The Theory of Magic
- Year One -
By: Eira Jenson
Note: This book is an OC-centric AU set during Harry's time at Hogwarts. Events will deviate from the canon. I hope you enjoy reading!
- Gnomes & Other Uninvited Guests -
When the masked wizards came again, Delphinia Dullahan decided it was most likely time to move.
They were not the first magic users of dubious intent to come sniffing about her garden and, to Fi's exasperation, they would likely not be the last. She rather liked her remote cottage with its planters of thistle and thyme, the occasional gnome sneaking over the stone wall when they thought she wasn't looking, and the copper pots hanging from the rack that gleamed in the sunlight during the summer time. Truth be told, the main room had never smelled the same after her accident with doxy eggs going foul in her potion—but Fi was attached to the place all the same. Her kind tended to be an intractable and stubborn bunch of homebodies.
Fi was a hedge witch—one of the last hedge witches, a thought that always proved to sour her otherwise chipper disposition. Though her coven had died out almost a hundred years ago, Fi had remained in her cottage in the forested highlands, practicing her craft and generally staying well away from the general hubbub of society, wizarding or otherwise. The curious types occasionally found their way to her door, driven by the whispered gossip of the nearest villagers who told tales of a hag in the wood capable of brewing any potion a body could wish for, any cure or restorative, immortal life and eternal happiness.
Most were turned away easily enough when greeted at the door by a diminutive young woman with pale eyes and a braid the color of raven feathers. Fi was never what they wanted to see. They wanted to see the hag, the veritable banshee—not the pretty girl with the open smile and mischievous hands. Most returned home, disappointed but with curiosity sated.
Some did not turn away. Some brandished their wands and demanded her secrets in the name of their masters.
Some went tumbling over the cliffs and were never heard from again.
Fi poked the curtains and peered out her window into the moonlit garden. She saw two black shapes shifting in the dark, the light glancing off the silver masks slid over their faces, and she knew more of them lurked out of sight. Both had their wands out, the braver of the pair marching up to her shut door. Fi didn't blame them for their caution. She'd sent the last masked wizard flying when he'd tried to take her with him. The man had stated his "Lord" required her services.
Their persistence nagged in the back of Fi's mind, because it appeared she was known to them now. They wouldn't be dissuaded. More would come.
"Bugger," Fi muttered as she chewed on her nails and watched her prospective kidnappers. "Live a few bloody years and every dark wizard with half a brain comes banging on your door." One of the wizards used his wand to poke about her bin of holly wood. An irritated gnome hocked a woodchip at him.
Fi loved her cottage, but Fi also liked living. "Bugger," she said again, earnest, abandoning the window to go to her cluttered bedroom. Feeling a bit breathless, she unearthed a dusty carpetbag from behind the headboard and went about tossing her journals and mementos inside. Her hands flicked to and fro, sending notebooks and quills sailing, the magic following her wordless intent.
"Delphinia!" spoke the irritable voice of a witch from the emptying bookshelf. Fi's gaze landed on the white skull there, a ruby gem faceted on the stubborn brow. "Delphinia, what do you mean with all this racket at this hour?"
"Uninvited house guests, Ever," Fi replied to the skull of Everild Everdeen.
"Well then send them on their way with a nice Wandering Curse, there's a girl."
"I think they're going to be a bit more persistent than that," Fi said. She paused in her packing and listened, lips pressed in a firm line. She could hear their voices if she concentrated, sibilating baritones moving about as they sought out her traps. They were clever to be cautious, and that cleverness reaffirmed Fi's decision. "We'd best go somewhere a bit safer for a while."
Ever grumbled as Fi reached up to her shelf and lifted the skull from her brocaded pillow. "Do you mean to shove me into that bag like some common cow bone?!"
"Well, what else would you have me do?"
"Oh yes, that'll go over swimmingly with the Muggles and Magicked alike, won't it? 'Look at my bejeweled skull! I am not at all conspicuous!'"
The skull and the soul bound within settled into a displeased quiet. "You don't have to take that tone with me."
Fi refrained from telling the witch she thought it was quite apt Ever was only a skull now, since she was such a hard-head, and instead slipped a silver scarf out from a bursting dresser. She wrapped it about Ever and tucked in the corners. Satisfied, she settled her friend inside the carpetbag's expanded interior and gave her a nice pat on the cranium before snapping the bag shut. "Now, what am I forgetting?"
From the main room came an indignant shriek and Fi all but jumped out of her skin. "Wretched bird," she gasped, one hand against her beating heart, the other snatching her bag's handles. Fi hustled out of the bedroom in time to hear the first resounding thump of wizard knuckles striking her door.
A crooked perch rose above the sizable hearth, and on that perch hunched a skinny, wrathful looking bird with dark green plumage and a wicked beak. The Augurey beat his wings in irritation and gave another shrill cry.
"Yes, Puck, I hear you and so does everyone else."
The knock came again, louder. Fi straightened her shoulders and took a calming breath, eyes intent on the banking embers lending a soft glow to the otherwise dark room. "Yes, well—let's go then, daft bird."
With a single thrust of his wings, the bird leapt from his roost and landed upon Fi's arm, his talons able to encircle the whole of her bicep with ease. He gave her head an affectionate peck. Fi winced before she went to retrieve the flowerpot on the mantel, pouring out a handful of glittering powder before banishing the rest.
The masked wizard struck the door again—louder than ever, and Fi knew they must have unraveled her wards, as they continued to hit the barrier with the apparent intent of taking the thing down off its hinges. She threw her Floo powder into the embers and green flames perked up. A moment later, red light blazed outside her windows and the poor door came crashing inward with a gust of dirt and shredded vegetation.
Wide-eyed, Fi jumped into the hearth. "Diagon Alley!"
Before her cottage whisked itself away, she spied three wizards standing on her mat, wands raised, one shouting in alarm, another snarling a curse—but he was too late, and the curse rebounded off the mantel's stone as Fi disappeared.