There was a bit of the gardens that was perhaps a little more 'wild' than the rest. It was in that area that the strange silvery mist coalesced once more. As someone approached, at first all seems normal except for a large ghost-like fir tree that now stood alongside the path. It's branches swayed a bit in an unfelt wind that must have rushed across the garden. Then there was the crack of a branch, and a low snuffling noise from just beyond that tree. That stopped for a quiet snort and then silence again. The tree branches swayed again in the nonexistant wind.
With a bellowing roar, a gigantic silver ghostly bear burst from around the tree! It seemed over 15 feet tall as it stood on it's hind legs. The upper portion of the bear fell forward, growing larger. It's claws tearing through the air, while the roar continued to erupt from between the creature's slavering teeth. It's eyes burned with pure animistic hatred and the tree in the back seemed to shudder as those massive paws connected with the ground.
At this range, it was easy to see that the ghost bear was covered with scars and wounds. All of them looked old. More than that would be difficult to see as it opened it's jaws not to roar again this time, but to attack. As the creature lurched forward though the whole scene, the bear and the tree, exploded into nothingness. The natural quiet of the garden resumed as though nothing had happened.
OOC: CW racial stereotypes, racism, and deportation BIC:
Henry didn't exactly spend a lot of time outside in day to day life, but the outside was nicer at Sonora than it was at home and he found himself drawn to the Gardens. He couldn't help wondering how much of that was because he'd also seen Oz disappear this way pretty often and he had some suspicions about where the Pecari Common Room might be, but . . . well maybe he could help wondering, because he firmly blocked that idea from his mind. Oz was Oz and Oz didn't need Henry; that had always been abundantly clear.
Today, he'd come out to the Gardens looking for the groundskeeper, Osvaldo. He wasn't sure if he was supposed to call him Mr. Alamilla, in part because the older man reminded Henry of someone he'd known in Phoenix. When Oz had broken his arm and gotten a haircut and started what Henry could now recognize as the beginning of their social separation, Henry had taken to mostly eating alone at school. The kids who had been his friends were Oz' friends after that and although he'd eventually made some of his own friends, he'd never been close enough to anyone to miss them when he came to Sonora, except Mom. And somehow, he missed Oz. He wasn't sure what to make of that still.
But there had been more than a few times when, sitting by himself in the corner of the cafeteria or else taking his food outside or to the bathroom to eat away from the isolating laughter of other students, Henry had run into Mr. Ramirez. The man hadn't known much English but Henry had helped and Henry had even picked up a little Spanish, although he'd forgotten a lot of it by now. He knew it was kind of a little messed up that he saw a new old Mexican (probably? race was hard to guess at) man and immediately thought of his old friend, but he couldn't help it. Mr. Ramirez had been one of the janitors at school and he'd always been a hard worker because he had a wife, son, and daughter to take care of. He had big dreams when he came to the United States and he never felt like those dreams died, despite the fact that his work wasn't exactly glamorous. He was a walking stereotype to a lot of people and a lot of the other kids made fun of him. Never Oz though. Oz didn't say anything, but Henry thought they both understood; you didn't make fun of people who were working hard to live a better life than they'd had the chance to live before.
Mr. Ramirez had talked to Henry and let him follow him around at lunch and stuff sometimes, providing him the company that Henry had desperately wanted. The old man had been kind and funny and he laughed in Spanish somehow, which made Henry really interested in languages and stuff. Most of all, though, it made him think that maybe being friends didn't have to mean you could talk about anything; it just meant you could be together.
One day, Mr. Ramirez stopped being at school. Henry asked one of his teachers about it and the teacher frowned, and shook her head. She said Mr. Ramirez had had to go home but that his wife and children missed him very much and it was good of Henry to think of him too. Every kid in Phoenix knew who ICE was and most of them could have seen through the teacher's your dog is living on a farm in heaven story even younger than Henry was at the time. It wasn't fair that the world could take people away and make them disappear into another world. Now, having been the one taken away, Henry sometimes found himself wondering if the loneliness that ate at his stomach was a little like what Mr. Ramirez felt when he'd been sent back to a country that wasn't home, no matter what Henry's teacher said. It was different though, because Henry got to take some of his family with him, and he got more opportunities here than he had before. It wasn't fair.
But Mr. Amarilla, though wildly less friendly on the surface than Mr. Ramirez, reminded Henry of his old friend who had been sent away and Henry, feeling very sent away himself, had gotten it in his head that maybe he could find a new friend if he just tried a little. When he made his way to the Gardens, however, it wasn't a groundskeeper that he found. Instead, it was a literal friggin' ghost bear. Because of course it was a literal friggin' ghost bear.
The creature was ginormous, bursting through the hedge before Henry could remember anything about animal confrontation safety or anything - there weren't friggin bears in Phoenix! - and disappeared just as an extended yelp (not a scream) escaped Henry's mouth. His heart was pounding and his eyes were fixed on the spot where the bear had vanished as the vague recollection of a note he'd seen in his Common Room - something about apparitions - flitted to his mind in pieces. He blinked, trying to remember all the details of what he'd just seen and fit it together with the reason he'd come out here in the first place. It all felt very disjointed, which wasn't fair.
None of it was fair. It was stupid. Henry bent down, suddenly angry, and scooped a handful of sticks and leaves and things off the cold ground, throwing them at the place where the bear had disappeared with a guttural shout. Then he kicked at the dirt and growled in the same direction. If he could just make the bear come back, then maybe he'd finally have something to be angry at other than himself. But the bear wasn't going to come back. And Henry was still angry with himself.
22Henry SpellmanWhat the actual heck is wrong with this school? 151305
Osvaldo had been out inspecting the prairie elves progress in the latest attempt to clean up after the children's latest attempt to destroy all of his hard work. However his inspection was of course interrupted. He'd just caught sight of a ghostly looking tree a little ways off that wasn't supposed to be there when the roar bellowed through the grounds. He sighed and hastened over to the apparition. This was the second one that he'd seen in the gardens. He and Professor Wright had confirmed that there was no discernible 'leakage' coming from either MARS or the Mirage Chamber. What on earth could be causing these things? Where were they coming from? Why were they always bothering him?
By the time he arrived on the scene, there was nothing to see. The sounds as he had approached seemed very intimidating though. He was not surprised to find one of the children at the location. The child seemed disturbed and angry, but it didn't sound like he had been the one making the sounds Osvaldo had heard as he approached. Well, hopefully he would at least have an eye witness account of what had happened. "What did you see and hear boy?" He asked, to start things off. He had a list of questions, but it would be good to get a proper baseline before starting those. These things had to have a source, he just needed to figure out what it was.
Henry turned and blinked, surprised to find exactly the person he'd been hoping to find. It wasn't really totally crazy because if you went looking for a gardener in the gardens . . . well, it made sense that you'd find him. But Henry didn't have luck like that. He was still surprised he had any magic, seeing as he hadn't really been able to attest to any of his own accidental stuff before getting here. He remembered with painful clarity the way Oz had lit up thinking he'd get to go to school alone, not have to take Henry with him . . .
"A bear," he huffed, jerking his shoulder to adjust his robes. He probably looked like a mess, although he usually kept his long (relative to Oz's) hair neat enough that it may have just stuck that way now. "A big silver, see throughish bear. It was huge," he added. "Like . . . twenty feet tall? I don't know." He kicked one shoe at the ground, feeling awful; he'd found the person he'd been seeking and now he couldn't even get them the sort of information they wanted because he didn't pay good enough attention. "And I heard it roar but that was it," he added, remembering Mr. Alamilla had asked a two part question.
He paused to take the man's appearance in. In retrospect, he didn't really look anything like Mr. Ramirez. There was a distinct lack of friendliness in this man's face and none of the kindness that made Mr. Ramirez' eyes feel safe and homey. Perhaps it was a mistake to try to talk to the groundskeeper. But then, how many people had thought it was a mistake to talk to Henry and never even bothered to try just in case? That wasn't any good.
"This school . . . is everything always like this?" he asked hesitantly, figuring that whatever the groundskeeper read into the question was the right answer anyway. "It's different than the last school I went to."
22Henry SpellmanDoes that mean . . . I'm not alone? 151305
A bear? Sure, why not. Osvaldo took careful mental notes of the location, the time, and the details that this boy was providing. Not that they were all that much. He swept the area quickly with his wand, to check for any irregularities in the magic of the area, or other people about. Nothing. What was this thing? He turned back to the boy, "We are cataloging these sightings to look for patterns," he began, "What is your name, house, year and the past two spells you've cast?" He was certain that the boy couldn't have created such an apparition, but something about him may have triggered it. "Also, are you certain there were no people or talking in the phenomenon?" Another question struck him, "Have you ever been that close to a bear before?"
The boy asked a question and he sighed inwardly. This kid was obviously one of the muggleborn. Few wizard kids went to another school before coming to an institution like Sonora. Frankly, Osvaldo didn't really care about all that heredity stuff. He was much to practical for it. If some muggles went and made a wizard for some reason, that was their business. The kid had to be taught properly regardless. The thing that bothered him about it, was that after the muggles decided to make a wizard, they didn't teach that new wizard anything about being a wizard until it was suddenly time for school. That made the school staff's lives so much more difficult. That made his life so much more difficult.
"I have no doubt," He answered with more resignation in his voice than contempt. "However, as for whether this school is always like.. 'this'?" He glanced back in the direction the tree and bear had been, "I cannot actually say. I joined the staff last year and things like this did not happen. This year, things are happening. So, based on my observations, things are like 'this' about half of the time."
2Osvaldo AlamillaNo. This place is swarming with people.150305
Author Needs CW For: Audism and abelism, anti-LGBTQ+ themes, assault.
Okay, well does that mean I don't have to be lonely?
by Henry Spellman
There was an abruptness about Mr. Alamilla that Henry could almost appreciate although it definitely leaned more into brusqueness than just directness. "Henry Spellman," he replied. "Crotalus, first year, and . . . I dunno." He thought back on the classes he'd been in most recently. "Maybe the flying one and the light up one?" he said, not sure if he wanted to risk pronouncing them wrong in front of the groundskeeper, or else pronouncing them right and having something go awry; he still wasn't convinced he knew all the rules of this weird place. "No, there were no people," he agreed. The other question struck him as odd. Was that just a thing that people did sometimes? Yes, actually, I spent six months in the wild being raised by bears and they had me over for tea and crumpets. "No," he said with a clipped voice. "Only when I've gone to the zoo and they weren't that close." They'd gone for a field trip and the bear was mostly sleeping, so it hadn't been anything like this one anyway.
Mr. Alamilla seemed to . . . not really relax at Henry's question, but give in to it. It was like he'd intended this to be a short conversation and now it was going on longer than he wanted, but also he knew he was going to have to keep it going because he was an adult and that's usually what adults did for kids. Henry had seen those signs before and didn't particularly like them, but maybe he was wrong about this adult. That would be nice. Or maybe it was okay to have someone talk to you just because you needed them to sometimes. That was a better thought. Plus, Mr. Alamilla gave a pretty solid answer and Henry appreciated the realness of it. It was like how their mom would talk sometimes, because she didn't try to hide stuff but wasn't about to make them worry either. You could trust someone who said everything was going to be okay if they were also willing to acknowledge when they weren't okay right now. Although Mr. Alamilla didn't seem like he was about to give any such reassurances anyway.
"Half the time is a lot," he decided after a moment. "You're new here. Like me," he said. It felt good to find someone like him, even if it was in a silly, small way. "It's weird being new," he added, as if 'weird' sufficiently chocked up everything he'd felt since arriving in September. Maybe Mr. Alamilla thought it was weird too and maybe that word wasn't enough for either of them.
22Henry SpellmanOkay, well does that mean I don't have to be lonely?151305