Anywhere Is

Chapter 1

Pumpkin Scones

"H-hey! Wait up!" I called, spinning wildly and searching the crowd over the stack of books. I hated shopping in the most ordinary of circumstances, just looking at all the people and places made me tired and edgy, but when confronted with the advertisement exclaiming in pulsing neon; "BUY TWO SCOOPS OF NEWTS EYES, GET THE THIRD SCOOP FREE!" it transformed droopy eyelids into a heart pumping experience.

This made me angrier, berating myself for being such a country hick but I was not just a fish out of water, I was a fish plunging from an altitude of three hundred feet and accelerating. It wasn't just a new school. It wasn't just a new experience. It was a whole new country, and a stupid one at that.

I had spent the night at a small inn, The Leaky Cauldron. The room was nice enough and had a cottage feel to it but after witnessing a patron belch thick plume of green smoke I limited my menu to sausages and water. Being apart of a family who thought that if you didn't have to trek a kilometre up the road for fresh water, it wasn't a proper camping trip meant it was positively swanky.

Luckily, as always, people found an accent charming and being short was adorable. It greased the axils when my mouth worked without consulting my brain.

"Come on, you must have seen something!" I pleaded.

"No," a gravelly voice grunted.

"What do you mean no? You can turn your head two hundred degrees!"

"No," it repeated.

I wanted to throw my hands up in exasperation but that would mean throwing down the dozen thick textbooks volumes that obscured my sight. The street seemed to be filled with floating heads, but that wouldn't have been out of the ordinary as it was also filled with goblins, kobolds, witches and wizards. It was my own stupid fault, something shiny had glittered out of the corner of my eye and I had followed it. Next thing I knew Chrys, my guide, had been swallowed up by the kids finishing their own preparations for the new school year.

It was a school with a difference, just as this was a street with a difference. Diagon Alley, the one stop shop for all your witchcraft and wizardry needs.

"Chrys! Chrys!" I yelled, trying to be heard above the throng. That was exactly the word for it. Never in my life did I think anyone could apply the word throng to anything in everyday conversation but there you had it, throng. "CAAAAH-RIIIIIIIS!"

"Hallo." I wheeled around again as a finger tapped me gently on the shoulder. I looked up into the face of a well-meaning expression, and a lot of bright red hair. It was a Big Kid. "Are you looking for Chrysanthemum Mitt?"

I hesitated. How many other people could possibly have the name Chrysanthemum? "Yeah."

"She just went into Ollivander's." A blank stare. He sighed and looked down the street after a small mob of retreating heads, all with the same flaming hair and then pointed up the street. "Ollivander's is a wand shop. You are a Hogwarts First year, aren't you?" There was the usual look of doubt as looked me up and down, or at least down and further down.

"Wand?" I asked uncertainly, and then catching myself, blustered, "Yuhuh!" I puffed out my chest like a rooster and he smirked at me.

"Down the road on the left with a big burgundy sign, you can't miss it."

"Charlie!" A rosy faced woman with a little girl in tow burst from the crowd and waved irritably at him.

"Good luck." The Big Kid winked and followed his mother, disappearing amongst the crowds again. I watched him curiously until he was out of sight and then tottered until I found the shop. It looked little more than a walk in wardrobe from the outside, the paint was not so much dulled by time as it was tarnished and had the look of a gothic library found in storybooks that was there one day and gone the next. The scaling gold paint proclaimed it, "Ollivanders: Makers of Fine Wands since 382 BC!"

Pushing through the threadbare curtains I was suddenly gripped by both shoulders, peering up someone's nostrils!

I yelped and tried to struggle backwards l recognized the heart shaped face of Chrys, her pale caramel hair floated around her head in a thick curly nimbus. Her ever fluttering hands scooped up her books and set them beside the doorway and settled reproachfully on her hips. "Gee, Zukie! You scared me to death! Where'd you go? It doesn't matter. Mr Ollivander has been waiting patiently for ages and he isn't the kind of man who has time to wait-" The dust stood testimony to otherwise but for once I wisely stood silent letting Chrys's usual tide of rhetorical questions pour over me. "-and he is a very important wizard!"

The tall, willowy 18 year old obviously tried what she thought was a comforting smile and propelled me down one of the scrunched together aisles. I tried to glimpse what was stacked on them as I went past but they were all kept in narrow boxes. Some velvet clad, some of wood, others of polished mica or feldspar. All were lovingly placed to be a complete pickle to anyone but them.

All my inner instincts of 11 year old curiosity and the slow blossoming of teenage rebellion demanded that I should step suddenly to the side and let Chrys stumble forward while I yanked out the bottom of the stack but the aisle suddenly opened up into a small alcove.

"What the?" I stammered, blinking in the dim, flickering torchlight. I looked back down the aisle where a pinpoint of light could only be the other end. An optical illusion, logic scolded, but it was lucky I had only the most tenuous of grips on reality even before receiving my invitation.

Turning experimentally back to the alcove it was then I noticed two very important things. The first was the silence, the kind of silence found in old houses, libraries and caves, the kind that was more of a vacuum and made you want to whisper. My accent sounded course and uncouth.

The second was a gaunt silhouette hanging in the corner like a spider. Pale mirror silver eyes were gauging me. I stared back even though I knew it wasn't a challenging stare but one of evaluation. I was your typical short person, you found them everywhere, but more often in younger siblings who wouldn't stand down from any fight, even if it meant being sat on and turned into a Frisbee. My eyes watered until finally I reluctantly looked away and the robed man stepped into the torchlight.

"Muggle born, is she?"

I bridled. It sounded like some sort of swear word. "Am not!" The misty eyes narrowed disapprovingly.

"You are, Zu- ah, Miss Kendrick," intercepted Chrys anxiously. "A muggle is a person who doesn't have any magic in them."

"That's a stupid word," ran my mouth.

The eyes narrowed further. They roved over my body, over thick, brown hair the colour of black mud bound in a high tail. They locked for another moment on my muddy brown eyes, or what could be seen of them between the scruffy thatches of my fringe. Lower over a body that didn't have the usual curves for those of female persuasion and finally seemed to take personal offence at the olive tanned, unusually muscular calves poking from beneath my rattiest pair of shorts, all in a moment.

He sniffed. "These wands aren't like those used in fairy tales, no pretty little star on top. Each wand is specifically chosen for the wizard, or to be more accurate, the wand chooses the wizard." The eerie silver eyes warmed a little as he saw the spark of interest and he strayed back onto well trodden roads of conversation. He absently pulled a measuring tape from his pocket, not unlike the one from my father's tool box but instead of faded black numerals was strange silver markings, ones I vaguely put in the category of glyphs and runes were etched in silver.

I flinched as he stretched his long pallid fingers towards me while he went on speaking, scooping up Flynn from my shoulder and putting him on a bench. He measured various lengths, head circumference, arm length, finger length, leg length, even felt across her head and probing the lump just above and behind her ear from the time I fell out of the tree when I was eight. Only when it started doing really weird things, like the distance between my belly button and her sternum did he let go, the tape zipping around on its own and little silver scrawls appearing with a flash along its length

He sidled away behind shelf, continuing as if rehearsed. "Every wand sold is unique! There are no two wands of the same length, material, diameter or core-"

"Core," I mumbled, watching with eyes crossed as the tape tried to measure the size of my nostrils but I kept shrinking away.

"Yes!" he said triumphantly, returning with a few boxing tucked under his armpit. "Every wand I make has a very magical core! Dragon's heartstring, phoenix feathers, manticore sting! Maple, elm, holly or willow! No two are the same! Here, take this." He pressed a slender piece of wood into her hand. "Unicorn hair and Jacaranda wood, good for transfiguration, very sturdy."

I rolled it in my fingers and glanced questioningly at Chrys standing behind him and miming frantically that I should wave it. I stared back as if she was so far out of her mind the two only had contact via semaphore until Mr Ollivander did the same thing.

Shrugging I gave it a flick, leaning away from it. Expecting a loud bang and streams of confetti, I was disappointed. Not even a few rudimentary glitters. Frowning I lifted it up to my eye and was about to give it another shake when Mr Ollivander snatched it hastily away and stuck another one in its place, beech I thought. I swung it again, and again, and again. What began as a nice row of discarded wands atop a rickety bench soon became strewn with two dozen boxes in an untidy pile.

I too was no longer in the mood for delicate flutters each time another wand was thrust into my hand, they were savage swings, like a lizard's tail thrashing around without a fizzle. What was more, the old coot seemed to delight in pawing through the boxes. Suddenly, when the pile had grown to thrice as many, he stopped his cheerful bustling and came back to me, glaring at the rosewood wand and shaking it.

"Are you sure she's got magic in her blood?" He jabbed the question at Chrys like it was a pointy object.

She nodded earnestly. "There must be some. She has the Dragon's Gift."

His eyes then slid upwards to, after second, third and forth glances wasn't in fact an oversized dustbunny, but Flynn, who had fluttered up there after the bench became overcrowded. Again he glared at me as if I had called him something nasty and a crocodilian grin stretch across my features. "Not that the dragon had much choice in the matter," I said airily, bearing rather than flashing my teeth again.

"You have an accent don't you," he said with a devious gleam.

Very observant, I wanted to sneer but settled with a nod. His pursed lips moved silently, trying to place where it was from. It wasn't any good looking at my appearance. I often found myself in an argument with my mates back home what nationality I was, knowing very well what I was, and things had come back so varied, from Thai to Maori to American Indian, the best they could settle on was exotic, but only because my features were more like an international convention than anything dignified as beautiful.

Finally, tripping over a few of the wand cases that had spilled onto the floor he scuttled like a spider behind a curtain and returned with one box, brushing the dust off it theatrically. Flipping open the case and offering the pale wand settled in purple silk, he smiled smugly.

"What is it," I demanded suspiciously.

"Its core if I remember correctly, and I do, is a Peng Feather and it's wood," he winked slyly at me, "Is Eucalyptus Microtheca. Durable and provides clean magic, especially fire enchantments."

I stared quizzically at him, wondering just how he managed to get the words to sound italicised. "That's a Coolabah Tree. No wonder they're good at fire magic, the things bloody explode in a bushfire with all the oil in 'em."

"Try it," he said silkily, if a little distasteful at my swearing. Taking a deep breath, out of the corner of my eye I could see Chrys do so in sympathy, and then pulled my arm back as if preparing to chuck it. Mr Ollivander tried to shout warning but not it time. I brought the slender but weighty wand down in a dramatic sweep and suddenly bright, gossamer tendrils burst from the wand and wrapped around the bench hidden beneath the mound of wands with a fizzling Shhhfit

The wands scattered across the floor with nothing left to support them as we three stared down in shock at the results.

"So, uh, Mr Ollivander, um, sir," I stammered with a sheepish grin, kicking bright orange chunk smearing seeds and pulp across the lacquered wood. "How do you feel about pumpkin scones?"

Thanks for reading the first chapter, much obliged! I'm also writing this story in sync with my mate Articunokel. His is called Hogwarts, the Manticore's Sting. Its probably more serious than my own. This is an attempt to bring some fun into the OC characters, rather than lots of angst and romance. You can check out my OC Harry Potter site at www. /hogwarthopefuls just get rid of the spaces. If that doesn't work, check out my homepage. Good luck and see yis next time