Title: The Gold Echo
Author Name: TrueLoveFan
Warnings for: Violence, but not really, and minor language usage.
- Ages: Anna and Jacob are now 14, Marie is 6, Justin is 16, Max is 13, and Alex's birthday is in this chapter.
- The first name is the WizTech house name and second is their similar Hogswarts house.
Alphyn = Gryffindor
Bakunawa = Slytherin
Kelpie = Hufflepuff
Garuda = Ravenclaw
All publicly recognizable characters, settings, etc. are the property of their respective owners. The original characters and plot are the property of TrueLoveFan. TrueLoveFan is in no way associated with the owners, creators, or producers of any media franchise. No copyright infringement is intended.
"What do you mean you barely know him?" Anna asked; breaking the silence that had fallen over the bedroom since Alex made the pronouncement. She stood just behind her brother facing the Russo daughter.
"I meant exactly what I said, Anna. I know he's your brother and all, but I don't really know him." Alex replied. She was too tired to deal with this; she hadn't slept well in two days and her birthday party was tomorrow. She needed all the rest she could get.
"This isn't a funny joke, Al." Justin said.
"I'm not the one joking here."
"You're not joking?" Alex shook her head in the negative and folded her arms across her chest. He ran his hand through his hair, pulling on it in his confusion. He stepped away from both girls and began to pace between their beds. She wasn't joking. "Okay, okay…so what's going on?"
"What's going is that you crawled into my bed in the middle of the night, acting as if that's perfectly alright, and you both are looking at me like I'm the crazy one." Alex supplied angrily.
"It's just-" Anna started, taking a seat upon Alex's bed. "We are confused, Alex."
The elder woman sat beside Anna on her own bed with a frustrated huff. "Why?"
"Because you've known Justin your whole life."
"Since the day you were born." Justin supplied, wearing a hole in the carpet where he paced. "I held you in my arms and you were so small. Mom- Theresa said that it was my responsibility to protect you, that you weren't capable of taking care of yourself, not yet." He couldn't help the tears in his eyes as he looked over at her. She seemed unmoved by his words and he wanted to scream. How could she not know him?
"Look, guys, I love you both, but it is too early in the day to be dealing with this. I am exhausted, so are you, and tomorrow is a big day. Could we maybe deal with this after breakfast or something?" Anna inquired as she moved back over to her own bed.
"Whatever," Alex answered, slipping back under her covers. "There's just one thing I gotta know right now. Why were you trying to get in my bed? That's perverted."
Anna answered before the shock of being called a pervert wore off Justin. "You don't remember this, clearly, but in order to sleep you and Justin have sleep in the same bed. That's the gist of it anyway. If you want to get any shuteye tonight, let him sleep in your bed." Alex considered Anna's words for a few seconds. She trusted Anna; she'd never lie to her.
"Keep your hands to yourself." The birthday girl insisted, staring the man down, and Justin held up his hands in front of him submissively. "An elbow to your stomach will be the least of your problems if you don't." He nodded and Alex flipped the covers back on the right side of the bed and waved her arm in a wide arc. "Get in. I'm tired."
Justin nodded quickly and climbed in beside her. Alex bent down over her side of the bed and pulled several teddy bears from underneath it. She placed the plush toys carefully in the limited space between them. He tried not to be offended by that; Alex had no reason to trust him. Once she was satisfied that the line would keep them apart during the night, the birthday girl settled on her side of the bed.
"Night," Anna said, turning off her bedroom light casting their shared bedroom into darkness. "Sleep well." Both of them were fast asleep before she even finished the sentence.
The next morning before the three of them had time to discuss what they had discovered the previous night they were swept off in different directions to prepare for the party. Luckily for them, when Jerry came to wake the girls, he thought to knock on the door, giving Justin enough time to hide under the bed. Once they were dressed and fed, the three of them were given individual duties that put them in different parts of the house for hours. Then when lunchtime came and Justin finally thought they were going to get a chance to work the problem out, Raya and Gabriel arrived. Alex was pulled away then to introduce her new friends to her family and show them around their home.
It was only fifteen minutes before Alex's Quinceanera that Justin managed to get all the young wizards together. He pulled them all toward the sub shop's kitchen, specifically the wizard's lair. Alex tripped a few times trying to keep up with the rest of them in her pink dress, Justin reaching out to steady her each time. "Where are you all going?"
They turned as a group to face the doorway to the kitchen and faced Theresa. She looked tired, worn, and worried. Today was stressful enough for Theresa and Jerry; Justin didn't want to add to that. Max came up with a response before Justin could do so. "We're putting all of our wands in the lair so that we aren't tempted to use them during the party."
"Oh," Theresa said, straightening her shirt, "Good because you know-"
"'my family are coming and doing magic in front of them would be bad, very bad.'" Justin, Max, Anna, Marie, and Alex finished for her. Theresa smiled a little and left them alone to put their wands away.
"Good thinking, Max." The birthday girl complimented as Anna pulled open the freezer door. They all stepped through the opening and into the Wizards Lair. Justin went straight over to the spell book and began flipping through it like mad. Anna stood behind him, looking over his shoulder at the various spells contained within. Max and Marie settled beside each other on the couch and started thumb wrestling. Alex flopped down in her recliner, her dress poofing out around her within the limits of the chair and Raya and Gabriel just stood awkwardly in front of the study table.
"Anyone gonna tell me why we are in here?" Raya asked after a few seconds of silence. The goal was clearly not to simply put their wands away for safe keeping.
"Someone's messed with Alex's memories." Justin replied without taking his eyes off the old book in front of him. Raya and Gabriel crowded around the book then too.
"How deep does the change go?" Gabriel asked. "Is it memory modification or memory erasing?" Justin turned to face the Kelpie a little shocked. The boy was so quiet preferring to simply nod then speak in their presence. Even Alex turned in her chair to look at him. He shrugged and explained, "My father's a specialty wizard. He deals in memory spells."
"What's the difference?" The middle Michaels' child asked from her position next to her brother.
"Memory erasing is easier on the person implementing it, but it leaves the victim with empty spaces in their mind. There is an inherent danger of the victim being driven insane, searching for the memories that no longer exist."
"And memory modification?" Raya inquired. Gabriel talked about his family very rarely so she knew that discussing what he had learned from his father's work was hard for him. The faster they got off this topic, the less time Gabriel had to wear that pinched look on his face.
"That's more complicated; multiple people would be required to pull it off. The implementer would have created replacement memories and then those would be layered atop the old ones. The good news is that these fake are very fragile and once you find the trigger to unlock the real memories the fake ones will fall away. The bad news is that the trigger could be anything: sights, sounds, smells, anything." Gabriel explained. "We need to which one was inflicted upon Alex."
"Did it ever occur to any of you," Alex said as she stood from her recliner in an angry quick motion. "That maybe you are all the ones with changed memories?"
"All of us?" Max inquired from his seat upon the couch; Marie trapped his thumb in the seconds that followed. Alex opened her mouth, turning slightly toward her only brother, but stopped. She got a look on her face, one that Justin recognized as her consideration face. He knew that she was realizing how far reaching her point was and he knew that he had to jump upon it before she built another reason to believe they were wrong.
"Come on, Al," Justin said stepping around the others too stand in front of her. "You know that we are right about this."
Alex looked him in the eyes, but the light of recognition that he usually found there was noticeably missing. There was a moment of awkward silence before the birthday girl huffed and said, "Fine! How do we figure this out?" When no one responded with the exception of numerous head tilts from all of the other people in the lair, Alex snapped, "I don't like knowing someone's messing with my mind, changing things!"
Justin wanted to comfort Alex as he always did, but he knew that such an action would not be welcomed. It was Raya who pulled her into a hug instead making Justin feel completely useless. She redirected the birthday girl back into the recliner. Gabriel followed behind his girlfriend closely.
"Well, I have to see what I am dealing with. First, you should know is that I am not a trained memory wizard. I'm just saying that for legal reasons; I can totally handle this. Second, I'm going to magically map your brain. You'll feel a little tingly sensation, but that is all." Gabriel removed his wand from his typical hiding place and waved it clockwise twice and counterclockwise once over the crown of Alex's beautifully styled hair. He said words that none of the others could make out from the positions. The tip of his wand glowed and then a string of the same color connected his wand and her head. He slowly pulled his wand back from her head and once clear of her body, he swished his wand from left to right and right to left.
Everyone else watched as the glow from the wand became a gold line laid out upon their study table. All of them crowded around the table to watch. "This," Gabriel started, turning slightly to face the birthday girl at his side. "Is the timeline of your memory. Everything that has ever happened to you that you remember is documented here. This is what, if anything, has been altered."
He turned toward Justin who was standing in between Marie and Raya. "We need an idea where to start looking. It will take too long to comb randomly through fourteen years of memories. Ask her about a memory from her childhood that heavily involves you."
"Okay…um…Alex, how did you learn to ride your bike?"
The brunette rolled her eyes; that was an easy one! She…she could not remember. How could she not recall that? Everyone learns to ride a bike and she could ride a bike. She remembered riding her bike to visit Harper once upon a time. "I don't know. I know that I can, but I don't remember learning it."
Gabriel made an 'hmmm' sound and attached his wand to the golden memory line again near the first of it. He pulled his wand back toward his shoulder and that section of the line got bigger. From this closer perspective, the onlookers could see AGE labels on the line. He touched the line again and moved his wand upward as far as he could reach: this allowed them all to see the specifics of the line with such labels as RIDING BIKE and DAD'S BIRTHDAY. "That's odd." Gabriel said, reaching out to touch the string carefully.
"What's wrong?" Marie asked straining to see what everyone else was looking at. She wasn't really tall enough; she could barely see above the edge of the table.
"There's….memory block here." He pointed to the barely visible grey section about the width of a single hair horizontally cutting through the gold color. "A memory block is a strong wall that the caster has created to block off all of Alex's memories from her cognitive recall. Everything that happened to her before last year, she will not be able to remember. This is a simple spell, would barely take any time at all to cast. The faster the wall is broken though the better."
"Why?" Alex asked. "What happens if it doesn't get broken through?"
"Memories live on recall; without it memories die. The longer it stands the more likely your memories will die and be forever forgotten."
"How do we break through it?" Max asked, taking ahold of his sister's hand out of sight. Alex was grateful for the action and squeezed his hand in thanks.
"You just have to remind her of things that happened. Her mind will search for the memory automatically and every attempt to get through will crack the wall eventually bringing it down."
"But Alex doesn't remember some things that happened this year too!" Anna responded, frustrated by all this talk and no action. The Kelpie attached his wand once more to Alex's memory line, replaced the youth part back where it belongs, he then zoomed in on the newest memories at the end.
"Justin, ask her about a more recent memory, please."
"A week ago, we snuck down to the Grand Hall late at night…do you remember that?" Justin asked, ignoring the chuckles and snickers from the others, and Gabriel followed Alex's memory recall to the one in question.
"Yes, I remember that…but I wasn't with you."
"This memory has been modified." The Kelpie declared before Justin could ask her who she was with. Gabriel looked closer at the modifications, but found nothing to indicate the casters. He was, however, able to trace the modifications to all of Alex's memories of Justin over the past year. "Whoa. Someone is seriously dedicated to screwing with your mind, Alex. Casting something of this magnitude takes a great amount of work. I've never seen anything this extensive before and I've seen a lot of these." With his examination done, he return the memory line back in Alex's head and the fifteen-year-old shivered.
Just then the door to the lair opened and Jerry walked in. "What are you all doing in here? Everyone's here and waiting for the arrival of the birthday girl."
"We were all putting our wands away." Justin supplied easily.
Jerry raised an eyebrow, "For twenty minutes?"
"We got caught up talking about WizTech, daddy." Alex informed, reaching up to kiss her father's cheek as she passed him. The others followed behind her in a line.
"Um, guys?" Jerry called, turning to face the group bunched up at the lair's door. They looked back at him confused. "Your wands." He made a sweeping motion toward their hands and all of them looked down.
"Oh, right." Anna said and all seven of them rushed back over to the study table and put their various wands down. Jerry placed two additional wands down as well and then the group of eight left the lair behind them.
Once they were all in the kitchen, Justin turned around to ask. "whose were those?" The others ignored the question and took off for the fabulous ball that they were all late for.
"Professor Crumbs and your friend, Ronald, arrived while you all were chatting."
By the time, Justin arrived at the party, everything was in full swing. People who used to be family members to him came up to him and said hello. A few even asked him about his feelings concerning Alex becoming a "woman." To be honest, he didn't know how he felt about that fact. He could see how grown up Alex had become especially since the truth about his origins came to light. He still felt as if she needed protection. She may be a "woman" now, but she was still his Alex….whether she remembered it or not.
He fought his way through the crowd searching out the birthday girl in her brightly colored dress. With all these people she would not remember around her, Justin thought it would be best if he was around to cover for her. If he could break through the memory block and modifications in the meantime, well so much the better. Finally, he found her leaning up against the far wall talking to Ronald. Justin was relieved to see her talking to his housemate…until he leaned forward and kissed her. Then all he could see red.
A/N: Is anyone still reading this? 3