Sib’s darkness deepened over the next several weeks. He wasn’t paying attention in class and he didn’t care. He wasn’t doing his homework and he didn’t care. The five of them had even failed to find an opportunity to talk to Mr. Zolock since Miss Knox seemed to be hovering every time they wanted to try to have a conversation and Sib still didn’t care. He had been avoiding Miss Pyx, but she finally managed to pull him aside several weeks into the new year.
“You haven’t been coming to see me,” she said after the other students had left the classroom. “Is it because of your grandmother?” Sib nodded. He still felt angry with her. She was supposed to tell him what the visions meant and she had failed him. “She was a gifted Mystic, Sib. She would want you to follow in her footsteps.”
“It ain’t that,” he said, feeling his emotions surging like bile in his throat.
“What is it then?”
Sib tried to hold back the anger and tears. “It was just a pile of dirt,” he said through clenched teeth.
“Oh, god. It was her grave.” Sib didn’t acknowledge her and stormed out without looking back, stewing in his discontent as he wandered the hallways.
“Are you at least going to take the fart machine out of your pocket?” Lily asked him, startling him out of his self-pity.
“What?” He looked up and found that he was in the Pathfinder lounge. Lily and Lef were standing nearby. I don’t even remember getting here.
“You’ve been making fart noises all day and I’m pretty sure it’s from Incheon’s stupid toy,” she said. Sib reached in his pocket and pulled out the small device which let out a loud ‘toot’ as if to say hello. He had no idea that Incheon had put it in there. He knew that it was meant to cheer him up, but he just set it down without smiling.
“Yeah, I reckon so,” he responded and then stopped. “Lily, why are you puttin’ your stuff in that locker?”
“Because it’s my locker,” she said and then she stepped aside so that Sib could see the name on the top: ‘Lily Smith’.
“You got a locker in our lounge too? How’d you manage to swing that?”
“Sib,” she said. “I’m in Pathfinder now. Haven’t you wondered why I’ve been in all of your classes for the last two weeks?” He hadn’t wondered. In fact, he didn’t even realize until now that she had been in all of his classes.
“What?” he asked. “You can switch houses?”
“Not really. See, I’ve always been in Pathfinder.” Sib was baffled; she had never been in Pathfinder.
“But you’re in Featherpenny,” he said, totally confused.
“Well, I was supposed to be in Pathfinder, but I only stayed in Featherpenny because they had a Quidditch team. Well, that and the fact that my family has all been Featherpennies back to the Librarian.” Sib remembered that Lily’s great-great grandmother was the Featherpenny house ghost - known to the students as The Librarian. “Then, they threw me off of the school Quidditch team in favor of the Hammersmith seeker, even though I trounced him one-on-one. It was the last straw.”
Willow, who had just stepped through the portal, joined them. “Willow,” said Sib. “Lily’s in Pathfinder.”
“Sure she is, but I actually knew that since before finals last year. Didn’t you ever wonder why we had a fifth locker with no name on it?”
He hadn’t. “And you never told me?” he asked her.
“It wasn’t for me to tell.”
Incheon stepped into the lounge and Sib pointed him toward Lily. “Incheon, Lily’s in Pathfinder now.”
“Uh huh. She’s always been in Pathfinder.”
“What do you mean always?”
“She was sorted here by the hat.”
“No she wasn’t, she went to Featherpenny.”
“Actually, Amrose called out ‘Pathfinder’ and then the Chancellor cut him off and sent her to Featherpenny.”
“You mean you’ve known for a year and a half? Why didn’t you tell me?”
“You didn’t ask.”
“You mean, why didn’t I ask you if Lily was really in Pathfinder even though she and everyone else always acted like she was in Featherpenny?”
“Yes, that’s exactly what you didn’t ask.”
“What else ain’t you tellin’ me?”
“Am I the only one that don’t know?” He glared around at the four of them.
“Sib,” explained Lef. “She’s been in the lounge every morning and every afternoon for the last two weeks and in every one of our classes. Where have you been?”
“I...uh…” Sib felt embarrassed. He hadn’t been paying the simplest attention to anything around him. “I don’t know,” he finally said. He felt like crawling in a hole or being swallowed up like Lily was in his vision.
Lily! The realization hit him like a bludger to the face. The vision didn’t make sense before ‘cause Lily couldn’t come into the grove. Now she’s in Pathfinder, she can come to the pool anytime she wants.
“Don’t go near the pool,” he said to Lily.
“The pool, in the middle of the stones. Don’t go near it.”
“I’ve already been there,” she said. “There’s no water.”
Willow explained. “We haven’t been able to change her wand into an amulet because the pool is empty. It’s just a frozen patch of mud. When we cast ‘aguamenti’ to try to fill it the water just drains into the ground. Why shouldn’t she go near it?”
Sib recounted his vision to them, trying to recall exactly what happened. “... and then she leaned down to look inside and as soon as her face touched the surface, she got sucked in.”
“What do you mean ‘sucked in’?” Willow asked. “The water is only six inches deep.”
“I know, but she went in; head over heels. I chased after her, but as soon as my hand hit the water, my vision ended.”
“Was it the same pool?”
“Yes! I’m tellin’ you, it was the pool in the circle of stones.”
“Well there’s no water in the pool now,” Lef said. “Are you sure that the vision is literal? Could it be like the neon leaves or something?”
“I don’t know...maybe, but all of my visions so far have happened just like I remember them.”
“Do you think something happened to drain the pool?” Lily asked. “What if it never fills back up?”
“It has to,” said Sib, not wanting to tell them about his temper tantrum. “I’m sure it’ll fill back up in spring. Which reminds me. That vision don’t come true until the beginning of March. I saw the liverwort bloomin’.”
“Well, at least that gives us some time to figure out the vision,” Willow said. “Make sure you bring it up with Miss Pyx when you talk to her next.” Sib didn’t have the nerve to tell her that he was done with Mysticism and done with Miss Pyx.
A week later and with Lily’s help, they finally figured out how to get Mr. Zolock alone. She told Incheon to ask Miss Knox to help him with his illusion charms and while they were busy on one side of the room, the others approached the ghost. “Mr. Zolock,” Sib asked him. “When people give each other memories, what are you supposed to do with ‘em?”
“People don’t give each other memories,” he responded. “Memories are very personal things. It would be like someone giving someone else their diary to read.”
“But if I wanted to show someone else a memory I had, how would I do that?”
“Well, you could use a penseive.” There was a collective ‘a-ha’ from the group. “But it would be much easier just to explain it to them.”
“What, exactly, is a penseive?” asked Lily.
“Well, it’s a small basin, about the size of a birdbath, that helps some people sort through their jumbled thoughts. I never had a use for one, myself.”
“Where could I borrow one?” asked Sib.
The ghost looked affronted. “Well, they are rather personal. You wouldn’t go borrowing someone else’s underwear drawer, would you?” Sib didn’t know what to say. He and his brother shared an underwear drawer.
“So where could you get a penseive of your own?” Lef asked him.
“Why, I’m sure they would carry something like that at Clair Voyance.” Sib looked at the others and they were as confused as he was. Seeing this, Mr. Zolock continued. “A store in Narrowway called Clair Voyance. I used to be quite fond of Mrs. Clair. That is, when she was still Miss Armstrong.” Sib thought he was blushing, but didn’t realize a ghost could do that. They thanked him and left for their next class, Incheon catching up with them as they hurried out.
“Get Penseive,” said Willow as they walked, explaining what they now knew to Incheon. “I figure we’ll go to the store and just test it out like we would with a new broom. Next we just need to figure out what ‘find wand go’ means. Do you think seeing the visions will help?”
“I hope so,” replied Sib. “‘Cause I ain’t got any other ideas.” He stared down at his feet. We may have figured out one of the clues, but I still feel like I’m failin’ you Gramma.
Sib had forgotten all about the Hammersmiths, but now he realized that they had not forgotten about him and Incheon. The two of them were currently dangling upside down with their pants around their ankles baring their legs and underwear for all to see. A seventh-year Hammersmith was sitting on a nearby easy chair, holding them both up in the air with his wand.
“Hey, Sib,” said Incheon. “I’m going to tell on this bully. After all, snitches get 150 points.” He paused. “Hey, why aren’t you laughing?”
“I’ve heard that one before,” said Sib tugging his shirt down as far as it would go. This was the last of the four visions from the summer. Why did the Orenda want me to remember this moment?
“Jeez, I thought I just came up with it. Oh, hey Quinta,” said Incheon as she walked by. “Good thing I changed my underwear this week, huh?”
“Why don’t you morons fight back?” she asked.
“Uh…’cause we’re kinda outclassed here,” said Sib. “Why, do you know somethin’ we don’t?”
“What are you looking at noobie?” The Hammersmith boy said to Quinta as he slowly spun Sib and Incheon in the air with his wand. “Why don’t you mind your own business.”
“Why don’t you cram it, jackwagon.”
“Listen you little turd…” Quinta raised her hand and pointed at him.
‘BANG!’ The Hammersmith boy was blasted out of his seat and the cushion and chair flew in opposite directions.
Sib and Incheon dropped to the ground as the spell holding them was released. Sib landed on the cushion that had ended up just beneath him. Incheon landed with a thud. “Ow,” he muttered as they both sat up. They stared at Quinta, then at the senseless shape of the Hammersmith boy who had been blown across the room and lay crumpled up against the wall, and then back at Quinta.
“Holy…” said Sib.
“Did you kill him?” asked Incheon.
“No, he’s just stunned. He can still hear everything I’m saying.” She walked over to the Hammersmith boy lying in a heap and leaned down to him, speaking softly. “You be disrespectful to me,” she told the boy. “Then I’ll be disrespectful to you. So watch what you say or I’ll knock your ass six ways from Sunday.”
“What are the six ways from Sunday?” Inchon whispered to Sib.
“Shut up. I don’t wanna know.”
“You didn’t even take out your wand,” said Incheon to Quinta as she walked back toward them.
“Dumbasses, didn’t you know you don’t need to? As long as your amulet is touching your skin, you can just cast magic with your hands.” Sib and Incheon looked at each other in amazement. “Mouthbreathers, ” she muttered as she walked away.
“Did you know?” Incheon asked Sib when Quinta was out of sight.
“Heck no, but give it a shot.”
Incheon took his amulet and stuffed it inside his shirt so it rested against his chest. He held out his hand with the palm up and cast a spell. “Lumos!” A dim glowing point of light appeared in his hand.
“Holy…” said Sib.
“Not as powerful as with the amulet,” said Incheon. “But I wonder if it gets better with practice.”
“Think we should ask Quinta?”
“Heck no,” he replied. “After seeing what happens to jackwagons, I don’t even want to know the first way from Sunday.” Sib laughed. It was the first time he felt happy since Christmas morning and he understood why the Orenda picked this moment. For no reason at all, and for the first time in a long time, he had hope. Maybe my visions are worth havin’. Maybe they are gonna help me figure things out.
Several of them had agreed to meet in Narrowway that following Saturday afternoon. Sib had suggested they meet at Quod (De)Pot, not because he knew where Clair Voyance was, but because he wanted to see the Firebird again. When he arrived, he was surprised to see the blue-haired lady removing the broom from the window. Since the others hadn’t arrived yet, he went inside.
“Pardon me ma’am,” he asked. “What are you changin’ the display to?”
“We just received a brand new Yggdrasil model and we wanted to show it off,” she told him. She held up the false Firebird. “This was just for show anyway,” she dropped it onto a pile of trash next to the window display. Sib looked at it longingly. Why do you want a broom that don’t even work? ...I suppose it’s like the ring - so you can say you own somethin’ nice for a change.
“Ma’am,” he started. “If you ain’t usin’ it...do you think I could, um… have the broom?” She looked at him and he could tell she was thinking about it.
“Typically, we keep all our old displays just in case we want to recycle them later.” She paused for a moment. She looked around and then lowered her voice. “But since we aren’t ever going to sell a Firebird, I don’t see the harm in letting it go. Tell you what - come by at closing time after my boss leaves and it’ll be waiting for you out back by the trash disapparator.”
“Thank you ma’am! Thank you very much!” He couldn’t wait to tell the others. He looked outside and saw Lef and Willow waiting and hurried out to meet them. He told them that he was going to stick around after closing time to get the Firebird.
“My dad has one of those,” Lef said matter-of-factly.
“You mean he has a model of a Firebird?” asked Sib.
“No, it’s a real one. He keeps it sealed in a case and every once in a while he polishes the glass with a diaper.”
“So he’s never flown on it?”
“Oh no. He doesn’t even know how to fly a broom.”
“So why does he keep it?” Sib was incredulous. “He could sell it for a million dragots.”
“We already have millions of dragots...we don’t need any more.”
Millions?...must be nice, thought Sib as Incheon joined them. I’d be okay with ‘tens’.
“Well, I’d classify that as an ‘epic fail’,” Incheon said as they sat on a bench in the middle of Narrowway, the sky fading into the soft light of dusk. Not only didn’t they find a Penseive, but the owner of Clair Voyance, Mr. Clair, had thrown them out and told them to not come back. Incheon shook his head at Willow. “You had to bring up Mr. Zolock, didn’t you?”
“How was I supposed to know that he had been trying to steal Mr. Clair’s wife away for the last forty years?” Willow said, exasperated. “The way Mr. Zolock said it, it sounded like it was long ago.”
“Why did MACUSA come and take all of his penseives?” Lef asked, changing the subject. “Do you think they know we’re looking for one?”
“Well if they didn’t before, they probably will soon,” Sib said. “We ain’t been coverin’ our tracks that well.”
“So what do we do now?” asked Lef. Nobody answered. Sib just shook his head. Ain’t much we can do without a penseive.
The street was rapidly clearing as the last few shop owners and last-minute shoppers left for the day. Willow and Lef left soon after as the last light of the sunset disappeared from the rooftops. Sib and Incheon started walking back toward Quod (De)Pot to pick up the Firebird. Without getting to use the penseive, he found he was less excited about the broom than before.
"Did you know that Lef had more money than Gringotts?" he asked Incheon as they were walking.
"I guess," he responded. "Her mom owns MOTHR and they get all of the government contracts." Sib knew that Incheon's dad worked for the Magical Organization for Theoretical Research and Incheon pronounced the acronym as 'mother' but he never realized that Lef's mom owned it.
"Must be nice to own a million-dragot broom that nobody can use."
"I got no complaints with Mrs. Murgatroyd," Incheon said. "She sponsored my parents coming to the U.S. If not for her, I'd be in Korea now." Sib thought about that in silence as they made their way to Quod (De)Pot.
When they reached the store, everything around them was closed and dark had fully set in. The street lights lit up Narrowway, but the alley next to the store was as black as pitch. They edged their way to the back of the store and they could see a flickering light like the reflection of a campfire off of the walls bordering the alley. When Sib turned the corner, he saw the source of the light was the broom. He picked it up from where it was propped against the trash disapparator and held it in his hands.
“Looks real enough,” Incheon said. “Maybe you could get Mr. Hendershot to charm it to fly.”
“I guess,” Sib said. “But it probably wouldn’t be enough to use it in a game.” He sighed and slid the broom into his bag tail-first. As he closed his bag, the light left the alley and they were plunged back into darkness.
Sib stood up and was ready to go when he heard a faint ‘pop’. Incheon had turned to look and was staring down the alleyway. “What are you looking at?” Sib asked him.
“That dog,” Incheon whispered, pointing. “It’s just staring at the back door of the wand store.”
Sib looked around the corner of the trash disapparator. “That ain’t a dog, it’s a fox.” Sib whispered back. “What’s it doin’?”
“What the...what is that thing?” Incheon hissed as the fox disappeared and a small flaming lizard appeared where it had been.
“A salamander,” answered Sib. The salamander crawled up the side of the brick wall and stopped on the glass window and perched there, its flame glowing white-hot. Soon the glass started to glow and melt around it.
“Should we call someone?” asked Incheon.
“How?” asked Sib. “Unless you have the police in your pocket.” They remained crouched behind the trash disapparator and continued to stare. The glass had completely melted from one of the panes and the salamander dropped onto the ground and disappeared. It took a few seconds for Sib’s eyes to adjust to the darkness.
“Can you see anythin’?” he asked Incheon.
“It’s… a black rope?”
“Wait. That ain’t no rope. That’s a snake. Look, it’s movin’.” The snake, easily eight feet in length, slithered up the door and through the melted windowpane. Sib turned to Incheon as it disappeared through the door.
“What is that thing?”
“I don’t know, but I have a burning desire to not find out. Can we leave now?”
“Didn’t Mr. Puterschmidt say somethin’ about animagi in Alteration class?” Sib asked, ignoring Incheon’s nervous shifting from foot to foot.
“An animagus is a mage who can transform him or herself into an animal at will,” Incheon recited, “so no.”
“What do you mean - no?”
“An animal. Not multiple animals. That’s no mage. Can we go now?”
“Hear that?” Sib said. “I think it’s comin’ back out.” Incheon whimpered a little and huddled down, trying to make himself as small as possible. As Sib watched, the snake slithered back out of the window, carrying several bundles of small sticks wrapped inside its curled-up tail. Not sticks. Wands.
As he watched, it transformed into a larger serpent with folded wings. He recognized the creature from COMC classes before they had been killed by the MACUSA people. “It’s a wyvern now,” he whispered. It resembled a dragon, but was only about six feet tall. It stood up on its two hind legs, the bundles of wands held in each talon. It stretched out its wings, pumping the air and whipping up small tornadoes of paper and dirt as it lifted off of the ground. “It’s comin’ this way,” hissed Sib, pulling himself behind the trash disapparator. “Hide!”
“What do you think I’ve been doing,” Incheon hissed back. “Churning butter?” The flapping became louder as it drew close to them. Sib could hear its talons click on the alley pavement as it touched down. Its long serpentine neck snaked around the side of the trash disapparator and it stared right into Sib’s face. Its glowing grey eyes bore into Sib’s own and it bared its fangs and hissed, preparing to strike. Sib was frozen in fear.
They heard a series of faint popping sounds around them and the wyvern broke off from Sib. With one motion it flew straight up into the air, disappearing into the darkness overhead.
“Petrificus Totalus!” A voice called near him and in an instant Sib was frozen solid. Shapes appeared in the darkness around them wearing the uniform of MACUSA officers. One of them fired off a ‘lumos solem’ spell that lit up the alleyway like it was daytime. Sib’s field of vision was limited since he had been staring up into the air when he had been hit with the body bind spell. But he could see several MACUSA officers spreading out and searching the alley.
“It’s a couple of kids,” the officer in front of them called to the others. “Whaddaya got?”
“Break-in at Chantrix’s,” another called. “Looks like they went through the window with incendio.”
“Hm,” the officer in front of them responded. “Clara, hand me their bags.” Sib saw him point toward where his and Inchon’s bags were lying.
Sib heard a woman’s voice out of his sight. “They don’t look old enough to use incendio, Chief,”
“We’ll see.” Sib saw him digging through Incheon’s bag through his peripheral vision. “Jeez, kid,” he said after pulling out about two dozen Three Dubs boxes. “Did you buy one of everything from Weasley’s?” Sib would have smiled if he could move a muscle.
“Find anything Chief?” the lady’s voice asked.
“No wands,” he responded. “Gimme the other one.” He was standing in front of Sib as he searched through his bag. He started pulling out everything Sib owned in the world. The flaming broom went into a pile with his school books, potion kit, instant messaging book, pocketknife, and assorted twine, rope, and debris that he had collected over the years. Even the carved manticore that he had made for Willow and hadn't given to her yet went with the others. “Not sure you should be carrying this around,” the mage said as he held Sib’s grandfather’s whittling knife in the air in front of his eyes. It too went into the pile. Sib wanted to explain, but he couldn’t even grunt. “Oh, disgusting,” he remarked as he lifted a desiccated frog carcass from the bottom of the bag. “Pet frog?” he asked, not expecting a response.
“Well?” his colleague asked.
“Nothing,” the officer said, dropping the frog carcass on the ground. “You take that one for questioning. I’ll see what frog boy says. Finite incatatem,” he said as he pointed his wand at the two of them and Sib felt the spell release its hold on him. The female officer led Incheon away for questioning. The one in front of Sib opened a notebook and pulled out a quill. “Alright kid. Spill it.”
Sib told him everything about their trip to Narrowway - but left out the visit to Clair Voyance. He had just gotten to the point where the fox was staring at the back window when the officer interrupted him.
“So it was a fox animagus?”
“Yeah, I guess, except then it turned into a salamander. That’s how it burned through the window. Then it changed to a snake and slithered through the opening and then when it came out it turned into a wyvern. It flew off right before you hit us with that spell.” Sib was pointing up in the air where the wyvern had flown, but the officer just stared at him and put his notebook away.
“The Wendigo stole them,” he said to Sib.
“Your description. You’re telling me a shapeshifting fairy tale creature appeared in the middle of Narrowway, used its fire powers to melt the back window, turned into a giant snake and stole the wands from the store and then disappeared into the sky on dragon wings?”
He shook his head slowly. “First a freakin’ manticore loose on Gamp Island and now this.” He pointed an accusing finger at Sib. “Look, if you didn’t see anything, then just say so, but don’t waste my time.” Before Sib could respond, he walked away to talk with the officer who was standing next to Incheon.
Sib was still putting his things back in his bag when Incheon came over and picked up the frog carcass. “Oh my god, you didn’t get rid of that?”
“It stopped stinkin’ and I guess I just forgot.”
“Dude…” Incheon just shook his head and started putting his own things back in his bag. “They said we could go. Or did you want to stick around until your friend the manticore comes to give you some hugs and kisses?”
“Did you see its eyes?” Sib asked him as Incheon finished packing his bag.
“No. I try not to gaze lovingly into the eyes of manticores. Bad for my self-esteem.” They started walking toward the Narrowway exit.
“Not the manticore - the wyvern. I seen those glowing grey eyes before.”
“You need to spend less time gazing into the eyes of monsters.”
“Last year,” Sib said, ignoring him. “When we was chased through the woods. It was the Wendigo.”
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