Henry Fisher

Embarrassing parents are embarrassing

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Henry Fisher was standing feet away from a scarlet steam engine and a crowd of magical folk, and was quite miffed that the moment was not about him.

“Remember, like, fifteen years ago when I was jokingly into Wicca, like lighting candles to ward off negativity and using lavender to cure headaches, and you made fun of me? Ha, bet you feel dumb now! Magic exists and it’s real beyond troll and dragon fantasy novels!” Mrs. Fisher had made comments such as these for several days now, and his father laughed and took them in stride.

“Oh yeah, guess what, there must be dragons! Didn’t you tell me Henry’s wand had a dragon hair or something in it?”

“No, dragon heartstring. I still think you should have been there but I guess I shouldn’t have expected you to pass up spending hours in a bookstore, especially a magical bookstore,” Mr. Fisher teased.


Henry was unsurprised at his parents’ embarrassing behavior. His mother, a usually cool and somewhat intimidating figure, had transformed into a gushing madwoman. One would think this behavior would be directed toward her son and that Mrs. Fisher would be anxious and worried for her son. After all, he was going away for a whole school year and, if that weren’t reason enough, he was going to a boarding school and in an entirely new and foreign world at that. No, Mrs. Fisher was not shattering her son’s ribs in a hug or smothering him with kisses. In fact, both Henry’s parents were more or less ignoring him at the moment.

Jumping and loudly observing, Mrs. Fisher was pointing with one hand at the various magical sights and sounds around her and frantically clutching at her husband’s arm with the other to ensure his attention. Mr. Fisher, steadfast and ever indulgent of his wife, was following along raptly as it was.

“Babe, look! More moving posters! I meant to ask, do you think they have any with audio or is it all just picture?” Mrs. Fisher asked her husband.

“Muuummm,” Henry felt it was time to reclaim his parents’ attention.

“That’s funny, I was just thinking about that the other day when we were at Diagon Alley. Do you think there’s any kind of wizarding tech sector? Would they have a magical equivalent of VR?” Mr. Fisher responded, picking up the thread of his wife’s thoughts as they so often did with each other, and more or less ignoring his son.

“Smell-o-vision!” She snorted.

Usually Henry was fond of his weird, deracinated American parents. They were both quite fond of the unknown, and would always include Henry in their constant endeavor to learn new things. He had just spent the weekend watching an old Ken Burns documentary with his dad and watercoloring with his mother.  However, London-born Henry did sometimes feel that he and his parents were separate species. For example, he hated calling attention to himself and was doing his utmost to melt into the nearby shadows to shield himself from the scrutinizing looks people were casting in their direction. Mr. and Mrs. Fisher, so quintessentially American at times, did not care in the slightest. If anything, his mother pounced at the opportunity to confront those she felt had no right to be disdainful, and his father enabled her. Henry had almost succeeded in his disappearing act before his father grabbed him by the hand and yanked him close.

Henry glanced around frantically, maybe someone would come and save him.


Edited by Henry Fisher
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"That's probably the reason they don't let kids do magic outside of school," Jameson Grove told his wife, Aliza Grove, conspiratorially. Paisley heard the muffled sound of her father's voice - he'd always been a notoriously bad whisperer, but she chose to ignore it in lieu of the task at hand - sneaking her little brother, Harrison, into her school trunk.

 

"If I could use magic, I could make you really small, but there - there may be another way," Paisley mused.

 

"Please, try anything!" Harry cried, bouncing up and down, full of light and life - his erratic emotions a stark contrast to Paisley's neutral, thoughtful expression. A calm surface of colored thought patented her ghost-colored skin. Paisley was bright, from her hair to her clothes to her eyes as they flashed in thought. 

 

"There has to be another way," she repeated.

 

("There's not," she heard her mum, Aliza, whisper-laugh from feet away - Aliza was not a subtle person, either.)

 

Still, her parents took no measures to stop what was going on, as typical Grove Adult behavior, and it wasn't until the train released another resounding puff of steam, that Paisley knew she had no choice but to retreat and bid Harry good-bye. "You - I'm sorry. I'll, I'll write, as much as I can," she told him, trying not to focus on his tears. "Two more years!" All at once, she pulled him into a tight hug, scared almost that she'd forget to let go. Or she'd smother him before she could. Her parents were hugged next, and promises were made to write - promises meant to be broken in Paisley's case, as the red-head's words tended to hold fleeting truths. She meant them when said, but later her mind skipped the surface like a stone.

 

(In comparison to the Fisher's, the Groves were significantly less impressed by the decor - "traditional," her dad had called it, who'd seen just about every facet of the magic world through the years)

 

She was about to finally ascend the steps onto the train, when she noticed a boy, decidedly magic, evidently headed in the very wrong direction. Paisley sighed (picture Paisley's aesthetic as a constant sigh), sending one last cursory glance toward her retreating family. "You're leaving on the train, aren't you? I can sense that it's about to leave." Her voice was apathetic - she offered him a hand. Indeed, there was a mystique in the air that informed her the train was moments away from beginning its journey, which had absolutely zero (zero!) to do with the fact that it'd just made its "last-call" honk.

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Although Henry was being held hostage by his parents in their attentive inattention, he allowed his gaze to wander over the nearby scene. His brown eyes roved over the unusual --owls, strange hats, broomsticks-- but oddly enough, it was the sight of a rainbow attempting to stuff a boy into a trunk that made him do a double-take. Upon closer inspection, the rainbow proved to be a bright girl who appeared to be around his age. Her parents were close and seemed amused at her efforts.


Henry’s own siblings were at home with his visiting grandparents. Jack and Ophelia were much too young for an adventure like today. That’s what Mr. and Mrs. Fisher said, though Henry privately thought it was because his parents wanted an escape. He didn't blame them, not after the disaster that occurred when a Ministry wizard appeared to explain that yes, indeed, Hogwarts is real. His parents had been awfully sure it was a fishing attempt, though Henry didn’t see what fish had to do with anything. Seven-year-old Jack lost his mind at the wizard’s minor demonstration of magic and insisted on more. The Ministry wizard seemed harassed by his younger brother’s many attempts to snatch his wand. Ophelia, a toddler, more or less cried through the whole event. Henry didn’t know how these sorts of reveals usually went but he didn’t seem to think it went well.


Henry rather envied the girl her family. She seemed to be the object of their attention and her parents, Henry thought bitterly, weren’t acting embarrassingly at all. He watched her bid them goodbye and turned his attention back to his own family. It seemed like the train would be departing any minute and yet they still hadn’t tried to squeeze him or kiss him farewell. Henry thought it best to sneak away and was attempting to do so when the girl he had just been observing said something to him. Not exactly hearing her, but assuming from her gesture that she meant for him to get on the train with her, Henry grabbed her proffered hand and made onto the train’s steps. His father had loaded Henry’s luggage for him sometime earlier, before the Fishers forgot about their son.


“Henry! Where do you think you’re going without saying bye?” His father shouted over the train's long honk.


“Goodbye dad, goodbye mum! See you at Christmas!” He yelled back over his shoulder. Henry cast a furtive look at his parents and saw that they were not at all pleased. His mother was practically fuming. Henry knew it was only a matter of days before his inquisitive father managed to send post via an owl. Henry didn’t look forward to the letter.

 

“Hi! Thanks for the help,” Henry said to the girl before remembering that he knew no one and that he had wanted to make a good impression in this new world. “I’m Henry,” he offered lamely.

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Paisley's parents could embarrass her - could over-gush and over-pry and insert themselves in situations they didn't belong, like needles in hay-stacks. They didn't always, but they could, yet when they did, Paisley hardly cared - the words "weird" and "alternative" followed her like grime - sticky, unshakable. It was her parents who made executive decisions to instruct her to act as preteens were supposed to act even if she rarely complied - still, they'd never shoot down one of her eccentric theories.

 

"Tell Monster and Charlie I'm sorry - and Rachel, of course, but we can't bring dogs," were her final parting words. Rachel hadn't even been brought on a leash to the train station for fear he'd over-react - he got way too over-hyped with crowds, so he stayed with her Nan. Ellen the owl was for correspondence, currently flying free near her home in Brighton - Fluffy, on the other-hand, had behaved the most appropriate during Paisley's "test-trial" visits to Diagon Alley, therefore in one hand she held her trunk, and in the other Fluffy sat peacefully in her carrier. Her parents had cast light-weight charms on her luggage to make the loads bearable.

 

Still, Paisley detested the fact she'd had to put him in a carrier - she knew he hated carriers, but after a long series of "rreeeOWwwwrs," finally the creature had settled, calm as the red-head herself in his sleep.

 

"Sorry if I took you away from something," she murmured to the boy. "I didn't want you to miss the train."

 

Paisley exhaled, breath swirling the steamed air in front of her. A whisper of wind ruffled her hair, and she caught a whiff of cherry blossoms.

 

"Paisley Grove," she returned his greeting with a short smile as the pair filed onto the train - Paisley refused to look back again ("looking back," her book of auras explained, is gray - it symbolizes longing - you can't let go if you look back). "Your parents seem.. interesting. I've heard some people go to school without knowing they're a witch or wizard until they get their letter? Is that you?" she wondered, studying the boy curiously. "Would you like to find a compartment together?" Paisley naturally didn't thrive within groups, often closing into herself - with individuals, however, she had slightly less trouble introducing herself - letting her intuition guide her, running free. Maybe this was her opportunity to avoid chaos. 

 

(Paisley naturally repelled chaos, yet she couldn't stop what may erupt around her).

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Henry eyed the the girl’s pet carrier interestedly. The sounds coming from within indicated ‘cat,’ but if he had learned anything recently it was that everything he thought he knew was false and it was most likely some kind of fantasy creature. Henry, a particularly inquisitive boy, had over time become confident that he knew how most things generally worked. All it took was a bouquet bursting from a pretty stick and an entire day in Diagon Alley to confirm that neither he nor his parents were suffering from some sort of episode or carbon monoxide poisoning, and to shatter his illusions. No, Henry was still quite ignorant despite his familiarity with ordinary things like trains, post and the internet.
 
Noticing the girl’s red hair, he self-consciously ran a hand through his own ash brown hair while wondering if it was an indicator of her magical skill. After all, witches in stories always had red hair and green eyes. Henry couldn’t help but notice the differences between them. She had told him her full name, which immediately made Henry aware of his own informality. Was he too casual? What was proper wizard behavior? Henry grimaced, feeling quite insensitive to magical etiquette.
 
"Your parents seem.. interesting. I've heard some people go to school without knowing they're a witch or wizard until they get their letter? Is that you? Would you like to find a compartment together?"
 
Of course it was too much to hope Paisley didn’t notice his parents’ behavior, but her comments led Henry to realize that she was so magical that the idea of a person like him was curious to her. "Sure," Henry agreed in response to looking for a compartment to share. "Um," he grabbed his trunk which Mr. Fisher had stashed just inside by the entry and looked into the nearest compartment to find it full, "Yeah, er, my parents aren’t wizards if that’s what you mean."
 
He chanced a glance out a train window and saw his parents’ still standing on the platform. Mr. Fisher stood transfixed by the beauty of the Hogwarts Express, (both Henry and his father could thank grandfather Fisher for their interest in all things transportation). Mrs. Fisher was observing the other parents with glee. Henry briefly reflected on his parents. They exemplified the American experience; there was his father’s side, very white with their pilgrim heritage, and his Indian side, the usual American Dream immigrant story. Except unlike them, Henry was British.
 
"But if you mean their accents, my parents are American," he added thoughtfully. Wondering if he stood out in any way for wearing blue jeans and trainers, Henry observed Paisley’s clothes.

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She nodded once in understanding. "You need help carrying your trunk, then? My parents charmed mine, see," she demonstrating lifting it (higher and lower, once) with enough speed that either she had the strength of the hulk or it was light as a helium balloon (considering Paisley's general soft skin and lack of muscle-tone, the answer was unmistakably the ladder).

 

A cursory glance was sent out the window, following the direction of Henry's - Paisley's own family had, of course, retreated, but it warmed her incrementally to observe the shining faces of his. 

 

"I see," she nodded abruptly, shifting away from the window to unlock Fluffy's cage, "Is it alright if he roams? He doesn't like cages much. Er -" she rose up for a moment to ensure the compartment was properly shut. "Is there a reason you're going to Hogwarts rather than Ilvormorny?" She paused to fiddle with the cage. "Oh, was it just your parents who lived in America?" She realized she may have confused him, but neglected to add more on the subject as Fluffy slipped out, padding his paws then nestling on her lap with a loud purr and then a series of congested snores.

 

Paisley folded her arms across her chest subconsciously at his appraising glance, nearly forgetting what she'd 'chosen' to wear - the plain black Hogwarts robes from her school list. Although, yes, this is what she was supposed to wear - Paisley hated them. Her parents had urged her. She hated that they covered the freckled dusting on her chest, hated that they caused her to conform to the general cluster of folks, with only her wild hair as an exonerating difference. She'd prefer a dress, else a blouse or something looser, and freer. "I'd change out of this if I wouldn't have to change right back," she mumbled, barely audible. The red-head had never been a stickler for rules, but even she knew it'd be unwise to show up to the Great Hall on sorting night without proper clothing.

 

She wasn't responsible for Henry's attire, however. 

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Henry's shy smile transformed into a look of awe as Paisley performed Herculean feats of strength with her trunk. He instinctively took a step back, and hated himself for being a coward. "No, it's okay. Mine has wheels." He dragged it easily.

 

Firmly deciding to henceforth act bravely, Henry shrugged affectedly as Paisley began to uncage whatever monster currently lay in her carrier. "Um, Ill-ver-more-knee," he sounded out, "Is that a different school?" Henry deduced, suddenly curious at the thought of other magical schools. "Oh, I was born here. We travel to the states fairly often to see the rest of our family though." It then struck him that there might be students from all over the country and maybe even other nations who were attending Hogwarts. "Where are you from? We live just outside London." Henry let out a sigh of relief when he saw Paisley's pet was in fact a cat. He practically beamed at the cute furry thing.

 

Paisley muttered something under her breath that Henry couldn't hear but she seemed to have noticed his staring at her clothes. Paisley was wearing Hogwarts robes. Henry, who somehow didn't expect to have to wear a uniform on the first night of his magical school, was now racking his brain. Did his mother place his robes at the top of his trunk or should he not risk opening it lest Paisley see his neatly folded underwear? Thinking it through, Henry could only believe his mother (who believed everyone else's priorities to be aligned with hers) would have put something like his ebook reader or the fuzzy blanket she insisted on at the top. He'd chance it later. Henry hoped he could forego wearing the hat he was told to buy for his uniform, he thought they looked rather silly.

 

"Do you know much about Hogwarts then?"

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