• Published 23rd Apr 2017
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Magic School Days - Dogger807

When the CMC asked Discord to help them attend magic school, he pulled an owl out of his hat. Only he didn't exactly have a hat. Which was okay, since their new school had a singing one laying around. Where the hay was Hogwarts anyway?

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Chapter 28: Mall Rats

The rain steadily fell on the darkening London street, accentuating the air of misery projected by the lone, raggedy man standing on the corner. Had anyone bothered to notice him, they would have seen that his ancient bespoke raincoat still shed moisture, despite its appearance. He had been there for a couple hours now, maybe a bit longer, worrying a Chinese take-out menu between his hands. He just stood there, staring at the derelict department store across the street. Ignoring the other people who occasionally passed him, the man contemplated his past.

Fear was something to be acknowledged, then ignored. Fear wouldn’t stop him. Fear couldn’t stop him. He had mastered fear a long time ago. It no longer held any sway over him. Shame, on the other hand, was a monster that knew no mercy. Shame could stop him cold and leave him rooted to the spot.

The flickering streetlamps mirrored his indecision. Should he enter, or should he flee? He was so lost in thought that it didn’t even register that the last woman to exit the department store had made a beeline straight for him, splashing noisily on the soaked sidewalk. It wasn’t until she was standing right in front of him that he took notice of her. When she glared up at him with a miffed frown, he realized he knew her.

“Andi?” he asked, his voice failing to rise above a whisper.

“Just how long do you plan on pretending to be a statue?” she asked as way of greeting. “I thought you Gryffindors were supposed to charge forward.”

Wincing at her tone, he said, “Andi, it’s good to see you. It’s been too long.”

She snorted. “Don’t try changing the subject on me. How long are you planning on standing out here?”

“I turned my back on him.” The man shook his head sadly. “I don’t have the right to talk to him.”

“We all failed him,” Andi said, “and he’s family.” She reached up and tenderly brushed a soggy lock of hair out of his eyes. “And you are family, too, blood be damned. Don’t make me have to kick you in the arse to get you going.”

“I never even visited him. I let him rot without ever hearing his side.”

“You were wrong. We all were. He has every right to never want to see any of us ever again,” Andi said. “Instead, he’s in his room right now staring down at us, waiting for you. It’s time to make amends.”

“Andi, I don’t know . . .” the man started, only to stop as the woman darted behind him. In an uncharacteristic move, she pulled back her leg and kicked him in the rear as hard as she could.

“I did warn you,” she said.

With an abrupt start, he awoke. Standing on his hind legs he scented his surroundings. The blend of smells denoting damp forest met his senses. In fact, he was under a bush, well hidden from whatever may pass by.

How had he gotten here?

Last thing he remembered was fleeing Hogwarts. Apparently, he had succeeded.

Shaking himself, he selected a direction at random and started walking. His small size didn’t eat much distance with each step, but the stealth it lent was invaluable.

In the Charms classroom, the Gryffindor herd was once again sharing time with the Hufflepuffs. Finally, their last class of the week proved to be what they were waiting for. In the first few minutes of the period, they had learned their first charm. The excitement was thick in the air as Professor Flitwick cut them loose to practice. Soon, the word ‘Lumos’ could be heard echoing throughout the chamber.

It surprised no one that the first successful cast came from Hermione. She managed to produce a warm light on the tip of her wand on her second attempt. This resulted in her housemates cheering her on even as the Hufflepuffs looked on jealously.

“Way to go, Hermione!” Lavender applauded even as she refocused on her own wand. “Lumos!” she demanded with no success.

“Lumos!” Ron said, scowling at his own wand to no effect.

It was several minutes before the next successful cast was made.

“Is this right?” Dean asked looking at his own wand tip. Instead of the white light that Hermione and the professor had produced, he had a shimmering ball of yellow. More specifically, it looked like living flames held in check by a clear glass ball.

“Very good Mr. Thomas,” Professor Flitwick said upon seeing the effort, and he awarded more points to Gryffindor. Then, as if a floodgate had opened, children were getting successful casts throughout the room. After a few minutes there were only two students that were having problems.

“Come on, Neville,” Scootaloo encouraged as she stared at the bare pinprick of light he had on the tip of his wand. “You can do this.”

“I’m trying,” he said, sweat beading on his forehead. “I’m sorry I’m so bad at this. I’m afraid I’m not very strong.”

“You’re doing better than me,” Sweetie said sadly, displaying her own, lightless wand. “Lumos!” Her wand remained unlit.

The rest of the class looked at her display in wonder.

Sweetie Belle noticed everyone looking at her weirdly. “What?” she asked.

“Miss Belle,” Professor Flitwick said, “may I ask what the core of your wand is made of?”

“Um, unicorn hair,” she answered.

“That explains why her aim is so bad,” Hermione observed.

“Don’t worry, Miss Belle,” the little professor said encouragingly. “You’re not the first student to have this particular problem. I just need to contact a colleague of mine to borrow a certain training device, and we can get you past this hurdle.”

Sweetie looked questioningly at Professor Flitwick and then back at her wand tip. “Lumos?” She tried again, and the rest of the class watched the hair on the top of her head light up again.

He had needed to call in some favors, but even from his hospital bed he had managed to obtain the paperwork he sought. Regrettably, the paperwork had provided the worst possible news. The foolish Dursley woman had indeed signed over all her rights to Belle’s mother, ripping control of Harry from his grasp. The possibility that he could convince her to return guardianship to him looked minute.

Fortunately, he had another avenue of attack. True, it wasn’t something that would have been open just a few days ago, but chance had created an opportunity, a situation he could take advantage of. All he needed to do was contact a new ally and let her know what he wanted her to do. From there, his control of Harry would be stronger than it had been before.

With a flash of flames, the girl’s dormitory was once again occupied. Rain streaked the window as clouds obscured the setting sun.

“Free for the weekend!” Lavender exclaimed, throwing her arms toward the ceiling even as Magah headed straight for the hay.

“Yup,” Apple Bloom said, “Ah declare it’s time for exploring side quests.”

“There’s plenty of time to root around the castle later.” Ron disagreed, “We’ve got all those new brooms you ordered, let’s play Quidditch.”

“Yeah! Flying.”

“I wouldn’t mind visiting the shopping mall that Dean was talking about the other day,” Sweetie Belle suggested.

“You and your shopping,” Apple Bloom complained. “I was thinking of the amusement park or the zoo.”

“Wait,” Hermione said, “we’re not allowed to leave the grounds. The wards will stop us.”

“Oi!” Dean exclaimed. “That’s right, but we have a phoenix. We can go anywhere.”

“But?” Hermione exclaimed, “The rules!”

“I don’t wanna be stuck in a boring castle all the time,” Scootaloo countered.

“This castle is anything but boring,” Harry said.

“When it’s winter and cold out, we’ll have all the time in the world to explore the castle,” Parvati said. “Now’s the time to see other things. I also want to visit the muggle shopping mall.”

“But,” Apple Bloom pouted, “amusement park.”

‘That’s a daylong event.” Seamus soothed her. “The mall would actually be a better idea for a Friday night. They have a video arcade.”

“A what?” Lavender asked.

“You’ll see.” Dean smirked.

“But!” Hermione interjected, “The rules!”

“We’ll need muggle money of course, so a trip to the bank first.” Seamus continued, “I’ve got a couple five quid notes in my trunk that we can stretch.”

“Great!” Scootaloo bounced in place. “What are we waiting for? Let’s go!”

“Wait!” Hermione yelled. Then, when she had everyone’s attention, she continued. “The rules?”

The rest of the herd just stared at her.

“We could end up getting another detention,” she insisted.

“Probably,” Seamus agreed, and there was a round of nodding.

Seeing she was not going to get any support, Hermione sighed. “Fine, but we need to change our clothes first. We can’t go around in robes.”

“Okay.” Apple Bloom grinned. “Now that that’s out of tha way, everyone, meet up in the boy’s dorm in ten minutes.”

As heavy curtains shut out the dreary weather, the heavy oak desk dominated the room, even though it didn’t take up a large percentage of the floor space. There was just something about the immaculate piece of furniture that screamed, "I am important.” Even covered by paper, as it currently was, its gravitas could not be ignored. In the overstuffed black leather chair, Alice Rutter sat and surveyed her new holdings. She should have been happy with that, but she was fretting instead. He hadn’t visited her in days now. Worse, she didn’t know how to get in contact with him. How was she to make him her own, when he didn’t even bother to show up?

Alice glowered at the bank statement in her hand. The paper was only taking up space; it held none of her attention. It was obvious; she had scared him. How she had managed that, she couldn’t say. He came across as confident and self-assured, hardly the type to be put off by a strong and willful woman. Only one thing was for sure; he was not going to escape. She’d send him an owl and invite him to dinner.

Having made up her mind, Alice put down the bank statement. Just as she was reaching for a blank sheet, the wards let her know that a visitor had arrived and was walking up the path from the boundary.

“Dobby,” she called, and the elf popped into existence. “Dobby, someone is on their way; would you mind asking Narcissa to greet them for me?”

“Yes, pretty mistress. Dobby will do.” With another pop, the elf was gone.

With a sigh, Alice recalled the most stressful aspect of the week. Narcissa Malfoy had been respectful, if not meek. She had understood exactly where she stood and the reasoning behind her current status. Surprisingly, she had not seemed to lay any blame at the feet of Alice. Her son, Draco, was a different matter.

Alice could not blame the boy. After all, in his eyes, she was the woman who had robbed him of his father, never mind that Lucius had struck the first, unwarranted blow. The boy only cared that his father was gone, and she was accountable for that reality. It made Alice feel guilty. not guilty that she had rid the world of Lucius Malfoy, guilty that she had hurt the child. Alice wasn’t a fool; she knew that Lucius was raising the boy to be a bigot, but it still bothered her to see the hurt in his eyes.

Alice could only console herself with the knowledge that it was a necessary evil. Bitterly, she cursed Lucius for making it necessary.

Narcissa and her son hadn’t been the only casualties of Alice’s claims of conquest. Fortunately, most of the other affected wives and children had other family. Alice had spent last few days being approached by these family members, bearing proposals of ransom. There had been hefty sums offered by some. Others could afford little more than oaths of allegiance. To put it politely, purebloods came to rescue their kin from direct subjugation by the daughter of a couple of muggleborn.

Alice had extracted oaths from them all, a formal commitment to not support Death Eaters and their like in any manner. If another dark lord arose, there would be fewer followers to court.

In all, it left just a bare handful of individuals she was still responsible for. Once Lord Black was cleared, she would have two fewer.

“Wait here with Philomena,” Apple Bloom told Sweetie. They were once again in the alleyway where they had originally entered this world. Steady rain dampened their clothing, but not their spirits. “We don’t want to draw too much attention, an' it’ll only take a couple of us ta go get money. In fact, y’all except Hermione and Ginny wait here.” The rest of the herd huddled under their umbrellas.

Alice looked up from the letter she was drafting. She had expected Narcissa to take care of whatever the most recent visitor wanted. However, the knock on the door dispelled that notion. “Enter,” Alice called out.

Narcissa opened the door and showed their guest into the study. “Miss Rutter,” she said formally, “the Chief Warlock is here to see you.”

Alice groaned internally; hopefully this wouldn’t be like her meeting with the head of the DMLE.

“Professor Dumbledore,” she said, rising from her seat to greet the elder wizard, “what brings you here today?”

“Ah, Alice my dear.” Dumbledore said entering, seemingly moving slower and stiffer than the last time she had seen him, “I apologize that I have not been able to visit sooner; I have only today been released from St. Mungo’s.”

“I heard,” Alice said. “I do hope you are recovering.”

“I am a bit sore,” Dumbledore replied as he waved a dismissive hand, “but otherwise I am well.”

“Please,” Alice said, gesturing to the chairs waiting in front of her desk, “have a seat.”

“Don’t mind if I do,” Dumbledore said, settling in the offered comfort.

Alice waited until he was situated before trying again. “How may I help you today?”

“I have some disturbing news to discuss with you,” Dumbledore said with a twinkle in his eye. “More to point, I’ve come for your help. You see, magical guardianship of Harry Potter has recently been stolen from me. I need your help in recovering it.”

“Really?” Alice asked. “How could I possibly help you with that?”

“As you know, Sirius Black claims to be Harry’s godfather,” Dumbledore said in a lecturing tone. “As such, he could override Harry’s aunt’s unwise decision to foster off her responsibilities to another. Furthermore, as acting head of House Black, you could bequeath the full authority to me.”

“Harry’s aunt signed her rights away?” Alice asked.

“Yes, a foreign wizard by the name of Discord tricked her into a bad arrangement.” Dumbledore sighed to show his disappointment. “Legally, I can do nothing. Unless you sign control over to me, I am afraid I will continue to be blocked.”

Alice narrowed her eyes. “This sounds like something I should be discussing with Lord Black.”

“Sirius is in no condition to make decisions concerning a minor.” Dumbledore sighed again. “Being in Azkaban for all this time would not be conducive to a rational evaluation. It would be for the greater good if I were to regain guardianship.”

“What aren’t you telling me?” Alice demanded.

Startled at her sudden coolness, Dumbledore replied, “I do believe I am telling you everything you need to know. Wouldn’t you prefer to have guardianship of Harry Potter returned to a British national, instead of a foreign family.”

“I will have to think on this,” Alice said

“Miss Rutter,” the voice of authority said, “time is of utmost importance; I’m afraid I will be needing an answer very soon.”

“Then the answer is no.”

Flabbergasted, Dumbledore said, “That would be a most ill-advised answer.”

“I know better than to let myself be rushed into things like this.” Alice crossed her arms. “Did you have something else you wanted to discuss?”

Dumbledore openly frowned. “I see you will be needing some time to make the proper decision. I know I can count on you to see reason, given a little deliberation. I just hope it won’t be too late.” He stood up, “May I impose on you for the use of your floo? It is past time that I return to Hogwarts.”

“Dobby.” With a pop the elf answered his mistress’s call. “Please escort Professor Dumbledore to the floo.”

“I look forward to our future conversations.” Dumbledore smiled as he followed the elf out of the study.

Alice immediately reached for a blank sheet of paper.

“Okay, Philomena, Hermione says we can’t let these people see you. Please go back to my trunk until we call you.” Sweetie Belle said to the bird of fire.

Philomena trilled sadly, but complied. A flash of flames later, and she was gone.

“I can’t believe we’re going to a muggle store,” Lavender gushed as they exited yet another alleyway.

“Lavender, stay on the sidewalk.” Dean warned, “We don’t want you getting hit by a car, do we?”

“A car?”

“One of those horseless carriages.” Hermione informed her, “They have the right of way in the streets.”

“Aren’t they marvelous,” Parvati breathed, watching the traffic plow through the wet streets.

“They do come in handy,” Seamus agreed, “but you do have to watch for them, getting hit could ruin your day.”

“My dad has one in the shed,” Ginny said proudly. “He’s always tinkering with it.”

With those words, twelve children made their way to the mall.

In his backyard, Discord was relaxing in his hot tub. Truthfully, though, this backyard was more a state of mind than a residential feature. A normal observer would be hard-pressed to even see the back door from this yard; it was in a completely different plane of existence. To the avatar of chaos, this was completely irrelevant, as were all physical laws. All that mattered was that he was luxuriating up to his chin in luscious vanilla pudding, the ultimate indulgence. This was so much better than strawberry; strawberry made him itch.

“Hooo.” Discord cracked an eye open. His perfect moment had been shattered by the call of a messenger owl to his left. The messenger seemed completely at ease with her surrounding, despite the fact that her vertical axis was at thirty-seven degrees to her quarry's. The silver crystal that made her perch left her completely unfazed.

“Someone sent me mail?” he said, reaching out with his eagle's claw. “I wonder who it’s from.”

A quick perusal of the letter left Discord with his eyebrows knitted together in thought. He had to snatch them up quickly and separate them before they spawned. “Alice wants to see me in regard to the guardianship of Harry Potter? Dumbledore approached her to sign all legal rights over to him? Hmmmm, I think not. I wonder, should I show this to Rarity or just take care of it myself?”

The thought of Rarity finding out about the attempt through means other than himself sent a chill through Discord’s spine, freezing solid the pudding he had been relaxing in. Sighing, he reached into the icy desert and withdrew a pudding pop. Sticking it in his mouth, he muttered, “I do think a visit with a certain white unicorn is required.”

“Ooooooo.” The girls collectively cooed walking through the entrance way of the mall.

“Where to first?” Seamus asked gesturing to the multitude of stores. “I don’t know this mall, but there should be a map nearby.”

“This is near my house,” Hermione interjected. “I’m familiar with it.”

“New clothes for Harry first,” Lavender insisted, pointing at a clothes store, just a little way down. “None of the ones he’s wearing fit properly.

Harry seemed to shrink in on himself at that declaration.

“Neville and Ron could use more muggle-looking clothes as well,” Seamus suggested.

Rarity had just received another owl-delivered package. It came as a surprise to nopony that she did not want to be alone when she opened it. For that reason, she made her way, once again, to Twilight’s library. Fortuitously, Twilight and Fluttershy were both present.

“Hello Rarity,” Twilight said as Rarity entered the library, levitating a package. “What do you have there?”

“Sweetie sent the new trunks I ordered,” Rarity stated, lowering the package so Twilight and Fluttershy could see the contents. “She also sent three extra trunks colored like each of the princesses.”

“That was thoughtful of her,” Fluttershy said approvingly.

“Yes, it never hurts to suck up every now and then,” Discord agreed, looking over Fluttershy’s shoulder.

“Eeeeek!” Fluttershy squealed, leaping forward as both Rarity and Twilight flattened their ears and looked at Discord in surprise.

A remorseful look immediately dominated Discord’s face as he looked at the cowering Fluttershy. “I’m sorry,” he said tapping his claws together. “I didn’t mean to startle you, Fluttershy.”

No longer shaking, Fluttershy said, “That’s all right; I know you weren’t trying to sneak up on me. You just caught me off guard.” She beamed a shy smile at him, freezing Discord in place for a few seconds.

Without a word, the other two mares in the room watched the interaction and smirked.

Still looking at Fluttershy, Discord offered Rarity a letter.

“What’s this?” Rarity asked accepting the paper, it wasn’t long before her eyes narrowed and she said, “I can’t believe the nerve of that stallion.” She floated the letter back to its owner. “Discord darling, would you mind waiting here a for few minutes? I simply must go fetch my bat.”

“Button Mash would have an absolute field day in here,” Scootaloo said, looking around at all the video games in the arcade. “We have just the four games in our whole town and he goes nuts over them as it is.”

Keeping her voice low so as not to overheard, Hermione asked, “You have video games back home?”

“Yeah.” Scootaloo nodded. “Though I don’t have the bits to indulge that often.”

Hermione looked at her strangely.

“What?” Scootaloo asked.

“I would have thought that you’d have murdered the word 'indulge'.” Hermione said, “You used it perfectly.”

It was Scootaloo’s turn to look at Hermione strangely.

“Anyway, you have magic all over the place. How does it not fry the electronics like Hogwarts does?” Hermione continued after making sure no one was close enough to overhear.

“Magic fries electronics?” Scootaloo asked. “That can’t be right. Twilight has all kinds of electric do dads in her basement and they never fry.”

“Magic and electricity don’t mix well,” Hermione insisted.

“We’ll just have to ask her in our next letter,” Scootaloo said. “Let’s go, Apple Bloom is handing out bits for the games and I wanna play.”

“They’re called tokens,” Hermione corrected as she followed her purple-haired friend.

As soon as classes had let out for the day, Abigail had made a beeline for the bus. Soon, she was in London proper and standing in front of something that should not be there. There had been many times she had followed her mother into that particular bookstore. It was one of her mother’s favorites, after all. If she were lucky, she could then talk her mother into visiting the record store right next door. Only, the record shop was no longer right next door. How was it possible to build a pub right between two stores that had been next to each other?

Wouldn’t you just know it, the beetle on her shoulder was indicating that she should enter the pub. Of course, the beetle who could write in a language that she didn’t know yet somehow could read, wanted her to enter the pub that shouldn’t be there.

Dumbledore looked up from the paperwork he had been perusing. His deputy headmistress was on her was up the stairs. It was not surprising that she knew he was back. The wards had passed back to him as soon as he had exited the floo. It was also obvious that she had waited until after her last class of the day to seek him out.

Adopting a smile, he called out, “Come in Minerva; I’ve been expecting you.”

He was not prepared for the frown she returned upon the door opening. “I told you that they were the worst kind of muggles,” she said by way of greetings.

“Ahhhhhhh!” Lavender screamed as a volley of projectiles rained down on her location. “No fair teaming up like that!”

“You’re not allowed to open those boxes like that!” the toy store attendant yelled. “Now, you’ll have to pay for those foam guns.”

“Sweetie, make sure you get that scooter, too,” Scootaloo said, taking aim at Neville.

“Okay!” Sweetie Belle said, taking out a bundle of bullseyes. “Dean, hurry up and bring those board games!”

Once he had entered the common room, Euan whistled loudly for attention. “Whose turn is it to feed Mouse?” he asked. “He’s lurking around out here getting ready to pounce.”

A seventh-year girl lifted her robe and rolled up a pants leg. “I’m sorry; I forgot all about him. It’s my turn.”

“Sushi is the best!” Scootaloo proclaimed as they exited the restaurant and started down the mall walkway, shopping bags in hand.

“It was okay.” Apple Bloom said, “Surprisingly filling fo’ how small it is.”

“I loved the little boats that floated by with the choices.” Parvati said.

“They could have cooked it more,” Ron complained. “Not proper English cooking or anything.”

“You need to expand your horizons.” Hermione sniffed, “Besides that didn’t stop you from sampling just about everything they had.”

“That was an expensive meal,” Dean noted. “Next time we should stick with pizza.”

“It did cost more than all the clothes we bought,” Sweetie said, “but we're still within Hermione's budget.”

“So?” Lavender asked, “back to the arcade? I want another go at beating Scootaloo.”

“How about a movie instead?” Seamus suggested. “We can head over to the theaters and see what’s playing.”

“That’s funny,” a woman’s voice said from behind. “We had a similar thought and were headed that way ourselves.”

With a start, the children turned and beheld an older couple smiling at them from just a few feet away.

“Mum! Dad!” a certain girl gasped at the sight.

“Hello Hermione,” the man said, “Why don’t you introduce us to your friends?”

“Busted,” Seamus sighed.

Author's Note:

In a lonely hotel room, the author smiled to himself as he typed the last line of his latest chapter. With practiced ease he clicked on the icon for the internet browser, so he could upload his work for his editor to peruse. With the window half open, the computer froze, locking the image on its screen.

And there was swearing.

The author did then reboot the laptop and was soon greeted by a blue screen declaring that there was an error and the machine was going to reboot itself to run its self-repair.

And there was swearing.

Patiently the author watched the machine do its work, only for it to freeze once more on a blank screen. Unperturbed, the author rebooted the machine and got a similar chain of events.

And there was swearing.

Resigned to his fate, the author rebooted the computer again to load the onboard diagnostics. He was not worried because, no matter what was wrong he could always remove the hard drive and manually retrieve his chapter. Murphey heard his confidence and made himself known. The onboard diagnostics firmly stated that the disk drive was now a brick.

And there was much swearing.

Once he returned home, the author went to work to recreate his efforts, and found that it was harder than starting from scratch.

And there was whining.

Half done with the chapter, the author placed it online and composed a letter to his editor letting him know it was available. That done the author turned his attention to kerbals.

And there were many explosions.

Three days later, the author had not heard from his editor, so he checked his sent mail box only to find he never sent the letter to his editor.

And there was swearing.

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