Other Magic

BY : starry-pseudonym
Category: HP Canon Characters paired with Original Characters > Het - Male/Female
Dragon prints: 398
Disclaimer: This story - my very first - is compliant up to the start of the Half-Blood Prince. I do not own Harry Potter or any canon references. The story within is purely for entertainment, noncommercial purposes.

The grey fog thickened throughout the city on the river Thames, a commonplace occurrence for any other day except for the swift, dark, and accumulating ribbons of black clouds that threaded the sky, like inkblots bleeding on parchment. As bewildered onlookers on the streets below took pause, some with shaking teacups in hand, others disrupting traffic and eliciting rude honks, one bystander appeared oblivious.

Focused, though, would have been more accurate – focused on finding a bathroom.

“Excuse me, uh, when’s the next stop?” she called from behind the small congregation that had amassed at the corner of Charing Cross Road. Bouncing on the balls of her flat-bottomed shoes, Alison didn’t bother hiding her physical urgency while the rest of the tour group milled about in wait of their tour guide’s next historical anecdote.

“And here we have Leadenhall Market,” the uniformed man with a bowler hat and an unironic handle-bar mustache pointed upward, “a lovely example of London’s well-maintained Victorian architecture. See how the arcs in the ornate painted roof … bloody,” his jaw slackened mid-sentence as his pointed finger swayed from the building’s eaves to the swirling tails of darkness above. The rest of the group, like lemmings upon a cliff, followed his finger and gasped, all interest of the “West End Wonders” tour forgotten.

But not Alison. “No, but seriously, when can we stop? I need to use the bathroom.” She waited, then shouted louder, “I mean the loo. Sorry, the toilets?”

Already keenly aware of her foreigner status in this predominantly Eastern-European group and how uncultured her ordinary American accent must sound when raised and enunciated, Alison didn’t try a third time. She was traveling by herself – a wish-fulfilling treat on the eve of her thirtieth birthday – and the last thing she wanted was a memory of how she lived out the “ugly American” nightmare of her own self-importance.

“Eh, fuck it,” but she still needed to pee, and so after murmuring her resignation, she quite literally bowed out of the crowd in search of the nearest public restroom.

The tour was a last-minute addition to her itinerary anyway, a substitute to the Tower of London that had suddenly closed to the public, and being as cheap as this tour was, she didn’t feel bad if by the time she returned they had moved on to the next landmark. Given how they were all clustered in silence and staring at the sky last she looked over her shoulder, there was doubt this little detour would separate her from the pack.

“You’d think being from Chernobyl you’d have seen a cloud or two before,” her sarcastic remark fell under her breath just as her shoulder purposefully knocked into the heavy, seemingly weighted door of the pub she spotted earlier. A crack of lightning and a rumble of thunder preceded her entry into the Leaky Cauldron.

“This looks … themed,” was her first soft-spoken observation, continuing to modulate her volume so as not to draw attention, but equally concerned that those in seemingly Victorian costume might pull her into some scripted performance if noticed. But it all made sense: the antiquated alley shoppes, the tour guide who fell out of a scene from The Age of Innocence, and now this.

She smiled. At least this was living up to expectation. For the last five years, Alison had been toiling away at a desk job, finding only sparse moments of joy when opportunities for creativity arose in her department. “A truly strategic initiative,” was how her boss dressed it up, and for those weeks, her sense of purpose heightened. But then the project would end, and going home to her empty house fell back into the routine of wake, feed her cat, commute, work, go home, and watch Seinfeld with a microwaved dinner situated in her lap.

The 90s were turning into one endless string of disappointments. Not necessarily a plain girl – of average height and athleticism, fair skin, blue eyes, and dark blonde hair several inches past her shoulders – Alison had enough going for her physically that she knew her slump was self-imposed. Nearly thirty years old and she had two failed relationships and one over-weight fur-child to show for it. Of course, this was all in her head. If she didn’t live in her thoughts so much, she’d have realized that a college degree, a job, and a life entirely within her control was nothing to scoff at.

But living in the moment was not a strong suit – hence her last minute, ill-advised-from-her-parents trip to England! That shortcoming was evident as she approached the bar, hoping to pull the focus of the unhurried bartender away from the other curiously-clothed patrons. The pub was dark for being the middle of a summer day (she forgot about the clouds), with flickering candles offering little help in making out features, especially those that turned lazily her way when she cleared her throat, interrupting the laughter between the two men familiar with one another. At least in the gloom they couldn’t see how she stuck out in fitted jeans, a heathered grey camisole, and a dark olive draped voile jacket.

“Hi, sorry, where’s your bathroom?” she leaned over the bar top with fingers splayed and white-knuckled on the ledge, as if to say this is an emergency.

Just as the bartender’s grumble began, the wooden planks of the front door exploded into hundreds of jagged, splintered shards.

She dropped hard to her knees and ducked with her arms cradling her head; the pain of the fall didn’t compare to the razor-sharp pang of adrenaline slicing up her veins. A moment later, a second explosion hit, though her senses must have tricked her into thinking the sound of blasted bricks on the far side of the pub was the origin.

She felt paralyzed as all around her screams and yells erupted, the suffocating cloud of dust and debris spreading like poison in the air. Shadowed shapes swarmed all around her, some fading farther away, others wavering in and out of discernable view.

What felt like an hour was only seconds of disorientation before she could make any sense of what happened. Were they under attack? By whom and why? Had a car bomb gone off? She read about the IRA incidents in Manchester, probably why her parents were so against her travel plans, but why here of all places? Why anywhere.

She knew she had to run. There was no telling what was to befall after the smoke of the explosions finally cleared. Strange what runs through a person’s mind when their literal next steps could mean life or death. I still have my purse with me, her hand reached for the small, black leather cross-body she clinged to her side, so if they find me at least I’ll have identification.

With that small measure of relief giving her enough hope to take in a deep breath, Alison stepped around the fallen bar stool that obstructed her path and headed for what looked to be where everyone else was escaping. The wall opposite the door appeared to have been smashed wide open, as if whatever (or whomever) destroyed the door had kept barreling through like a freight train.

“Definitely not a bomb,” she whispered, what color still in her cheeks now draining in dread. Her next thought took her to the people outside – her tour group – left on the sidewalk not more than a few paces from the pub. Oh god. She spun around, letting go of her purse in anticipation of pushing her way through, when instead she collided with an unmoving force that, amidst her surprised gasp, snatched her upper arm.

“Going somewhere, love?”

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