magical Theory. Nobody likes theory. They all want sparks and explosions,” Anna sighed.
“ True, I guess,” David agreed though entirely for selfish reasons. Half of his mind was still trying to find an opening to try and apologise.
“ Harry Potter offered you a job.” Like always, she didn’t ask, but she stated it. He’d stopped trying to figure out how she could deduct all of this.
“ It’s a pretty good deal. Part-time. For health reasons,” he added sheepishly.
“ That’s very kind of him.”
“ Very kind,” he agreed. “ I’m not used to… people seeing past the wolf,” he said quietly.
“ But you’re not going to take it.” Again she stated it, rather than asked.
“ No. I had my eye on a different job,” he said avoiding her eye. For once he seemed to have surprised her.
“ What?” she blurted.
“ I was hoping you might need a wand-wavers help?” He said shyly, quickly taking a sip from his coffee.
“ A wand-waver?” she laughed at the way he phrased it.
“ You’d be the brains, I’d be the magic. I mean… I’m not very good. But now that I actually have my own wand I’ll get better.”
“ Perfect,” she said, surprising him. “ All you need is a monster sidekick and you’re hired.”
“ I’m a part-time monster. Does that count?” He said, disbelieving he just made a joke about his own affliction.
“ So, what magical treasure are we hunting next?” He asked mysteriously.
“ Ever been to Norway?” She asked as she pulled out her phone.
Hermione stood on high ground overlooking the forbidden forest. She hadn’t been back at Hogwarts in ages and her heart ached with good and painful memories. This is where it all began. This is where I became me, she thought.
Startling her a man apparated near her. She whipped around pulling out her wand. She quickly realised it was none other than Harry Potter. She lowered her wand.
“ How did you know I was here?” She asked turning back to face the looming castle in the distance.
“ Well, where else would you go?” He said stepping next to her.
“ There are many places,” she scoffed.
“ But none as appropriate as here,” he said simply.
“ Not as appropriate as here,” she agreed quietly.
The wind was quietly tousling their hair and pulling at their robes.
“ I haven’t been back in ages,” she admitted.
“ Really?” Harry sounded surprised. “ I was here only the other week, when James accidentally set his dormitory on fire, then a month ago when Lilly cursed this boy for something or other, then before that when Albus”- Harry was on a roll but Hermione interrupted, “ It’s not easy growing up in your shadow.”
“ It wasn’t easy growing up being me,” Harry said indignantly making Hermione chuckle.
“ Are you sure you want to do this?” He asked turning serious.
“ One can only obtain wisdom by searching for truth,” She answered mysteriously.
“ Yea, but… why would you let go of something so… Hermione-like?” Harry was obviously struggling to find the right words.
“ I will search for it myself and find it. Only then will I be worthy of its contents.”
From her pocket, she pulled a metal cube with ruins on it.
“ But what if the Scourers get a hold of it again?” Harry asked.
“They only found the library so easily because Anna and David unknowingly let them to it. We’ve got the copy of Toa’s book on Herbology.”
“ Yes, but there’s a whole lot of other stuff in there,” Harry said worriedly.
“ Knowledge should be free Harry,” she said with a tone of finality.
She tapped the cube with the tip of her wand setting in motion the opening of the cube. The metal started whirring and a light erupted from the centre. Hermione threw the cube high into the sky where it burst in a light flash. Harry and Hermione shielded their eyes from the blinding light as an enormous spotted owl erupted from the light. The Owl circled high above them letting out a menacing screech before flying away.
Harry knew this hadn’t been easy for his friend so he gently wrapped his arm around her shoulder.
Hermione had just freed knowledge.
Quietly they walked for a bit before disapparating, feeling the need to move, wanting to be surrounded by the calming quiet rather than London’s busy city centre.
As they walked downhill in the quiet of the twilight Harry couldn’t help but ask, “ Did you take note of where it went?”
Chapter 9: The House of Books Chapter 2
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The House of Books Chapter 2
When David woke up he was sat in a dark and dusty room, on a creaky wooden chair. His whole body was aching, and there was a weird tingling sensation crawling from his wrist up his arms. He tried to move to get more comfortable but he found his arms were tied behind the backrest of the chair. The walls around him were made of concrete and the creaky chair was the only thing in the room. He heard voices from the other room and once his eyes stopped stinging and had adjusted to the light he saw that there was no door and he could see into the next room.
The three people that had overpowered them were still hooded and standing around a wooden table investigating a leather satchel. On the side of the room, he could just about make out some metal bars of a cell.
Recovering from the initial shock of being tied and seeing his attackers, he tried to breathe as quietly as possible. He tried not to move on the chair as it creaked loudly and he was afraid it would catch their attention.
He recognised Anna’s bag.
Cautiously he saw them open the bag and look inside with wands investigating and moving items. One of them carefully removed a laptop, a diary, a bottle of water, a dog leash and some breakfast bars. David was expecting them to find the books he had seen Anna put in the bag earlier, but nothing else came out after the last empty bar wrapper.
David he inhaled sharply as he saw a dark shadow move across the wall. His attackers looked up to find him awake. To his horror, they turned their attention to him and walked towards him.
Their faces seemed unusually dark. Their hoods could not have cast that much shade, but he looked closer he saw it was a spell. One of them moved his wand in front of his face and the dark cloud obscuring his face dissipated. The man was bald and above his right ear was a tattoo of a bird.
“ Where is it?” he growled at David.
“ How am I supposed to know? It took me months to find the library the first time around!” He shouted angrily.
Mercilessly the man pointed his wand at David and said, “ Crucio.”
Pain like flaming daggers pierced every inch of his body. He was screaming. A horrible guttural scream. David was no stranger to pain; he had repeatedly suffered through quite a lot of it during his life but nothing like this. He simply couldn’t understand how he was alive until the curse lifted. He gasped for air. His throat felt like he had screamed it to shreds. His whole body was convulsing from the aftershock. Something cold and gravely had slammed into his head. When he opened his eyes he realised he had fallen over, still tied to the chair and was lying on the floor. Judging from the blood on the floor, he’d bust his head open.
“ Where is-” the man started but David interrupted, desperate to prove didn’t know, his voice cracking, shaking with panic.
“ I don’t know! I don’t know. It flew off.”
The man pointed his wand at David.
“ Please, I don’t know!” David begged, “ I don’t know where it went, I don’t know where it went, please.” David kept repeating the words, hoping desperately he wouldn’t be subjected to another round of torture.
The man had no mercy for him and seemed to be rather enjoying himself. He repeated the curse. He felt like he was burning from the inside out, he couldn’t breathe. He couldn’t even feel himself screaming, he just vaguely realised the beastly, primal sound must be coming from him. It felt like ages until he finally passed out.
“ David?” faintly he heard the voice of a woman. He had to come from far. It was like pulling his consciousness from a vacuum. Slowly he managed to pull himself back in his body. He was shaking and breathing hurt. He felt like he had just run a million miles. His muscles felt burned out.
Taking a deep breath he tried to yank free his tied arms but it was no use.
“ David,” he heard Anna say behind him. He nearly had a heart attack. After a less than dignified yelp he turned as far as he could, trying to locate the voice. From behind him, Anna appeared as she started to try and undo the ropes tying his arms.
“ Where did you come from?” He whispered surprised.
He was even more surprised about the fact she had her satchel slung over her shoulder.
She didn’t answer and continued to fiddle with his ropes, which were cutting into his skin. She finally managed to undo them.
He got off the ground shakily. Undergoing the Cruciatus curse had drained all of his energy.
“ Come on,” She said grabbing his arm and leading him to the room with the empty table.
“ But… how did you get out? They took your wand.” He whispered confused. In the other room, he was surprised to find all three of the robed kidnappers knocked out on the floor. He stopped in his tracks. Did she do this?
“ I keep a couple of extras. Here, you need one?” She asked holding out a hand full of wands she had dug up from her bag.
“ But, they took your bag, I saw it,” his voice was hoarse and he could barely use it.
Anna gave her satchel a pat, “ It’s a loyal bag, it always returns to me.”
She was holding out three wands to him, a short pale one, along greenish one that looked very battered and a dark one that was decorated in such a way it seemed to have the skin of a python. The length seemed very natural to him and it looked expensive so he chose that one. The python pattern made the wand look alive; as if it could just start wriggling away.
“ Ooh, that’s very fancy,” he said admiring the wand’s skin. She put her satchel on the table and took out a soft bag and out of that came an old copper kettle. She was careful not to touch the kettle directly.
“ This is hardly the time for tea,” he said, anxiously looking at the three figures on the floor.
“ It’s a Portkey. My last one, but I guess this qualifies as an emergency. Time to go Phil.”
From the shadows, the little dog came bounding towards her and jumped in her arms.
“ Where did he come from?” David said shocked.
“ You’ve heard of magic before, haven’t you?” Anna said smirking. “ Ready?” She asked hovering her hand over the kettle.
“ In three, two, one…” Simultaneously they put their hands on the kettle and David felt a jerk behind his navel as they travelled through space and time to London.
David and Anna smashed into the floor on a busy street full of shops. Across the street from them was a small dingy pub with a sign above it, which read ‘ The Leaky Cauldron’.
“ Where are we?” David asked as he looked around, jumping out off the way of some oncoming tourists.
Anna managed to find a gap between the cars and quickly crossed the street, over her shoulder, she shouted back, “ London.”
David was left to try and catch up, thoroughly annoying a black cab that hadn’t been planning to wait for him. Slamming his hand on the horn the driver slowed down just enough for David to quickly zip out of harm's way and across the street.
David took out an old pocket watch and started fiddling with it.
“ What’s the time?” He asked as he followed her.
“ I lost my phone,” She said as she turned to him. From her bag, she had grabbed a hat. When he looked up to see why she had stopped she plopped the hat on his head.
“ Hold this.” She gave him her golden decorated wand and held the door for him to let him through first.
Behind the bar was a blonde woman who was just visible behind the tall stack of boxes she was carrying. “ You need a room?” She asked slightly muffled.
“ Just something so we can freshen up?” Anna said. She grabbed David’s elbow of the arm that was holding the wand and lifted it up, waving the wand within the line of sight of the woman.
Once the woman spotted the wand she hurriedly put down the boxes, “ Of course! Follow me, follow me. You’re the second Scrivenor today.”
David was pretty sure that Anna had stolen the golden wand, which was why he expected her to look worried but instead she looked pleased.
The blonde woman started to lead them towards the stairs, Anna followed. David gave himself a quick smell check and shrugged, deciding he could do with some freshening up.
“ Excuse me, do you have the time?” David asked with his pocket watch out. From the corner of his eye, he could see Anna was observing him. The blonde woman looked around surprised but proceeded to point towards an old cuckoo clock. David sheepishly adjusted his pocket watch.
Before starting up the stairs the woman dashed to the wall to quickly grab a newspaper from the holder.
“ Would you like a Daily Prophet?” The woman asked breathlessly.
“ Yes, please.” Anna took the newspaper, opened it and started reading it as she followed the woman up, with David trailing behind fiddling with the dials of his watch.
The woman left them alone in a beautiful double room with a king-sized four-poster bed.
Anna dumped her bag on the desk and got a mini cauldron and a circular herb rack out. With one of her wands, she lit a blue fire underneath the cauldron in a dish.
David slowly took in the surroundings of the room. It was decorated like the room of an old, very old grandmother. Nearly everything had ruffles or lace with prints or embroidery of kittens, roses or farm life. He took off his singed and dusty coat and draped it on the desk chair. He stared down the cauldron trying to decide what Anna was brewing.
“ Why were you trying to catch Nineveh,” Anna asked while sniffing the contents of one of the bottles holding a blood red liquid.
“ Because people pay good money for it,” he answered. He turned the herb rack, brushing his finger over the titles.
“ Who’s people?” She asked frowning at his hungry expression as he browsed through ingredients.
David was finding it hard to keep up with her brewing process. Rapidly she dashed about adding ingredients, adding one thing but already looking three steps ahead of what to add next. He didn’t answer her question. He didn’t know her; he didn’t owe her an explanation. Sure, he was sort of responsible for the disaster at the library but he hadn’t known the structure of the library was tied to the monster itself. In his entire career as a magical creature collector, he hadn’t witnessed or heard anything like it.
“ Nineveh can only be entered if you’re looking for knowledge. Otherwise, you have to fight your way through some horrible curses.”
David looked at the singed patches on his coat. “ Yes, I’ve noticed.” He was only just starting to feel the injury on his head. His forehead was pounding.
“ Stir this,” Anna said pointing at the potion. He took out the python wand and looked at it. He was eager to find out if he could do any proper magic with it. He hadn’t gotten along that well with his previous wand. He put his wand in the cauldron and gave it a generic stir.
While Anna added some lionfish spines she continued, “ The Library of Nineveh contains copies of all the knowledge ever recorded, however, if a copy is removed from the library it won’t reappear,”- she stopped staring at his wand work, “ No, not like that, what are you doing?”
“ What is this,” he asked.
“ Wiggenweld potion,” she said looking it at him.
“ Oh,” he quickly turned the flames up underneath the cauldron, “ Do you have any?”- He started to ask but as he looked up she was already holding out a phial, which he could only assume held some honey water. He took the phial from her outstretched hand and caught a glimpse of her expression as she dashed back into her bag, flipping the dial and swiftly taking out her laptop. She sat down in the desk chair. Was she smirking? He felt like she had been testing him.
He quickly finished the potion, which had turned purple and he said, “ Look, all I know is that somebody is willing to pay a lot of money for that monster,”-
“ Guardian, “Anna interrupted while swiftly typing away.
“ Whatever, I need to find it again and catch it properly. I’m going to use the shower and then I’ll be on my way to try and relocate that guardian.”
As he made his way towards the bathroom Anna took out her wand with a swoop from what seemed like her sleeve and pointing it directly at him, “ Who’s paying you?”
He stopped in his tracks with his hands held up. He came to the conclusion it wasn’t worth getting tortured over again so he eventually admitted, “MACUSA.”
Anna seemed deep in thought after receiving this information. With the immediate threat being gone David dared to lower his hands. “ MACUSA is”- he started to explain but Anna impatiently cut him off, “ I know. Who were the people who captured us?” she asked without taking her eyes off the screen yet keeping her wand pointed in his general direction.
“ I don’t know,” he said exasperated, “ I’m sorry, it’s going to take me months to relocate the library so I’m a bit busy with that.”
“ Maybe not,” she said, “ I lost my phone in the library.”
“ So?” he said impatiently.
“ It’s GPS enabled. I might be able to locate it for as long as the phone has battery power.”
“ I thought No-Maj stuff didn’t work around magic?” He said, getting intrigued, but still sceptical.
Thinking he was talking about her laptop Anna gave her laptop a grateful pat, “ Magic interferes with it, yes, but we haven’t passed the barrier into Diagon Alley, it should be fine.”
“ Your phone is stuck in a Magical library,” he said pointedly.
“ Oh, I had my phone charmed,” she said dismissively. “I might not get a very accurate location, but so far Nineveh has chosen sites linked to its mythological past. With some general guidelines we should be able to locate it,” She said confidently.
“ People charm phones? I thought that was illegal?” David asked venturing closer.
“ It is, but there are certain loopholes. There’s this Weasley guy who’s really good at it.”
“ You’re going to find it with that thing, which took me moths by magic,” he said sceptically, “ That’s just”-
“ Found it,” she said turning the laptop to face him and putting her wand back in her sleeve. Sure enough on the screen was a map with a blue pin, which was the supposed location of her phone. It was pinned on Alexandria, Egypt.
Still sitting in the chair she grabbed a glass that was standing next to an empty ice bucket and dipped it in the cauldron filling it with the purple potion. She offered him the glass. “ This is for you. You look horrible.”
Still on his guard, he hesitantly made his way towards her and took the glass. She got up so quickly he instinctively took a couple of steps back.
“ Can I borrow that wand I gave you for a second?” She asked.
He was already starting to feel attached to his new wand and he felt defenceless giving it away. “ You have a wand,” He said even though she wasn’t holding it anymore.
“ It needs to be that one,” she insisted. He didn’t know why but he didn’t feel like he was in a position to refuse but he still tried to stall for time. “ Can you borrow it after I take a shower.” This seemed to have distracted her at least.
“ Oh before you shower, do something with that beaver on your chin. We need to look smart for a posh happening tonight.”
David did a double take, “ Beaver?” He said offended. “ We? We’re not going anywhere together. I happen to be going to Alexandria, you’re going to Alexandria, but we’re not going together. I work alone,” he said defiantly. “ You made me lose that bird once, I won’t let it happen again.”
“ We were going to die!” Anna said exasperatedly. “ Besides, that bird is a sentient being, not just some trophy for you to lock up in a metal box.”
David dismissed this, “ Whatever. Trust me, lady, you wouldn’t want to be stuck with me anyway.”
“ Lady? My name is Anna,” she wasn’t going to let herself be patronized. “ You pretend like we’re strangers.”
“ We are,” he said, “ We’ve only just met under the threat of being crushed, cursed and killed.”
Surprising David, Anna took a step back from the argument and took a moment to calmly observe him. He had the strange idea she was reading him like a book. Seemingly coming to a conclusion she said, “ Correction: I’m a stranger to you, but you’re not a stranger to me.”
David snorted; he couldn’t believe what he was hearing. How could anyone be so annoyingly arrogant?
“ You’ve figured me out have you,” he laughed.
“ In the,” he took a moment to consider, “ what, three hours we’ve been together?”
He stopped for a second, as she didn’t seem to be joking.
“ Shut up,” he said disbelievingly.
Anna inhaled dramatically, “ You’re a Muggle-born American, mid-thirties. Educated at Ilvermorny, schoolhouse Pukwudgie. You had dreams of becoming a healer but never finished school,” she reconsidered while cocking her head, “ expelled actually.”
It was like David was being slapped in the face with words, the colour drained from him but Anna prattled on confidently, “ In the last month you’ve gone around the world twice, stopping in Iraq, Turkey, Italy and eventually Mali.”
Running out of breath she inhaled deeply, only to continue her barrage, “ Your name is not really David, you changed it three years ago as you do every two to three years. You haven’t got a bank account nor a wizarding vault, another way to keep yourself untraceable and even if you did, there wouldn’t be any money in there because you’ve spent it all on rare herbs, now you are a monster poacher currently on a mission for the Magical Congress of the United States, and failing badly.” She finished dramatically.
Shocked David walked towards the laptop, but there was no other screen beside the one pointing to Alexandria.
“ Did I miss anything?” She said raising an eyebrow.
“ How do you know this?” He asked rounding on her.
To his surprise she leaned closer to him, staring deeply into his eyes as if she was reading the answers from the back of his mind. “ There is something else,” she whispered, “ It’s on the tip of my tongue.”
David felt his heart racing and his face became red. He had many secrets and he wasn’t intent on sharing any of them.
“ Ah!” She startled him. She seemed to have come to a conclusion. He felt like his worst nightmare was about to become a reality.
“ What?” He asked petrified.
“ Oh,” she said as she changed her mind, “ Perhaps too soon.”
Stressed David took a step back drawing out the scaly wand and pointing it at her face.
“ You’re a Legilimens,” he said angrily. “ Get out of my head!”
“ Fine,” Anna said calmly. She threw an object at him. When he caught it he realised it was his wallet.
“ Hey!” He said confused. It had been opened and some of the different currencies came rolling out including some euro coins, Iraq Dinar, a Central African Franc note and some Lira notes.
“ You shouldn’t leave your valuables unattended,” Anna said pointing at his coat.
David dropped to the floor to pick up his money.
“ By the way, this is a really bad forgery,” he heard her say and as he looked up he saw she had a hold of two of his passports and was holding one open.
“ It’s just a Laminate. You’re not going to get through the electronic gates with this,” she said as she bent the laminate card inside the passport book.
He left the money on the floor and stood back up. Anger was raging inside him but he was trying to hold his composure, “ Are those… my passports?” He asked through gritted teeth.
“ Nice picture, Barry.” She smirked as she read out the name. She threw back his passports and as he caught them he realised something. Slowly he felt his anger and fear ebb away. She seemed to think she had him figured out finding out about his secretive life and his ever-changing identities but for now, at least, his biggest secret was still safe. He had heard about legilimency. How certain individuals were capable of reading minds. He had never learned Occlumency, which had the power to protect oneself, but he knew the basic principle was clearing the mind. Calming himself down he tried his best to clear his mind or at least to steer his thoughts away from what he was most eager to hide.
He shrugged, “ I never did like the name Barry.”
“ You don’t look like a Barry,” She stated, she seemed relieved the tension had subdued.
“ Fine, so you know me. Stay out of my pockets,” He grumped while picking up the last of his cash. Pointing past him at the laptop she said, “ I need to send an email.”
He stepped out of her way and she quickly plopped down on the desk chair and started typing away until she remembered something.
“ Wand,” she said, holding out her hand.
He gingerly gave her back the python wand.
“ I’m just borrowing it,” She said with a raised eyebrow when she sensed his reluctance.
“ Why are we going to this posh happening?” He asked and he nervously took a sip from his hipflask. He noticed it was starting to run out.
“ We need a port key and I have a friend at the ministry who owes me a favour,” Anna said looking at his hipflask. He put it back on his belt and shifted it to the back out of sight. David looked at her inquiringly as her answer hadn’t made him any wiser.
“ She’ll be here,” She said holding up the Daily Prophet. On the front page was an image of a woman in her forties with bushy brown hair pulled up in a bun.
The title read, “ Minister for Magic to open the 2020 International Warlock Convention.”