Chapter One
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(Hey guys, and welcome to the first chapter of my new story! I’m taking a little break from “Aegis Online” for a bit, since I was starting to get a bit burned-out with it. However, I still wanted to make sure you got something to read, and thus, this happened! Enjoy!)

 

What a morning…. People say, “there’s no such thing as magic”, but they’re wrong. I’ve known that magic exists for most of my life, and that no-one’s supposed to  know about it, but it’s… kinda hard to ignore when your entire family lineage consists of registered hex-offenders. Mages, sorcerers, witches & wizards, warlocks, hexbloods, cursemongers, spellslingers, magicians, charmcasters… people ascribe all kinds of names to us, but they don’t really believe we exist. It’s been that way for a very, very long time.

My… My name is Maximillian Vincent Darcy, and my family has practiced magic for generations, all the way back as far as we can tell, through the dusty old genealogical texts of our history. This might all sound dull, but, just a few days ago, at the mid-point of summer break, I received a letter, delivered by owl. Yes, by owl. Look, it’s a perfectly reasonable way to get the mail, shut up!

Anyway, that letter was from my new school, to inform me that I’d been accepted into Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. And now, I was under the pressure of going shopping with my parents, heading for Diagon Alley, to purchase everything I could possibly need for my first year. Ugh, just jinx me now and be done with it…

Emerging from the fireplace in the Leaky Cauldron, I stare around, taking in all the sights around me, while my mother and father bustle towards the door. A few metres from me, the biggest man I’d ever seen is chaperoning a skinny teenager, who looks distinctly overwhelmed by the attention everyone’s paying him. I give him a quick smile as I hurry after my parents, heading for Gringotts first. Father grumbles about how bank business always takes forever, reaching round to clap me on the shoulder. I wish he wouldn’t do that, it always makes me uncomfortable when he’s so casually masculine towards me. I’ve never had the courage to tell them, but I’ve been aware of it for years. I’m not a wizard-in-training… I’m a witch!

True, my body isn’t that of a typical girls’, but it’s still a girl’s body. Luckily, I’ve been allowed to let my hair grow as long as I want, so it’s almost down to my ribs now.  I keep it in a ‘warrior’s braid’, as father calls it, but even he’s starting to give me some funny looks when he doesn’t think I can see him.

The bank doors open on their own as we approach, and my mother dabs at my cheek with a kerchief, fussing over me. The goblin at the counter nods, and another appears to leads the three of us deep into the earth, using this hideously-cantankerous old minecart system that HAS to be held together by magic, or else it’d have crumbled away a century or two ago. As soon as the cart stops, my father steps out, a hand over his mouth, looking a little green.   Mother wobbles a little, and, as expected, I offer my arm so she can steady herself as she disembarks. The vault before opens when our goblin attendant puts father’s key to use, allowing us entry. While I slope in reluctantly, my father turns, smiling wolfishly, having recovered his composure, tossing a pouch to me.

“Your allowance, m’boy. If you’re going to Hogwarts, make sure you put this to good use!” the pouch is heavy, and I slip it into the pocket of my robes. It would be bad form to check how much I’ve been given…

The return journey is just as rapid and wildly-erratic as our descent, and we pass the giant and his rather malnourished charge as they make their way into the entrance-hall. I pause, and ask, “Excuse me, are you going to be attending Hogwarts too?”

The black-haired boy blinks at me through battered spectacles, and then nods, breaking into a surprisingly-nice smile as his enormous hairy chaperone rests a hand the size of a roast ham in his shoulder. “I am. My name’s Harry, nice to meet you.”

I offer my hand politely, and the boy shakes. “I’m Maximillian, please just call me Max, it’s quite a mouthful, I know.” In the reflective window, I can see my parents regarding the giant and his ward disapprovingly. I ignore them and give Harry another smile. “See you when school starts, then!” I step back and let them pass.

As we make our way towards Ollivander’s- Makers of fine wands since 382 BC, my mother lightly scolds me for ‘associating with the riffraff’ and I nod and murmur apologies, promising not to befriend the strange boy with the wild black hair. I’m lying through my teeth, but she doesn’t have to know that.

Inside the dusty, cramped store, the smell of woodshavings and lacquer is strong, but pleasant, pine and oak mingling and diffusing through the air. Shelves crammed with long, thin boxes line every inch of space that isn’t occupied by miscellaneous odds and ends. Behind the counter, an elderly man with windswept white hair is examining the contents of a tray, raising wand after wand to the light and muttering furiously to himself.

After a few moments, the man straightens, and leans in, narrowing his eyes at me. “Here for your wand, yes? Show me your dominant hand. Hmmm…. You’ve used a wand before, practicing spells? Yes, yes…”

Still muttering, he bustles away into the bowels of the shop, returning with a couple of boxes, opening the top one and proffering the contents to me.

“11" long, made of hazel wood, with a… a Veela Hair core. Not one I would have typically made, far too curmudgeonly... A temperamental one, but fiercely loyal, and quite a sensitive wand... Hmmm… no, no, not quite.  Give it here, thank you.”

The old man yanks the wand back gently, slipping it back into the box and placing it to one side, opening several more, rooting through their contents, a strange, wild energy emanating from him and he ferrets around at the back of one of the lower shelves. A few minutes later, he emerges with a dusty box in one gnarled hand. Inside is a wand of rich deep red.

 “Ah! This one, I think. Quite the treasure, this one is, very special… 7", carved from cherry wood, cored with a phoenix-feather… a very rare wood indeed, if not one of the rarest. Only those with great potential are said to be chosen by a cherry wand…. Phoenix feather, hmm… grants flexibility for a wider variety of magic… you may be destined for greatness, young witch!”

I take the wand in my left hand, muttering, “wizard, actually…” before my breath catches. I can… I can feel the wand responding, almost waking up in my grasp. Raising it, I whisper, “Lumos!” and the tip ignites in a brilliant white glow, banishing the shadows for the farthest corners of the store.

The old man smiles, clapping in delight. “Well well, it looks as though your wand has chosen you!” My father nods, a smile forming, the old man’s description of my new wand seeming to have pleased him. My mother pats my elbow in support, and, with a muttered “Nox!” I extinguish the light. I thank the elderly gentleman as he receives his gold for the sale, and its back out into the early morning sunlight, and we head for Eylop’s Owl Emporium.

Within the store, it’s cool and shaded, since the majority of its residents are nocturnal. Feathers ruffle and cages creak as countless owls shift and stir, and kittens in enclosures, even a few, more unusual creatures available as familiars. Wondering around the ground floor, I slowly make my way towards the wrought-iron stairs to the second storey, where yet more owls of every breed, size, and colour shift on perches and turn their heads, blinking sleepily.

After taking in every possible option, I stop, kneeling beside a cage, a small ball of sandy golden fur curled inside. I stare, and, gradually, the ball uncurls to reveal neat little paws, a floofy tail, a small, intelligent face, and two huge ears. The label reads, “Fennec Fox”, and I slowly hold out a hand. The little creature approaches daintily, sniffing at my fingertip, before resting its head in my palm. I chuckle softly, and brush my thumb gently over the crown of the fuzzy little head.

“Oh, you’re perfect… I think you and I would be a great team, huh? Want to be my familiar?” I murmur, and the dark eyes of the Fennec flick up to regard me. It’s almost like this tiny beast is evaluating me. A few minutes pass, before it lifts its head and starts running in tight circles. I slowly rise, but, before I can back up, the small animal bounds up, digs its claws into the frame of its enclosure, and shimmies up and over, leaping into my arms and curling up again with a yawn.

I slowly descend the stairs, and my mother looks over at me, breaking off her conversation with my father and the proprietor. Mr Eylop grins and raises his eyebrows. “I see you met our littlest troublemaker! Yes, the Fennec Fox is quiiite the handful, but a very reliable familiar. Hard to come by, but that little fellow seems to be fairly taken with your boy, sir. Is he interested?”

Before my father can interject, I nod, smiling. “Yes!” it’s one of only a handful of times I’ve openly asserted myself so boldly, but, luckily, it doesn’t seem to bother him today. He reaches for his pouch to pay, and I chuck the tiny fox under its chin, causing it to crack open one dusky eye, before it bats me with one of its oversized ears and falls asleep again. While there, I also purchase, out of my own pouch, a book on the diet, behaviour, and care of fennec foxes, a decent supply of high-quality cat food, and a packet of locusts.

The rest of the morning passes in a blur, and my books, cauldron, new uniform and robes, as well as all the ink, quills, and parchment I’d need for the first few weeks are purchased and transported back to our home by my father, who Apparates in and out as needed, returning within moments each time. Cuddling the little fox, which I’ve learned is a female, I settle on naming her Mini, due to her size. She buffets my cheek with an ear, before nibbling at my chin lightly.

 While my mother pays for my robes, I feed Mini a locust, and her sharp teeth get to work on the little snack. A smarmy-looking boy with ice-blonde hair that looks like it could’ve come straight out of a bottle sneers at me. “Alright there, Darcy?” his Legally-Blonde- looking Thranduil-wannabe father nods curtly, inclining his head the minimum he can get away with without being called rude. Of course, it HAD to be my father’s colleague and his obnoxious little weasel of a son. I nod back, trying not to let Draco’s odious presence get to me. Mini looks towards the Smarmosaurus Rex and twitches a huge, shell-like ear disdainfully.  Draco’s eyes take on a gleam that I recognize. That gleam means he’s about to cause trouble.

Luckily, my father appears via Apparating, and I manage to make my escape while Draco’s having pins jabbed into his bottom by an irate tailor, who keeps snapping at him to “Stand still! Back straight!”

Finally, with all my purchases, I emerge into the midday light, breathing deep, and hugging Mini to my chest as she kneads her little paws into the crook of my elbow. Hogwarts, here we come…

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