Disclaimer: I do not own Danny Phantom or Harry Potter
I never really thought of myself as a proud person. I mean, I care a little about what other people think of me, who doesn't? But on a scale, I'd wouldn't place myself particularly high. Standing in the middle of an English village surrounded by lion wrestlers in robes, I was starting to doubt my humility.
I guess maybe I should explain.
It was during one especially irritating fight with Skulker that I complained about the fact he seemed to be everywhere at once. He then took upon himself to trash-talk me, saying something stupid like I was 'too predictable' and I could 'go to the ends of the Earth' and he'd find me faster than I could say 'Ghost Zone's Greatest Hunter'.
I should probably have let it go.
I should definitely have let go.
Instead, I'd somehow convinced Sam, Tuck and Jazz to cover for me with some fake 'astronaut experience internship' in Florida, while I took him up on the challenge.
Did I mention the lion wrestlers had sticks? Because that was a thing.
"Hey, guys." I gave a small nod and a wave as the circle around me tightened. "You, uh, need something or…? If you're looking for directions to a costume party, I can't help."
The faces, all eight of them, remained stoic. Scars like the ones you see in futuristic action films littered their skin, giving them a dangerous edge that I wasn't sure I liked. The one with the growliest expression stepped forward, green robe sweeping behind him as his hand-held stick hovered threateningly between my eyes.
"Licence," the man grunted. I couldn't tell if it was a question, a command or just a statement.
"Is this… one of those word play games? You say licence I say driver?" I gave a small laugh that wasn't in anyway convincing. The man's expression didn't change.
"Do you have a licence?" he reiterated.
I held up a hand in signal for him to wait, before using the other to make a show of patting down my jumpsuit. Sam hadn't mentioned a licence during her three hour lecture on the differences between American and British culture. My glove snagged against a scrap of paper in the side of my belt which I proceeded to pull out. My eyes scanned the writing.
"Hmm. Is a Nasty Burger voucher any good?"
He didn't even glance at the offered paper, twig twisting in his hand as his weathered eyes continued to bore into mine.
"Do you have a witch or wizard responsible for you?"
A what? I blinked before scanning the circle around me. The faces remained motionless, waiting and watching for an answer I wasn't sure I wanted to give. My gaze snagged on the green of their robes before shifting back to the sticks that continued to aim at my head. The glow from my ghost form lit their eyes in a way that highlighted just how serious they were about this. I let out another, slightly breathier laugh, backing up until my backpack caught on one of the sticks behind me.
Just my luck, I thought. Not even ten minutes in England and I'd already walked into the middle of some cult gathering.
"Uh. You know? I was actually on my way to meet… them. So…" I tucked the voucher carefully back in my belt, readying myself for take off as the circle around me shifted. The man I guessed was in charge gave a low hum.
"Magical law states that any foreign magical creature visiting the country must be accompanied by a witch or wizard, or be in possession of a Free Movement Licence. Since you appear to have neither, I'd say you're in a fair bit of trouble."
Magical law. Magical creature. What the heck was he talking about? I stiffened as the circle seemed to tighten again. The stick of the woman to my left gave a dangerous twitch.
I jolted at the sudden shout, head whipping from side to side to locate whoever had made it. When everyone in the circle looked up, I followed their lead.
"Woah," I breathed.
Hovering several feet above our heads was a man dressed in the same green robes, thick flowing orange hair making him look like some exotic hummingbird. It wasn't necessarily the flying itself that startled me, more the fact that, the thing he was using to do so, was a broomstick. And not the kind you'd keep in the shed.
"What now, Matthews?" the guy in charge growled, looking very much like he wanted to knock the flying man out of the sky. Matthews didn't seem all that worried.
"It's Diggory, sir. He says there's been a troll exposure in Aberdeen and he needs you to get there as soon as…" His eyes landed on me and the smallest hint of a frown stretched shadows across his forehead, "... possible." He glanced back at Hawthorne in askance but the burlier man simply grunted.
"Jackson," he called in way of instruction. Before I could register what was going on, strong hands pulled my wrists behind my back. I gave an indignant cry of protest as whoever Jackson was yanked me backwards and as I twisted to get a better look, I spotted a broom resting against the curb. My head jerked back around to see the rest of the circle collect more from behind them.
"And I'm done." I announced briefly before I pulled my hands intangibly from my captor's grip. Sticking around to hear about how I'd broken some weird magic rules was one thing. Letting myself be dragged off to who knows where? Even I'm not that stupid.
Without giving them the chance to recover, I shot up into the air. Matthews almost slipped from his broom in surprise as I darted past him, carrying on into the street.
The cries of pursuit were almost instant.
I'm going to pause here and say, these guys weren't quiet. How they managed to materialise around me before was completely beyond me. With my head bowed as I searched my phone for the nearest hotel, the first indication I'd had was a very deliberate cough and a sudden increase in heavy breathing.
Now though? Stealth really wasn't high on their list of priorities.
Grunts and growls followed me as I flew, sharp instructions in thick accents I couldn't understand. What was unnerving was how close they sounded.
A quick glance back and I realised that somehow they were gaining on me. Not to bring the pride thing up again, but I was a fast flyer. The idea that wooden brooms could possibly be faster had me seriously questioning whether I was in the right line of work.
A pink orb of light shot past my head, colliding with a lamppost and disappearing in a poof of sparks.
Startled, I veered sharply to the left, diving head first into a surprisingly long alley.
Could that light have come from those sticks? The way they'd held them like weapons seemed to suggest as much.
I flinched at the sound of wood colliding with brick. Grunts of pain followed. As though to urge me further forward, strong fingers brushed my ankle.
"Getting way too close for comfort," I whispered to myself as I brought my knees up. I twisted sharply so that I was flying backwards as I took in my pursuers. It was the woman with the twitchy stick that had made a grab for me. My eyes met her narrowed grey ones and I realised she couldn't have been much older than twenty.
Another shot came from somewhere behind her, barely missing my elbow.
Hawthorne was nowhere in sight.
"Can we just… not do this?" I asked the woman, glancing behind me to make sure I wasn't about to crash into a wall or something. The end of the alley was in sight.
Rather than respond verbally, the woman drove her previously outstretched hand into her other sleeve and pulled out her own stick. The change in tactic was a dangerous one and I realised that if she shot from here, she'd definitely land the hit. As much as I doubted their blasts could affect me while intangible, I wasn't willing to take the bet.
Maybe if I could knock the twig from her hand...
I lifted a finger and sent a high speed energy blast at my target. The woman swerved, only for the blast to hit the front of her broom. The flying stick jolted with the attack and before I could do anything to stop it, she fell and tumbled heavily to the ground.
"That was an accident! Sorry!" I called down, sympathetic grimace on my face as I glanced at the two remaining chasers. I spun back around, ready to burst from the alley and fly off into the late morning sun.
Fate had other ideas.
Hovering with a face as stoney as a cliff edge and blocking off the exit, sat Hawthorne and two other lion wrestlers. I blinked in shock, trying to work out how they'd gotten there before me. Could they… teleport or something? That was insane.
I came to an abrupt halt, head whipping between Hawthorne and the two men behind me. Rather than sit and wait to see who'd reach me first, I smirked. The look on Hawthorne's face became wary as I gave him a little wave.
I turned invisible.
Should I have done that before? Probably. But the wait was well worth it. The way the lion wrestler's face fell was inspirational. His twig shot out as his glare drifted across where I was floating.
"What is that thing?" a woman sitting beside him asked, leaning back to check that I hadn't materialised behind them.
"Spread out. I want it found," Hawthorne grunted, ignoring her completely. He turned and sped off, leaving the remaining broomstick flyers to do the same.
That thing? It? They'd obviously never seen a ghost before but even so. Rude.
I sighed as they drifted away. The woman I'd knocked off her broom was being tended by a fellow de-broomed lion wrestler but looked to be mostly okay.
I left the alley behind, flying higher to get a better mental map of the town layout. If I remembered rightly, the nearest hotel was only a mile away. If I could get there unnoticed, all I'd have to do was turn human and I'd be camouflaged.
Plan set in my mind, I set off in the direction my phone had indicated before the ambush.
Flying was usually perfect for calming nerves, but as I sped above houses and community centres I found myself growing more and more conflicted.
How had those lunatics gotten their hands on flying broomsticks and flashing twigs? My first though had been cult but looking back on it… they all seemed so convinced by this 'magical law' thing that a small part of me wondered if there was actually something to it. I wasn't happy with the insinuation that I was some 'magical creature' that should have my own 'witch or wizard' to be 'responsible' for me. Take away the glow and we were exactly the same. After all, it looked like they had wacky powers as well. Magic or technology, those people seemed professional. Almost like they'd been trained.
"And I thought ghosts were a stretch," I mused.
It didn't take too long before my eyes locked onto the building I recognised from the internet. With a relieved sigh, I sank down behind the nearest car and dropped my invisibility. With a careful look around to make sure the coast was clear, I let the rings of my transformation wash over me.
My backpack tugged on my shoulders as the weight of it suddenly hit. Used to the effect, I planted my hands beneath the straps and made my way towards the hotel's entrance.
It wasn't until I was outside the doors that something dawned on me.
I turned and cast a wary eye around the street. Other than the occasional car, it was empty. The lack of noise was disorientating as I realised I hadn't seen a single person outside of the people in robes. It was like I was walking through a ghost town. No pun intended.
I peered back into the hotel, locking eyes with the reception. The room was dark, devoid of light outside of the sunshine that only stretched a few feet. Nothing moved.
I jumped at the gruff voice that came at me from across the street.
"You have got to be kidding me." My stomach sank as I locked eyes with Hawthorne. The guy was everywhere.
"What are you doing here?" he asked, taking careful steps forward while distractedly scanning the nearby area. I fought back the relief as I realised he hadn't recognised me. "Whole town's been evacuated."
"Evacuated?" I echoed. I frowned as I glanced back at the hotel. Evacuation would answer the ghost town question but why?
A few more steps forward. His broom was nowhere in sight, suggesting he'd stashed it somewhere the moment he'd spotted me. I guessed that was a bonus of sorts.
"Flood warning. The dam north of here is set to overflow. Are you a tourist? Where are your parents?"
Always with the questions, this guy. I lifted a hand to the back of my neck as I tried to come up with a believable lie.
"I'm actually here on my own. My parents are English and they wanted me to look at colleges over here. So." I gave a shrug, hoping it might add to the carefree act. Something clicked in the guy's head as his eyes swung to look me up and down.
"Bit young, aren't you?"
Was fifteen too young to be looking at higher education? Jazz certainly hadn't thought so.
"You're never too young to think about your future," I quoted with false joviality. Hawthorne gave a slow nod, gaze remaining fixed. I gave a nervous laugh and took a step back, thrusting a thumb behind me. "I should probably get out of here. You know. Flee the flood, or whatever… Thanks for warning."
The second I turned I knew I'd made a mistake.
"Where did you get that bag?"
I ran for the hotel.
Motion detectors picked up my advance and the automatic glass doors slid open at the same time Hawthorne called for me to stop. Not wanting to find out if he'd use his magical mumbo jumbo on a living, breathing person, I made for a door past the reception that said 'STAFF ONLY'.
The kitchen I found myself in was entirely white. The walls, the floors, every surface gleamed like freshly laid snow. I stood out like a rooster in an aquarium. Hawthorne made it into the room before I could change or pull on my invisibility.
"Oi! Stop! I need to-"
I swept an arm across one of the surfaces, sending pots and pans flying towards him. I didn't stop to see if it had deterred him any before I barreled into the next room.
If the kitchen hadn't been a good place to hide, the restaurant was so much worse. Larger and with only a fraction more colour, I'd be pinned to the floor before I reached the nearest door. Rather than wait for that to happen, I darted under the closest tablecloth. The flash that accompanied my transformation occurred at the same time the kitchen door slammed open again.
I was just about to slip through the floor when the tablecloth was shot into the air. I blinked as I realised he was still by the doors. How…?
He recognised me this time. The scowl on his face was accompanied by the quickest of glances around the restaurant. My hands shot out in surrender as his twig appeared from seemingly nowhere and focused in on me.
"I have a proposition," I started, getting ready for another disappearing act. "You let me go, and I head back to where I came from. Win-win."
The flick of his wrist was so fast, I didn't get a chance to prepare myself as a pink blast flew from the stick. The ecto-shield that burst to life in front of me wasn't quick enough.
Hawthorne's shot landed.
Warmth seeped through me like I'd just slipped into a heated pool. I shook my head in an attempt to dispel the sudden dizziness as the world tilted. This was tiredness like I'd never felt and try as I might, it couldn't be fought.
My head hit the floor and the world turned dark as a single thought flitted through my mind.
Maybe coming to England wasn't one of my greatest ideas.
AN: Yello and welcome to Spellbound! Been here before? You might notice a few changes. The chapter you just read (I mean, I'm guessing you read it 'cause you're down here...) is part of the 2018 edit/tidy-up. I basically just rewrote it. I should probably do that with a few other chapters as well... at some point.
Anyway! I'mma warn you guys now, this ain't a short fic. While my writing speed has picked up a lot over these past few months, I still think it'll be a while before this is anywhere near finished, so if you guys are willing to be in this for the ride, then I'm happy to have you! (Literally every time someone follows this fic, I'm like, welcome to the team! and then do this awkward wink to absolutely no one...)
So. In the interests of not overwhelming you with typical Mea blather, I'm gonna leave you to read the rest if the fancy takes you. If not, it's an honour to have you click on my fic and thanks for giving it a go!
All my love!
13th February 2018