Nathan Xavier

November 03, 2023 9:32 PM
As he did some years, Nathan stood in one of the larger clearings of the Labyrinth Garden as the Flying Wagons landed and dropped off their students for a brand new year at Sonora Academy of Magic. A stucco mansion rose up behind him, the school’s main building. It was partially obstructed by the hedges of the labyrinth, but it was only a short walk from here for the older students to escape the Gardens and head in to their dorms or the Cascade Hall.

He was an older wizard, in his early sixties, his hair still brown but starting to turn gray. His robes were brown and earthy (currently clean, but bought in anticipation of hiding the dirt that was an inevitable part of being an Herbology professor). He stood beneath a banner that read “Welcome to Sonora! First Years Gather Here.”

Even before the first wagon landed, a girl the same age as the new first years stood beside him, her skin dark, her curly hair pulled up into a puffy ponytail, with a large trunk beside her, much like the ones he was telling everyone else to leave on their wagons. Unlike the other new first years, though, she lived here already, so he'd dragged his daughter's belongings out just so the elves would have all the luggage in one place when they started distributing it to the students' appropriate rooms.

Both Xaviers greeted the students as they disembarked from the wagons, saying hello, asking about summers, introducing themselves when necessary, and reminding everyone to leave their luggage in the wagon for the elves to take to the dorms. Nathan was glad to see his students again and meet the newcomers. Dora was excited to finally be one of the students, and meet her year mates.

He invited the first years to stand with him until all of the wagons arrived and sent the older ones inside, telling them the library and the Cascade Hall were open, and they should be able to get any passwords they needed for their dorms in the Hall.

Once all wagons and students were accounted for, he began the Orientation proper. “Hello, first years! Welcome to Sonora Academy! I am Professor Xavier, the Herbology professor. If you’ll follow me, we’ll head over to our Orientation area.”

He led the way through the hedges, making sure the children were keeping up as the labyrinth was quite easy to get lost in, especially to those unfamiliar with it.

They came out into a clearing set up with tables of snacks ranging from chips to cookies to small sandwiches. Each platter had a placard with list of ingredients to help those with allergies or dietary restrictions know what to stay away from. Another table had drink dispensers for water, lemonade, fruit punch, and pumpkin juice. Both the platters and the dispensers were additionally labeled with what they contained in braille letters.

A third had a pile of green folders. Nathan waved his wand to distribute those among the first years, making sure the slightly darker green one made its way into Summer's hands as its papers were in braille and the map in raised relief. “Everyone should take a green folder. That has the school rules, your class schedule, and a map of the school.”

He put his wand back away and gestured toward the food and drink tables. “You’ll get a chance to get some snacks and drinks after your trip in just a few minutes, but first I have a few quick things to go over.”

“First, our agenda for today is to go over some school basics. Then you’ll get to mingle amongst yourselves for a little while. At five o’clock, we’ll start a school tour so you can start to learn your way around the school and the grounds.

“The tour will lead right into the Welcoming Feast where you will be Sorted into one of the school’s Houses by dunking a badge into a potion and seeing what color it comes out as." He hesitated, knowing one of the new students couldn't see colors, but not sure if she wanted to be called out in front of everyone. He made a mental note to make sure she got a verbal indication of her badge color.

"I’ll hand out the badges when we get to the Cascade Hall. The four Houses are Aladren, the House of logic, learning, and independence, which will result in a blue badge if you’re sorted there. Crotalus, the House of planning and respectability, will give you a red badge. Pecari," he paused briefly, but this year Dora seemed content to just listen to the speech instead of interjecting, "is the House of spontaneity and flexibility, and will turn your badge brown. And Teppenpaw is the House of friendship and diplomacy, and your badge will turn yellow when you dip it into the sorting potion. I'll be there to make sure you all get to the right place, so you don't need to remember all of that." That seemed a safe compromise for telling Summer he'd be there for her without singling her out.

"After your sorting, the new fifth year prefects and Head Students will be announced. There are three prefects in each House, one for each of the three oldest years, and two seventh year Head Students. They are student leaders who you can go to for help if you can’t find or don’t want a teacher to help you.”

“Then food will be served, and after everyone is done eating, your new Head of House will lead you to your House common room, and explain anything else you need to know.”

“The other thing I wanted to talk about was classes. This is a school, so they’re an important part of your stay here. We have six core classes, which you will take as beginners. Beginners are students in years one and two. At third year, you move up to intermediates, and Advanced classes begin after your CATS exams at the end of fifth. Charms, Transfiguration, Defense Against the Dark Arts, Care of Magical Creatures, Herbology, and Potions are all required through Intermediates. Flying Lessons are only required in your first year. The Elective Hall is open during normal teaching hours for whenever you don’t otherwise have a scheduled class.

“Outside of class, we also offer a school wide Quidditch team that competes with other schools. Sonora additionally supports many student run clubs. If you don’t see a notice for one about your area of interest, you may start one yourself.”

He thought that was everything he needed to talk about, and hoped he hadn’t forgotten anything. “Alright, that should be everything for now. Go ahead and get some refreshments and get to know each other. I’ll give you a few minutes warning before the tour begins.”
1 Nathan Xavier First Year Orientation 28 1 5

Summer Collindale

November 03, 2023 10:32 PM
Summer was really doing it! She was going to school with Uncle—Professor Xavier and Dora! She’d been playing Sonora every Christmas since she knew what playing pretend was, and now she was really here! Maybe it wasn’t the ‘Collindale way,’ she knew Mom had talked about home-schooling her but this would save her a lot of stress and bother. She’d already done enough in teaching Summer so far and taking her in. And besides, Summer could do it. She’d always been told she could do whatever she set her mind to, and she had set her mind to this, so it was happening.

It had hurt a little bit when she’d had to hug her family goodbye. She still didn’t really realise what it would feel like to be absent for months, but what she realised as she left was that she was leaving Mom, Dad, and Noelle to be a real family without her. What if they decided they liked it better that way? She’d been so swept up in her excitement about going to Sonora that she hadn’t thought as much about what their lives would look like without her in it. Her family had always been big and messy enough that she’d never really worried about it, not until Noelle started talking, and got to call the adults in Summer’s life different words than she did. That’s when she’d switched to calling them ‘Mom’ and ‘Dad’ instead of ‘Auntie Raine’ and ‘Dan.’ It had been so long that that almost wasn’t weird any more, but sometimes she still thought of how those words were like bandaids, stuck over something else. Or how when she tried to open the boxes with those labels, there was a lot more clutter and junk inside them than there was for Noelle.

The wagon ride had soothed her. She’d grown up, since she was three, in the back of a campervan. One which was very definitely only a campervan, if anyone ever asked, and definitely not a three bedroom apartment shoved into a space where it oughtn’t to be. The gentle swaying of the wagon ride reminded her of home. And then the first thing she’d heard when she got off the wagon was Uncle Xavier’s voice, and she’d gone over and not hugged him because she was a big, grown up girl at school now, but she had smiled and squeaked ‘hello,’ and then put her hand on his arm so she didn’t get lost going into the Labyrinth. She was very good at finding her way by herself, even in an unfamiliar place. If she’d just been told to go exploring, she would have happily zoomed off, swiping her stick to find any obstacles and clear any people. But ‘follow me’ was a bit of a different thing.

Once they reached where they were stopping, she let go of the teacher and separated herself. Much as she wanted to hang onto and hang out with the people she already knew here, she didn’t want her classmates to start thinking she was needy or had to be helped with everything.

She flinched slightly when something flapped near her face, but then Professor Xavier mentioned folders, and she redirected her hands—which had been going to bat away the strange object—to feeling it out instead. It was smooth and papery, and her fingers soon found the familiar little bumps. She ran her fingers over them.

Welcome to Sonora.

Even though she’d read it easily the first time, she traced her finger over the words a few times as Professor Xavier spoke, finding comfort in the message and the safe little dots that had always opened up new worlds for her. They meant she could be anywhere, learn anything, show she was smart… All from the safety and comfort of a pile of blankets, if she wanted.

When Professor Xavier stopped speaking, he gave them the choices of snacking or socialising. Summer could hear people breaking into both of those, and see their blurred shapes moving. Part of her wanted to explore the area. Especially to find a place where she could sit with something against her back, so she had one less direction to worry about being surprised from. But if she got her stick out, people would start seeing that she didn’t know what they did, namely what was around her. Even though she’d be perfectly capable of figuring it out by herself, they’d start directing her and telling her, filling in the blanks for her. She flicked open her folder instead, fingers dancing over the pages, deciding to do something she clearly could do, without help, that they didn’t even understand. People didn’t tend to jump in as much when she was reading because they couldn’t decode her dots any more than she could have read their alphabet. Maybe once everyone else had stopped being moving, messy obstacles, she’d find a snack.

But she was only at the bottom of the first page, when a voice piped up beside her.
13 Summer Collindale I'm really here! 1589 0 5

Dora Xavier

November 09, 2023 9:17 PM
Dora kind of wanted to ride a wagon, but it seemed silly even to her to travel somewhere else just to get onto a wagon that would bring her right back here. So she just settled on packing up a trunk and having Dad levitate it out to the Gardens where all the other students would be disembarking soon. The positive side to living at the school was that she could definitely be the first one here and know she didn't miss a thing. The negative side was the waiting.

It felt like hours before she spotted the first of the wagons descending from the sky and she jumped up and stood on her trunk like that would help her see it better. She shielded her eyes from the sun (and that helped more) and watched it land. It disgorged the first load of students and Dad made his welcoming statements and relevant instructions, and Dora said hi to the handful of people whose names she'd learned by running across them in the Gardens or during Quidditch games.

But it was the new people she was most interested in meeting. Her classmates. The ones in her year. She introduced herself to every new first year as they joined the Orientation group Dad was collecting. And Summer was here! Dora squealed a little at seeing her once-a-year friend at a place other than her grandmother's and at a time other than Christmas break, and took the opportunity exclaim her excitement that this was finally happening and not just a play-pretend in her grandmother's toy room.

Once all of the wagons had arrived and all of her new yearmates were gathered, Dad led them all into the Labyrinth. Dora checked on Summer but she had a hand on Dad's arm, so she was fine. Dora went instead to the back, to help guide on anybody who straggled because she knew where they were going and didn't need to follow Dad to find the clearing they were heading to. She'd helped set it up two years running.

Unlike last year, though, this time she got to stand with the other new students as Dad gave his speech. She got her very own green folder with all its information that she already knew but it was terribly exciting anyway because it was a sign that she was one of them now, not just her dad's little helper.

When Dad finished talking (she'd heard the speech last year and she was pretty sure he'd repeated it pretty close to word-for-word so there was nothing for her to learn from it) and told them to mingle and go eat, Dora glanced around trying to decide which of those things to start with. She saw Summer, but she was looking into her folder, so Dora decided they could catch up more later.

Food, perhaps, first. She'd been waiting for ages for all the wagons to get here and she'd had nothing to eat during all of that time, and she had already introduced herself to everyone as they arrived, so she was ahead of the game on socializing.

So she collected a plate full of cookies and a cup full of water (juice did not go well with cookies she had learned the hard way a few years ago), and then tried to balance the plate on the cup as she took her first bite of cookie and smiled at another student as they happened to meet each other's eyes. Unfortunately, her mouth was full of cookie so they were going to have to speak first or wait for her to chew and swallow because she did have some manners, at least enough to know not to talk with her mouth full. She made gestures, though, to show she was chewing and would be happy to talk in just a moment.
1 Dora Xavier It's finally my turn! 1507 0 5

Petey Thompson

November 09, 2023 9:26 PM
At the risk of sounding pretentious, Petey had always thought that first impressions mattered. He had been looking forward to going to Sonora, but his first impression being a bumpy ride on a covered wagon had soured that excitement just a bit. Mona seemed to think it was the best thing ever, but Petey couldn’t help wondering to himself why a magical school couldn’t provide a more comfortable transport to their establishment.

But as they stepped off the wagon, Petey had to admit that a lot of that doubt was washed away. These Gardens were pretty astounding, especially knowing that they were somehow in the middle of the desert. He had seen very limited magic prior to today, but he did manage to keep his reactions generally internal. He was going to be impressed a lot today - he did not want to show every reaction and look easily impressed to these kids who probably grew up around this stuff.

It occurred to him suddenly that Ramona had wandered off at some point. How she managed to disappear in under sixty seconds was always a mystery. It was one of his little sister’s peculiar talents. He was about to start hunting her down again when the man before them - Professor Xavier, the Sir Pat Stew mutant Herbology Professor - began to explain some basics about the school. Petey listened carefully to the descriptions of the Houses, wondering idly if he and Ramona would get to stay together or end up separated when this whole Sorting thing happened.

Once they were allowed to “mingle” for a bit, Petey resumed his search for Ramona. He assumed she would’ve gotten distracted by snacks, so he decided to check out the refreshments table. Even though it was totally just because he thought Mona might be there, he did still help himself to a handful of pretzels and a glass of juice. While there, though, he found himself accidentally making eye contact with some girl. “Uh, hi,” he offered weakly. She flailed a bit, her mouth too full. “That’s okay,” he laughed. “Take your time.”
12 Petey Thompson Are we taking turns? 1585 0 5

Ramona Thompson

November 09, 2023 9:34 PM
Ramona was supposed to be in the other room. Not that she wasn’t allowed in this room - it was the living room, and she was a living person - but she could tell from the conversation that Petey and Grandma thought she wasn’t close enough to hear them. She couldn’t say she was really surprised though: Grandma telling Petey to look out for Mona, Petey agreeing and asking Grandma if she’d be okay on her own: it was all pretty regular stuff for them, so she just let them have their “secret” chat for a bit before she made her presence known, when she saw the wagon outside. “It’s time to go!”

The wagon ride was fun. Truthfully, it was kinda bumpy, but she played up her enjoyment for Petey’s sake. He was already starting to get grumpy, so she knew she had to be positive for the both of them. Upon arrival, though, she felt the innate urge to get closer to everything, to soak in all the details, and ended up separating herself from her brother in the process.

She listened as best as she could to Professor Xavier talk, although she knew she was absolutely not going to retain those House names right now. But that was okay, because she was sure she would hear it a bunch. When he was done, she took a look around and noticed a girl who seemed to be rubbing her fingers over the materials in her folder, so Ramona approached out of curiosity.

She watched for long enough to figure out that it had to be some kind of Braille system and that the girl was most likely blind. Mona decided she should probably announce herself. “Hi!” she chirped. “My name’s Ramona. What’s your name?”
12 Ramona Thompson Me too! 1587 0 5

Summer Collindale

November 10, 2023 11:29 PM
"Summer," Summer replied, turning to the voice. The voice was bright and cheerful, and sounded like it was genuinely asking the question it had spoken rather than being a mask for something more obnoxious, like 'what are you doing?' Summer offered the voice's owner a smile, glad she had interrupted. This wasn't something Summer often said about people who butted into her reading time, but the school leaflets weren't exactly a gripping adventure story, and most of it was stuff Summer either knew already or wasn't interested in knowing. She tucked the pages back in the folder to keep them organised - something that had been ingrained so hard as a rule for her benefit that it overrode her and her family's natural tendencies towards chaos and disorder.

"Nice to meet you," she said, because you were supposed to say that regardless of whether it was true. It wasn't untrue yet, but Summer didn't really have enough information to go off to be certain. She could hear Dora's voice chattering nearby and tried not to worry about the fact that she'd chosen to talk to someone else.

"What sort of books do you like?" she asked Ramona, deciding that she should start with the most important things to find out if it was worth really getting to know each other.
13 Summer Collindale Hi 1589 0 5

Dora Xavier

January 05, 2024 8:44 PM
Dora chewed - and chewed - and finally managed to swallow the cookie down with the help of her water. Water and cookies weren't great either - milk was definitely her beverage of choice, but was sadly lacking here today - but it wasn't horrendous the way juice and cookies were, and it did help her swallow when she was trying to do so faster than she'd expected to need to. "Hi!" she greeted the other boy once she could do so without spitting crumbs at him. "I'm Dora!" she reminded him. She'd been trying to introduce herself to everyone as they arrived, but she understood names were hard to remember and she didn't remember most of theirs either.

"This is so exciting!" she added, bouncing more than a little on her toes. "I've wanted to be a student here for so long! Do you know anyone here?" she wondered, hoping it was a name she'd recognize, though anyone older than second or third year were more faces than names to her so she probably wouldn't.

"My friends Edu and Zeus are in the year up from us," she added, so he hopefully wouldn't feel like he was getting interrogated. "My brother's younger than us, so he doesn't attend yet." Poor Otto would be the only kid left up at the staff table this year. She did not envy him that.
1 Dora Xavier We get to take our turns together! 1507 0 5