A/N: Now presenting the next installment of the Corkscrews Universe.
Voices In The Walls
CH1: There's Something You Need To Know
Calculating eyes gazed at the girls over the edge, glinting softly in the dim lights. His lips slipped into a sharp smirk and he raised his hand. It came swishing down like a blade through the air and hit the mattress hard.
"Royal flush!" Harry crowed happily, as his friends looked disbelieving at his cards. "I win again!"
"This is not fair!" Manda whined. "That's nine in a row!"
Elle glared at him accusingly. "You're using that Silver thing aren't you."
"Yes, Ellie," Harry deadpanned. "I'm using the knowledge of the Universe to beat you at cards."
"I knew it."
"Keep it down," hushed Manda. "You never know who could be listening." She peered outside the reaches of the flashlight beam. Ever since Harry had returned from Hogwarts a little over a month before, Manda had been overly protective of him, making sure that no one bothered him with questions he couldn't answer. Harry slightly suspected that she was making up for the year she lost with him, apologetic that she hadn't been there to protect him when he most needed it.
Harry had told his friends about his school year over ice cream and many fits of crying. Neither of his friends wanted him to return to the place that put him in so much danger, but Harry had insisted on continuing his magical education. He loved Hogwarts, the spells, the friends, the very magic in the air. So his friends had given up convincing him to remain a Muggle and were staunchly avoiding the subject of his departure in two days to spend the rest of the summer at Malfoy Manner.
"I really should be getting home," Elle whispered. "It's almost 9. Mum'll be furious if she realizes I'm not there."
"Is Bridget covering for you?" Harry asked, as the group stood and started tiptoeing over to the window. Bridget was Elle's younger sister, a year younger that the three of them. She and Elle had been sharing a room for many years and the girl knew to watch out for their mother if Elle wasn't in the house.
"Yes. Mum has been extra careful since she caught me sneaking back in after the fair last week." She slowly climbed over the windowsill and lowered herself down. "Night, Har. Manda."
Manda sat back down on Harry's bed. "You sure you want me to leave now? We can play 'go fish' if you want." Her brown eyes were filled with worry for her best friend.
Harry bit back a sigh. "I'll be fine. Promise."
"Alright," she said hesitantly. "If you need anything –"
"Manda, it was only one nightmare. It's nothing, I swear."
"It was a pretty bad nightmare."
"How could you know?" Harry snapped. "You didn't see it." He winced at seeing Manda's downcast eyes, instantly regretting what he had said. "I'm sorry. I'm just really tired."
"Me too," she said softly and gave him a hug. "I'll see you in the morning, Harry. Sweet dreams."
But they weren't.
Harry raced up the path to Elle's house, Manda fast on his heels. Outstretching his arm, he just barely missed pushing the gilded doorbell in front of them. Manda laughed as her fingers found the button.
"You should stick to poker, Potter," she mocked, but quickly fell silent as the bell sounded.
The Bentley's front doorbell was known all up and down Sweet Lane. The chimes rang out loud and clear, fascinating classical symphonies. Mr. Bentley was a mechanic and Mrs. Bentley was a musician; together they built this beautiful bell, changing the songs it played every week. Harry's eyes closed as a deep, quick tune filled the air.
The door flung open and Elle's breathless face appeared. "You will never guess what happened!" she cried with unusual excitement for the girl who hated waking up in the morning. She dragged them through the doorway where her entire family was gathered in the living room. The entire family was in there, a rare sight for the Bentleys, who were always on the move, rushing this way and that.
Elle's sister sat on the couch between her parents, an slightly crumpled piece of parchment held in her hand …
Wait a minute. Parchment?
Manda gasped, her hand flying to her mouth, causing the entire family to look at the newcomers. Bridget sucked in a sharp breath and gazed at Harry fearfully. "What's going on?" she asked timidly.
Elle took the letter out of her hand and held it out to Harry. It read:
HOGWARTS SCHOOL OF WITCHCRAFT AND WIZARDRY
Headmaster: Albus Dumbledore
(Order of Merlin, First Class, Grand Sorc., Chf. Warlock, Supreme Mugwump, International Confed. of Wizards)
Dear Miss Bentley,
We are pleased to inform you that you have a place at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Please find enclosed a list of all necessary books and equipment.
Term begins on 1 September. We await your owl by no later than 31 July.
PS – If you have any further questions, please address them to Mr. Harry Potter.
"What's going on?" she asked, slightly louder this time.
Harry lowered the letter and stared at his best friend's little sister. "I think I need to explain some things."
"Please, please, tell me another one!" Bridget begged, tugging on the arm of Harry's shirt. Harry sighed wearily. The girl had been asking for stories of Hogwarts for the past hour, ever since Harry had explained the situation to her and her awestruck parents.
Both the elder Bentley's had been very allowing of the circumstances and had immediately let Bridget decide if she would like to attend Hogwarts or not. Harry was relieved; he's heard of many Muggle parents rejecting their child after learning of their magical ability.
Now, after sending Bridget's acceptance letter away with Circe and listening to the girl blather on for an hour, he wasn't sure it was such a good idea to tell the Bentley's about the Wizarding world. He could have escaped the girl's tormenting there.
"I don't have any left to tell," he lied, edging out of her grip.
"Except one," Elle reminded Harry sternly. He shot her a look. "What? She can't go to Hogwarts not knowing why everyone calls you Andy."
"Andy?" Bridget asked, confused.
Harry sighed again. "I guess there is one thing you need to know …"