The house was new. It had probably only been built a few months ago, if that. The walls were all painted in 'neutral' which meant they were a bland off white which was clearly meant to make the room feel warm and spacious. They didn't. When teamed with the modern wooden floors it just made the room seem even emptier than. Why are empty houses supposed to be more appealing? To me it just made it feel like any second the walls were going to close in on themselves. Suffocating.
It was so new and horrible. It was muggle too. I could sense the lack of magic so clearly that it made me feel fidgety and uncomfortable. There was no soul or feeling in the brickwork. No magic. No secrets. Nothing but bricks and mortar.
"So, what do you think Cas?" Dad asked as he led me through the empty white corridors and showed me room after room. It was bigger than the last house, admittedly, but I couldn't help miss the grey stone of our Scottish home surrounded in magic and holding deep secrets. That house had been built by magic, I was certain of it, and I'd forgotten what it felt like to be in a soulless house.
"It's big." I answered truthfully as he pulled me into another reception room which was painted in exactly the same way as all the others. It wasbig and I could see the eventual potential of the house but it was going to take awhile to get it to feel as homey as the last house. If we were going to move again next year then it was hardly worth the effort.
"I think we'll be safe here." Dad remarked and I couldn't help but recall his words being the same about the last place and the place before. "They've got brilliant security already and if we can just add our own..." He said and I nodded. I didn't feel very magically secure. In fact it felt as though magic had never even touched the area.
"We're going to need more furniture to fill it." I pointed out and Dad nodded. I hated the big houses that dwarfed the pairs of us: the bigger the house, the more it seemed to emasculate our relationship somehow, as if to serve as a reminder of how small we were. But Dad was rich and he had to spend his money somehow.
"Well that's all right. The new line's coming out so the bank account should be filling up." I didn't point out that the bank account was always full up and we could hardly spend it all between the two of us. "You can buy me lots of new furniture." He suggested, knowing full well that I was going to do what I always did – buy as much antique furniture as I could to fill up the empty spaces of the house until it was so full of magic and character that I could feel almost as comfortable as I did at Hogwarts.
"Of course." I said, laughing slightly. I looked around at the room we'd stopped in, the last and the biggest by far. It was far too big for two of us. "It is very big." I said again and Dad nodded. I wondered if he was also thinking how nice it would be to have more than just us two in such a big house.
"We'll be safe here." Dad repeated again, ruffling up my hair.
All the furniture we'd brought over the past ten or so years barely filled the rooms. Just as I'd suspected, this gigantic house seemed to consume us slightly. Instead of filling the rooms up, I'd placed the pieces with the strongest magical aura in rooms on their own just so the rooms didn't feel so empty. We had four functional rooms which actually had enough furniture – a kitchen/dining room, a sitting room and a bedroom a piece. There were five bathrooms that already came fully furnished and I'd stuck a magic trinket box in one of them so I could use it without feeling uncomfortable.
It was weird, I knew it was weird, but I just found it so hard to exist in a place without traces of magic. It was like trying to talk to a person who'd just been kissed by a dementor. It was just the way I was.
My Dad had never quite understood my issues and he'd probably thought that they'd faded when we moved into the Scottish house last summer given that there had been so much magic in that building that I'd been able to relax almost immediately. Now they were even worse than before because this house was so new and empty: so vast and waiting for something to fill it up.
I had a strong suspicion that he'd been very worried about my habits when I was little and had consulted a child psychiatrist about my problem. I had found the letter of response which put it down to me having 'attachment issues to buildings and places' after what had happened with my mother. My need for old items was down too 'the desire to cling on to her mother' by keeping the decorations the same way they'd been when my mother lived with us.
I couldn't even remember my mother so I doubted any of that was true.
I just had a gift for sensing things and I hated being anywhere when there was nothing to sense. It felt like someone had stripped away a layer of my sight so I could only see in black and white. The lack of depth made me feel uncomfortable. The fake, the superficial and the soulless. I hated it.
Magic was the easiest thing to sense. Reading people's emotions was pretty similar but the harder thing was feeling the memory of the place. Buildings hold echoes of the things that have happened there; they absorb the emotions, the memories, the magic. Except this house is new and there is nothing to sense.
There was this one house we moved to, before Hogwarts, when I could feel this wave of anger and pain screaming out from the walls. Something so bad had happened in there. I couldn't go in – my legs seized up and much to my father's annoyance we had to sell the house again and buy another elsewhere. After researching into the house I found that it had been cheep because a girl had been murdered there a few years back by her own father.
Now I'd give anything to have a house with that sort of history, just because it was better than a house that had no history whatsoever. A little depth. A little mystery. Anything, really.
"Dad?" I asked putting down my book and watching him as he typed coding into the laptop. He was one of the only Wizards I knew who could type faster than a muggle in the muggle way, although I suppose it was a given when it came to his job. He looked up, startled and glanced at me questioningly. "Can I go for a walk around the neighbourhood?" I asked and he nodded slowly.
Although he didn't quite understand my sensing thing (the guy has no imagination what so ever. He called his company Wizarding Communication Technology for Pete's sake), he knew that I could stay out of trouble quite easily. Plus he usually worked in the reverse to what seemed sensible; for the first couple of weeks we lived somewhere he'd be fine with letting me go anywhere I liked. The restrictions were added at the end of the summer when he believed that his Business rivals would have found out where he lived and were likely to send someone to do me in or kidnap or something equally ridiculous. All I knew was that by the beginning of the next summer we were on the move again: uprooting, redecorating, upsizing.
I tended not to bother thinking about it and instead passed off the constant moving as him getting bored. It must be boring living on your own and forcing myself to think about it too much made my head hurt. Anyway, there weren't any answered within my grasp, so searching for them would be pointless. He wasn't going to tell me.
"Be back for dinner. Take your mobile, and your wand." Dad added as I walked towards the door. Then he went back to coding something or other on his laptop. I smiled and dashed up to my room (trying to avoid looking in all the empty rooms) and grabbed my phone off the bed. My wand had already been in my pocket – I was hardly going to go out without it. My room was glowing with magic and memories and I lingered there for a few seconds feeling safe. I checked my reflection in the old cracked mirror which croaked 'put some sensible shoes on' which I ignored. It was only around four and it was pretty sunny for England. I suppose we were much further south than we had been in Scotland. I'd doubted a few miles could make a difference to the weather, but it wasn't raining for once so maybe it could.
I smiled, reassuring myself that the uncomfortable feeling the house was giving me would fade soon enough. Then I skipped down the stairs two at a time, yelled goodbye to my father and walked out the front door.
The houses around here were all built in the past couple of years but nothing quite as new as my house, and nothing quite as big. There were quite a few people outside as the sun was shining. A few of them held my gaze for a few seconds, but none of them seemed particularly interested in me as was to be expected. Perhaps, if they knew where I now lived things would be different – such overt declarations of wealth tended to draw attention.
I walked along the pavement tracing the wall with my finger tips as I tried to find something that had traces of magic. If Dad had thought there was adequate protection in this place, it probably didn't mean a good muggle police force. Dad was paranoid – immensely so – and for this village to meet his standards then there would be some traces of magic somewhere.
I sighed as I glanced at my phone and saw that it was half five already. With a half hour walk back up to the house, it was time to return to the soulless, empty place that I was now supposed to call home. I turned backwards, walking slightly quicker than I had done previously.
Then I stopped. Magic. A pull towards a side road. So well hidden, or just minute, that I hadn't noticed it the first time. I glanced at my phone for a few seconds. It could take a long time to trace the exact pull again. It could take at least a week. And... it was so inviting.
Curiosity got the better of me and I found myself disappearing down the pathway and following the strong pull of the magic. It definitely wasn't dark magic. I was safe. I'd only be a few minutes late back home.
I followed it up a hill to a place that I wouldn't have really noticed if I wasn't so fixed on following the direction it was in. This was the place. I could feel it. It was so full of magic that it was impossible to ignore – flooding through me and filling me up again. It was a house, no doubt. A magical dwelling, a family and it had been for quite some time. Magic made me stronger and more liable to do stupid things, but I felt more solid too.
Magic was the reason I was currently lifting one arm and reaching out, forwards, until I could feel the edge of the magic. Something almost solid. Impenetrable. There was a great wall surrounding the house; protection. This was, undoubtedly, what my Dad had been referring to earlier. This was the house with the tight security that soothed his incomprehensible paranoia. If I closed my eyes, I could almost see the magical wall – like an extra layer of sight that I could never shut off.
I pressed my palm against the invisible surface of the magical wall, my head racing through the possibilities.
There must be a way in.
I marked where I started in the soil with my toe of my sandals and began following the wall around looking for any kind of hole or gap in the wall... Theremust be a way in. Magic was never quite what it seemed and it seemed improbable that this could really be such an unbreakable defence.
My legs caught on the thick weeds around the edge of the wall (magical houses always seemed to be surrounded by clumps of weeds and utterly wild flowers) and I wished I'd heeded the mirrors advice and donned something more sensible than sandals. I'd no doubt come out of this adventure with my legs covered in cuts and bruises. Frowning, I shifted closer to the wall so I wouldn't notice if there was a gap
Dad wouldn't be worried yet and I could text him in a minute. It wasn't exactly an option at current, because how could I explain trying to break into a magical residence with lots of protection just to see if I could?
Why was I doing this?
I took a step backwards knowing that in reality I should turn around and head back home. But, the fact remained that I didn't much want to spend the whole evening there. This felt like a much better option, even if it was crazy and stupid and entirely not a logical decision. If a family bothered having this much protection (it was a lot better than some I'd seen) then they probably didn't want people bursting through their defences and turning up at their door unexpectedly.
Having a magical wall of protection around your house usually isn't an invitation for visitors.
The decision to quench the burning sense of curiosity was almost slightly painful, but I took a step backwards anyway. My foot caught on a low branch and stumbling forwards to prevent ending up sitting in a patch of thistles, as would be my like, I ended up hurtling towards the magic wall. I braced myself for some sort of solid impact, for the spell to hit, but instead I just fell straight through.
The spell just passed straight over me. The protection my Dad had been so adamant would keep us safe from some apparent external force that I was completely ignorant of had just been broken by a sixteen year old girl. And I hadn't used a wand. And I hadn't really meant to.
Then I realised I was currently lying face down on someone's lawn. And that I'd just broken into their house.
This is a story I started quite some time ago and is up with plenty more chapters on HPFF. I'm revising so, as per my new habit, am uploading onto here as I go back over and edit it. So, anyways, longer version is available over there if anyone's interested, or you could just wait for me to get round to editing. Or you could just not care, ahha. Thanks for reading!