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HerculeHastings

PG-13 Magic: The Boy Who Lived

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A sliver of a man was looking out at the two women, a man with long black hair parted in curtains around a sallow face and black eyes.

 

“Narcissa!†said the man, opening the door a little wider as one of the women threw back her hood. “What a pleasant surprise!â€

 

“Severus,†was her strained reply. “May I speak to you? It’s urgent.â€

 

“But of course,†he stood back to allow both sisters to pass him into the house. They were in a sitting-room with a musky smell of books coming from the leather-bound copies along the walls. Whoever their owner was did not seem to have paid them much mind, for the entire room was covered with neglect and dismay.

 

Snape gestured Narcissa and Bella to the sofa, taking the armchair opposite for himself.

 

“So, what can I do for you?â€

 

“We… we are alone, aren’t we?†Narcissa asked quietly.

 

“Yes, of course. Well, Wormtail’s here, but we’re not counting vermin, are we?†He pointed his wand at one of the books behind him, which turned out quite expectedly to be a trapdoor opening to reveal a frozen small man.

 

“Oh!†Narcissa exclaimed. She was not looking at Wormtail, or the pile of books around him, but her gaze was fixated at a shadowy figure at the other corner behind Snape, his face cleverly concealed by the darkness. He was seated on an armchair as well, and seemed to be dressed in olden Greek robes, rather than the black wizard ones.

 

“And you may pay him no mind as well,†said Snape lazily as Wormtail noisily brought in wine. “He is insignificant.â€

 

“Nonsense! Narcissa isn’t going to talk to you in the presence of an obvious stranger!†shouted Bellatrix, standing up hotly. “I already have tried my best to dissuade her from foolishly divulging her secrets in present company, but the presence of an unknown figure who would not even show his face amongst the company of the Dark Lord’s followers is a grave insult!â€

 

She paused, her chest rising and falling rapidly, the colour high in her cheeks. Behind her Narcissa sat motionless, her face hidden in her hands.

 

“It seems I have sparked a family quarrel,†sneered the figure, his voice low and gravelly. “I apologise for my tactlessness. I should’ve left, it seems, when visitors arrived.†He started to get out of his seat.

 

“Please be seated,†said Snape, holding out a hand in reassurance. “The Dark Lord has implicit trust in you, and so do I. I know you will say nothing of what transposes among us tonight, and may even give sounder counsel than I can to my ailing friend Narcissa here. Now… you came to ask me for help, Narcissa?â€

 

Narcissa looked up at him, her face eloquent with despair. Bella kept her eyes transfixed on the stranger, who had calmly returned to his seat once more.

 

“Yes, Severus. I- I think you are the only one who can help me, I have nowhere else to turn. Lucius is in jail and…â€

 

“Narcissa, if you are imagining I can persuade the Dark Lord to change his mind, I am afraid there is no hope, none at all.â€

 

“Severus… my son, my only son…â€

 

She let out a choke and fell to the ground, pulling at her long blonde hair. Bella knelt beside her, while Severus caught her squarely by the shoulders and steered her back on the sofa.

 

“He won’t succeed! Draco won’t succeed!†she sobbed. “This is punishment for Lucius’ crime, isn’t it? I know it is. Oh, you must help Draco!â€

 

The figure’s voice rang out nonchalantly, an indifferent voice in the tensed atmosphere.

 

“It’s only a matter of destroying a human, isn’t it? I shall take the load off your shoulders, Severus, in exchange for your hospitality today, and this excellent elf-made wine. Why, back where I came from, elves were quite incapable of making anything but mana. You absolutely must give me the recipe.â€

 

He stood up again, his hands crossed to his hips.

 

“And in return, I shall help you Murder this wizard.â€

 

He did not seem to have noticed a strange curl in Snape’s upper lip.

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The minute hand on the alarm clock reached the number twelve, and at that precise moment, the streetlamp outside the window went out.

 

A teenaged girl stepped out of the shadows, parting the bush of petunias with all its flowers arranged in pretty little rows, taking a moment to brush a few blades of grass off her black skirt. A tall figure in a long, billowing cloak strode confidently past her, casting a glance towards an upstairs window, where the face of a bespectacled youth could be seen staring out into the garden below.

 

The girl gathered her wits about her and hurried after the tall figure, who had already reached the front door of Number 4, Privet Drive. There was a series of loud bangs coming from the upper floor as the boy’s face vanished from the window, but the older figure seemed completely unperturbed by them as he reached out a finger and rang the doorbell.

 

“Who the blazes is calling at this time of night?â€

 

A rather plump man with greying hair wrenched the door open and took one fierce glare at Dumbledore before his mouth fell wide open in a comical ‘O’, as though he could not bring himself to believe the presence of this particular individual. The fat man’s name was Vernon Dursley, the girl knew. She had retrieved that piece of information from the old wizard’s head.

 

“Judging by your look of stunned disbelief, Harry did not warn you that we were coming,†said Dumbledore pleasantly. “However, let us assume that you have invited us warmly into your house. It is unwise to linger overlong on doorsteps in these troubled times.â€

 

He stepped smartly over the threshold, holding the door open for the girl to hurry through before closing it behind him.

 

The kitchen door had opened, and there stood a middle-aged woman wearing rubber gloves and a housecoat over her nightdress, her rather horsy face registering nothing but shock. A young boy, alarmingly reminiscent of a pudgy cow, peered around the living-room door at the two newcomers, his mouth gaping in astonishment and fear. The girl knew their names too; Petunia and Dudley Dursley respectively. She felt a slight tinge of negativity attached to Dumbledore’s memory of these people, but in no way did the wizard show it.

 

“Albus Dumbledore,†said Dumbledore, when the man named Vernon failed to effect an introduction. “We have corresponded, of course.†The girl had read something related to an exploding letter amongst his memories. “You might not have met Miss Lewis here. She is a marvellous witch who will be accompanying Harry and I on our little escapade tonight.â€

 

“May Elizabeth Lewis,†she introduced herself, making a little curtsey at Vernon, who looked like he was struggling to decide if he should call the police. “Pleased to make your acquaintance.â€

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Luke Sullivan lived in a dinky one-room apartment unit in the outskirts of Hogsmeade, just out of range of the shopping area of Hogwarts students. The rent was fairly reasonable, at only thirty Galleons every month. More importantly, it also provided free roaming space for his pets.

 

“Ah, Sullivan, you’re back!†said Mrs Woods as her husband cast a beady eye from his seat. Luke had never seen him get up from his seat at the dark corner of the first floor of the apartment. He reasoned that he must get up at one point or another though, to retreat to the couples’ unit on the second floor at night. Mrs Woods, on the other hand, seemed quite unable to sit or even stay at the same point for long. She was now wandering all around him in circles again, and he didn’t dare move for fear of crashing into her soft cushiony body.

 

“Is little Fblthp up to no good again? Or is Niv-Mizzet still unwell? I told Trostani not to make any noise, so it can’t have been her. Oh do tell me, Mrs Woods, and stop walking around like that. You’re fretting me. It must be Jarad and Aurelia, fighting again. He’s always, for some mysterious reason, fighting Aurelia when she’s pregnant,†he said, crossing his arms with a frown.

 

“You do give the strangest names to your goats, dear,†remarked Mrs Woods for the twentieth time, shaking her head as she clucked. “They’re fine, but it’s just that, well…†She glanced nervously at her husband, who let out a snort and hastily turned towards the wall, stroking his beard passionately. “That spotted goat you had-“

 

“-Obzedat.â€

 

“Yes, Obzedat. She-“

 

“-He.â€

 

“He seems to have crashed into Mr Woods’ shed, and broken one of the windows.â€

 

“Goodness, is he hurt?â€

 

“No, he’s not. But Mr Woods is, well, expressing his displeasure.†She looked nervously again, where the bearded man was making deliberate coughing sounds.

 

“Well why did you let the goats near the shed?†Luke exclaimed. “I already told you before I left, to keep Obzedat away from any transparent or shiny objects. He has a tendency to be headstrong, you know that!â€

 

“Now don’t raise your voice so, mister,†Mrs Woods rested her hands on her voluptuous hips. “Those goats aren’t our responsibility. You should be pleased enough to have a roof over your head, and warm meals twice a day. Not every landlord out there will take in an orphaned teenage student like you, with his entourage of goats!â€

 

But she had barely finished before Luke headed out the door, striding purposefully towards the lawn, no doubt to tend to his eleven grazing goats.

 

“Those goats are ruining our lawn,†she sighed, shaking her head again. “I don’t even know how the boy has been living the past fifteen years, before he came to us last year. I wonder if he came from a wealthy family. That’ll explain some of those airs he puts on! I’ll be happy to be rid of him and especially his goats once school starts! Won’t you, dear?â€

 

Her husband gave a grunt of agreement.

 

The blonde youngster, unbeknownst to the discussion, was now crouched at the side of his prized Obzedat. The spotted goat stared calmly at him as he initiated a thorough examination for wounds. When none were found, he gave a satisfied nod and plopped himself on the rustling grass beside him. Fblthp, the newborn kid, cantered around his father, emitting low bleats of excitement.

 

“I’m sorry that I seem so listless lately, guys,†he said. “Once the term starts I should be much better, and you’ll have more living space than this inferior pasture again. I haven’t been able to replenish my mana, you see. These surroundings are just too inferior. It can be so hard to prove yourself to people.â€

 

He let out a yawn and rolled around on the grass, pressing his face into the moist blades.

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Apparition was what they called teleportation in this plane. What a strange name, May decided as she watched Dumbledore offer to apparate with Harry. Back in Ravnica, an apparition was a ghoul that was most probably pulled from the depths of the grave by some misguided Orzhov practitioners. May imagined apparating to be some ungodly process by which the wizard traversed through the underworld as a shortcut through the physical realm. Dumbledore's memories of the process didn't help her impression at all.

 

"I'm afraid the two of you will have to hold on to my left arm," the old wizard offered with a kind smile. "As you have noticed, my wand arm is a little fragile at the moment."

 

Ah, now that was a curious topic. May prided herself in being a rather talented mind sculptor, but she had failed to retrieve any memories of what seemed to be a particularly malign curse on Dumbledore's right arm. It was as though he had been applying some sort of mental block spell around the whole incident. It was certainly something which she would look into in the future, especially if it contained traces that would lead her to... her target. She cast a glance towards Harry Potter, who looked rather confused at her presence, yet seemed to be too shy to clarify the matter with his professor. Her lips curled into a ghost of a smile; it would be interesting to toy with this supposedly Chosen One for a while longer.

 

Dumbledore barely gave her a moment’s warning before she felt his arm twist away from her – and then everything went black. She felt as though the world itself was compressing towards her, squeezing her eyeballs into their sockets, pushing the very air out of her chest; she had been deceived somehow! Dumbledore was one of them, and now they had transported her into a plane of never-ending pain and torment-

 

And then everything was over as abruptly as it started. May all but crash landed onto the ground, stumbling away from the two wizards drunkenly as she raised her hand, pointing it at Dumbledore as she prepared to bring the wrath of a Phantasmal Dragon on this wicked creature.

 

“Are you two alright?†asked Dumbledore, looking at her solicitously. “The sensation does take some getting used to.â€

 

Her mind cleared suddenly. She took several deep, grateful gulps of air and decided that everything she had guessed about the horrendous process of apparition being an unholy trip through hell was true to the dot. She could only wonder how the wizards of this world could survive doing this on a daily basis.

 

“I-I-I’m fine,†she managed to stutter out, raising a shivering hand to adjust her glasses.

 

“Are you sure you don’t need a breather?†Harry Potter asked as he rubbed his ears. What a strange gesture of concern.

 

“W-what are you talking about? I’ve never been better- woah!†May tumbled headfirst onto the ground after an extravagant attempt to walk in a straight line. “I’m fine! I’m fine!â€

 

By Thassa’s grace, she somehow managed to convince the two of them that she was not drunk, and the three of them proceeded on their way down what seemed to be a deserted village in the middle of nowhere. Harry and Dumbledore had launched into a dialogue once again, throwing out big words like occlumency and babberton, which May quickly lost interest in. Instead, she watched a particularly colourful butterfly with much interest as she absentmindedly tagged along behind the other two wizards. There hadn’t been many butterflies in her home plane.

 

“Oh dear. Oh dear, dear, dear.â€

 

Dumbledore’s concerned statement snapped May out of her reverie. The three of them were standing in front of what would have been a relatively ordinary house, if its door hadn’t been ripped straight off its hinge. Nicol Bolas, she thought as mana flared up within her body, a Dissipate at the ready in case any spells came flying out of the corner. It seemed her companions shared her concerns, and fished out their wands, which were their main artifacts of power from May’s understanding. But great artifacts they may be, they’d be useless if they were truly facing Nicol Bolas. He’d simply destroy their wands with his gaze alone.

 

“Professor,†she whispered softly. “Let me handle this. Uh… What did you call it again? Expect A Patronus?â€

 

As she spoke the ‘magic keywords’ of sorts, she waved her hands and cast the Phantasmal Dragon creature spell she had been saving earlier. The enormous creature burst forth from her outstretched palms, smashing straight into the already half-destroyed house with all the fury of a rampaging rhino in a porcelain display. Despite the highly destructive power her dragon was capable of, however, May knew that it stood no chance whatsoever against Bolas. If they were truly facing another planeswalker…

 

“W-what is this creature- ahhh! No, not my couch! Get away, you imbecile! Stupefy!â€

 

There was a bright red flash from within the house. With a bestial cry, the Phantasmal Dragon vanished like a mist cloud dissipating away from a swift breeze, leaving behind a rather awkward silence hanging in the atmosphere. A few moments later, an enormously fat, bald old man emerged from the now utterly destroyed doorway, pointing his stubby-looking wand towards Dumbledore.

 

The old wizard gave May an odd look, but turned quickly back to the newcomer as he strode forwards with his arms outstretched. “Good evening, Horace. It’s nice to see you after so many years.â€

 

As the two grizzled men chatted and repaired the house, May turned to find The Boy Who Lived staring at her in complete amazement. “Your Patronus is a bloody dragon?!â€

 

“Uh… yeah! I like the dragon,†she replied, unsure of what exactly this Patronus thing was. She thought it was just part of some key phrase. “Though I can summon lots of other creatures too. The bear is one of the easiest…â€

 

She grinned as she watched Harry’s mouth open and close like a goldfish. This would be an interesting plane to stay in for a while…

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Luke only knew that the owl had arrived when he heard Mr Woods, for the first time since a year ago, let out a bloodcurdling scream.

 

“Sullivan! Mr Sullivan!†came Mrs Woods’ faint shout from downstairs. “Come down this instant and get that owl out of our sight!â€

 

Luke contemplated staying in bed a little more, just to see what the couple would do, but his goats were starting to stir, and Obzedat let out an irritated bleat. It was so silly, that a grown man could develop a phobia for owls. In fact, all phobias were silly. They were an obvious weak spot for enemies to target. He couldn’t count with all his fingers the number of creatures back home that had been paralysed from Claustrophobia.

 

“Impedimenta! Stupefy! Petrificus Totalus!â€

 

The kitchen was in a state of disarray. Luke peered in to see the confused Hogwarts owl flying from one end to another, a letter tied securely to its leg. Mrs Woods waved her wand, shrieking all the spells she could think of, holding a saucepan with her other hand if all else failed. Luke watched for a while, then decided he was getting impatient and launched a small Mizzium Mortar at the owl with a flick of his finger. The mini-fireball hit the owl squarely on the stomach and it let out a caw before falling into a faint, wisps of smoke emerging from its singed feathers. Mrs Woods looked down at it cautiously.

 

“Congratulations,†grinned Luke as he stepped into the kitchen, picking up the letter from the unconscious owl. “You seem to have knocked out a Hogwarts owl. I think there’s some kind of punishment for hurting civil servants.â€

 

“But I… I don’t think any of those spells were burn spells…†murmured Mrs Woods bemusedly, but Luke had already left the room, unrolling the parchment to reveal the first line of its contents, “Ordinary Wizarding Level Resultsâ€.

 

LUKE SULLIVAN HAS ACHIEVED:

Arithmancy: A

Astronomy: E

Care of Magical Creatures: O

Charms: A

Defence Against the Dark Arts: E

Herbology: A

History of Magic: P

Potions: E

Study of Ancient Runes: E

Transfiguration: A

 

“What a bunch of nonsense,†he muttered to himself. Why were his abilities decided by a panel of old men, whose combined experiences were probably no more spectacular than his own, who were somehow authorised to give him meaningless letter grades anyway? He muttered a swear word under his breath and a black-and-red Rakdos symbol appeared over the parchment, searing a hole on the fragile material that spread in all directions, till the parchment was little more than a heap of ashes.

 

Mrs Woods poked her head out the door as Luke stormed down the stairs, his face unmistakeably glowering.

 

“We’ve taken care of the owl!†she said happily. “I left it outside at the lawn, and I think it’s recovered and flown off by itself now! Where’re you going?â€

 

“Diagon Alley!†She was taken aback by the hissing snarl. “And you be sure to make room for all my school things when I get back.â€

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May Elizabeth Lewis sat in a quaint little shop named "Florean Fortescue's Ice Cream Parlour", slowly savoring a cup of vanilla ice-cream as she watched wizards and witches of this plane walk despondently along Diagon Alley, keeping in tightly-knit groups as they hurried from one shop to another, never lingering too long in one place. She remembered Dumbledore's words to the Dursleys: "It is unwise to linger overlong on doorsteps in these troubled times." There was definitely an atmosphere of dread hanging in the uncomfortable silence, as though speaking out too loudly might attract the wrath of the renegade dark warlock named Voldemort.

 

Her gaze momentarily drifted to the empty seat on the opposite side of her table. She had been alone for as long as she could remember. All those years spent in the Blind Eternities, floating aimlessly in its chaotic energies... Her first name had been Maya Iyengar. Given to her by her foster father, she grew up thinking that she was just like any other ordinary girl of her age. But the truth of her origins had surfaced soon enough - Maya was nothing but an illusion of the Blind Eternities made into reality, a human who was not a human, an Eldrazi who was not an Eldrazi. She had one foot in both worlds, but never truly belonged to any one of them. Sometimes, she longed for a place to belong, somewhere she could call home, but none of the planes that she had traveled to offered her the peace she sought-

 

"Excuse me, miss, but are you going to pay for that soon?"

 

May was jolted out of her reverie by Florean Fortescue's voice. She turned, surprised, and fished out her wallet anxiously. "Of course! Let me just... uh... uhhhh... uh oh."

 

Fortunately, Fortescue was kind enough to give her that ice-cream for free. May had completely forgotten to obtain some Earth-currency when she arrived - her wallet was full of Ravnica coins. Breathing a deep sigh, she pushed away the empty glass cup and waved goodbye to Fortescue before leaving the now empty parlour as she headed back onto the main street once more.

 

Pulling out the rather extensive shopping list Dumbledore had given her, she now realized the fruitlessness of her endeavors. How was she going to buy anything without any money?! Perhaps she'd find someone who would offer a gold reward for the head of that Voldemort fellow...

 

"Oof!"

 

Something soft collided into her while she was distracted at her list, sending May sprawling onto the ground. She winced, pushing herself off the ground as she looked up to stare at the rude person who had bumped into her without as much as an apology. Why, she had half a mind to give them a thing or two about what she thought of courtesy.

 

It was a boy.

 

"I-I-I-I'm so sorry!" May bowed down faster than a goat could blink, her face turning as red as Chandra's Searing Spear. "I w-w-wasn't looking where I was going! P-p-please forgive me!"

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Diagon Alley was always a crowded place before the start of school, and Luke had had countless people bump into, brush shoulders with, and at one point step on the foot of, him for the few hours he had spent here. This was why he hadn’t noticed at first that a rather spindly girl had knocked into him, till she loudly brought it to his attention with her stammering apology.

 

"I w-w-wasn't looking where I was going! P-p-please forgive me!"

 

He stared at her as she wiped the dirt off her sleeves. Was she expecting him to say the same? He was just about to nod and leave, when something made him stop and lean forward to stare at her. She was definitely foreign – she had an air of being Totally Lost in this place, but what was more interesting – yes, he felt it decidedly, even though this was not a familiar feeling – was that she was a Planeswalker. He couldn’t tell which Plane she originated from, though, from her clothing, but now that he thought of it, she had a distinct feel of being non-Human.

 

Now what was one to say to a Planeswalker in these parts?

 

“Er,†he said finally, “have you visited Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes? I got one of their U-No-Poo concoctions.†He held up a small purple bottle. “They’re a joke shop, but their items have amazing medicinal properties. This one really helps my goats with their diarrhoea. Oh, but you’re very new around these parts, aren’t you?â€

 

That probably wasn’t what he had set out to say, but he found it hard to ask her directly. What if she meant this to be secret? And most importantly, he was uncomfortable blowing his own identity too carelessly.

 

“Oh, are you a new Hogwarts student? If that’s the case, you should consider an owl at the Eeylops Owl Emporium. I’ve got plenty of goats myself, so I can’t do with any more pets, but they serve as great magical companions that you can bring to school. My name’s Luke Sullivan.†He held out a hand.

 

A thought suddenly struck him that made him wish he could kick himself. If he could tell the girl was a Planeswalker, what’s to say the girl couldn’t do the same in return? All this beating about the bush was probably only going to be really puzzling to her.

 

“I guess you can tell that I’m a Planeswalker…†he trailed off, coming clean at last. It was unfortunate that Planeswalkers had this sense, but fortunately one couldn’t tell any more than that. “So which Plane are you from, and why’re you here at Hogwarts? Or is it top-secret? If so then forgive my intrusion.â€

 

Behind him, there seemed to be a small din coming from Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes. A mother seemed to be quarrelling with her teenage children about where they had gone, and they insisted they had been in the back room all along. Behind them, Harry Potter (Luke gave a start at the face) coolly tucked a cloak into his bag before going up to join his companions. It was interesting to Luke that he had always seen Harry Potter keep his cloak, but he had never seen the person actually wear it. In any case, it was a tacky sort of silvery thing, probably incompatible with any kind of apparel.

 

“It’s a bad time to Planeswalk here,†he muttered. “It’s dangerous to be out on your own in these dark days, without knowing what you’re doing. Why, just turn the corner and you’ll be in Knockturn Alley, where all the riff-raff of society band together. We may be capable of powerful magic, but it’s rather easy to upset the balance of this city in doing so. I suppose you’re alone here, aren’t you?†He glanced back at the frail-looking girl, his hands tucked in his pockets. How long could she last around here?

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May fumbled around with her glasses for a moment, which had been knocked askew by the collision with the Planeswalker named Luke Sullivan. It came as a big surprise when she sensed his innate Mana - she hadn't met many other Planeswalkers apart from her foster father. Were they all as psychotic and dangerous as the tales made them seem? What if this one was a disciple of Nicol Bolas? Oh dear, oh dear, she should have prepared herself better for encounters like this.

 

Much to May's surprise, it seemed like he was rather friendly. Perhaps this Luke Sullivan was an innocent Planeswalker, here for a holiday. She didn't really know what normal Planeswalkers did in their free time. Luke had mentioned something about goats; perhaps he tended them for a living?

 

"My name's May Elizabeth Lewis. Nice to meet you," she introduced, bowing once again after she had straightened her glasses. "I come from- uh, Zendikar. Mostly from Zendikar, anyway." May decided it would be weird to say that she was from the Blind Eternities to a complete stranger. In her defense, she had grown up in a remote village within Zendikar. She didn't know which Plane her foster father had found her in. "What about you? What Plane do you come from?"

 

After finishing her introduction, May realized she had completely ignored Luke's outstretched hand, and hurriedly grabbed it and shook it violently while looking away, embarrassed. "Yes, you're right. I'm a new student in Hogwarts, and I'm here to get the stuff I need. I think." She attempted to straighten the crumpled length of parchment which was her shopping list. "It appears I'm in the... sixth year of study. Do you know where might be a good place to get this Artifact called a wand? Oh wait, more importantly, do you know if anyone's offering a gold reward for the resident Dark Wizard's head? His name was Voldemart or something like that. I kinda... uh... don't have any local currency."

 

She debated about whether she should tell him her personal quest to locate and confront Nicol Bolas. Despite his friendly exterior, it was completely possible he was a friend of the dragon's. "What are you doing in this Plane, Luke?" May decided to ask. "Are you having a holiday from your goat business?"

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All at once a bunch of assumptions and stereotypes fought their way into Luke’s mind, confronted by May and all the astounding background information she provided.

 

“You come from Zendikar?†he asked. “Isn’t that a wildly dangerous place that attacks all its inhabitants? I’ve heard all kinds of gossip about it so I haven’t dared to venture into that place. I’m from Theros myself. Much safer, with the gods protecting all of us.†He laughed dryly. “However, even if you ask me to give you a tour around the Plane, I mayn’t be able to. Haven’t been back for a long time. I’ve been mainly living in Ravnica. I like the modern city life, much like here.†He held out his hands, taking in the scent of smoke and dust.

 

“You… want to kill the Dark Lord for money to buy school supplies.†All at once the whole thing sounded funny. Or rather, this girl May was funny. She was such a frail girl and yet she came from wild Planes and spoke of murdering mighty wizards, and then she didn’t know what a wand was and had no local money. Luke looked at her and suddenly felt an urge to take care of her.

 

“You can’t call out the name of the Dark Lord in these parts,†he explained gently, leading her to the side so scores of people weren’t bumping into her on their way to Weasleys’. “Over here his name is You-Know-Who. It works a bit like True-Name Nemesis, there’s some spell attached to the name I think. Though I guess if you keep using Voldemart it works too, or Vlodymort. Children have been making up derivations of the name.

 

“And also,†he added, “since You-Know-Who can be really hard to find and is certainly unlikely to be prowling around at Diagon Alley, I’ll just lend you a couple of Galleons and take you to where you get a wand and robes and books. You must return them to me the moment you get some allowance, though. I’m sure Hogwarts will find employment for people in need of monetary assistance.â€

 

He took her by the hand, for she looked like someone who might just wander off if one wasn’t careful. He wondered what House she would be Sorted into. Students who were not in their first-year were often Sorted on a discretionary basis, in Dumbledore’s office. That was what had happened to Luke.

 

“As a matter of fact, please don’t use the phrase ‘goat business’,†Luke was suddenly reminded of May’s last question. “My goats are my pets, and I brought all 10 of them here when I came – in fact a pair of them just got a baby, so that makes 11 now. I came here in order to see the world, really. I do dislike being confined in the same spot for too long, and Ravnica was getting a bit stale- why hello, Ollivander.â€

 

They had arrived at Ollivander’s wand shop, and as the elder wandmaker turned to rummage in his drawers, Luke sidled up to May and whispered in her ear.

 

“Don’t use any magic, or else it’ll interfere with the wand testing and Ollivander will be suspicious. Just relax and wave those sticks however he asks you to. There’ll be 1 that feels comfortable in your hand, so just take it.â€

 

He fingered his own, a 12-inch dragon-core, slightly springy larch wand. He had always felt a little uncomfortable with how people in this Plane treated their dragons, phoenixes and unicorns. All the dragons in Ravnica would not be amused that they were being used for none other than, well, mana rocks, simply put. He comforted himself that the wand was mainly used as a prop. What he was more interested in were the personality traits associated with the owner of the wand. His traits had been pretty accurate, but what kind of a person was May? He hoped her wand wouldn’t outshine his.

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May listened attentively to Luke's explanation of his background and the situation in the current Plane. She found it rather enjoyable to speak to another Planeswalker about things in general; not many people could see things the way they did. The way he described Vlodymert, or You-Know-Who, made him seem like a wizard which was possibly as powerful as Nicol Bolas itself. Could that even be possible? But he wasn't a Planeswalker, or May would have heard of him before. She had conducted a bit of research on famous Planeswalkers when she was young. But to use something as strong as the True-Name Nemesis... that required some power indeed.

 

"Zendikar isn't that bad once you've lived in it all your life," she explained to Luke with a smile. "Once in a while, there's this big event called the Roil, and my father - or rather, my guardian - used to bring me to ride the giant whirlpools that would appear in the great oceans. It was great fun. And the inhabitants aren't that scary... Unless you're a Planeswalker or otherwise a very powerful sorcerer. Then you have a chance of getting burned at the stake."

 

She looked down at the ground, her voice trailing off. That was when the two of them entered a quaint little shop called Ollivander's. It was a cramped little hut, with wooden shelves lined with dozens and dozens of wands, all of them of different shapes and sizes. May had never seen this many Artifacts in the same place at the same time, and stared in amazement. If they were truly the sole key Artifact which unlocked this Plane's inhabitants' magical powers, she wondered why the more powerful wizards didn't simply ransack the place and grab as many wands as they could.

 

"I... I'd like to buy one of your Artifacts," she mumbled at the shopkeeper.

 

"I'm sorry?" Ollivander replied, looking up from his desk. "You'll have to speak up more."

 

"I need one of your Artifacts," May replied, a little louder this time. "I've heard that your wands grant great powers to those who Equip them."

 

"Why, are you here for a new wand? Why didn't you say so earlier? Come in, come in." Ollivander hurried over to May and Luke, ushering them away from the doorway. "Do you have any idea what kind of wand you're looking for? Holly? Or perhaps walnut?"

 

May stared at him, dumbfounded. "I, uh, just need a wand."

 

Ollivander thought about it for a moment. "You haven't used a wand before? And you looked so much like a sixth-year student to me... Here, let me get you some wands you can try out." The old shopkeeper hobbled quickly away, returning with a whole stack of boxes which he dumped in front of May proudly. "Here, just hold them, one at a time, and see if any of them has any reaction to you."

 

Most of the wands barely moved or reacted to May's presence. There was one of them which made a loud bang and emitted quite a lot of black smoke when May picked it up, but it seemed like that wasn't exactly a positive reaction from Ollivander's facial expressions. After about 20 minutes of getting nowhere, May was beginning to think that this was a colossal waste of time, and she felt like arguing that all Equipment Artifacts should have the same effect regardless of user, unless they were the kind which bestowed special effects if they were equipped to Humans. But even then, she was considered a Human - at least, she thought she was - and such effects would have been activated when she touched them.

 

But then, when she picked up the one labeled "10, HAWTHORN, DRAGON HEARTSTRING, SLIGHTLY YIELDING", she felt a rush go through her body as images flickered through her mind. The silhouettes of Emrakul, Ulamog and Kozilek flitted through her mind, and for a moment, she felt power she hadn't felt since the day they tried to sacrifice her years ago - the day she crushed her hometown. And then, all at once, the visions vanished, leaving her standing in the cramped little shop once more, breathing heavily like she had just completed a marathon.

 

"I think I'll take this one."

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May seemed to have entered into some kind of trance. Luke thought at first that her hand was trembling, but he looked closely and realised her wand was moving of its own accord. A bolt of concentrated white light appeared at the tip of the wand, which extended its rays outward until it touched every other cupboard and wand in the room. All the touched objects started vibrating as well. Ollivander calmly shielded his eyes, as if he had seen such phenomena happen many times. Soon the light subsided, and May was shaken out of her reverie.

 

"I think I'll take this one."

 

Luke gripped his own wand tightly. Back when he had been in this same shop, all the wand had done was wobble a little, and Ollivander had declared it a suitable fit. Why was this girl’s effect so much more flamboyant? He fingered the Rakdos Keyrune that he had attached to the wand, mainly as decoration, but once in a while when he managed to draw it as a spell for the day, his wand would at least have the effect of generating mana for him, not unlike what wands did with wizards. The jagged stone instrument glinted dully under the light of the store, its red core dim from inactivation.

 

Luke decided he neither liked nor trusted the girl. She had hidden depths that she was not letting on. He could not decide whether he was cross that she was being secretive, or that she had hidden depths to begin with.

 

“Well I’ll be going off now,†he said stiffly. “I’ll find you on the Hogwarts Express, May, and be sure you’ve the money for me then. And enjoy that new great and powerful wand you have.â€

 

He marched out of the shop.

 

---------------------------------------------------------------------------

 

Snape’s trusted confidante, who had offered so confidently to kill Albus Dumbledore that night, was now walking down Knockturn Alley, hooded up in his black Death Eater robes, but with a streak of red lining his sleeves. The street was fairly deserted, understandable in such times. He turned the corner and entered the shop he had come for: Borgin & Burkes. The doorbell chimed with a low, ominous sound as the heavy door swung open and Mr Borgin looked curiously at him.

 

“You are…†he said quizzically. He could feel the aura that this man emanated, that he must be a powerful and self-assured wizard, and yet his face had an air of unsettling youth.

 

“I’m shocked that Mr Malfoy did not introduce me when he came by earlier. I am a newcomer to this country, who goes by the name of Seleucus.â€

 

“You… you know Mr Malfoy?†Borgin scrunched up his eyes.

 

“Yes I do. I also know that he left an object here with you. Well, he’s asked me to take it from you. He couldn’t walk around carrying the thing, but I… I have my methods.â€

 

Borgin straightened himself now. This was a request he knew how to answer.

 

“I’m sorry, Mr… Seleucus. Mr Malfoy has instructed me to give this to nobody-“

 

“Ah, I must’ve forgotten to mention. I don’t only know Mr Malfoy. I know a couple of other creatures who are just as eager as I am.â€

 

A cackling sound could be heard from every corner of the store. Jars were dropped from the top of their shelves. A red imp appeared, baring its ugly teeth and eerie green eyes, crashing its long whip against everything on the table. The oily-haired stooping man backtracked in terror, his knees knocking against each other.

 

“A poltergeist!†he whispered. “Now don’t you make trouble, Mr Seleucus, I can contact the Agency for the Removal of Pestiferous Spirits-“

 

“It’s a Rakdos Cackler, to be precise,†answered Seleucus. “And I’m not sure that Agency you speak of gets rid of Devils. They’re much stronger beings, you know, especially if they’re Unleashed.â€

 

The Cackler let out an exuberant cry and flung itself at the closet behind Borgin. Borgin let out a whimper and agreed, quite reluctantly, to get the item out and give it to him.

 

“Mr Malfoy won’t be happy with you!†he threatened.

 

“I couldn’t care less,†declared Seleucus, a crazy light dancing in his eyes. His voice had turned into an excited hiss. “I only do what Master Bolas asks of me. Besides, Malfoy will be glad I did this, in the long run.â€

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May watched in confusion as Luke abruptly marched out of Ollivander's, wondering what had caused the sudden shift in attitude. Could it be that he was reluctant to lend her money after all? Perhaps the wand she had chosen was particularly expensive. Or maybe her father had been right all along - that Planeswalkers tended to have unstable and dangerous mental issues. She certainly hoped that wasn't the case; Luke seemed like a nice enough person, and it was comforting to know that there was at least one other Planeswalker other than her in Great Britain.

 

"Oh no!" She muttered after stepping out of the wandmaker's shop. "How am I ever going to get my other supplies?"

 

Fortunately for May, she had managed to stumble upon Harry Potter and his friends in Diagon Alley. It turned out that being a Chosen One meant heaps of gold, and he bought most of her essentials for her as she tried to learn the names of his companions. There was a redheaded boy named Ron Weasel, and a rather intelligent-looking girl that reminded May of herself. She had a really difficult name, too - Hermione. May decided she liked the name 'Harry Potter' the best; it was nice and simple and easy to remember, atypical of Chosen Ones.

 

The next few days were spent sleeping in the Hog's Head Inn, doing odd jobs for Professor Dumbledore's brother to earn some side cash during the daytime. He was also called Dumbledore, which only reinforced May's impression that the inhabitants of Great Britain had the queerest of naming conventions. She spent whatever free time she could asking around if any of the locals had crossed paths with Nicol Bolas, but all she got were tales of Hungry Horntails and Chinese Fireballs, which didn't sound like the names of dragons or Planeswalkers at all.

 

Time passed by quickly for the young Illusionist, and the time soon came for her to embark on the Hogwarts Express and head for the first day of school.

 

She stood in the middle of King's Cross Station, pushing along her cart of belongings as she stared at the pillar that would lead her to Platform 9 3/4s. It was clearly an illusion of sorts, but it was a very cleverly made one - capable of differentiating between wizards and common folk. May wondered if it would disappear if she had targeted it with one of her Instants, but she decided that it wasn't worth the risk. She needed to get to Hogwarts if she wanted to get in touch with the knowledgeable Professor again.

 

"Hello there," came a voice behind her. A girl with straggly, waist-length, dirty blonde hair stood behind May, smiling in a rather dazed fashion. "Are you new? I don't think I've seen you before."

 

It took May a few seconds to realize what she was referring to. "Oh, yes! I'm going to Hogwarts for the first time."

 

"Oh! Are you a transfer student? That's nice. I'm Luna Lovegood."

 

"May Elizabeth Lewis," she responded, shaking Luna's hand.

 

"Are you going to go in? We'll be late if we don't hurry."

 

The two of them emerged through the pillar onto the busy Plaform 9 3/4s, as the noise of the chatter and the train engine hit May with full force. She hadn't expected the illusion to be soundproof as well. She'd definitely have to examine the pillar at great length when she had the time in the future. For now, however, she simply chose to follow Luna around, having no clue as to where to go or what to do. This was the first time she'd seen a train, and although she had managed to draw the knowledge of what it was from Dumbledore, nothing could prepare her for the sight of the real thing. Technology in Zendikar was practically non-existent, after all.

 

The interior of the Hogwarts Express was lined with these little rooms called Compartments, which was cozy but not too cramped. May filed into one such compartment after Luna's lead, piling her suitcases onto the racks above their seats with a little difficulty. Illusionists weren't cut out for menial work, after all. Suddenly, a loud noise she identified as the "train whistle" startled her, and with a jolt, the train began to move off, gathering speed slowly as she saw various family members waving to their children while running on the platform below.

 

May decided that it was a pleasant experience overall, and watched the scenery fly past her compartment window with great interest. It was like flying, at this speed. Occasionally, Luna would ask her questions about where she came from or what subjects she were going to take. To May's surprise, Luna was surprisingly accepting of her tales of Zendikar, although she did say that it was unlikely that someone else would ever believe it. Perhaps Luna was just a very open-minded individual.

 

Most of the trip was spent in silence, however, as Luna began to read a magazine upside-down while May continued to stare out the window. The next interruption came when she felt a presence pass them by, but she didn't see anyone walk past the door. Invisibility, she immediately deduced. It was important to know when some unseen predator was lurking around if one was to survive in Zendikar. Was there something malicious in the Hogwarts Express?

 

She slowly slid the door open, looking down the narrow corridor as she tried to sense the invisible presence. There it was again, slowly creeping down the train as it made its way towards the part of the Hogwarts Express which Luna had said the 'Slytherins' usually hung out in. Handling this beast would prove tricky, since May couldn't exactly use any of her large Creatures without destroying half the carriage. Instead, she hung back at a considerable distance, following the being as it moved further inward.

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“What’s wrong with this thing?†said Zabini angrily.

He was yanking at the compartment door, which seemed to have gotten stuck. Luke looked up from his magazine in curiosity. It never failed to stoke his interest that a part of the world that looked so fondly towards magic to solve their problems would have petty technological troubles with doors. Then again, he reflected that doors in Ravnica did more than get themselves jammed, thanks to the Izzet League’s enthusiastic efforts.

“So, Zabini,†said Malfoy, “what did Slughorn want?â€

Professor Slughorn was apparently the new Potions master. He looked like a stodgy sort of fellow, who delighted in inviting students to mysterious parties. He had, however, somehow overlooked Luke, which only served to confirm his suspicion that this Slughorn man was definitely incompetent and not worth much attention. It would be just as well if he wasn’t allowed to take Potions, though he doubted an Exceeds Expectations would bar him – only Professor Snape was ever this fussy.

Malfoy was prattling on about leaving school the following year to move on to bigger and better things. Luke stared resolutely at his magazine. He personally wasn’t too fond of the blonde boy, whom he thought was shockingly naïve for someone his age. And the irritating Pansy, speaking in a nasal voice thinking it was cute, stroking his hair as if he were some cat. Come to think of it, he had never felt much of a connection with anyone in Hogwarts. He found their experiences so… shallow. Of course, having known only one world their whole lives would make them so complacent. No one shared in his knowledge and experiences, except…

Naturally, he only felt a connection with May because she was a Planeswalker too. That was it. Speaking of which, why was she here as well? She had mentioned something about killing You-Know-Who.

“You go on,†Malfoy’s voice startled him out of his reverie. “I just want to check something.â€

Had the Hogwarts Express already reached? He hastily stuffed his magazine into his luggage, before looking up and narrowing his eyes. He could swear he could see May standing outside, a safe distance away from the Slytherin compartment. Was she looking for him?

“Petrificus Totalus!â€

There was a bump as something invisible fell from the luggage rack, landing with a crash on the floor somewhere near Malfoy’s feet. The cloak slid off to reveal an embarrassingly frozen Harry Potter.

“I thought so,†Malfoy said jubilantly. “Look, Luke, it’s sneaky Harry Potter, trying to be a disgusting spy. I heard Goyle’s trunk hit you. And I thought I saw something white flash through the air after Zabini came back… That was you blocking the door when Zabini came back in, I suppose? You didn’t hear anything I care about, Potter. But while I’ve got you here… That’s from my father…†He stomped hard on Harry’s face. Blood spurted out of his nose. Even Luke felt compelled to look away.

Malfoy dragged the Cloak out from under Harry’s immobilised body and threw it over him.

“I don’t reckon they’ll find you till the train’s back in London. See you around, Potter… or not. Come on, Luke, we’d better be going, or else the rest of the school is going to get suspicious.â€

“Sure, let me get my luggage. You go on ahead.†Luke turned around and calmly zipped his luggage up, as though nothing had happened. He only turned back again when he heard the door slam shut behind him.

“May, you may want to come in now,†he told her, opening the door again.

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"How could they do such a thing?!"

 

May burst into the room, her hands shaking with anger as she stared at Luke accusingly. "And how could you not help him when you saw them beating him up?" She had hung back in the last cabin, peeking through the doorway as a veil of illusion magic shrouded her from sight. She had witnessed Draco and the rest of the Slytherins gang up on poor Harry Potter, while Luke had sat by the side, watching the scene unfold with cold indifference. Even though Potter had been acting rather suspiciously with the whole invisibility thing, ganging up on the defenseless was one thing May could not tolerate.

 

Scenes flashed in her memory - an angry mob, a wooden cross, flames all around her.

 

She lowered her clenched fist and put away the spell that she had prepared, wiping her tears away with her sleeve as she crouched down beside the bloodied Harry, examining the body-binding curse that had locked him in place. She hadn't reacted fast enough when it had been cast; otherwise she could have Dissipated it before it actually happened. There was nothing in her Library that could help Harry at this point, and she figured it would be wiser to seek the aid of a Hogwarts professor.

 

Lifting up the frozen body with visible difficulty, she slumped Harry against her shoulder as she winced and looked at Luke. "Are you going to help, or what?"

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What a bitch. He shouldn’t have asked her in to begin with. Luke glared back at May and took Harry’s other hand – visibly difficult, for the Body-Binding Curse had hardened all his muscles and Luke risked breaking it off entirely if he exerted too much energy. Together, they struggled out of the compartment, with Harry’s legs still curled up in a fetal position so neither of them could stand straight and walk properly without being kicked on the behind.

“So apparently it doesn’t pay to be a good guy at all,†he murmured. “I should’ve joined Malfoy in stomping on him, rather than sweat my guts out lugging him to school.â€

He felt the weight increase on his side. He had probably really gotten to her. A smirk crept into his lips, which faded again when he saw a figure walking towards the train. It was a woman with rather colourful hair, peering determinedly at the compartment they had come out from.

 

“Psst,†he hissed to May. “Somebody’s out there. We’d better walk this way so she doesn’t see us.†He led the way down a narrower trail, leading into a more wooded area. They could hear the last of the chattering students as they vanished up the brighter, wider path. A seventh-year boy and girl strayed behind, looked around furtively, and started snogging once they decided the coast was clear. Luke would have sent a Mizzium Mortar their way had his hands not been presently occupied.

“This is a Slytherin trail, which is why you don’t know of it,†he told May. “A Slytherin guy showed it to me when I was in fifth-year. We’d go this way and have the privacy to discuss certain, er, plans, but don’t go telling this to any non-Slytherin, you hear- oh damn.â€

Right in front of them was an imposing gate, an extension of the one at the main entrance. Due to the heightened security this year, they probably had reinforced every corner of the school, not allowing the possibility of any secret entry. Luke hurriedly set Harry down with an impolite thud and ran up to the gate, scowling. Such a bother that the Slytherin passage was also closed off now – he had rather counted on it being open for him still.

“It’s going to be really hard to get over it,†he told May. “I hear there’re Anti-Intruder Jinxes on the gate now. I wonder, though, if there’re any spells we know that may help us…†he turned to May. “What spells do you know? For that matter, what colour are you? I’m Red/Black, and short of summoning demons and burning this gate to a crisp, I’m not sure I can deal with this on my own. Oh, he’s still conscious, isn’t he?†He inclined his head towards Harry, as if he had just noticed him. “Don’t worry, I’ll take care of it.â€

He held out his hand, and with a flash of light materialised a Whip of Erebos. He flicked his hand and sent a merciless lash of the long black whip right across Harry’s head. Harry fell onto the ground, knocked out. Luke went over to him and placed two fingers on his neck, testing his pulse.

“Definitely still alive,†he concluded. “Though gosh, his nose really is broken and bleeding a lot. Do you happen to have any ice on hand? Or paper, at least? I don’t bring paper with me, but I suppose girls have their eau de toilettes and oil blotters. Wouldn’t want his blood dripping all over the grass and giving us away.â€

He left the situation to May then and peered up at the gate again. He had Madcap Skills, which might help to add agility and skill scaling the gate, if they chose that path. The Whip of Erebos could be used as rope to tie against something, if they chose to swing across. Would creatures help? It all depended on what May could do. After all, he thought grudgingly, she was the one with some high-powered wand that even won Ollivander’s praise.

“Speaking of which,†he suddenly said, another thought coming to him. “Doesn’t this Potter fellow have any friends? If we can contact somebody he knows to come down and help, or better yet, get a professor or even Dumbledore to come down, all our problems will be solved.â€

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