In Nomine Magica
Fanfiction by: A J
Based on the story Memorium by: Aesop
Disclaimer: Harry Potter and his Wizarding World are the creations of J.K Rowling, and the original character of Joanna Stillwell is as first imagined by Aesop. Her circumstances here and the plot are all my addition.
Author's note 1: Apologies, readers, this little one-shot is the brainchild of several things. Years of writing mini-scenes wherein the characters have a chance to review the stories they're in, a rather inventive and 'happy-ending' addicted Muse, and inspiration after reading the aforementioned story above. What started as a simple response to Aesop quickly outgrew the regular Review window, and became the tale you see here. I highly recommend his story, though warn thee now, it's long, and all one chapter. (A quick tip, Aesop, start chaptering them up, even if they're tiny scenes. Hey, it seems to work wonders for James Patterson. ;D )
Author's note 2: Additional apologies, this time to Aesop, as well as those who've read the original Memorium as well as the first version of this story. Further discussions with Aesop revealed some background that helped with Miss Stillwell's characterization. Hence, the need for this rewrite and repost. Hopefully, you will all enjoy it even more. And now, on with the story.
Easter, 2005 …
Hermione sat back upon hearing Susan's tale, her eyes dancing with remembrance of some of Dumbledore's other meddlings, past and ... well, past, these ten years after the war. "So, this is why you had such a reaction to our Muggle Studies' Professor?" she asked her visitor.
Susan MacMillan, formerly Bones, nodded. She was still shaking from the sight of her one-time houseguest here in the Americas, where Hermione was a regular substitute teacher and sometime-guest lecturer at the Salem Witches' Institute. "I had no idea that knowing about us could help her avoid us in plain sight," she managed to say, forcing her hands to still long enough to drink her tea, while Hermione, addicted to coffee by her repeated trips across the pond, sipped from a large thermal mug of the harsh, oily stuff.
"Imagine, our proper Miss Wells, a fugitive from British Ministry 'justice'," Hermione said, still marveling at the tale.
"Yes, and I'd just as soon you forgot about it, Granger," Joanna 'Josie Wells' Stillwell said from Hermione's office doorway. She also had a cup in her own hands, and from the smell, had fortified her after-school tea with something considerably stronger than cream. "How are you, Susan? Nice to see your hair's grown back." Susan nearly dropped her tea at this confirmation of her theory.
"F-fine, thank you ... Oh, oh ... Joanna!" Susan, who'd had one hand on her long braid at the innocuous comment, suddenly abandoned her tea and her seat to fly across the room and embrace the older woman. "Aunt Amelia never l-let me come and see you that h-whole last week in the hospital ... and then the Aurors said you'd been K-KILLED ..!"
"Yes, well, I'd have rather the quick death by Death Eater than what Azkaban would have done to me," Josie told her younger friend.
"About that ..." Hermione interrupted their strange reunion. "If you're allergic to magic, how'd you end up with this posting?"
"Ah, well ..." Josie let Susan loose, finished her cupful with a bracing grimace, and straightened her shirt. "Turns out it wasn't an allergy so much. When I first got here, I saw the signs of witches and wizards in town, and just ... acted like an untalented cousin. Since then, I've had a bit of a chance to look through some old, old records brought across by various witches and wizards avoiding the hunts back home, and several of them placed spells on their nonmagical family members to hide their escapes, so that torture, regular OR magical, would never reveal their locations. It was considered ... one last 'out' ..." and she made air quotes for the final word, "for any captured." Hermione gasped, and Susan shuddered. "It seems my great-great uncle back in the Burning Times was a sorcerer, who came over the pond before the trouble reached Salem. The family he left behind all bore the spell, and passed it on with our blood ..." She gave Susan a shrug.
"Imagine my surprise when I was approached by the Mistress here when their old Muggle Studies Professor decided to retire and move to Florida. She told me she prefers to have the class taught by someone either Muggle-born, or who's lived amongst them, since they can explain it all so much easier. I told her I wasn't actually a witch. Then Professor Rowan asked me about my ancestry. My great-great's family all passed away on this side during the early part of the last century, in one of the Spanish Influenza outbreaks, before the potion to cure it was finally brewed. I … lied. I said I was descended from a squib brother who survived the plague as a furrier up in Quebec, and only found out about magic when a cousin-in-law inadvertently gave me a charmed gift for Christmas that set off my … affliction. A fellow squib got me to an E R in time, and I … educated myself from there. And since Magical America passed laws allowing knowledgable teachers in any wandless subject ..."
"Let me guess, your application lists a completed Quikspell Correspondence Course, and with an insider's help, you were able to pass yourself off as a squib teacher to the governors?" Hermione said, smiling.
"How'd you guess?" Josie said, flushing faintly.
"Staffroom gossip, mostly," Hermione replied, "about just how much extra studying you do … to the extent that you ought to be teaching Magical History instead of Muggle Studies, if it's any comfort."
"I'll stay where I am, thank you," Josie said with a smile. "I like my work; it gives me plenty of time to pursue my own inquiries. It gives me the best chance to do something about the deplorable state between magical and normal folk, too. I'm working to educate the students here to treat the nonmagical better, even the ones who don't take my classes. And during our holidays, I try to raise awareness among the magical communities."
"Hmm, I have noticed the students seem more easygoing with the Muggleborns and half-bloods among them here than at Hogwarts," Hermione said. "You've really come a long way, if you started as late as you did."
"Especially considering how much you seemed to hate magic when we first met," Susan added.
"Oh, not magic," Josie countered, "not as such. I mean, what girl doesn't wish for a little magic in her life, right?" The three traded grins. "No, what I hated was the way it was just used, willy-nilly, on anyone and everyone, regardless of the consequences."
"I remember that …" Susan started. "About your brother, and the DMLE's bad handling of things …" Josie's bitter snort interrupted her. "Well, from my perspective, them involving you was a rousing success, remember," she told her old houseguest with a fond smile.
"Oh, I never blamed you, Susan," Josie said sadly, remembering all that had happened, starting with the murder of her brother Alan those many years ago. "Nor your aunt or that healer. But the rest of them, starting with the officer that tried to frame my brother and that … that … Fudge!" she snarled now, once more seething at what the Magical Minister of Britain had wanted done with her.
"Joanna!" Susan embraced her again, hoping human contact would help bring her friend back from the brink of such rage. Hermione ducked out to the lounge down the hall, and came back with the teapot to refill all their cups. When Josie seemed to have calmed down slightly several tense moments later, Hermione offered Josie her own chair, and conjured up a duplicate for herself.
"Thank you, Granger," Josie said shakily, taking her now-full cup back. "I must apologize for my temper, but it's been years since I've dwelt on the problem for more than a moment; I've learned how to … divert the train of thought, as it were …"
"No, no … I'm sorry, Jo … I brought it up, and I knew how much it would hurt …" Susan said, sitting as well finally. She put her head in her hands for a moment, then with a sigh, sat back with her own cup and drained it noisily. Both of the other women could tell she was trying to drown out the sound of her own sniffles. Hermione knew why, but kept mum, knowing she was just an observer to this moment between the reunited friends.
"Susan, what is it?" Josie – no, Joanna – asked.
"You know I was living with my Aunt Amelia because my parents died, right?" Susan began shakily. Josie nodded. "The Dark wizards who were responsible for everything that happened to your brother, you, and your family … they were the same ones who killed them … and Aunt Amelia, a year after we met you …" Now it was Josie's turn to provide solace, and Hermione threw her arms around the sobbing pair, teary as well. She remembered meeting the older Miss Bones once on Platform 9 ¾, and had thought the Ministry Hit-witch had been quite the decent sort. It had been mere weeks before the murder of Amelia Bones by Death Eaters, and Hermione vividly remembered the haggard, intense young Susan who'd returned to their Sixth Year, determined to become an Auror just like her aunt as well.
When the three were themselves again, after finishing the pot of tea and Hermione's box of tissues off, Josie settled back in her chair with a sigh. "I am sorry to hear of her loss, Sue. There were times I really thought she was the only decent witch in the whole Ministry."
"Yes, well, you haven't had a chance to see things with Kingsley in charge," Hermione said. "He listens to the department heads, and I gather the Boneses had a decent say in fixing things like Muggle relations, beginning because of what happened with you, I suspect now," she continued. She didn't see the need to add that her husband Ron and her in-laws Harry and Ginny were among the progressives trying to drag the new Ministry kicking and screaming into the twenty-first century.
"Truly, she's right," Susan added. "My husband Ernie is an Obliviator now, and they have to be careful with each case, making sure they only make people forget the magical circumstances of an incident. And if there's a witness to a magical crime, wizard or Muggle, they're completely interviewed first, now. Aunt Amelia was the one who started that, right after … after we thought we'd lost you …"
"Well, that's progress, at least …" Josie sighed, trading glances with Hermione. "So, what about the rest of Wizarding Britain? What sorts of progress has been made with the rest of it? Fudge isn't Minister anymore, that much we heard about over here, though the rest is rather vague afterwards, what with Volde …" She stopped at Susan's raised hand.
"Please, don't," Susan gulped, her face whitening.
"Fear of the name is pointless," Hermione said. "Voldemort's gone, Susan. Harry saw to that. You were there, for heaven's sake!"
"I know, I know … it's just … ingrained, you know?" Susan took a deep breath. "Fudge's replacement was Scrimgour, then his was Thickness, and after the Battle of Hogwarts, Kingsley Shacklebolt got the office. He's still there, thankfully, and as good as we all could wish."
"And what about Elves?" Josie couldn't help herself from asking. It was an interest she and Hermione had in common, and were thankful it was a practice that hadn't survived in the American Colonies.
"Well, I can't speak for the rest of magical Europe, but I'm no longer a slavemaster," Susan admitted. "I released Uba after I went back to Hogwarts the year Aunt Amelia died. Strangest thing, though … she never left. She's still there, taking care of Ernie and me. She did take a bit of a vacation for a bit, though, and came back with a baby of her own, saying the father was one of the newly Free Elves of Hogwarts." She looked slyly at Hermione for a second. "You'll never guess what she named it."
"What, Harry?" Josie asked, remembering Uba's fascination with the young Wizard.
"Nope!" Susan beamed, and Hermione had to hide her smile. "Jo!"
"What? No …" Josie shook her head in wonderment. "Guess I better be careful visiting, or she'll name me the godparent … elfparent?" she teased, smiling back.
"Then you will come back?" Susan practically begged. "I know your family would be just as happy you're alive as I was … as I am," she asserted.
"Don't know if it'd be right to visit now," Josie sighed. "At this point, all my relatives and friends think I'm dead and buried these last ten years. I'd be like a ghost, with nothing in common to talk about with them. Though it would be nice to see London again ..."
"There's nothing saying Professor Josie Wells can't come over on summer holidays to visit her colleague in England, and be ... introduced to several family friends," Hermione said astutely, her grin as feral as one of Ron's over his mother's famous Christmas firewhiskey slush. She looked from Josie to Susan and back, and almost had to sigh for the length of time it took the young Missus MacMillan to grin back and say "OH!"
"Speaking of family," Josie chuckled, "who're we supposed to call to substitute for everybody's favorite substitute, come next semester, Granger?" Susan looked back and forth between them, taking in Hermione's faint blush, and Joanna's – Josie, she had to start reminding herself now – smirk.
"Why would a sub need a sub ..? OH." Susan repeated, and grinned as well now, while Hermione settled a hand over her as-yet flat stomach.
"Ron came out to America this last holiday, so Harry and Ginny could enjoy their first Christmas at home with little James quietly … Grandma Molly nonwithstanding. I guess we celebrated our New Years a little … enthusiastically," she grinned.
"Congratulations, Hermione," Susan said, giving her a hug. She got a thoughtful look. "Hmm, what do you have to do to become a substitute teacher here, Jo?"
Author's note 3: This particular scene is part of a larger tale I'm already penning, Gwen Tennyson and the Witches of America. While not necessary to enjoy this short, those who want to find out more about Miss Wells and her new part in the Wizarding World would be welcome to follow that one, as well. Once again, thank you for your patronage, and please remember to review on your way out. Catch ya on the flipside, A J.