Foreign Exchange Chapter 3

Placement Exams

“Well this is unexpected…” Henry muttered to himself as he found himself not in a school but in a beautiful oasis at the base of a very large mountain. The heat burned the lining of his nose and he could hear various animals wailing down the open plains surrounding it. He felt his hand vibrating and opened his fist to see the silver key leap from his palm, soar gracefully through the air and touch what appeared to be a giant boulder blocking the entrance to a cave. As Henry watched, the boulder melted away and Henry followed the key into the cave. His eyes were greeted with the visage of a very large stone edifice, much larger than Hogwarts and far more imposing. 

The school was carved into the very mountain itself, with waterfalls cascading down the sides of the school and fresh grass coating the grounds. Surrounding the base of the castle was a cooling white mist and everywhere Henry turned, he saw faces that looked just like his, with dark skin, brown eyes, and thick curly hair of various designs.

With a grin he pressed forward with his luggage in tow, watching a pair of students who couldn’t be older than 13 transforming into a hyena and a gazelle before a group of first year students who eagerly clapped. Henry saw a student meditating under a tree and watched in amazement as he began to levitate six feet high. 

“You there!” a voice with a heavy accent rang out and snapped Henry from his gaze. “Where are you supposed to be?” 

Henry turned to the source of the voice and saw a rather short man reminiscent of his old Charms professor, though not nearly as squeaky-voiced. Henry explained his predicament and the small teacher introduced himself as Professor Amare before pointing him in the direction of the testing rooms. Henry thanked him and headed in the pointed direction. When Henry made it to the door, he retrieved his wand, pointed it at his luggage and whispered “Reducio!” The luggage shrunk itself down and Henry bent to retrieve it before storing it in his pocket, sheathing his wand in its holster as he did so. With a deep breath he opened the door and entered the testing area. 

A bald man stood in front of a desk, dressed rather funnily in a type of colorful cloak Henry had never seen, a matching shirt underneath, black slacks, and no shoes. To top off this appearance he had a single gold earring hoop in one ear. He silently waved his hand and a stack of papers lifted themselves up and began to dispense themselves amongst the room of students who nervously waited. The man waited until the tests were among all the students before finally speaking, his voice slow, deep, and deliberate, lacking the heavy accent of the man who’d given Henry directions.

“Good Morning! I am Kingsley Shacklebolt. I’m a teacher’s assistant so please feel free to just call me Kingsley. As you all should see, each of you has a pamphlet on your desk. Your placement exams come in the form of two parts, a written section, and a practical one. You have one hour to complete your written exam starting….NOW!”

The hourglass was flipped and the exam began. Almost immediately Henry noticed that this exam was nothing like at Hogwarts. While he was used to moving pictures, he was nowhere near accustomed to a test that constantly changed. Before he could finish one problem, it would vanish and another would fill it’s place. And the questions, who had ever heard of half of these terms? Circumstantial magic? Finger Tutting? And just what did moon phases have to do with spell work? Why was there so much MATH? None of these things were covered at Hogwarts and yet Henry began to write frantically and prayed that the practical exam would be more up his alley. Before he knew it, time was up and before he could touch his paper, Kingsley gave a snap of his fingers that seemed to linger in the air before the tests quickly vanished. With a broad smile he continued on.

“Congratulations students, you have survived the written exam. Now if you will all rise and follow your designated teacher out to the next room you will begin your practical examination.”

A moment later, Henry found himself in a room, practically empty save for the three other people sitting at a table. One sat in the middle, and Henry assumed he was the Headmaster given the “Dumbledore-ish” aura Henry had grown accustomed to over his years at Hogwarts. He was bald, wore a navy blue robe coated with what appeared to be stars and planets — upon closer investigation, Henry could see that they were moving. His eyes were a milky white and it was with a mild shock that Henry realized the Headmaster was blind.

The other two had to be teachers. There was a younger woman on his right, her long salt-and-pepper hair braided and adorned with black and gold bands. She wore sky blue robes, accented with white claw marks, her forest green eyes gazed dreamily at Henry, almost as if she were looking through him rather than at him. Meanwhile the man on the Headmaster’s left also gazed at Henry, but his amber eyes seemed to burn through him much unlike the lady’s soft stare. Henry averted his eyes quickly back to the floor, but not before noticing that his hair was almost a mane, streaked with red and almost seemed to be smoking as if it were on fire. 

The woman spoke first, her voice gentle and warm, “So, what is your name?”

Henry looked down at his feet and muttered, “Henry Fogg, ma’am.” 

The man on the left spoke, “And may we ask where you’re from?” 

Henry froze. Did these people not know about Hogwarts? About him? He had been certain Dumbledore had taken care of everything.

“I’m from London, sir,” Henry said a little loudly, hoping his accent would clue them in as to his identity. 

The Headmaster nodded his head. “Yes and that’s all fine and well but you are representing your school, no? Is this how a Hogwarts representative presents himself?”

Henry suddenly understood. He straightened up, “My name is Henry Fogg, I’m 17 and I was taught Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.” He beamed from ear to ear. 

The woman smiled and stated, “Now, show us some magic.”

Henry reached for his wand in its sheath and realized with a shock it wasn’t there. He checked his robes. It wasn’t there either. Now that he began to check with more fervor, he frantically made to find his miniaturized luggage, only to discover that it too was missing. He began to panic.

“M-my wand, where’s my wand? I can’t do magic without my wand!” He frantically turned in circles,  hoping the wand would show itself if he kept turning. His panic rose. Everything he’d worked for was slipping away. 

“Now son一” The Headmaster started.

“No! You don’t understand! I need my wand!” Henry shouted as the air began to chill. A blizzard began to manifest around him.

The woman stood up and walked calmly towards Henry, her palm outstretched. “Tuila dhoruba,” she murmured, and the blizzard faded into a snow flurry before vanishing altogether. She then placed a hand over Henry’s chest and in a bare whisper uttered, “Tulia Moyo.”

Henry instantly felt a sense of calm wash over him. “How did you一” he began, but she interrupted his question.

“You don’t need a wand for magic. All you need is yourself. If you just trust us, we’ll teach you all you need to know about not using your wand as a crutch and so much more. You’re amongst friends now, and we know Dumbledore wouldn’t have recommended you for this program if he didn’t have faith in you.” 

Henry was touched at her words but persisted, “It’s just, I don’t know how to use wandless magic. It wasn’t taught at Hogwarts and I really don’t want that to be what keeps me out of this amazing place.” 

The woman smiled, “That’s why we’re a school, mchawi mdogo. If we expected you to know everything we’d be a job. Just show us what you can do, I’m sure if you think hard enough, you can come up with something, right?”

Henry mused for a moment. He could do nonverbal spells just fine, in fact, he was one of the few to have gotten it down in his year. Maybe the principle was the same. He held out a hand and focused on the apple at the professor’s desk. 

Accio apple!” The apple didn’t budge. 

Henry shook himself loose, picked up the apple off the table 一 much to the surprise of the professor on the far right 一 took a deep breath, waved his hand, and uttered “Herbivicus!” The apple didn’t grow. 

The professors were beginning to look as profoundly disappointed as Henry felt inside. How was it possible that in seven years of education, he’d never learned how to do wandless magic? How had it not come up as more than a footnote in the curriculum as something some wizards could do when there was a whole school here that proved the contrary? Henry felt frustrated and embarrassed as he stood there, wandless and foolish. Is this how Nearly Headless Nick felt the day he was sentenced to death?  He remembered Dumbledore’s proclamation that Uagadou had the highest standards of all the schools. “They certainly do,” he thought bitterly. Not even enrolled and he was already failing.

“May I have my apple back?” The professor with the burning eyes asked, “Or would you like to try shrinking it too?”

Henry’s thoughts were interrupted and he gingerly placed the apple back on the desk, feeling sheepish. 

The wheels turned in his head as he tried to figure out how to do wandless magic. How had he done it last time? Henry thought back to his first encounter with portal creation. Maybe it was the urgency of the situation, maybe it was the fact that there hadn’t been three teachers watching him with his education on the line, at the time, maybe it was the incessant ticking of the clock. Somehow that seemed easier than summoning an apple five feet away from him. 

Ravenclaw’s voice echoed in the back of his head, “By using wandless magic, the wizard ironically has better control of the magic that flows through them. All you have to do is tap into it.” 

“I might be able to do something,” he stated. He turned away from the professors and walked towards the door. Facing it, he took a calming breath and began to mimic the ticking sound he heard in Dumbledore’s office, “Tick, tick, tick.”

The man on the left straightened up in intrigue. Since creating the portal was still fresh in his mind, he needed only rely on muscle memory. Having a photographic memory, this came easily to Henry. He began to mimic the series of hand movements Dumbledore had done, the spell loud in his mind, he chanted, “Connectunct iri possit, creare scholarum.” 

He knew it worked before he re-opened his eyes, feeling the familiar whoosh and tingle in his spine. Nevertheless, it was a joy to see Dumbledore’s office through the doorway once he did. His silver trinkets whirred and whizzed quietly emitting its puffs of smoke and Fawkes glanced out from under his wing before going back to sleep. The office was still empty, and Henry noticed the letter he’d left was still on the desk. Hopefully wherever Dumbledore was, he was ok. 

The teachers and Headmaster stared in amazement as they too peered through the doorway into the Headmaster’s office. If anyone had been paying attention they’d have seen three very surprised faces staring through the doorway. 

The man Henry thought was the Headmaster closed the door to the portal and turned to Henry. “Amazing. For you to create a portal at your age with no alumnus key is quite the accomplishment! However…can you undo it?” 

Henry’s smile faded. He couldn’t. “I-erm一” he stammered, “no, sir.” His head bowed in shame. In his excitement he’d never even considered how to close it. He had left Hogwarts vulnerable.

The Headmaster continued on, “I can see you’ve realized the consequences of your actions, son. Luckily for you, Uagadou and Hogwarts get along quite well. Albus had already notified us of your impending arrival and once our security noticed the arrival of a new portal and quickly disposed of it, it was easy to put two and two together. This is why Uagadou will be essential for you. At Hogwarts they teach you the cause and effect of spells but here we teach you the cause and effect of yourself. As wizards, we are tasked with the duty of preserving the balance of magic and the world around us. That includes covering our tracks, like portals. You would do well to remember that, son. These next three years will reshape you and your relationship with magic. There is however, one bit of payment.” 

Henry became nervous once more. Payment? Dumbledore had said this was free!  “Sir, I don’t have much money but一” he began earnestly, but the woman held up her hand.

“Not money. This.” From her robes she drew out Henry’s wand. 

Henry looked on, confused “Ma’am?” he stated, as the woman handed him his wand.

“This wand is of European invention, a good tool, but limiting. We don’t depend on such crutches here at Uagadou. Many a great wizard has been caught off guard by having their wands disposed of. It is our wish to save the next generations the trouble of being so psychologically linked with a piece of wood that they lose themselves when they’re parted from it. Our knowledge is yours but if you want to be taught here, you know what to do.” 

She handed Henry his wand and sat back down. Henry stared at his wand, chestnut with a unicorn tail hair, 12 and a quarter inches. “Supple,” Ollivander had called it. It contained seven years of partnership. He thought back to his first botched incendio, his eyebrows didn’t grow back for two weeks. He chuckled to himself sadly. Could he really do what they were asking? In his hands held the only proof of his wizarding heritage. In his hands he held his first true friend. He eyed his wand, having never truly appreciated the craftsmanship, the smooth grain finish, the handle that seemed to have warped to fit his grip. How could this possibly be a crutch? Had Dumbledore known this would be payment? 

“Miss一” Henry began but the woman cut him off again, almost as if anticipating his thoughts .

“I understand the choice is a difficult one, but that is the one cost I ask of all my students and teacher staff.” 

Henry looked on passively, deeming it best not to voice his surprise that she was the Headmistress of the school and not the man in white. He, however, still grimaced at the decision he had to face. His hands trembled as tears burned his face. He closed his eyes, gripped his hands tightly around his wand, and before he could stop himself from having second thoughts, snapped the wand clean in two. As he did so, the sharp snap pierced his heart and the feeble spark that came from the broken wand pieces let Henry know it was no more. 

“I’m sorry.”

The Headmistress placed a reassuring hand on Henry’s shoulder. “You’ll come to find that that was the best decision you’ve ever made.” 

Henry nodded, unsure but still full of resolve and then gave a gasp. “I never asked your names! How rude of me!” 

The woman smiled, revealing a row of pearly white teeth, “I am Headmistress Oba, these are my colleagues Professor Abdalah, professor of Divination and Astrology一” She indicated the man Henry had initially assumed to be the headmaster, “一and this is my husband, Professor Aagney.” She indicated the man with burning eyes. “Professor of Magical Theory and Defensive Practices. You’ll be learning from the both of them so get used to seeing them often!” 

Henry’s ears perked up “‘I’ll be learning from…’” his voice trailed off and he broke into a wide grin, “So does this mean I’m in?” 

Professor’s Oba, Abdalah, and Aagney all gave a smile and said in unison. “Welcome to Uagadu, Brother Henry Fogg!” 

The headmistress gave a sharp clap as Henry was snapped awake.