October 31, 2014 (Evangeline)

As soon as Professor Campbell walked into the Ignus common room, Eva knew that something was wrong.

It was uncommon for any teacher to enter the common rooms on a random Tuesday afternoon. It was rarer still for the Headmistress of Willoughby Academy herself to make her presence known to the students. The chatter in the room died as Campbell scanned the room, her eyes landing on a lone table situated in the back corner by the window.

"Evangeline Thomas?" she said, a grim note in her voice.

Eva frowned, closing her textbook and beginning to stow away her homework. Something told her she wouldn't be getting any more work done this afternoon. "Yes, ma'am?" she asked timidly, shuffling forward to the center of the room.

"Come with me, dear," said Campbell, in an uncharacteristically soft tone. Eva followed the Headmistress out of the common room, painfully aware of the quiet murmurs and whispered rumors of her classmates they left behind.

"Have I done something wrong, Professor?" Eva asked as Campbell led the way towards her office.

"Oh no, of course not," Campbell said at once, though she did not answer the unspoken question. They arrived at her office, and Campbell hurriedly ushered Eva inside before shutting the two of them inside and casting a Muffling Charm on the door to prevent eavesdroppers.

"Miss Thomas, I am afraid I have some bad news," Campbell sighed heavily. "I just received a call from the Brisbane police department."

A chill ran down Eva's spine. She didn't know why a Muggle office would be contacting Australia's wizarding school, but it couldn't mean anything good. "Are my parents okay?" she asked, putting two and two together. Why else would she be summoned to the Headmaster's office about a call from her hometown?

"There was a disturbance at your parents' residence earlier today," Campbell said. "I'm afraid your parents were attacked."

"Attacked?" Eva frowned, her heart skipping a beat. "By who?"

"We can't be certain," said Campbell. "Police are currently investigating the scene. I've contacted the Australian Auror Department on your behalf, but they don't have reason to believe a wizard was involved at this time."

"Are they alright?" Eva asked. "Were they badly injured?"

Campbell searched Eva's expression as though determining how best to proceed. "Perhaps it is best that you go home immediately to see them," she eventually sighed. "I've set up a temporary Floo connection to your parents' residence so that you can return at once."

Eva's heart sank. Surely if her parents were alive, Campbell would have been quick to reassure her. The awkward avoidance of the subject only confirmed her worst fears. She turned towards the fireplace and grabbed a handful of Floo powder from the urn on the mantle. "Thomas residence, Brisbane!" she announced, dropping the powder into the hearth and stepping forward into spinning green light.

As soon as the world stopped spinning, Eva stepped out of the fireplace and into her parents' kitchen. As she did so, two figures jumped in alarm, hands instinctively reaching for their wands at their hips… No, Eva realized; these men were dressed in black uniform and had their hands on thick batons strapped to their belts. Muggle policemen, not wizards.

"You must be the daughter," one of the men said, and he could not disguise the disdain in his voice. Both men were eyeing Eva's right side warily; she realized that she had instinctively drawn her wand.

"Sorry," she said, hastily dropping her arm to her side. "I'm Evangeline. Where are my parents?"

"In the living room," the other man said gruffly. "But we don't think you should see—"

"What's happened?" Eva demanded of them. "Are they alive?"

"Maybe you should sit," the officer said in a strained voice. "We can talk about this—"

"I don't want to sit and talk!" Eva said hotly. "I want to see them!"

"We should let her through," the other officer told his partner in a hushed tone. Eva noticed the nervous expression on both of their faces; she looked down and realized that her wand, still clutched tightly in her palm, was lightly sparking as her emotions ran wild. She could have apologized again, but truthfully she had bigger things to worry about right now.

"I'm going through," she said sternly, and stepped forward. Both men retreated to the wall as she crossed the kitchen to the hall, heart pounding as she approached the living room. Her mind was screaming at her to run the other way, but her body compelled her forward, one step after another, unable to resist knowing for one moment longer. She stepped through the door frame into the living room, and sighed in despair at what she saw.

At first glance, it might appear that Mark and Virginia Thomas were just sleeping. Her father's head was lolled back onto the backrest, her mother's tilted onto her husband's shoulder. But stepping closer, Eva could see the dark red stains in their clothes, the deep gouges in their chests from god-knows-what weapon. Eva bent over, head spinning, placing her palms on her knees to steady herself. Her worst fears were confirmed. They were dead.

Eva felt a searing pain in her right leg, and realized that her wand was still emitting sparks, its tip pressed into her thigh. She quickly stowed it away and took a deep breath, focusing on her Occlumency training. She knew it wasn't healthy to suppress such intense emotions for long, but she couldn't afford to lose her grip right now. She needed answers, and the Muggles wouldn't be cooperative with a hysterical fifteen-year-old witch.

Eva righted herself and walked back into the kitchen, where the two officers again eyed her with trepidation. "Right," she said, trying to sound matter-of-fact. "What happened to them? Who did this?"

"We suspect some sort of long knife or perhaps a sword," one of the officers said. "The back door was unlocked when we arrived, so we assume that's how the assailant entered, because there was no sign of forced entry."

Eva sighed; her parents had long had a habit of leaving doors unlocked at night, despite Eva's insistence that they do so. They always laughed her off, saying it was a safe neighborhood, that they lived in a low crime area. To think that this was what did them in was a heartbreaking thought.

"There was no sign of struggle," Eva noted; she hadn't seen a speck of blood anywhere besides on her parents. "Why?"

"We're still waiting on the forensics team to arrive," one of the officers said. "But we suspect this happened late last night, while your parents were sleeping. The television was also on when we arrived." Again, Eva felt a pang of sadness at this; her parents ended every day watching the telly together, and sometimes fell asleep on the couch before getting up to go to bed. The attacker must have walked right up to them and done the deed while they were out cold…

But something else was bothering Eva. "How did you know?" she asked. "I mean, if there was no sign of a disturbance, how did the police find out about the crime?"

The two officers looked at one another. But before they could answer her, the fireplace behind them flared green again, and the two men jumped in alarm. Eva drew her wand once more, aimed at the new arrival to the kitchen, but the new appearance brought her a feeling of relief. A tall man, dressed in sweeping gray wizarding robes. An Auror.

"Evangeline Thomas?" the man asked grimly, and she nodded. "Mark Badgley, Australian Auror Office."

"What're you doing here?" one of the Muggle officers sneered. "We didn't call for your lot! This is a police matter!"

"Just a precautionary measure," Badgley reassured the two men. "Because Miss Thomas here is a witch, the Australian Ministry of Magic needs to ensure that there was no magical connection to the crime."

"Y-you don't have jurisdiction here!" the other officer stammered. "The Brisbane police is perfectly capable of—"

"This will take me ten minutes at most," Badgley said calmly. "The longer you whine about it, the longer I will be here."

There was a tense standoff as the stocky Auror stared down the two pudgy policemen. They looked nervously at Badgley's hip, where Eva could see the Auror's wand barely poking out from its holster. "Make it quick," one of the policemen spat.

"Excellent!" Badgley beamed. "Miss Thomas, will you accompany me?"

"Gladly," said Eva, and she followed the Auror down the hall into the living room. Badgley didn't recoil at the sight of the two bodies on the couch as she had, but his deep exhale told her that he did seem affected by the grisly sight.

"Terribly sorry for your loss," Badgley muttered, drawing his wand and beginning to silently cast diagnostic spells over her parents' forms. "Were you close?"

"Yeah, kinda," said Eva. She loved her parents with all her heart, even if they only saw each other a few months out of the year. Learning that she was a witch had definitely changed their relationship, but it hadn't affected their love for her, nor hers for them.

"Hope the coppers weren't giving you too much grief," said Badgley, sounding just as disdainful as they had when she arrived.

"Only a little," Eva chuckled hollowly.

"Damn Muggles don't even bother hiding their resentment anymore," Badgley said humorlessly. "They all look at us like freaks, like they don't want us around. I miss the days when they were all kept in the dark where they belong."

"Huh," Eva hummed noncommittally. She'd read in her textbooks about the Statute of Secrecy, which had been in place for centuries until Voldemort arrived and took over the world. She supposed she couldn't blame Muggles for being resentful of wizardkind when they had enslaved and lorded over Muggles during the war. She'd never known a time when wizards and Muggles were kept separate from one another, but she supposed things must have been simpler back then.

Badgley continued muttering under his breath and waving his wand around the room. Eva felt light pulses of magic brushing against her skin as he cast whatever spells allowed him to deduce what had happened here. Eventually he stowed his wand away and straightened up to face her again.

"Looks like this was a Muggle crime," he announced. "No signs of magical tampering with the doors or windows; no signs of Apparition in or out. Your parents' wounds were done with a physical object, not a spell. They've been dead for approximately fourteen hours."

"But how?" Eva pressed, her previous question still unanswered. "How did the police know a crime had been committed here?"

"By using our eyeballs," a sneering voice came from the hall; the two officers had come to join them. "Something your fancy abracadabra tricks clearly couldn't accomplish."

"Got some information you'd like to share with us?" Badgley asked, an edge of ice in his tone.

"Front yard," said the other officer, head nodding towards the front door to his left.

"Out of the way, then," Badgley said gruffly, elbowing his way past the two men into the hall towards the front door. With a swipe of his wand, it swung open, allowing him to exit the house without pause. Eva could feel the two policemen stiffen at the casual use of magic – clearly it made them uncomfortable. She could only assume that was Badgley's intention.

She followed Badgley and the officers out onto the front lawn, where to her surprise, she could see a number of neighbors were standing on the street, staring at them. She wondered what could have drawn their attention to the house so quickly. But one look at Badgley's frown as he turned to face the house himself told her that something was not right. She turned to follow his eyeline and gasped at what she saw.

The front of her parents' house had been vandalized. A thick stream of red spray paint covered the entire edifice, forming a looping symbol that she did not recognize. It looked like a star inscribed within a circle, with a heavy slash cutting diagonally through the middle. She and the two Muggle policemen stared at the odd symbol, perplexed, as Badgley gave a heavy sigh.

"Well, that's alarming," he said in a forlorn tone.

"What is?" asked Eva.

"I recognize that symbol," said Badgley. "That's the sign of the C.A.W."

"What's the C.A.W.?" asked Eva, and she could see that the policemen had the same question.

"Citizens Against Witchcraft," Badgley answered. "It's a British hate group that formed after the war ended. A gang of Muggles, basically."

"We resent that term," one of the police officers muttered. For a moment Eva thought he was referring to the word gang, but realized they must have meant Muggles. Badgley ignored them.

"They're a group that believes that parents of magical children raise their kids with occult practices," he continued. "They target parents of Muggle-borns, mostly. Probably because it's easier to kill a fellow Muggle than a pure-blood family."

"Why have I never heard of 'em?" asked one of the police officers.

"Probably because they've only operated in Britain, so far as I know," said Badgley. "This could very well be the first case in Australia. That's highly disturbing."

"Can't the Aurors track down this 'gang' and put a stop to it?" Eva demanded. "How is this still happening?"

"They already did, years ago," Badgley shrugged. "Found the ringleaders and got them arrested. Problem is, hatred of wizards was already a popular sentiment among Muggles, and the practices and symbology of C.A.W. outlived them. It's unlikely your parents' killers were actually part of the group – more likely inspired by them."

Eva's head was still reeling with this news. "So you think…" she said, struggling to gather her thoughts, "that my parents' killers thought they were cultists? They were Protestants!"

"Honestly, it's hard to say," Badgley sighed. "It's not much of a reach to suggest many of the killings were simply inspired by jealousy. Do you know if your parents had any enemies? Anyone that might have wished them harm?"

Eva's gut instinct was to say no, but the more she thought about it, the more his words rang true. She remembered playing with the other kids in her neighborhood as a young girl, her parents chatting with the other parents, like any other ordinary family. But once Eva began showing signs of magic, things had changed. Her old friends stopped inviting her over for playdates; neighbors stopped coming over for dinner; Eva got odd looks from grown-ups walking home from school. Mark and Virginia Thomas might not have had a malicious bone in their body, but the neighborhood certainly treated them differently once everyone knew that their daughter was different.

Eva turned back to the street to scrutinize the many faces staring at their house. She noticed that none of them looked concerned or upset; if anything, they looked smug. Looks like the Thomas family got what was coming to them, she imagined them thinking. They didn't fit into this neighborhood anyway. She again felt a warmth at her side as her wand began vibrating against her hip; she quickly Occluded her angry thoughts away again. Now wasn't the time to lose her temper.

"Right. I'll speak to my department about this," said Badgley, clearing his throat to break the silence. "We'll contact the British Ministry to see if they can tell us anything, but I'm afraid there's little I can do. Despite the motives, the Ministry doesn't deal with Muggle-on-Muggle crimes."

"I understand," Eva muttered quietly. She felt a dull emptiness at this, knowing that her parents' killers would likely never be found now. If the Ministry of Magic had no hope of finding them, she doubted the Muggle police would be much help, and the neighbors sure wouldn't talk if they knew anything. Badgley gave her a polite nod and waved sarcastically to the two officers, before turning on the spot and Disapparating, causing them and half the street to flinch once again.

"You attend a boarding school, correct?" one of the officers asked, approaching her in Badgley's wake. "You live there during term?"

"Y-yes," said Eva. "But I come home for holidays and summer break."

"Do you have anyone else you can live with?" he asked. "Any relatives nearby? Family friends?"

"No one," Eva shook her head. Reality was starting to set in now: Eva was all alone now. For her whole life it had been her and her parents against the world. Sure, they didn't see eye-to-eye all the time, but they were family. She felt hot tears welling up in her eyes, and she didn't think she could keep her emotions at bay for much longer.

"Right, I'll be going back to school then," she said nonchalantly without looking at the two men. "Will that be all, officers?"

"We will contact the school if we need anything more from you," said one of the officers. "Expect a call from the county office within the next week."

"Sure thing," said Eva. She strode briskly back into the house and returned to the fireplace in the kitchen, which was still glowing green. "Willoughby Academy!", she announced loudly, before stepping into the grate and spinning away out of sight.

She did not slow down when she re-emerged in Professor Campbell's office, striding right across the room and exiting without a word to her Headmistress. She kept her head low in the corridors, winding through the school back to the dorms. She heard the room hush as she entered the Ignus common room, but she ignored everyone, walking straight up to her room, which was thankfully empty. She closed herself into her four-poster bed, cast a Muffling Charm for privacy, buried her head in her pillow, and cried herself to sleep.

Word spread like wildfire at Willoughby Academy, and soon the entire school knew what had become of Eva's parents. Hushed whispers and furtive glances followed her down the corridors, and teachers offered their utmost condolences, none of which made Eva feel any better. She hoped to take her mind off of it by settling into a routine and distracting herself with schoolwork. But it was impossible to pretend things were normal when everyone patronized her like a child. Even Tara Frost, who normally took every opportunity to make snide remarks on Eva's appearance, gives her a wide berth out of respect – which only made Eva resent her even more.

What irked her more than anything was the tiny pricks she felt on her brain whenever she walked into a room. It meant someone was trying to use Legilimency to pry into her mind, to read her feelings. She always swatted them away with Occlumency before glaring around the room at whoever the culprit was, but everyone averted her gaze. She hoped to one day meet the witch or wizard who had the bright idea of teaching teenagers how to read other people's thoughts, without realizing the negative implications of such an invasive tool. She had some strong words she'd like to share with them...

Eva already had few people she could consider friends before this incident, but now people avoided her like the plague. She was forced to sit alone at the Ignus table in the dining hall, nobody willing to sit next to her and engage her in conversation. Her dorm mates went eerily silent whenever she entered the room, even when engaged in conversation prior to her arrival. Eva felt like a leper, with everyone keeping their distance, offering their sympathies but unwilling to truly lend her an ear.

Whatever; I don't need them, Eva thought bitterly. She'd always found most of her classmates to be dull and uninteresting anyway, and didn't see how confiding in them would make matters any better. She knew what she needs to do: get through the remaining three years of her education, graduate with top marks, then track down her parents' killers and avenge their deaths at any cost. The police had offered her no updates in the days since the killings, and Eva didn't expect any at this point. Why would the Muggle government investigate the murder of two witch-producers anyway?

Eva had resigned herself to three more dull and lonely years of school. But that was all about to change.

It began as a normal Friday. Eva rose early before her dorm mates and headed to the dining hall for a quick breakfast. Then she planned on a quick trip to the library before a full morning course load, lunch, a free period that consisted of more studying in the library, and more classes before dinner. Eva scarfed down her meal as quickly as possible, hoping to escape the throngs of people and retreat into the quiet solace of studying.

Murmurs of excitement around the hall shook Eva from her train of thought, and she looked up from her plate to see what the commotion was all about. There was a visitor walking into the dining hall, striding up towards the Headmistress' table. A man nobody here had seen in person before, but they all knew his name. The savior of the wizarding world. The vanquisher of the Dark Lord. Harry Potter.

Eva was struck by just how much he looked like a regular man. Tall and thin with a slight build, unkempt thick hair, and a pair of round glasses framing two fierce green eyes. Students gossiped openly about the new arrival, wondering why on Earth the British legend would be visiting Australia of all places.

Harry arrived at the head table and conversed quietly with Professor Campbell for a few minutes. Then, to Eva's astonishment, Professor Campbell stood and surveyed the room for a moment before pointing directly at her. All eyes turned towards Eva, who shrunk in her seat as Harry Potter turned to approach her table.

"You're Evangeline Thomas?" Harry asked when he reached her. Unable to speak, she nodded. "I'm Professor Potter. Do you have a moment to chat?"

"Uh...yes, of course," Eva said timidly. She stood to follow Harry, aware of the many stares following her out of the hall and the tiny pricks trying in vain to read her mind. He led the way into a side chamber, where Professor Campbell was there waiting for them. Harry conjured three cushy armchairs for them, sinking into one and gesturing for the other two to join him.

"Miss Thomas, first let me express my condolences about your parents," Harry said solemnly. "The Australian Auror Office notified the British Ministry yesterday, and it was highly disturbing for me."

"Thanks," Eva muttered. She'd grown tired of hearing such well-wishes over the past few days, though admittedly, hearing it from the most famous wizard alive did mean something.

"As Auror Badgley no doubt told you, the symbol on your parents' house indicates that they were targeted by an anti-wizard group known as C.A.W.," Harry continued. "Britain has been dealing with such attacks for years now, but your parents are the first Australian casualties that we know of."

"Do you think you could track down my parents' killers?" Eva asked, a hopeful note in her voice.

"Sadly, no," Harry frowned, and Eva's heart sank again. "C.A.W. killings are largely random and unconnected from one another. We've seen attacks throughout Europe and the Americas, and your parents may be just the first of a new wave of attacks here in Australia."

Professor Campbell gasped at this, looking horror-struck. "You believe my students and their families are at risk?" she asked Harry.

"Perhaps," Harry mused. "I would caution your Muggle-born students to speak with their parents about potential danger at home. There is growing sentiment against magical beings in the Muggle world at the moment, and Miss Thomas' parents are proof that the problem is no longer just confined to Great Britain."

"I will inform them," said Professor Campbell, still looking concerned at his words.

"As for you, Miss Thomas," said Harry, turning his brilliant green eyes onto her, "I have a proposition for you."

"For me?" Eva asked, confused. What could the Chosen One possibly want from her?

"I assume you are aware that I am Headmaster of Britain's magical school, Hogwarts?" he asked her. When she nodded, he continued: "Hogwarts has many Muggle-born students in a similar position as you, whose parents were targeted by C.A.W. or by blood purists during the war, leaving them with nowhere else to go when term ends. We've established a program to house these students in the castle during the summer and winter months, to prevent them from having to re-enter the Muggle world and risk further harm."

Eva could see the appeal of such a program at once. Summer was still many months away, but she already dreaded what it would mean once Willoughby closed its doors until fall. She would likely be placed in a foster home with Muggle strangers, ones who would no doubt resent her – hell, for all she knew, they might even sympathize with her parents' killers. Eva already dreaded summers to begin with, knowing they would be full of nasty looks from the neighbors and isolation from her magical peers.

"What does this have to do with me, sir?" Eva asked. "Willoughby doesn't have such a program."

"Correct," said Harry. "That's why I propose that you transfer to Hogwarts. You will be quite safe there, among other witches and wizards, and far from whoever targeted your parents. We have excellent courses that can help you find a place in the wizarding world upon graduation, and Professor Campbell assures me you'll have no trouble catching up with our curriculum."

"She's top of her class," Campbell said with a note of pride. "We'll be sorry to see her go, but if you think it's for the best, we will approve the transfer."

"So, what do you think, Miss Thomas?" asked Harry. "Would you be willing to come to Britain?"

Eva's mind raced as she considered the implications of this idea. She knew of Hogwarts' great reputation already, and the idea of studying there excited her – the legends of the war still inhabiting its walls, the witches and wizards she'd grown up learning about in History of Magic who were still present in the flesh. The opportunity to study under Harry Potter, the greatest wizard of modern times, was hard to turn down. Plus, she'd long hoped to meet the British Minister of Magic in her lifetime, Hermione Granger, the Muggle-born heroine who had championed the cause of the defenseless during the war and stood side-by-side with Harry as he defeated the Dark Lord.

The idea of uprooting her life and leaving Australia forever was a scary one. Britain was unknown territory to her; she would know nobody, have nobody to rely on. But, the more she thought about it, she already had nobody. Her parents were gone, her "friends" at Willoughby had stopped talking to her since the news spread, and nothing was tethering her here anymore. She supposed she liked her teachers and her classes, but she learned far less from them than from her books, which she had devoured eagerly ever since she learned she could do magic. Half of her textbooks were written in Britain anyway, and she suspected that their magical culture was far more advanced than here in Australia. It really wasn't a decision at all.

"I'll do it," Eva said at once.

"Now hold on, Miss Thomas," Harry chuckled. "Take some time to think about it. I know it's a big decision, one I wouldn't take lightly. But if you're sure this is what you want, speak to Professor Campbell here and we can arrange your transport to Hogwarts."

Harry stood and offered his hand, which Eva shook eagerly. He exited the room, and Campbell paused to give her a few words of advice before ushering her back into the dining hall, but Eva had already made her mind up. There was nothing left for her here in Australia. If anything, being here just reminded her of the tragedy she'd suffered here, and Britain offered her a chance to begin anew. She could grow powerful there, hone her magic under the tutelage of the great Potter, and then return to Australia years down the line, prepared to avenge whoever had wronged her.

She heeded Campbell's words and took the night to mull it over, but the more she thought about it, the more sure she was. She tossed and turned in bed that night, unable to sleep, too excited about the prospect of seeing Hogwarts with her own two eyes at last. By the time the sun rose on Willoughby Academy, she was already up and packed, dragging her trunk out of the dorm to Professor Campbell's office. Her mind was made up.

Australia held nothing for Evangeline Thomas anymore. Hogwarts was calling to her.

A/N: Thanks for reading! Leave a review if you'd like! Next chapter we delve into the past and begin learning how things got to where we are in the present-day...hope you enjoy the wild ride I have planned for this story!