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Making the Crossing--Dumbledore's Grid fic. - The Phantom Librarian
Spewing out too many words since November 2003
fernwithy
fernwithy
Making the Crossing--Dumbledore's Grid fic.
Too much of a travelogue. Oh, well.

Title: Making the Crossing
Summary: Rebecca Sealis's father is called to interview for a job that Dumbledore has a hard time keeping filled.
A/N: Summer before OotP. The "Magic Maze" idea was borrowed from CarmenSandiego at SugarQuill, with permission.

Rebecca Sealis was in eighth period (Magical Peoples of the Americas) when her father slipped into the classroom. He checked his watch, checked Mrs. Mancuso's sundial and--to Rebecca's dismay--just leaned against the door frame to wait for her to finish up.

Shannon Flaherty reached over and tapped Rebecca's desk with her wand, and the wood grain rearranged itself into a large question mark.

Rebecca returned the gesture, adding two exclamation points--why would she know what Dad was doing here? He wasn't even supposed to be out of work for two more hours.

Mrs. Mancuso, of course, kept right on going, even making an effort to speed up. Dad had served on the Board of Education for Mass Magic Comm (the Massachusetts Commission on Magical Culture) roughly since the Salem witch trials, and ever since they had issued new standards and instituted a test at the end of the year for eighth and tenth graders, all of the teachers were using every second of class in May and June. They also missed no opportunity to demonstrate what a burden it was to be expected to have students prepared for the Magic Comm exams, especially when they thought it would get back to the Commission.

Say, via a conveniently related student.

The bell rang. Mrs. Mancuso continued talking while the students gathered up their bags, making a point of sounding breathless, as if there just hadn't been nearly enough time to get in the last few sentences (though there had been time at the beginning of class to complain bitterly for nearly ten minutes that they would barely have time to cover the Comms material this year).

Dad wasn't even listening. When Rebecca reached him, he just headed out the door with a sidelong, "Let's walk" by way of a hello.

Rebecca sighed and tucked her notescroll and her history book (Patchwork: A History of Magical Peoples In the Americas) under one arm and walked with him, knowing he wouldn't talk about anything important while they were still in school. He nodded and waved pleasantly to teachers, administrators, and secretaries that he knew in the course of his work, but he didn't even make small talk. Around them, students lined up to floo home, but Dad didn't like flooing on the best of days, and he didn't seem to be considering it at the moment. By the time they went out into the hot June afternoon, Rebecca was actually becoming curious.

They walked quietly for awhile, past the Continuing Magical Education building, where adults, long out of school, came to learn things like magical cooking, traditional magical dances from around the world, Muggle alternatives to magic, magical languages, and hairstyling. It always sounded lots more interesting than real school. Today, a young witch was standing out front with a violin levitating beside her, belly dancing. A blackboard beside her advertised her class starting next week, at forty quahogs for a semester (with the Muggle-money translation of $150 beside it). A collection of teenage witches and wizards in Muggle clothes made their way inside; Continuing Ed also did magical classes for Muggle-born students whose parents didn't want to send them to an all-magic school. Mom had studied like that. A good idea in theory, she'd always muttered, as she flubbed one Charm or another that she'd never had the time to study properly or watched another Potions cauldron melt down.

Rebecca closed her eyes and took a sharp breath. She wasn't going to think about Mom.

Beyond the Continuing Ed building, they passed a building under construction, boarded up, with flyers attached to every inch of the surface. There was a Magic Council election coming up, and the pictures of the candidates glared at one another and occasionally slung insults. Mainly, they just called to passers-by and explained why their opponents were going to bring about the end of magical civilization in New England if they weren't defeated at the polls come September. A few were just local quodpot players from the Boston Boomers, telling people to vote. The Salem Institute (Rebecca couldn't think its name without turning her nose up snobbishly, the way she imagined their admissions officers did) also had some brochures out.

Dad stopped just past the boarded building, looking up and down Sorcerer's Mall, the grassy strip that ran down the center of Sork-Av. He spotted an empty park bench. "It's too nice to go inside," he said. "Let's talk out here."

Rebecca followed him to the bench. "What's up?" she asked.

He stared across the mall for a long time. Some kind of protestor came along, handing out flyers. Dad took one absently. In bold letters that had been Charmed to look like they were on fire, it screamed, "STOP THE SECRETS! OPEN UP!" Beneath it was a paragraph of the usual Open-Up junk, about how the various magical governments in the world used the Statute of Secrecy to rule, using Muggle slave labor to line their pockets. There was apparently going to be a wand-light vigil in front of Magic-Comm's offices sometime next week. Rebecca wondered if anyone else's mother would follow them off to their little communes.

Well, it was better than the whack-job cauldron bangers down in the Magic Maze, anyway. The Open-Up guys were nuts, but at least they hadn't taken up cursing government buildings to demand that they stop being enslaved to Muggles, and remove Muggle influence from magical culture. That was something at least. Mom hadn't gone off to join the racist psychos, just the political flakes.

Rebecca looked away from the flyer.

Dad Vanished it. "I got an owl from England," he said at last. "It came this morning."

Rebecca pursed her lips, but didn't say anything. How cruel was that, making poor owls do long island hops over the North Atlantic?

"It was from Albus Dumbledore."

"Who?"

Dad's eyebrows shot up like he was in a comic strip. "You're kidding, right?"

Rebecca hesitated before shaking her head. Dad's diatribes on the state of magical education were famous, and could go on for two hours at a shot if he was in the mood for it.

It was too late to avoid it, though--if she said she'd been kidding, he'd quiz her. It wasn't fair. No one else's father was obsessed with stuff like that. He didn't just think she should be learning different stuff than they were teaching, the way the Magic Maze people did. He wanted her to learn all the new stuff that had been added--he'd never been able to take Chinese geomancy or Haitian voodoo, and was endlessly borrowing Rebecca's textbooks on the subjects and asking her to show him what she'd learned in class--and get all the old stuff that they'd cleared out to make room for it. And take music and art classes. And learn Muggle history. How much room did he think she had in her brain?

Dad sighed. "Dumbledore defeated Grindelwald in nineteen-forty-five."

Rebecca tried to arrange her face in a knowledgeable expression.

Dad was wise to her. He narrowed his eyes and said, "You and I are putting some serious book time in this weekend."

"Yes, sir."

"At any rate," Dad said, "he's the Headmaster at Hogwarts School now. I know you've heard of Hogwarts."

"Yeah."

"Apparently, the man who's teaching Defense Against the Dark Arts--that's their version of Martial Magic--is only on for a year. They haven't had any luck finding a replacement." He smiled faintly. "Apparently, there's a superstition that the job is cursed."

"Why was he writing to you?"

"He'd like me to interview for the job."

Rebecca froze. "What?"

"The job. He read my article on standards in defense training and thinks I might make 'an interesting addition at this particular point in time.' He didn't explain what he meant."

Rebecca processed this as well as she could. Dad had been advocating some new curriculum additions in Martial Magic (it had been called Defense Against the Dark Arts until people convinced the school board that it was offensive to label some kinds of magic "Dark Arts," especially with a negative connotation), mostly dealing with threat recognition. Her teachers hated it, declaring that people were paranoid enough about strangers without scaring them to death in class.

"It might be nice to be in a classroom again," Dad mused. "It's been awhile. And a change might be good for us. Things haven't been right since your mom left."

"I don't want to talk about Mom."

Dad nodded. "How would you feel, if I got the job and we went to England? Or, well, Scotland actually. Hogwarts is in Scotland."

"Will I go there?"

"I assume so. I need to ask about that when I talk to them. I've never heard of anyone transferring in, but I also don't know about anyone working there who isn't British. They must have some way of handling it." He shrugged. "It's one of the best magic schools in the world. I'd be very happy to have you there."

Rebecca imagined herself in some English boarding school, eating vaguely intimidating-sounding things like scones and crumpets and kippers, and possibly needing to memorize the complete works of Shakespeare while being completely lost in a forest of mysterious forks.

Still... England. Merlin and Arthur country. Living oak trees. Towns with lovely names like Thus-and-such on So-and-so. And moors. She wasn't entirely sure what a moor was, but it sounded romantic.

"Rebecca?"

"I guess it'd be okay. Can we see those white cliffs? And Sherwood Forest?"

"Well..."

"And Merlin's Cave?"

Dad laughed. "Once you're in school, we won't be able to, but sure... why not? We could spend a few weeks as tourists this summer."

Rebecca wrinkled her nose, horrified at the thought of being a tourist anywhere. They saw enough of them in Boston, having their photos taken on Sork-Av, under the sign that actually said, "Ensorcelment Avenue," which was the world's dumbest name for a street, which why normal people never said it.

They walked to the good end of Sork-Av, the part that was lined with high rise apartment buildings where the wealthiest witches and wizards in New England kept their city homes. Stretched across the mall here was a glass door that led into the new Franklin Mall (the Mall-mall, as Shannon Flaherty called it). They ate Chinese food--Rebecca wondering if there was an English food place where she could practice eating, and realizing that she'd never in her life seen an English restaurant--then made their way through the sunny, glass-topped maze to the barrier-point. The wizard guarding it glanced through, then transfigured their robes into Muggle clothes and waved them on. A series of twisting corridors let them out in downtown Boston, in the confusing snarl of glass-enclosed Muggle malls and hotels. Rebecca could smell the coppery water of the fountain at the Westin. It was much better than going through Downtown Crossing maze at the other end of Sork-Av, which let out into the weird, smelly subway tunnel, among people trying to figure out which orange line train went where, but she still couldn't wait until she could just Apparate home to Brighton and not worry about Dad's motion sickness in the floo network.

They spent the next three weeks getting ready for the trip, obtaining Muggle passports and transportation (warmer and more comfortable than broomsticks, according to Dad). Rebecca breezed through her exams--the Comms were actually pretty easy--and Dad started subscribing to the British paper, the Daily Prophet, which came in a bundle of a week at a time. There was some kind of major sports thing going on, and Dad read about it happily until the first bundle for July came. He looked pale, and asked Rebecca if she had any second thoughts. He showed her the headline: "Diggory Dead in Triwizard Disaster."

Rebecca shook her head. The more she'd thought about it, the more she wanted to go to England, away from the Open-Up freaks, and further away from the Magic Maze nuts. She thought it would be good to study History of Magic (as the class was called from beginning to end at Hogwarts) in a nice, sequential way instead of the "patchwork" way that her teachers liked. And boarding school could be fun, like a long sleepover.

Still, leaving Boston on the Fourth of July, particularly to go to London, was just plain wrong, but Dad's interview was on the sixth, and if they took an evening flight, they could get rest on the fifth. Getting out to Logan in the middle of the rush into town for the fireworks on the Esplanade would have worked a lot better with magic, but the huge construction project that the Muggles were doing--they called it the Big Dig, because they were putting a road underground--had interfered with the floo networks three days earlier, so it was impossible. They barely made their seven-thirty flight, and Rebecca was too nervous to sleep at all.

They arrived at Heathrow at dawn, and Rebecca got a severe disappointment--Heathrow was just an airport. A big airport, but an airport. There were shops and concourses and lettered parking lots, just like at home. Multi-lane blacktop roads led toward nondescript destinations. King Arthur and Robin Hood were nowhere in sight.

Which had been a sort of stupid thing to expect, really, kind of like going to Salem and expecting Cotton Mather to come running after you with a witch hammer.

The cab ride was better, though Rebecca's eyes were starting to close on their own. They passed old buildings casually used, and at one point, Rebecca caught sight of Big Ben. Dad tried to point a few things out--he'd come here to study their Ordinary Wizarding Levels exams when he was developing the Comms--and the cabbie marveled over their accents, though Rebecca figured that driving in London, he must have heard one or two Americans before, and was just putting on a show for the tourists. The road they were on was a standard enough freeway, but they finally got off of it on a bustling little street full of book stores and music stores. Nothing special, nothing you couldn't find in Boston, but the buildings were just that smidge older, the people in them dressed in styles that were familiar but not quite what you might see on Newbury Street. There was something else different, but she couldn't place it.

"Are you sure you've got the right place?" the cabbie asked, looking dubiously at the dingy building he pulled up in front of. His accent made "place" sound like "plice," and "got" was missing a 't.' "Don't look healthful, really, for the little girl."

"I'm thirteen," Rebecca muttered.

"Quite the lady, then." He tipped his cap, then got out to pull their suitcases out of the trunk.

Rebecca got out of the cab and followed Dad inside (a bustling little man came out to take their luggage as the cab pulled away), and caught her breath.

Now, this was England, just like she thought it would be. It was old, old, old, and the people here looked...

She couldn't even explain it. She felt like she'd stepped into an old book.

She blushed. Stupid, stupid thing to think. England was what it was. It was dumb to expect it to be anything in particular, and the street outside was just as real as the place inside, and more real than the stupid knights and kings and things, who were long since dead. (And anyway, Mrs. Mancuso and Mr. Kohn, who'd taught her history last year in seventh grade, both said that knights weren't all that great, what with the pillaging and bullying and so on.)

The guy who ran the hotel upstairs took their bags to the rooms Dad had reserved and left them alone. Rebecca wandered over to the window, beyond which was the stunning view of a brick wall.

"Wait until you see what's behind the brick wall," Dad said. "Let's get some sleep, then I'll take you over. You'll like it, I promise."

Rebecca thought she might have trouble sleeping, but she guessed that maybe the innkeeper had Charmed the sheets or something, because she was out like a light as soon as her head hit the pillow.

She woke up to the sound of a sharp, business-like knock, and sat up groggily in bed. The sun was at a different angle now, and the room was filled with motes that glimmered like golden pixie dust. Dad was up already, calling "Who is it?" His wand was raised.

A sharp voice came from the other side of the door. "It's Minerva McGonagall, Mr. Sealis."

Dad frowned, but lowered his wand and opened the door. "Professor McGonagall?" he said. "I thought I might see you at the interview tomorrow, but--"

"The situation has changed, Mr. Sealis," the woman said. "We need to talk."

Dad stepped back and let in a strict looking woman with black hair pulled up into a tight bun.

She spotted Rebecca. "This is your daughter?"

"Yes," Dad said. "Professor McGonagall, my daughter Rebecca. Rebecca, this is Professor McGonagall. I worked with her when we were developing the Comm exams."

Rebecca smiled sleepily and waved.

McGonagall nodded stiffly and turned back to Dad. "You may not want her to be here."

"No. Whatever happens here is Rebecca's decision as much as mine. She should know what I know."

McGonagall looked dubious, but sat down in the chair Dad pulled out for her. "Very well," she said. "I won't mince words." She closed her eyes and grew very pale. "L-Lord Voldemort"--she paused and took a deep breath--"has returned."

Dad glanced over at Rebecca with his I'm-going-to-quiz-you-later look, but he didn't need to. That name, she knew. She'd had to do a report on wizarding racism in America, and that particular prime moron had a lot of followers down in the Magic Maze. There was even a cult that worshipped him, and when he died, they'd all done the Death Curse on each other. Her teachers said that he had other followers too, even in the cities--even up north!--and that they'd take control if they were allowed to, even if he was dead.

And Dad should know she knew about him. They'd had a yelling fight at the kitchen table when Dad had tried to tell her that she was supposed to see some kind of point they were supposed to be making. Not that they were right, but something about having the wrong solution to a real problem.

As far as Rebecca knew, their "problem" was just that they wanted to control everything and not let anyone else have a say in how things were, and they were really cheesed off that people other than white pure-bloods had some power now. Dad had told her she was looking at the surface too much and would never solve the problem that way.

"Returned?" Dad said slowly. "I thought he'd died."

"No. We were never certain of that. When he attacked little Harry Potter, he lost his body and his powers. But he used Harry's blood--and a few other things--to get a new body. And now he's gathering followers again."

"Harry Potter was the baby?" Rebecca asked.

"The boy who lived," McGonagall agreed. "He's fourteen now, almost fifteen."

"I saw he was competing in the Triwizard Tournament this year..."

McGonagall nodded. "That's where they caught him. They turned the Triwizard Cup into a Portkey. As soon as he touched it, he was taken to..." She didn't say it. Dad nodded. "The other Hogwarts champion, Cedric Diggory, was murdered on the spot."

Dad shook his head. "I've been getting the Daily Prophet. It said there was an accident, possibly an attack by a deranged fan of Potter's..."

"Rubbish." McGonagall looked over her shoulder. "That's why I needed to talk to you before your interview tomorrow. You need to know what's happening here."

"Well, fill me in."

"The Ministry refuses to acknowledge Potter's story. They've said he's lying for attention. They won't allow the papers to print anything, and they are determined that Hogwarts won't encourage what they call a false paranoia."

"I see."

"Are you sure the boy is telling the truth?" Dad asked.

"Oh, yes." McGonagall sighed. "Professor Dumbledore has suspected for quite a long time that he would try to return, and he's made other attempts on Potter's life."

"Dumbledore believes him."

"Of course."

"That's a pretty big mark in his favor then," Dad said.

"Professor Dumbledore is being targeted as well," McGonagall said.

Dad seemed totally shocked. He just sat in his chair, blinking.

"They're going after a teacher?" Rebecca asked.

"The Headmaster of Hogwarts," McGonagall corrected her. "And he holds several other positions. The Ministry accuses him of making a bid for more power, using an attention-mad child as a prop."

"Wow," Rebecca said. "And I thought the Board of Ed had problems."

Dad smiled faintly. "In terms of the position I'm interviewing for?"

"Professor Dumbledore invited you, you have a reputation for encouraging more active Defense Against the Dark Arts, and your former wife is involved with a subversive group."

"That matters? That's Mom's fault, not Dad's! She's the one who flaked out and joined the Open-Up guys and--"

Dad put his hand on Rebecca's arm. "I know what Professor McGonagall is saying." He turned to her. "Someone would have to do a lot of string pulling to hire a foreigner, right?"

She nodded.

"And they're not going to pull any strings for someone who's doing what Dumbledore wants him to do, and has a history of being around people with unusual beliefs."

"That's exactly right. And your beliefs about threat-identification are even more controversial now than they have been in the past, as that is precisely the sort of study that the Ministry has no desire to see the children engage in."

"Thanks for the warning. Will I see you at the interview tomorrow?"

McGonagall looked surprised. "You're still going to interview?"

"What the heck? I'm here." Dad smiled. "I'd like to see this for myself. And talk to Dumbledore, if I can."

"He'll be there," McGonagall said. "And he's rarely silent on the subject. You can judge for yourself."

"That's pretty much the idea."

"They've moved the interview to the Ministry," McGonagall said. "A representative will meet you here in the morning to bring you along." She looked at Rebecca. "Will you have something to occupy yourself with?"

"I'll look around or something."

"How old are you?"

"I'll be fourteen in September."

"I know a girl your age. Her parents are... friends of Dumbledore's. She's just come to London with them, and I expect she'd like to show you a bit of Diagon Alley. I'll see if it's all right with her parents."

Dad and McGonagall talked for a few more minutes--mostly working out schedules--and then she left. Dad wasn't in much of a mood to look around after they ate down in the bar--the pub--so in the end, they just went back to the room. It was dark, anyway.

Rebecca woke up early the next morning and brushed her hair while Dad was getting his best robes on. She dressed casually--half-witch, half-Muggle, with blue jeans and a thigh-length robe that had been ripped along the bottom. She grabbed an amulet from her purse (it was Charmed to make her a little more alert, but she wore it because it matched the color of the robe). They split in the hall, and she watched him go off, shoulders slightly hunched.

He really had wanted the job. She'd have to make sure to come back early, so she'd be here when he got back.

After breakfast, she asked how to get to Diagon Alley, and was directed out a back door into a garbage strewn alleyway that had nothing at all to recommend it. She frowned and looked around.

"Are you Rebecca Sealis?" someone asked.

Rebecca jumped. A girl her age with bright red hair and a face full of freckles was standing at the door to the pub.

"I... yes."

"Ginny Weasley." She smiled. "Professor McGonagall said you were here."

"Oh, that's right! I'm so glad. Is there more to Diagon Alley than this, because honestly..."

Ginny laughed and drew her wand, going over to the solid brick wall at the back of the alley. "Ready?" she asked.

Rebecca nodded.

Ginny tapped the bricks in a complex pattern, and they began to shift and mold themselves into a new shape, an archway, and beyond it was a bustling street, filled with witches and wizards and small shops.

"That's more like it," Rebecca said, grinning. "Shopping, I can do."

"I can't do too much." Ginny said matter-of-factly. "But I can show you around."

"Can I get my money changed somewhere?" she asked as they made their way down the street.

"Gringotts. My brother works there. You have American money?" Ginny asked. "May I see it?"

Rebecca dug in her purse, found a crumpled dollar bill and muttered, "This is Muggle money," handing it to Ginny. She dug further toward the bottom for the heavy wizard coins and pulled out one of each.

Ginny was shaking her head at the green paper bill. "Why do Muggles make money from paper?"

"It's lighter."

"Does everyone carry Muggle money in Boston?"

"Mostly. I mean, we were all kind of scattered when we came over, and we were hiding, so all the witches and wizards pretty much made up their own system. So there's Virginia money and Forest money and Massachusetts money and Spanish money... all kinds of stuff. Forest money looks like animals that they used to use for fur and Virginia money doesn't look like anything, since they always use Muggle money down south now." She handed Ginny her coins. "This is Massachusetts money, even though they pretty much use it all over the northeast these days. We used to use real seashells. Now they just make metal that looks like them. This a quahog"--she handed her the gold coin with the tiny amethyst in it--"and it's the most. Then there's the whelk, which is second most, five whelks to a quahog"--she passed along the silver whelk--"and twelve cowries to a whelk."

Ginny took the copper cowrie. "It's pretty. Bill can tell you what they're worth. Have you seen our money?"

"Dad showed me. Galleons and sickles and knuts." And I can't remember how they work at all.

Ginny smiled brightly, and Rebecca returned it. Except for the accent, Ginny could be Shannon Flaherty's sister, right down to the bright red hair and freckles. Rebecca felt comfortable with her.

Much to Ginny's chagrin, when they arrived at the bank, her brother Bill was off the grounds, so they had to go through a goblin.

"I can't believe goblins still staff the bank here," Rebecca marveled as they went back outside.

"I thought they did everywhere."

Rebecca shook her head. "It's all humans at home. We don't really have that many speaking non-humans, except for nasty things like Windigos. Some merpeople in the harbor, I guess. But the goblins stayed here."

"What about house elves?"

Rebecca sniffed. They'd never had house elves in Massachusetts (or most parts of the country, honestly), but when she'd gotten a superior attitude about that, Mr. Kohn had cut her down pretty righteously. "What did we need with house elves?" she said, as he had. "We just put obedience spells on other humans and used them instead."

"Wasn't that an awfully long time ago?" Ginny asked carefully.

"Well, yes. But it shouldn't have been at all, ever."

"You'd like my friend Hermione."

Rebecca shrugged, feeling a little foolish. "I probably won't get the chance to meet anyone else. My Dad... he doesn't think he'll get the job."

"They have to hire someone," Ginny said. "We can't just go without Defense Against the Dark Arts. It's important."

"How come they have so much trouble keeping people?"

"Things keep happening. We had a really good teacher a couple of years ago, but he was a werewolf, so they sacked him, and they won't let him come back. Oh, would you like to try some sweets?" Ginny turned abruptly and went up a set of stone steps into a small wooden shop. "It's not nearly as good as Honeydukes in Hogsmeade, but they have a fair amount."

Rebecca followed her, trying not to let her face show amazement. The little shop was stacked to the ceiling with candy, most of which she'd never seen before. Some of it had special effects, and some, like the airy sugar quills, were almost too pretty to eat.

"Is this just for tourists?" she asked. "Or do real people eat it?"

"Real people eat it," Ginny assured her, giving her an odd look. "Why would we make candy that no one here eats?"

"We sell maple sugar candy to tourists--and a special kind that makes your hair turn into maple leaves--but I've never had it."

"That's silly. You should have it."

"Well, it's a tourist thing, like baked beans and the Sork-Av sign and--"

Ginny laughed. "There are things you don't eat because tourists eat them?"

"It does sound kind of dumb when you say it like that. I should try it."

She continued to laugh, and pulled down a box of something called Fizzing Whizbees. "These are--" She stopped. "Is that your dad?"

Rebecca turned. Dad was standing behind her, looking serious. He smiled faintly at Ginny.

"Dad, this is Professor McGonagall's friend Ginny--" Rebecca blanked on the last name and blushed.

"Weasley," Ginny said. "Ginny Weasley."

"I know that name." Dad shook Ginny's hand. "I'm John Sealis. And I won't be your teacher next year."

"Oh." Ginny bit her lip. "It's too bad. Did they, er, say they have someone?"

"No. They just don't want to hire an American just now. Can I get you to someplace you belong?"

"I'll go back to Gringotts and meet my brother when he comes back," Ginny said. "Write to me, won't you? And tell me what maple sugar tastes like."

Rebecca smiled sheepishly. "I'll send you some."

Ginny rubbed her hands in an impression of greed, then waved goodbye and disappeared into the crowd.

Rebecca squeezed Dad's hand. "I'm sorry you didn't get the job."

"So am I. I probably could have. I could have lied a little, told them I'd do things I had no intention of doing. But I'm afraid I lost my temper at the woman from the Ministry who was conducting the interview."

"You?"

"Me. This woman--Umbridge--is a piece of work. I don't envy Dumbledore having to get her approval for hiring."

"Do you want to see anything else?"

Dad stared off into space for a minute, then turned and smiled. "Yes. Those white cliffs. And Sherwood Forest. And Merlin's Cave." The smile faded. "I think we should see them now, Rebecca. I think we should see them while they're still around."

"What?"

"The war's coming again," he said. "And it's going to be bad. And as sorry as I am that I can't help Dumbledore here, I'm not sorry at all to have an ocean between us and it."




Two weeks later. Boston.

Rebecca sat on a park bench along the Sorcerer's Mall, watching the bustling traffic on Sork-Av without much feeling about it. Somewhere, a witch was ranting about being saved, and somewhere else, a voice--she couldn't tell if it was a witch or a wizard--was exhorting people to End The Silence. Beside her were two newspapers, the Muggle Boston Globe, and the wizarding paper The Trial, one of the free dailies. There were four other wizarding papers, but she only needed one. Under the papers was a box of maple sugar candy that she'd bought to send to Ginny Weasley, but she had forgotten about it entirely.

There was a pop beside her, and she didn't look around to see Dad, or turn when he sat down beside her.

"I just found out. I wish you'd found out from me."

The headline on the Boston Globe's regional section read, "Carbon Monoxide Leak Kills Seven In Cape Cod Tragedy." The Trial headline simply said, "Open-Up Closes Down." The lead paragraph listed the cause of death as a massive Death Curse.

"They were crazy," Rebecca said. "Mom could have been there. She might be in the next one. Why did she go there?"

"Your mom did what she thought was right."

"Why would anyone kill them? They weren't hurting anyone."

"It may not be about politics." Dad was quiet for a long time. "All seven of them were Muggle-born," he said. "Most of the people in Open-Up are Muggle-born."

Rebecca knew that was supposed to mean something, but it didn't come together in her mind.

"He's taking it slow over there," Dad said. "But the word's out with our local crackpots."

"And what, they decided to show off?"

"They're less patient than Lord Voldemort. And less under his thumb than whatever people he's got over there."

"They always said in school that they were here and they'd try to take over..."

Dad gave a bitter laugh and tossed a sheaf of papers down. "Yeah, well, now they're saying that the British have it right, not scaring people, and we don't have any business with their internal affairs. Or something." He put his arm around Rebecca's shoulders, and she leaned into him. "Lord Voldemort may be keeping a low profile," he said. "But his war has already made the crossing."

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Comments
sreya From: sreya Date: October 3rd, 2004 04:44 pm (UTC) (Link)
Wow.

Seriously, wow. I was laughing so hard over all of the political hullabaloo, but you really made it an integral part of your story, instead of a simple commentary gag. And the educational stuff really rang familiar, as well.

The "American tourist" bits were very well done. Rebecca felt as out of place as she should, and it was amusing to see a magical twist on the stereotypes of England that most Americans take with them.

While at first I had thought you were placing this at the end of OotP, and actually setting her up as a transfer student, it worked well for post-GoF summer. And while you tied things up fairly nicely, there's still enough of an opening that I'm sitting and thinking about how things would continue to go. John Sealis certainly doesn't sound like a man who will sit through the coming conflict.

Constructive note:
Dad had served on the Board of Education for Mass Magic Comm (the Massachusetts Commission on Magical Culture) roughly since the Salem witch trials

This really confused me. Did you mean to say the Board of Education had been around since the trials? Or the father?

I didn't see any other gaffs. (Or evidence of my own stupidity, if I simply didn't read that paragraph right!)

I'm very impressed. :~) Makes me really wish I'd had time to contribute to the Grid myself! *takes out wand and casts a jelly-leg hex on diplomatic theory paper*
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: October 3rd, 2004 06:00 pm (UTC) (Link)
This really confused me. Did you mean to say the Board of Education had been around since the trials? Or the father?

Oh, she's just being hyperbolic, meaning that Dad's been serving on the Board of Ed for a long, long time.
sreya From: sreya Date: October 3rd, 2004 06:09 pm (UTC) (Link)
Okay, I get it now. *blush* I should have thought of that.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: October 3rd, 2004 06:55 pm (UTC) (Link)
No, it's a good point--in a world where Nicholas Flamel is in his 600s when he dies, Minerva's spry at seventy, and Dumbledore is in pretty darned good shape at 150... the hyperbole could always be true. I hadn't thought of that.
versinae From: versinae Date: October 3rd, 2004 05:09 pm (UTC) (Link)
Hehe! I couldn't help laughing at the MCAS and Mass Ave jabs there.

But that really was great. You wrote a total AU with original characters that fits seamlessly into the narrative, not disturbing anything that comes after it, yet not seeming like a sitcom where something changes at the beginning and goes totally back to the status quo at the end. I don't know if that makes sense, but I liked that about it. I could see them all interacting later. Great job!
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: October 3rd, 2004 06:02 pm (UTC) (Link)
I was thinking of Comm-Av, but Mass-Av and Dot-Av work as well. The Globe apparently actually used to write them that way.

And I had to take a whack at the MCAS. I love in OotP, how they're worried about the Ministry suddenly interfering in Hogwarts when it hadn't before, when all along, they've had a system of interference (the OWLs) that are at a level that Massachusetts raises holy hell about.
versinae From: versinae Date: October 3rd, 2004 06:25 pm (UTC) (Link)
I think people just raise holy hell for the first few years. OWLs and NEWTs may well be several decades or a few hundred years old. At least they were around when Dumbledore was a student, so that's a good while there.
purplerebecca From: purplerebecca Date: October 4th, 2004 01:37 pm (UTC) (Link)
Oh, this is fantastic. I love how, just like Rowling's is so British, this is so _American_.

The "Cultural Patchwork', the state exams that teachers go crazy over and drive the kids nuts...even the mother who has left her family. *sigh*

I was a little confused about her mother's commune, though. They want magical culture to reveal itself to muggles, right? But they go off into a commune to protest? Work on accomplishing this? How exactly does that help?

I thought the afterschool lessons for muggle-borns whose parents don't want them going to the all-magic schools a very interesting and realistic touch. And it would definitely put them at a disadvantage, because look at Hogwarts--those children need a fulltime curriculum to function in their society.

The “since the Salem witch trials” confused me also. :)

Fascinating concepts! I enjoyed. ^^
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: October 4th, 2004 07:37 pm (UTC) (Link)
I was a little confused about her mother's commune, though. They want magical culture to reveal itself to muggles, right? But they go off into a commune to protest? Work on accomplishing this? How exactly does that help?

Oh, yeah. That'll go into the beta'd version; that's definitely a logic gap, though I know about it. I just forgot that I hadn't worked it in.

Basically, the Open-Up folks have both a kind of weird political aim and a point where they turn into a kind of cult. Rebecca's mom started out in the first and ended up in the second, and one of the things the cult does is actually break the Statute. Only no one believes them, and Magic-Comm is careful to make sure that there's never corroborating evidence. They get exiled from the magical community (in effect), and are thought to be complete flakes in the Muggle community, so they end up going off to the woods to be yet another bunch of loony cult types. There's pressure to put them in prison rather than sending them into the Muggle world (it strikes some people, including John, as stupid), but other people think that would be an inhumane approach and intolerant of variant beliefs. It's an argument.
aebhel From: aebhel Date: October 24th, 2006 06:33 pm (UTC) (Link)
Wow, that was fascinating.

I love that you have short stories sort of hidden in and amoung the rest of your fics and every once in a while I come across them. It's sort of like finding a candy in the corner of my backpack (if you'll excuse the inane metaphor).

Anyway, a very well-done, interesting take on American magical culture. Me like.
alacranita From: alacranita Date: September 26th, 2007 01:18 am (UTC) (Link)
I love this fic, simply because you've captured Boston in it. The MCAS and Mass. ave references, made me laugh.

Rebecca could smell the coppery water of the fountain at the Westin.

This hit the nail on the head, and really made it sound like you've lived in or near Boston, and not just done some research and looked at a few maps. Next time I read this, I'll focus on the characters, but for now, all I can think is, "Boston..."
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