Gwen Tennyson and the Witches of America
A Fanfiction by: A J
Disclaimer: I do not own Ben 10 or Harry Potter. The Original Characters contained within and the plot are all mine.
A is for Accepted
The last bell of the last day of school rang, and the classrooms emptied out into the hallways one more time. Kids were emptying their lockers, teachers were emptying out their desks, and the janitors were filling their pails for one final scrubdown of Bellwood Middle School before summer.
Ben Tennyson ran down the hallway from his math classroom, clutching his report card and grinning the while. Sandra and Carl (his parents, who insisted he call them by name) were gonna flip! With a huge amount of determination, and no small amount of tutoring, teasing, and bullying from his cousin Gwen, he'd managed B's in most of his classes, and even an A in Geography! He caromed around the last corner and screeched to a halt in front of his locker. Dialling in the combination for the last time of the year suddenly seemed anticlimactic.
Grabbing his (nearly) new rollerblades out, he tossed the last couple schoolbooks in from his backpack. Noises behind him drew his attention to see Gwen, who was emptying her locker out across the hall. She slid everything else into her carryall before stacking her Fifth Grade books inside. Noticing Ben waiting for her out of the corner of her eye, she took a few extra seconds to make sure the books were straightened just right before shutting the locker and spinning the lock one last time.
"C'monnnn Gwennnn," Ben whined, seeing that they were the last two kids left in the hallway. "Grandpa's prob'ly boring our parents to tears with old Plumber stories waiting for us. He said if we hit the road early enough, we could be back at our campsite before nightfall."
Gwen gave a distracted nod to her cousin as they fell in step headed for the exit, pulling her shoulder strap higher and fiddling with her hair-scrunchie. Without warning, she elbowed him in the stomach, and yelled 'Race ya!" She took off down the hallway.
"Hey, no fair!" Ben cried once he'd caught his breath. As he took off after her, he spun once to wave a distracted goodbye to their principal (and fellow Plumber), Mr. White. "See ya in the fall!" he yelled, smiling as he went past the balding man at the T-junction.
"Be still, my aching heart," Ed White murmured quietly back, waving in spite of himself after his most disruptive student. Ever.
Gwen was actually waiting for Ben at the bottom of the stairs outside the school. At his incredulous expression, she just laughed. "Come on, slowpoke, get your skates on. I want to try out this new spell, and I need a gauge to measure my speed against." She tucked her spellbook back into her pocket, and popped the wheels out on the bottoms of her shoes. Ben knew better than to ask; she'd be more than happy to explain after they were back on the road in Grandpa Max's Rustbucket II. Pulling on his rollerblades, he shoved his shoes in his backpack and rolled next to Gwen.
With a superior, mischievous smirk, she intoned under her breath. Her hands and eyes glowed blue for a second, then her shoes did, too. Gwen was suddenly floating a couple inches off the ground. "Ready?" she asked. Ben nodded, grinning. "GO!"
The two slalomed from the school to Gwen's house, which was half a mile farther than Ben's from Bellwood M. S. They collapsed to a near-simultaneous stop at the picnic table next to the Rustbucket, and immediately started bickering about who'd won their race. Gwen's new 'gliding' spell gave her better speed, while Ben could maneuver better on his skates. The pair were ready to race to Ben's house and back to settle the argument when Gwen's parents came out of the house.
One look at their expressions pushed all thoughts of racing from Gwen's mind. "Mom? Dad? Wh … What is it?"
Her dad looked up first. "Hey, pumpkin. We … ah … Ben, could we talk to Gwen alone for a minute?"
For once, Ben took the hint at face value. "Sure, Uncle Frank. Is it okay if I wait in the house?" His only answer was a strained nod from his aunt Lily. Ben skedaddled.
As soon as he was inside, Gwen's parents sat down beside her at the picnic table. "Honey, I know you were looking at academies last summer," her mom began. "I know you feel like you're not … challenged in Bellwood schools. But some of the schools you checked out may have been … God, Frank. How do I say this?"
"I believe the term here is 'misrepresented'," her husband supplied. "Pumpkin, how many places did you check out last year?"
Gwen thought hard for a minute. "Actually … just two, really. The Bancroft Academy, and their ah … competitor, the Natasha Institute. Why?" She gasped as her parents exchanged a strange look. "Did one of them send something? Did I get accepted?" 'In spite of Ben and the weirdness-fest last summer was?' she added to herself.
"Ah, noooo," her mom began. "Not one of those. A different school. In Salem. One that caters more towards … well … your new hobby, honey." Gwen looked back and forth between her parent's faces, but their expressions were unreadable.
"My new hobby? You mean judo? Why would some dojo in Salem be interest … ed …" She stopped as her father shook his head.
"No, pumpkin. Your other new hobby. The one you've been all hyped-up about since last summer. The one from the Talent Show."
"You mean … magic," she gulped.
"Yes honey. I … we … oh, there's no other way to ask this. Did you check out a witch's school in Salem, Gwen? Because they sent you this." Her mother pulled out a yellowed envelope and handed it to Gwen. Now thoroughly confused, the red-haired girl took the envelope, which turned out to be parchment.
'Odd,'she thought, opening the thick packet. She noticed the ornate wax seal on the back, which was a phoenix shield supported by a griffon and a unicorn. Flipping it back over, all she found was her name and address. 'Even odder,' she added, as she drew the thick sheets, also of parchment, from the envelope. Carefully unfolding them, she read the top one:
Salem Center of Sorcery Preparatory
Headmistress Corinne Rowan
(High Sorceress, American Representative:
Int'l Confederation of Wizards and Witches)
Dear Miss Tennyson,
We are pleased to inform you that you have been accepted to attend the Salem Center of Sorcery this coming fall. Please find enclosed the list of required books and materials. We await your response no later than 1 August. Classes start 1 September.
Twice as mystified, Gwen looked at the other piece of parchment. It was a list, all right, straight out of any kid's fantasy story. She was expected to find pointy hats and blue robes with stars on them, a cauldron and potion ingredients, and a whimsical list of books of spells, each one crazier-sounding than the last.
'This can't be for ...real ...'she started thinking, when the obvious answer occurred to her. 'Ben,' she mused, her lips quirking at the extraordinarily-well-thought-out joke from her cousin. He must have gone Greymatter to make this sound so realistic. Deciding to play along for the moment, she looked up at her parents with wide eyes. "I don't know what to say, you guys. I never applied to anything in Salem. At least, that I can remember at the moment ..." She thought back to the stop they'd made in Salem at the end of last July.
Suddenly, she thought of another possible culprit for this flight of fancy. 'What if Ben isn't behind this? What if it was Charmcaster?' Either way, she was going to have Grandpa Max take them back to Salem long enough to find out whether this was genuine, just in case. As well as making a return trip to Mount Rushmore, to see whether Charmcaster and the others were still locked up in the forcefield cells the Tennysons had caught them in at the end of last summer.
Max, Carl, Sandra and Ben came out of the house, curious expressions evident. Ben had his battered suitcase in one hand, and his backpack (now full of electronic game equipment, which he'd left at Gwen's last night in preparation) over his shoulder. Gwen had to bite the inside of her cheek to keep from laughing when she saw that Ben was already wearing his 'lucky shirt'. 'At least Aunt Sandra got it washed for our sakes,' she told herself.
"So, we ready to hit the road?" Max asked his grandkids, grinning affably.
"Beyond ready," Ben answered, toting his luggage over to the Rustbucket II and setting it inside through the door. "D'jou pack last night too, cuz?" Gwen couldn't contain her grin as she nodded.
"Already put my stuff in the left side drawers," she answered, giving Grandpa Max a warm smile. 'The benefit of having the RV parked in our driveway for the last week.' "Mom? Dad? We'll give ya a call from Great Aunt Vera's, and I'll let you know what I've found out about this, okay?" She waved the handful of parchment, and smiled reassuringly. Frank and Lily Tennyson couldn't help but feel reassured by the faith they had in their responsible daughter.
"Go on, honey," her mom said, giving her a nudge toward the Rustbucket.
"Drive safe, Dad," Frank and Carl said simultaneously, then grinned at each other.
Lily and Sandra stood back,watching their children set off for another summer-long 'road trip to nowhere' with their grandpa Max. 'At least they get along together, now,' both women said to themselves, thinking of the state of perpetual warfare their children used to live in.
Once inside the Rustbucket, Max strapped in and started the engine. "C'mon, Ben. Get your stuff stowed." Turning to Gwen, he asked, "So, what was it your parents wanted, anyway? They looked pretty serious, Gwen."
She deliberated her answer for a moment, then just dug the thick-packed letter out and handed it to Max. Gwen watched his bushy grey eyebrows raise higher and higher as he read. When he turned back to her, she said, "So. Do you think it's legit, Grandpa?" She lowered her voice and added, "Or do you think Ben and Greymatter're pulling my leg?"
"Only one way to find out. We could be in Salem in four days, and we'll check into this place then." Looking into the rearview mirror, he chuckled. "All set, Ben?"
The eleven-year-old keeper of the Omnitrix grinned back at the other two, waving his charging Gametoy GS. He was seat-belted in at the dining table, with his backpack full of electro-crack strapped in next to him. Gwen just shook her head at the sight.
"Then here we go!" Max bellowed, shifting gears and stomping pedals. The Rustbucket II left a cloud of blue-grey smoke and two sets of waving parents in its wake.