The rapidly forthcoming spectacle had been dancing about the minds of those chosen to partake within it for some time now. The first whispers of it nearly a year ago drew forth the apprehensive-curiosity of all the world, those of keen minds and attention at first weary and then intrigued - by the growing list of promises which flowed like some unending elixir from the United Kingdom’s Ministry of Magic - as though a generous balm to soothe over its recent bouts of strife. Questions were as if by design transfigured into deescalating foils to the past - so made by expert coverage and charmed takes - directing conversations from alarming absences to the nature of some of the rumoured events. That, and of course a touted prize as had not been seen for ages yet - and never would save the promised recursal some hundred years post this first one.
All in all, a politically, socially and academically peaked moment determined to ring through the ages much like this new Ministry hoped to revise the nature of wizarding governance within and - without its borders. Announcements then spread out over the course of months, before now - allocated as champions, the institutions deigning to accept the invitations set about escorting their prodigious progeny to their stage - Hogwarts School. Warned to pack for a MUGGLE UK Summer, for all the downpour and grey skies that might entail - students recently turned eighteen were fashioned with a number of portents - most importantly the layout of the events to come.
There would supposedly be five events in total. Each of these were to test some aspect of mage-craft and would be judged on a rated scale - points awarded by time-trial or effectiveness. The promise of extra awards for newfound, nuanced and novel magics lay littered about all of the communique, leading to instructors choosing only the best and brightest of their schools to show their worth. If nothing else the posturing of Thorne’s International Relations Office served well in stroking and firing up ego in equal amounts. These missives also came with warnings - the danger of some of these events adding a sense of gravitas to the affair that many found out of place in such a modern setting - most assuming that these ever present claims were overstated at worst, and most likely - a waiver of responsibility on the part of the Ministry.
Further there would be ‘cultural’ exchange events where the students from each school - along with the aid of their chaperones - would host a soiree for the rest of the champions, encouraging disproportionate spending and planning to show off the finer aspects of the world’s most illustrious institutions of instruction. Hogwarts would also be hosting a grande masked ball - where supposedly students would be encouraged to forget any inter-academic and political grievances in order to enjoy an evening of well mannered frivolity.
As the event would be taking a few months at the very least, students - accompanied by a select few of their staff, would be staying in allocated areas, and studying either with the Hogwarts students should they share classes - or take their lessons privately in fashioned rooms for instruction on subjects not offered at Hogwarts. Headmasters have been encouraged to join as well - with efforts being made for them to periodically return to their schools for any emergency oversights that might require their attention. Students who have not been chosen to partake directly in the events have been encouraged to stay on as well, and becoming makeshift - research and revitalising teams for their champions, with the reminder that should there ever be need to swop out one of the champions the replacement would be picked from the original selection.
And so, fate has been counted down and the day of arrived -
H O G W A R T S
Students have been buzzing about the great hall since early morning, many of them looking at the now two long tables set along the top dais - one with all the seats allocated for the general staff of all the schools, a smaller one slightly higher than the rest, large enough only for the headmasters of all the schools to sit closer together and commune. Another table, similar in size to that of the House tables, has been set horizontally across the front of the room - much like that of the teacher’s table - allocated for the smaller group that would make up the collective students from the other schools.
With breakfast being scarfed down, and talk radiating throughout, the hosting school was ready as it could be. Now they have only to wait for the first arrivals - something which would definitely hinder the schooling for the day - as both teachers and students would want to indulge their fiery curiosities. The headmistress was sitting ahead of the school as always, her eyes practiced stern, but her lips lingered in a small excited smile of her own, refraining from calling the excitement to order, letting the younger folk enjoy their wonder. Her eyes flicked across the few she knew would be attempting to take part - their names well burned into her mind. Her eyes turned towards another on the staff table - a tall man, slicked back hair and a maroon suit. McCaa. His eyes too were fixed to the student body, but for an entirely different reason.
She refrained from a muttered ‘snitch’ inspired by her wards, as she returned to her meal, her mood soured only slightly. How ironic it was that both the ire and excitement of the moment was so entirely encompassed in a singular man. She took a drink, before sighing quietly. It had been a challenge integrating the inspector appointed by Thorne - the man looming over every corner of the school, watching, waiting, reporting - owls leaving every hour on the hour, and it reminded McGonagall of that awful toad-woman… Her faint smile returned.
It had been so long.
She raised a spoon, and lightly rang against the crystal glass set beside her meal, the whole school quieting down at her call to attention, hundreds of eyes suddenly on her where she awaited them comfortably. “Note that, all and only all students, who will be partaking in the event are excused from classes for the meeting ceremony. You can greet, but are to return to classes once finished. You will have your chance to interact and socialise after school hours.” Her voice, proper and firm, left little offer to question her. “That is all, finish up breakfast and head to your classes.” There was a few more minutes left before the first bell, as the children returned to their meals, the excited chatter returning along with her soft smile.
B E A U X B A T O N S
The chandelier moved faintly from side to side, as the cafe-like interior of the carriage swayed only slightly compared to the intense forces enacted upon it outside. As the elephant sized horses pulled the small cottage sized vehicle through the skies, their massive wings flapping with near perfect rhythm, the whole affair being heavily enchanted to seem only like a passing cloud. Inside, listening to faint music coming from a gramophone, some students were sitting at small rounded tables on a stone walkway, drinking coffee and being served pastries, while others were seated at the windows - peering out at the world moving far below. The trip would not take too long yet, but they had been flying for an hour now and - while bathed in luxury - the faintest swayings still made the trip feel uneasy.
Sélène Lestrange sat with her students in the makeshift cafe, enjoying her foamed latte, laughing lightly at a joke made by one of the girls sitting across from her. She reached up, holding her fingers in front of her mouth, a charming giggle escaping the dignified woman, before she settled once more. “You are too much darling, I would never.” She smirked faintly. “But Hogwarts does have a grand tradition of waving their wands about as though a wooden club. No wonder they are so expert at quidditch - when class amounts to beater practice in tandem!” The few sat around her laughed, before she shooed them away so that she might return to her novel.
Her eyes returning to the words barely took in what she was reading. Minerva had assured her that the school was safe. That Thorne’s influence would be limited at best. That her beloved pupils would not be suppressed. She would have none of this tripe about abandoning culture when it was the only thing that made them what they are. Her teeth danced about her deep red painted lower lip, as she worried for them. She had been on the cusp of saying no to all of it, but her own damned curiosity would not let her. She sighed, placing the book down, and looking over the students. She would protect them - the competition? No need to worry…
As if they could lose...
She smirked, before returning to her book.
D U R M S T R A N G
Not bothering with a wand, Diethard waved a hand through the air, and the boys were separated, the two of them flung across the space and against the two wooden walls across from one another. Their groans matched the creaking of the wood, before quieting enough to fall beneath the sounds of water rushing by. His eyes narrowed, his stance lazy as he waited for just long enough - the two of them working through their egos on opposite sides of the room, shame replacing the misplaced anger, the both of them lowering their faces.
“And now where is all that anger? I thought this was important enough for you to make a fool of yourself - yet now you hang your heads as if it were but a trifle?” His voice, stern, unforgiving, had them lowering their heads even more, the magic releasing them as they fell to the ground. “Up!” His voice not allowing for any questioning, they jumped up, rushing towards each other and standing at attention in front of him. He watched them, his cold eyes judging everything about their stance, their breathing, their guilt. “You two are some of the best we have and you would throw away our good name because of some girl?”
The one stood upright, more so, his eyes narrowing - and before he could step forwards towards his High Master, Diethard stepped forward first, placing his face directly in front of the boy, taller than the kid, stronger than the kid - eyes flashing, cowing him into submission once more. “Get to your bunks. Now!” The two of them, nodding at the order, quickly made their ways towards their rooms on the ship. Diethard turned to the few other students, shaking his head. “Those two…” He rolled his eyes playfully, the rest of them chuckling. “We rise in half an hour. Ready your things.” The students marched off towards their own bunks on the submerged ship, before he made his own way towards his rooms.
U A G A D O U
The international port-key was set to leave within the hour. Kagiso was seated in the large pavilion that had been erected for them, the students who would be accompanying him loitering about, playing games, reading and conversing quietly. One of them, as had been for the last few hours, was currently talking to the UK Ministry official - going over records, procedures - informing them of the expectations surrounding Animagus transformations, etc. etc. It had Kagiso rolling his eyes, taking a drink of the refreshing beer he had charmed to remain cool, eyes going towards the clear blue skies and the softly waving grass.
It would have been undignified to say he was bored, so he remained quiet, vicariously living through the quietly complaining students. They should have left hours prior, but because of some new standard many of the forms needed refilling, refiling and even if he had secured priority in these matters - it was still taking time working through their passports. A gruff sigh left him, leaning further into his seat. He could not help but wonder if this was all planned. Thorne had been on him about everything. Wandless magic. Transformation. Ritual. Music. Art. Everything needed to be regulated. Everything needed to be understood in order for her to okay it.
This all felt less like bureaucracy and more like reminding. As if they needed just one more insulting instruction on how to blend in with Wizarding Britain. Seeing one of his favorite students sitting across from him, clearly bored out of his mind, Kagiso, with his deep and charming voice waved him over, picking up a handful of sand, strewing it through the air and onto a rock between them. The sand quickly became pieces of a chess set, and the stone morphed into a flat surface that was squared off. “Come, let’s play. Before I lose myself.” He smiled at the student as they eagerly rushed over, settling across from him, making the first move.
He looked at it, wondering what the best response would be.
I L V E R M O R N Y
Paige lay back in the leather seat, her fingers lightly tapping at the armrest, her eyes peering at the clouds rushing past far below. The school, as part of a new MACUSA effort to integrate magical and no-maj elements, had acquired a private jet, currently flying across the Atlantic. It was all disturbingly official - they went through no-maj airports, no-maj check in - this all presented as a real educational outreach. It had been disturbing how easily it worked out - when you could obliviate and forge with a wave of a wand. In an effort to seem to appease Thorne, they had stumbled on how ill-equipped no-maj systems are to magical influence.
They really were… frail in their ignorance. She would never claim that they were justified in what they did - the horrors of witch burnings all to real a thing, but to place herself in such a world. To assume that she knew nothing of magic and then imagine another to have it - to have powers so far beyond her own - to so easily circumvent any law and order any no-maj could ever hope to erect - the idea of equality under law seemed desperately fragile.
She closed her eyes, listening to some of the other students seated around the interior of the jet - tended to with drinks and snacks and in flight entertainment. To no-maj this was the epitome of luxury. They would have to harm and steal and undermine and deceive so many in order to get to the point where one out of a million could maybe afford a flight on these. And yet here she and her students designed to use it because it was a fun disguise. It made her feel utterly uneasy. Her eyes opened, looking over her students, before calling. “We land in an hour. Think about getting your things ready.” - before she returned to watching the clouds.
C A S T E L O B R U X O
The port-key glowed brightly, signifying that it would leave soon. It went unheeded as students and teachers rushed around, gathering bags and items of clothing - throwing ingredients and other resources into bags, shouting with urgency for the people to get ready to leave. There had been a misunderstanding and while they thought the port-key would leave only in about 12 hours, it turned out that it was leaving within the hour. Sergi, laughing loudly at the chaos, waved his wand around, packing the bags for some of the students who were just throwing their bags and their things into a pile. The magic sorted much of it and it became clear to him that some of them were not going to have enough space. Expanding their stores for them with an affectionate chuckle he again called for them to relax, but was ignored like before.
He was excited for it. They all were, and he was entirely enamoured with the idea of challenging the other schools. They went sometimes quite under-sight here south and away from the world - and often they liked it. But now they were going to show them the true skill and the true wonder of South American magic. He twirled around as two students nearly bumped him over in rushing past, before shaking his head. “We can make it, everyone just calm down!” That just spurred them on and he laughed even louder.
All this business with the UK did not phase him as much as it seemed to Paige. She worried about it constantly and he worried about her for it. There was no way Thorne would challenge the world. She could not afford to piss off everyone. And even if some schooled remained absent it mattered little - they would enjoy the chance to gloat before intervention. The UK has been a problem in the past too many times. It won’t be allowed to be so again. He would make sure of it. They all would. And while that remains certain, he might as well have some fun.