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Floundering in Magical Waters

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     Hank’s job was pretty straightforward: go to some of the homes of the new muggleborns, explain that their eleven-year old has magical powers, invite them to Hogwarts, explain Diagon Alley, go shopping with them, and all that other annoying crap that Fowler loved to shove onto him. Least this year wasn’t so bad. He just had to visit two houses, which would be a breeze.

     He was wrong.

     His past experiences had never included a woman named Amanda Stern, which is how Hank found himself in the pristine living room of the Stern household, awkwardly sipping green tea across from Amanda and Connor. If he didn’t know Amanda was a muggle, he would have instantly said she were a Slytherin. She hadn’t stopped scrutinizing him since the moment he entered, and she looked like she was about to fire him for incompetence. The boy didn’t act like any eleven-year old he’d met either. He’d never say it out loud, but the poor kid seemed as mechanical as a robot, and dressed in a proper button-up to boot.

     “So, Connor,” he started, as Connor directed his attention to him. “Has anything supernatural happened to you while growing up? For instance, items changing color, or disappearing, floating, weird stuff like that.” Connor blinked, before turning his head towards his mother, as though he was asking permission to speak. Amanda nodded, and Connor faced Hank again.

     “Yes. On occasion, coins have levitated from the ground to my hand. I also turned some rose petals blue one time, on accident,” he stated, matter-of-factly. “There was also an incident where a plate seemingly repaired itself after it shattered.”

     “Yeah, that was your magic at work,” Hank explained, still put-off by both family members. “Lots of people have magic, just like you,” he continued his standard speech. “There’s this school called Hogwarts, where they teach you how to use your magic. It’s like boarding school, with different subjects and extracurriculars.” Hank slowly pulled out his wand from his coat. “For example, in your first year, you’ll learn this spell,” he demonstrated, as he cast Lumos. As a bright light emitted from the tip of his wand, he looked over to Connor, whose eyes were wide. Finally, a reaction. Amanda, on the other hand, looked unimpressed. He cancelled the spell, and put his wand away.

     “Tell me about the curriculum,” Amanda spoke up. “What classes would Connor be taking in his first year?”

     “Well, he’d be taking Charms, Potions, History of Magic, Flying, Transfiguration, Herbology, and Defense against the Dark Arts,” Hank listed, before he raised a hand. “And think of Defense against the Dark Arts as magical self-defense. Also, I teach that class,” he elaborated, trying to not scare them with the words ‘dark arts,’ as he watched both sets of eyes narrow at him.

     “Well, Connor?” Amanda looked down to him, who was deep in thought. Hank could see the gears turning in his head. “How does that sound?”

     “That all sounds,” Connor paused. “Intriguing,” he finished, in an emotionless tone. Hank inwardly frowned. He’d never gotten that reaction from a kid before, geez.

     “So do you want to go?” Hank inquired, unsure how to proceed with such a non-answer. Connor and Amanda both looked at each other.

     “It’s your decision to make, Connor,” Amanda advised, as Connor looked between the two adults.

     “I want to go to Hogwarts,” Connor finished, and smiled a little at Hank, who let out a breath of relief.

     “Nice choice, kid,” he smiled back, before going into the next part of his explanation. “So school starts in September, and we need to get your magical supplies and books and all that. I’ll tell you where to meet me, and we can all go shopping together, with another family who are also new to this,” he glanced at Amanda, who seemed alright with the plan. “And don’t worry about bringing cash or anything, cause the magical world uses a different set of currency, and the school has a fund going towards this kind of thing.”

     “That sounds excellent,” Amanda put her arm around Connor. “It’ll be good for Connor to get to know someone else his age.”

     “By the way, do you have a pencil and paper so I can write the address and time?” Hank looked around, not seeing anything nearby. Amanda pulled a pad of post-it-notes and a fountain pen from a pocket somewhere, and handed it to him. He wrote down all the information, and handed it back to Amanda. “That should be all,” Hank stood up from the couch, and headed towards the door. “It was nice meeting you two,” he smiled at Connor, who was gathering the tea cups, and then at Amanda, who opened the door for him.

     “Professor Hank Anderson,” Amanda said, looking him straight in the eyes. “Watch over Connor. I don’t want him getting into any trouble.”

     Now if Hank hadn’t been a retired auror, he probably would have turned pale at the cold, venomous look in her eyes that promised death. Death by poison, probably. “Of course ma’am,” he said curtly, and headed out.

     Sheesh, he’d never been in that kind of environment before. Amanda Stern lived up to her name, apparently. Hank sighed as he pulled out the details of the other family he had to visit. If names were anything to go by, the Williams would be far easier to talk to than the Sterns had been.

     And for fucks sake, he was wrong again.

Chapter Text

        After leaving Amanda’s immaculate house, Hank was relieved that the other house he was visiting seemed remarkably less so. Its state resembled Hank’s own home. Nothing special in the front, a modest porch, no doorbell -- but what did that matter? Hank mused as he knocked on the door. He listened for any sound of movement inside the house, but there was none. Strange. Normally people are home on a Sunday afternoon, especially when their car is parked right outside. He knocked again, a little louder this time, and the door opened a crack. He was greeted with a rough-looking, unshaven man who looked unfriendly.

        “Yeah?” the man gruffly questioned, looking Hank up and down. “I don’t wanna buy anything.”

        “Oh, no, I’m Hank Anderson. I’m here to talk to you and your daughter, Kara Williams. You must be Todd,” Hank held out his hand, and Todd looked at it warily, before ignoring it. “Can I come in?”

        “No,” Todd glared at Hank, who reflexively glared back. “What do you wanna talk to us about?”

        “A sort of boarding school, if you will,” Hank tried to stop glaring at Todd, as he continued. “It’s a great opportunity.”

        “Sounds like a scam,” Todd huffed, before going to close the door. Hank put a hand on the door as Todd’s glare intensified.

        “Just let me come inside, and I’ll explain everything,” Hank grit his teeth, before choosing his next words carefully. “It has to do with magic, so it would be a lot nicer if I could show you inside, away from others.” At this, Todd paused, before rolling his eyes and opening the door for him. “Thank you,” Hank said as he entered the house, and closed the door behind him. As he turned back around, Todd stood a little away with his arms crossed. Seems like he wasn’t going to be moving away from this small entrance.

        “So, what’s this magic bullshit you’re talking about?” Todd kept his voice low, as he watched Hank pull his wand out from his coat.

        “Tada,” Hank blandly said, as he cast Lumos. “Magic. Your daughter, Kara, can do magic as well, and the boarding school I’m talking about is all magical education. Pretty thorough and tough schooling, if you ask me,” Hank summarized, before putting his wand away and crossing his arms. “May I talk to Kara now?” Todd was looking at him weirdly, but at least he seemed convinced.

        “No.”

        Or not.

        “How do you know she can do magic? You got like a list of names? Some magical database and tracking system?” Todd questioned, as Hank put his hands in his pockets. It wouldn’t do well to be so confrontational, even if Todd was being difficult. His questions weren’t completely unreasonable. Maybe they’d just gotten off on the wrong foot.

        “Yeah, we have a magic book of names and birthdays of kids who’ve shown magical abilities, and then we check that list for kids who are eleven to invite them to Hogwarts,” Hank calmly summarized, as Todd raised his eyebrows.

        “Alright, that seems fair,” Todd assented, before opening his mouth again. “Check if my other daughter, Alice Williams, is in that book as well. If she is, then you can talk to them. If not, then I’m kicking you out.”

        “Now wait just a moment,” Hank argued, raising a hand. “That doesn’t seem fair, and to be frank, that makes my life a lot harder. I can’t just teleport my way back and check the book that easily.” Todd said nothing in return, and continued to stare at him. Asshole.

        “Fine, hold on, just give me a second,” Hank pulled out his wand for the second time, and turned his back to Todd, facing a stand with various mail on it. He drew two small circles in the air, and made a straight horizontal line connecting them as he said, “Accio Jeffrey Fowler.”

        “Hank? Why are you calling me?” Jeffrey’s voice came through the spell, the line serving as a visualizer.

        “Sorry, but can you check the book for me?” Hank sighed, glancing over his shoulder to look at Todd, who nodded.

        “Why? What’s going on over there?”

        “This guy wants me to check if his other kid is also in the book. Alice Williams.”

        “I thought I sent you to two muggle households!”

        “Yeah, you did, and one of them won’t let me talk to his kid unless his other kid is also magical.”

        “That’s ridiculous.”

        “That’s what I said! But apparently they’re some package deal,” Hank rolled his eyes. “Can you just check?”

        “This is absolutely unprecedented, but fine. Alice Williams, you said?”

        “Yeah.”

        “Yeah, she’s here as well,” Fowler replied, amidst the sound of flipping pages.

        “Perfect,” Hank looked over at Todd, who gave a slight nod. “Alright, talk to you later,” Hank ended the call, as Todd walked over to the stairs.

        “Alice! Kara!” he called out, and within seconds, Hank could hear the sounds of  footsteps. “This man is here to talk to you about school.” Todd turned back to Hank, and gestured over to the table in the living room. “Take a seat.”

        Hank walked over and sat on one of the chairs, noting that there were only three chairs. Todd sat down across from him, Kara sat in the third chair, and Alice sat on Kara’s lap. “Hi, you must be Kara,” Hank smiled, as Kara nodded, and Alice smiled at Hank. “I don’t want to take up too much of your time, so I’ll be quick. You’ve probably had some magical occurrences happen in your lifetime,” and at this, the two girls frowned. “But that’s perfectly normal for kids like you, because you have magic,” Hank added, not wanting them to panic. “I have magic too. A lot of people have magic, and there are various magic schools around the world to teach you how to use it,” Hank paused, waiting for them to comprehend.

        “He came here personally to extend an invitation to you,” Todd added, making sure Kara got the point. Kara’s eyes widened, but her eyes then darted to Alice, who was equally surprised.

        “Is Alice invited as well?” Kara asked, staring at Hank with a strange grave look on her face. Todd raised his eyebrows at Hank, in a sort of ‘I told you’ way.

        “Yeah, don’t worry, Alice is also invited. Her invitation will come a year or so later,” Hank reassured her, glad that he didn’t have to lie to a child. At this, Kara relaxed, and hugged Alice.

        “Thank you so much!” Kara said, as Hank warmly nodded. Finally, at least someone around here was excited.

        “So later I’ll take you all shopping for school supplies, and don’t worry about the cost. Our world has a different currency than yours, anyways,” Hank added. “Do you have anything I can write the date and location on for you?”

        “Yeah,” Todd stood up, and walked over to a table near the door, and tossed an old envelope and pencil at Hank, who expertly caught both items. Hank didn’t know what ‘A.A’ stood for, but he wrote the meet-up details on the letter regardless.

        “Alright, thanks for your time, and nice meeting you three,” Hank headed to the door, and Todd followed him. He was probably going to threaten Hank by the looks of it, or try to intimidate him like Amanda.

        “Those two are inseparable,” Todd confided. “I knew she’d have said no if Alice weren’t going,” he shrugged.

        That was probably the closest to an apology Hank would get out of the guy, so he took it. “Have a nice rest of your day,” Hank half-smiled, as he walked out. Least he could take it easy now, until he had to take the two families shopping.

        Between Amanda, Todd, and him, someone was going to end up dead before they’d even get to Ollivanders.

Chapter Text

          It was 11:55am, and Hank was already up and outside, waiting for his guests to arrive. If his assumptions were correct, Amanda and Connor would be arriving shortly, and Todd and Kara would be there at 12:05pm. A sleek, black, small car turned onto Todd’s road, and pulled up to the sidewalk.

          “Good morning Hank,” Amanda greeted, once her and Connor were out of the car. Amanda sported a loose cardigan over a dull green top, with dark jeans. Connor was wearing a white button up, with a gray coat over it, and jeans. Even though their clothes looked normal, the way they held themselves with an aura of business-casual made Hank feel underdressed.

          “Morning you two,” he nodded, still on the lookout for Todd and Kara. A few minutes later, a worn car made it to the curbside, and pulled up behind Amanda’s car. Todd and Kara got out, and made their way up to where everyone else was standing.

          “Hey,” Todd said to Amanda, and stuck his hand out. “Todd Williams. Nice to meet you.”

          “Likewise,” Amanda replied, and shook his hand. “Amanda Stern.” They stared at each other for a moment, Amanda trying to discern Todd’s character just from his appearance alone, and Todd trying to figure out why Amanda’s face pissed him off. “What’s your profession?”

          “What does it matter to you?” Todd glared.

          “Okay, okay,” Hank stepped in between the two adults. “Come inside, you two can argue after we buy all the crap we need,” he walked to his door and opened it, gesturing for the others to follow. As they shuffled in, Hank could hear Todd telling Kara that he was fine. After shutting the door, Hank walked over to his fireplace. “Alright, we’re going to Diagon Alley, and we’re using Floo powder to get there,” he pulled out a bag of green powder.

          “Floo powder?” Kara softly asked.  

          “Magical transportation powder that you throw in fireplaces and the flames take you to a destination,” Hank explained. “Don’t worry, the flames won’t hurt you. Worst thing that’ll happen is some soot getting on your clothes. All you have to do is step inside, throw the powder down, and loudly say ‘Diagon Alley’.”

          “Diagonally?” Todd questioned, and Hank shook his head.

          “Diagon Alley,” he repeated slowly. “All of you say it, just to make sure your pronunciations right.” After they all said it correctly, Hank took some powder out of the bag, set the bag on the floor, and stepped inside the fireplace. He dropped the powder unceremoniously. “Diagon Alley!”

          Instantly, he was looking out at the familiar lane buzzing with activity. He quickly stepped out, and waited for the rest of them to arrive.

          A few seconds passed.

          He really hoped they hadn’t screwed something up.

          A few more seconds passed.

          Hank groaned. They probably ended up at Knockturn Alley somehow. Just as he was about to leave, he heard the roar of flames, and out stepped Connor and Kara, holding hands. They looked a little bewildered, but they quickly stepped out, ignoring Hank’s astonished face.

          “What, what happened?” Hank sputtered, as Kara shrugged. “You’re not meant to go two at a time! Where’s your parents?”

          At his questioning, the fireplace roared, and out came Todd and Amanda, one after the other. “Sorry for the delay,” Amanda said, while taking Connor’s hand.

          “Don’t worry, your house is still standing,” Todd added, shoving his hands in his pockets. Hank put his head in his hands before sighing, trusting in the two adults who may or may not have destroyed parts of his home.  

          “Alright, let’s go get your wands first,” Hank headed in the direction of Ollivanders, checking behind him occasionally to make sure no one wandered off. Immediately after they stepped inside Ollivanders, an energetic assistant greeted them.

          “Hello, and welcome to Ollivanders! Mr. Ollivander isn’t here at the moment, but I can still help you all if you wish,” Olivia smiled at them.

          “Yeah, that’s fine. We’re looking for wands for them,” Hank nodded to Kara and Connor.

          “Oh wonderful!” she grinned, before gesturing the two to stand in the middle of the shop. “Love your outfits by the way,” Olivia called out as she rummaged through some boxes. “The wand chooses the wizard, that’s what we always say!” she added, as she presented a wand each to the two kids. “Go on, give them a twirl.”

          Kara waved her wand in a circle, and a few dull sparks flew out. Connor flicked his wand and knocked some boxes off of a nearby table.

          “Oh, don’t worry,” Olivia took both their wands and put them back in their boxes. “All sorts of things happen when wands are mismatched, but when you get the right one, beautiful displays of magic will occur!”

          As Amanda and Todd walked around store, Olivia weaved in and out of shelves, bringing pairs of wands to Connor and Kara as fast as they could blink. After the fourth pair of wands resulted in some lights going out, Olivia rummaged through the back of the store, and brought out two more boxes. “Try these on for size; I’ve got a good feeling about them.”

          Connor inspected the new wand in his hand, and as he was slowly moving his hand this way and that way, a soft metallic gray light left the tip of the wand, and ascended a few feet, before bursting into gentle fireworks. Kara and Connor stared as the fireworks dissipated, and Kara gave some quiet claps. After Connor nodded at her, Kara waved her wand, and a bright yellow light shot out, circling the two of them, before disappearing as quickly as it appeared.

          “Knew those two would be the ones!” Olivia cheered, before taking the wands from them and heading to the front desk. “10” cedar wand with unicorn hair, and 13” willow wand with a dragon heartstring,” she rattled off, looking at each child respectively.

          Hank chuckled at the kids’ astonished faces, and walked over to the front desk to pay. Amanda and Todd soon joined them, appearing from who-knows-where.

          “So that’ll be 14 galleons,” Olivia put the wands in separate bags, and handed them to Connor and Kara. After Hank paid, she looked at Todd and Amanda more carefully. “Oh, are you two muggles?”

          “Yes,” Amanda coolly replied, as Todd nodded.

          “That’s great! Have a good time shopping for the rest of your supplies, and when you get home, please don’t touch your children’s wands, for safety reasons. Each wand is semi-sentient, and they don’t take kindly to being handled by muggles, so just be careful, okay?” she explained, as Amanda and Todd nodded, each with an unreadable expression.

          “Thanks,” Hank said, as they all walked out back into Diagon Alley. “Seriously though, don’t touch the wands. You could get severely hurt,” he cautioned the two adults.

          “Understood,” Amanda said with a tone of finality, as she walked over to Connor and took his hand.

          “Yeah, yeah,” Todd remarked, before following Kara.

~~~

          Thankfully, the rest of the trip went without any hiccups. Besides the minor spat between Todd and Amanda about ‘sparknotes,’ no one got injured or hurt, which was a win in Hank’s book. After they floo powdered back to Hank’s home (with Hank going last this time, thank you very much), Hank ushered them back to their cars with some final information. “Don’t forget, be here at around 10am, September 1st, because the train to Hogwarts leaves at 11am sharp,” he looked at everyone until their heads were all nodding. “Alright, have a good rest of your summer,” he waved and waited outside until everyone had gone in their cars and left. Hank sighed, went back in his house, and spent all of a minute trying to figure out what Amanda and Todd had done to it, before making his way back to Hogwarts.

Chapter Text

Incident at Hank’s house

     The four of them stared at the spot where Hank was just moments ago. “So,” Todd broke the silence. “Who’s next?”

     “I’ll go,” Connor volunteered, walking over to the bag of powder and carefully scooping some up in his hand. As he took a step towards the fireplace, his foot bumped against the bag, knocking it over onto the floor. Connor froze, and everyone could see the gears turning in his head as he assessed the ‘damage.’

     “Connor, it’s alright,” Amanda walked over and put a hand on his shoulder, with her other hand gesturing to the fireplace. “Just go on ahead with Kara and we’ll clean this up.”

     “Yeah, Kara, just go in with Connor, hold hands, don’t get separated,” Todd shooed Kara towards Connor as he looked around to try and find Hank’s kitchen. As Kara and Connor shouted ‘Diagon Alley’ with shaky voices and disappeared, Todd sighed. “Where does he keep his paper towels? Is this powder even water soluble?”

     “I doubt it’s water-resistant,” Amanda joined him in the search, before finding a roll of towels in a cupboard and getting it wet.

     “Was it even safe to go two at a time?” Todd asked, as he helped Amanda clean up the excess powder and salvage as much as they can.

     “Of course,” Amanda left no room for argument.

     “If you say so,” Todd threw their paper towels in the trash, before picking up a small amount of the green powder remaining. “If Hank asks, nothing happened.” Amanda responded with an assenting blink.

 


Flourish and Blotts

     After Hank paid for all of their books, Todd looked in the bag and read each book title more closely, before handing them over to Kara, who carefully put her wand in the bag. “Eight textbooks, sheesh,” Todd commented once they were all out of the store. “There’s not some version of Sparknotes for these books, right?”

     “What are you going on about?” Hank looked bewildered, before shaking off his confusion and continued to lead them down the road.

     “Sparknotes,” Amanda said disapprovingly. “Don’t tell me you actually used that.”

     “Oh, don’t act all high and mighty with me,” Todd rolled his eyes, attempting to remove all traces of irritation from his voice. “You never once used Sparknotes, or Chegg, or anything like that?”

     “I never felt the need to use sites like those,” she replied, picking her words carefully. “I was also fortunate to never have to pull an all-nighter.”

     “Oh yeah,” Todd turned to look at Kara. “Don’t pull any all-nighters at school, okay? I want you getting around eight hours of sleep,” he waited for her to nod before continuing. “Don’t want you missing out on life because you’re struggling with a chapter of one of these books. Study with him if you need to,” he gestured over at the boy who was admiring the shops interiors.

     “Don’t worry,” Kara smiled. “The only time I’ll lose sleep is when I’ll be writing to you guys!” Todd faked a frown, before patting Kara on the head, and looking back at Amanda, whose facial expression instantly went back to neutral.

     “I pulled so many all-nighters in college,” Todd added, attempting to continue their previous conversation. “What did you major in again?”

     “I double majored in Computer Science and History,” Amanda replied. “Then got my PhD in artificial intelligence.”

     “Damn,” Todd’s eyebrows went up for a second. “And here I thought I was doing well with my Masters in chemistry.”

     “So you’re a chemist?” Amanda inquired.

     “No,” Todd shoved his hands in his pockets. “Used to do some odd jobs here and there, but now I do construction.”

     “A thankless job,” Amanda said. “But a noble one nonetheless.”

     “I guess,” Todd shrugged, before walking faster to keep up with Hank’s hurried pace.

 


 Stern Household, Connor’s room

     Amanda helped Connor organize all his new supplies, and as he eagerly looked at the cover of each book, she chose that moment to impart some words of advice.

     “You know, Connor,” she looked straight into his eyes. “While I want you to learn as much as you can, I also want you to make friends,” she waited until he nodded. “Don’t shut yourself off from the rest of this magical world just to focus on your studies, alright?”

     “Understood,” Connor stared at her with that worrying blank face, until he gave a small smile. “I was planning on reading these textbooks before school started anyways.”

     “That’s an excellent idea,” Amanda smiled, as Connor beamed. “Mind if I join you?”

     “Nothing would make me happier.”

 


 Williams Household, Kara and Alice’s room

     “Alright, lets see what this Dark Arts defence what-not is,” Todd grumbled, picking up the dark gray-blue textbook and cracking it open. Alice and Kara were reading The Standard Book of Spells, Grade 1 , though Todd kept a hand on Kara’s wand box. “Don’t want you two starting a fire or anything.”

     “That’s not even a spell in this book!” Alice countered, before Kara flipped a page, and pointed it out to Alice. “Nevermind.”

     “Oh, here’s the spell that Professor Hank showed us,” Kara showed Todd the entry on the Wand-Lighting Charm.’ “Can we try it? Please?”

     “Maybe you should learn the theory first,” Todd slid the Magical Theory textbook over to them with the wand box on top. Alice dove for the wand box, but let Kara open it.

     “Can I try it?” Alice looked between Todd and Kara with wide eyes, before slowly reaching her hand towards the cedar wand.

     “That person said something about specific wands per person, and when we tried other wands, nothing spectacular happened,” Kara remembered, but watched as Alice tried to balance the wand on her index finger.

     “You’ll get your wand soon enough,” Todd added, looking up at Alice, before clapping at her successful balance, before whipping out his phone.

Todd: Zombies exist

I can’t believe it

Hank better be damn good at his job

Amanda: So you’re reading through the textbooks as well?

Todd: Was just flipping through some

Are you reading all of them cover to cover?

Amanda: Yes, with Connor, of course.

Perhaps you should read the “Magical Drafts and Potions” book.

It seems to be similar to chemistry.

Todd: I’ll check it out.

Maybe.

Tell me how it is.

Amanda: I’ll read it after I finish “A History of Magic”,

“Magical Theory”, and “One Thousand Magical Herbs and Fungi.”

It seems to be the only logical way to read them.

Todd: Of course you guys’ve ordered them

Amanda: More precisely, we’ve come up with various permutations.

Taking into account that history is first, theory is second, then the rest can be read in any order,

so long as you read the herbs and fungi book before the potions one.

Todd: Sounds like a math problem

“So how many different ways can we read them”

Amanda: Let me ask Connor.

Connor says there are 60 ways.

Todd: I meant that as a rhetorical question

but I’m impressed

61 ways though

Amanda: Where did the 1 come from?

Todd: Just not reading any of them :)

Amanda: That doesn’t make any sense.

Goodbye.

Todd: It was a joke!

Amanda: Don’t make me block you.

Todd: You would block me over an innocent joke?

Amanda Stern has blocked you.

Todd: Wow.

Amanda Stern has blocked you.

Amanda Stern has unblocked you.

Todd: Thanks

         Read 8:57pm.