Don’t Mess With Ouija Boards
Harry’s hands shook slightly as he banged the brass eagle knocker. Ginny stood beside him, her hand clutching his tightly. The door opened, and Dumbledore beckoned them in.
Monday had gone by fast, as did Tuesday, each second reminding them that that evening they would be speaking with the dead. Harry had been kidding about Halloween the night before and midnight being spooky, but as the clock chimed their entrance he jumped.
“We are all here,” Dumbledore said, ushering them forward. The curtains were all drawn, the bookcases emptied, all the little trinkets and tables gone. The office had been cleared, with candle stands lining the room and a round table covered with a blood-red cloth in the middle of the room. Sat on the middle of the table was an object covered with a second cloth with a sheet of parchment and a quill atop it, and surrounding the table was a circle of salt. Sirius and Remus were at the table, as well as Mrs. Vance and —
“Mum?” Ginny said, hurrying forward and grabbing her mother’s arm. “What are you doing here?”
“Nessa told me she had consented to try a séance again,” Mrs. Weasley said. “I said I had to be here.”
Ginny patted her mother’s shoulder in attempts to reassure her. “It’ll be fine, mum.”
Mrs. Weasley pulled her into a hug. “I hope it will, dear.”
“Take seats,” Mrs. Vance said. Her voice was low, reverent even. “And listen carefully.”
Mrs. Weasley sat beside her friend. Harry sat next to Sirius, Ginny took the chair beside him. Dumbledore sat beside her, putting Mrs. Vance between him and Mrs. Weasley. Mrs. Vance lifted her hands, her milky eyes closing. She whispered words under her breath, too soft for Harry to hear, and then reach forward and first took the parchment and quill. She whispered words again, and they suspended themselves midair, the quill poised over the paper, its feather pointing down. She pulled the cloth away from the object.
“Wait, I thought that was a Muggle board game?” Harry asked.
“Hush!” Mrs. Vance said. “This is no toy, boy, regardless of what foolish Muggles might think. Contacting the dead is not a game.”
The Ouija board glistened in the light, made of a dark, glossy wood. The letters shone white, yes, no, goodbye, numbers and the alphabet waiting for the triangular planchette to move under the fingers of a spirit unseen.
“The Ouija board was a secret closely guarded by witches of my tenure for centuries,” Mrs. Vance said. “’Til a greedy hoon’gan spilled the secret in the late 13th century to a group of pagans in East Asia.”
“What’s a —”
“Do not ask questions,” Mrs. Vance snapped. “You may learn about this magic later, for now, you must listen to me, and obey my words.”
“Okay,” Harry whispered. The layout of the room and her hush demeanor spooked him, certainly, but the Ouija board, that frightened him. As a child, he’d seen Dudley and other friends playing with one a few times. The last time they did, before Aunt Petunia took it away, the board had spelled out D-E-A-T-H and a vase of flowers had abruptly fallen off a nearby table. It hadn’t been the first time freaky stuff had happened around the board. It had once spelled out his name.
“As we use the board, I have two rules. Do not break the circle, and do not speak. I will give each of you a mojo, which you must keep close to your heart for at least three days following tonight.”
She reached into her robes, and withdrew seven cloth bags, holding them out in her hands. Mrs. Weasley took them from her and distributed them. There was a leather thong tying the bag shut, which extended into a long loop. Harry draped it over his neck and tucked it under his robes.
“Do not take it off unless you wish to allow the possibility of possession.”
Harry opened his mouth, and Mrs. Vance raised a hand. “Do not ask questions, Potter.” Harry shut his mouth, glancing at Ginny. He wasn’t sure how she knew he was about to ask anything.
“We will join hands in a minute. Do not let go until I say so. And for God’s sake, do not speak.”
“Why should we not speak?” Dumbledore asked.
Mrs. Vance did not turn her head. “I can only do so much to protect any of you. What we are about to attempt is dangerous, and without training, it can be fatal. To speak to the dead is to invite them in. This connection is not a one-way street. If any of you were to say the wrong thing, or even mention something the dead should not know, you can open the invitation for them to linger after we say goodbye, you risk even letting something out.”
Mrs. Vance held out her hands. “Not to mention it draws attention, and we don’t want the wrong kind of attention.”
Dumbledor e took her hand. “No… no, we don’t.”
The group joined hands. Vanessa raised her head, her sightless eyes fixed forward, and began to chant in a low voice. “Kòm zanmi nou rasanble isit la, kè ki yo se verite, lespri fèmen nou rele ou, se pou nou pale ak yon sèl la nou ap chèche pou, pwoteje nou jan nou pale, pa pèmèt sa ki mal pwoche bò kote.”
Harry looked around, waiting for something to happen. Nothing did.
“Sicut amici nos colligimus, nostrorum corde sunt vera, spiritus prope nos, nos voco egrediemur ad te, ostendo nos un spiritus nos expecto, protegat nos sicut nos voco, permitto non malum prope ad nos.”
A candle flickered. Harry turned in his chair, and Mrs. Vance angled her head towards him. “Stay still, Potter.”
He colored, and rooted himself in his seat.
“As friends we gather here, hearts that are true,” Mrs. Vance whispered now in English, “Spirits near, we call to you, grant us speak with the one we seek, protect us as we speak, allow no evil approach.”
There was quiet. Harry looked around cautiously, trying not to move too much.
“We ask for a woman,” Mrs. Vance whispered. “We ask for she who gave birth to the man Tom Riddle, Jr.”
The air chilled. The light in the room flickered, then two candles behind Mrs. Vance went out. She continued to speak.
“This woman died in 1926, she gave birth to her son in an orphanage. We ask to speak with her.”
The glossy wood of the Ouija board seemed to grow darker, and the planchette shuddered. Harry sucked in his breath.
“Are you here?”
The planchette lay still, then, agonizingly slowly, it began to move. It inched forward, drifting towards both yes and no, then it stopped.
“Is there someone there?”
Harry held his breath. The planchette shuddered again, then shot forward over yes.
“What is your name?”
The planchette started forward, moving towards the letters, then it paused. It suddenly began to shake, shooting wildly across the board, not stopping over any letter or number. Then it froze, and it turned upside down. The planchette moved slowly again, deliberately, spelling out the name Merope.
“Hello, Merope,” Mrs. Vance whispered. Harry jerked his gaze up to her, then to Ginny. How could she tell? “Will you tell us what your son’s middle name is?”
The planchette moved quickly now, M-A-R-V-E-L-L-O.
“Where did you find that name?”
Harry couldn’t take his eyes off it. Again, it moved quickly, he lost track of the letters halfway through. He looked at the paper and the quill, taking notes from the board. M-Y-F-A-T-H-E-R.
“Yes, Merope, it was your father’s name. Merope, how did you die?”
“You died in childbirth?”
The planchette shot to yes.
“Who is the father of your child?”
“What is your surname?”
“Merope, will you tell us what your father’s surname is?”
It didn’t move for a moment, then it traveled back up the board and landed on no.
“What made you angry?”
The planchette shook again, moving erratically across the board. Then, it calmed and began spelling out another word: A-B-U-S-E.
“Your father abused you?”
It shot to yes.
“What was his name? Perhaps we could find him and have him arrested.”
The planchette moved to no.
“Why not? Where is he?”
It spelled out one word, and Harry bit his lip to keep from gasping. D-E-A-D.
“Merope, we need to know your maiden name.”
The planchette lay still. Harry heard nothing but the sound of his own breathing.
“Merope, are you still there?”
The planchette shook again, then moved back to yes.
“Please, we’re trying to find out information about your life. What was your maiden name?”
“Gaunt!” Dumbledore gasped.
“Be silent!” Mrs. Vance hissed.
The planchette shot across the board to no. Then it began moving erratically again, it turned right side up once more, then spun around again to point towards Vanessa. It shot to the H, then the A, then to R, and circled around the letter just to return to it, then it stopped over the Y. Harry jerked his gaze up to the parchment that was still dictating the session.
“Who is this? I command you, name yourself.”
The planchette moved, going to the M. It paused, staying still.
“Is this still Merope?”
It moved to no.
Harry drew in a sharp breath. If he had been frightened before, it had been nothing. His mind went back to age eight, sitting behind the couch in the shadows where he wasn’t visible, listening…
“Do you wanna talk to someone? Yes? Who, then? What the…? Harry? Why would you want to talk to that little bitch?”
“Who are you?”
` The planchette returned to M, but then it moved to U, and then back to M. Harry’s eyes widened.
“What is your name?”
“Mum?” Harry whispered.
“Hush, speak not!” Mrs. Vance hissed once more. “Do you not remember what I said?”
The planchette moved again, first to yes then again spelling out Harry’s name. Mrs. Vance turned her blind gaze back on it. “How can we be sure that this is truly the mother of Harry Potter?”
It moved, fast, too fast, Harry looked up at the quill tracking it. S-I-R-I-U-S.
“What about him?”
But it hadn’t stopped; -I-S-F-U-C-K-I-N-G-R-E-M-U-S. Sirius let out a laugh that was both shock and joy. Mrs. Vance jerked her face upwards, cutting his laughter short. She turned her face back to the board. “What else can you say to prove who you are?”
“How can you know that?” Mrs. Vance asked.
Mrs. Vance’s face relaxed a little. “How can you be so clear, Lily? Are you alone?”
The planchette shot to no.
“Who are you with?” Mrs. Vance asked, once again cautious.
“James?” Sirius whispered. “Can we talk to him?”
“Be quiet!” Mrs. Vance hissed, but the planchette had already moved to yes, and now was spelling out another word. Harry looked back up to the paper and quill to catch what it was saying; S-U-P-P-A-D-F-O-O-T.
“’Sup, Prongs?” Sirius laughed.
“No, be silent!” Mrs. Vance said.
Sirius opened his mouth, but the planchette was moving again: Y-E-A-H-P-A-D-S-S-H-U-T-U-P. Sirius scowled.
“Why are you contacting us?” Mrs. Vance said.
M-Y-S-O-N-U-S- E-S-A-S-P-I-R-I-T-B-O-A-R-D-I-C-A-N-T-T- A-L-K-2-H-I-M.
“What? No, I —”
“No, but —”
“This is freaky,” Harry muttered.
Mrs. Vance opened her mouth but stopped at the planchette’s movement: M-U-M-H-E-R-E.
“Mum?” he murmured. “What do you need?”
For a moment, nothing happened, then: W-A-T-C-H-O-U-T.
His stomach clenched. “For — for what, Mum?”
“She’s getting weak,” Mrs. Vance murmured.
“Mum, I —” Harry’s voice broke. “I don’t know what to say…”
The planchette hadn’t stopped moving, however. -A-T-T-A-C-K.
“Wha — attack? Attack what?”
“Mum, wait, don’t go!”
“W—we love you too, Prongs,” Remus said, and his voice was tearful.
“Mum, don’t leave, please, I — I love you too,” Harry said.
The planchette shuttered, then spelled out: G-I-N-N-Y.
“What?” Harry said. “What about her? Is something wrong?”
It began to shake violently, it moved wildly across the board, then stopped, point up, right over good-bye.
“Mum?” Harry murmured.
“Is someone still there?” Mrs. Vance asked.
For a moment, nothing happened, and Harry was sure that the moment had ended. Then, the planchette moved again.
“Is it James and Lily?”
“Who is there?”
The planchette shot across the board, first to the letter D, then to the letter E, then to the A, and Harry felt his stomach clench with fear as he guessed what would happen next; then to T, and finally, to H.
Mrs. Vance audibly gasped, then the planchette shot off the board and flew into the air, ripping through the paper suspended over the table and hitting the ceiling where it shattered into pieces. “Planchette Repairo!” Mrs. Vance cried, and the pieces flew back together to fall and land on the board again.
“We must say goodbye,” Mrs. Vance said. The planchette shook, staying still over empty space on the board. Mrs. Vance closed her eyes, and it began to move slowly, shuddering all the while, down the board, until it reached goodbye.
“Inflammare,” Mrs. Vance hissed, and the board caught fire on the table. She jerked her hands out of Dumbledore’s and Mrs. Weasley’s and drew a wand, waving it over the table. The board reduced to ashes, then vanished.
“I told you not to speak,” Mrs. Vance said.
Harry shrank in his chair.
“Lily and James appeared, what did you expect us to do?” Sirius asked.
“To not speak because that is what I told you to do!” Mrs. Vance cried, and there was fear as well as anger in her voice. “You drew attention to us! I do not know what that last spirit was but it was far from human.”
Sirius paled. “It — that can’t be possible — can it?”
Mrs. Vance waved her wand over the room and the candles all re-lit. Harry hadn’t even noticed that half of them had gone out.
“I spoke first, I drew the attention of the Potters,” Dumbledore said. “My sincerest apologies, Vanessa —”
“No, they were already there,” Mrs. Vance sighed. “They fought with Merope for control of the board nearer the beginning.”
“They — they were waiting?” Harry whispered.
Mrs. Vance suddenly turned her blind gaze on him. She stared at him, unseeing, for a moment, then nodded. “Something about you, boy, seems to be magnetic towards spirits.”
Harry swallowed nervously. He didn’t know what to say, but Mrs. Vance seemed to not have the same problem, as she continued. “At least, towards those spirits in particular. You have observed a Ouija board being used before?”
“Yeah,” Harry said. “My cousin —”
“Played with one, did he?” she murmured. “Yes, he contacted your mother.”
“How do you know?” Harry asked.
Mrs. Vance said nothing for a while, then she rose from the table. “It’s a gift,” she said in a low voice.
“Did he talk with anyone else? Who else did he contact?” Harry asked her, suddenly frightened as he thought of that crystal vase that had been sitting in the very middle of a table.
“Professor, I hope you got all the information you needed,” Mrs. Vance said, avoiding Harry’s question, “as I will not attempt this again.”
“I — yes, I did,” Dumbledore said, and even he sounded rattled. “More than enough, I believe.”
Mrs. Weasley rose from her chair and dropped a quick kiss on Ginny’s head before taking Mrs. Vance’s arm and leading her away. “I’m going to return to my quarters,” Mrs. Vance told them in a voice of finality. “Keep those mojos on for at least three days.”
Harry touched the cloth bag tucked beneath his robe. He could only hope that the little sack would protect him. Mrs. Weasley helped Mrs. Vance through the Floo, vanishing from sight. Ginny turned to Harry, her eyebrows raised.
Normally I’d ask who was pushing, but that clearly doesn’t apply here.
Not the time, Gin.
Sh e faltered, then squeezed his hand. Sorry. I — I’m freaked out too.
I just talked to my parents for the first time that I can remember, Ginny.
< em> Yeah. Yeah, they were there.
< em> My — my mum swears?
Ginny smiled, squeezing his hand again. Apparently.
And my dad says “’sup?”
Yeah, he does.
They’re out there somewhere. There is an afterlife. I’ll — I get to meet them one day, Ginny.
< em> One day.
“… concerned about what Lily said about an attack,” Dumbledore’s voice interrupted their thoughts, “and why they suddenly mentioned Ginny near the end.”
“Well, we’ll never get to find out, I guess,” Sirius said. “Seeing as Vanessa won’t try again.”
“No, no, and I would never ask her to again,” Dumbledore said; his voice was almost sorrowful. “She risked a lot to do this.”
“But, Muggles play with Ouija boards all the time,” Remus said. “They usually get away with no negative effects.”
“Muggles play with a wooden board, what Vanessa did tonight was not a game,” Dumbledore said in a voice that could only be described as harsh. “They carve letters into wood; that board was a heavily enchanted object.”
“But she destroyed it?” Harry said.
“You can only use Ouija boards once,” Dumbledore said with a sigh.
“How can Muggles play with wooden boards and contact the dead just as we did tonight?” Remus asked. Sirius glanced at him, then set a hand on his shoulder and squeezed it gently; Remus visibly released tension from his shoulders.
“Muggles do not contact the dead,” Dumbledore said as he shook his head. “They only think they do. There’s a reason they touch the planchette and we do not; one or more of them subconsciously pushes or pulls it, leading them to believe that they contacted someone beyond the grave.”
“But then — how did my cousin contact my mother?” Harry asked. “Mrs. Vance said it herself.”
Dumbledore looked at him, and Harry saw uncertainty in his eyes. “I — I do not know, Harry. Perhaps your mother’s spirit truly is following you, perhaps your magic influenced their board and gave her leeway. I do not know.”
Harry hung his head. Sirius touched his shoulder, giving it a squeeze as he had done with Remus. He nodded, smiling briefly, trying to communicate that he was okay.
There’s really an afterlife, Ginny.
< em> There is.
A/N:The title is not only a title it’s a disclaimer, do not, I repeat, DO NOT mess with Ouija boards. They are not toys and they’re not one-way phone calls. Do not let someone pressure you into playing with one, don’t play with one if you don’t believe, do not play with one period. If you even think that using a Ouija board might put you in contact with a spirit, then some part of you believes that spirits exist, and you better think about the kinds of spirits out there and whether or not you want the possibility of messed up stuff happening to you or even possession. Ouija boards are not toys. Contacting the dead is not some fun game you play when you want to know if someone has a crush on you.
Forgive me for being intense, but legit, don’t mess with them. bad juju honey, just don’t.