Interlude, part 1

Captain John Tremaine (German Army, Retired) collected the morning mail and thumbed through it. One very odd letter caught his eye, and he stared at it. It was addressed to Alex Tremaine, and sealed with a bit of wax. The elder Tremaine opened the letter and began to read. About halfway through the first page, he shouted, "Alex, front and center."

"Sir, enroute Sir" Alex Tremaine ran down the stairs to stand before the Captain. Even in Alex's thoughts he was the Captain, never father. That had been made brutally clear years ago.

"Tell me about this letter Alex." John said calmly, as he stared at Alex.

Alex stared into the air just above the Captain's head. "I don't know anything about any letters Sir."

"Truly?" snarled the Captain. "Then why is it addressed to you, and more importantly, why have you been accepted into the Durmstranng's School of Wizardry?"

Alex lost the stiff bearing for a second, and then recovered. "The school of what Sir?"

"Wizardry, Alex"

"Sir I have no clue what it is about." Captain Tremaine stared at Alex, seeing a tall slender child with a short blonde crew cut and large blue eyes.

He considered his options and finally spoke to Alex again. "I will deal with this, and you will have a double PT schedule. Your scores were pathetic, and we do not allow pathetic here do we?" "Sir, no Sir." "Fifth place is what Alex?" "Sir, there is only one first place, everything else is a losing place Sir" "At least you can ape the words, even if you can't live up to them. Go, and do not stop until I tell you to."

"Sir, yes Sir" Alex turned from the table, and ran into the exercise room. A few stretches, and Alex started the workout posted on the board in the front of the room. Alex thought about the letter while continuing the exercises, although it was difficult. Alex never knew when the Captain might be watching, and he had a number of less than pleasant fates waiting if he was not satisfied.

Downstairs, the Captain was examining the letter again, and the strange letter brought back an old memory. He reached into the bottom drawer of his deck and withdrew two faded photographs. The first was a picture of a large Mastiff with solid gray fur. The second appeared to be the same dog, but there was a white patch of fur on its chest, shaped liked a small handprint. Tremaine shook his head, and dropped the pictures back in his drawer. Such thinking was foolish. There was a perfectly rational explanation for everything. John examined the envelope the letter had come in again, and his eyes narrowed at the lack of postage or postage marks. The letter had been hand-delivered, and was merely some neighbor's idea of a joke. John threw the letter in the trash after running it through his shredder.

The rest of the day was a review of Alex's marks at the Military Academy, and more Physical Training workouts, as the Captain was very upset at Alex's final standing of 5th in the school. After dinner, John lectured Alex as the 10 year old pushed to finish the last workout. "It's bad enough that you're skinny and weak. You have to better than anybody, or you're just a loser." The Captain pushed Alex roughly, knocking the child to the floor. "Look at you. No stamina at all. When I was your age, I thought nothing of working hard all day, and into the night. You're no better than those freaks down the road. Weak, undisciplined and useless." Alex let the diatribe roll away. Over the years it had become routine, a chance to rest as the Captain ranted about Alex's poor showing. A familiar heat began washing through Alex as the Captain pushed Alex's body past its limits. Somehow, that heat allowed Alex to finish the workout. When the Captain finally said stop, Alex was seeing double, and about to pass out. "Go to bed. Tomorrow we go out to the range. Your marksmanship scores were disgusting. I doubt you could even shoot yourself if you tried."

"Sir, yes Sir." Alex dragged off to bed, feeling the weakness that always followed the heat.

That night, Alex had a familiar nightmare, one that had happened at least once a week for as long as Alex could remember. In the dream, Alex was small, about two and standing next to a woman with eyes just like Alex's. The woman and the Captain were arguing about Alex, and suddenly, the Captain reached out and struck the woman. As the woman fell, she became misty and disappeared.

Alex woke the next morning, hearing somebody knocking at the door. Dressing in a practiced rush, Alex headed downstairs to answer the door. Halfway down the stairs, Alex stopped, seeing the Captain already at the door. Alex winced, knowing the Captain would be upset later about having to answer the door. The Captain opened the door, and looked at the two men standing there. "What do you want?" asked the Captain tersely.

The older of the two men spoke calmly, "We are here to discuss Alex's enrollment into the Durmstranng's Academy." The Captain stared harshly at the men.

"I do not know what your angle is, but we deal in reality in this house. Wizards are not real, therefore Alex cannot go to a school of wizardry."

Both of the men gave him strange looks. "You know better than that. Amelia must have said something. After all, she sent Alex's name in when the Magic manifested."

The Captain grew angrier, and his next words were a snarl. "You are mistaken. That woman ran away right after Alex was born, and has not been back." The two men stared at him, and then at each other. Worry and apprehension was beginning to show in their eyes as the older spoke again.

"How long has Amelia been gone?" The Captain glared at them. "Ten years now." The younger man spoke now, and the anger in his voice was nearly the match of the Captain's.

"Strange she didn't return home, and even stranger that she left a wizard child with a muggle. We try not to do that. In fact, her last note just eight years ago, said she was living as a muggle with you, trying to keep the peace." The Captain froze.

"That woman never sent out any mail, I take it out every morning." The younger man pulled a blank scroll from his robes, and began writing on it.

"She was using the owl post, such as we used to deliver Alex's letter. Since my sister is no longer living here, I'll just drop her a quick note."

The Captain flinched, and stared at the younger man. "Your Sister?"

"Yes, Amelia was my sister, and how she got tied up with a muggle like you I'll never understand." Amelia's brother finished the note, and whistled an owl out of a nearby tree. Attaching the note to the owl, he sent it off.

While he was doing that, the Captain had regained his composure, and made a statement. "Whatever she was, Alex is my child now, and I say Alex will be a normal child. Take your wizardry stuff and be off with you."

The Captain attempted to shut the door in their faces, but the younger man whipped a twig from his sleeve, and said something Alex didn't catch. The Captain froze, locked in place and unable to move.

The older man now pulled another stick from his sleeve, and said "Winguardium Levosa". To Alex's shock, the Captain floated into the house, followed by the two men.

They looked around the house examining the perfectly organized shelves, and the neatly aligned everything. Nothing was out of place, except the blue- eyed child watching them from the stairs. The older man smiled at Alex, and spoke. "Hello Alex, would you join us please?" Alex stared at the sticks the men held, estimating the chances of making a break for freedom. As Alex hesitated, the older man said something Alex didn't catch, and the Captain could move his head again.

"Alex, Armageddon."

Alex jumped over the banister at the code phrase, and reached for the shotgun hidden behind the bookshelf at the bottom of the stairs. Alex had just gotten one hand on it when the older man pointed his stick at her, and muttered another phrase. A few seconds later, Alex was floating next to the Captain, and the man was releasing Alex's head from the spell.

Alex was rapidly beginning to understand that here was something you couldn't fight, without knowing about it. The younger man had found the shotgun Alex had been after, and was showing it to the older man. "It's a gun. Muggles use them to hurt each other."

The Captain was staring at Alex in disgust. "You are so worthless. You can't even follow one simple plan." The older man looked at the Captain, and the sarcasm was plain in his voice.

"I would remind you, that you are in exactly the same place Alex is."

The Captain was turning a dark red as he tried to escape his bonds. "Of course all you freaks stick together, now get out of my quarters damn you."

"Mr. Tremaine, we did not come for trouble, we merely wanted to know why Amelia or Alex had not answered," said the older man.

"The bitch freak can't answer." The Captain suddenly cut off, and looked at the wall.

The younger man moved in front of him, and fear was growing in his eyes and voice. "What do you mean?" The Captain ignored him, staring at the wall.

The older man touched the young man on the shoulder. "Move away from him Robert, and I will use the "Pensive" spell to see his last memory of Amelia."

The Captain began whipping his head back and forth. "Stay out of my head damn you!" The younger man removed a map from the wall, and turned a section of the wall silver. The older man was holding his want to the Captain's head, and muttering something.

After a minute, he pointed the stick at the silvered section of wall, and a picture formed there. Alex gasped. "That's my nightmare."

"Shut up!" yelled the Captain, who was still trying to free himself.

The picture showed a slender blue-eyed blonde-haired woman standing in the living room of this house. Alex was standing just off to the side, eyes wide and scared. The picture moved from Amelia, to Alex, and back to Amelia, and then the Captain's fist was striking Amelia. Amelia fell, striking her head on the fireplace, and the sudden looseness of her neck, and the stillness of her body spoke her fate as clearly as any words could have done.

The picture blinked, and changed to Amelia in a hole, and dirt falling steadily on her. As she disappeared under the dirt, the picture faded out.

Alex's mind was spinning as the realization that the Captain had murdered Amelia. No, Mother, and then lied about it, about Mother and to Alex for almost ten years. Fury burst over Alex in a tidal wave. "Why? Where is your talk of Honor, Honesty and Pride now? Or doesn't that count for murdering scum?" The Captain started to say something, and them grew impassive.

"Eight years I tried to raise you as a normal human being, spent everything on making you better than any freak, and this is the thanks I get. You are just another worthless freak like your mother. Get out of my quarters damn you all. And take that little freak with you."

The younger man's face was filled with anger and sorrow as he spoke to the Captain. The tears streaming down his face were at definite odds with the venomous hiss he spoke to the Captain in. "We're leaving alright, and taking Alex and Amelia with us. Where is her body?"

The older man pointed his stick at the wall again, bringing the picture of the hole back up. "Alex," He asked gently, "Do you know where that is?"

Alex stared at the picture and tried to concentrate. "It looks like the basement of the house." The man made the picture disappear as the younger man went hunting the basement stairs.

The old wizard's tone was gentle as he spoke. "Alex, if you would gather your things, we'll being leaving soon." Alex was still trying to bring everything together. Alex stood there, head spinning with the revelations of the last few minutes, and suddenly, something snapped in Alex. Alex turned to the older man, but her eyes were on the Captain.

"If you have something for me to wear, I will not even take the clothes I stand in from this murderer." The next few words were directed at the Captain, and pale green eyes burned with a fury that did not seem human as Alex spoke. "You better pray that you die before I find you again. I will make your life hell forever if I ever see you again" The younger man had come back up from the basement in time to hear that, and the two wizards exchanged worried looks.

The young wizard had a large box with him. "I left a copy there, it will convince the Muggles of what happened here."

The older man waved his stick, and clothes fell at Alex's feet. Alex began changing on the spot as the two wizards turned to the Captain. The two of them cast a spell over the Captain. "Now Mr. Tremaine, you cannot talk to anyone about what happened here, about magic, wizards, or anything I don't want you talking about." The Captain's eyes blazed, but he kept his mouth shut.

When Alex was done changing, the older man had Alex call the police, and he told them that there was a murderer at this address. After he hung up, He pulled a piece of string from his pocket, and had the other two hold it. As the sirens started in the distance, he held the string, and they all port keyed away.

They reappeared in front of a large house, with a yard and gardens all around it. "I'm sorry Alex, my name is Robert Shultz, and I am your uncle. Welcome to the Shultz House." Alex scanned the house and grounds, finding avenues of attack and retreat out of years of habit. The older wizard introduced himself as Donald Jerison, a family friend.

Alex turned vivid blue eyes on the two men, and smiled shyly as the first of many questions came bubbling up. "Will I learn to do the things you do with your sticks?"

Robert smiled as he gently corrected the mistake. "They're called wands, and you can learn anything you want. The world can be yours"

As they entered the house, Alex paused for a minute, looking out at the sky. Green eyes flashed as Alex took one final look around. "It can be mine, and it will. I will be the winner, first place always."

Epilogue pt 1

"John Tremaine, having been found guilty of the murder of your wife, and in that you will neither speak of her, or the whereabouts of your missing child, and further given that you show no remorse, I sentence you to life imprisonment at hard labor. You are not eligible for parole. You will be remanded to the custody of the state labor facility as soon as possible." The judge stood, and looked at the silent man. "I hope God has mercy on your soul, for I cannot find any for you."

Epilogue pt 2

Robert and his wife watched Alex wandering in the gardens below. Denise Shultz turned to her husband. "What do you think Love?" "I think that poor child has been through more than anybody we know, more than any two, and one or two little quirks is not bad for what Alex endured." Denise shivered, and pulled her husband's arm around herself. "What about that eye thing?" Robert sighed. "What can we do? I don't know anyone that can heal the kind of thing Alex has suffered. If it was just a leg, or an arm, I'd say call the mediwizards. But who heals minds?"

"What about the muggles? Can they do anything?" "They might be able to, but have you mentioned muggles, or muggle things in Alex's hearing? Those green eyes come out, and Alex gets. scary." Robert stared soberly at his wife. "Alex is coming around, we can't expect miracles. We'll watch and wait until the end of school. If there is still a need, we'll act then."

Alex looked around, green eyes narrowed as a squirrel crossed the path. A few seconds later, it was dead, Alex's knife buried in its neck. "Soon, I won't have to settle for animals" Alex thought, and the pleasure this thought brought made Alex laugh.