Criss did not allow himself to be disappointed by his mother's lack of enthusiasm. He took three deep breaths, and quietly left the room.
Patience, he told himself. She'll totally freak out when she wakes up.
As J.D. was due to get up within the next 15 minutes and be hungry for cereal, Criss figured it wouldn't hurt to wake him up a bit early. Besides, J.D. was the one person he could truly talk to, without feeling the need to keep up his ethereal persona.
"J.D.," he whispered as he rapped unceremoniously on the door. "Are you awake?"
Criss opened the door, flipped on the light, and jumped onto the foot of J.D.'s bed.
"Guess what dude! I got into a magic school!"
"Woah, you did?" J.D. sat up, squinting. "For real?"
"Yeah! I got the letter this morning. I start this year!"
"This year?" said J.D. "So is it like, a magic middle school?"
"I guess so!" said Criss, won over by his boyish glee again. "Must be a boarding school or something, not a regular college. I don't know how long it is. But if I've gone there for middle school, I'm SURE to get into one of the real colleges I applied to when I grow up!"
J.D. stumbled out of bed and kept responding to Criss's ramblings, and together they went down to the kitchen.
"I knew someone would eventually accept me," Criss was saying. "It's probably really rare for them to get someone as young as I am who's this dedicated to becoming a true magician."
While J.D. prepared his bowl of cereal, Criss took a seat at the kitchen table and kicked his legs excitedly, thrilled at his luck and proud that his diligence had finally paid off. The letter was still on the table, beaming its aura at him, filling him with a sense of purpose. He picked it up again, and this time examined the second page.
First-year students will require:
- 3 sets of plain work robes (black). (Awesome, thought Criss.)
- 1 plain pointed hat (black) for day wear.
- 1 pair of protective gloves (dragon hide or similar)
- 1 winter cloak (black, silver fastening).
"Cool, I've already got a black winter cloak with silver fastening!" said Criss. "I Just need some more black robes and some dragon hide gloves..."
"What are you talking about?" said J.D., joining Criss at the table.
"That's the uniform for the school, see?" Criss showed him the list, and they continued reading it together.
- The Standard Book of Spells (Grade 1) by Miranda Goshawk
- A History of Magic by Bathilda Bagshot
- Magical Theory by Adalbert Waffling
- A Beginner's Guide to Transfiguration by Emeric Switch
- One Thousand Magical Herbs and Fungi by Phyllida Spore
- Magical Drafts and Potions by Arsenius Jigger
- Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them by Newt Scamander
- The Dark Forces: A Guide to Self-Protection by Quentin Trimble
- 1 Wand
- 1 Cauldron (pewter, standard size 2)
- 1 set of glass or crystal phials
- 1 Telescope
- 1 set of brass scales
- Students may also bring an owl OR a cat OR a toad.
"Athena!" Criss exclaimed. "You get to come with me!" He picked up the Abyssinian and nuzzled her face with his face.
J.D. was laughing.
"What's so funny?" said Criss defensively. "She likes it when I do that."
"No," said J.D., "It's this letter... I mean, Criss, look at it... it's obviously a joke dude. No offense... but, "The Dark Forces: A Guide to Self-Protection"? An owl, a cat, or a toad? Owls and toads? Whoever wrote this just put in the part about bringing the cat because they knew you'd get all excited about bringing Athena." He laughed some more.
Criss was so shocked at this unwelcome opinion that he didn't have a response. Not even a witty magic trick to shed some ironic light on the situation. Instead he just stared blankly back at his brother.
"And this," J.D. continued, pointing to the note at the bottom of the page. "Parents are reminded that first years are not allowed their own broomsticks. Really Criss? You believe that?"
Criss was crestfallen. "So, you don't think it's a real school then?"
"Well, no..." said J.D. "Sorry man, I know you're excited, but... think about it. This stuff is ridiculous, where are you supposed to find books like that, and wands and cauldrons and stuff... and dragon hide gloves?"
"I don't know what they mean by dragon hide gloves either," said Criss reasonably. "It's probably just a brand of gloves. Anyway, if I can't find them, it does say 'or similar'."
"Ok, and what about the rest of it?" said J.D. incredulously. "You can't possibly find all that stuff in New York."
"You can too!" said Criss. He drew himself up proudly, stared meaningfully into J.D.'s eyes, and said, "...if you know where to look."
J.D. rolled his eyes and finished his cereal. "Alright then, Crissy. Let's go to your magic stores and tell them what we need. See if they've got standard size 2 cauldrons."
"You'll see," spat Criss. But secretly he was just glad to have someone come along with him. He pocketed the list, and the two boys went out to the garage to get their bikes.
Being only 11 and 13, neither boy was concerned with how odd they might appear, peddling through town together... one in a t-shirt and cut-off shorts, the other in a black wife beater and long jeans, chain necklaces, earrings, and of course the makeup to complete the ensemble. Sure, Criss may have looked a little goofy on the streets of East Meadow; but it was undoubtedly J.D. who was the most out of place when they entered Oberon's Lair.
It was Criss's favorite magic shop in town. There were only two, but Oberon's was by far the more awesome. As they opened the door, they were wafted in by the scent of patchouli and candle wax, and at the same time, repelled by the loud demonic music-- the growling and blast beat drumming always made Criss shudder. It was like stepping into a horror movie. Entering this shop was just one of the many small fears Criss diligently overcame almost every day. He smothered the urge to cower and cry, and shook his hair out of his face for added confidence. J.D. shuffled awkwardly in behind him.
The shop was lit only by candles, and the occasional black light shining to illuminate a poster on the wall. There were all sorts of magic props here, and costumes and jewelry, and everything a magician would need. As this was J.D.'s first time to experience Oberon's Lair, a place which Criss felt was a very important part of his life, Criss felt a sense of pride at being able to enter boldly as if he owned the place, as if he were showing his brother the Way.
They walked straight up to the counter, which was lined with skulls of assorted beasts, each lit from the inside by a flickering candle. Behind the counter stood a tall gentleman wearing dark sunglasses, a black top hat, and a suit jacket with no shirt underneath. Instead of a shirt, he had a life-size tattoo of a human skeleton, which stretched at least from the top of his neck down to his waist line, with no indication that it stopped there. Needless to say, this was Oberon.
"Welcome back, Criss Angel," he said in a bold, throaty voice just barely louder than the one blaring through the speakers. "Who is the newcomer?" The weird man turned his head slightly toward J.D.
"Worry not," said Criss in a surprisingly similar voice. "For he is my brother."
J.D. gaped at Criss but didn't say anything. He'd heard Criss put on the enchanting magician-voice plenty of times before, sure. The fluttery fingers, the charming smiles with misty eyes... But never this, this growling, booming declaration. This was like a manly version of his regular fake voice, thought J.D.
"What brings you here?" Oberon asked.
"I have been accepted into a school of magic!" said Criss. "I have come to purchase my supplies." He held out the list triumphantly, and Oberon took it.
J.D. cringed out of respect for his brother. This is so stupid. Criss is about to be so embarrassed. Here it comes...
"I am not familiar with these books," said Oberon, looking up from the list. "But I believe I have everything else." And with that, Oberon glided out from behind the counter and began searching for things on the shelves.
J.D. couldn't believe it.
"This is stupid," he said to Criss, when Oberon was out of earshot.
"You live in doubt, my brother," said Criss.
"Why are you talking like that? He can't hear you," said J.D., nodding toward Oberon, whose skeleton tattoo was glowing in the black light. "You don't have to talk to me like that."
"This is who I am, brother. I am Criss Angel," said Criss. "I am going to magic school now to become a real magician. Do not forsake me, for I am, and ever shall be, thy brother."
J.D. sighed. "I'm gonna wait outside while you get your stuff."
As J.D. was sitting outside, lounging in the fresh air and the absence of loud and painful music, and making sure his ears were working properly again, suddenly a blast of the music penetrated the silence. He gasped. For a second he thought his ears were having a flashback, but then he realized it was just the door opening behind him. Whew!
Criss came out of the store holding a cauldron and a telescope. Ugh.
"Can you hold this on the way back?" Criss handed J.D. the telescope. "The rest of the stuff's inside the cauldron!" He seemed thrilled about this. J.D. was just glad Criss was using his normal voice, so he decided not to make fun of him for still believing that letter and buying all that stuff. Not right now anyway.
And so, reluctantly, J.D. took the telescope, and held it propped up against his shoulder as he rode his bike beside the weird long haired kid carrying a cauldron that was his brother.
An odd greeting awaited the boys on the front steps of their house. Criss was the first to see it.
"Woah! Look!" he pointed, and stopped walking towards it, in case he might scare it away. There, on the doormat, was an owl. Just sitting there.
The boys stared at it from a few steps away. It stared back at them.
Criss slowly approached the owl, squatted down and reached out to touch it. He touched its head.
"I think it might be hurt!" he said. "It's not moving when I touch it!"
"Ooh let me touch it!" said J.D., and he petted the owl too. "Hey, its leg is tied to this letter," J.D. pointed out. He picked up the letter the owl had been sitting on, and detached it from the owl's leg. Then the owl sprang up and flew away.
The letter was addressed to Criss. But not "Christopher Nicholas Sarantakos." Criss nearly peed himself from the joy of reading those words on an official envelope: "Mr. Criss Angel".
He tore open the letter, saw the same coat of arms as before, and read:
Dear Mr. Angel,
Muggle-born students are advised to meet with a Ministry official at the Leaky Cauldron in London at 11:00 A.M. this Saturday for assistance in exchanging currency and purchasing their school supplies.
Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry
"Cool! They probably know where to buy these books then," said Criss cheerfully, as he carried his cauldron and telescope inside.
J.D. stood on the front steps, gazing up at the sky watching the owl slowly diminish. Then he glanced around his neighborhood suspiciously. Which one of the neighborhood kids would play such a weird joke, and how the hell did they get that owl to do that?