Chapter 9

The Face

She'd only ever dreamed about her faceless wizard once before, and it had been a daydream then. When she was six years old, nearly a year after her encounter with a hidebehind, she saw a picture of her second cousins when they were in school at Pigpimples. It was then she realized that her faceless wizard had been British, and around school age. Since it was her only clue, it became her mission in life, her dream, her drive to go to Pigpimples and find out more.

Now, five years later, she was enrolled at what she believed to be the wrong school. And according to everyone she'd ever asked, her grades would need to reach Pluto in order for her to be acknowledged for a transfer. She forewent any social interaction-which was difficult because her House could be very interactive-and buckled down on her studies. She found herself bickering with Quince over the proper use of a freezing shield. (As first years, they'd spent the first few months practicing only defensive magic. They wouldn't learn dueling, sparring or knock-back spells until second year.)

"If you're already focusing to conjure the shield, why should you need to concentrate on the longevity also-" she heard herself saying one afternoon in the library. "-on some level, it's all relative."

The Wampus shook his head. "Not entirely. If you don't think about how long you want to protect yourself, then you'll deflect a single jinx and then be completely exposed."

"No I won't," Lian replied mulishly. "I'll duck."

Quince laughed at her. "I'd like to see that experiment go awry."

"Too bad I won't be around next year. Otherwise you'd be able to have a duel with me."

He raised an eyebrow in skepticism. "How's that? You planning on dropping out or something?"

Lian shook her head. "I'm going to Hogwarts next year. I'll beat the school records for first year exams, and then I'm transferring." The bell rang, signalling the end of their break. She packed up her books and made to leave.

"Transferring?" Quince repeated.

"Yep. Call it what you will; relocation, I'm headed in a different direction-but I'm applying just as soon as exams are done." She turned on her heel and left him sitting there, where he'd likely be late for his Wandlore class, meanwhile she planned on being early to Charms. She had a lot to catch up on.

The tension that spread through the castle just before exams were due to begin was palpable. It was not so much the calm before the storm as it was the sucker punch to the diaphragm. The intake of breath before you retaliate, the sound of thunder that foretold of lightning.

The eve of exams, something sparked. Lian had a question about Transfiguration that nobody in her house could answer, so she descended from the loft and was halfway to the Alchemy wing to ask Aunt May, when someone popped into the middle of the corridor, mid-sprint, and collided with her. They fell in a tangle, and Lian kicked the other away as she jumped to her feet.

Pulling her wand out, she pointed it at the guy as he got to his feet as well. He was about a foot taller than her, had dark hair and eyes like the edge of a blade. His hair was long and fell over and around most of his face in a way that both irked and intrigued Lian, despite the initial panic he'd incited within her. She couldn't take her eyes away from any detail in his face, the sharp angles and the cheekbones. It was very important that she memorize this face.

"Blimey," the spell she was under was broken in a single word- "you're a lot younger than I'd hoped. I must've come too soon." He looked around at the strange walls of the Alchemy wing, his eyebrows coming together in bewilderment. "Where are you?" He looked down his nose at her, eying her blue and cranberry robes skeptically. "What are those?" He then looked into her face. "About how old are you now?"

Lian's mind registered that she'd gone from curious to terrified in about zero seconds flat, and it did the one thing it knew how to do really well.

Her Legilimens first became manifest while at home, with people she knew and loved. The very next day she'd gotten lost in New York, and her new ability went into overdrive, because what wouldn't a child do to find their parents again? She'd read half of Brooklyn before she finally found her father. Since then, she'd been careful about going into parts of town that were unfamiliar to her-at least alone. She didn't quite know how to stop it once it happened, it was as if her mind had its own trigger.

Basically, if confronted with a new and unknown obstacle, Lian could rip through them mentally to ascertain whether or not it was a threat. The strange boy with his accusatory words, the way he looked at her as though he knew her, or wanted to, his haunting, ghostly eyes. . . Lian lashed out.

Normally, she would gather the needed information instantly, but something about his mind prevented her from tearing away the required information. Instead, she only gained a name: Roman.

But then she felt something new. And if she was terrified before, she wanted to die then. He was speaking as he assessed her, whether actually knowing or guessing the information she did not know. "You're eleven years old, which means you're still at Ilvermorny. You haven't been to Hogwarts yet, but suddenly now more than ever you really want to be there. You found out about Oliver." He paused, watching her face, glancing every so often at her wand arm, which which shook the more he talked. "Are you afraid of me? Then why don't you. . .you don't know an offensive spell. Not yet." Lian's fear and confusion was drowning her, she didn't know what to do-and then the tall boy in black robes knelt so that he was at eye level with her. This time when he spoke, it was a stark contrast to the cold, unsympathetic voice he'd used at first. Now it was soft, like he was shushing a baby. "I don't have a lot of time. You see this?" he held up a silver hourglass in his hand. The sand inside was bronze-colored, spiraling between the two sides evenly, as though gravity had no effect on it. "It's not working like it should. I'll be taken away in a minute, but if you haven't begun yet then you have to know. You have to go to Hogwarts as soon as you can. You'll find everything you want to know about Oliver there, and when it's the right time, you'll find-" There was a soft pop and the boy in the black robes disappeared.

Lian released a breath she didn't realize she was holding. For several moments her body didn't work, until finally some nerve reconnected, and she was running back through the castle.

What just happened? What just happened!? What just- "OOF!" she cried out.

"Where's the fire?" Matt's voice drifted from the warm body she'd just collided with. She jumped back, looking up into his eyes wonderingly. It felt like they hadn't spoken in ages-Thunderbird and Horned Serpent didn't have many classes together; their learning styles clashed with one another. He gripped her shoulders, holding eye contact. "What's wrong?"

"I just...and he...Ollie…" she mumbled helplessly. Matt regarded her carefully, trying to make sense of those five words.

"Who's Ollie?" Lian blinked, feeling her eyes grow wet with tears. That's right. I met Matt and his family a year after Ollie disappeared. He never knew...that I had another brother.

She made a decision. Taking a shaky breath, she said, "Never mind." If the adults weren't going to try, what could a school boy do? And who was going to believe what she'd just seen? The boy that came out of and returned into thin air… He was her problem. Ollie was her problem. How could she try to explain the quest that had taken root in her soul? Just imagining it felt insane, and foolish.

She gave Matt a hug, telling him that she was just stressed out over their exams. He didn't seem convinced, but knew better than to push her, instead opting for walking her back to the Thunderbird Loft.

Once safely inside her dorm, she climbed into her bed and tried to dissect what the boy with silver eyes had told her. He made a point of showing her his broken hourglass, whatever that was. How had he known that she wanted to go to Hogwarts? What did he know about Oliver? And what was up with the way he spoke? Where are you? What are those? Like he'd never seen Ilvermorny robes before. About how old are you now? Now? Had they met before? She didn't recognize him. Silver eyes...she'd probably remember a boy with silver eyes. It's not like they were common in Manhattan.

So many questions...but she had exams in the morning! Transfiguration bright and early, followed by Charms. She had to survive the week first, and then she could ponder over Silver-Eyes and his strange...ness.

She hardly slept, having tossed and turned the entire night. Kristy, who occupied the bunk beneath Lian's, eventually tired of the rustling from above and kicked the mattress to communicate her displeasure. They glared at each other from across the stacked waffles one of the upper classmen had made.

Barely anyone talked before they descended to the rest of the school. Exams were taken oddly. The first, third and sixth years took exams at the same time, so there would be no opportunity for cheating off each other's papers, while the second and fourth took theirs together. The fifth years had OWLs, while the seventh years had the NEWTs, so it was all very tense and exhausting.

Lian was among the first to finish the Transfiguration exam, one of the last to finish Charms, and finished the Potions exam at a moderate pace. Kamau's self-transfiguration class had its own exam, as he was a new teacher with a new subject, everyone, no matter what year level, had to simply transfigure themselves in some way, to grant themselves new powers. Lian gave herself gills on accident-she'd been trying to give herself a merfolk tail, but she got full credit anyway, right after she began breathing normally again.

She did well in her History of Magic exam, even answering bonus questions about the Native American legends of Animagi (aka skinwalkers,) and Astronomy left her feeling drained. Knowledgeable but drained. Afterwards, Beck kept asking everyone what their zodiac sign was, for no particular reason other than she wanted a happy distraction in the middle of the week. Lian learned more about being a Gemini than she'd ever wanted to in one sitting.

By the time she crawled into Friday afternoon's exam for Defense Against the Dark Arts, she couldn't tell the difference between a fake wand and a self-inking quill. When her writing utensil turned into a Big Mouth Billy Bass halfway through a sentence, Lian knew she was ready to be done.

Her suitcase was packed, the end of the year had come faster than anyone wanted, and exams finished whether they liked it or not. Many of the students decided the best place to be was in their common areas, celebrating the end of the year with their Housemates before the shuttles returned for them in the morning.

It was not so with Lian. Returning to the hustle and bustle of the city excited her, but at the same time she knew it would be harder to acquire peace with her mind so she decided to meditate one last time in the cave beneath the school before she was subject to a long summer at home. She had a lot to think about after all, and she needed a clear head.

Maybe her mother would finally let her take voice lessons, or maybe she could sign up with a dance studio like she used to when she was Seraphina's age. She'd have to keep busy somehow; a whole three months without her wand seemed much worse now than it had back in the autumn.

She sat cross-legged beside the edge of the glowing lake, shoulders relaxed and back straight like she had a string pulling her up to the roof of the cave. There was a soft pop beside her, and she glanced sideways, half expecting to see Kamau, who would join her on occasion. The body standing next to her was definitely not Kamau. They were garbed in black robes, and gave a strained grunt before falling sideways onto the cave floor as a pool of dark red spread beneath them.

Lian scrambled to the person's side, and gently rolled the sorcerer until she was lying on her back. At least, Lian thought it was a 'she'. The hair was roughly cut, and drenched in sweat and other liquids, likely.

Her eyes raked over the blood that coated the front of the school robes. They wore a black cloak that had been ripped to shreds, but the crest over the heart remained intact, though stained a dark red.

Lian looked into their eyes, which were gazing blankly at the stalacites high over their heads.


"You had to had to see…" the sorcerer whispered. The emotions Lian was picking up from them were overwhelming, like a sandcastle trying to endure a tsunami, she wanted to collapse and melt away under their might. "...there's can d-do…"

"No, no you'll be fine. I just need to-hOlY shishkabob, that's a lot of blood. Okay, I just need to-uhm-uh-" she tore her sleeve off and pressed it into the gash stretching across their chest. "-I knew I should've been a Pukwudgie," she whined, her fright manifesting itself as tears. She knew nothing about healing spells. Her friend, Aisha had learned several already, but the Thunderbird first years had been taught other things like defense, direction and survival.

"F-fi...nd Th… not...Malf...a-and Ha...ree…" the sorcerer's breath was coming and going in soft puffs now. "Kee...p them s-s-sa…fe."

"Wait, wait I d-don't underst-and," Lian stuttered, and she felt her heart and face begin to cry. As panicked as she felt, her brain went into overdrive to compensate. To fix what was freaking her out. To find answers.

She dived into the mind of the sorcerer. She'd never been inside the memory of someone who was fading in and out of consciousness, but it was not something she would recommend to other Legilimens users, it was quite uncomfortable. One moment she was gazing into one memory and then it would be torn away only to be replaced by a new and completely random sight.

She saw a boy with dark hair and impossibly blue eyes staring back at her, a small smile playing on the corner of his mouth. She felt elated just looking at his face and she had no idea who he was. Then poof! he vanished and she was gazing at an angry looking boy with glasses and emerald green eyes. The distant words sounded from a voice that sounded suspiciously like hers, but slightly different. "...if you think for one second that you're braver than I am then you need to check your ego at the door because you're no better than me." Then he was gone and she was watching a scene unlike anything she'd ever imagined. She was watching a wizard's duel from the floor, a woman with wild eyes versus a man with a large portrait of a swearing woman stuck to his rump. A flash of light struck the wizard across his side and he fell… The scene faded and she was gazing at a boy with long dark hair and sharp, silver eyes. He looked familiar, but she couldn't figure out why. Then he was gone and in his place was a boy with platinum hair, crying desperately. He kept saying over and over, "I don't know! I can't do this anymore!" And then she looked upon a memory that was too familiar for comfort. An old wizard played with a young girl, who couldn't have been older than three or four years old. Her twin brother snoozed nearby while an occamy and a bowtruckle snuggled beside him. The old wizard feigned death and the little girl went into absolute hysterics. "Uncle Oot! Uncle Oot! I didn't hear your last wish!"

He peeked open one eye and looked down at her. "I beg your pardon?"

At that moment, another adult, a woman with long dark hair, walked into the room and scooped the little girl up into her arms. "Bath time for you, you little ankle biter."

"Mommy no!" The little girl screamed, startling her brother and the creatures awake. The three looked around wildly, expecting an attack from the fearless toddler.

"Please, Amaya dear, just another moment," Oot pleaded. Amaya went to argue, but heard the toddler break something expensive in the kitchen.

"Ooh! Alright hold her a moment!" She dropped her daughter into Oot's arms and charged into the other room, voicing her anger in Japanese.

"Now then," Newt said contentedly, gazing down at his great-niece. "What's all this about a 'last wish'?"

Sticking out her bottom lip, the little girl replied. "Mama says that when someone dies, the last thing they say is their last wish, and you have to do everything in your power to fulfill it."

Lian wrenched her mind out of the witches, staring in horror down at her. "How did you...what are...why..?"

"Don't forget me…" herself warned, before vanishing into thin air.


A/N: I've said it before, this story began because I wanted to explain the history of my OC, Lian Kowalski. I'll probably write more as her story grows, but until then, this is it. If something doesn't make sense, just tell me and I'll try to fix it. In the meantime, I'll be focusing on There's an American in the Tower, and the fourth installment: The Harbinger of Time.

Until then~!