‘Well, that was really weird,’ Valorie said to Charley, when they were a safe distance away. Valorie had found a laundry place to hide behind.
Charley merely nodded at her. He was on the phone to Eddie and her friends, who had congregated back at her house.
‘You actually saw him?’ Eddie said on speakerphone.
‘Yes,’ Charley replied grimly. ‘Right in the middle of the market, levitating and spinning this poor charity collector. He needs to control his anger.’
‘Well, that’s obvious. But what was he doing there in the first place?’ Ruby said. From the sound of things, Valorie assumed she was eating a bag of crisps. There were a lot of rustling noises.
‘He tried to speak to me. He said he had a proposition for me.’
‘Which was…?’ Rustle rustle.
‘I don’t know. I got out of there before he could ask me.’
‘Oh. Well, get over here as soon as you can, then,’ Hermes told him. ‘We can talk more about it.’
‘OK. I can be there in 30 minutes.’
‘I can’t,’ Valorie pointed out as Charley hung up. ‘I’ve got to go home and argue with my parents.’
‘Valorie, they’re just worried about you,’ Charley said. ‘I have to say, I’m not exactly approving of you skipping school to get more practice in either.’
‘You wouldn’t say that if I was brilliant at projection.’
‘You’re still young. School is important.’
‘Sure it is,’ Valorie sighed, leaning against the wall.
Charley looked at her. ‘It really is,’ he said, changing tone. ‘If you go to school you too could be as fantastic as me.’
‘You’re such a bighead sometimes.’
‘But a first-class bighead,’ he announced proudly. Anyway, please stick with school. I know it’s not the same as practising magic, but you do need an education to get a job.’
‘You can talk. Your job involves writing about insects. That’s easy stuff for someone like you, your house is full of the little things.’
‘Hey – I like the little things.’
Valorie wiggled her shoulders, releasing the tension. ‘Alright. Can I go home now?’
Charley took her home, and Valorie waved goodbye to him at the end of the street. She wasn’t looking forward to greeting her mum and dad again, but she tried to regale herself with the promise of the Thoughts.com group. Hopefully more people had joined.
She pushed the door open. Her mother was sitting in the living room, smoking.
‘Hi Val,’ she said. ‘Hug?’
‘So,’ she said, ‘how was school? You did go, didn’t you?’
‘Yeah, of course I did.’
‘Just checking. I’ve asked the school to ring me up if it happens again, though. You’re lucky I’m not driving you there and back every day.’
‘Mhmmmmm.’ Valorie sat next to her mum. ‘Can I have an apple please?’
‘Thank you,’ she said, leaning back on her chair to get one from the fruit bowl.
‘Do you mind if I ask why you’ve been away from school?’
‘Er…’ Valorie wasn’t about to mention her sessions with Charley, or the day they’d all gone to London to rescue Charley.
‘Why did you do it? Not liking school, I guess?’
Valorie looked back at her. ‘Yeah, a bit.’
‘I dunno,’ she replied, looking upset. ‘It’s just too hard for me sometimes…’
Mrs Morse put out her cigarette. ‘I see.’
‘I’m sorry, Mum,’ Valorie said. ‘I don’t want to worry you. I’ll stay in school from now on, OK?’
‘OK,’ said her mum, but still looked untrusting. ‘So. I’m doing curry tonight. Is that OK?’
‘Sure it is.’ A pause. ‘I think I’ll go and do my homework. Got a Geography thing to do.’
‘OK. See you at dinner, I guess.’
Valorie hugged her mother again, and bounded up the stairs. She’d get down to the homework soon enough, but first she had to check Thoughts.com.
She logged onto the computer and opened up the site. There were lots of requests to join. She counted – over forty.
Beaming, she approved all the requests. Then she skimmed through the comments.
‘Great group! I’m going to get my friends to join. P.S. Hope Charley’s OK. X x x’
‘Best of luck rescuing Charley Aether, my love. I admire your taking a stand against such a corrupt government ruling x’
‘I hope your future comes to pass, WaffleSneeze. Best of luck fining your teacher. Luvs from Amelia, Dorset <3.’
‘Taking a stand is all very well, but how can I help? I’m stuck in a pokey flat in a whole other country. Sorry DX’
‘Who is this?’
‘Derek Williams must die! Congrats on the mortal proofing! Please check out my videos x’
‘I agree with you – the Government are wrong to take innocent Wizarding civilians hostage. I sincerely hope you get him back, wish I could help you. From Ben J J J.’
‘This group is stupid – how is one little group going to stop the Government passing new laws? Dream on Waffle.’
Not too bad, Valorie thought. Some negative comments, but they couldn’t be helped.