Author's Note: The Harbinger is in the works. Please follow this story so you can be updated with each chapter as they come. Also, share this story with others! If you're new to the series, there are three-four completed stories you can devour whilst waiting for updates, but in the meantime, I hope you're all excited for the conclusion of my There's an American! series.
I swear, some days it would pay to be a No-Maj. On this day, in particular, I'd be getting out of school, ready to cut loose and embrace summer vacation. I'd be dreaming of sunny beaches and long days with my friends. But I'm not a No-Maj. I'm not even a squib.
I'm a witch.
I was born in Manhattan, New York on June 18th, 1979. My twin brother was born not two minutes later, and we spent the next few years causing absolute chaos and mayhem and loving every moment of it. Our little brother was born shortly after and we had a sister due a few years after him. But on the day my sister was born, on a hot day in August 1984...the unthinkable happened. My twin brother wasn't just lost but taken and vanished, it seemed from the face of the earth. The event was so traumatic, my family tried to forget, tried to live on as normally as possible. At one point, I was convinced that my twin had died. But, midway through my first year at Ilvermorny, I learned the truth. He was still out there, somewhere. And I vowed to bring him home.
In the meantime I grew up, discovering that I, unlike my father and his sister, had inherited my grandmother's Legilimens. It's not as simple as reading minds, though after years of practice it sure feels that way. The truth of it is being able to see memories of another person, experience their emotions and in my case, learn things I shouldn't. I learned about far too much in a short amount of years, things that I should have figured out through my own struggles and mistakes. Nobody was to blame, I was simply gifted with something I couldn't quite control during the formative years of my life. At least, some days it was a gift, most days a curse. I think secretly I yearned for a normal life. It was this secret wish that led me to learn to become an Animagus. The hope was that in the mind of an animal I could be confined to my own thoughts and feelings. Alas, my animagus form turned out to be a Wampus Cat: a magical creature capable of hypnosis and (you guessed it) Legilimency. So, I was stuck with it.
Anyway, shortly after my school years began at Ilvermorny I began to have run-ins with a stranger dressed in Hogwarts robes. He told me that I'd find everything I needed to know about my twin at his school. I worked hard for years just so I could have the chance to go and find the answer to my soul's question, but when I got there I was met with pride, conflict, and an ugly toad-faced witch with an affinity for pink. I found misinformation. I found brainwashing. I found friends and allies and people struggling to choose between light and darkness. But I didn't find my brother. Oh, and I met the Boy-Who-Lived and saved his godfather from death by standing in the way of a pretty nasty dark curse that severed my right arm clean off and nearly went the way of the dodo myself. Luckily, I had enough sense to request my aunt-a nationally acclaimed and recognized Alchemist-who engineered and attached a steel arm to replace the one I had lost.
During my summer of recovery, amongst other things, the stranger in Hogwarts garb appeared for one last time and gave me a silver hourglass I came to call the Blood-Turner because it's unique build seemed to only operate after I fed it my blood. And instead of taking me back a few hours, it would take me back years, and I'd often pop up in a completely different place. I would always return to the moment I left, though.
I returned to Hogwarts for a second year, still hoping I would find some hint, some clue to the whereabouts of my brother. In my free-time I practically lived in the library, burying myself in records and old pictures and just about anything that could help me find the truth. I always came up empty. I was really starting to feel discouraged by then.
Just months before my 18th birthday, I journeyed back in time nearly 22 years. I befriended a boy who attended Hogwarts in the class of '77. Through a series of deduction and trust, we both came to find that he was my missing twin. I wanted to bring him home straight away, but he refused. He wanted to stay behind and try to uncover the reasons he had been taken. I left, trusting that he [now armed with the truth] would find his own way back.
Now, I've never been one to let people inside my head. That's my job, you see. I've always had a hard time trusting people because from a very young age I was led to believe the only person I could count on was myself. But I feel in order to properly explain my story, I need to open my heart and mind. Expose myself.
My name is Julianne Queenie Kowalski, and this is the final part.
Chapter One - Crashing Through Life
It was early on a Monday, in late September 1975. A young woman walked through the campus square, her eyebrows furrowed as she scanned a map of the school, along with a list of her classes. She had dark hair, curled and styled expertly, pinned back from her face. She wore a sweater over a collared shirt, which had a gorgeous beach view embossed upon it with the words 'Gold Coast' printed across. Her button front skirt fell just past her knees. She was so busy trying to figure out where she was and where she was going she didn't notice anyone around her until: "S'cuse me? Miss?" She looked up from her schedule and came face to face with another girl, about her age. The stranger had long blonde hair pulled back into a plait running down her back, and her wide brown eyes were sparkling as she smiled. She was dressed in all denim. "I couldn't help but notice you look kinda lost. Need some help?"
The Yankee accent took her by surprise, but the first girl nodded. "That'd be a great help. Can you tell me where the Picquery building is?"
"Oh honey, you're on the wrong side of campus," the second girl laughed kindly. "But hey I'm headed there myself. Walk this way." Without asking permission, she hooked arms with the first and began to lead the way north. "So you're clearly not from around here, and by here I mean America. Where ya from? I'm May, by the way, May Kowalski."
"I'm Amaya Strother, and I'm from Melbourne, Australia."
"An Aussie? Can't say I've ever met one before. Pleasure's mine and all that. What brings ya to Salem? Ain't they got uppity finishing schools back on your side of the pond?"
Amaya shook her head. "None worth my attendance. In any case, I needed to get away from home for a bit. Fresh air, new perspective, you understand."
May tilted her head, questions dying to spill out of her lips but she recognized a runaway when she spotted one. Instead, she changed the subject. "Whatcha studying, Strother?"
"I'm studying international relations and wizarding law."
"Ooh, fancy! So you're basically gonna live in the Picquery building for the next two years."
"Fun! I'll be right next door in Flamel Hall! We should get lunch sometime."
"Flamel?" Amaya repeated. "You're an alchemist?"
"In the making, yeah," May shrugged. "I just finished an internship in France studying with Madame Perenelle herself and she highly suggested I continue my studies here at the institute."
"Wow, that's high praise coming from the wife of-"
May interrupted her compliment. It struck Amaya as rude but she let it slide. "Oh Nicolas gets the fame, sure, but he'd be nowhere without Perry."
"Hmm. I'm never going to let a man outshine my hard-earned work."
May patted her heartily on the shoulder, almost knocking her over in the process. "That's the spirit!"
It was late November 1975. The two girls walked the streets of New York, woolen coats and heavy scarves protecting their bodies against the cold. They turned down a residential street, the smaller one absently withdrawing her wand.
"Are you sure about this?" Amaya fidgeted with her wand, twirling it effortlessly between her fingers.
"Course I am! Mom's always going on about the more the merrier.'" May placed a hand over her friend's and said warningly, "What have I told you about magic in public—this isn't Australia, where anything goes."
"Sorry, nervous habit." Amaya stowed her wand in her sleeve. "It still seems abrupt that I should encroach upon your family dinner."
May practically shoved her up the stairs of the townhome they'd paused before. "You're my friend and I've already told them you were coming. It'll be fine! Relax." And then she rang the bell before her reluctant guest could protest further.
A squat man with silver streaks in his dark hair opened the door. His mustache was flecked with grey, Amaya noticed, before registering that it was stretched in a wide and welcoming smile. "Happy Turkey Day! Where's my little girl?"
May popped her head over Amaya's. "Dad! I'm 21 already, I'm not little anymore!" She held her angry face for a few seconds before hugging her father tightly. "You smell like piernizcki!"
"Been working since dawn," Mr. Kowalski's eyes fell on Amaya again. "Come in, girls, it's freezing out here!" He waved them inside and shut the cold out behind them. "Sweetie, are you gonna introduce your friend?"
May gave a start as though she'd forgotten Amaya was there. "Right! Dad, this is Amaya. Amaya, this is my father, Jacob Kowalski."
Jacob offered his right hand and Amaya took it, returning the firm shake with as good a squeeze as she could muster. Her father always scolded her when she shook hands like a dead fish. "Ah, that's a good grip you got there. Welcome to our home! Please come in."
May took her arm and dragged her into the kitchen where Amaya was then introduced to her mother, a svelte woman by the name of Queenie. Queenie had the same wide eyes as her daughter, though hers were a beautiful blue. Her faded blonde hair seemed to be skipping grey and transitioning into white. She greeted Amaya warmly and showed her off to the rest of the family: Queenie's sister, Tina: her brother-in-law, Newt: his brother, Theseus: her nephews, Philip and Everard.
"Where's David?" May asked, pouring herself a goblet of steaming butterbeer.
"He's closing up shop," Jacob answered, checking the oven. "He'll be here in time for dinner." May had told Amaya before that while her mother preferred to cook most meals with magic, on special holidays her father had insisted they cook the 'normal' way. Amaya had yet to wrap her head around a wandless being married to an accomplished witch, and being able to live side-by-side with magic.
She accepted the goblet offered her by May's aunt, thanked her and took a sip as she glanced around at the assembled group. All family. All happy to be together. What a thing! The last time she'd been in the same room as all her family…well. 'Happy' was not the word used to describe that memorable event. She was kept from falling into memories of the past by May snorting with laughter at a joke her cousin had told her. Everard ducked as a spray of butterbeer shot out of her nose. Amaya smiled despite her discomfort, hovering towards the corner of the room. She felt so out of place. Maybe it was best if she just left now and spent the day back in her dormitory on campus. She could apologize to May later, yes, that would be best. She set down her goblet on the nearest surface and inched her way to the entrance hall. Everyone was so busy with their own merriment surely no one would notice if she could just grab her coat and boots and-"Oop!"
She had collided with something solid. Thinking it had been a wall, she turned to find herself staring at a man's torso. It was wearing a navy blue dress shirt, and Amaya felt color creep into her cheeks as she raised her eyes to meet the owner of that torso. She found two blue eyes, clear and crisp as a morning sky. They seemed to stare into her soul and for a moment she couldn't remember how to breathe.
"Hello. You must be my sister's friend," he offered her a pleasant smile and she felt her senses starting to operate once again.
"Yes, I'm Amaya. You must be my friend's brother. David, was it?"
She returned to the gathering, and for the rest of the evening enjoyed herself. She even had a lovely conversation with May's uncle Newt, who had written the book on Magizoology. Amaya couldn't be sure but she prayed no one had noticed how frequently her eyes had been drawn to a certain someone that day, or how every time she did her heartbeat seemed to quicken and a secret smile crossed her face.
She never noticed Queenie and May observing her, clinking their goblets together in victory.
It was late on a Thursday in June 1976. Amaya waited pensively at the table, glancing at the rotating door every second or so. She had not seen him in well over a year; the fact that he'd tracked her down and invited her to meet was bold but she had no choice but to accept. She'd dressed up, but the tight fabric of her dress seemed to be suffocating her, crushing her ribs and banishing the air from her lungs. She wanted to be anywhere but here, unfortunately escape wasn't an option, he'd find her again. There was no point in hiding…
She jumped in her seat, heart coming to a full stop until she realized it wasn't him. Sighing in relief she cried, "David! What are you doing here?"
"Finishing up a delivery-didn't you know? this restaurant has a deal with the bakery," he took in her appearance and she felt herself blush under his gaze. "Oh lord, are you on a date?"
His disbelief gave her a sense of triumph but she ignored it. "Yes, surprisingly enough, some men do find me attractive."
He looked hurt by her comment and didn't bother to hide it. "I didn't mean anything by it, I just didn't know you were interested in anyone."
"It's not that simple," she began. He of all people couldn't get the wrong idea about this situation. "I have to-"
"Ah. Darling," a drawling voice caused her to inhale sharply. Amaya watched in dismay as he drew near, removed his traveling cloak and tossed it at David with a pointed flourish. "A bottle of your finest elf-made wine, for the table."
Amaya rose to her feet, a sudden wave of indignation washing away her initial fear. "Lucius! He doesn't work here, he's my friend!"
Lucius sneered down his nose at David, though admittedly David bested him in height. Rather, Lucius sneered over his nose at David. "Indeed? How dreadful." He focused his attention back on her and took her hand in his own. "I suppose you couldn't do any better, seeing as you've chosen to dwell amongst the savages. How I have missed you, love," as he bent to kiss her hand, David dropped the cloak on the floor and frowned at Amaya, mouthing the word 'love' and then feigning a vomit all over Lucius. Amaya bit her tongue to keep from chuckling but Lucius mistook the smile as one for himself. "I think it best if we find another establishment to enjoy each other's company, I had no idea this place allowed in the rabble."
Amaya cleared her throat. "There's no need for that, you were always so dramatic."
Lucius ignored her, his thumb stroking her left ring finger. "My dear, where is your engagement ring? Did you not receive it with my letter?"
"I did." Amaya pulled her hand free and held the ring out to him. "I decline your offer, just as I did before."
He curled his lip. "You seem to have remained under the delusion that you or I have a choice in the matter. Your father and mine made the arrangement, and it is our solemn duty to carry it out. You will be my wife-!"
"I would rather die than be subject to your and your pureblooded elitist ways!" Amaya kept her voice level but coated her tone in steel. "Leave before I'm forced to repeat the past. You can't have forgotten the way last time ended." She allowed a small smirk to pass her lips. "I certainly haven't."
"The contract of our betrothal is binding and cannot be undone!"
"Well, this is awkward," David had walked around Lucius and now placed his arm around Amaya's shoulders, smiling sheepishly down at the wizard who was seconds from withdrawing his wand. "I just spoke to Amaya's father last week and he agreed to terminate that very same contract so that we could be wed." He shrugged and shook his head as he met Amaya's stunned expression. "I had the whole thing planned out, but given Mr. Grumpy-McSnootypants here it's probably best I tell you now how deeply I love you and want to spend the rest of my life making you smile. Baby, the sun shines brighter with you around and my heart sings when you enter the room."
Amaya's face was surely a deep crimson by then as David dropped down on one knee as though they were the only people in the world, rather than two of three in a room filled with New York's finest witches and wizards, all of whom had stopped their dining to watch the faux-proposal unfurl. "DAviD what do you think you're doing?"
"I want to shout it from the rooftops, I think the world should be envious of the love we share because it's one in a million years and always will be. Amaya Florence Strother, will you make me the luckiest guy on earth and marry me?" He looked at her with those piercing eyes, his face giving away nothing. Was this a joke? Or was he being serious..?
Anything's better than a life with Lucius, she amended privately, before saying, "Yes."
The whole establishment, diners, servers and cooks erupted into applause and whistles. David scooped her up in his arms and swung her about. Her heel collided with something she was pretty sure was Lucius before he set her back on her feet. David turned to the room at large and said, "A bottle of the finest elf-made wine for everyone here-on this guy!" He pointed at Lucius who was scrambling to rise from where he'd hit the floor. "Goodnight everybody!"
Taking Amaya's hand he led the way out onto the street, helped her into the delivery truck and drove speedily away. The cab was filled with a palpable awkwardness, broken when Amaya could no longer contain her amusement. "Did you see his face?"
"Which time? When I called him Grumpy-McSnootypants or when you just about knocked him flat?" David flashed her a brilliant grin before he laughed as well. "Where do you find a guy like that, anyway? Geez Louise…"
Amaya sighed, though she still felt lighter than she had in ages. "Like he said, our fathers arranged for us to be married while we were young-well, I was young, he was already at school."
"How does your father know his?"
"Business, in all likelihood. Anyway, we were supposed to be married by now, probably with a baby or two but I…"
"You ran." David finished simply. "Good, he doesn't deserve you."
"And you do?" Amaya surprised herself with her boldness, but she had to address the elephant in the room.
At the next stoplight, David turned to her. "I apologize if I crossed a line back there, but he was creepy and persistent: two traits that never bring good things in my experience. Not to mention you looked…" he hesitated, glancing at the signal light though it remained resolutely red.
"Terrified." He looked back at her, concern etched into his face. "Has he ever hurt you before?"
Amaya shook her head. "I've never given him the chance. And you didn't cross a line. I was grateful…it was very quick thinking on your part. I almost believed you but then you wouldn't have had a prayer of speaking to my father."
"Oh, but I did speak to him, and he did grant me his blessing." David's casual tone sent bolts of lightning through her body. She gaped at him, waiting for him to declare he was joking. He didn't. As the light turned green, he flashed that grin at her again, the one that gave her butterflies and made her head spin. "We just got engaged."
"Y-you can't be serious," she stammered out at last, nearly three blocks later.
"We haven't even had a single date. Our friendship has always been long-distance since I spend nearly all my time in Salem, and-"
"And yet everything I said just then was true. It's okay though, I'm up for a long engagement. You go back to Salem and finish your education. I'll wait for you."
He pulled off on Rivington street, the location of his father's bakery and his parents home. He parked the truck just outside and hopped out, striding around the cab to open the door for her. He did so with an innocent smile. Meanwhile, she was still waiting for him to say he was joking.
"We can't be engaged, David." she said at last, signaling to him that the jig was up and he didn't have to play with her anymore.
"Sure we can."
"David, stop, it's not funny anymore."
He held her face in his hands, his touch and gaze surprisingly gentle as he lowered his face. "I'm not kidding. I love you. And I'll wait until you're ready to love me back." As he went to straighten, Amaya felt her hands grab his collar and pull him back down. She pressed her stained lips to his cheek before releasing him just as quickly as she'd grabbed him. "Actually I think I'd better wait until you're ready. What kind of man gets engaged before he has a ring?" She winked at his flabbergasted expression, before turning on the spot and disapparated all the way to her off-campus apartment, leaving him blushing outside of Kowalski's Quality Baked Goods with a red-lip-print on his cheek.
It was a fine Friday in April 1977. Having graduated (with honors) a week ago, Amaya had just moved into her family's summer home. The anti-wandless charms on the place made it seem like a rundown, burnt building all the wandless just ignored. But upon crossing the front steps, its true nature would shine upon those with magic in their blood. She'd landed a job with MACUSA in the DOUMO so she had to make the move to New York, obviously. Admittedly, there was another reason she'd returned to the bustling city…
There was a knock at the door. She left her study just to the left of the entryway and opened the door inward to reveal David, her "fiancé". Amaya had found out through her mother that David had indeed contacted and received her father's blessing, though admittedly it was after the incident of the previous summer. Humiliated, Lucius Malfoy had returned to England and arranged a marriage for himself with some woman of another rich, pureblooded line. She would never have to worry about that man again, thanks to David's intervention. They'd written each other nearly every day since then, and he'd made the journey northeast to visit her at each holiday. Their friendship had grown and bloomed into something more, and finding him at her doorstep, the little magic that flowed in his veins just enough to see the house as it truly was, down on one knee once again…her heart could barely contain itself. (She hardly noticed he'd come prepared this time with a ring.) She hugged and kissed him before he'd uttered a single word.
On Black Friday, 1978, Amaya realized that she was late.
She and David herded their little rascals onto the couch in the living room. Julianne was looking lethargic after her late breakfast, and while they technically needed to scold Oliver for scooping a tablespoon of sugar into her bowl every time she looked away, the announcement they had to make was more important. Jacob II sat between them, looking curiously at his mother's stomach, where her hands had rested. David had his arms wrapped around her shoulders as they smiled down at their children.
"Kids, do you remember when we brought home your little brother?" David asked.
Julianne hiccupped. "Nope. I asked for a baby dragon."
"Still waiting," Oliver chimed.
"Maybe we'll get you a dragon next year," Amaya said, if only to satisfy them for the time-being. "In a few months, you're all going to have a new sibling. Won't that be exciting?"
"What's it gonna do?" Oliver asked. "The last baby you brought only slept and pooped."
"And barfed." Julianne added.
Amaya sighed, shaking her head. "Why did I bother? They'll find out soon enough."
David kissed her forehead. "We'll just keep reminding them overtime. They'll love another sibling, you'll see. And the next…and the next…and the next-next..!"
Amaya giggled but soon stopped as Julianne turned a pale shade of green and brought her breakfast back up all over her brothers.
She never cared for candy or sweets much thereafter.
The room was quiet, apart from the desperate sobs that shook her entire body. David cradled her in his arms, tears falling from his eyes. It had been a week since Oliver had disappeared. The aurors were doing all they could to track him down but it was as if he'd vanished off the face of the earth. They had no leads. No hints of where he could be. He was only five years old…
Amaya refused to cry in front of Julianne and Jacob, and every time she looked at Seraphina she felt as though her heart had been ripped down the middle.
Our son…my beautiful boy…She could still see his face, his eyes so piercing like his fathers, his dark locks he'd inherited from her…his cheeky grin when he'd done something silly or naughty and believed he could get away with it. She was mortified to think the last thing she'd ever told him was he wasn't supposed to show off magic. The day before Seraphina's birth he and Julianne had been sent home early, escorted by the head of the Improper Use of Magic office from MACUSA. Apparently, her eldest son had brought a fake wand to kindergarten. Chaos ensued. She'd scolded him until it had been drilled into his mind: He wasn't supposed to talk about magic. In his own words: 'Not 'post to tell.'
It had been one of the last things he'd said before his disappearance. It was all she could cling to in her memory. It was all she had left of him.
"Amaya, sweetie?" she looked up to find her mother-in-law bearing down on her. "Can we talk?"
Amaya nodded and handed Seraphina off to her Dziadek, who smiled happily and cooed as she reached for his mustache. Following Queenie into the sitting room, she found her eldest sitting on the love seat with her hands folded in her lap. "What's this about?"
Queenie sat beside Julianne, nodding encouragingly at her. "It's alright, honey. Show your momma."
Julianne, though barely six years old, made eye contact with her mother unflinchingly. "It's okay, mommy, I miss him too."
Amaya blinked, frowning a question at Queenie, who looked excited for some reason. "What are you talking about?"
"Our birthday was last week, he should've been there. You've been thinking about Ollie a lot lately. Crying too, when you think no one can hear you. It's okay. I miss him too." Julianne sniffed and rubbed at her eyes. Amaya stared, not daring to believe what this must mean.
It clicked far too late in Queenie's aging mind what her granddaughter was talking about, but she tried to focus on the positive. "She's a Legilimens! I didn't dare hope after it didn't show up in May but it must've skipped a generation!"
Great, my child can read my mind.
"Not read it," Julianne replied aloud. "Babi says I just tap into emotions and memories."
Amaya gave a pained smile. "Wonderful. Has Babi also volunteered to teach you how to control this?"
She looked up in dismay as Queenie had already floated away to make faces at Seraphina with Jacob. Amaya looked back at her daughter, who apparently possessed a very rare ability.
When next she had a moment with Queenie, Amaya asked how she was supposed to raise Julianne now.
Queenie blinked at her in surprise. "Well, if you haven't already been teaching and feeding her and letting her sleep in a bed we need to have another talk." She laughed at her own tease. "Just treat her like a normal kid, and mind your thoughts when she's around. Oh, and ya might wanna sign her up for some classes out of the house, socialize the poor thing she's just drifting around lately."
So, Amaya and David sent their daughter to her first ballet class. There, she befriended the only boy, a surly looking fellow with olive skin and black hair by the name of Matteo Bianchi. She takes to the lessons like a fish to water, learning more and more with every passing day. Amaya suspects she uses her Legilimency to learn the dances quicker, but Queenie disagreed. "She doesn't have the capacity to focus her mind towards others and move, not yet. A few years from now, maybe, but let her enjoy this time."
"So! Teacher of the year, again!" Amaya nudged May with her shoulder. "Honestly, at this rate you'll be made deputy headmistress."
May rolled her eyes. "Don't even joke! Besides, its not like Professor Fontaine is going anywhere." She accepted the bottled butterbeer from her brother as he sat down opposite them. "How's business since Dad retired?"
David gave a non-committal gesture but Amaya knew it was going well. Her husband had practically taken over the bakery before they'd even met, the absence of Jacob now had little to no impact on his work ethic. "I get by. How're the kids?"
May took a swig before answering, allowing them to simmer in their anticipation. "Well, Julianne is fighting tooth and nail to be top of her year; her greatest competition being her friend Jason and this other boy named Adam. I tell ya, ever since I told her that some of the teachers worried about her being a squib a few years back she's doubled her self-motivation and buckled down. Keeps talking bout Hogwash every so often but that can't be helped." She shrugged for effect. "I guess you gotta lose a good thing to appreciate what you had." May had another drink before continuing, oblivious to the discomfort she'd caused her sister-in-law. "Little Jake on the other hand-he's kinda quiet, like how Amaya was back when I first found her on campus. He's got a friend or two, keeps his nose clean-good student. I don't teach Pukwudgie's all that often as Alchemy and healing magic tends to wander into dark magic territory and they frown on that at Ilvermorny. Now if I taught at Durmstrang-!"
"Yes, yes, you'd be the greatest professor ever-tell us about the Bluebone incident," David said pointedly, his butterbeer untouched as he'd been listening with great interest. Amaya smiled into her tea, he'd always had laser focus when it came to his children. From the moment they'd been born-he'd followed the nurses everywhere, refusing to let a single one out of his sight. It was details like that which made her love him evermore.
"Ah. Well, as to that…" May released a long exhale as she contemplated her next few words. "So! Four years ago now, Professor Bluebone joins the staff as the new No-Maj studies teacher, right? Julianne was in her first year I think. Anyway, for the first year or so he's doing just fine, but as students progress in his class he starts teaching them…things off-book."
Amaya frowned. "What sort of things?"
May returned the frown. "What do you know about scourers?" Even David inhaled sharply at that. Amaya however, remained in the dark.
"Not much. I've heard the term in passing at the office but…"
"Mm. Not a pleasant bunch. They were basically wizarding outlaws, mercenaries, they betrayed their own kind for money or power, and they liked killing just a little bit too much. They were the reason the North American wizards and witches banded together to form MACUSA, and in the hunt for justice the scourers faded into the No-Maj community, but a hint of their beliefs lingered. Turns out Bluebone is a false name, he's actually descended from a long line of Barebones, and he's been trying to brainwash the students in his class."
Amaya placed a hand to her chest, trying to remember if either of her children had taken No-Maj studies-there wouldn't have been a point, given that they spend half of their time in the No-Maj world but what if-?
"Did he succeed?" asked David.
"He might've, if Julie had transferred two years ago like she'd wanted to," May said calmly, finishing off her drink in a single gulp. "Little busybody caught on to his wavelength and proceeded to lead a student rebellion against him. All four houses banded together and chased him straight into the waiting arms of the aurors, it was-" she gave a chef's kiss to the air above. "Magnifique."
Julianne whimpered from where she lay on the table, cheeks were stained with tears. Amaya held her left hand tightly and made soft shushing noises in an attempt to calm her daughter. May stood on the opposite side, adjusting the wires and gears of the steel prosthetic, her face screwed up in concentration. Amaya could not bear to look at her daughter's injury-if you could call it that. The first time she'd laid eyes on Julianne after she'd been returned to them by the English Ministry her brain had panicked somewhat and tried to imagine the missing forearm into place. She could still see traces of dark magic where the flesh and bone had been ripped apart, just thinking about what Julianne must be suffering made her want to cry. Amaya prayed to anyone listening for some way she could take on the pain instead.
May held up her wand and a silver disk, taking a steadying breath. "Okay kid, I'm gonna need you to be brave just a little bit longer. I need to place this on your arm, okay?" She held up the disk to Julianne's face, waiting for her to nod.
"Wha-what is that?"
"It's going to connect your nerves to your prosthetic; so you can move like you used to," May explained simply. "This is going to hurt."
"Why would you tell me that—AAAGH!" Julianne screeched as the device connected to her stubbed arm, latching onto the flesh and bone. Amaya lost feeling in her fingers but made no sound. She had to be strong for her daughter.
"Because I don't like it when doctors or healers lie," May explained. "If you've ever got to look out for someone's well being, don't you dare lie to them."
Amaya ran her hand through Julianne's hair. "My brave girl...it's almost over with."
Julianne shook her head. "Just get on with it. I take it, just—AAAAAAAAGH!" She wailed as her body convulsed, almost rejecting the new metal attachment. "WHY! Why does it hurt so much?!"
Amaya grimaced, again wishing she could switch places with her daughter in that moment. She'd give anything to make this nightmare disappear. "Honey, it's because you were attacked by dark magic...if you'd been in a car accident or something, magic could fix you right up, good as new…but whatever evil curse that woman used on you...it prevents healing spells from having any effect at all."
May nodded at this, while making the final adjustments on the steel arm. "The fact that you turned to Alchemy as your solution was inspired, but the lingering effects of the spell that hurt you are fighting. It doesn't want you to recover or come back stronger. You have to push back, you cannot let this injury define or weaken you."
For the first time, Amaya spotted a glint of hope in Julianne's eyes. "I think I can do that."
They were welcomed into the enormous castle by a man claiming to be her Head of House. He had a rather unpleasant air about him, David thought, with his hook nose and greasy hair and beady little eyes. And what kind of name was 'Severus' anyway? Amaya held his hand as they walked through the entrance hall and down a flight of stairs into a cold, windowless corridor. The only light was from torches every yard or so and he got the impression that if they weren't careful they may well get lost down there. Finally, the greasy man led them into his office and asked that they wait while he fetched the transfer documents. David rather thought that they'd all breathe a little easier when Lian returned to Ilvermorny. Hopefully, she could get back on track and graduate with the rest of her friends, and this entire Hogwash nonsense would be over and done with.
Not long after the Snape fellow had left them, (May had begun to examine the many jars on the shelves with sounds of interest) the door banged open and a teenage boy marched inside. He was wearing the standard school robes, plain black, with silver and green trimmings. Over his heart, he bore a badge with a snake. He was quite skinny, his dark brown hair fell into his face and almost concealed his eyes. He stared blankly at the three of them, likely expecting the professor, not strange Americans.
"Sorry to intrude," he began politely. "I was looking for Professor Snape."
"He said he'd be back soon," David replied, equally polite. "You're not intruding; if anything we're the intruders. You're welcome to wait for him here, if you'd like."
The boy pushed his fringe out of his face, his eyes round in surprise as David spoke. When he'd finished, the boy asked, "Mr. Kowalski?"
David arched an eyebrow. "Yeah?" Did he know this kid?
Amaya tapped his arm. "Don't be rude, David. He's probably one of her friends."
Now the boy looked at her in surprise. "Not quite, Mrs. Kowalski. Lian insisted we weren't friends."
May looked around at that, withdrawing her hand from a jar of eyeballs in the corner. She took in the boy in three seconds and laughed softly. "Then you must be a good one." She moved forward, extending her hand. "May Kowalski. I'm Lian's aunt. Who might you be?"
The boy gulped, and David wondered why he looked so upset. "My name is Theodore Nott." He paused to look around at all of them again before adding, "I am so sorry for your loss."
Amaya blinked. "Our loss?" Then it clicked in her mind. "What are you talking about; didn't anybody tell you?"
May shook her head, her eyes on Theodore. "Well they wouldn't, it only just happened, Amaya. Kid, she's not dead. Calm down."
Theodore's face flashed a mixture of relief and conflict. For a moment David thought he might have a seizure. He'd have to have yet another talk with Lian the second they got back home-she had to stop leading boys on or she'd get in trouble. Again. "But…no one had seen her, and she wasn't in the hospital wing with the rest…"
"Well she wouldn't be," Amaya sniffed. "Her condition is hardly within that healer's criteria."
May rushed to clarify to the boy. "She means that no one in the hospital wing would know what to do to help her. Fortunately the little smart-aleck was conscious enough to ask for me."
"Was?" Theodore repeated numbly.
"Hold on," David frowned down at him. "Were you there the night it happened?"
"Can I see her?" asked Theodore, ignoring his question. Apparently David had developed a condition where nobody listened to him anymore. Great. Just great.
"Sure thing, if you don't mind traveling across the Atlantic first," David replied, smiling despite himself. "She'll wake up at home, the way God intended. We stayed behind to pick up the paperwork."
"What?" Theodore's eyes were drawn to Snape's desk, where Lian's student records were out for all to see.
"I mean, no offense kid, but I gotta protect my family. I can do a much better job if we're all on the same continent." He was blunt, but it had to be said.
Theodore was quiet for quite some time, apparently deep in thought. When they could bear the silence no longer, May clicked her fingers at him. "Kid? You still with us?"
He cleared his throat. "All due respect sir, but I don't think Lian wants to leave Hogwarts."
David had to admit, that was the only answer he respected enough to engage with; had he said something like 'please let her stay!' he'd have dismissed the subject altogether. "And what evidence would you have of that, Mr. Nott?" he replied diplomatically, as though they were equals politely disagreeing over proper cookie ingredients.
"Assuming I have my facts right," Theodore continued in that same, calm tone. "She's been trying to get into Hogwarts since before her magic turned up. In my ten months of knowing her, she's never struck me as the type to get knocked down and simply give up. Whatever injuries she is currently suffering, I doubt she'd allow it to keep her from returning to this school."
May was grinning, Amaya looked up at David with a knowing look in her eyes. For his part, he gave a small sigh, before at last replied, "Spoken like a true ally."
"He's a Malfoy!" David hissed as they heard Lian's bedroom door shut. Her room had been sound-proofed years ago but he'd never regretted that decision more than he did in that moment. "Our daughter's cavorting with a MALFOY? What if he is actually Grumpy-McSnootypants' spawn? What if he tries to date Lian? What if-" he glanced at his wife who was removing her make-up before the bathroom mirror. "-are you even listening to me?"
"Yes dear," she mumbled as she washed her face with little circular motions. "Spawn of evil and all that, yes."
He moved to stand behind her, frowning at his grumpy reflection. "Why aren't you more concerned about this?"
"Neither of them is dating our daughter, sweetie," Amaya stated. "Calm down."
"Just because they aren't doesn't mean they don't want to," David growled, reaching for his toothbrush. He'd had a hard enough time keeping a straight face through dinner after learning the identity of the pale-faced boy. He was Lucius Malfoy in miniature. It was creepy. If David hadn't worked all those years in the bakery serving some less than friendly individuals he might not have been able to get away with his innocent act. "And how do you know she doesn't want to date one of them?"
"Lian hasn't had a crush on anyone since that boy Anders," Amaya said. "And she's displayed none of the signs recently as she did back then. They're just friends to her, I'm sure of it."
David scrubbed his back molars before spitting into the sink, his lips covered in white foam. "I thought she called them her 'allies', isn't that her codeword for people she'd be interested in or something?"
"You know very well she only said that to appease Jason and Matt."
"No dear, you know that very well. It would seem that I have been left in the dark in regard to such matters." David resumed brushing his teeth, grumbling under his breath all the while. He kept his ears on alert, just to be sure that those boys left, or else he'd have to storm up there and kick them to the curb himself. It was just plain inappropriate!
"I think Lian secretly wants a normal romance," Amaya said, more to herself than to him, but he choked on his toothpaste all the same. "But, due to her ability to see into everyone's mind, she makes snap decisions on whether or not they suit her, and then she moves on." She patted his back as he coughed and spat until he could breathe again. "Hopefully she'll be patient, like I was, and wait for the right man to come along and propose to her in public to prevent her from falling prey to Mr. Grumpy-McSnootypants. It doesn't get much more romantic than that," she raised herself on her tiptoes and kissed his cheek. "Don't stay up too late, you've work early tomorrow. She'll kick them out for you."
It was late that Tuesday morning when the horrible news arrived. Amaya Strother-Kowalski stalked through the halls of MACUSA, her assistant jogging to keep up with her, while still checking his clipboard and avoiding a collision with other workers as they went. "I'll need the reports from last week's arrests on my desk before break. Don't forget my meeting with the Heads of the Federal Bureau of Covert Vigilance and No-Maj Obliviation and the Department of Magical Accidents and Catastrophes-they've been dodging me all month. I need you to run down to Communications and request a series of memos be sent, I'll have the list ready for you on my desk when you return with those reports. Also, if you wouldn't mind-"
"Tea," her assistant replied before she could even ask, handing her a cup with a sleeve and lid. "Bengal spice with lemon and honey. I sorted the arrest paperwork last night and set them in alphabetical order on your desk last night before I left the office. The heads have been receiving reminders of the meeting both the date, time and directions to your conference room in case they've conveniently forgotten the location. If you'll have that list ready for me I'd happily speak with Communications. They simply adore me down there, if I do say so myself."
Amaya took a sip of her tea as she listened to him, delighted to find it was properly steeped and not overly sweetened. Perfect. "Why shouldn't they? Pritchards would snatch you away from me in the blink of an eye if he thought he could get away with it. What would I do without you, Pollux?"
He shrugged and gave a long-suffering sigh. "Suffer." He opened the door to her office and stood back to allow her in first. Amaya set her tea down and sighed at the stack of paperwork she had awaiting her. "Would you mind fetching me a new quill or two from supplies on your way back from Pritchard?"
"Of course. A new bottle of ink as well, I should imagine." He stood by while she wrote out the memo's she wanted sent out and handed them to him. It was only then she'd spotted an official-looking envelope set near her name-plate. Pollux noticed it as well and said, "Another request for your hat in the ring?"
"I should hope not," Amaya sighed, staring at the seal with a small frown. "Actually I think this crest is…yes, it's from the British Ministry." She glanced up and saw Pollux was hovering in the doorway, apparently too curious for his own good again. "Go on, I'll tell you the highlights when you get back." He nodded and hurried away to the lift.
Sighing, she broke the wax seal and opened the envelope, expecting an official document. Instead, she found a letter signed by a Rufus Scrimgeour, whoever that was.
Dear Mrs. Strother-Kowalski,
As the British Minister for Magic, I regret to inform you that as of April the 22nd, 1997, your daughter, Julianne Kowalski, has been pronounced dead. An attack on Hogwarts by a notorious criminal group calling themselves Death Eaters stormed the castle halls and attacked many of the students and teachers. Your daughter fought bravely against them til the bitter end. My condolences for your loss-
Amaya folded the letter and stowed it in her robes, her eyes warm and wet, her legs shaking as she got to her feet. It couldn't be true. It couldn't be true! First Oliver and now…no! She wasn't dead, she couldn't be- Amaya heard a sob escape her throat. No! She had to be strong. She had to go. What good was sitting in this office? She couldn't remember-David! She had to get to David. He would know what to do.
Staggering out of her office and down the hall towards the fireplaces, she kept her head high and shoulders back, ignoring the wetness of her eyes or the fact that she needed to sniff. She didn't have time to waste on a meltdown, she had to go to her daughter who wasn't dead! She couldn't be dead.
Please..! Not my Julianne…not my daughter!
A/N: Don't forget to leave a comment!