April 19, 1996

In a middle school History classroom, a teacher sat at a metal desk grading papers. She glanced up as a man stepped into the room.

"Principal Beck." The teacher laid her pen onto the pile of ungraded papers.

"Ms. Croft." Mr. Beck closed the door behind him.

"What brings you to my class a mere five minutes before it's about to begin?" Veronica Croft glanced at the clock on her desk.

"School business." Mr. Beck heaved a deep sigh. "As you know, the school board met last night to discuss several contracts, yours among them."

"I was there, sir. I had to leave before they reached a decision." Veronica shuffled through several papers.

"You've made a vast improvement on theā€¦"

"History classes but we are unable to renew your contract."

"You weren't the only one that we had to let go. I hope you understand."

"Oh, I understand and I have seen this same thing happen far too often. I've been teaching for fifteen years and every time the students begin to raise their grades I get kicked out the door. You see I've been through this a few times before. My contract is never renewed after the students start passing the BSAP exam. I decided to take matters into my own capable hands." Veronica climbed to her feet as her grey eyes flashed violet with anger. "At least this time, I anticipated the way I would be getting the boot."

"What do you mean?"

Veronica removed a small key from her pocket and unlocked the top drawer of her filing cabinet. She removed a file folder containing several letters. "I decided at the beginning of the year that I needed to be ready in case the school board decided that I wasn't needed any longer. I sent resumes out to several schools around the world. These are the responses from some of those schools. I've been at this school for five years and the students are passing their tests finally."

"You did this without anyone knowing."

"Yes. You see I knew what would happen this year." Veronica opened the folder and pulled out two of the letters. "Both of these are from schools in England. One is Smeltings Academy and the other is Stonewall High. You see they have already heard of my reputation for getting the kids to learn. I am willing to share my knowledge with anyone who is willing to learn."

"I thought Smeltings only took men as teachers."

"I am as good as any man. I will get the respect that I deserve." Veronica closed the file folder. "Besides I have decided that it is time for me to return home."

"What do you mean by that?"

"You know that I was orphaned when I was little more than a child."

"What does that have to do with anything?"

"I happened to be in the United Kingdom, some place on the British Isles, when it happened." Veronica shook her head as a fog of faded memories had started to roll in. "That is my home."

"Are you alright?" Mr. Beck placed a hand on Veronica's shoulder.

"I'm fine." Veronica shrugged Mr. Beck's hand from her shoulder as she stumbled back into her chair. "Please leave. My class will be here soon."

"Okay." Mr. Beck opened the door. "Good luck on the job search." Mr. Beck closed the door behind him.

Veronica gripped her head as she fell to the floor. The fog of memories thickened until she was watching two dark haired boys torturing a third dark haired boy. A blonde haired boy was jumping on the balls of his feet nearby. Veronica bit back a terrified scream as she watched the blood flow from a wound on the boy's head. She fought the invisible bonds that kept her from rushing to his side. She watched as another flash of light flew toward the boy. "Don't!" Veronica screamed as several students stepped into the classroom. "Leave Severus alone!"

"What's wrong with her?" One of the girls bit back a scream as Veronica screamed in pain.

"I don't know." One of the boys knelt beside Veronica. "We've got to help her."

Suddenly Veronica extended one hand in front of her. "Expelliarmus!" A jet of red light flew from the palm of her hand and hit the wall. "Stay out of this, Dorian!"

"I wonder what that was." One girl picked up a picture that had fallen off the wall.

"Don't know." One of the boys at the back of the group glanced at the stick in his hand. 'I can't stun her. She'll knock me back with her wandless magic,' he thought to himself as he stuck the stick back into his bag.

"What can we do to help her?" An auburn haired girl knelt next to Veronica as Veronica tried to climb to her feet.

Veronica lunged forward and grabbed the hands of two of the boys. "Don't torture Severus, James! Stop it, Sirius!" She turned to two other boys. "Help me, Remus! Help me stop them, Peter! We have to stop them before they scar Severus for life!"

The auburn haired girl moved closer to Veronica as the other students tried to move away from her. "Ms. Croft." She placed a hand on Veronica's back. "James and Sirius have stopped. Remus and Peter even helped."

Veronica turned her head to face the girl. Her eyes remained out of focus as she stared at the girl's auburn hair. "Lily? It's not possible. You hate James and Sirius almost as much as they hate Severus." Veronica's eyes slowly slid back into focus as she shook her head. She looked back at the girl. "Miss Richards?"

Savannah Richards wrapped an arm around Veronica's waist as a boy helped to pull them to their feet. "Are you okay, Ms. Croft?"

"I am now." Veronica weaved on her feet as she smiled softly. "Would someone take my cup and get me some water?"

"I'll do it." Savannah picked up a cup off the desk and walked out of the classroom as Veronica sank into her chair.

The students muttered as they began to take their seats. Veronica opened the top drawer of her desk and pulled out a small black book. She picked up her pen and quickly wrote down everything she had seen. "Before we begin, I would like for you to know that today and tomorrow will be your free days as I won't be here after that." Veronica smiled as Savannah placed the cup on the desk. "Thank you, Miss Richards." Veronica looked out over the class as she took a sip of water. "I need to know something. Did I say or do anything during my attack?"

Several eleven and twelve year old students nodded as Savannah stood up beside her desk. "You were yelling at two guys. Their names were James and Sirius. You kept telling them to stop torturing a guy named Severus. Then you held up your hand and said 'Expelliarmus.' A jet of red light flew from the palm of your hand and hit the wall. You told someone named Dorian to stay out of it. You even asked two others to help you. Their names were Remus and Peter. You even called me an odd name, Lily. You said she hated James and Sirius as much as they hated Severus."

Veronica scribbled down the names into the little black book. "Please, let us get down to your free day."

"Ms. Croft." One of the boys stood next to his desk. "Why are we having two free days in a row?"

"I just found out that my contract won't be getting renewed, Mr. Pratt."

Johnny Pratt sank into his seat as the other students started yelling.


"They can't do that!"

"You're the best teacher we ever had!"

Veronica smiled slightly. "I've heard all this before." The mutters grew slightly. "You have exams next week and I need to begin an extensive job search before the new school year begins. I already have several jobs lined up."

"It's not fair, Ms. Croft." Savannah ripped the corner from her notebook in her anger. "They know you're the best."

"I assure you they know this. They simply decided that I was too expensive a tutor to keep around." Veronica watched as several pencils snapped in half. "I'm no longer needed here; you can handle history on your own now that you have the basics. Besides I feel that I need to return to my home." Veronica glanced toward the window and watched as a tawny barn owl flew by. Her brow furrowed in confusion.

"Where's home?" Johnny stared at the broken pencil in his hands.

"England." Veronica smiled to herself as several students whispered amongst themselves. "Before you ask I'm not sure if that's where the attack happened or if the guys are there." The students glanced at each other as Veronica climbed to her feet. "Time to begin your work." Veronica moved around the desks as the students pulled out books and notebooks and began to work.