Parry had been raised by his aunt and uncle, the Dudnuts, who lived in a bog-standard semi just off the Guildford by-pass, until he reached the age of eleven, when he finally attended Bogthwarts.
Famous throughout the wizarding world for having beaten Buildafort whilst still so young, he was now ready to enter his seventh and final year at the school, and with the help of his best friends, Con and Thinny Weedly, and Irony Ginger, he had thwarted the evil Baron’s plans on no less than six occasions. Any normal Baron would have given up by this time, but it was a measure of the man’s obstinacy and stupidity, that he kept on trying to take over the world, despite the meddling of four teenagers, and Parry felt confident that the Evil One Who Should Not Be Named On Pain Of A Kick Up The Bum, would try again this year.
Not that the encounters had been entirely without cost. In year one, Doctor Squidgel, a tutor had died. In year two, a sleeping serpent, several hundred years old, had been woken and then killed. In year three Parry, had inadvertently precipitated a mass breakout from Astrakhan, the wizarding prison where miscreants were compelled to pass their time making furry hats for Russian peasants. In year four, he had wangled his way into a wizarding tournament and seen one of his prefects killed, not to mention the full rebirth of Baron Buildafort. In year five, Parry led a brigade of schoolchildren in an attack on the Ministry of Prestidigitation, where they engaged in a fierce battle with Buildafort’s forces, leading to a) the death of Parry’s godfather and b) the resignation of the Minister on the grounds of incompetence. In year six, he had inadvertently led his favourite old master, Professor Rumblesnore, to his death, and seen one of the other masters, Professor Snoop, clear off with half the school funds. The latter events were still locked away under the OWSA (Official Wizarding Secrets Amulet), but they had been just as bloody and nasty as all the other years.
All in all, Parry, Irony and Con, with a little help from Thinny and other Bogthwarts students had cause more mayhem, death and destruction than any other mob of Chavs in history, and they were already labouring under three separate ASBO’s despite their claims to be saving the world.
And yet, Parry enjoyed his time at Bogthwarts more than any other, and preparations for the return to school heightened the anticipation.
Con, on the other hand, came from a long line of distinguished magic folk, and could trace his ancestry back to the time of a brief encounter between a Cornish Piskey and an Irish Faerie on the Isle of Lundy.
Tall and lanky, Con had a shock of red hair like his sister — quite startling because his father was as bald as a billiard ball and even when he had hair it had been dark brown, and his mother was a blonde. That both Thinny and Con owed their parentage less to Harper Weedly and more to a co-op milkman who had taken some time out to relieve Polly Weedly of the housekeeping drudgery for an hour or so, escaped most peoples’ attention, especially Con and Thinny Weedly, who, despite their questionable parentage, certainly carried the Weedly gene; they were all as thick as bricks.
Parry and Con had met on their very first day at Bogthwarts and had been the best of friends ever since. Young and courageous, they married these admirable attributes which typical teenage idiocy, often bordering on the insane, and had orchestrated much of their own trouble by their signal refusal to either think or mind their own business.
Polly turned and opened the giant over door in the middle of her cast iron aga range.
‘Right. You first Con.’
‘Make sure you get it right this time mum. Last time I materialised in the middle of Stamford Bridge.’
‘The battle site?’ asked Parry.
‘The football ground. I wouldn’t care but Frank Lampard was on his way to goal, bearing down on me like an express train.’
Polly closed the oven door and chanted, ‘rasher of bacon, link of sausage, take this boy to Zigzag Passage.’ She leaned over and pressed one of the switches.
‘Ouch,’ came a muffled retort from inside the oven.
Polly opened the door. ‘What’s up now?’
‘You’ve turned the oven on, mother.’
Mrs Weedly checked the dials and sure enough, Con was currently cooking on gas mark 6.
‘Sorry dear.’ She closed the door, switched the oven off, chanted again and pressed the correct switch. There were several flashes of blue light from inside the oven and when she opened the door Con was gone.
‘You next Thinny.’
The girl entered the oven, Polly closed it and chanted, ‘rasher of bacon, link of sausage, take this boy to Zigzag Passage.’
She opened the door and Thinny was still there drumming her fingers irritably on the oven wall.
‘In case you haven’t noticed mother,’ said the child, ‘I’m a girl not a boy.’
Polly tutted impatiently. ‘This is your father’s fault. He forgot his sandwiches this morning and he’s thrown my entire day out.’
Eventually, Thinny went, followed by Parry, then Mrs Weedly set the oven to automatic.
‘Rasher of bacon, link of sausage, take this woman to Zigzag Passage, but fresh air will not ride, so don’t do a thing ’til I’m inside.’