Foreign Exchange Chapter 4
Uagadou: A History
Henry gave a start as he looked around and realized he was still in the test room. It seemed he had somehow dozed off and yet as he looked around, hurriedly wiping his mouth of drool, he saw other students waking up, some with looks of confusion, others rather pleased, others disappointed. In his hand, Henry realized, was a stone. It was smooth, no bigger than a galleon, and was engraved with an odd looking rune on one side and what looked like a glowing blue beetle on the other.
“That’s the House of the Scarab!” a voice said behind him, and Henry was greeted with the face of Kingsley Shacklebolt once more. “That’s my house, I can show you the way there if you’d like! That way you’ll get a good overview of the castle.”
Henry nodded and got up, still trying to regain his bearings. “I’m sorry, but what just happened? I thought I was in the practical examination?”
Kingsley smiled once more and gave a low chuckle, “Yes, you were. You were also in the written test. One of Uagadou’s specialties is dream magic. Much easier to reach thousands of kids than that old hat at Hogwarts, and far more hygienic. I don’t know about you but I don’t enjoy the idea of sharing a hat with a thousand other kids.”
Henry was still reeling from the declaration of dream magic, so this jab at his alma mater didn’t phase him.
“Dream magic?” he exclaimed, “I’ve only ever read about that at Hogwarts. They say it’s too invasive, that it’s too close to the realm of thought magic.”
Kingsley let out another low chuckle, “Yes, they’d say that while their Headmaster is one of the most accomplished Legilimens and Occlumens of his time! Don’t get me wrong, the man is brilliant!” Kingsley hurriedly amended as Henry turned a shocked face to him, ready to come to Dumbledore’s defense. “But it’s a bit hypocritical to deny students access to knowledge when you’re one of the brightest wizards on the planet, no? This way.”
They turned a corner and made their way up a flight of stairs. Henry struggled to keep up, distracted by his surroundings. The school was, in a word, amazing. It was built into the mountainside and so with every window he passed he got a stunning view of the grounds. The forest canopy was lush with various shades of greens and yellows and as Henry passed another window, he could see what appeared to be an unlikely trio of jungle cats. A lion, a tiger, and a panther all lounged at the shores of the crystal clear lake situated by the mountainside.
“Are those really—?” Henry began, indicating the three cats.
“Hm? Oh! No, those are students! You’ll find that Animagi are very common here, unlike in Europe where I believe you only have seven registered Animagi. I understand Professor McGonagall was your teacher there at Hogwarts, you are quite lucky! I went to a lecture she held at the International Transfiguration Symposium. The woman is brilliant, a true visionary when it comes to the craft.”
He began to slow down as they turned down a corridor and came face-to-face with a portrait, one unlike any Henry had seen at Hogwarts. He knew from his ex-girlfriend that the Gryffindor common rooms were guarded by a portrait of the Fat Lady and that you needed a password to get in. This, however, was not that. The common room seemed to be painted on the wall. In a landscape style painting, seven large tents were situated across the land, a giant fire roaring in the center, next to a calm lake. The painting matched the time of day in the outside world — Henry noticed it was twilight in there, too. As he watched, Henry could have sworn he saw children and other teenagers running through the painting. He put a finger to the wall.
It was like water, more liquid than solid. Not unlike the barrier to Platform Nine-and-Three-Quarters. It almost bounced back when he pulled his finger away from it.
“Amazing, so you just walk in?” said Henry in awe.
“Yep! Do me a favor, give me your stone for a moment.” Kingsley asked, extending his palm.
Henry gave it to him and tried to touch the wall again. This time his hand was met with cold stone. The painting was there, lifelike as ever, but it had now become impassable.
“Ok, I get it. Don’t lose the stone.” Henry said as he turned to look at Kingsley, “Can I have it back now please? Kingsley?” he looked around. Where had he gone? “Kingsley!” He looked back at the painting and saw a face becoming sharper and clearer before completely popping out of the wall.
“Ahh!” Henry leaped back in shock, “Merlin’s beard don’t do that!” Henry half scolded as Kingsley let out a deep laugh.
“Now as you see, you MUST keep your stone on you at all times because no one can hear you on the other side if you lose it. You’ll lose access to the common room. I’ve heard you can get them replaced but the process is painful.” Kingsley extended his hand through the painting, handing Henry his stone. Henry turned it over and looked at the rune.
“What is this?” He asked, indicating the rune.
“A glyph. A dream glyph to be more precise. Come inside, we can talk more in here.” Kingsley beckoned to Henry as he stepped through the painting.
He felt as if he were stepping through a waterfall, but when he came out on the other side he was still dry. He turned around to look outwards to the castle, and saw that it had taken on a painted appearance while the common room now seemed more solid and three dimensional.
“Wow.” Henry muttered to himself, “What kind of magic is this?” he asked aloud.
“Spacial magic. I take it you do not know the story of how the school was founded?” Kingsley asked, leading him to a tent and waving to a girl who had flashed him a coy smile. “After you!” he continued, ushering him into the room.
“Actually, no, I didn’t have much time for research in the week leading up to my arrival. There isn’t much to learn about Hogwarts either. We have the hat sing to us, anything else we read about in Hogwarts: A History ー Wow this is nice!”
Henry was accustomed to special tents that held more space than was possible, but this was in a league of its own. The beds were king-sized and looked very comfy, each had golden sheets with only one distinction, they each had a navy blue rune embroidered on the front of it. Henry found the one that matched his rune and went to it, noticing that his luggage was already there. His wand was still missing and he came to the conclusion that that part of the dream had somehow been real.
He sat on his bed and Kingsley sat across from him. “So? What’s the school’s history?” Henry prodded.
Kingsley took a breath and gave his hand a wave. The surrounding lamps were dimmed and with another wave he sent a shower of stars into the air. Henry noticed that as Kingsley spoke, the stars seemed to follow the story, twisting into various shapes.
“When Africa was still young, and humanity had first begun to discover the true capabilities of magic, there was a family of wizards who were possessed with unnaturally strong abilities. Atem the patriarch and his twin grand-daughters Isis and Nepthys.”
“Wait, I know those names. Those are Egyptian gods aren’t they?” Henry asked, confused.
Kingsley nodded, “They later came to be revered as such but they were no different than us, just witches and wizards with above average power and skill. Atem proclaimed himself a God and ruled over Egypt for years, forcing the non-magical populace into slavery by drying up their riverbeds and destroying their crops and then promising them back what he took in return for power. The magical community was too terrified of him to retaliate, and no one would expect his own children to turn against him. His whip of flame was said to leave more than just burn marks and was hotter than the sun.”
Kingsley paused as he shuddered at the constellation which had now taken the shape of a man whipping a crowd before continuing on. “Atem was strong, but Isis had a connection with magic no one had seen before and so she spent her time studying the very foundation of magic when she wasn’t under the watchful eye of Atem, becoming skilled in potioneering and healing magics. Osiris, Isis’ husband, took care of the land the non-magical people couldn’t, ensuring they had good crops throughout the seasons. This enraged Atem, who set out to curse Osiris in retaliation. At Nepthys’ suggestion to do something about Atem’s cruel ways, Isis discovered in an old text that “Atem” wasn’t his true name, and that if she could find it out, she could disempower him for good一”
“I’m sorry, true name?” Henry interjected in confusion. “What is a true name?”
“We are all born with two names, the name we are given by our parents, and the name our spirit contains. In Egyptian cultures it’s called Ka and Ba, your physical self and soul self. There’s actually more but today we’re just focusing on the two.” Kingsley explained patiently before continuing on. “If Isis could figure out Atem’s name she could end his reign. In the dead of night she created a poison and slipped it in his drink the next time she was due to meet him. His face began to swell, his eyes watered, his throat both closed and burned and he began to beg Isis for relief or death, whichever would come first. For he felt as though the whole of his very being was on fire. Isis placed a jeweled scarab beetle on his chest she had enchanted to increase in weight the longer it sat and demanded his true name. He told her ‘Atem,’ but she stood firm and told him the only way he’d get the antidote was from her, otherwise he’d be crushed by the weight of beetle or he’d suffocate from the poison ‘relief or death, whichever came first.’ He finally relented and told her his true name was ‘Ra.’ In doing so, he had transferred all the magic he had to the scarab on his chest and became one of the non-magical humans he had so despised, dying shortly thereafter.”
“She stole his magic? Is that even possible?” Henry interjected once more. He was always under the impression that magic was something you were born with.
Kingsley shrugged, “Like Hogwarts, Uagadou is shrouded in as much mystery as it is truth. I only know what the books say, and they say that in the aftermath of Isis’ takedown of Ra, she shattered the beetle and released Ra’s captured magic back into the world. It is said that being so close to the magic empowered her own and that she was given three gifts that night: A vision of a great school carved out of a mountain, shrouded in white smoke, and eclipsed the full moon. She was also given a power known as dreamwalking. She told her husband of the vision she’d had and he set off in search of a mountain “high enough to touch the moon.” A week later she had her first dreamwalking experience where she met a young boy named Horus who had not yet been born but told her that he would become her first student. Once Osiris found this mountain and commissioned Isis’ father Geb, a master of earth magic, to carve out the school. He’s the architect behind this whole place — impressive right? Meanwhile, Isis continued to find and recruit students from all over Africa, she and her husband teaching them themselves until they realized they now had too many students to keep track of, not without help at least — I’m not boring you, am I?” Kingsley checked Henry, who had been quiet this whole time.
“Not at all! Please continue!” Henry eagerly exclaimed.
Kingsley nodded and continued on. “Well, with the help of the local magical community Isis recruited teachers, many were grateful for her action against Ra and felt compelled to help when she asked, offering their services wherever applicable. The non-magical community in turn praised her as their goddess and spread word of her name throughout Africa faster than any owl. Before long she was receiving letters from the most remote of cities asking to teach or be taught, and Isis took them all freely. This went on for months before she discovered her third gift. Her first son Horus — amid all the excitement of creating a new school, Isis had also created new life. It was from him that she had been getting the dreamwalking abilities and he who had given her the vision of the school he’d eventually come to call home, being born a true seer. He would carry this gift of dreamwalking with him and pass it through the generations, ensuring that only the descendants of Isis could run the school.
With Horus’ birth however, came Osiris’ murder at the hands of her advisor, Set. And though she was able to find solace in the fact that the next generation of wizards would be found and guided to her school, she was never the same…Since then, the school picks one student to be the school dreamwalker after they graduate, I’m set to be one myself, actually. They make you do an Unbreakable Vow and everything.” Kingsley threw this last bit in as a nonchalant aside but Henry could tell he wasn’t all too thrilled at the prospect. Not that he’d be either. He’d read about the Unbreakable Vow and knew it was a nasty piece of magic when used properly.
“I take it you don’t want to be?” Henry inquired.
“Not so much that I don’t want to be…” Kingsley began slowly, “Just that I don’t want to be right now, you know? Being a dream messenger is hard work, and a lifetime commitment. They pick you at eleven and basically train you from then on. That’s partly why I’m still here. There’s a whole world out there, I don’t want to be stuck in someone else’s dreams. The only way I won’t be is if they suddenly turned up with the descendant of Isis. To my knowledge, Headmistress Oba and Professor Abdahla haven’t had kids. ”
“What would you do if you had the chance?” Henry asked.
“Auror. They have the coolest jobs, catching Dark wizards. I only wish I’d had my chance to have a go at that Voldemort you’re all so afraid of — oh, sorry!” Kingsley had apologized as Henry gave an involuntary gasp and choked on the water he had been drinking. Kingsley gave a lazy wave of his hand and said, “Pumua. Sorry, I’d forgotten how touchy the British are about his name.”
“Thanks for that.” Henry gasped, eyes watering as his airway cleared. He laid back on his bed, breathing deeply and regaining his breath. From this position he was able to appreciate the rooftop, which sported a skylight. Through it he could see a sliver of the moon peeking out from behind a cloud. The stars Kingsley had conjured floated lazily in the air and caught the moonbeams, glowing even brighter in the dim room.
Henry closed his eyes to the soft light. It had been such a busy day, from summoning his first portal that morning to snapping his wand by evening.
Henry’s heart ached at the idea of not being able to use it anymore. Even though he had proven himself capable of being able to use wandless magic twice in one day.
“Well, technically once, I suppose,” he thought to himself, remembering that his test had been a dream. He opened his eyes and turned to Kingsley, who had also closed his eyes and was breathing deeply. Henry considered asking if he were still awake before deciding against it. They had all day tomorrow to talk, for now he had to find a bathroom and clean the day off of him. With that he got up and opened his luggage. Thankfully it had been restored to its full size by whomever ran the school behind the scenes. He pulled out his night clothes and toothbrush and with an apologetic grimace, gently shook Kingsley awake.
“Hmm?” Kingsley shot up, bewildered for a moment before realizing where he was. “Oh, Henry, what’s going on?” He gave a large yawn and a stretch.
“Terribly sorry to wake you mate, can you point me in the direction of the loo?” Henry asked.
“The what?” Kingsley asked, an eyebrow raised.
“The loo? You know, the bathroom? I fancy a bath.” Henry said, remembering where he was and that his slang may not be well known here.
“Ohh right, right, just make your way out the tent and look for the navy blue one.” Kingsley replied, rubbing the sleep from his eyes. “Come to think of it I could do with a wash myself.” He got up and gave a stretch, walked to his trunk and opened it. Rather than pulling out a towel and toiletries, however, he stepped into and down his trunk, which promptly closed, leaving Henry feeling very flummoxed. Shaking his head he exited the tent and made his way to the navy blue one Kingsley had described.
It was dark as Henry stepped out, but he noted that the moonlight in this painting gave a soft glow to everything it touched. He walked past the once roaring bonfire, now orange embers that still radiated heat. It didn’t take long for him to find the tent and he was relieved that it was empty when he entered. Even as a prefect at Hogwarts, Henry had issues using the prefects bathroom. Unlike the prefect’s bathroom, which sported an olympic sized pool with various knobs and taps to turn to get different soaps, this bathroom was comfortably warm, and as he looked around he realized that the bath wasn’t a tub, but a deep hot spring. The water was crystal clear and bubbled occasionally, and as Henry dipped his toe in he found that it was the perfect temperature. He hurriedly undressed and slipped into the water before anyone else could enter. The heat soothed his muscles and he relaxed almost instantaneously. He hadn’t realized how tense he was. He closed his eyes and rested his head on the soft grass that surrounded the spring. His mind wandered once more to his snapped wand. How would he be able to do any of the lessons without one? Classes began tomorrow and he was already off to a bad start. He opened his eyes and searched the room until they fell upon what he was looking for.
He held his hand out “Accio, rock.” Nothing. “Accio, rock,” he thought, hoping that maybe the nonverbal variant would work. It didn’t.
Rowena Ravenclaw had told him he had to tap into the magic versus channeling it through the wand. He took a breath and closed his eyes. This time he didn’t think of a spell, he simply focused on the rock and tried to exert his will over it to come to him. With a soft thud the rock made contact with Henry’s outstretched palm and Henry let out a shocked gasp. He threw the rock a bit further, looked around to make sure no one was pranking him, verified that the room was indeed empty, and gave it another go.
Closing his eyes once more he held his hand out and simply willed the rock to come. Another thud and the feeling of a cold wet rock hitting his hand confirmed that once more he had summoned the rock to himself. Getting excited now, he placed the rock in front of him, and focused on pushing it away he took a breath and unconsciously pushed his hand outwards. The sensation was different, like a wave pulsing down his forearm. The wave hit with such a force that the rock went flying forward, smashing loudly into the wall and crumbling to bits. Henry got up, dried himself off and changed into his night clothes, exiting the tent quickly and heading back.
He slipped in quietly and was greeted to the gentle snores of his roommates. Kingsley had already gotten back in bed. “Lucky guy.” Henry made a mental note to ask him about his trunk, maybe he could do something similar. He pulled back the sheets and marveled at the cool feel of it. He slipped under the covers and sleepiness washed over him almost instantly.
He had done it, he had finally done wandless magic at will. He was sure that the coming classes would be much harder than summoning and banishing a rock but it thrilled him to know that he was on the right path. He checked his watch to see that it was ten-thirty, plenty of time to sleep before his first class. He turned over onto his side, closed his eyes and smiled, quickly falling asleep.