Floo Network

Summer of 69
Swiss Cottage Manoeuvres

Started by Bobby Cashmore, February 11, 2021, 11:40:03 pm

Bobby Cashmore

February 11, 2021, 11:40:03 pm Last Edit: March 28, 2021, 09:52:11 am by Arantor
Bobby and his father had travelled down last night to London - they didn't know how long it would take to do all of the shopping they would need to do, and so set out earlier last evening, arriving at Swiss Cottage in the early evening and found a boarding house to stay in for the night. It wasn't particularly nice but Bobby was always too excited to be around magic again to worry too much about that. And, of course, it was his birthday, hence this being the reason for the trip to Diagon Alley, amongst other things.

Geoffrey his his son alone in their room, while he went to speak to the housekeeper about something for tea, and in the relative silence Bobby got out the list of things he needed for my upcoming third year at Hogwarts. The usual Transfiguration and Charms books, The Standard Book of Spells, of course. The new books though for his new classes, he really don't know what to make of those.

Numerology and Grammatica sounded like something very deep and technical - also... grammar with numbers? What was that about?

The books for Ancient Runes were more confusing; the book list said explicitly that copies of the Rune Dictionary and Spellman's Syllabary would be necessary, though it did note that for third-years just starting out with Ancient Runes, a copy of Ancient Runes Made Easy might be useful. Lastly it also noted that Magical Hieroglyphs and Logograms would be referred to, but that "limited quantities will be available in the school library, however students seriously pursuing Ancient Runes will be strongly advised to purchase their own copy."

Bobby was mulling over which of these he would actually need - and possibly what his father could afford. While they were considered affluent by general Muggle standards, with Geoffrey's job and all, they were not particularly affluent by wizarding standards and he was vaguely aware that his mother had taken on extra hours at her work to make sure that Bobby had all the schoolbooks he could need. It occurred to him that he could probably make do without Ancient Runes made easy - if it was easy, what was the point? - but that he would see how expensive a copy of Magical Hieroglyphs and Logograms was. It seemed like the kind of book that would interest him even without it being on the syllabus, and maybe his parents would get it for him for his birthday.

Geoffrey Cashmore

Geoffrey returned from finding the housekeeper, with a tray of bread, a largeish knob of butter, and a decent hunk of cheese, accompanied by a large teapot with two cups, a sugar bowl and a milk jug. It wasn't much, but it would suffice for the two of them for the night. Geoffrey had little doubt they would find places to eat out in town tomorrow.

"So, tell me about the books you need this year, what are the about? Your mother said something about you taking new classes this year."

He noticed Bobby seeming somewhat deep in thought as he cut some slices off the loaf and started to assemble sandwiches for them.

"You know me, I'm always curious about your studies - I often wish I could go to your school, but," Geoffrey laughed, "I'm only good with machines."

Well, good with machines  - and sandwiches - he reflected. It was one of those weird things, he was so proud of his son but he had no idea how to actually say it out loud. He just hoped Bobby understood - that he wanted Bobby to do well, to learn all the things that he, Geoffrey, a non-magical person... a Muggle, is that what Bobby said the wizards called people like him? Anyway, he reflected that he wanted Bobby to grow up and be all the things that he couldn't.

"Do you have any idea what you'll be doing once you leave school? Is there a sort of... university you can study at? If you want to, of course."

Bobby Cashmore

"Actually, Father, I was thinking about becoming a Curse-Breaker when I left school. You can go all around the world, finding old tombs and things and looking for old magical curses and figuring out how to undo them to see what it's inside, like an archaeologist. There isn't really a magic university that I've read about; Hogwarts is the only place that teaches magic in Britain. I think anyway."

He started munching on a cheese sandwich. "The first new subject of the year is something called Arithmancy, and some of the other fellows at school say it's about trying to study numbers to predict the future by studying the past, but there's a new teacher this year for the subject and he sounds really interesting. Apparently he calls the subject 'the physics of magic', and I'd love to learn more about how magic really works."

He took a sip of tea, trying to judge the reaction on his father's face to what he had said, but his father was pretty good at being inscrutable when he wanted to be.

"The other subject I'm taking new this year is Ancient Runes, and in that we study ancient runes because there's not only the kind of magic that we study in school but there's some older magic in the world, so the teachers say, and it's something about ancient earth magic that the Vikings and the Norse might have tapped into. All the stories about Thor and Odin and all that - they might actually be a bit true!"

Another munch of a sandwich. "Other than that it's the same subject as last year," Bobby paused, counting the subjects off on his fingers, "Transfiguration, Charms, Potions, Defence Against the Dark Arts, Astronomy, Herbology and History of Magic."

Pausing to let his food go down, Bobby continued. "There were other subjects I could have taken instead but they all seemed very boring."

Geoffrey Cashmore

Geoffrey laughed, "Well, we wouldn't want you getting bored now, would we?"

He finished up his sandwich thoughtfully. Truth be told, he had privately hoped his son would take after him and perhaps work on the trains - understanding of things was something they did have in common, but Geoffrey was always a little saddened that this... this wonderful opportunity had come Bobby's way and he was somewhat powerless to support his son in the ways he might have wished. Of course, he never said it out loud to Bobby - that certainly wasn't the done thing - but it did gnaw just a little into Geoffrey, and he had resolved to do the best he could for his son, even if that wasn't really very much.

"Arithmancy sounds very fancy. But if anyone can unravel the mysteries of magic, it'd be you, Bob. Us... muggles... we've made great strides in recent decades in understanding non-magical physics, and it always sounds like your school castle is a little bit old fashioned. Nothing a good bit of electric lighting wouldn't fix, I'll bet. But you sound very excited by it so let's make sure we get all the books you'll need tomorrow."

Geoffrey finished his tea and put the cup down, trying to project as much positivity into the thing as he could. "And ancient runes, you say? Is that anything like those dwarven runes in those fantasy books of yours?" He imagined internally he'd gotten very confused, that the tales of wizards and dwarves and elves that set out on a quest, which had seemed so outrageous and distant and... fantastical.. were more true to life than he could possibly have imagined - and yet he was forever only permitted to stand outside and look in.

Bobby Cashmore

Bobby didn't really know what to say to his father; he might only be a teenager but he knew when his father was putting on a brave face, such as after he broke his leg a couple of years back dealing with a train, and pretending it didn't hurt - but allowing himself to wince and feel the pain when he thought no-one was watching.

This felt worse somehow; Bobby wanted to share all that he would learn about magic with his father, and both knew that Geoffrey was simply not magical, and so there was never an opportunity to do more than talk about it. Bobby always thought his father seemed so interested whenever he wanted to talk about it, but he was never sure if that was simply his father trying to humour him or not.

He did think about asking his father but honestly wasn't sure. There would be time for that another day.

"Do you remember where we're going tomorrow? Last year I went with Mother, and the entrance to the Leaky Cauldron pub is a bit hard to find." That was at least more tactful than he had initially thought it would have sounded.

Geoffrey Cashmore

"It's somewhere on the Charing Cross Road, isn't it? I have been there a few times in the past with your mother for shopping and when we've come to London to the grand theatres they have. But of course I'd never seen a wizard tavern there. Is it magically protected somehow?"

Geoffrey thought about it. "Well, of course it must be - isn't there some kind of International Statute of Secrecy or something protecting all the wizards from all the normal folks? Seems like something like that you'd want to protect."

That was suitably pragmatic of him to consider, but a question did follow.

"If it's protected from non-wizards, how does it work for students with non-wizard parents? Is there some special magic that lets me see it if I'm with you? It's very curious how all this works."

Truth be told, that was worried him. Engineering had a solidity to it that he very much preferred; forces and energies could be measured and explained, but magic seemed so... vague to Geoffrey, and he didn't like it much.

"Well, maybe we should sleep. Big day tomorrow!" He didn't sound as convinced in that enthusiasm as he had hoped.

Bobby Cashmore

February 22, 2021, 11:17:47 pm #6 Last Edit: February 25, 2021, 09:37:43 pm by Arantor
Bobby yawned. "Goodnight, father." And with that, they both fell into a mostly resting slumber.



Bobby dressed and gathered up his things as the pair of them made their way out to the Charing Cross Road early on his birthday morning. They'd gone via a park, got an ice-cream on the glorious summer's day. It was still early - before lunch - that some of the shops were not yet open - but as Bobby led the way down the pavement, he stopped abruptly when he found what he was looking for.

In fact, he stood at a very curious shopfront indeed. On his left, a bookstore with a shelf of various tomes; some of the up-and-coming and current science-fiction authors caught his eye; the latest Kurt Vonnegut, Ursula Le Guin's newest. But of course that wasn't what he was here for, and his interest in science-fiction had waned since his introduction to 'real magic'.

On his right, some record store with some of the latest LPs; one with an almost complete white cover was prominently in the window but Bobby didn't understand why that would be of interest to people. The large red "Yes" in a speech bubble was, frankly, more appealing - as was the very surreal grey-coloured image that looked like something out of a science-fiction novel. The name 'Deep Purple' was in small letters, but it occurred to Bobby that the scene almost looked like it belonged more at Hogwarts than on some album cover.

And before him, the Leaky Cauldron. He could hear a bit of conversation coming from inside - but apparently none of the passersby, or apparently his father, could hear it.

"Right then, here we are." He took his father by the hand and led them inside.

Geoffrey Cashmore

Geoffrey was confused. "We're here?" It looked like a completely boarded-up derelict heap of a shop.

But his son was sure, and he'd been taken by the hand and led inside through the boarded-up doorw-- that wasn't boarded up. It just looked that way. Inside he thought he'd been transported to another place and time - it wasn't the brightest-lit venue, but it was tidy and neat. A large fireplace with a warm-looking fire burning away merrily gave the place a distinct sense of warmth that reassured Geoffrey. He was, however, puzzled by the large box of something called "Floo Powder" sat at the end of the room next to the fire. He'd never heard of it and wondered quite what one does with 'floo powder', maybe it was wizarding snuff perhaps?

Geoffrey looked around, trying to take the place in - this was Bobby's third year, but both previous years Maureen had taken him. So this was all entirely rather new to Geoffrey, even if Bobby seemed comfortable with what was going on.

While he was still reeling a little, Bobby had obviously spoken to the bartender who was pointing them through to the back of the establishment. Geoffrey felt a little saddened; he wanted to stay and talk to the people that he could see - but got the distinct impression that none of them would be very interested in speaking to him.

Brave face on, though, he followed Bobby to the back of the place.

Bobby Cashmore

Bobby knew they couldn't linger. He knew his father would want to ask questions and find out all the things, but Bobby wasn't really prepared to deal with what he'd already seen of the views that more 'pure-blooded' wizards had on muggles.

So having quickly spoken to the barkeep, he ushered his father along and through the bar until reaching the wall that formed the entrance to Diagon Alley, getting out his wand and tapping out the three-along-two-up that opened the way forward.

As he took his father's hand again, Bobby sounded a bit sad. "The bartender said we should hurry, before it got busy." Well, that wasn't what he'd said. What the bartender had actually said was more that 'under better times, them folk's like your father woulda been allowed here to eat an' drink, but since the Statute came in, we can't exacterly talks to the muggles, and Diagon Alley is that way, if you, er, wouldn't mind, young sir'.

But Bobby had already learned to straddle the divide between his own world of haves-and-have-nots. It never made him feel good. Maybe he should have brought his mother this year, she at least didn't seem so disconcerted by the idea that she was somewhere she wasn't particularly wanted. Bobby had given plenty of thought to his post-school days, and whether he wanted to settle more in the mundane and muggle or the magical world, and he never quite had an answer.

None of that mattered as the wall finished opening before them and he enthusiastically took his father's hand again, faith seemingly restored, as they stepped forward into Diagon Alley.

After all, he thought, there really were other students like him with non-magical parents, and Diagon Alley hadn't seemed too awkward in the past about it. Maybe the bartender was just having a bad day this time around. It was warm and stuffy in the bar, as it had become warm outside, and that roaring fire wouldn't have helped much.

He got out the list and showed it to his father.

Geoffrey Cashmore

"Righto, then," said Geoffrey. "There don't seem to be so many books this year?"

Geoffrey peered down the list - some of the words, if they were even words - didn't make any sense to him.

He understood that "The Standard Book of Spells, Grade 3" made sense for a third-year student, and that he was aware Bobby had studied 'Transfiguration', not that he'd seen any actual things being changed into anything else because Bobby wasn't allowed to do magic outside of term time. So he at least understood that 'intermediate' was a thing he'd need. Also, Defence Against The Dark Arts was one Bobby definitely had mentioned, so that made sense.

But some of the books, like "Unfogging the Future" didn't seem relevant... did he understand correctly when Bobby had said he wasn't doing "Divination"? He was, truthfully, somewhat confused, and wished it was more like his own school days where at least he could understand what the subjects were because everyone else was taking the same ones and words meant, well, what words meant.

He definitely remembered Bobby talking about Arithmancy, and wondered what either of "Numerology" or "Grammatica" were and how either related to magic. All the names baffled him too - weren't there any wizards with, well, normal names? Just once he wished he'd see something like "Norman Blenkinsop" writing one of these books, just to feel like this wasn't a world entirely alien to him.

Geoffrey frowned at the list. "What's a silly berry? Sorry, syllabary? Also, Bob, I'm a bit confused... which books are the ones you need for the... was it Ancient Runes? There's quite a few books for Runes and it's not clear to me which ones you're supposed to have."

Bobby Cashmore

Bobby looked down the list in his father's hands.

"So this year, I'm not doing Divination so I don't need a copy of Unfogging the Future, though I think there's a copy in the library if I wanted to give it a try, but it sounds a bit silly to me - don't tell Mum though, I think she tries to read tea leaves anyway without having a copy of the book on how to do it..."

He went through the list, confirming the ones his dad had guessed would be needed... "yes, Numerology and Grammatica is for Arithmancy, I think it relates to what we would call physics, and the rules of magic, but I don't know if wizards ever had a Newton or an Isambard to help them with science or construction. Ancient Runes though... that's a bit complicated to explain. As far as I can make out, Spellman's Syllabary is a bit like an encyclopedia of runes, but the school will have some copies that students can share, it's just better if students can bring their own, I think. The Rune dictionary is a bit like the Oxford dictionary, it just tells you what runes mean what, and that one we definitely have to have. The last book - Magical Hieroglyphs and Logograms - is a bit optional too but one of my friends in the year above who's been doing it reckons it's really helped her out. It just sounds really interesting anyway though, since it has so many examples of how the different runes work - it's a bit like the Egyptian hieroglyphs in the pyramids, where a single picture can mean a word. It's a bit barmy, though, when we have the regular letters that everyone seems to use, even wizards."

"The main bookshop to go to here is a place called Flowers and Blooms... no, that can't be right, that doesn't sound like a bookshop... ah, there it is, Flourish and Blotts," Bobby exclaimed, pointing down the street. "That's where all the textbooks are for sale."

"Just one thing, father, when we go inside, stay close to me. Last year there was an angry book or two trying to bite mother. Magical books aren't always like normal books." With that, he set off for the magical book store.

Geoffrey Cashmore

Geoffrey really wasn't sure what to say. His son was talking about magical books trying to bite people! This, to him, was a line that he felt should not be crossed; books were, well, books. Books didn't try to eat people!

"Bobby, are you sure about this?" Geoffrey hoped Bobby was just messing around - but he knew his son, and he knew that tone... it wasn't a joke.

He set off after his son, without really paying attention to the surroundings; he hoped he could look around after, but the book situation seemed... somehow more complicated than going into a book store.

Geoffrey arrived just behind his son inside the book store - and, to his very great relief, there were no books floating around trying to decapitate him, or bite him, or chase him around the room. The room was... full of books. The energy in the room was palpable, even to Geoffrey. If it were audible, it would be a very perceptible hum. The room positively thrummed with it.

A short man in flowing robes appeared before them. Geoffrey wasn't convinced that the man before him hadn't just appeared out of nowhere, and was, quite frankly, lost for words.

Bobby Cashmore

"Hi," Bobby smiled... he was deeply relieved to not see any angry biting books or ones flying around the room trying to hit people. It had frightened his mother so terribly last year - and why she was unwilling to come this year with Bobby.

"Please can you show us to the third year books? We've got the reading list, haven't we, Father?"

Bobby looked over to his father, who seemed thoroughly confused about the whole thing, and Bobby had no idea how to explain it or put his father's mind at rest.

"I'm studying Arithmancy and Ancient Runes this year, if that's any help."

He noticed the robed man before him ponder for a moment before striding off down the length of the shop towards a particular bookcase, and Bobby gently led his father after him.

"No, Father, there's nothing to worry about - I was just being careful after last year's... books." He could have sworn he heard an awkward cough from further down the shop, followed by a nervous giggle. He wondered if the shop assistant also remembered those books - and how awful they must have been to stock.

Geoffrey Cashmore

Geoffrey was feeling much relieved after learning that books wouldn't be assaulting him. He felt positively awkward here in this bookshop - he knew, instinctively, that the many tomes in all sizes, shapes, colours and bindings would facilitate him with all of the things he could possibly want to know and understand about the wizarding world - and it saddened him that none of this would ever be open to him. He could almost palpably feel the energy around him but none of it would ever respond to him waving a wand and saying things that sounded to him like Latin.

"So, er, this way?" He just followed his son as best he could, with a thousand and one questions that he knew he couldn't ask.

He did notice an elaborate sign painted in faded gold leaf - so it seemed to him - indicating the direction one should travel in for different types of books and he wondered what Broomology might be about before being nervously amused about Batology, then he noticed the elaborate swirl indicating "Muggles' Social & Anti-Social Habits" and remembered that 'Muggle' was a somewhat-epithet used by wizarding people to describe, well, people like him.

He thought, for whatever it might have been worth, that he was perfectly social but conceded that there were plenty of folks he had encountered that would be somewhat less pleased to discover there was a very much alive and well caste system in this country that they, frankly weren't already at the top of. It was better that they didn't know, and the whatever-it-was rule on wizard secrecy was, grudgingly, considered to be the best route.

He followed Bobby to the end of the shop where a small pile of books was heaped in front of his son - the standard third year tomes, seemingly - and the shopkeeper looked at Geoffrey with a pleasant smile. "Will that be all for you both today?"

Geoffrey wanted to say no, he wanted to find anything here that he could buy for himself... just something to feel connected to his son, but there wasn't anything. Not that he could see. Inwardly, he sighed.

"No, I think that's everything, unless there's anything else you've seen, Bobby?"