I was getting well and truly sick of magic.
My core throbbed as I collapsed against the rough wood of the trap door I'd just phased through.
Sessions with Snape always held a risk. Knowing that he could throw a spell at me one day that could expose my human half without even meaning to, was one of the reasons I'd been apprehensive about the whole thing to begin with. But somehow this? This was so much worse.
I closed my eyes, driving my gloved fists against the lids as the images continued to race behind them.
"What are you so happy about?"
Snape's gaze flicked up from the notes on his desk, smirk dancing on his face as he took in my relaxed posture. The session so far had consisted of Snape shooting me with spells meant to trap me, and me escaping them in a matter of seconds. Conjured ropes were easily phased through, gigantic human-swallowing bubbles were burst with a single ectoblast, and spells intended to 'stun' were burned out by my ectoplasmic magic-immune system before I could hit the floor.
In all honesty, I was bored.
My arms swung gently by my sides as I watched him lazily reach for his wand.
"I don't suppose you've ever heard of Occlumency?" he probed. Something in his tone set off alarm bells, but I was too done to pay them any attention. These sessions would be near unbearable if I spent the whole time worrying about what spell Snape was going to try next. I shrugged.
"No, should I have?"
His mouth twitched again.
"It might have helped." In the next second, his wand shot forward. "Legilimens."
The world slowed to a stop as the spell hit. Before I could make sense of what was happening, my vision blurred, classroom disappearing only to be replaced with… my parents lab?
"Are you sure you wanna do this, dude?" Tucker asked from somewhere to my left. I spun to face him, fingers weaving anxiously around the hem of my glove.
"Of course, what's the worst that could happen? I find out it doesn't work and that my parents were wrong? Again?" I shot him a grin so confident, it was obviously faked. My eyes wandered back to the electronic hole in the wall.
"Danny, I love standing around in dark, windowless rooms as much as the next Goth, but can we speed this up? If we're going to be discovering new worlds today, I'd rather have the whole evening."
"Nothing's stopping you from going in there instead," I quipped.
Sam scoffed, folding her arms loosely so that her camera hung from her shoulder. "Your parents, your responsibility. Stop stalling and go."
I sighed in a way I hoped sounded playful. Apprehension rested heavy on my chest as I pushed against my instincts and wandered into the metal cave. My hand rested lightly on the wall of the portal as though touching something solid would make this whole thing a little less crazy.
It only took a few steps. I tripped, hand lashing out to steady myself against whatever I could find. Pain like I'd never felt shot through me the second I hit the button. Electricity burned everything inside me with a ferocity I'd never thought possible. I heard a scream.
The lab disintegrated, and I found myself pressed against the floor as Skulker leered over me, large glowing knife aimed directly at my core. The image flickered and Skulker became Vlad, then Valerie, the Guys in White then Spectra. I was tossed against a wall, a roof, a concrete road as weapons fired from every direction. Loser. Freak. Trophy. Monster.
And then came the laughter, dark and manic, the kind you'd never forget – especially when it came from you.
I gasped as the memories evaporated and Snape's classroom came crashing back. I staggered backwards, my right hand shooting to my head as I struggled to grasp what had just happened.
"What did you do?" I demanded, not bothering to hide the hysteria in my voice. Snape didn't respond and as I gawped back at him, horror started to settle in my stomach.
His smirk had disappeared, replaced with a fraction of a frown. I felt the hair on the back of my neck prickle as his eyes swept slowly over me. Evaluating. Calculating. Questioning.
"Wait, you… you saw all that?" My throat felt dry and the words stuck as realisation dawned. The man's head lifted slightly in subtle confirmation.
And just like that, it felt as though the walls were collapsing around me.
Wizards could get inside minds? That was a whole new level of dangerous. Panic flared through me as I thought of all the secrets I was keeping. If these people found out about me being half-ghost, about my friends and family back home, I'd never escape. There was no doubt in my mind that someone would find a way to use it against me.
Before I knew it, I'd pressed myself up against the back wall. No matter how hard I tried, I couldn't bring myself to look back at Snape. He'd seen so much. Tucker. Sam. My 'death'. Nothing incriminating but still… Those memories were personal. The names thrown around hurt more than the attacks and hearing my alternate future self…
It took a second to realise I was shivering.
Snape let out a sharp sigh.
"Phantom, I can-"
I was gone before he finished.
I pulled my hands away from my eyes and stared at the domed ceiling. This sucked beyond belief. Not only could Snape get in my head whenever he wanted, but he'd write about it in that stupid journal and by next week, everyone in the Ministry would be giving it a shot. It was the ultimate invasion of privacy and filled me with a dread I didn't fully understand.
Secrets like mine relied on trust. I'd slipped up with Hagrid but I'd opened up because despite everything, I trusted him. I was still working up to telling my parents about being a halfa, I didn't want the whole wizarding world in on it.
And just when I thought things were starting to look up.
I let out a groan that seemed to echo around the room. I needed a game plan - something to say to Snape when I next saw him. Maybe I could convince him to keep the mind reading thing a secret as well as all the stuff he'd seen. Fat chance. It seemed the guy's biggest goal was to make my time here as hellish as possible. I quickly added it to the list of things I needed to talk to Hagrid about.
It had been two days since I'd seen Moody by the lake and though the memory still sent shivers down my spine, I hadn't found the time to bring it up. Hagrid had been sleeping when I'd gotten back and the next morning, one of the Skrewts had disappeared, meaning the whole day had been dedicated to trying to find it. Turned out it had been eaten by its crate-mates. The patches of black that had seeped into the straw bedding were easy to mistake as Skrewt poop but as soon as Hagrid unearthed a detached stinger, it wasn't hard to join the dots.
Hagrid was heartbroken. I was more grossed out.
I pulled myself into sitting, gazing at the floor as though it might give me some secret-saving answers. The second my eyes took in the room however, I felt my brain grind to a halt. I'd assumed flying to the top of a tower and phasing through a door in the roof would land me in some kind of attic. Whatever I'd been expecting, it wasn't this.
Curious, I stood and took a few wary steps forward.
If the number of tables were anything to go by, this was a classroom. Rather than the stalls Flitwick's class had, or the rectangular desks Snape and McGonagall favoured, this room had at least twenty circular tables with padded stools and a few armchairs planted around them. Windows were covered over by thick red curtains and the only light came from the fireplace at the far end of the room. To say it was small, whoever had decorated it had managed to fill it pretty well. Glancing around to check that I was alone, I reverted back to my human form.
The wash of warmth was immediate. I took a deep breath and almost gagged as I was hit with a heavy wave of floral perfume. A few steps further into the room and I spotted the mass of teapots that rested on shelves embedded into the wall. Half melted candles could be found on most surfaces as well as the type of crystal balls you'd find in a fortune teller's tent.
I began to weave in and out of tables, mesmerised by the otherworldliness of it all. As I reached the fireplace, my gaze fell on a set of blue folders propped upright on the mantle. Curiosity building, I picked one of them up and began to leaf through the contents. A small smile flickered onto my face as I recognised the star charts. A pamphlet rested at the back of the folder and as I pulled it out, I noticed the words scrawled across the top.
Reading the Stars: How to Decipher Destiny.
"Well, this should be fun," I joked, taking the first seat I found.
I laid the contents of the folder out on the red clothed table and opened the first page of the pamphlet.
Divination is a form of magic only decipherable to the lucky few. While those
without a natural affinity to the craft may struggle to pick up on the more delicate aspects,
anyone with a true desire to learn may be taught. Our lives are guided by many forces but
perhaps the strongest of these can be found in the pattern of the stars.
The aim of this pamphlet is to introduce those who are just
beginning to embark upon their divine journey to the mysterious art of Divination.
The future awaits.
The final sentence sent a shiver down my spine and I found my gaze redirecting to the star charts. Was this just some advanced form of astrology? Horoscopes, star signs and all that 'Saturn is moving into Capricorn' mumbo jumbo? I scoffed at the thought of magic folk taking one of those 'Which star sign are you most compatible with?' quizzes that Paulina was obsessed with. Somehow I couldn't imagine Hermione scouring her horoscope for an insight into any future romances.
With my eyes still fastened to the nearest constellation, I folded the pamphlet and slipped it into the back pocket of my jeans. Even if it was a load of crud, it might give me something to laugh at later on.
A flare of blue light caught my attention before I could pack any of the charts away. I blinked a few times, trying to adjust my eyes to the bright glare before my gaze fell on the crystal ball at the centre of the table.
It hadn't been doing that before.
I leaned forward a fraction to get a better look. Much like the red in the glass ball I'd found in the hide-out, cerulean blue fog gently throbbed from within the orb. The room was suddenly bleached of any other colour as the light continued to flare outward.
The longer I stared at the magic ball, the harder it was to look away.
"I didn't put my name in. You know I didn't," a familiar voice pleaded, pulsing in time with the growing light.
"Extraordinary! Absolutely extraordinary!"
"It's no one's fault but Potter's, Karkaroff."
The light was almost blinding but I found myself unable to tear my eyes away.
"It seems to me, however, that we have no choice but to accept it."
"I didn't put my name in the Goblet!"
The voices stopped with the final shout. Before my brain could catch up with what I'd heard, the blue light spluttered out of existence and I was left only with the flickering flame behind me.
What just happened? I shook my head, unnerved by the familiarity of the three of the voices and the panicked emotion threaded throughout.
"What did you see?"
I jolted out of the plush chair with force enough to knock it over. My head shot to stare at the figure by the entrance.
To say she was an interesting looking woman would be a bit of an understatement. The limited firelight reflected off her enormous glasses in a way that gave her enlarged eyes an overeager glow. Her hair wisped from her scalp in a mess of dirty blonde and the shawl she wore reminded me of a lace tablecloth.
My stomach sank as I realised she had to be a member of staff. My heart tapped my ribcage as though to gently remind me I was still in human form.
"Hi! Sorry, I was just… I got lost and I-"
"Never mind that!" the woman hissed excitedly with a dismissive wave. "What did you see?"
"See?" I glanced back at the now lifeless crystal ball. Had she been watching me? How long for? How did I not notice her come up?
"Yes! I know the look of a Seer. You gazed into the crystal ball and it showed you the future. So what did it tell you?" She moved towards me, arms floating around her as though she was pushing her way through a large bowl of syrup.
I fought the urge to back up as she reached the table.
Those voices had been from the future? Crystal balls actually worked?
"To be able to glimpse into the future is a rare and powerful Gift," the woman continued, undeterred by my silence. "You should be proud. A young wizard such as yourself-"
"I'm not a wizard."
The words left me before I could fully think them through. The idea of belonging to this world in any way made me feel physically sick. The shock and confusion on her face was enough to make me realise my mistake.
I ran a hand through my hair as I let out an uneasy laugh. "I mean… I'm not a wizard per se. I'm more of a… a…"
I glanced around the room in search of inspiration before an earlier conversation with Hagrid popped into my mind. A conversation about kids born into wizarding families with no magic of their own.
"A squib! I'm a squib. Totally squibish. Nothing wizardy here."
Her eyes locked onto mine with a fierceness that didn't fit her frail looking body. I gulped as her stare moved from me to the ball and back again.
"But… I could have sworn you were... You looked into the crystal ball and you… You didn't see anything?" She was centimetres away before I could react. Her hands wrapped tightly around my arms and her unnaturally large eyes pinned me from above.
I gave a nervous shake of my head. "Not a thing. Sorry."
It wasn't a lie. I didn't technically see anything. It was just noise.
Her stare didn't let up. Seconds felt like minutes as I shied away from her giant green eyes. The rings on her fingers bit painfully into the skin of my arms and the stifling heat in the room slowly began to grow unbearable.
"Why are you here?" she asked suddenly, as though the situation had finally caught up with her.
"I told you, I got lost and-"
"Not in here. In Hogwarts."
Yeah, I was hoping we wouldn't get to that part.
"I… uh. I'm…" The face of the girl I'd met in the Owlery danced in my memory. What was it I'd said to her? "I'm visiting Hagrid. He's a… friend."
I saw the hole before she did. If she was a teacher, she probably knew about Phantom. And if Phantom was supposed to be staying in Hagrid's hut…
"For the day," I quickly added. "I was in the area and I thought I'd just… drop in. But, well, he's teaching right now, so he told me to take a look around and I stumbled across this place. Is this classroom yours? It's beautiful."
Distract with flattery. It worked with my parents. Sometimes. I almost sagged with relief as the twig-like woman let go of me and pulled away to proudly inspect the room.
"That it is," she breathed, voice robbed off all its suspicion.
The change was uncanny. Her eyes instantly lost their sharp edge and had become almost unfocused as they continued their sweep. Her face had settled into a vacant happiness and her hands clasped together gently over her chest.
"And it's… uh… Divination, right? The reading of signs to decipher destiny?" I hoped she missed the fact that I was just regurgitating words from the pamphlet.
"Ah, you have an interest in the craft. Of course. I saw when I first laid eyes on you. Indeed, my dear. Signs can be found in many places. Tea leaves, the movement of the skies above, crystal balls..." Her eyes lingered on the ball again. "A decision you must make fast approaches. Consider time's warning."
"I'm sorry, what?" I blinked, caught completely off guard by her sudden change of subject. Her eyes met mine and I was unsettled to find a calmer version of the intrigued gleam they had held before.
"I have a class in a few minutes, dear. You should go back to Hagrid, his session must have ended by now. Should you decide to stay longer than a day, I would love to talk more. You interest me, Mr…?"
"Jimmy," I blurted, brain throwing me the name I'd shared with Luna while ignoring the fact that she likely wanted a second as well. As any kind of interest in my human half was decidedly bad, I was instantly eager to leave this suddenly very small room behind. I edged towards the trapdoor. "Thanks, I'll definitely keep that in mind."
"I know you will. Goodbye, my child." She gave a small wave that matched with the slight upward turn of her mouth. I found the handle on the door and pulled it open. A silver step ladder lead down to the corridor below and I couldn't help the sudden wash of unease.
The ladder hadn't been there before. I'd gotten into the room by flying. I looked across at the teacher, searching for any hint of suspicion or realisation. Her expression hadn't changed. Either she was a really good actor, or she just wasn't all that good at seeing what was directly in front of her.
I gave a shaky smile before disappearing down the ladder.
Note to self. Don't be human inside the castle. I shook my head to dispel the weirdness.
I'd only been Fenton indoors away from the hut twice and somehow I'd been caught out both times. My lesson had definitely been learnt.
I gazed at the paintings that lined the corridor and was happy to see that, miraculously, none of them were occupied. I transformed into my ghost half and shot through the nearest wall into the afternoon sky.
Whatever had happened with that crystal ball, I had no intention of investigating further. Even if the voices had been eerily familiar and I was sure I knew the name 'Potter' from somewhere, I was leaving in just under two weeks. The voices had not been American and wizarding problems had nothing to do with me.
The one thing that niggled at my brain was the look on the woman's face when I told her I was a squib. She'd been distraught, believing that this fact meant I couldn't possibly have seen anything in the crystal ball; that not having magic meant it wouldn't react to me.
But it had.
Maybe my ghost powers weren't as non-magical as I wanted to believe.
AN: HAPPY NEW YEAR! I thought I'd gift you guys with an early update and a smile!
Few things this time. I'm taking a few liberties here. The way the crystal ball reacts to Danny, for example. While I know the prophecies in Order of the Phoenix aren't crystal balls, I used them as inspiration and I like to think it works alright. Also, the Ghost Portal memory - a fraction different from canon but with the same end result.
So Danny got caught out yet again. He should really stop doing that. Trelawney has taken a liking to our little 'squib' Jimmy. Wonder if that'll come back to bite him at some later date...
I feel like there was something else important I wanted to say but it has deserted me so I shall leave you with the knowledge that next update will still be the 17th of January! Posting twice in a month - is this the 2018 Mea? Maybe not but it doesn't hurt to dream. I'm gonna stop yabbering...
Let me know what you think! Reviews give me life energy and you guys write the greatest!
Hope 2018 treats you well!