Loki had been sent to live out a mortal life upon Midgard. Odin did this to him with annoying regularity, especially considering that travel to Midgard was forbidden otherwise, and Loki rarely did anything to warrant such treatment. Frigga protested the near-baseless banishment every time, though it never did any good. Loki was forced into a fresh mortal shell and barred from Asgard until his mortal form expired and his pure self was returned to Asgard once more. This time, the parents of his mortal form were Charlus and Dorea Potter.
Natasha Romanov was sent to infiltrate the British magical community by the Red Room when she was a child. A family was selected, processed, and under the name Lily Evans, Natasha was integrated into their make-up.
The Red Room was very thorough. Their little agent would not be traced back to them. Even when she was taken from the Evans family for the first month of the summer holidays every year, re-processed and given a slew of quick and dirty missions.
Besides, who would suspect a Russian agent in an English school?
"Lily Rose Evans, will you marry me?" James asked, a hopeful smile on his face as he knelt before her, holding up the open red-velvet ring box.
"James," she breathed, her green eyes wide. In their depths swirled love and happiness and fear and worry. "We're in the middle of a war."
"I know," James agreed, and with a sigh he stood. "Look, Lily, we've been dating two years. I get that's not very long compared to some, and I get that... well, nothing's certain right now. If you want time to think about it...?" he offered, and again held the ring box out to the woman he loved.
The red-head smiled gratefully, accepted the plush little box, and stretched up on her toes to kiss her boyfriend's cheek.
"I'll sleep on it," she promised.
The Red Room approved her request. They said it would give her – and them by association – greater access to various magical texts. It made Natasha feel sick to think of it, but they were developing an amulet that would redirect the Killing Curse. She wore a prototype already.
If she ever actually got hit by a Killing Curse though, Natasha would accept it as the death of Lily, and then go on to absolutely destroy the Red Room. After she'd robbed them, of course. It wouldn't do to leave them with even the smallest scraps to possibly rebuild from, after all.
When she found out she was pregnant, she told James before she told the Red Room. Then she told him about the Red Room – because she had to inform them of her pregnancy as well. Absolutely had to – and she told him because she wanted her husband, who she loved, to be aware and alert in case the Red Room did anything to her because of the pregnancy.
"What sort of 'anything' would they do?" James asked, concerned for his wife and his child as he sat with Lily/Natasha on the couch of their living room, his arms around her middle as she wept into his shoulder.
There was rather a lot of trauma gone over in their conversation, plus she was moving into pregnancy hormones.
"That depends on if its a boy or a girl," she answered. "The Red Room only takes girls. They'd allow a girl to be brought to term with the idea that I'd begin training her like they trained me. If it's a boy..."
James recognised the uneasy silence for what it was: the fear of an unspeakable fate potentially befalling their precious child.
"Then we'll make sure our baby is a girl, and we'll also find a way to make sure she'll be safe from the Red Room if anything happens to us," James promised. "We've got about nine months to figure it out, after all."
The most commonly used ritual, insofar as ensuring the sex of a child in a Pure Blood family, was to make sure that a son was born. An heir to carry on the family name. Far less frequently used was the ritual to ensure a daughter. It was still used with some regularity – the very snobby sorts who pre-arranged matches between their children as soon as they found out about the impending births were the chief users. Though occasionally a witch in an arranged match that she didn't care for would perform the ritual to frustrate her husband. Or if she simply wanted a daughter to dote on. Reasons varied.
James' ancestors hadn't ever really minded much, one way or the other, as to whether sons or daughters were born. It was how the name had changed from Peverell to Gryffindor back in the thirteenth century, and from Gryffindor to Potter in the fifteenth. Interestingly enough, the name Potter had also changed, to Kettlewell, of all things, back in the eighteenth century. James' grandmother had married a muggleborn called Potter, completely unrelated to their family, but it had brought the name back around and made them Potters again.
The ritual to ensure that their baby was a girl was performed in a hired-out ritual room in the goblin bank. It came at great expense, because the chief reason that the goblins even had ritual rooms in their bank was to remove curses from treasure. The nasty little creatures were loath to not be using their ritual chambers for their own uses, but James had sat down with the account manager for the Potter vaults and made a deal.
It involved manipulating a few laws, but the law was there to serve the people smart enough to take advantage of it, and as much as James hated politics, his father had raised him to understand that eventually he would have to take his place on the Wizengamot, and therefore he'd bloody well better understand all of the laws front to back and back to front and in three Gaelic dialects (the Irish, Scottish, and Welsh variants), as well as French, Spanish, and Gobbledegook besides.
Every witch or wizard that James caught, defeated, or killed (Crouch had gotten lethal force approved the month before), he would get fifty percent of their wealth 'by right of conquest'. The goblins would get ten, the Ministry would get two, and the rest would remain for whoever of that witch or wizard's family stood to inherit. The goblins liked getting ten percent of a wizard's gold for no effort on their part. They liked that very much.
At eleven-fifty-seven, scant minutes away from midnight, on the thirty-first of July, James and Lily Potter welcomed their daughter into the world. The world wasn't so welcoming as them, but that was... correctable.
"No flower names, James," the new mother warned her husband firmly (for the fifth time) as she brought her daughter to her chest for her very first feeding.
"How do you like Marie then?" he suggested.
The red-head nodded slowly.
"Marie Natasha Potter," James whispered in his wife's ear, and ran a finger tenderly over his daughter's cheek. "She's perfect."
Lily bit her lip to fight back the tears. They were tears of happiness, but she didn't want to break down right now.
The Red Room had sent Natasha the newest version of their anti-AK amulet, but they had sent only one. For her. Without even blinking, the new mother slipped the protective amulet over her daughter's head. The original version remained hanging from her own neck. In all the time she had been under cover in the magical world, it had taken them seven years to develop a way to stop the fatal curse. It had taken another three before they had made a version that didn't drain the wearer of their magic to such a state that they were rendered unconscious for at least an hour after.
She wished that she could give one of these protective amulets to her husband, but James insisted that their daughter would need her mother more than her father, if it ever came down to it.
Both hoped that it never would.
A flash of green was the last thing that James Charlus Potter saw. Loki opened his eyes to find himself in the antechamber of the Gatekeeper Heimdall.
"Well," he said, careful to affect his old mannerisms again. It was always a struggle to be himself again when he shucked his enforced mortal form and returned to Asgard. "That was about as fun as usual."
"You're back sooner than expected," Heimdall replied.
"I hadn't exactly planned on being murdered in my own home at the ripe old age of twenty-four either," Loki nearly snarled back. James Potter had made preparations for just in case, but no, he hadn't planned on it. Loki would be exacting a subtle revenge upon Peter Pettigrew for the treachery. Just as soon as he was back in his private chambers and had access to all of his old magical, and mischief-making, tools.
That is, after he'd made sure Natasha/Lily had survived and their precious daughter was safe and healthy. Of all his children, Marie was already the dearest to him. Fenris, Jormungandr and Hel were grown and had little need of him any more. He loved them, they loved him, he visited them when they could, but his eldest three had well and truly left the nest. The initial parting had been forced upon them because Odin disapproved of Loki's 'monstrous' children. Sleipnir, well... Loki had not particularly enjoyed being raped by a horse, nor carrying a foal. Especially one with eight legs. That did not mean he did not love his son, but it hurt to see his ever-so-very-smart child being used as a common steed by Odin, as if Sleipnir were not a child that Loki had borne. Sleipnir understood, and Loki always spared him a kiss on the nose when he went to the stables – and an apple or carrot as well. As for Vali and Narfi... Loki could only mourn his twin boys.
But Marie was a baby, his second daughter after so many sons, and she had been perfect.
When Natasha woke from the minor coma that was caused by the amulet that had saved her from the killing curse, Marie was gone. That alone would have been enough to see her swearing in all fifteen of the languages she knew, but as she hauled herself up, she caught a glimpse of her handler from the Red Room approaching from the other end of the street.
It looked like she wasn't going to be allowed to mourn her husband, or look for her child.
For that, she hissed and snarled like a wounded cat and invented a few new curses. Not the magical kind. Well, not yet, anyway. Though she'd probably get to that before the week was out.
Upon finding Marie in his scrying glass, Loki forced down his rage and called up his magic. He was not, under any circumstances, going to permit Petunia Dursley of all people to raise his baby girl. As it was, he'd be sending a curse after Dumbledore for leaving her on the doorstep with just a blanket and a note. Not even a warming charm, when it was the darkest part of the night and early in November!
Loki growled to himself and wrapped Marie up in his magic. It was not an easy thing, to send magic across the realms, but she was his, and that made it a bit easier.
He did a quick check of his friends. Sirius was hunting down Peter. That was fine. Loki knew that Sirius was more the doting-uncle type than the responsible-parent type. He'd check in on Sirius in a few days, see if the hunt was successful. Remus was thrashing about in the cage he'd built for himself for full-moon nights. Loki sent a stream of magic to him at once, easing the pain of the transformation. Fenris was his son, the first Wolf, from whom all other werewolves were spawned, and as Loki was his father, that gave him a good amount of (though not ultimate) authority over Fenris' magical progeny.
The Longbottoms were still in hiding, Minnie was quietly drinking with Filius and Pomona... Most of the UK was celebrating though. Singing praises of 'The Girl Who Lived', but as Loki watched, he could see that nothing would truly change. As such, he quickly made the decision to remove Marie from the country entirely.
He'd loved it there, truly he had. It was home, and family, and friends, but Marie wouldn't get that if she stayed there. She was already stupidly famous for no proper reason – after all, it had been the advances of the Red Room, wicked place that it was, that had really stopped Voldemort.
Loki sought out a place that was as unlike to England as it could be, while still speaking English – his baby girl did still have her name down for Hogwarts, after all. He chose Mississippi, and used his magic to slip her into an adoption agency.
With Odin's laws as they stood right now, it was the best he could do for his youngest child.
Satisfied, at least for now, Loki turned his scrying glass to seek out his wife. He knew she would have survived, but he also knew that when he found her, he would not wish to look away for some time. He knew that he would wish to reach out to her and touch her. So he had saved her for last, and prepared the spell that would let him dream-walk to her.
"Lily," he called.
She was in their living room, staring at the fire and just warming her hands over the dancing flames. It wasn't destroyed by spell-fire as it had been when she had forced herself to walk away from the life – cover – that she had loved. Natasha turned.
"James," she breathed when she saw him. Standing there, whole and healthy and alive, which he had not been when she had last seen him, his body barring the way to the nursery she'd fled to, intent on grabbing up their daughter and running out the back way.
He smiled at her.
"I'm dreaming," she said next.
His smile faded.
"Yes," he confirmed. "Yes, you're dreaming. I'm so sorry Natasha, for leaving you."
"Would it do me any good to ask if you know what became of Marie?" she asked.
"She's safe," James answered. "No thanks to Dumbledore, but I corrected that."
Natasha frowned, her expression one of contemplative puzzlement. That look on her face made James smile again. They had been apart from each other only so short of a time, but already he had missed just watching her think.
"You fixed...?" she asked.
"Yes," James confirmed. "Lily love, Natasha, it turns out you're not the only one with a secret. I just... didn't know mine."
A request for an explanation was a breath away from crossing Natasha's lips when James' appearance melted away, changing slightly. The hair was still black, the skin was still pale, the bearing was still of someone raised knowing they were born to carry the weight of nobility. The bone structure was finer though, and the glasses vanished. Green eyes met green where they'd always met brown before.
"Odin likes to send me to Earth every century or so," he explained. "Reborn as a mortal without memory of my true self, to which I am restored upon my death."
Natasha's jaw dropped, just a little, as she stared into a set of eyes that were just as green as her own, as their Marie's.
"I am Loki," he said, "of Norse Legend." He reached out to take one of her hands in his. He brought that hand up to his lips, whereupon he kissed it. "And I love you, Natasha Lily Romanov Potter."
"You're not dead?" Natasha asked, her voice small and eyes glassy.
"No," Loki confirmed.
Natash threw herself at him then, and kissed him with desperate passion. Her husband was dead, but suddenly he wasn't, and she wasn't going to let him go in a hurry.
"Is Marie with you then?" she asked when they finally parted. For some reason, even dreaming, the need to breath had intruded.
"By order of Odin, mortals are not permitted in Asgard," Loki answered with an apologetic shake of his head. "Similarly, I am not permitted to return to Midgard. The only Aesir who may walk Earth's crust are those sentenced there by Odin, and whenever he does that to me, he strips me of my memories and sets me in an infant's body. There's only one bridge that lets us physically cross, and it is guarded constantly. If I tried to leave Asgard to return to you, I would be caught."
Natasha swore, colourfully and in three languages, as she pressed herself to his chest, arms like iron bands around his torso.
"But I am the god of mischief, and I have my loopholes," Loki comforted as he held her just as tightly to him.
"Like this," Natasha realised.
"Like this," Loki confirmed with a nod. "I'll watch over our daughter with my scrying, as you and I both know the Red Room is going to keep you very busy -"
"I never had any talent or inclination towards divination anyway," Natasha reminded softly as she just enjoyed the feel of his chest under her cheek, the sound of his heart beating by her ear. "I didn't think you did either."
"It helps that I've had centuries to study every branch of magic," Loki offered with a chuckle. "I delve into a new one every time I get bored, then proceed to make sure I've mastered it by pulling pranks all over the place."
"That sounds more like the you that I know," Natasha agreed with a smile, and pulled back just enough to look up at him. "You'll let me know how she's doing?"
"I'll do you one better," Loki teased with a smile as he rubbed her nose with his. He removed one arm from around Natasha's waist and held it out, pointed towards the extra-soft rug that Marie liked rolling around on so much.
Natasha watched in fascinated confusion, and then a familiar little bundle appeared there.
"Marie!" Natasha exclaimed, and lunged down onto her knees to pick up her baby.
"Mama!" the fifteen-month-old exclaimed joyfully, and happily patted her mother's face.
"We will be able to share our dreams," Loki promised as he knelt down beside his mortal wife. One arm went around her shoulders, the free hand instantly raised to tickle his perfect baby girl. "See and hold one another every night. Dream-walking isn't exactly easy though, so you and Marie are both going to have to rely on me to do the working that will allow us this. At least for the first few years."
"You'll teach me how?" Natasha asked.
Loki nodded, though he didn't take his eyes off Marie. Neither of them did.
"It may be side-stepping a few of Odin's laws, but yes," he agreed. "I'll teach you how to reach into other people's dreams, how to manipulate your dream world and draw other people to you. Now that I think of it, having studied Occlumency and Legilimency are good spring-boards for this."
"I only just started to do that when we joined the Order," Natasha protested softly.
Loki's smile was indulgent, and directed entirely to his wife, rather than his daughter.
"And you're a sponge for knowledge, Lily my love," he quipped, and pressed a quick, fond kiss to her cheek.
"Marie is safe?" Natasha asked again. "Away from here, in the waking world, she's safe?"
"She's in America, being adopted by a loving couple right this very moment," Loki answered. "It was better than leaving her in England. Dumbledore left her on Petunia's doorstep with a note."
"Why?" Natasha demanded. "What about everybody else? There were dozens of better options!"
"Everybody else is either mourning our deaths or celebrating Voldemort's defeat," Loki answered, then quickly corrected himself. "Well, Remus is enduring the full moon and Sirius is hunting down Peter for betraying us, but everybody else, that's pretty much it. By the way, since you're not quite as dead as popular belief would hold, and our marriage remains legally binding, you're still Lady Potter."
"I guess I'll have to keep up correspondence with the goblins at least then," she said.
"I certainly can't," Loki agreed with a nod, "and somebody needs to make sure that politicians with sticky fingers stay away from the Potter fortunes."
Just then, Marie yawned.
"Oh, she's waking up," Loki registered. "She'll fade away soon. I can dream-walk when I'm awake, but most can only do it in their sleep, and getting the yawns in this world is the first sign that your body is waking."
Natasha squeezed Marie a little more tightly to herself, kissed her brow and handed their baby to her husband, so that he could do the same before she vanished.
"Daddy loves you," Loki told their little miracle. "So much," he added, and kissed Marie's brow.
Then, with another yawn, she became translucent, transparent, until she finally disappeared all together.
For a moment, the parents remained silent as they sat together on the floor.
"So," Natasha said at last, and a perfectly manicured hand slid up Loki's thigh. "I've missed you."
Loki laughed, then swept his wife up in his arms and kissed her soundly as he carried her through their house to their bedroom. He could have just manipulated the dream so that they were already there, but where would be the fun in that?
Robert and Allison D'Ancanto were concerned, just a little bit, about their daughter. She'd come back from kindergarten with a beautifully drawn picture (for a five-year-old). A picture that had My Family written across the top in the teacher's clear, printed hand. Judging by the way the tails of the Ys were slightly covered by the drawing, that title had been written there before the drawing had been done. So their little Marie would have known what was being asked of her.
A drawing of their family shouldn't have been reason for concern, but their family was all of three-strong: Robert, Allison, and little Marie. Marie had drawn a good deal more than just three people on her piece of paper though – and she'd labelled each figure carefully in wonky, messy, but still legible letters.
In the middle of the picture was a couple, and beneath them were the labels 'Mother' and 'Father', titles which Marie had never given to either of them. Then again, neither of the figures above those labels looked anything like the D'Ancanto's. Both Robert and Allison had dark brown hair. Robert's cut close and complimented by a thick moustache, Allison's worn long – and the two figures in the picture that were labelled 'Daddy' and 'Momma' certainly looked like them.
The woman designated 'Mother' was a red-head, and the 'Father' had black hair. Both had bright green eyes. Eyes the same green as Marie had used for her own eyes in the picture.
Robert and Allison both wondered where/when/how/if Marie had found out she was adopted, and where she had gotten the idea of that her real parents may have looked like. But that wasn't what worried them. At least, that wasn't what worried them the most.
There was a large canine, possibly a wolf, labelled Fen. An even bigger snake called Jor. 'Nir was an eight-legged horse – and yes, it was possible to tell that it was actually a horse with eight legs. It was a truly excellent drawing for a five-year-old. Hel was a female figure that was only half coloured-in. And there were two grave stones for Vali and Narfi.
So, they were worried.
"Is she very social?" the child psychologist asked.
"Not particularly," Robert replied with a sad shake of his head. "More interested in books of every sort."
"And we do mean every sort," Allison added with a slightly frustrated sigh. "Not so interested in people though. Not children her age, not older kids, not adults."
"Would it be fair to say that she is very self-contained?" the child psychologist persisted.
Robert and Allison both nodded.
"And intelligent?" he continued.
They nodded again.
"And imaginative?" he pressed.
Again, they nodded.
"Then it is possible she has decided to create characters based on things she has read, imaginary friends," he offered. "But has taken it a step further by making imaginary siblings, or perhaps imagining that she is herself part of a family from myth. This picture."
The man picked up the My Family drawing that had so concerned the D'Ancantos, examined it a moment, then turned it around for them.
"I studied in Norse myth for my arts requirement when I was in college," he told them, "and I'd make a guess that this is the family of the Trickster Loptr. He had three monstrous children from an affair with a giantess. Fenris, the wolf. Jormungandr, the serpent. Hel, who was half-dead. From his wife Sigyn, he had two sons, Vali and Narfi... and from an unfortunate run in with a stallion while himself shape-shifted into a mare, Loptr bore the eight-legged horse Sleipnir."
"And you think that Marie might have just... inserted herself into the myth?" Allison guessed.
The child psychologist nodded.
"It's perfectly normal for bright, self-contained children to invent imaginary friends. Indulge her if she asks you to, but otherwise don't give it another thought," he advised them. "She'll grow out of it, I promise. They all do, eventually."
The D'Ancantos breathed a sigh of relief, and stopped worrying.
It was time. The letter from Hogwarts would be winging its way to Marie in a little less than a month. Natasha had (with a little help from Loki) burned down the Red Room and destroyed everything affiliated with them (except the girls, who had been saved and fostered into loving homes). Now, she was going to go to Mississippi, find her daughter, and for the first time in almost a decade, she was going to hold her baby girl in her arms while she was awake.
With anticipation that made her heart pound, she rang the doorbell.
"Coming!" came the call from inside, and a few long seconds later, the door was opened by a woman with plain brown hair that fell to the middle of her back.
"Can I help you?" she asked.
"I hope so," Natasha replied. "I'm looking for my daughter, Marie -"
"Mother!" Marie cried happily, and barrelled passed Allison to collide with Natasha's middle.
"Marie," Natasha breathed, and tears sprung up in her eyes as she finally, finally wrapped her arms around her baby. "Oh, my little Marie. I'm here. I'm finally here."
"I'm sorry, but who are you?" Allison D'Ancanto demanded almost-sharply.
"My name is Lily Potter," Natasha said, her arms still around her daughter, "and I'm Marie's mother."
"The adoption -"
"I didn't give my daughter to any adoption agency," Natasha cut off. "I remember a mad man attacking my husband in our home, and I remember an explosion, and I remember waking up surrounded by rubble with a nasty collection of injuries and my daughter gone from her cot. As far as I know, Ma'am, you adopted a kidnapped child."
Allison D'Ancanto blanched, and stepped aside, a clear and silent invitation for the woman to enter her home. This was not the sort of conversation people wanted to have on the doorstep.
"I've been in a bad situation for a long time," Natasha told the other woman. "The mad man who came to our house when Marie was a baby... he wasn't just a random psycho. He had deliberately targeted us because of the work my husband and I did. James was more front-line while I was more research and intelligence, but nevertheless."
"You're saying you're FBI or something?" Allison asked, a little incredulous.
"No," Natasha replied evenly. "Well, 'or something', I suppose," she corrected. "And not American. My husband was born into the nobility, America doesn't really have those."
"No-" Allison choked. "Nobility?"
Natasha nodded. "Once I'd recovered, I was immediately sent back to work, barely given time to kiss my husband goodbye in the mornings, certainly not to search for my daughter. On top of that, I had to juggle my duties as Lady Potter, since my husband remains incapacitated due to that attack. But I managed to find my baby, and then it was just a case of escaping my very demanding and totally unsympathetic employers."
"When you say... you managed to find her..." Allison hemmed and hawed, her mind going back to the first my family picture that Marie had brought home. A picture which had a woman with red hair and green eyes – just like this woman.
"Ma'am, what I'm about to tell you may be unbelievable, so with your permission, I'll skip straight to the demonstration," Natasha said, and removed her wand from where it was hidden up one sleeve. The cheap tea-set was quickly transfigured into Royal Dolton.
Allison D'Ancanto gaped.
"I am a witch, Mrs D'Ancanto," Natasha stated. "I have and use magic. I have used magic to help me find Marie, and to communicate with her through dreams when I was unable to escape my watchful and paranoid employers."
"That's how she knew you," Allison recognised softly. She would have demanded proof of their relationship, because this woman was able to invade Marie's dreams and could have lied about the whole thing for who-knew-what reason... but just looking at them, Allison could tell they were related. Marie looked so much like her mother, not a perfect little replica – the jaw was a little more square, the lips a little thinner, and the hair about five shades blacker – but there was no denying they shared blood.
"So, what now?" Allison asked, and felt fear, worry, creeping in. "I suppose you want your daughter back."
"Very much," Natasha agreed, "but... as I've said, my husband is sadly in no situation to physically care for her, and my life has become increasingly dangerous since the attack ten years ago. I'm almost constantly on the move these days, and I know Marie has had a loving, stable home here. I would like Marie to go to the school I and my husband attended in Scotland though."
"Scotland?!" Allison yelped.
"Marie is as innately magical as I and my husband," Natasha explained. "The school I'm talking about will teach her how to control that magic, rather than have any potentially dangerous accidents with it. It's also part of her heritage... and already paid for. James paid the full seven years tuition within a month of Marie's birth," Natasha added with a fond, reminiscing smile.
"I wanna go Momma, please?" Marie begged.
Natasha smiled as Marie held her hand and they walked down Nevozmozhno Ulitsa, the hidden magical district in Moscow. They were after a telescope and Marie's wand. They'd already bought her potions supplies in Peru (cauldron, vials, knives, and a wide selection of useful ingredients. They'd also gotten extra things from a non-magical shop that sold kitchenware, like a mortar and pestle, a mandolin, and other such things), and... most of her books in New York. Two books on the Hogwarts list were considered out-dated and useless by the Americans. A History of Magic by Bathilda Bagshot for one, and Magical Theory by Aldabert Waffling for the other. Natasha made sure that Marie had all the best books for the coming year at Hogwarts, not just the ones on the list provided.
When they were finished in Moscow, the mother and daughter duo would finally venture into Diagon Alley in London for the last few required books and Marie's school uniform.
"Here," Natasha said softly to her daughter when they'd reached a particular door.
Marie pushed open the plain black door, just a little tentatively.
"Come in," a voice called in Russian. "Don't lurk in the doorway, you'll let the cold in."
James had asked, when Lily had first confessed to actually being Natasha, why a Russian had been sent to the UK to learn about magic. She'd answered that, actually, the Red Room had sent as many girls as they could – as many girls as they had that had magic – to all the different magical communities across the globe. Those girls were her many 'pen-pals' when she'd been attending Hogwarts.
Those contacts were how Natasha now knew that the best wandmaker to go to, anywhere across the globe, was this one.
"Magistr Kostya," Natasha greeted in her native tongue as she nudged Marie into the little shop properly. "My little girl needs a wand. I have friends that say you are the best."
Magistr Kostya barked a pleased laugh. "Flattery doesn't get you a discount," he declared firmly.
"We don't need one. I just want the best for my baby," Natasha asserted.
"Mother! I'm not a baby anymore," Marie protested at the name. She'd been raised listening to her mother switch between every language she knew, and her father answering her in whatever language the beautiful red-head had picked.
"Indulge your mother," Natasha teased as she bent to kiss the top of Marie's head, then turned her attention back to the wandmaker. "You will make a wand for my Marie?"
Magistr Kostya nodded slowly.
After an hour of testing various materials, and of actually crafting the wand, the pair left the shop an equivalent of a hundred dollars lighter, and with Marie the proud owner of a brand new wand crafted from willow and ebony, flexible but unbreakable, with a strand of unicorn tail-hair wrapped around a primary flight feather from a griffin as the core and beautiful, intricate carvings up and down its length.
Carvings that had been filled in with blood drawn from Marie before the whole wand had been varnished. They served double-duty as they not only added beauty, but also security. The blood-filled carvings meant that the wand could only be used by Marie. Anybody could handle it, if they didn't mind getting a nasty burn, but it would only work for Marie.