• 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 40: Play Time

Unlike the case with abandoned refrigerators, people with experience with trying to escape from a closed dresser drawer were practically non-existent. Size alone dictated that these would-be Houdinis be limited to small children, dwarves, and the odd goblin. Those who value their health would be well-advised to avoid attempting to stuff a goblin into a dresser drawer, no matter how roomy.

Insight born of millennia of experience led the former beetle to the brute force approach. Multiple rapid slides in the direction of the exit and no small amount of swearing heralded his rediscovery of Newton's third law of motion. After a brief rest to reenergize and strategize, he found a letter opener. After two hours of invoking Archimedes, he managed to open enough of a gap to wedge his hands. Now, getting out was child's play.

To his dismay, the not-inconsiderable noise he had made during his escape had failed to pique the curiosity of the surplus female. It would have been so much easier for him to ambush her had she only paid attention like a normal human. Now, he was running on the last dregs of his power, making it hard for him to think. Ensuring a stable transfer had taken the lion's share of his energy reserves, and the mana he received from the girl had slowed to a trickle. It made no sense; she couldn't have moved so far away in the blink of an eye. To make matters worse, she had not come home the night before, and it did not look like she would be coming home tonight, either. At his body's current rate of decay, there was no way he could survive the night without a massive infusion of mana. The woman had to die. He would reclaim his power from her lifeblood; only then would he again be whole.

With an almost drunken stagger he made his way into the kitchen. Glancing over, he confirmed that the bothersome woman was sitting in her preferred spot, where she stared at that box for hours. The fact that she was looking at him with round eyes was of no concern. Women were stupid; they would joyfully watch a trusted toy move all on its own, clapping and laughing the entire time. The screaming wouldn’t start until the attack, just like it had every other time he tried that ploy.

With a burst of agility, he clambered onto the countertop and turned his attention to the collection of knives stored in a block of wood. Withdrawing a large, sharp blade, he studied the edge. It wasn’t a proper obsidian tool, but it should suffice. Turning his attention back to the living room, he found the couch was vacant. A quick scan of the room showed the front door wide open with his quarry nowhere in sight.

With a face devoid of expression, he hopped off the counter and headed for the open egress. Now was not the time for women to develop any intelligence. He needed her dead, and he needed her dead as soon as possible. She could run, but they were linked. He could home in on her presence. In short order, she would no longer be bleeding him of his power; she would just be bleeding.

Hermione could hardly believe the injustice of the system. There was an actual killer doll on the loose, and she was forbidden to read anything on the subject. After supper, she had rushed to the library, only to be told by the librarian, Madam Pince, that the subject matter was not for first-years. Everything even remotely related was in the restricted section, a place Hermione did not have permission to enter. The objects of her desire were cordoned off with a metal grille, behind a locked door. She could see them. She could smell them. She could practically taste them, but they were out of reach. It just wasn't fair.

Her day had been rife with disappointment. Her quest for knowledge had been stymied in the morning by Discord, and now, she found her path barred by a locked door. Furtively, she skirted around the edge of the forbidden area. Her heart yearned for a secret entrance, but her head knew there would be none. A small uncovered vent between the bookcases looked promising, but it was so narrow that anything bigger than a large housecat would have no chance of getting through.

With a sigh, Hermione climbed to her feet and dusted off her robes. This trip had been unproductive. Perhaps she had something in her trunk back home that hadn’t been burned. She could get Philomena to take her and have a quick look. Maybe she would get lucky and . . . Wait a minute!

“I’m telling you this is a waste of time,” Jim said as he stood at his assigned post with his two partners. Normally aurors worked in pairs, but the current rotation had them in groups of three for additional safety. They were currently situated on a small grassy area next to a sidewalk in a less prosperous neighborhood on the outskirts of London. The small piece of land had been enchanted for decades for just that purpose. While muggles had police boxes, wizards had ward plots.

“There’s a killer doll on the loose, and you think this is a waste of time?” Nancy asked, not even bothering to look at her more experienced teammate. Powerful muggle repelling charms kept their presence undetected.

“We haven’t seen any actual sign of him,” Jim countered. “It's just a lot of hearsay.”

“If the director thinks it’s worth the overtime, I’m not complaining,” Neal, the third member of the team, said. “There are worse ways of making a galleon than standing around waiting for a kid’s doll to saunter by.”

“This is so dull,” Jim lamented. “Why couldn’t they assign us to one of the parties wandering around in muggle clothes actively searching?”

“Someone has to man these posts,” Nancy said. “Besides, you showed up in a blue suede suit, hardly what they taught us to wear in training.”

“It was a perfectly normal muggle outfit,” Jim retorted. “We learned about them back in muggle studies.”

“How many muggles have you seen walk by in anything remotely similar?” Neal asked.

“There was that one woman with the really long heels,” Jim said.

“First of all, that woman drew more stares than you’d want in our field of work,” Nancy said. “And secondly, I’m fairly sure she was a he.”

“Now you’re just making things up,” Jim accused. “She looked too good to be a man.”

“She had an Adam’s apple,” Nancy protested. “If you weren’t so busy looking at her bum, you would have noticed.”

“No!” Jim gasped, looking a bit green.

“Don’t worry.” Neal chuckled. “It’s nothing a little Polyjuice wouldn’t fix.”

“Neal,” Nancy growled as Jim managed to look greener.

Yes! That’s exactly what she was looking for. Hermione stood on her hind legs and claimed "Possessed Items and Where to Find Them" from its spot on the shelves. Her swishing tail left swirls on the dust-covered floor as she broke yet another rule. It was for a good cause, and she would bring the book back when she was done. She just had to know what was going on with the doll. To do that, she would turn to her oldest friends: books.

Books didn't care that she was so different from other children her age. They were always willing to share their knowledge. They took her to new and exciting worlds, asking only for a bit of attention in return, and she was more than happy to lavish attention on them. Books were so special! Books made her special!

Now that she knew magic was real, a whole new universe lay before her, ripe for exploration. Nothing as mundane as a locked gate would keep her away from the friends beckoning her. Books! Magic! Hermione! Could there be a more perfect combination? Surely, she had found her . . . Wait, was she starting to glow brighter? It was bad enough that she glowed in the dark, but this was getting ridiculous. She gasped as her hooves briefly left the ground and the glowing intensified. What was going on?

Short of breath, Elisa gasped as she ran down the sidewalk. There was normally a taxi or two parked in the lot at the end of the block; she’d take one to Diagon Alley. The fact that no one else was reacting to the knife-wielding doll chasing after her meant that either magic was involved or she had just snapped and lost the last bit of her sanity. There was a distinct possibility that she’d wake up tomorrow with a straitjacket and a nice padded room to call her own. Until that happened, she was going to make sure that she was going to wake up, period. Making the most of her longer legs, she sprinted for all that she was worth.

Halfway to her destination, she spotted three people standing in a patch of greenery she was positive wasn’t there last week, three people wearing robes and casually holding wands. Now was an excellent time to test for insanity.

“I wonder why she’s running like a mad woman.” Jim said as the trio watched the muggle woman approach their position.

“She’s a muggle,” Neal said, disinterested. “Unless she’s being pursued by a knife wielding killer doll, she’s not our concern.”

“I’m telling you,” Jim snorted. “The doll is not real.”

“She’s coming right at us,” Nancy noted. “Either the wards are failing or she’s a witch.”

Sure enough, the woman recklessly ran right into the warded zone and barreled into the trio, wheezing.

“Are you all right? You look like you had an unexpected run in with a boggart,” Nancy said, moving to help the newcomer, even as her partners put themselves between the woman and whatever might be chasing her.

“We might get some action afta . . . doll!” Jim exclaimed as the wards shredded the notice-me-not charm from the woman’s stalker.

“Reducto!” Neal intoned as his partner summoned a shield for the both of them. The effort proved to be too slow as a flash of silver sent Neal tumbling back even as the spell connected, launching his target back the way from which it had come instead of disintegrating it.

Nancy immediately tapped her wand to her badge and said, “Station 21C, target engaged. Auror down, magical bystander secured. Request backup, healers, and obliviators.”

“He’s real!” Jim exclaimed.

“That was almost comically ironic,” Nancy said shifting to help Neal.

“Comically ironic would have meant Jim were the one with a knife sticking out of him,” Neal managed to gasp as he clutched his shoulder.

At that point, the telltale sounds of apparition could be heard as backup flooded in.

Madam Pince herded the last of the children out of the library. Technically it wasn’t yet closing time, but that was irrelevant. She had already sent messages to several staff members and was expecting their arrival momentarily.

Scarcely noticing how the flustered and dusty, bushy-haired first-year clutched her bookbag, Madam Pince looked back in the direction of the restricted section. It didn’t happen very often, but strange lights from that area were never a good sign.

“Good evening, I’m oooof!” Discord found himself flat on his back being straddled by the one he had come to visit.

Alice had not jum . . . Alice had not started at the sudden appearance of the man. She had been waiting for him to arrive, after all. As soon as he poofed into existence, she had leapt into his arms, determined to give him a proper greeting.

“I see you’re glad to see me again.” Alice bounced lightly in her new position.

“Gahhhh,” Discord smartly answered.

“I do hope your day has gone better than mine,” she said running a hand through his hair; when had she gotten that close? “Draco threw a fit when he found out I transferred his mother to Remus. The little brat invoked last of house privileges and refuses to be part of the transfer.”

“Aaaaaa,” Discord commented. "Who is Remus?"

“Anyway, the Parkinsons invoked a clause to cancel the marriage contract with the Malfoys,” Alice said worming her hands toward his tie and starting to undo it. “Now, I’m stuck negotiating a new one for him, and I have no idea who’d want that broke and disgraced brat.”

“I can help you with that,” Discord managed to choke out, as he attempted to escape Alice's ministrations.

“Later.” Alice smiled down at her captive. “You have other duties to perform first, and I’m not taking no for an answer tonight.”

Discord gulped.

What else could go wrong? Small feet pounded away from the latest confrontation. What else could possibly go wrong?

The woman had gotten help. The woman had gotten a lot of help. Mages were rarer than diamonds. How could she get so much help so fast?

Luckily, they loved throwing that reducto spell. He could reflexively attune himself to the sheer malice contained within the spell and incorporate the bulk of its power as he transformed its effect. The down side was that the new effect was a significant amount of concussive force. Now, his reserves were at a more acceptable level. Now, he had the energy to stalk his now-wary prey. He could hardly wait to reclaim the lifeforce the woman had stolen. He was getting tired of being batted around like a tennis ball.

His mission was complicated by the unexpected appearance of so many guardians. Fortunately, he had been able to keep them from concentrating their forces. Thus far, he only had to deal with groups of three at a time; it looked like the fools were working in teams. While he had been unable to kill any of them outright, he had managed to fend them off enough to escape. How could they see through his "I'm not here" spell? He had to circle ever further from his quarry, agonizingly delaying his quest. It was almost as if they were herding . . . Oh no!

Bursting from the alleyway, he found himself confronted by at least thirty individuals with grim faces and lethal sticks pointed right at him. He immediately pivoted to retreat, only to find a red brick wall where the entrance to the alley used to be. Cursing in a language that none other present could even recognize, he turned once more pumping mana into his hands.

“Fire!” a woman’s voice barked, and the air was filled with colorful and malignant spells. He tried to dodge, but every square centimeter within his reach was blanketed with offensive spells. Once more, he found himself airborne. Many of the spells were of a nature that he could convert it into his own mana, but there were simply too many of the other variety for him to counter. Greedily, he absorbed what he could. His current vessel would not last long, and he needed to squirrel away as much as he could before he lost his anchor to the physical world. Through the miles, he could feel his real body deteriorate and destabilize even further. There would be permanent wounds from this fiasco. Everyone involved would pay. Everyone involved would bleed.

He opened his mouth to scream, but no sound escaped. He would return. He vowed he would return.

“Keep firing,” Amelia commanded her amassed forces. “He’s survived several point-blank spells. Make sure he’s down and stays down”

“Isn’t this just overkill at this point?” a junior auror asked, not stopping his casting.

Moody growled in response, “There is no overkill; there is only going home after work and not going home after work.”

“But he’s starting to look like a squished bug at this point,” Nancy noted.

“So just what am I looking at?” Fay asked as she watched Apple Bloom, Dean and Seamus fiddle with several contraptions in the corner of the common room, “And why is it in the commons instead of one of your dorm rooms?”

“The ‘thaumatic electromagnetic incorporation field’ will extend to the entire Gryffindor tower if we put it right here in the middle,” Sweetie said from where she lay in Magah’s lap as the transfigured unicorn cuddled her like an only child. “This way, everyone gets to benefit from it.” Abigail watched enviously as she tried to imagine the texture of the white unicorn's fur.

“That tells me nothing,” Fay admonished. “What’s it do?”

“This box contains the parts needed to protect muggle technology being used within a certain range,” Dean said, tapping one of the objects. “It also generates electricity.”

“Muggles use ‘lectricity all the time and for everything,” a fourth-year piped up. “We learned that they even use it as medicine.”

“What! No!” Apple Bloom protested. “That would be like using nitroglycerin as medicine!”

“Um,” Hermione said, the instruction manual for the Equestrian technology firmly in her hands, “as a matter of fact, they do use that for chest pains.”

“Are you kidding?” Scootaloo gasped. “Nitroglycerin is the reason we can't use the old storage shed in the east field to get our chemist cutie marks anymore.”

“You got in trouble for attempting to make nitroglycerin in a storage shed?” Harry gasped even as he rolled over to let Terisa rub his belly. “Yeah, I can see why they no longer let you use that shed.”

“We didn’t get in trouble for attempting to make nitroglycerin.” Apple Bloom corrected. “Thar jus’ ain’t a storage shed in the east field anymore.”

“There is no way we could have predicted that rampaging hydra.” Sweetie complained, “How were we to supposed to know he’d choose that night to wander into the east field. It’s not like hydras are known to just show up and say ‘hi’ or anything like that.”

“I don’t know which I find more shocking,” Hemione said, “the fact that hydras exist in Equestria and can wander onto a farm, or the fact that you two let Sweetie anywhere near processing nitroglycerin.”

“Hey!” Sweetie griped, “I’ll have you know, we divided the labor; I was the supervisor.”

“What exactly were you planning to do with the nitroglycerin in the first place?” Seamus asked, connecting the last of the wires.

“Silly Seamus,” Scootaloo said, “you need nitroglycerin if you’re going to make dynamite.”

“And what does this box do?” Fay said, breaking into the conversation and pointing.

“That’s a telly,” one of the older muggleborn boys announced. “If they can get that to work, it will be really wicked.”

“How so?” Percy asked, sitting on a couch, once again next to Magah, monitoring her as she stroked Sweetie.

“We can use it to watch shows, and the news and movies,” the boy replied as the screen on the box suddenly stopped resembling dark green chrysoprase and a small red sprite of a man took center stage. All talk stopped as the entire house gathered around to marvel at the display. There were two attempts to liberate the controller from Lavender’s grasp, but as brave as Gryffindors are, even they learn the value of discretion.

“Molly,” Arthur announced, stepping out of the floo, “I’m home.”

“Arthur!” Molly said hurrying in from the kitchen. “You're home earlier than yesterday. Please tell me they caught the doll.”

“Yes, they got him.” Arthur wrapped his wife in a hug. “Last I knew they were scraping the last of him off a wall. The little blighter put up one hell of a fight, though. Seven aurors and ministry personnel have been sent to St. Mungo’s. He had a thing for sneaking up behind you and slashing your hamstrings. Luckily that’s easy enough to fix with time.”

“He sounds horrid,” Molly said, ushering her husband to the dinner table.

“He was using notice-me-not charms. Once we knew that, we were able to cancel his advantage.” Arthur grimaced. “Whoever he was, he was a powerful wizard. Rumor has it that it was a vessel for you-know-who.”

“No, please no.” Molly gasped.

“The timing is just too perfect.” Arthur sighed. “He shows up just after there is a purge of Death Eaters. He was most likely hiding on the estate of one of his followers, biding his time and growing in power. When they were appraising the properties, they probably forced him from the grounds unintentionally. The rest is history. My money is on the Malfoys'”

“That is frightening,” Molly said pausing on her way to retrieve a meal for her Arthur. “That would mean that we just barely avoided the start of another war.”

“Yes.” Arthur ran a hand through his hair. “That’s why we are going to keep as much of a lid on this as we possibly can.”

“I’m just going to take a quick shower tonight,” Hermione said as the girls started to file into Parvati’s trunk for an evening bath. “I’ve got some reading I’d like to finish before we head to bed.”

“Are you sure?” Lavender said, pausing at the entrance. “You’ve been reading all night. You didn’t even change to be cuddled like everyone else.”

“Neither did you.” Hermione reminded her.

“I was busy.” Lavender huffed, “Someone had to play the game for everyone to watch.”

“There were plenty of volunteers for that,” Parvati grumbled. “You may be a little too much into playing video games.”

“I was just taking my turn,” Lavender objected, “and yours’s and Sweetie’s and Harry’s and Neville’s and Ron’s. You were all more interested in being petted than in playing.”

“That wasn’t petting,” Sweetie protested. “It was mutual tactile emotional bonding.”

The remaining girls all looked at Sweetie then turned questioning gazes to Hermione.

Hermione sighed, “Technically, yes.”

“Okay,” Apple Bloom said, taking charge. “Bath time, then retrieve the colts for bed. Ya sure you won’t join us Hermione?”

“I’m good.” Hermione shook her head, “I can miss a night of conditioner every now and then. I really want to finish this chapter before bed.”

“Okay, come on girls,” Apple Bloom relented and descended into the trunk.

Hermione shivered as warm water cascaded down her body. She had really done it this time. She knew what she had to do, but she didn’t want to admit to being out of bounds, illegally. It couldn’t be helped, though. She was going to have to go to Madam Pomfrey and confess. She had to. She had skimmed through the entire book she had borrowed and there wasn’t a single mention of her condition. There was no telling what it portended. There was no telling how it may have already affected her.

Tears mixed with the water as she once again checked her backside. Whatever had happened in the restricted section had left an immutable mark.

He floated in the place in-between. The energy he would need to make it back to his homeland was going to be considerable. Nonetheless, he did not have many other options. Originally, it had taken decades to lay down a matrix capable of ensnaring a beetle. All that work enabled him to possess a very specific species of insect, native to his homeland. Unfortunately, that insect was not so common in his current location. The few specimens he could sense within range were all caged and pathetic. If he took one of them, his power would continue to be siphoned away as he sat, unable to act.

The only other option he had was his new doll matrix. That was most likely useless. In order for the matrix to work, it would need an object very similar to the initial receptacle. What were the odds that the maker had created two such toys that were similar enough to meet his purposes?

If he could have sighed, he would have. Without hope, he sent out his senses to check for another doll before he would start his journey to his homeland. The time it was going to take to get there and back threatened to have him running on empty.

He had come from an era well before any of the manufacturing practices currently taken for granted. As such, he had no word or concept for mass production. Still, he quickly developed a word to describe it: convenient.

She looked down and smiled fondly at her familiar checkpoints. They weren’t her objective for the night; they merely brought her into the vicinity of that which she sought. Though this was an unfamiliar territory, she sensed that her target was not far.

The spiders were his only company. Forlorn and outcast, he sat on his threadbare mattress. The sounds of the family in the other room sharing their time together tore at his very soul. The longing he felt was too great to be called something as simple as envy. The desire to be loved consumed his every thought. The weight of the depression was almost unbearable. He was worthless. He was unwanted. He was unnatural. He was a freak.

He couldn’t cry. If he did, there would be punishment. He had to endure. He had to make it through another night. He had to . . . no this wasn’t right. This wasn’t how his life had been. He had grown up with the love of his sister and brother. He had family who had cared.

He grunted and sought to impose his will on the evident discrepancies. Lucid dreaming wasn’t uncommon for masters of occlumency; forcing one’s desires onto such an environment was a beginner’s exercise for the discipline. He was, therefore, understandably disheartened when the scenery did not switch from a lonely place beneath some stairs. Instead the reality of the nightmare seemed to strengthen.

Unperturbed, he sat straighter and announced, “I reject this farce of a reality. I am the master of my own mind. I will not be intimidated here.”

“We do not care,” a woman’s voice replied. “Thou hast fabricated this reality. Thou shalt suffer it. We shall have answers and we shall see justice served.”

“No.” he declared, “I reject this. It shall not be!”

With a start Dumbledore sat up in his bed, sweat soaking his night clothes. As coherency returned, he could have sworn he heard the voice whisper, “Thou must sleep eventually.”

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