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Robin Corelli-Rose

Pioneers of maximum audacity

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Robin Corelli-Rose

Kay had been witness to everything, from the clinging to the tears, a repeat of when Lindy was off for her first year at Hogwarts. Then again, from what Robin had seen afterwards, himself and Uncle Damian could have been two peas in a pod. His dads had each other - and Uncles Simon and Francis - to see every day, but Kay's dad only had Kay, whom he wouldn't see fo the next 3-and-a-half months. Robin completely sympathized. 

 

At least his friend didn't know about earlier this morning, something he'll have to tell her eventually. Like, on a dare. Uncle Francis had given him a pack of coffee beans as a parting gift and balefully bade him to "give 'em Hell" - meaning Hogwarts.

 

Noted.

 

Now Robin and Kay sat across from one another in the train compartment they'd commandeered for the journey to Hogwarts, both a little shell-shocked. The old pocket-watch that his dad had given him was securely clipped to his belt-loop and hidden in his pocket. Enchanted journal in his backpack. Their luggage they'd heaped under the little table between the seats, both being too short put them up above and Robin being reluctant to use the Levitation Charm he knew. Frederick's cage went on the table, right next to the window. Robin didn't want to look out of it, lest he see his parents - he knew they weren't going to leave until the train disappeared from sight.

 

"The Just Us League," Robin said, soft voice jarring with the suddenness of his statement in the silence of the compartment. "We need to make it happen."

 

They were still waiting for Francis, but Robin figured it would be easier to warm his cousin up to the idea if they had a more concrete idea to present to him.

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Kay Wickham

Kay could still feel the damp spot on the shoulder of her sweater where her father had tucked his face as they'd hugged. It felt chill against her skin in the autumn air, and somehow seemed to soak in more and more heavily the further she got from him.

 

She'd told him that she'd write, and he'd told her that he'd send over-affectionate Howlers. It would have to be enough until Christmas, and it had felt like enough until she'd left him on the platform. Now she sat across from Robin with her nose pressed to the glass window, watching both of his dads still crying while her own put on a pair of joke sunglasses and stuck his tongue out at her instead. His cheeks were shiny in the lantern light.

 

Kay stuck her tongue out at him in return, and hoped all the other dads would give her daddy a hug once the train had left.

 

She settled back against the cushion of the seat and looked at Robin, grappling with excitement and melancholy in equal measure. Stretching out her legs, she lifted the bottom cuffs of his trousers with her shoes an inch or two, dropped them, then lifted them again to pass the time as she thought about the trip ahead of them.

 

They were going to magic school. Together. She and him and Cissy.

 

Hopefully they could stay just like this, because she would hate it if things changed with her father and her friends. She clenched her fists in her robes and took a deep breath. They were a team, after all.

 

"The Just Us League," Robin said, drawing Kay's eyes up towards him. "We need to make it happen."

 

It was just a silly pun they'd made up, but now it sounded like the only real plan to keep them all together. Kay smiled, and tapped the toes of her shoes against his. "Dude. Definitely. Let's do it." She turned to stand up on her seat so she could reach their luggage and yank out paper and pencils. IT WAS TIME TO PLAN.

 

Flopping back onto her seat, she scribbled something down. "We'll need to find a good time for meetings--and keep it small. In case we need to use secret identities," she said slyly.

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Robin Corelli-Rose

From what Robin remembered of Hogwarts on his few trips with Arcite and Lindy, long before even Lindy was attending the magical school, the castle appeared enormous. Surely not all the rooms were occupied...

The first and last time he and Kay have talked about the Just Us League, Robin had been sick in bed with Dragon Pox and the idea had cheered him up immensely and he'd retained it ever since. From the way Kay piped in about it, Robin got the impression that she might have forgotten it, but since she seemed as keen as she had that day, Robin pushed the observation off a precipice.

 

Pulling one of the papers towards him and picking up a red pencil for himself, Robin frowned over the blank surface. Most people would hum when they were thinking, but personally it didn't make sense to Robin. He was obviously thinking, always. The only tell was the pendulum swing of his legs, crossed at the ankles. He tapped the tip of the pencil against the page, speckling it with red. "After class," Robin nodded. "And we change rooms." He scribbled this down. Because it was too risky to hold secret meetings at the same location, just like it wasn't very smart to have just one hiding spot.

 

He also wrote out Kay's, his own, and Francis's names in a column, with a colon beside each, and then slid the sheet to Kay - she was better at coming up with cool names. 

 

"Do you think we should get masks?" Suddenly, he sat up straighter and without an explanation ducked under the table to pull at his backpack, from which he pulled three small, square compacts. "I'll tell you about those when Francis gets here." 

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Francis Barnes II

Francis’s disposition during the car ride to King’s Cross station could be summarized in one gif.

 

He was excited.  Very, very excited.  And likely a handful for his parents, who were exhausted, tired, and reasonably worried that their son would use his wand to blow himself up the moment he was out from under the scrutiny of their ever watchful eyes.

 

They need not have worried.  After their very serious discussion about Ministry laws (and the consequences of breaking them), Francis was in no hurry to perform a controlled and intentional act of underage sorcery.  Still, there was a multitude of other things for him to be excited about.

 

Today, Francis got to wear his school uniform for the first time.  He got to buy magical sweets off a trolley full of candy.  He got to ride on a train that would take him to a secret castle in Scotland without the supervision of his parents—

 

Ah, and there it was.

 

The realization that he’d be separated from his parents for the better part of a year had crossed Francis’s mind several times between waking up and breakfast, but only now did it stick, tacky and unignorable, like littered gum that wouldn’t scrape off the bottom of your shoe.

 

Francis had to remind himself that he wasn’t alone.  He was shipping off to Hogwarts with friends, with classmates he’d met in PHP.  Surely he’d meet and make more in the weeks to come.

 

The thought was comforting until he hugged his mother goodbye, and then he was stuck again.  First to her, than his father.

 

“You’ll remember what Persephone looks like, right?” Francis asked worriedly, speaking of his owl. “Because I’m going to write letters!  The first few weeks are going to be busy, and I might,” will, “will get distracted, but I promise I’ll keep in touch as much as possible!”

 

And then he was on the Hogwarts Express, lingering by the door, waving at his parents through the glass until they were out of sight.

 

Only then did he go off looking for Kay and Robin, wondering if their goodbyes had been at all the same.

 

Eventually Francis found them, and his ears caught bits and pieces of their conversation before as he opened the sliding door.

 

“We'll need to find a good time for meetings--and keep it small. In case we need to use secret identities,”

 

“Do you think we should get masks?”

 

“Oh no,” Francis said, mood dimming. “Is this a secret meeting?”

 

He supposed he could find a different compartment full of strangers if it was. :C

Edited by Francis Barnes II

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Kay Wickham

Kay was pretty sure masks were 100% A GREAT IDEA and was about to say so when the door to the compartment slid open. She whipped her focus around towards it to see Fran standing there with his luggage and looking concerned.

 

This made Kay concerned, too, like, what's wrong, Cissy? More importantly, was it something Kay could punch for him?

 

Then he asked if the meeting was secret, and Kay nodded reassuringly. "Yeah, super secret!" Nobody outside this room would know anything about their conversation unless they chose to share it, because the Just Us League was a super secret organization of best friends who didn't spill each other's secrets.

 

Fran's expression crumpled further and Kay could only panic on the inside, wondering what she'd said wrong. She quickly cleared a seat for him before jumping to her feet and grabbing his bags. Hopping up onto the cushion, she stretched up and lifted them onto the baggage shelves and secured them with the rest of their suitcases. Whatever trouble her mouth had caused, her muscles could surely fix!

 

When she hopped back down, she came face to beak with Fran's owl, and immediately melted. "WAOW," she cooed, "Fran, she's beautiful!" The volume of her voice seemed to startle the bird, so she subdued her excitement with hands pressed over her mouth, murmuring between her fingers instead. "She's real pretty, really for reals."

 

Kay moved back over to her spot across from Robin. "How was goodbyes?" she asked, a temporary diversion from the matter at hand. She fiddled with her glow-in-the-dark shoelaces and hugged her knees to her chest. "The crying wasn't very fun," she admitted, which was only half of what she wanted to say about it.

Edited by Kay Wickham

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Robin Corelli-Rose

Francis arrived as though merely thinking about him worked liked a Summoning Charm and Robin wished he had more to share with him than he did. His cousin was here now, though, so maybe now they could really get this show on the road.

 

"It is," Robin explained to Francis, while Kay got his bags and him settled. "But only from everybody else. You're just in time." To show this, Robin scooted out from behind the table and helped Francis get his owl's cage up next to Frederick's (who waddled over the bar to get closer and emitted a cheerful screech). "Is that Persephone?" Robin asked, admiring the bird. She was much bigger than Frederick and a lot more regal-looking, with her fresh and slick plumage. By comparison, Frederick was going grey and some of his feathers looked tufty and sticky-outie. Frederick didn't seem to mind, though, and in fact tried to act like he was a much younger owl than he really was.

 

While Kay and Francis chatted Robin pored over their meager notes. It wasn't that he didn't want to talk about saying goodbyes to their families, but rather that he didn't really see the point; he'd had his one chance to stay behind and now he was on the Hogwarts Express. Besides, Kay was better at that sort of thing than he was, so he let her handle it.

 

Oh, but he did have something to contribute.

 

Two somethings, even.

 

"Uncle Francis gave me a bag of his best coffee beans," he said. "With specific instructions." He didn't elaborate on what those were. He did reach into his backpack, though, to retrieve three small compacts, which he laid out on the table with a careful clatter. They were his big surprise, something that he'd asked his father (Bad Cop Dad) to buy for him when he was in Hogsmeade. It was a small price to pay for making him go to Hogwarts. "Two-way mirrors," he announced, a tiny proud smile ghosting his mouth. "For communication."

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Francis Barnes II

“Oh,” The revelation startled Francis as he blinked owlishly down at Kay and Robin.  Robin’s response had been easy, effortless.  Not a lie, but a fact spoken most matter-of-factly.  Slowly but surely, Francis felt the tension between the pulled-taught muscles of his shoulders ease.

 

His back straightened as he replied, “I knew that,” he did not, “okay, I didn’t really, but thank you for letting me be a part of your top secret super best friends club anyway.” Francis admitted quietly, scooting into the compartment as best he could.

 

It was difficult.  In an effort to preserve the League’s secrecy, Francis had tried to shimmy his way into the compartment through a sliver of a gap between the sliding door and wall.  Something in his cautious movements had caused the door to jam in its rail (THE LEAGUE’S FIRST TRUE ENEMY APPEARS: DOORS) but Francis made sure not to disturb Persephone’s cage too much as he led himself into the compartment cage first.

 

The door snapped closed behind him like the snapping jaws of a hungry beast! D:  Today, Francis was the victor.  Tomorrow?  He could only hope to be so lucky.

 

“She’s the prettiest bird I’ve ever seen and I love her so much already,” Francis admitted, taking the seat Kay had vacated for him as she slid down the bench, “Don’t worry, Freddy,” Francis hastened to add, giving the scruffy, senior owl a warm smile, “you’re also quite dashing!”  Francis was rather fond of how Frederick’s feathers went WOOSH in all directions.

 

Persephone, for her part, peered curiously around at Francis’s unusual friends before quietly deciding they were all some form of “alright” and cozying up under the cover of a wing for a light doze.

 

“Goodbyes were,” indescribable, really. “Hard.” The single word did not really do Francis’s feelings any justice, accurate as it was. “I wish my parents didn’t have to be so far away,” he confessed, taking the compact mirror Robin had quietly offered to him.

 

Francis loosened the hatch and popped it open, and discovered it was… not quite what he’d expected.

 

He reflection did not stare back at him.  Instead, it was as though he were peering into a pitch black room.

 

“This is creepy.” Francis decided seconds later, feeling a light shiver trek its way down his spine. "What does this have to do with coffee beans?"

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Kay Wickham

Once Kay was finished growling under her breath at the door (she'd had no idea how much of a threat they could be, but now she resolved to make them her favored enemy) she returned her attention to the much more challenging subject of farewells.

 

They were hard, just like Fran said. From him, the word sounded heavy-light, stuffed full of everything it meant but only just enough to carry along with you. She dug the hard edge of her chin into the space between her upraised knees, thinking back on those last moments with her dad's arms folded across her back--he'd always been quick to hug if he saw she was upset. Who was going to give her the kind of hug that blocked out the whole world at Hogwarts?

 

Cissy made the wish she was sure they all shared, and Kay could only nod and mumble back, "Yeah."

 

It was hard.

 

Yet they were going to magical school, and they were all going together, and that was enough to lift her spirits again as Robin gifted the two of them with some closed compacts spread across the table between. He said they were mirrors, and Kay reached out to grasp one in her palm without hesitation, though her arched brow clearly illustrated her general feels about mirrors:

 

If they weren't big enough to check out her arm-guns or ghost-of-a-six-pack in, were they even functional mirrors, really?

 

He'd said they were two-way, which Kay figured had something to do with one-way, like those mirrors cops used, but then wouldn't that just be a see-through mirror that did no reflecting whatsoever? To what would they be seeing through--and what would be looking back?

 

Francis was opening his, so she pressed her knees back down upon the cushioned seat and leaned over to get a look at it over his shoulder first. The flat surface, as she'd suspected, was not reflecting anything, but neither could she see anything on the other side. It was just darkness, and she could feel her friend's slightest shudder where their shoulders touched.

 

"It's a little weird," she admitted. "Why is it so dark in there?" Wherever 'there' was at. And, "Maybe the coffee needs to be served black," was all she could suggest in terms of the beans' connection.

 

Kay settled back into her seat and eyed her compact, turning it over in her hand. 'For communication,' Robin had said, and that seemed to suggest they could all use them in some way together.

 

She popped the latch and it sprung open.

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Robin Corelli-Rose

Perhaps he should have explained it better; in his head, all thoughts were ordered to his needs (which, as with tidy-up efforts back home, might have been different from his two friends; he knew where everything was and their locations made sense to him). He needed to remember that when he spoke. The coffee and two-way mirrors were two separate things and he needed to make that clear, one at at time.

 

More important were the mirrors, so Robin started there by picking his up and opening it. 

 

His cousin was right - they were a little creepy, because from a mirror, you expected something very specific, a something that this one did not do. Looking into the compact's darkness felt less like staring at a solid surface and more like into a murky depth, and it gave the sensation that if you touched the surface, it wouldn't be like touching glass. Not very comfortable at first glance. When he'd first seen them, Robin had much the same reaction as Francis. Now he knew better and so would his friends.

 

Holding the compact a little closer to his face, Robin said, "Kay." Then he said, "Francis."

 

After a moment's hesitation, the murk on the mirror's surface reflected his friends' faces in a split screen. "Hullo," he smiled at their surprised expressions. "They're like phones, which don't work at Hogwarts." The two-way mirrors were like permanent FaceTime - much better than a phone, which could run out of power and suffer a loss of connection, and therefore perfect for their needs. "The coffee beans are to keep us up during nighttime missions." Those weren't Uncle Francis's instructions exactly, but Robin figured that, with the coffee beans now being in his possession, he could do with them as he wished. 'Give 'em Hell' was a phrase Robin found open to interpretation.

 

That done with, Robin branched off to a different topic. "Kay and I were about to discuss codenames," Robin told Francis's reflection. "For the Just Us League."

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Francis Barnes II

Francis nearly dropped his compact when Robin’s face blinked into view - large and too close for him to immediately recognize that it was Robin and not say... some strange demon clawing its way up from the depths of the abyss to rob Francis of his soul.

 

Look: Francis knew from his uncle that playing with magic came with extremely dire consequences, okay? And unleashing strange, hellish beings into the world to sow seeds of chaos and destruction across civilized society while messing with a magic mirror was definitely, 100% one of those risks.

 

After all, why would his uncle lie to him about something like that? It had to be true!

 

“Oh! hah, it’s just your face.” Francis sighed seconds later, letting out a nervous chuckle as he did so. Relief immediately washed over him as he realized demonic beings would not be reaching forth from worlds unknown to tear out his eyes.

Edited by Francis Barnes II

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Kay Wickham

Kay gaped at the compact in her hand, rotating it this way and that, watching her friends' faces on the splitscreen. No matter which way she turned the mirror, they remained as centered as her own reflection would have in their place. "This is so cool!" she said, her voice rising in pitch and volume against her better judgement.

 

She leaned over to get a look at Fran's, catching sight of her own face alongside Robin's upon the disc in his hand. "Oh man--" she started, and couldn't help but think about all the potential adventures that could be had with these.

 

What if two-way mirrors were held up facing each other? What if a two-way mirror was left somewhere like a spy camera--did someone have to pick up on the other end? Or what if she ate her two-way mirror while it was active--could she get a look at the inside of her own POWERFUL MUSCULAR DIGESTIVE TRACT from Robin or Cissy's mirrors?

 

This, of course, was the only one she asked out loud, eyes practically shining. "Guys! You think if I swallowed this whole, I could see my own guts?"

 

Apparently her codename was GALACTUS, DEVOURER OF COMPACTS.

 

However, she did have some ideas written down for the others, and she pulled a badly crumpled, somewhat smudged piece of lined paper from her pocket, dropping it on the table between them. "I wrote down some ideas I had while I was helping dad clean up shop the other day! Uhhm--" she stopped, then licked her thumb and rubbed at a red stain on the corner of the page, before just tearing it off and wadding it up to throw away. "Dat's just some strangeblood from the workstation, my bad."

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